Acts 27:20 NIV
There are times when God seems inaccessible. When we pray and we don’t feel God’s listening, we can end up feeling abandoned and like we have to face our situations alone. And that can also make us feel terrified and even hopeless. Paul understood those feelings. He’d longed for an opportunity to preach in Rome, and was on his way there when a hurricane destroyed his ship. Before setting sail, Paul had foreseen the loss of the ship, cargo and everyone on board (see verse 10). He tried to warn the crew of the impending tragedy, but his words were disregarded by those in charge. When the storm hit, they all felt a sense of despair. Paul and his companions ‘finally gave up all hope of being saved’. Then after fourteen days lost at sea – when the hurricane was fiercest – God sent an angel. ‘Do not be afraid, Paul…God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you’ (v.24 NIV). Just when it looked like Paul’s mission to preach in Rome would be stopped, God faithfully brought them through the storm to the exact destination He’d planned for them. Paul would then go on to declare God’s Word before Caesar in Rome (read about it in Acts 28). Sometimes we can feel like we’re caught in a storm too. But when the storm’s raging, we can run to God for comfort and protection. When the storm’s over, He can use what we went through to grow us. Whatever trial we’re facing right now, we can trust God to carry us through it.
Lam 1:1-3:39; Mark 12:28-44; Ps 108; Prov 13:24-25
Genesis 22:1 NKJV
The Bible says: “God tested Abraham, and said…’Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.’ So Abraham…went to the place of which God had told him” (vv. 1-3 NKJV). You say, “Why would God test me?” First, to prove Himself faithful to you. Second, to give you an opportunity to prove yourself faithful to Him. Your tests are God’s proving grounds. They’re the way you graduate to the next level in His kingdom. That day Abraham proved there was nothing he loved more than God. And that was the day when God introduced Himself to Abraham as “Jehovah Jireh,” the Lord who provides. It’s when you exercise your faith that you discover God’s faithfulness. That’s why God will test your faith. The tests get progressively harder as the stakes get higher. And the tests will undoubtedly revolve around what’s most important to you. What do you find your identity in? What do you find your security in? That’s your “Isaac.” God will test you to make sure your identity and your security are found in Him alone. Indeed, He will go after anything you trust in more than you trust Him until you put it on the altar. Don’t worry; you don’t have to live in fear that God is going to take away what is most important to you. But if the gift ever becomes more important to you than the Giver, then the very thing God gave you to serve His purposes is undermining His plan for your life. And that’s why God will deal with it.
Soul food: Deut 32:29-34:12; Mark 9:1-13; Ps 62; Prov 12:18-19
Proverbs 20:4 NKJV
The lazy see an obstacle in every opportunity. They can’t hold down a job – but there’s always a good excuse. The hours are too long, it pays too little, the work’s too hard, people are too demanding – they have all kinds of excuses. And if you don’t like any of those excuses, the lazy always have more. Heard the one about the lion? ‘The lazy man says, “There is a lion outside! If I go outside, I might be killed!”‘ (Proverbs 22:13 NLT). Even the most extreme, unlikely possibility becomes an excuse to not work. Thomas Edison – a pretty good example of an anti-sluggard – said, ‘Opportunity is missed by most people because it comes dressed in overalls and looks like work.’ Even when God sent Jesus, He still gave us a part to play: the apostles were to act to spread His kingdom. They worked just as hard whether things were good or they were being persecuted. But to the Proverbs’ sluggard, it’s always too hot or too cold, too wet or too dry. ‘The lazy man will not plough because of winter.’ If lazy people just harmed themselves it would be one thing, but they hurt everybody else too. ‘A lazy person is as bad as someone who destroys things’ (Proverbs 18:9 NLT). Chuck Swindoll says: ‘That word “destroys” pulsates with liabilities. A lazy employee doesn’t simply hold an organisation back; he destroys its motivation and drive. A lazy player doesn’t just weaken the team; he destroys its spirit and diminishes its will to win. Before long, everyone must do more to compensate for the sluggard’s negative influence.’
Acts 18-19; Mark 4:35-41; Ps 7:10-17; Prov 11:7-9
Proverbs 20:4 NKJV
The sluggard sees an obstacle in every opportunity. Though he can’t hold down a job, there’s always a good excuse. The hours are too long, the pay is too little, the work is too hard, people are too demanding – take your pick. And don’t worry, if you don’t like any of those excuses the sluggard has plenty more. Have you heard the one about the lion? Solomon writes, “The lazy man says, ‘There is a lion outside! I shall be slain in the streets!'” (Proverbs 22:13 NKJV). Thomas Edison, the epitome of a worker and the antithesis of a sluggard, said, “Opportunity is missed by most people because it comes dressed in overalls and looks like work.” A sluggard is never without an excuse. It’s always too hot or too cold, too wet or too dry to work. “The lazy man will not plow because of winter.” If sluggards harmed only themselves it would be one thing, but they hurt everybody else too. “He who is slothful in his work is a brother to him who is a great destroyer” (Proverbs 18:9 NKJV). Chuck Swindoll says: “That word ‘destroys’ pulsates with liabilities. A lazy employee doesn’t simply hold an organization back; he destroys its motivation and drive. A lazy player doesn’t just weaken the team; he destroys its spirit and diminishes its will to win. A lazy pastor doesn’t merely limit a church, he destroys its enthusiasm, its passion to win souls and meet needs. Before long, everyone must do more to compensate for the sluggard’s negative influence.” So again, the word for you today is: Don’t be a sluggard!
Soul food: Acts 18-19; Mark 4:35-41; Ps 7:10-17; Prov 11:7-9
Proverbs 6:6 NKJV
What exactly is a sluggard? Robert Hicks says, “Feeling we’re entitled to things without being willing to do the necessary labor to obtain them makes us a society of sluggards.” There’s one thing you’ll never convince the sluggard of: that he’s a sluggard. “The lazy man is wiser in his own eyes than seven men who can answer sensibly” (Proverbs 26:16 NKJV). Even if seven wise men tell him he’s lazy, he will not admit it – no matter if he’s outnumbered seven to one. You can tell a sluggard, but you can’t tell him much. “The desire of the lazy man kills him, for his hands refuse to labor” (Proverbs 21:25 NKJV). A sluggard’s two favorite words are “one day.” You can hear him or her saying, “One day I’m going to hit it big.” Or, “One day I’m going to own my own business.” Or, “One day I’m going to…” (You fill in the blank)! He or she always has an excuse as to why they can’t work. That’s the meaning of Solomon’s statement: “The way of the lazy man is like a hedge of thorns, but the way of the upright is a highway” (Proverbs 15:19 NKJV). When the sluggard looks out the front door of life, he doesn’t see a highway of opportunity, he only sees one big briar patch. Benjamin Franklin was right when he said, “I never knew a man who was good at making excuses, who was good at anything else.” Bottom line: The sluggard would rather make an excuse than make a living. So the word for you today is: Don’t be a sluggard!
Soul food: Acts 14-15; Mark 4:21-29; Ps 16; Prov 11:1-2