Learn to meditate

Psalm 1:2 NIV

Butterflies cover more ground, but bees gather more honey. That’s because the butterfly just flies over the flowers, whereas the bee lands on each one and stays there long enough to extract the nectar. That’s the difference between merely reading your Bible for a few hurried minutes, and taking time to meditate on what you’re reading. Meditation isn’t something difficult and mysterious that only scholars and “spiritual” people do. It’s just thinking deeply and continuously about a passage of Scripture, memorizing it, letting it take root, and “owning it” until it becomes a life force operating within you each day. The point isn’t how much Scripture you memorise, it’s what happens to you in the process. Meditating on God’s Word clarifies your understanding and corrects your conduct. It enriches your thinking and equips you by making you think different thoughts than if you were watching TV, for example, or texting, or talking on your cell phone, or shopping at the mall. The Psalmist writes: “The Law of the Lord makes them happy, and they think about it day and night. They are like trees growing beside a stream, trees that produce fruit in season and always have leaves. These people succeed in everything they do” (vv. 2-3 CEV). Meditating on God’s Word is the cure for moral and spiritual weakness; for a life with no focus; for a lack of intimacy with God; for chronically weak faith that causes you to fail and keep missing God’s best. So open your Bible, read it, and pray, “Lord, what are You saying to me?” Then meditate on His answer.

Soul food: Isa 53-57; John 7:33-44; Ps 15; Prov 29:4-6

Respectful evangelism

John 6:44 NKJV

It’s tough when those closest to us don’t believe what we believe. We can feel so passionate about our faith and want others to experience Jesus too. But however much we want them to share our beliefs, we’ve got to accept each other’s differences and unique perspectives. Sometimes our relationships with friends and family can end up falling apart because we try to force our opinions on the people we love. It may take someone hearing about Jesus, or seeing His love demonstrated to them, ten times (maybe more, maybe less) before they believe. If we’re person ten in the chain then we get the privilege of seeing that person’s life transformed. But we’re just as important if we’re person two or four or seven. We may never see that person come to faith ourselves, but we’ve played an important part in their journey. Whichever person in the chain we are, we need to be careful that we’re not forcing our views on other people. Instead we need to be showing them through our actions, and through our love, that the best life’s a life with God involved. It’s all so much harder when people aren’t prepared to listen and respect our beliefs. But we need to remember that Jesus didn’t condemn the people who crucified Him; He prayed, ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do’ (Luke 23:34 NKJV). He didn’t see them as morally bad, but spiritually blind. He told His disciples, ‘No one can come to Me unless the Father…draws him’ (John 6:44 NKJV). So instead of forcing our beliefs on others, let’s pray that God would draw them towards Him and let’s show them His love through our words and actions.

Isa 17-21; John 6:1-15; Ps 127; Prov 27:25-27

Passing the fear test

Isaiah 12:2 NKJV

How much of a factor is fear in your life? Go ahead, take the fear test. Circle the number that best corresponds to how you feel. (1) I don’t remember the last time I was really afraid. (2) I am afraid rarely, and only when I or someone close to me is in physical danger. (3) I am a little more fearful than I’d like to be. (4) Fear is a significant factor in my everyday life. I avoid anything risky or dangerous. (5) I’m afraid of many things on a daily basis, and it changes the way I live my life. If you circled number one you’re an unusual individual who doesn’t experience normal fear. You may have to temper your actions with greater discernment and wisdom. If you circled number two, you have a healthy attitude toward fear and you’ve got a handle on it. You should try to encourage others who have a more difficult time with fear than you do. If you circled number three or four, you’re in an excellent position to improve your life by changing your attitude. Begin by identifying the source of your fears, and determining to turn your fear into faith in God (See Romans 10:17). For each area of fear, figure out a positive opposite, and create a plan of action to cultivate that quality. Then focus on what you can control today. If you circled number five, chances are fear is getting the better of you and you’ll have a difficult time overcoming it on your own. So pray and reprogram your mind with God’s Word (See 1 Timothy 1:7). And don’t be afraid to seek help from a trusted friend or counselor.

Soul food: Exo 33-35; John 4:1-12; Ps 87; Prov 27:4-6

Keep growing

Proverbs 1:5 NIV

In order to keep growing, you must understand three principles: (1) You grow to the extent you give. By giving out, you create more room to grow on the inside. So give until it hurts, and keep giving until it feels good. Always endeavor to leave people better off than you found them, and you’ll be better off too. Solomon said, “The liberal man shall be rich! By watering others, he waters himself” (Proverbs 11:25 TLB). This epitaph on a tombstone says it all: “What I gave, I have. What I spent, I had. What I kept, I lost.” (2) To accomplish more, you’ve got to grow more. Do you feel stuck spiritually, relationally, career-wise, or at home? You won’t get unstuck by making external changes, like pursuing a new career, leaving your family, or changing churches. Nobody’s keeping you down but yourself. The lid on your life is – you. So if you’re serious about getting unstuck, instead of looking for quick fixes take a long hard look at yourself, accept responsibility for what you see, pray, and decide to do something about it. (3) It’s not enough to dream; you must do. The Tartar tribes of Central Asia are reputed to have used a particular curse against their enemies. They didn’t call for their swords to rust or their people to die of disease. They simply said, “May you stay in one place forever.” If you don’t work daily to improve yourself, that will be your fate too. You’ll end up stuck in the same place, doing the same things, dreaming the same dreams, and never getting anywhere. So keep growing!

Soul food: Exo 30-32; John 3:22-36; Ps 32; Prov 27:1-3

While you’re waiting

Psalm 40:1 NIV

God works according to His own perfect timetable. Sometimes He’ll move suddenly, like He did for Bartimaeus (you can read about this in Mark 10:46-52). But a lot of the time, we’ll find He asks us to wait. And that isn’t always something we’re good at. When we’re struggling with our situation, or even really enthusiastic to get on with God’s calling for us, we want God to do act straight away, the sooner the better. But He doesn’t work like that, and our impatience won’t move God faster. Just because we can’t see Him at work doesn’t mean He isn’t working, and it doesn’t mean that He’s changed His mind. It just means the timing isn’t quite right yet. So what should we do while we’re waiting? 1) Pray for God’s will to take priority in you life. God says, ‘I make known the end from the beginning’ (Isaiah 46:10 NIV). Before God starts anything, He can already see the end goal and the steps that lead us to it. We just need to be willing to accept His will and say yes to following the path He’s laid out for us. 2) While you’re waiting, rejoice. ‘Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Saviour’ (Habakkuk 3:17-18 NIVUK). Start thanking God today for what He’s already done for you, and for what He’s going to do in the future on your behalf. Because He will. He absolutely will come through for you.

Exo 7-9; John 1:1-13; Ps 29; Prov 26:4-6