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

God’s training

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

Learning the hard way (2)

Proverbs 1:10 NCV

We become like the people we spend the most time with; that’s why it’s so important to choose our friends wisely. The psalmist said, ‘Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers’ (Psalm 1:1 NIV). Another reason why Samson threw his potential away is that he developed unhealthy relationships and they led him astray. Are our friends keeping us from living 100% for God? Do they tear us down or build us up? When we’re with them, do we find ourselves conforming to things that we know are wrong and things we don’t feel good about doing? The book of Proverbs warns us repeatedly about surrounding ourselves with the wrong people. For example: ‘If sinners try to lead you into sin, do not follow them.’ If we’re constantly exposed to wrong attitudes and values, it will eventually take its toll on our lives. So, what kind of friends should we keep? The kind who bring out the best in us, who lift us up, who encourage us, and make us a better person. It’s really important to surround ourselves with some Christian friends who can help us in our faith and gently tell us when we’re going the wrong way. It’s also important to have a mentor figure in our lives so that we can learn and be held accountable. The psalmist said to God: ‘I am a friend to all who fear you, to all who follow your precepts’ (Psalm 119:63 NIV). This doesn’t mean that we should only have Christian friends, but we do need to be careful about who is influencing us and who is speaking into our lives.

2 Kings 16:1-18:16; Luke 1:39-56; Ps 139:7-12; Prov 13:24

Do you have a difficult boss?

Ephesians 6:7 NIV

If you think your boss is hard to get along with, imagine working for David’s boss, King Saul. The more David tried to help him, the more Saul tried to kill him. So what did David do? Every time his boss flew into a jealous rage and threw spears at him, David ducked and kept on serving him. Why? (1) Because David knew God had called him to be king, and what better place to learn the ropes than right there in Saul’s palace? The truth is, sometimes you can learn more from mistakes and failures than from the achievements of success. So David kept his head down and kept on learning and growing. (2) David recognized that because Saul had been called by God to the position he held, it was God’s job, not his, to remove him. Was that hard to do? Yes. But David understood that how you treat others when they’re in trouble determines how God treats you when you’re in trouble. And before his life was over, David got into lots of trouble and needed God’s mercy big-time! Paul writes, “Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people.” Instead of murmuring and complaining, work to excel on the job and pray for favour. Remember: “The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes” (Proverbs 21:1 NKJV). Because David acted with grace and integrity while serving under a boss who was a nightmare, God made him the boss! And when you honor God on the job, He can do the same for you.

Soul food: Dan 8-10; Mark 4:13-25; Ps 144:1-8; Prov 10:19-21

How to win life’s battles (5)

2 Chronicles 20:17 NIV

Fifth, stand firm. Notice what God told Jehoshaphat: “Stand firm.” What does it mean to “stand firm” when you’re in a crisis? It’s a mental attitude of quiet confidence that says, “I’m going to trust God.” One pastor writes: “This is something I’m slowly learning; it’s never God’s will for me to run from a difficult situation. If I do, the situation will only follow and catch up with me a little further down the line. It may not look the same, but it will be the same. Why? Because God wants to teach me that He is sufficient for any problem. If we don’t learn this today, we may learn it next week. If we don’t learn it next week, we may learn it next year. But eventually we’ll learn it – and the sooner the better. We can save ourselves problems by standing firm and waiting on God in quiet confidence.” So what do we stand firm on? “Have faith in the Lord your God and you will be upheld; have faith in his prophets and you will be successful” (v. 20 NIV). First, we need to stand firm on the character of God. God is faithful, and we can depend on Him. Second, we need to stand firm on the writings that He has given us through His prophets – in other words, the truth of the Bible. The Bible is God’s Word, and we need only rely in quiet confidence on His written promises. So the word for you today is: Stand firm on the unchanging character of God and the unchanging promises of His Word.

Soul food: Ecc 5-8; Matt 16:1-12; Ps 33:13-22; Prov 5:15-20