Romans 12:2 NCV
If we want our cars or our bodies to function well, we have to give them the right fuel. But what we feed our mind is equally important. Our thoughts influence our emotions and our behaviour. The Bible says: ‘The mouth speaks what the heart is full of’ (Luke 6:45 NIV). Jesus said a good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit (take a look at Matthew 7:18). Good thinking can’t produce bad results, just as bad thinking can’t produce good results. The Bible says, ‘Do not…be shaped by this world; instead be changed within by a new way of thinking.’ So how can we think differently? Firstly, we need to think about the unhelpful things we’re filling our minds with. We’ll always end up thinking about what we’re exposed to the most. The things we read, watch, and listen to affect our minds. Secondly, we need to be filling our minds with God’s truth. We need to remember that God’s ‘gracious Word can make you into what He wants you to be and give you everything you could possibly need’ (Acts 20:32 MSG). When we spend time reading the Bible, we soak in the truth of who we are, and who God is. The things we focus on can change how we feel. When we’re focused on God, we’ll feel peace. When we’re focused on our problems, we might feel fearful and overwhelmed. The Bible says: ‘You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you’ (Isaiah 26:3 NIV). The fuel we give our minds is our choice. God doesn’t force us to read the Bible or focus on Him. We have to make the choice to shift our focus away from unhelpful, worldly things, and onto God.
Exo 25-27; Matt 8:1-9; Ps 81; Prov 2:11-15
Psalm 34:10 NLT
Have you lost your job? Are you facing the possibility of losing your home or going bankrupt? Are you in the toughest place you’ve ever been? Paul “suffered the loss of all things” (Philippians 3:8 NAS), but he didn’t stay there. He went on to say, “My God shall supply all your need” (Philippians 4:19 NKJV). And God can do that for you – with or without a paycheck or some other anticipated source of income. The psalmist said, “Those who trust in the Lord will lack no good thing.” One of the things you have to watch out for is Satan’s worst-case-scenario talk. If you allow him, he will paint mental images of you living in a cardboard box, under a bridge. Stand on God’s Word today and declare: “Lord, You said if I’m willing and obedient, I will enjoy the best You have to offer (See Isaiah 1:19). You promise to surround me with favour (See Psalm 5:12). Your Word says that You can do more than anything I could even ask or think, according to Your power that works within me (See Ephesians 3:20). Even though nothing seems to be going right for me just now, give me faith to believe You for good things and better days. Your Word tells me to be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let my requests be made known to You. That Your peace, which surpasses human understanding, will guard my heart and mind (See Philippians 4:6-7). Lord, honor Your Word today, in the name of Jesus, Amen.”
Soul food: Neh 8-10; John 18:25-40; Ps 105:1-7; Prov 30:1-4
Luke 6:28 NKJV
Night after night, Mary was beaten by her father when he came home from the bar in a drunken rage. So the first chance she got, she left home. Given time, most physical scars begin to heal, but emotional scars can last a lifetime. They can keep you stuck in the pain of the past and cost you valuable relationships. Even the people who love you can grow weary and despair that you’ll ever get better despite their efforts to help you. Do you know someone like that? Are you that someone? Do you want to move toward healing and find joy? You can. Mary found it when she decided to forgive her dad and start praying for him. That’s when she started to become spiritually and emotionally whole. And she kept on forgiving him and praying for him until her old memories no longer held her prisoner. Jesus said, “Pray for those who spitefully use you.” The word “spiteful” implies you did nothing to cause or deserve it, that your offender hurt you for reasons you may never understand. That’s why Jesus prayed on the cross, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34 NKJV). That doesn’t let your offender off the hook. They will live with the guilt of what they did, and unless they turn to God for forgiveness they’ll have no peace. But you will have peace! When you decide to forgive someone and pray for them, you take back your power and reclaim your life.
Soul food: 1 Chr 7:20-9:44; John 8:31-41; Ps 30; Prov 25:13-17
Matthew 6:31-32 NLT
If God lives within you, shouldn’t it be obvious? How can you say you trust Him and then worry obsessively about your health, your kids, your job, and your finances? Concern is one thing, but worry is an affront to the God who has never let you down. Paul writes, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace” (Philippians 4:6-7 NLT). Pray or worry – those are your options. Why did Jesus say, “Take no thought for tomorrow”? (See Matthew 6:34). Because when you take thought you try to take control. And when that happens peace goes out the window! Worry is like a snowball; it starts small, and as you keep rolling it forward it becomes big enough to bury you. All that’s necessary to keep a stationary train from moving forward are two six-inch blocks of wood, but once it builds up a head of steam it will crash through a six-foot-thick wall. So stop the worry train before it leaves the station! God says, “My grace is sufficient for you” (2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV). God will give you only what you need for today; that way you have to keep trusting Him for tomorrow. The Bible tells us Jesus is the Good Shepherd who “calls his own sheep by name and…walks ahead of them” (John 10:3-4 NLT). How wonderful. He’s already gone ahead of you to arrange everything. Knowing that should help you face tomorrow, confident that God will take care of you.
Soul food: Ezra 1-2; John 6:25-34; Ps 98; Prov 24:15-18
Psalm 55:22 NIV
When we feel stressed, we can try and find distraction and comfort in things that might actually make our situation worse, such as food, back-to-back TV shows, endless scrolling through social media, and making ourselves really busy. All these things are used to take our mind off what we are feeling, but they don’t deal with the problem. But God doesn’t want us to live our lives crippled by stress. So what can we do when we are feeling stressed out? Firstly, we need to take it to God. The psalmist writes: ‘Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you.’ To make it through times of stress we need to let God sustain us. He knows we are going to feel stressed and weak sometimes, and He promises to give us the strength we need. Instead of struggling alone with the burden, let’s share it with the burden-bearer and let Him strengthen us. Secondly, we need to remember that we are not God. Sometimes we can think that everything depends on us, and that causes stress. But we are not called to fix every situation or be everything to every person. We are called to put God first and let Him direct us. Thirdly, we need to be prepared to make some changes to our lifestyle. It might mean taking a temporary break from social media, scheduling in some more times to sit in God’s presence, writing gratitude lists to help us focus on the positives, or asking for help in the areas where we are struggling. Even the smallest change can make a huge difference. So let’s not allow stress to rule our lives, and instead bring it to the One who can bring peace, strength, and life to us.
1 Tim 4-6; John 5:31-47; Ps 126; Prov 24:10