Psalm 55:22 NIV
Sometimes the best thing to do is – turn the situation over to God. “Yes, but what about all those go-getters who rise with the sun, skip breakfast, and break records while I’m just ‘giving it to God’?” you ask. Good question. Look at Jesus; He didn’t get started until He was thirty. What about all those “wasted” years? He left them to God. And how did He react to those who heard His message, shrugged, and walked away? He left them to God. And what about those nitpicking Pharisees who gave Him so much grief? He left them to God as well. In The Finishing Touch, Charles Swindoll describes a time in his ministry when he felt driven and drained by never-ending demands. He writes: “If folks weren’t changing, I felt responsible. If some drifted, somehow I was at fault. If there wasn’t continual growth, I acted as if I needed to make it happen. If a sermon failed to ring with clarity and power, I struggled all of Monday and half of Tuesday. Talk about wasted energy! Time has helped; so has age. Virtually all of the things that once stole my joy and assaulted my motivation – I just leave to God. Don’t I care? Of course I care. But those cares are now placed in the hands of One who can handle them. What once bothered me, I’ve learned to give over to Him who doesn’t mind being bothered. Whereas criticism used to cripple me for days, I now do my best to sift, shift, and sail. I learn what I can – and turn the rest over to God.”
Soul food: Isa 45-48; Luke 3:1-10; Ps 79; Prov 2:9-10
Genesis 37:5 NKJV
The story of Joseph teaches that success can cause others to mistreat you. Not everyone will celebrate your success, including some of those closest to you. When Jesus’ fame began to spread, the first people to reject Him were from the town He grew up in. It caused Him to say, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own country” (Matthew 13:57 NKJV). The Bible says of Joseph, “His brothers envied him” (Genesis 37:11 NKJV). There it is – envy! When God blesses you, those who feel left out may target you. Some may feel more worthy and deserving, and that your blessing came at their expense. That’s how Cain felt when he murdered his brother Abel. That’s how King Saul felt when David killed Goliath and the people sang, “Saul has killed thousands, but David has killed tens of thousands” (1 Samuel 29:5 GNT). Shortly afterwards Saul started throwing spears at David. And the spear never left his hand until it plunged into his own heart. That’s because envy is like a boomerang; it comes back to hurt the one who throws it. When their father threw a party to celebrate the homecoming of his prodigal son, the older brother said, “These many years I have served you…yet you never gave me a…feast” (See Luke 15:29 AMPC). He made three mistakes we often make: (a) He compared himself to his brother. (b) He exposed his brother’s sins and shortcomings. (c) He failed to appreciate the extent of his father’s love for him and the blessings he had bestowed on him. So learn from his mistakes.
Soul food: Isa 4-7; Luke 1:11-25; Ps 90:7-17; Prov 1:5-9
Proverbs 6:6 NLT
Proverbs 6 says: ‘Take a lesson from the ants…Learn from their ways and become wise! (v. 6 NLT). It seems strange to be asking us to take ants as one of our role-models, but when we take some time to think about them, there are several things they can show us. We’ll be looking at them over the next few days. Proverbs 6 goes on to say: ‘Though they have no prince or governor or ruler to make them work, they labour hard all summer, gathering food for the winter’ (v. 7 NLT). An ant colony has a queen, who is the centre of attention, and who the other ants work hard to keep alive, But she doesn’t rule the ants. She doesn’t give them instructions. The colony’s survival is made certain by ‘soldier’ ants, who are both leaders and servants. They start off by carrying out the tasks that need doing, while the younger ants imitate them and join in, learning what needs to be done. The younger ants don’t need to be supervised or told to get working. They have a built-in desire to work and be useful, and help their colony to survive. When God created Adam, He set him to work in the Garden of Eden. Adam wasn’t constantly watched or supervised – he just wanted to play his God-given part in his world. And just like the ants and Adam, God designed us to work and carry out our unique God-given role in our family, community, church, world… God doesn’t force us to take our part, but He has placed different desires within each of us. At times, we may feel as insignificant as a tiny ant, but our part in God’s plan is important, and unique to us.
1 Sam 8-10; Luke 3:21-38; Ps 64; Prov 16:26-30
Proverbs 22:29 NIV
Here’s a prayer for success at work: “Lord, I thank You for the way You’ve made me, for the many gifts and talents You’ve placed within me, and I trust that I’m the best person for this job. I am grateful for each and every one of the personalities I work with, even the ones I don’t particularly like or understand. I ask that my focus would be on accomplishing the goals You have set forth for me to perform during my time in this position. Give me wisdom and discernment on the job, even in the midst of a hostile environment. Help me to learn what You want to teach me here, and give me patience as You prepare me for the future. Help me to do my best, and to always remain positive and hopeful. Please quiet the complaints and disappointments of my heart with Your perfect peace, and allow me to trust You with my job. Dress me in the garments of praise and the righteousness of Christ that I may bring You glory where I work. Allow me to know my true identity, to walk in Your favor, and to seek to please You more than those with whom I work. Where there is contention, let me be a peacemaker. Where there is deceit, let me speak truth. Where there is despair, let me bring hope. Where there is fear, let me bring faith. Where there is darkness, let me bring light. Where there is sadness, let me bring joy. These things I ask in Jesus’ name, amen.”
Soul food: Judg 9:34-11:40; Mark 10:35-52; Ps 129; Prov 20:25; Ecc 5:4-6
Proverbs 22:29 NIV
We should all want to be successful for God. His idea of success isn’t the same as the world’s idea of success, so it’s important that we take time to pray about our work and the tasks He’s assigned to us, so we can stay focused and on track. Here’s a prayer we can all pray, whatever our task is: ‘Lord, I thank You for the way You’ve made me, for all the gifts and talents You’ve given me, and I trust that I’m the best person for the task You’ve assigned to me. I’m grateful for all the people I work with and connect with, even the ones I don’t really like or understand. Please help me keep my focus on accomplishing the goals You’ve set for me. Give me wisdom and discernment, especially if I’m in a difficult situation. Help me to learn what You want to teach me through this task, and give me patience as You prepare me for the future. Help me to do my best, and to always remain positive and hopeful. Please soothe the complaints and disappointments of my heart with Your perfect peace. Help me to bring You glory and share Your love through the work I’m doing. Allow me to know my true identity, to walk in Your favour, and help me seek to please You. Keep me on the path You’ve laid out for me. Help me to be a peacemaker in times of conflict or argument. When others around me are being deceitful or untrustworthy, help me speak only the truth. Help me bring hope, faith and joy to places where there is despair, fear and sadness. Help me be a light in the darkness. I ask these things in Jesus’ name. Amen.’
Judg 9:34-11:40; Mark 10:35-52; Ps 129; Prov 20:25; Ecc 5:4-6