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

S.O.S. prayers

Psalm 46:1-2 CEV

One day a woman was driving through the countryside when she saw a tornado approaching, so she hid behind her car and watched as it demolished a nearby house. Running over to what was now a hole in the ground, she saw a man hunkered down with his eyes closed. “Are you okay? Is there anybody down there with you?” she asked. “No,” he replied. “Just me and God having an urgent conversation!” Nothing fuels prayer like real need; in a crisis even unbelievers will pray. There are some issues in life we simply can’t resolve on our own, hence the Psalmist wrote, “When I am in trouble, I pray, knowing you…listen” (Psalm 86:7 CEV). Sometimes our prayers are simply cries for help meant for God’s ears only. When you’re out of options, your faith develops fast and emergencies become opportunities to experience God’s grace and power in a greater way. So if you’re in an S.O.S. situation today, here’s a prayer God will answer: “Father, it feels like I’m in an impossible position with no way out. Let me feel Your presence and the encouragement of Your Spirit, reminding me that with You all things are possible to those who believe. Send the answer from heaven to my earthly situation. From where I stand, things look hopeless. But You are the God who created the earth from nothing, and rolled back the Red Sea so Your children could cross over safely. You made the blind to see, the lame to walk, and the deaf to hear. Today I thank You that You’re my God, and that You are ‘always ready to help in times of trouble.'”

Soul food: Hos 6-10; Matt 26:47-56; Ps 116:12-19; Prov 8:10-13

Make prayer a priority

Acts 6:4 NKJV

In Disciplines of a Godly Man, pastor and author R. Kent Hughes says: “Jay Sidlow Baxter once shared a page from his own personal diary with a group of pastors who had inquired about the discipline of prayer. He began telling how…he entered the ministry determined he would be a real man of prayer. However, it wasn’t long before his increasing responsibilities, administrative duties, and the subtle subterfuges of pastoral life began to crowd prayer out. Moreover, he began to get used to it, making excuses for himself. Then one morning it all came to a head as he stood over his work-strewn desk and looked at his watch. The voice of the Spirit was calling him to pray. At the same time another velvety voice was telling him to be practical and get his letters answered, and that he ought to face the fact that he wasn’t one of the ‘spiritual sort’ – only a few people could be like that. ‘That last remark,’ says Baxter, ‘hurt like a dagger blade. I couldn’t bear to think it was true.’ He was horrified by his ability to rationalize away the very ground of his ministerial vitality and power.” Understand this: Minutes invested in prayer will give you a greater return than hours spent in ceaseless activity. The New Testament apostles understood that. As the church grew bigger and they became busier, they made a life-changing decision: “We will give ourselves continually to prayer and…the word.” As a result the church grew and multiplied. So make prayer a priority!

Soul food: 2 Kings 1:1-4:17; Matt 22:15-33; Ps 106:24-48; Prov 7:3-5