What’s in a name? (4)

Judges 6:16, 23 NIV

The name Jehovah-Shalom: The Lord our peace, was discovered by Gideon when God told him to lead Israel against the Midianites – a position he felt was far beyond what he could do. He said to God: ‘How can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest…and I am the least in my family’ (v.15 NIV). Here’s how God responded: ‘I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites…Peace! Do not be afraid. You are not going to die.’ Even though Gideon was frightened he believed God and before the battle was even fought or the victory won, he had peace. So he built an altar to God and called it ‘the Lord is peace’ (have a read of Judges 6:24). We often assume we’ll only have peace when our situation changes. But, like Gideon, we can learn that inward peace doesn’t depend on altering our outward circumstances; it depends on believing God is with us and experiencing His inner peace. Jesus promises: ‘Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you…Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid’ (John 14:27 NIV). We can go to God with all our fears and problems, and He’ll give us peace. ‘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’ (Philippians 4:6-7 NIV). However inadequate we may feel, we can remember Jesus’ words: ‘I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace…take heart! I have overcome the world’ (John 16:33 NIV). So let’s ‘take heart,’ and trust Jehovah-Shalom to handle the rest.

Josh 14-15; Luke 20:1-8; Ps 142; Prov 23:7-9

A prayer for knowing God’s will

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

Desire: Friendship

Proverbs 18:24 NKJV

Jonathan and David had a very strong friendship. The Bible says: ‘By the time David had finished reporting to Saul, Jonathan was deeply impressed with David – an immediate bond was forged between them. He became totally committed to David. From that point on he would be David’s number-one advocate and friend’ (1 Samuel 18:1 MSG). Jonathan was heir to the throne, but he voluntarily gave it up because he knew his friend David was God’s choice to be king. Jonathan desired to be a friend more than he desired to be a king. People often want to put their own success over and above their friendships with others. But friendship, and God’s ultimate plan, was more important to Jonathan. And their friendship ended up changing the course of Israel. Whether we’re introvert or extrovert, shy or outgoing, friendship is an important thing in our lives. We need other people for support, advice and prayer. God can use our friends to speak to us. But in order for us to have strong and godly friendships we need to be prepared to be strong godly friends to others. The Bible says: ‘A man who has friends must himself be friendly.’ Friendships, like Jonathan and David’s, don’t just happen. They have to be worked at and grown, just like any relationship. When we meet up with our friends, we can often find ourselves checking our phones, watching TV or checking our watch to make sure we’ll get to wherever we need to be next on time. Developing strong friendships requires the investment of quality time. It involves focusing completely on what the other person is saying. It involves putting people above our own personal gains, just like Jonathan did in his friendship with David.

Ezek 10-13; Mark 14:27-42; Ps 124; Prov 14:21-24

A prayer for success at work

Proverbs 22:29 NIV

Here’s a prayer for success at work: “Lord, I thank You for the way You’ve made me, for the many gifts and talents You’ve placed within me, and I trust that I’m the best person for this job. I am grateful for each and every one of the personalities I work with, even the ones I don’t particularly like or understand. I ask that my focus would be on accomplishing the goals You have set forth for me to perform during my time in this position. Give me wisdom and discernment on the job, even in the midst of a hostile environment. Help me to learn what You want to teach me here, 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 quiet the complaints and disappointments of my heart with Your perfect peace, and allow me to trust You with my job. Dress me in the garments of praise and the righteousness of Christ that I may bring You glory where I work. Allow me to know my true identity, to walk in Your favor, and to seek to please You more than those with whom I work. Where there is contention, let me be a peacemaker. Where there is deceit, let me speak truth. Where there is despair, let me bring hope. Where there is fear, let me bring faith. Where there is darkness, let me bring light. Where there is sadness, let me bring joy. These things I ask in Jesus’ name, amen.”

Soul food: Judg 9:34-11:40; Mark 10:35-52; Ps 129; Prov 20:25; Ecc 5:4-6

Setting captives free (2)

Psalm 107:14 NCV

God is in the business of setting people free – morally and spiritually. When the Israelites were in bondage, “they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress” (v. 13 RSV). Jesus still delivers day after day, and “if the Son sets you free, you are free through and through” (John 8:36 TM). So follow these steps to freedom: (1) Cry out to the Lord. He said, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13 NIV). The cry of the Israelites was a repeated heart-cry, and God still responds to cries from the heart. Deliverance starts by recognizing your total dependence on Him. Instead of trying to handle it all on your own, the Bible says, “Cast all your [care] on him, because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7 RSV). (2) Feed your soul spiritually. Jesus said, “I am the living bread…If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever” (John 6:51 NIV). As you feed on God’s Word and share your feelings in prayer, He’ll lighten your burden and nourish your soul. He came to declare “freedom for the prisoners…to release the oppressed” (Luke 4:18 NIV). Take time to meditate on God’s Word. Reflect on it until you understand how to apply it to your life. Knowledge without application is useless. Freedom requires feeding daily on the Scriptures, and applying what you learn to your present circumstances. “Happy are those who…love the Lord’s teachings, and…think about those teachings day and night” (Psalm 1:1-2 NCV). Do it each and every day – and be set free!

Soul food: Judg 4-6; Mark 10:13-22; Ps 88:9b-18; Prov 13:4-6