Proverbs 18:24 MSG
The Bible says: ‘Friends come and…go, but a true friend sticks by you.’ So what’s the difference between a friend and a true friend? Friends can be there for you sometimes, but true friends help each other out, no matter what it costs. The Bible tells us that ‘two…are better off than one…they can help each other…If one…falls, the other can reach out…But someone who falls alone is in real trouble’ (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 NLT). Do we have someone who reaches out to us when we’re struggling? Do we reach out to others? The Bible encourages us to carry each other’s burdens (have a look at Galatians 6:2). And when we ‘rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn’ (Romans 12:15 NIV) despite what’s happening in our own lives, we show that we’re putting others needs before our own. True friends also give each other advice when we’re facing a tough situations. The Bible says, ‘The sweetness of a…friend gives delight by hearty counsel’ (Proverbs 27:9 NKJV). A true friend will pray for us, and share any wisdom they’ve gained from experiences in their lives, just because they want to help us make the right decisions in our lives. But they will also hold us accountable. When we go off God’s path for us and start going our own way, we can think we’re doing the right thing. But our true friends can remind us that God knows best and show us where we’re going wrong. True friends love us enough to be honest even when it’s hard and can hurt for a while. So if we’ve got someone like this in our lives, we’ve found a true friend.
2 Cor 9:1-11:15; Luke 2:8-20; Ps 144:9-15; Prov 16:4-7
Mark 2:4 NIV
All of us are creative in some way. Maybe we like writing, baking, painting, drawing or making music. Maybe we like thinking creatively about a problem. That’s what a group of people did in the Bible when they were trying to get their friend to be able to see Jesus. Their friend was paralysed and they believed Jesus could heal Him. But the house Jesus was in was too crowded to even be able to get through the door. So they had a creative thought. ‘They made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on.’ Sometimes we can feel like we’re stuck in a problem or stuck in our relationship with God. We just don’t seem to be getting anywhere. But God has made us all with the ability to be creative. We are made in His image (see Genesis 1) and He’s a creative God. So when we’re feeling like we can’t move forward, maybe we need to be creative and think outside of the box. This is particularly true in our relationship with God. Sometimes we can feel like our journey with God has become mundane. We no longer desire to spend time with Him; we pray and read the Bible because we’re told we should rather than because we really want to. Maybe that’s when we need to go through the roof, not the door. There are plenty of alternative, creative ways to connect with God. We can journal, read books, study theology and worship Him through art, music or hospitality. So if we’re feeling a bit stuck in our relationship with God, let’s think creatively and try something new.
Gal 5:23; Prov 16:32; 2 Pet 1:5-8; Heb 11:23-27
Acts 27:20 NIV
There are times when God seems inaccessible. When you pray, you feel abandoned in your present circumstances. And not just abandoned, but terrified and even hopeless. Paul understood that feeling. He’d longed for an opportunity to preach in Rome, and was on his way there when a hurricane destroyed his ship. Paul not only foresaw the loss of the ship, its crew and cargo, but “our own lives also” (v. 10 NIV). He tried to warn the crew of the impending tragedy, but his words were disregarded by those in charge. In short, Paul and 276 others were placed in a life-threatening position by the willful disregard of others, and there was nothing he could do about it. Feeling a sense of despair, he and his believing companions declared, “We 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). When it looked like Paul’s consuming desire to preach in Rome would be thwarted, God faithfully piloted them through the storm to the exact destination He’d planned for them. Paul would go to Rome and declare God’s Word before Caesar! Are you caught in a storm? Whatever trial you’re facing today, know this one thing: You can trust God to carry you through it. He determines “the end from the beginning” (Isaiah 46:10), so you will come out of this stronger and wiser.
Soul food: Lam 1:1-3:39; Mark 12:28-44; Ps 108; Prov 13:24-25
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
Proverbs 22:29 NIV
We should all want to be successful for God. His idea of success isn’t the same as the world’s idea of success, so it’s important that we take time to pray about our work and the tasks He’s assigned to us, so we can stay focused and on track. Here’s a prayer we can all pray, whatever our task is: ‘Lord, I thank You for the way You’ve made me, for all the gifts and talents You’ve given me, and I trust that I’m the best person for the task You’ve assigned to me. I’m grateful for all the people I work with and connect with, even the ones I don’t really like or understand. Please help me keep my focus on accomplishing the goals You’ve set for me. Give me wisdom and discernment, especially if I’m in a difficult situation. Help me to learn what You want to teach me through this task, and give me patience as You prepare me for the future. Help me to do my best, and to always remain positive and hopeful. Please soothe the complaints and disappointments of my heart with Your perfect peace. Help me to bring You glory and share Your love through the work I’m doing. Allow me to know my true identity, to walk in Your favour, and help me seek to please You. Keep me on the path You’ve laid out for me. Help me to be a peacemaker in times of conflict or argument. When others around me are being deceitful or untrustworthy, help me speak only the truth. Help me bring hope, faith and joy to places where there is despair, fear and sadness. Help me be a light in the darkness. I ask these things in Jesus’ name. Amen.’
Judg 9:34-11:40; Mark 10:35-52; Ps 129; Prov 20:25; Ecc 5:4-6