Philippians 4:7 NLT
The word worry comes from a Greek word meaning “to divide the mind.” Worry splits you right down the middle; instead of dwelling on God’s promises, you dwell on your problems. Worry is like a rocking chair – it gives you something to do but it doesn’t get you anywhere. Instead of relieving you of tomorrow’s troubles, it robs you of today’s strength – and you can’t afford to lose your strength. So how can you stop worrying? The Bible has a two-part answer: God’s part, and our part. Our part includes prayer and gratitude: “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done” (v. 6 NLT). In order to worry less you must pray more, and also remember to express your gratitude. You can go to God confidently for the next thing, when you’ve taken time to thank Him for the last thing. And what’s God’s part? “If you do this you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will keep your thoughts and your hearts quiet and at rest as you trust in Christ Jesus” (v. 7 TLB). Note the words “You will experience God’s peace.” Imagine having God’s peaceful state of mind! Do you think He battles anxiety? Or wrings His hands and asks the angels for antacids? Your problem is no more challenging to God than a twig is to an elephant. He enjoys perfect peace because He enjoys perfect power – and He offers His peace to you. When you do your part through prayer and thanksgiving, you’ll have a peaceful state of mind.
Soul food: Heb 11:7; Gen 6:9-22; Gen 8:18-22; Matt 24:36-44
Psalm 37:7 NKJV
When you’re in a doctor’s waiting room there are things you shouldn’t do – like try to treat other patients, or have them treat you. Or ask the receptionist for a stethoscope or a blood pressure cuff. And it wouldn’t be wise to ask the person sitting next to you, “What prescriptions are you taking? Perhaps I could try them.” It’s called a waiting room because you’re supposed to wait. But we don’t like to wait. We weave through traffic looking for a faster lane. We drum our fingers on the countertop while the microwave heats our coffee: “Come on, come on.” We don’t like to wait for anything, including God. Over and over in Scripture when it speaks about our relationship with God, the word “wait” keeps showing up. And here’s what we fail to understand: While we are waiting, God is working. Jesus said, “My Father is always at his work” (John 5:17 NIV). The sign on God’s waiting room reads “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). You can be still because He is active, and you can rest because He is busy. To wait, biblically speaking, is not to assume the worst, or worry, or fret, or make demands, or take control. Waiting is not inactivity. Waiting is sustained effort to stay focused on God through prayer and faith. To wait is to “rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him…not fret.” God is the Great Physician. You are in His waiting room. He knows what ails you better than you do, and He has a prescription to fix it. So trust Him, and wait.
Soul food: Jer 33:1-36:26; Luke 6:1-16; Ps 137; Prov 15:15-17
Isaiah 40:31 NIV
When we’re physically, emotionally, and spiritually drained, we become vulnerable. Jesus knew the importance of staying in balance; of work and rest; of giving out and taking in. ‘Then Jesus said: “Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile.” He said this because there were so many people coming and going that Jesus and His apostles didn’t even have time to eat. So they left by boat for a quiet place, where they could be alone’ (Mark 6:31-32 NLT). Unless we learn to rest and take time off, we’re opening ourselves up to potential danger. That’s why setting aside time each day to read the Bible and be alone with God in prayer is so important. Sometimes the enemy tries to stop us working for God’s kingdom by persuading us to think that we need to do it all, until we’re exhausted and ineffective. But that’s not how God wants us to live. We can go to Him for rest. Jesus said: ‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest’ (Matthew 11:28 NIV). It doesn’t matter how old we are, how much responsibility we have, or where we work, every one of us needs to take time off in order to maintain our physical, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing. The Bible says: ‘Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint’ (Isaiah 40:30-31 NIV). If we’re feeling tired and worn out, let’s go to God for the rest we need, and ask Him to renew our strength.
Num 34-36; Mark 9:30-37; Ps 18:30-50; Prov 11:22
Psalm 16:7 NKJV
When you’re faced with a problem that overwhelms you, break it down into smaller, more manageable parts so you can focus on each of them more effectively. Don’t try to juggle the whole thing in your head; put it down in writing so you can get a clearer picture. One of those small parts may be the key that opens the door. And if you still can’t find a solution, take it to God in prayer. The psalmist said, “The Lord will perfect that which concerns me” (Psalm 138:8 NKJV). If something is of concern to you, it’s of concern to the God who loves you. Pray: “Lord, I’m giving this problem to you and I’m going to sleep.” When you do that, you can awaken in the morning with an amazingly simple solution to the overwhelming problem you had the night before. The psalmist said, “I will bless the Lord who has given me counsel; my heart also instructs me in the night seasons.” God knows what you don’t know, and prayer gives you access to His knowledge. Five loaves and two fish in a boy’s hands won’t feed five thousand people. But when he put it into Christ’s hands, it multiplied and they had twelve basketsful left over. Strategic thinking works best when God is the foundation of your strategy, when you stand on His Word and claim His promise: “Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know” (Jeremiah 33:3 NKJV). God will do it through you, as long as you remember you can’t do it without Him.
Soul food: Num 7; Mark 6:14-29; Ps 37:8-15; Prov 11:3
Matthew 6:5 MSG
God loves it when we come to Him in prayer. It’s an opportunity for us to share our concerns, listen to His voice, and connect with Him on a deeper level. But sometimes we pray for all the wrong reasons. Let’s take a look at some: 1) Misdirected prayers. If we’re annoyed at someone we can communicate our frustrations through our prayers. We might pray out loud about the person who has annoyed us, in the hope that they realise just how much they’ve hurt or upset us. 2) Performance prayers. We can find ourselves praying in order to show other people how holy we are. We reel off long, wordy prayers which make us look and feel superior to others. But the Bible says: ‘When you come before God, don’t turn that into a theatrical production.’ 3) Judgmental prayers. In these prayers we judge others and think that we know better than God. Maybe someone’s prayer hasn’t be answered, and we ask God to change the person because we think they’re the problem. This is us judging others and trying to figure things out on God’s behalf. 4) Faithless prayers. Sometimes we can be tempted to think that we need to pray with a big group of people if we want God to answer us. But with God, what matters is the faith we have when we pray, not the number of people. So how can we pray the right way? Matthew 6 gives us some insights: ‘When you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private’ (v.6 NLT). We need to be coming to God with humility and expectancy. And we need to make sure we’re coming to God with the right motive – to spend time with Him.
Dan 11-12; Mark 4:26-41; Ps 144:9-15; Prov 10:22-23