Psalm 40:2 NLT
When an earthquake struck Haiti, an aid worker trapped under a collapsed hotel prayed, “Lord, I haven’t been in touch with You lately. Now I need You more than ever.” He writes: “I heard a sound. ‘Who’s there?’ I shouted. ‘Jim,’ a man replied. He and five others were trapped too. ‘Would you like to pray with me?’ I asked. ‘Yes,’ he answered. So I said, ‘Lord, we’re asking You for a miracle. Please rescue us.’ I was drifting off to sleep when rhythmic thumping woke me. Helicopters! We waited, but nobody came. I felt drained. No food and water for twenty-four hours and I needed a doctor…I closed my eyes, sure I’d never open them again…A voice shouted and I jolted awake…a survivor had contacted a rescue team through a small hole…An hour passed, then two…I banged on the wall. No response. ‘I’m going to die here, and there’s nothing I can do.’ Then this thought came to my mind: Worship Me. I began singing: ‘Great is Thy faithfulness; morning by morning new mercies I see.’ I sang: ‘Be still my soul.’ Praise songs…to the One who knew exactly where I was. I felt God’s presence…and heard Him whisper, ‘Trust me with everything’…and I let it all go. ‘Your will be done, Lord’…Hours later a team of rescuers came down the elevator shaft, hoisted me to safety, and took me to the hospital. My wife was waiting. ‘I thought you were dead,’ she said. ‘Me too,’ I whispered. And I would have been if it hadn’t been for what I had with me in that dark place – like my faith that’s more alive than ever.”
Soul food: Lev 23:33-44; John 7:1-40; Zech 14:16-21
Psalm 25:21 NIV
Integrity is all about us being a whole, honest person. And that means we are the same wherever we are, whatever we’re doing and whoever we are with. We can often end up putting on different masks or identities, depending on the situation. Maybe how we are with our parents is totally different from how we are with our friends. Or how we are at church is different from how we are at work or school. But if we have integrity, we are the same person. We may show different sides of ourselves to different people; we won’t always be completely vulnerable with everyone; but the essence of who we are, our true identity, is the same. The Bible says: ‘Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but whoever takes crooked paths will be found out’ (Proverbs 10:9 NIV). We live in a culture that celebrates talent over integrity, but we’ve got it backwards. Talent could fade over time. So could intellect and appearance. But integrity can last a lifetime if we prioritise it. Unfortunately, when we make mistakes our integrity can be damaged. Our good reputation can be shattered in seconds when we choose the wrong path. So we need to be asking God to help us stay on the right path. David prayed: ‘May integrity and uprightness protect me.’ And we can pray that too. If we do end up with damaged integrity, we can rebuild it again, it may take some time for people to trust us again but we don’t have to lose hope or give up. We just need to return to God, ask for His forgiveness and get back on the right path.
Zeph 1-3; Luke 9:46-56; Ps 42:6-11; Prov 19:15-17
Psalm 139:16 NLT
The Psalmist wrote: “You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. How precious are your thoughts about me, O God” (vv. 16-17 NLT). If you want to know God’s will for your life, pray this prayer: “Lord, You knew me completely before I was born, and You shaped me and destined me for a purpose. Give me a clear vision of all You want to do in and through my life. I desperately need to understand what the ‘hope of my calling’ (Ephesians 4:4) is, and ‘the exceeding greatness of Your power’ (Ephesians 1:19) to enable me to fulfill Your purpose (See 2 Corinthians 9:14). Show me the gifts You have put in me, and how I can develop and use them for Your glory (See Romans 12:6). Help me to think big and pray with boldness (See Ephesians 3:20). I want to be open and available for whatever You have for me, and not miss Your blessings by being unprepared to receive them. Help me not to hold on to things or relationships that are not of You. I want to do Your will with my whole heart (See Psalm 40:8). Only You know what and who is right for me. Help me to hear Your voice, and give me the grace and courage to follow Your leading when I am afraid (See John 10:4). May the desires of Your heart become the desires of my heart. Enlarge my capacity to believe that You can take what I have and multiply it beyond what I can imagine. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.”
Soul food: 2 Sam 12:1-14:20; Luke 7:24-35; Ps 118:10-18; Prov 18:7-9
Genesis 50:20 NLT
At seventeen, Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery. He suffered for many years because of what his brother had done to him. Once he was ruler of Egypt, during the time of the famine, he held the power of life and death over his brothers. And despite what they’d done to him, and the things he’d had to go through, he chose not only to forgive them, but to feed them. He said: ‘You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people. No, don’t be afraid. I will continue to take care of you and your children.’ (vv.20-21 NLT). How we treat the people who hurt us is important. Often our natural response is retaliation, anger or bitterness. We can hold on to what that person did to us for years. Everything they do after that is seen through the lens of bitterness and hurt. But God calls us not only to forgive people, but to be generous towards them. Ever heard the phrase ‘hurting people hurt people’? We need to be aware that people’s own situations may lead them to hurt others, and be gracious towards them. And, just like God did for Joseph, He can use the hurt others have caused for good. He can redeem any situation. Whether that’s through growing us, blessing us or using it to advance the kingdom, this redemption means that we can stop holding on to bitterness. Jesus said, ‘Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you’ (Matthew 5:44 NKJV). Are we willing to do that?
1 Sam 20:30-23:29; Luke 5:12-26; Ps 102:18-28; Prov 17:11-14
John 18:37 ESV
Finding our God-given assignment is an exciting, and maybe even daunting experience. It might involve stepping out of our comfort zone and into something unfamiliar, but God loves us and wants us to succeed in the task He’s given us. But how do we discover our own assignment in the first place? Here are some questions to ask yourself which can help you discover yours: 1) What dreams and desires have been living in me for most of my life? 2) What motivates me to work hard and be productive? 3) What keeps me going when I’m worn out? 4) What makes me refuse to give up when I face resistance? 5) What work do I enjoy doing? 6) What do I do now that brings a positive response from people? 7) What was I doing when opportunities seemed to come along with no effort from me? 8) What do my leaders and mentors think about my work? 9) What makes me feel good about being who I am? 10) When am I most creative? 11) What would I be willing to give up to complete my God-given assignment? 12) What am I doing that I’d be proud to offer for God’s approval? 13) What would I do without being paid for it if I could afford to? 14) What am I prepared to put up with in order to finish my assignment? People laughing at me? Low income? Have a think and pray about these questions, and they’ll help to guide you towards discovering your God-given assignment in life.
1 Sam 4-7; Luke 3:11-20; Ps 59:9-17; Prov 16:23-26