Matthew 6:31-32 NLT
We can often find ourselves saying that we trust God, and then worrying about our relationships, health, jobs, and money. But Paul writes, ‘Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace’ (Philippians 4:6-7 NLT). We can choose whether to worry, or whether to pray. We can choose whether we try and do life on our own, or whether we surrender it to God and allow Him to take control. Jesus said, ‘Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own’ (Matthew 6:34 NIV). It can be easier said than done to think about one day at a time. The trouble is, when we start overthinking our future, we try and take control. We try and figure everything out ourselves, rather than handing everything over to God and trusting Him. And that means we don’t have His peace. Worry can be like a snowball; it starts small, and as we keep rolling it forwards it becomes big enough to knock us down. But if we hand every worry over to God, we can keep going. God says, ‘My grace is sufficient for you’ (2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV). God will only give us what we need for today; that way we have to keep trusting Him for tomorrow. The Bible tells us Jesus is the Good Shepherd who ‘calls his own sheep by name and…walks ahead of them’ (John 10:3-4 NLT). He has already gone ahead of us to arrange everything. Knowing that should help us face tomorrow, confident that God will take care of us.
Ezra 1-2; John 6:25-34; Ps 98; Prov 24:15-18
Proverbs 18:24 NIV
To fulfill God’s plan for your life, you need relationships with the right people, those who stick by you come what may. Remember Jonathan, who loved David even at the cost of his own life? And Ruth, who loved her mother-in-law Naomi and gave her a reason to live again? God can introduce you to such people and help you build a relationship with them. Think about it: He wouldn’t say, “It is not good that man should be alone,” then ask you to live in isolation (Genesis 2:18 NKJV). Sometimes when you’re by yourself, you’re in the worst possible company! But you may need to be healed within before you can build healthy relationships and make healthy choices. That means learning to differentiate between “using” relationships and “heart ties.” Blood ties don’t wear as well as heart ties. Allow God to work on you and when you’re ready, He will facilitate the necessary introductions. In the meantime get to know Him better because He’s the source of true self-esteem. If your last relationship stripped you of self-worth and drained you spiritually, use this time to get back on your feet. You may never have this opportunity again! Begin to love like God loves. He sees our imperfections, handles our rejection, and loves us regardless. Knowing that will help you not to discard a good person because they did a bad thing. Would you throw your car away because of a faulty part? If God forgave you the way you forgive others, could you stand? (See Psalm 130:3). Ask Him today to show you how to build healthy, fulfilling relationships. He will do it!
Soul food: Exo 20:1-17; Matt 5:1-12
Proverbs 18:24 NIV
Relationships of any kind can be challenging because they involve people dealing with people. None of us are perfect, we will make mistakes, say the wrong things, compare ourselves, and struggle to forgive. The Bible warns us against being around the wrong people. The Bible says: ‘Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character”‘ (1 Corinthians 15:33 NIV). We need relationships with the right people in order for us to grow in our faith and fulfil God’s plans for our lives. God can introduce us to the right people and help us build a relationship with them. But He may need to do some work inside us before we can build healthy relationships and make healthy choices. He might need to help us find our identity in Him, otherwise we can look to other people to tell us who we are. God wants us to realise that we are His children, and no one can change that. The Bible says: ‘See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!’ (1 John 3:1 NIV). We also need to learn to forgive. We can’t have healthy relationships with others if we are carrying a load of bitterness and resentment around with us. God also needs to mature us so that we can love like He loves (you can read about His kind of love in 1 Corinthians 13). Healthy, godly relationships are Jesus-centred. Each person points the other to Jesus. In healthy relationships there’s no gossip, comparison, trying to fix other people’s situations, or trying to change people to meet our standards. Healthy relationships involve praying for each other, speaking words of encouragement, and forgiving each other.
Exo 20:1-17; Matt 5:1-12
Philippians 4:8 NLT
Our minds are powerful things. What we think about can change our attitude, behaviour, relationships, and faith. It can influence every aspect of our lives. That’s why Paul encouraged those in the church in Philippi to ‘Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honourable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise’ (vv.8-9 NLT). When we take control of our minds, and fill them with positive and helpful thoughts, we’ll be more prepared to avoid temptation and sin. Peter warns us to ‘prepare your minds for action and exercise self-control’ (1 Peter 1:13 NLT). When our minds are filled with God’s truth, we’ll be able to recognise the lies of the enemy. When our minds are filled with loving thoughts, we’ll respond to others with love and grace. When our minds are focused on the things that are right, there’ll be less space to dwell on the negative and sinful things. Peter also said: ‘Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour’ (1 Peter 5:8 NLT). When we’re not in control of what’s going on in our mind, we’re more vulnerable to the enemy tempting us, and we’re less fixed on God’s truth. David prayed: ‘May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer’ (Psalm 19:14 NLT). He was asking God to help Him ensure that his words and thoughts were good. And we can ask God to do the same for us.
Num 11-13; Mark 2:18-28; Ps 2; Prov 10:30-32
Romans 12:6 AMPC
God has given you certain relationships, skills, experiences, and attributes that He wants you to use to fulfill His purposes. He used a beauty pageant to position Esther as Queen of Persia and stop the genocide of the Jews. He used Nehemiah’s diligence as the king’s cupbearer to position him for royal favor that would parlay into rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem. He used David’s musical ability to give him access to the king of Israel. He used Joseph’s imprisonment and his ability to interpret dreams to save two nations from famine. He used the zeal of a mass murderer named Saul of Tarsus to spread the gospel via three missionary journeys while writing half the New Testament. And if God used them, He will use you too. And He wants to. In fact, He’s cultivating talents within you that will serve His kingdom purposes in ways you are unaware of right now. It may be your God-given athletic abilities or music proclivity that God uses to give you a platform to give Him praise. It may be your creative genius. It may be your idiosyncrasy. It could just be your good old-fashioned work ethic. No matter what it is, it’s a gift from God that is to be used for God. Success is doing the best you can, with what you have, where you are. It’s not based on circumstances, wealth, power, or platform. It’s not based on past experience or future potential. It’s stewarding every opportunity, in every way, every day. So today, use what God has given you.
Soul food: Gen 40-41; John 18:1-18; Ps 147:12-20; Ecc 4:9-12