Psalm 40:2 NLT
When an earthquake struck Haiti, an aid worker trapped under a collapsed hotel prayed, “Lord, I haven’t been in touch with You lately. Now I need You more than ever.” He writes: “I heard a sound. ‘Who’s there?’ I shouted. ‘Jim,’ a man replied. He and five others were trapped too. ‘Would you like to pray with me?’ I asked. ‘Yes,’ he answered. So I said, ‘Lord, we’re asking You for a miracle. Please rescue us.’ I was drifting off to sleep when rhythmic thumping woke me. Helicopters! We waited, but nobody came. I felt drained. No food and water for twenty-four hours and I needed a doctor…I closed my eyes, sure I’d never open them again…A voice shouted and I jolted awake…a survivor had contacted a rescue team through a small hole…An hour passed, then two…I banged on the wall. No response. ‘I’m going to die here, and there’s nothing I can do.’ Then this thought came to my mind: Worship Me. I began singing: ‘Great is Thy faithfulness; morning by morning new mercies I see.’ I sang: ‘Be still my soul.’ Praise songs…to the One who knew exactly where I was. I felt God’s presence…and heard Him whisper, ‘Trust me with everything’…and I let it all go. ‘Your will be done, Lord’…Hours later a team of rescuers came down the elevator shaft, hoisted me to safety, and took me to the hospital. My wife was waiting. ‘I thought you were dead,’ she said. ‘Me too,’ I whispered. And I would have been if it hadn’t been for what I had with me in that dark place – like my faith that’s more alive than ever.”
Soul food: Lev 23:33-44; John 7:1-40; Zech 14:16-21
Psalm 83:18 NIV
Names often have meanings. Throughout the Bible, we’re told what people’s names mean and why they were called that particular name. And it’s the same with the names of God. Each name has a meaning and can reveal a different aspect of His character. The Israelites called God Jehovah, a name they regarded as incommunicable and incomprehensible. The name means the ‘self-existing One,’ and the ‘I Am.’ He was the Creator of all things; an awesome and unknowable supreme being. But God desired to be known in a personal way. So He added to the name Jehovah five revealing titles – to help us better understand and relate to Him. Let’s look at each. Jehovah-Jireh: The Lord will see, the Lord will provide. Abraham was about to sacrifice his son when God provided a lamb for the offering in Isaac’s place. In response, Abraham called Him Jehovah-Jireh, the Lord who sees and provides. And it doesn’t just apply to Abraham. The New Testament says that God sees our needs and provides answers. Jesus said: ‘Don’t worry and say, “What will we eat?” or “What will we drink?” or “What will we wear?” The people who don’t know God keep trying to get these things, and your Father in heaven knows you need them. Seek first God’s kingdom and what God wants. Then all your other needs will be met as well’ (Matthew 6:31-33 NCV). We might wonder why we don’t have everything we want. God doesn’t provide all the things we want, He provides the things we need. And He knows what we need better than we do. So instead of worrying and striving, let’s remember that God is Jehovah-Jireh – the One who provides for all our needs.
Josh 5:1-8:29; Luke 19:11-27; Ps 103:1-12; Prov 22:27-29
Psalm 68:6 NIV
We all need friends in our lives. And when we don’t have them, we can feel lonely, isolated and like we have to go through life on our own. The Bible says that ‘God sets the lonely in families.’ He knows when we’re feeling lonely, and when we ask Him to provide us with true, godly friends, He will. Sometimes we don’t have the best experiences with our families and so our friends can become like our family. They support us, comfort us, encourage us and advise us, just like a family would. ‘Friends come and friends go, but a true friend sticks by you like family’ (Proverbs 18:24 MSG). Paul writes that when he was struggling, God comforted Him by bring along Titus (take a look at 2 Corinthians 6:7). And He can bring people into our lives as a form of comfort when we need them too. But we also have to play our part. The Bible says: ‘A man who has friends must himself be friendly’ (Proverbs 18:24 NKJV). If we want good friends, we must be good friends to others. We need to be vulnerable and let people into our lives. We need to be willing to encourage and support others, just as we’d want them to do for us. We need to sacrifice our time just as others would sacrifice their time to be there for us. Having godly friends means we have people we can call on when the going gets tough. Trying to do God’s work by ourselves can get tiring, we sometimes need the encouragement and skills of others to help us out. After all, we can achieve more together than we can alone.
2 Cor 11:16-13:14; Luke 2:21-33; Ps 8; Prov 16:8-11
Psalm 23:1 NIV
At the start of Psalm 23, David says: ‘The Lord is my shepherd’. By saying this, he was affirming that he had a very personal relationship with God; one that was unique. God has given each of us a one-of-a-kind personality, gifting, purpose, and calling. And He wants a relationship with us that is unlike the one He has with anybody else. Just like our fingerprints are unique, so is God’s interaction with us. We need to learn how to hear His voice and to know when He is speaking specifically to us. David goes on to say, ‘I lack nothing’. The shepherd was the provider for all the sheep. He kept them safe and made sure that they were led to places where they could eat and drink. And, as our Shepherd, God does that for us. He keeps us safe and He provides for all our needs. We can often get stressed because we forget that we have a Personal Provider. We forget that God cares about us so much that He will meet all our needs. In Matthew, Jesus says: ‘Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?’ (vv.25-26 NIV). We’re so valuable to God, He sees us as individuals. He wants that unique relationship with each of us. And He knows the things we need (have a look at Matthew 6:32). So we don’t have to stress, we have a Personal Provider looking after us.
Matt 5:5; Num 12:1-15; Ps 37:1-9; Phil 2:5-11
Galatians 6:2 NIV
When a friend or family member is in a crisis, we need to be there for them. Being there for people is what the kingdom of God is all about. We’re told to ‘carry each other’s burdens’. But ‘being there’ may look different depending on the person or the situation. Sometimes, we just need to be someone who listens and give people a safe space to express their emotions. Maybe we commit to praying for them in our own prayer time with God. Or meet up with them regularly to pray with them. Other times we offer practical help and advice to help them cope and grow through the situation they’re facing. But it’s not always easy. Sometimes people are hurting so much that they push us away, or don’t ask for help in the first place. We have to be perceptive to what people are going through, and what the best way to be there for them is. When they reach a stage of being open to advice, we can suggest a different way of looking at things. When we focus on our problems, we forget everything we’ve been blessed with and our problems seem huge. A change of perspective can help reduce people’s anxiety and the size of the problem in their minds. We can encourage them to concentrate on the present and ‘live one day at a time’ (Matthew 6:34 TLB). We can also encourage them to look to God in their situation. We can help them to focus on God and remind them of His faithfulness in the past. We can remind them that the Bible says: ‘The Lord is faithful and will give you strength and will protect you from the Evil One’ (2 Thessalonians 3:3 NCV).
Judg 16:1-19:15; Mark 11:12-26; Ps 47; Prov 13:11-12