1 Samuel 18:1 KJV
It hurts when you discover that not everyone has your best interests at heart. So you must learn to be more discerning, and know on what level to interact with people. Usually only a few people belong in your inner circle. That’s why you must be wise when it comes to who you allow into that circle. We see this illustrated in the lives of David and Jonathan. David was at odds with King Saul, the father of his best friend, Jonathan. Jonathan kept David’s secrets and protected him with his very life, even when faced with displeasing his own family. Jonathan wasn’t seeking to elevate himself, inflate his own self-importance, or orchestrate his own advancement through his relationship with David. Simply stated, they had a “soul connection.” The strength of a confidant lies in their silence. If someone’s a gossiper, they automatically disqualify themselves. We must be able to rest in the security of these relationships, in order to express ourselves, gather information, and glean wise counsel. Otherwise, we reap the consequences of having the wrong people know too much about us. Confidants not only maintain our secrets, they refuse to exploit that privileged information for their own gain. They really care about us, and don’t throw our past mistakes in our face. They refuse to utter the words “I told you so.” Such people are in your life for the long haul, and you must recognize and cherish them.
Soul food: Deut 1-2; Luke 10:25-37; Ps 78:32-39; Prov 16:31
Deuteronomy 8:2 NIV
When we find ourselves facing challenges and tough times, we can end up asking God, ‘Why?’. We wonder what we’ve done to bring about these difficulties, and we can wonder why God isn’t taking the struggles away. But the truth is, we don’t go through tough times because we’re being punished, we go through them because suffering is in the world. Until Jesus comes again, we’re all going to have to go through times of trouble. The Bible says we shouldn’t be surprised that we’re facing struggles. ‘Do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you’ (1 Peter 4:12 NIV). Instead of asking, ‘Why?’ we need to ask God, ‘What do You want me to learn from this experience?’ And instead of asking God to improve our circumstances, we need to ask Him to use our circumstances to improve us. Tough times are great opportunities for us to learn more about ourselves, and more about God. They show us how much we trust God, and how much we rely on our own strength. Moses instructed the Israelites to ‘Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the wilderness…to humble and test you.’ We might not enjoy time in the wilderness, but God can use that time to shape us and grow us. He doesn’t delight in our suffering, but He delights in our development. Paul wrote: ‘God began doing a good work in you, and I am sure he will continue it until it is finished’ (Philippians 1:6 NCV). Every challenge we face, large or small, is equipping us for the future God has in mind for us.
Jas 5:16-18; 1 Kings 18; 2 Kings 2:1-12
Hosea 14:4 NKJV
Halftime in the game is for rest and assessment. It’s a time to regroup – to evaluate how things have been going and decide what adjustments need to be made for the rest of the game. Often a team may look like they’re losing at halftime, but by the time the game ends they’ve turned things around and won. Until the final whistle sounds, the game is still up for grabs. And the same is true in life. If you’re still here, the game of life isn’t over for you. Your clock is still ticking. You have a life yet to live. Not only that, but the first half doesn’t have to determine the outcome of the game. Maybe you’ve made mistakes, experienced disappointments and failures. Maybe life has dealt you a harsh blow here or there. But you are still here – and as long as you are, the whistle hasn’t blown and it’s not too late for God to take you straight to the plan He has for you. You see, God looks at your future while the Enemy tries to keep you focused on your past. God says, “You can, in spite of what’s been done!” But the Enemy says, “You can’t, because of what you’ve done.” God will never define you by your past, whereas the Enemy will try to control and confine you by using it against you. Whether the good, the bad, or the ugly dominated your first half, Satan’s goal is to keep you chained there. God, on the other hand, wants you to learn from your past – not live in it.
Soul food: Jer 25-27; Luke 5:1-11; Ps 102:18-28; Prov 15:4-7
1 Timothy 4:12 NLT
Are you full of dreams and enthusiasm to do whatever God’s called you to do? Or are you doubting yourself, thinking you’re too young to do anything important for God’s kingdom? In the Bible, Timothy became an apostle at a young age. Some people thought that being in leadership at such an early age wasn’t a good thing. But Paul didn’t agree. He told Timothy: ‘Teach these things and insist that everyone learn them. Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity…focus on reading the Scriptures to the church, encouraging the believers, and teaching them. Do not neglect the spiritual gift you received…Throw yourself into your tasks so that everyone will see your progress’ (vv.11-15 NLT). We need to start believing in ourselves because God believes in us. He’s got plans and purposes for each of us. The Bible says: ‘For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do’ (Ephesians 2:10 NIV). And He’s willing to equip us to be able to do them. Just because we’re not as old or experienced as other people, doesn’t mean we should disqualify ourselves from using our God-given gifts to advance the kingdom. We’re not too young to make an impact, even if that’s what other people are telling us. It’s true that we need to take time to develop our gifts, grow in faith, and become more mature as Christians, but God can work in us while He’s working through us. We don’t have to wait until we’re a certain age or standard to make a difference for Him.
Jer 22-24; Luke 4:31-44; Ps 102:12-17; Prov 15:3
Hebrews 12:8 MSG
When we walk through a tough time, our automatic reaction can often be to ask God to take us out of it. And when He doesn’t, we assume He doesn’t care or that we’ve been abandoned. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. God cares about everything we go through, and always knows what’s happening in our lives. In fact, He walks alongside us through everything. The psalmist wrote: ‘Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me’ (Psalm 23:4 NIV). He is with us, even in the toughest of times. So why doesn’t God take us out of the situation? We don’t know all the reasons why, but one of them could be because He wants us to learn something. Hebrews 12:8 in The Message says: ‘This trouble you’re in isn’t punishment; it’s training.’ God’s training us to be stronger and more like Him. In every situation we go through, there are things we can learn. But we’ll only learn them if we open our hearts. If we’re too busy begging God to take the situation away, we won’t be open to the opportunity of growing. All tests and valleys we experience are temporary. They’ll end. But it’s up to us whether we’ll just about make it through or if we’ll come out looking more like Jesus. In the Bible we’re encouraged to go as far as rejoicing in the troubles that we face. ‘In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials’ (1 Peter 1:6 NIV). This might seem impossible, but when we think about the training God’s doing, we can be joyful while we’re walking through the valley.
Heb 11:23-28; Exo 3:1-22; Exo 33:7-23; Exo 34:29-35