Problem-solving (4)

Proverbs 14:15 NIV

The next thing we need to do is evaluate the problem carefully and prayerfully. When we are facing a tough problem or situation, it can be easy to react out of our current emotions and thoughts. We can make decisions we may regret in the future, just because of the strength of the emotions we are feeling in the moment. Here’s what King Solomon said about reacting impulsively instead of taking time to get all the facts. ‘The simple believe anything, but the prudent give thought to their steps.’ ‘To answer before listening – that is folly and shame’ (Proverbs 18:13 NIV). We need to be asking ourselves, ‘Who or what caused this problem? Are we making a mountain out of a molehill? Has it the potential to do real damage, or will we have forgotten about it this time next week?’ Not all problems can be solved instantly. Some require us to think about them carefully, to allow our emotions to calm so that we can think rationally and with perspective, and to pray and seek God’s guidance. He’s got the wisdom we need. The Bible says: ‘If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you’ (James 1:5 NIV). By not reacting immediately to our problems, we have the time to get into God’s presence and ask for His wisdom. When we bring our problems to Him, He exchanges our worry and stress for His perfect peace. In Philippians it says: ‘Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus’ (4:6-7 NIV).

Gen 6:9-8:4; Matt 24:37-51

A prayer for your children

Psalm 127:3 NKJV

When someone loves you enough to leave you an inheritance, you should treasure it and treat it in a way that honors them. The Bible says that your children are a “heritage” from the Lord. So here’s a prayer for them: “Lord, I cannot begin to tell You how blessed and grateful I am for my children. I recognize each of them as a beautiful gift from You. You have given them to me to love and care for, to enjoy and celebrate, to delight in and raise so that they may come to know You as the greatest heritage of all. Thank You that no one, not even me, can ever be as good to them as You are. Because You have given me the privilege and responsibility of bringing them to You, teach me the importance of lifting them up before You each day in prayer. Keep them in the center of Your love and designed purpose. Bless them with the knowledge of who You are. Help them to put their trust in You and stay on the path of life You have for them. Enable them to recognize the gifts and the calling that You have put in them, and to follow Your leading as You develop them and use them for Your glory. Make Your face shine upon them, Your grace be with them, and Your love abound in them. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.” Are your children serving the Lord? If not, stand on this Bible promise: “‘There is hope in your future,’ says the Lord, ‘that your children shall come back to their own border [the principles they were taught]'” (Jeremiah 31:17 NKJV).

Soul food: Acts 14-15; Matt 9:27-38; Ps 133; Prov 16:2

Pray and wait

Romans 8:29 NIV

The Bible says, ‘For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son.’ When we read the verses before this we can discover God does this through prayer. Many times we don’t pray because we don’t think anything’s happening. But with God, something’s always happening. We can wonder, ‘When is He going to work?’ But the truth is, He’s always working. When it comes to prayer He’s either answering us the way we hoped, or changing our heart through His Spirit to bring our prayer into harmony with His will. We can’t always see God working after we’ve prayed. When we plant a seed, we won’t come back the next day and see green shoots and leaves. It doesn’t mean that nothing’s happening. Things are happening beneath the soil where we can’t see. Just because we don’t see the evidence of God working doesn’t mean that He’s ignoring us. God might be working on something that we won’t see for a long while, but we can be confident that when we do see what He’s doing, it’ll be at just the right time. One way in which God is making us more like Jesus is by helping us to pray the way Jesus prayed: ‘not my will, but yours be done’ (Luke 22:42 NIV). That means when our prayer lines up with His will, He’s already working on it even though we can’t see it. And if our prayer doesn’t line up with His will, He’s working to change our request by changing us. Unanswered prayer can be as big a blessing as answered prayer, when it keeps us from taking the wrong path. The more time we spend with God in prayer, and the more we learn about Him through the Bible, the more we’ll be praying prayers that do line up with His will for us.

2 Kings 10-12; Mark 12:28-44; Ps 132:11-18; Prov 13:7-8

Pray (4)

Psalm 91:15 NIV

Sometimes we can feel like our issues are too big or too small for God. We can avoid taking things to Him in prayer because we think He won’t be interested. But He cares for us. He’s interested in even the smallest matter in our lives. 1 Peter 5:7 tells us to ‘Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you’ (NIV). Whenever we pray, God’s listening – and He will answer. ‘He will call on me, and I will answer him.’ It won’t always be the answer we’re expecting or wanting. But it will be the best thing for us. When we’re praying it can be useful to use Bible verses to guide our prayers. We can speak out the promises that He made throughout the Bible, and remind ourselves that He has promised those things to us. For example, when praying we can speak out the promise that God will answer us – we can even thank Him in advance for the answer He will give. We can speak out promises about God providing for our needs (take a look at Matthew 6:25-34), giving us strength when we’re weak (have a read of Isaiah 40:28-31), and about His steadfast, unchanging love for us. Every time we speak these out, we’re increasing our faith and expectation that God will move. As His children, we can come before Him with any request. We can come with confidence, because Jesus’ sacrifice has let us come close to God. Hebrews 4:16 says: ‘Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.’ Whatever we need, big or small, we can confidently approach God and be sure He will answer.

2 Kings 4:18-6:33; Mark 12:1-12; Ps 48; Prov 13:2-3

Do good

Galatians 6:10 NLT

How can we ‘do good to everyone’? Galatians 6:1-10 gives us some ideas. Firstly, we can gently correct people who have taken the wrong path. Verse 1 says: ‘If someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently’ (NIV). When we see that someone isn’t living in a godly way, we have a choice. We can stand back and let it happen, or we can step in and correct them, in a gentle and loving way. Secondly, we can help people through tough times. Verse 2 says: ‘Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfil the law of Christ’ (NIVUK). If someone’s struggling, we can offer practical and emotional support. We can pray for people. We can even just sit and listen. Thirdly, we need to avoid comparisons. Verse 4 says: ‘Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else’ (NIV). Comparing ourselves leads to rivalry, disunity, and resentment. So to do good to others, we need to accept them for who they are and avoid comparisons. Fourthly, we can thank people and share things with them. Verse 6 says: ‘The one who receives instruction in the word should share all good things with their instructor’ (NIV). When someone has helped us out, let’s be grateful and show our appreciation to them for doing something good to us. Finally, we can do good to others by following the prompting of the Spirit (take a look at verse 7-8). If we’re just doing good to get something back then we’re not really doing good at all, we’re just trying to please people. Let’s be more interested in God’s heart than pleasing those around us.

1 Kings 14-15; Mark 9:14-29; Ps 101; Prov 12:12-13