James 1:2-4 TLV
You’re closer than you know to becoming the person God wants you to be. By His enabling grace, you’ll make it through this trial and come out stronger and wiser. Paul says, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31 NKJV). God is for you! That means you can do the thing you are afraid you can’t do. The prison bars you’re beating against are in your mind. And since you put them up, with God’s help you can take them down. God wants to set you free from the fearful attitudes that have held you back for so long; to release you to live up to your full potential. The right attitude can overcome almost any barrier. For example, the Bible says, “Love never fails” (1 Corinthians 13:8 NIV). Why? Because love isn’t dependent on your emotions or circumstances, it’s a servant of your will. Love is a decision! Jesus said, “This is my commandment, that ye love one another, as I have loved you” (John 15:12). And if Jesus commands it, He will enable you to do it! Beginning is usually the hard part. The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step; after that it gets easier. But look out; old attitudes will try to resurface and come back stronger than ever. Don’t let them. Radio commentator Paul Harvey says, “You can always tell when you’re on the road to success; it’s uphill all the way.” So be patient; it will take time to get there. But anything worthwhile is worth working for!
Soul food: 1 Sam 3:1-11; Acts 9:1-9
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
1 Samuel 17:40 NLT
In David’s day they fought ‘by representation’. That means that one man would fight for the nation as a whole, and the country of the losing warrior became subservient to the country of the conquering warrior. So David versus Goliath was really Israel against the Philistines. It was a one-on-one contest: winner takes all. Most of us will have read the story of David’s victory over the giant with faith, a stone, and a slingshot. But it wasn’t just one stone he picked up, but ‘five smooth stones’. It wasn’t a lack of faith. David knew that Goliath had four brothers, and he may have needed extra stones to defeat them too. Giant-killers realise that their giant represents greater issues. A giant never stands alone; behind it lie its causes. All issues, such as eating disorders, addiction, self-harm, and anger, are driven and supported by other issues. Somewhere behind the obvious giant are its supportive brothers – pain, guilt, loss, shame, and control. David was prepared with five stones – one for Goliath and one for each of his four brothers. We need to ask ourselves what lies behind our giant. With God’s help we can conquer both the giant and the things that stand behind it. Sometimes we need to go and talk to someone about those issues behind our giant, there’s no shame in needing to do that. Also, giant-killers are not overwhelmed by the challenges. We should never allow our fears to overwhelm our faith. The Bible says that ‘God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind’ (2 Timothy 1:7 NKJV). Fear will feed on the failures of the past, but we can’t allow yesterday’s failure to overwhelm today’s faith.
Dan 1:3-21; Dan 3:7-30; Dan 5:10-12; Dan 9:1-19
Psalm 139:15 TM
The Psalmist wrote: “You know me inside and out…you know exactly how I was made, bit by bit…Like an open book…all the stages of my life were spread out before you, the days of my life all prepared before I’d even lived one day” (vv. 14-16 TM). God has already determined your child’s potential; now it’s up to you to help him or her discover and develop it. You’ll see it in their temperament, their gifts, and their interests. Resist the temptation to treat all your children the same way; they’re different! Cain was a farmer and his brother Abel was a shepherd. Jacob and Esau were twins, yet they couldn’t have been more different. And how about the Prodigal Son who left home and became a “party animal,” while his older brother stayed home and became self-righteous and judgmental? You must love each of your children unconditionally, but develop them individually. Who are they? What do they like? What do they succeed at? How do they handle change? How do they behave when they’re alone? Start listening to what your children value, what they fear, and what they need. Make sure they’re anchored spiritually in God’s Word. Don’t force them to go the way you wish you’d gone. Help them discover their own identity, and become their biggest backer. If that means putting your own dreams on hold for a while, do it. You’ll never regret it. Your children are your future; your very essence will live on in them. And one more thing: The trees we grow today produce the fruit we eat tomorrow. So pray and ask God to help you understand your child.
Soul food: Rom 7:1-9:16; John 10:11-21; Ps 83:1-8; Prov 29:19-22
1 Thessalonians 2:7 NIV
Commanders: Commanders were created to understand power and leadership, to know how it works, and feel a natural pull toward it. If this describes you, an image of strength is important to you. You have a need to lead. Opposition actually energizes you. Winston Churchill was a commander easily bored by agreement, and whose greatest moments were inspired by opposition. He had a running battle with Lady Nancy Astor, who once said to him, “Winston, if you were my husband, I’d poison your tea.” To which Churchill famously replied, “Nancy, if I were your husband, I’d drink it!” When Adolph Hitler came to power in Germany, Churchill found the formidable enemy he’d been waiting for his whole life. And he rose to the challenge. Without good leadership nothing gets accomplished. But power can become an end in itself, and you can become frustrated when you’re not getting your own way. Indeed, other people may feel intimidated about speaking up when they don’t agree with you. And when that happens you may have compliance, but you don’t have love, loyalty, or respect. God help a leader who has no leader, and those who follow him or her! Responsibility without accountability produces instability. Only when you surround yourself with people who have 20/20 vision to compensate for your blind spots, can you see your tendency to use people and employ fear and intimidation to get your own way. Paul, a great leader, wrote, “We were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her children.” When it comes to great leadership, there are two words that go hand in hand – “gentleness” and “greatness.”
Soul food: Isa 22-25; John 6:52-71; Ps 127; Prov 27:25-27