Look for a true friend

Proverbs 18:24 MSG

One day two cows looked over a fence and saw these words on a passing milk truck: “Pasteurized, Homogenized, Vitamin A added.” One cow said to the other, “It makes you feel a bit inadequate, doesn’t it?” Seriously, is that how you feel today? There’s too much to do, and not enough of you to do it? Or you don’t think you have the skill or resources? Remember the old Beatles song: “When I was younger, so much younger than today, I never needed anybody’s help in any way…Help me if you can, I’m feeling down, and I do appreciate you being round. Help me get my feet back on the ground; won’t you please, please help me?” In a perfect world Adam still couldn’t make it by himself, so God said, “I will make a helper suitable for him” (Genesis 2:18 NIV). Sometimes the solution requires more than prayer or counseling; it requires a friend who understands – especially one who has fought the same battles and won. In Acts chapter three God used Peter and John to bring about the healing of a lame man sitting at the temple gate. But there was another miracle earlier that day. Peter had just denied Jesus, fallen flat on his face, and decided to return to his old fishing job. But John refused to let go of him. As a result, Peter was restored, a lame man was healed, and three thousand people were won to Christ. You don’t need a lot of people in your life; you just need the right people. So ask God for a “true friend” who will stick by you; then you do the same for someone else.

Soul food: Gen 13-16; John 13:18-30; Ps 114; Prov 31:1-5

Get real with God

Lamentations 3:40 NIV

When you pray, “Lord, make me a better person,” in what specific areas do you want to change, grow, and mature? In order to get real with God, you must answer these twelve questions carefully and prayerfully: (1) Am I honest and above reproach in all my financial dealings? That includes giving God a tithe of your income. (2) Do I put myself in sexually inappropriate situations, or expose myself to harmful material? (3) Do I spend enough time with my family, and would they say that I do? (4) Do I tell the truth even when it brings me hurt or criticism? (5) Do I find it easy to say, “I was wrong. I’m genuinely sorry,” or do I hold grudges? (6) Am I knowingly compromising any area of my life, or refusing to face the consequences of my actions? (7) Have I formed habits that are detrimental to my health, my job, my family, or my walk with Christ? (8) Am I proud, selfish, or arrogant? (9) Have I taken credit for things that others did and should have been rewarded for? (10) Have I failed to confess something to someone who should know of my wrongdoing? (11) Have I been insensitive or abusive to my loved ones? And if I have, what am I willing to do about it? (12) Am I spending enough time in prayer and in the Scriptures? “Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the Lord.” The word for you today is: Get real with God!

Soul food: Rom 3:21-6:23; John 10:1-10; Ps 133; Prov 29:15-18

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