1 Timothy 4:12 NLT
By the time he was eighteen, Timothy was an apostle. And it seems some folks in church thought his promotion to leadership at such an early age wasn’t a good thing. But Paul did. 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). Who says you’re too young to make an impact? Not God. And not history. Victor Hugo wrote his first tragedy at age fifteen. Raphael painted his masterpieces before he died at age thirty-seven. Tennyson wrote his first volume of poetry at eighteen. Paschal wrote his great works between the ages of sixteen and thirty-seven. Joan of Arc did all her work and was burned at the stake at nineteen. Romulus founded Rome at twenty. Calvin joined the Reformation at age twenty-one and wrote his famous Institutes at age twenty-seven. Alexander The Great had conquered the known world by the time he was twenty-three. Isaac Newton was twenty-four when he introduced the law of gravity. Believe in yourself, for God does. Develop your gifts, and ask God to bless them. Maximize every opportunity to the fullest, and you will make the world a better place.
Soul food: Jer 22-24; Luke 4:31-44; Ps 102:12-17; Prov 15:3
2 Peter 1:3 NIV
Ever felt stressed out because you don’t think you have what it takes to live like Jesus? Maybe you’ve felt under pressure because, however hard you try, you don’t feel good enough for God? The good news is that God’s already ‘given us everything we need for a godly life.’ Everything we might possibly need to be able to live God’s way, we already have access to. These are things like wisdom, strength, peace, courage, and love. He equips us to be able to do the things He’s called us to. The Holy Spirit lives within us to guide, instruct, and transform us. The Bible says: ‘Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?’ (1 Corinthians 6:19 NIV). We just need to listen to the Spirit’s promptings rather than doing the things we want to do. God hasn’t left us to do everything on our own. He cares about each of us, and provides us with what we need. Paul encouraged the church in Philippi by saying: ‘My God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus’ (Philippians 4:19 NIV). And that can encourage us too. It’s worth remembering that God’s given us ‘everything we need’, not ‘everything we want’. There will be things we pray for that we don’t get. They might not actually be good for us, even though we think they would be. So when we’re worried that we can’t live God’s way or we’re frustrated because God’s not giving us the things we want, let’s remember that God sees the bigger picture and He’s already provided everything we need.
2 Kings 4:18-6:33; Mark 16; Ps 80:12-19; Prov 13:13-16
Isaiah 54:13 NKJV
Few things in life can break your heart like a child on drugs, or running with the wrong crowd and being involved in activities you know can destroy their lives. As a parent, what can you do? First and foremost, pray for them and speak God’s promises over them. You may not be able to change them, but God can. His Word says, “All your children shall be taught by the Lord, and great shall be the peace of your children.” What if your child is out of control and living at home? Then you have a big challenge that requires God’s help. Sometimes your “problem child” is a child of destiny with a great future, and Satan knows that. God has a calling on their life, and that’s what the battle is all about! As a parent, you need God’s wisdom when it comes to: (1) Setting clear boundaries with appropriate and consistent consequences. The Bible says, “Young people are prone to foolishness and fads; the cure comes through tough-minded discipline” (Proverbs 22:15 MSG). (2) Overcoming the fear that your child will reject you when you make an unpopular, but wise decision. Satan will try to convince you that you’ll lose them if you discipline them. The truth is that you’ll lose them if you don’t! Remember: “God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7 NLT). Prayer and standing firmly on His Word are two of the greatest weapons God has provided when it comes to engaging Satan over your child’s future. And if you stay true to God – you’ll win.
Soul food: Rev 5-9; Mark 14:53-65; Ps 48; Prov 13:2-3
2 Thessalonians 3:15 NIV
What should we do when a friend or family member seems to go the opposite way from what God says is right? Here are a few tips for when we find ourselves in that situation: 1) Speak up with love. It’s important that we do speak up rather than just ignore what’s happening. However, we need to speak with love. The Bible says we should be ‘speaking the truth in love’ (Ephesians 4:15 NIV). If we condemn people, we can push them away. We need to remind them that God loves them and that His commands are given to us from a place of love. When we obey Him, we’ll experience the best things in our lives. 2) Don’t abandon them. Sometimes it’s right for us to walk away from a friendship, especially if it’s harming us to stay in it, but in other circumstances we need to stick with people and help them come back to God. The Bible says: ‘Do not regard them as an enemy, but warn them as you would a fellow believer.’ We shouldn’t turn against them, but continue to love them as God does. 3) Pray for them. It can be easy for us to fall into the trap of trying to fix people and their situations. But that can cause us to feel stressed and overwhelmed. The best thing we can do is to pray for the person. This hands the situation over to God and reduces the burden we place on ourselves. We can’t control other people, or fix their problems, but we can invite God to come and do the things we can’t. He can turn people’s lives around and bring them back to Him.
Rev 5-9; Mark 14:53-65; Ps 48; Prov 13:2-3
Proverbs 13:20 NCV
Finally, we need to develop relationally. God’s plan for our lives requires us to connect with the right people – and disconnect from the wrong ones. Sitting beside Jesus at the Last Supper were John, who loved Him, and Judas, who betrayed Him. We can have people around us who love and support us, but also people who bring us down and go behind our backs. We need to be aware of who is influencing us and who is speaking into our lives. The Bible says: ‘Spend time with the wise and you will become wise.’ The relationships we choose to invest in have a direct effect on how we live and how we develop in our faith. So here’s a great prayer to pray: ‘Lord, I pray for the people You’ve brought into my life and placed on my heart. Please bless the healthy relationships, and give me wisdom to handle the difficult ones in a way that pleases and honours You. If there are friendships I need to walk away from, show me what to do and give me the grace and courage to do it. If there are relationships that are draining and distracting me from Your plan and purpose, I trust You to bring them to an end or change them for the better. And when I’m the one who needs to change, show me, and work in my life by Your amazing power. I need Your wisdom to recognise the friends I should choose. Help me to avoid relationships that lead me away from the path You’ve laid out for me. Send people into my life who are godly and wise, and help us to bless and encourage each other. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.’
Rev 7:13-17; Ps 23; Luke 15:1-7