Isaiah 26:3 NIV
When life gets overwhelming, it can be difficult to feel at peace. But we can hand over all our troubles to God, in exchange for His peace. The Bible says: ‘Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you’ (1 Peter 5:7 NIV). It can be challenging to hand things over to God without taking them back again. We like to feel in control, and handing over our worries means we’re not in control of them anymore. We have to trust God and let Him help us handle the situations rather than trying to do everything ourselves. It’s also important to stop looking at the problems we have, and start looking at the One who can solve them. In Isaiah we’re told: ‘You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.’ We need to keep our minds fixed on our unchanging God, not our changeable circumstances. In the Bible we read about Jesus calming the storm. The disciples were focused on the situation that they were in, rather than trusting the fact that Jesus was on board and could do the seemingly impossible. The Bible says: ‘When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Silence! Be still!” Suddenly the wind stopped, and there was a great calm’ (Mark 4:29 NLT). And He can bring peace and calm to the storms in our lives too. No matter how strong the wind is, or how high the waves are, He can bring peace. We need to pray about all our situations, surrender our need to be in control of everything, and let Him work. Then ‘the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus’ (Philippians 4:7 NIV).
Isa 40:9-11; Isa 42:1-4; Ps 18:31-35
Exodus 15:26 NIV
Why isn’t every sick person we pray for healed? We don’t know, and God doesn’t always tell us. Paul writes, ‘I left Trophimus sick in Miletus’ (2 Timothy 4:20 NIV). Why would Paul, who had raised the dead, leave a friend sick instead of praying and seeing him healed? Perhaps he did pray, but God chose not to heal Trophimus, at least at that time. There are aspects of healing we’ll never fully understand, and there are many things about God we don’t know, but here’s one thing we do know about Him: ‘I am the Lord, who heals you.’ And since He said, ‘I am the Lord, and I do not change’ (Malachi 3:6 NLT), and ‘Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever’ (Hebrews 13:8 NIV), we can go to Him for healing based on His Word. One of the last statements Jesus made before leaving earth was: ‘These signs will follow those who believe…They will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover’ (Mark 16:17-18 NKJV). Do we believe God still heals people today? Or have we become disappointed and disillusioned because we haven’t seen God move in miraculous ways when we’ve prayed? If we’re struggling to believe, we need to ask God to increase our faith and then we need to start praying expectantly again. Let’s obey this verse: ‘Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord’ (James 5:14 NIV). We may be finding it hard to keep praying when we’re not seeing anything happen. We can wonder if God really is as good as He says He is. But let’s not give up. Let’s persistently, expectantly pray for those we know who are ill.
Luke 6:27-36; Exo 23:1-9; Rom 12:14-21
Luke 22:40 NIV
Deep inside, we all know the areas of our lives where we’re most often tempted and fail. And if we repeatedly fall into the same temptations, we can begin to think: ‘What’s the point in asking God for forgiveness? I’m just going to repeat the same sins and have to go back to Him again.’ But God’s forgiveness doesn’t run out when we’ve sinned a certain number of times. When we go to Him with a humble and sorry heart, He loves to forgive us. We can also break the cycle of temptation we find ourselves stuck in. Jesus told His disciples, ‘Pray that you will not fall into temptation’. We can pray before the temptation comes and ask for the strength we need to handle the situation when it arises. When we pray, God strengthens us so that we can overcome the things that are trapping us. We don’t have to worry that God will be angry with us for being tempted; we can approach Him for the help we need. Paul said: ‘Let us…approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need’ (Hebrews 4:16 NIV). Tempting situations can come up regularly, so we need to make sure we’re setting aside time to pray. It can be easy to fill our spare time with things like TV and social media, but it’s far more worthwhile to use that time to pray into the situations we’re facing and about the parts of our lives where we feel weak and vulnerable to temptation. If we keep facing temptation, we need to avoid becoming frustrated at ourselves and remember God’s grace to forgive us. Then we need to rely on His help to overcome our temptation.
Isa 30-33; Matt 11:20-30; Ps 107:23-32; Prov 3:25-26
Luke 22:40 NIV
You can put on your best game face in an attempt to convince others you’re doing better than you are, but deep inside you know the areas where you’re most often tempted and fail. In fact, if you are gut-level honest, chances are you keep a mental scorecard. Others may give you an A or B on your report card, but you give yourself a failing grade. And when that happens often enough, you reach the place where you start thinking, “What’s the point in asking God for forgiveness? I’m just going to repeat the same sins over and over and have to go back to Him again.” There’s a solution. Jesus told His disciples, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation” (See Matthew 26:41). In other words, pray before the temptation comes and you’ll be strengthened and fortified to handle it. “But I have prayed!” you reply. Then increase the dosage and pray more! Before Jesus calmed the storm on Galilee, He spent the whole night in prayer. Turn off your TV, your computer, your iPhone, and any other outside connections, and spend time with God. What did the old-timers mean when they talked about “praying through”? Simply this: You can reach a point in prayer where you “know” God has given you the strength you need and victory is assured. Paul said, “Let us…approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:16 NIV). What do you need when you keep failing? God’s grace to forgive you – and His help to overcome temptation. So pray before temptation comes, and God will make you an overcomer.
Soul food: Isa 30-33; Matt 11:20-30; Ps 107:23-32; Prov 3:25-26
Luke 8:43-44 NLT
The Bible says: “A woman having an issue of blood twelve years, which had spent all her living upon physicians, neither could be healed of any, came behind him, and touched the border of his garment: and immediately her issue of blood stanched. And Jesus said, ‘Who touched me?’ When all denied, Peter and they that were with him said, ‘Master, the multitude throng thee and press thee, and sayest thou, “Who touched me?”‘ And Jesus said, ‘Somebody hath touched me: for I perceive that virtue [healing power] is gone out of me’…And he said unto her, ‘Daughter, be of good comfort: thy faith hath made thee whole'” (vv. 43-48). This woman had an “issue” that was draining the life out of her, one no doctor could cure. So she did what you need to do – she took her issue to Jesus, touched Him by faith, and was made whole. Think about what she had to overcome. Twelve years of suffering. A sense of hopelessness and despair because she’d “spent all her living upon physicians, neither could be healed of any.” Then there was the crowd that thronged Jesus and stood in her way. Nevertheless, the moment her faith made contact with Jesus, she was made whole. So what’s your biggest issue today? Is it a long-term one? Is it at home or on the job? Is it a health issue or a stubborn habit? Don’t stop until you get to Jesus, even if that means getting down on your knees in prayer and pushing through every obstacle that stands in your way. Touch Jesus by faith today, and you too can be made whole.
Soul food: 1 Cor 12-14; Matt 4:18-25; Ps 10:1-11; Prov 1:10-16