Psalm 23:5 NKJV
When the Psalmist said, “The Lord is my shepherd” (v. 1), he was affirming that he had a very personal relationship with God; one that was unique. God has given each of us a one-of-a-kind personality, gifting, purpose, and calling. And He wants a relationship with you that is unlike the one He has with anybody else. Just like your fingerprints are unique, so also is God’s interaction with you. Therefore you need to learn how to hear His voice and to know when He is speaking specifically to you. The Psalmist goes on to say, “You prepare a table before me.” Think about it this way. When you’re waiting for a table in a restaurant and your name is on the waiting list, sometimes the hostess will give you a pager to hold. Then when it’s time to be seated, the pager will vibrate or light up. In the meantime, you have every confidence they are preparing a table for you, and that if you’re patient, when it’s ready the pager will vibrate and let you know. Are you getting the idea? As you read God’s Word and spend time with Him in prayer, something begins to vibrate and light up in your spirit. That’s “God’s pager” leading and guiding you, and preparing the circumstances just for you. Paul writes, “And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19 NLT). How many of your personal needs will God provide? All of them! So stop worrying so much and instead put your trust in Him!
Soul food: Matt 5:5; Num 12:1-15; Ps 37:1-9; Phil 2:5-11
Proverbs 13:12 NKJV
When we’ve been praying for something for a long time, we can become discouraged when it doesn’t seem to be happening. We keep expectantly praying, we keep hoping, but nothing seems to change. We begin to tire in our prayers, we start expecting nothing to happen. We lose hope. The Bible says: ‘Hope deferred makes the heart sick.’ When the things we hope for are not being fulfilled, we become ‘heartsick’. Jesus went to visit Mary and Martha when He heard that their brother Lazarus had died. These sisters had two different encounters with Jesus. When Martha saw Him, she said: ‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you anything you ask’ (John 11:21-22 NCV). Mary’s encounter went like this: ‘When she saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died”‘ (John 11:32 NCV). Martha acknowledged that Jesus could still do something amazing. She was looking ahead with hope. Mary was looking back at the fact that Jesus hadn’t prevented her brother’s death. It can be easy to lose hope in our situations, to even cry out to God that if He’d done something this wouldn’t have happened in our lives. But we need to remember that with God everything is possible and still hope that He’ll perform a miracle. Mary and Martha knew that Jesus could have saved their brother, but He did an even greater miracle by raising him from the dead. What if our disappointments and waiting are because God’s about to do a miracle even greater than the one we’re asking for? Let’s keep looking ahead like Martha and trust God’s got it under control.
Ezek 20-21; Mark 14:66-72; Ps 48; Prov 14:33-35
Acts 27:20 NIV
There are times when God seems inaccessible. When we pray and we don’t feel God’s listening, we can end up feeling abandoned and like we have to face our situations alone. And that can also make us feel terrified and even hopeless. Paul understood those feelings. He’d longed for an opportunity to preach in Rome, and was on his way there when a hurricane destroyed his ship. Before setting sail, Paul had foreseen the loss of the ship, cargo and everyone on board (see verse 10). He tried to warn the crew of the impending tragedy, but his words were disregarded by those in charge. When the storm hit, they all felt a sense of despair. Paul and his companions ‘finally gave up all hope of being saved’. Then after fourteen days lost at sea – when the hurricane was fiercest – God sent an angel. ‘Do not be afraid, Paul…God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you’ (v.24 NIV). Just when it looked like Paul’s mission to preach in Rome would be stopped, God faithfully brought them through the storm to the exact destination He’d planned for them. Paul would then go on to declare God’s Word before Caesar in Rome (read about it in Acts 28). Sometimes we can feel like we’re caught in a storm too. But when the storm’s raging, we can run to God for comfort and protection. When the storm’s over, He can use what we went through to grow us. Whatever trial we’re facing right now, we can trust God to carry us through it.
Lam 1:1-3:39; Mark 12:28-44; Ps 108; Prov 13:24-25
Deuteronomy 31:6 NKJV
Any time we attempt something for the first time, something we’ve failed at before, or something we think is too big for us, we’ll probably experience both fear and faith. They go together. One will win out over the other, but they never go away. Because Israel had no idea what challenges awaited them or what life would be like in the Promised Land, God told them, ‘Be strong and of good courage…for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.’ And that’s His promise to us too. Just like the Israelites, we can be unsure of what’s ahead. And the unknown can be scary. We want to be in control and know what’s going to happen, but we have to put our trust in God. He goes before us, and goes with us. We’ll never have to face anything alone. ‘The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged’ (Deuteronomy 31:8 NIV). But it’s not just the fear of the unknown, we can also be stopped by a fear of failing. The idea of failing can make us too afraid to step out in faith and try. Yet when we look back, we realise that most times failure doesn’t do permanent damage at all; we actually grow through it. And, like Paul, we can say: ‘I can do all this through him who gives me strength’ (Philippians 4:13 NIV). So let’s confront our fears, step out in faith, and believe God for success.
Acts 6-7; Mark 3:20-27; Ps 75; Prov 10:22-23
Ephesians 2:10 NLT
The Bible says, ‘We are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.’ We’ve been designed to do good works, and to carry out His plan here on earth. But we can often look at the terrible things going on in the world and find it all too overwhelming. We see pictures on the news of starving children and people dying from preventable illnesses because they can’t afford to get food or treatment. We read about modern slavery and exploitation. We hear about escalating conflicts between countries. And in the middle of all that, we can start to ask ‘What can I do? How can I make a difference?’ The problems seem so massive, and we can feel that we don’t have any power to do anything about them. But with God’s help, we can make a difference – ‘with God all things are possible’ (Matthew 19:26 NIV). The first thing we can do is pray for the situations that touch our hearts and for those who are suffering. ‘If we ask anything according to his will, he hears us’ (1 John 5:14 NIV). Our prayers are powerful, because when they’re in line with God’s will, He will act. We could also volunteer at a local charity or help out with a church mission that works for the cause that God’s placed on our heart, and donate to it if we can. We can’t solve the massive problems in the world by ourselves, but that shouldn’t stop us getting involved somehow, even if our contribution seems small. We just need to do whatever we can, and trust God to help us with the rest.
Jer 18-21; Matt 28:16-20; Ps 69:19-36; Prov 8:30-31