Matthew 16:24 NIV
Surrender doesn’t mean being passive and just letting things happen to us. God’s will for our lives involves being creative, making choices, and taking initiative. It doesn’t mean that we stop using our mind, stop asking questions, or stop thinking critically. Surrender means that we acknowledge that God’s purposes and reasons are wiser and better than our desires. Jesus doesn’t come to rearrange the outside of our lives the way we want; He comes to rearrange the inside of our lives the way God wants. In surrender, we let go of our life. We recognise that we’re no longer the centre of everything, and instead we believe that God is. In surrender we become obedient to Him, we do what He says. Jesus was very clear about this when He said: ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.’ Following Jesus means we have to put Him first. We have to stop thinking about ourselves, and think about Him. This may sound extreme, but it’s not detrimental to us. We’re not surrendering to a harsh, demanding God. We’re surrendering to a loving Father Who wants the best for us. The Bible says: ‘Depend on the LORD; trust him, and he will take care of you. Then your goodness will shine like the sun, and your fairness like the noonday sun’ (Psalm 37:5-6 NCV). He promises to take care of us. We can surrender to Him, depend on Him, and trust Him. Surrendering to God is the best thing that we can do.
Job 15-17; Luke 17:20-37; Ps 19; Prov 8:6-7
1 Corinthians 3:9 NIV
The biggest plus factor you can have on your job is the God factor. Paul writes, “We are labourers together with God.” Consider these three powerful words: “together with God.” A surgeon in a large city hospital had a habit of insisting on a few minutes alone before he performed an operation. He had an outstanding reputation, and one of the young doctors who worked with him wondered if there might be a correlation between this habit of spending time alone and the man’s success. He asked the surgeon about it and he answered, “Yes. Before each operation I ask the Great Physician to guide my hands in their work. There have been times when I didn’t know what to do next in a surgery, and then came the power to go on – power I knew came from God. I would not think of performing an operation without asking His help.” The surgeon’s words quickly spread through the hospital, then across the country. One day a father brought his daughter to the hospital, insisting that the only doctor he would allow to touch her was “the one who worked with God.” The Bible says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6 NKJV). Note, it doesn’t say don’t “use” your understanding – it says don’t “lean” on it. Instead, lean on God. “Acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your steps.” If you want success on the job, this is a proven formula for achieving it.
Soul food: Exo 28-29; Luke 14:1-14; Ps 106:1-23; Prov 7:1-2
Psalms 39:7 NLT
When we go through tough times, we can end up feeling discouraged. We may feel like giving up because the situation is too overwhelming or seems never-ending. Instead, we need to try and view our discouragement as an opportunity for growth. But how do we do that? Firstly, we need to admit how we feel. That doesn’t mean we have to sit around in self-pity or negativity; it means trusting God enough to acknowledge how we really feel. Pretending things are fine when they’re not, doesn’t help us in the long run. It’s not unusual to feel this way, so we shouldn’t feel ashamed. Throughout the Bible, we see people struggle with the same feelings. The psalmist asked God to help him cope with despondency (have a read of Psalm 42 and 43). And at one point Paul was under so much pressure he ‘despaired of life itself’ (2 Corinthians 1:8 NIV). Secondly, we need to identify the source. Discouragement often comes after a setback or disappointment. Did something we set our hearts on fall apart? Did somebody let us down? Thirdly, it’s a good idea to talk about it to someone we trust. That may be someone in our family, our church, or a counsellor. Solomon said, ‘The more wise counsel…the better your chances’ (Proverbs 11:14 MSG). Sometimes we can find it hard to open up to others, because we worry about what they’ll think of us. But talking to the right people can help us feel less alone. Finally, we need to put our hope in God. David said, ‘Lord, where do I put my hope? My only hope is in you.’ When our hope is in God, He replaces discouragement with confidence so that what we’re going through can help us to grow spiritually.
Exo 16-18; Luke 12:35-48; Ps 66:13-20; Prov 6:23-25
Jonah 1:4 NIV
On his way to Rome, Paul went through a devastating storm. When Jonah refused to go to Nineveh, he got caught up in a storm. When the disciples were crossing to the other side of a lake, a storm arose. These were real physical storms. The storms we often experience in our lives are usually circumstantial, emotional, or relational. But we can still apply the biblical stories of storms to our situations. Firstly, our disobedience can cause storms to come about. This doesn’t mean that every time something bad happens in our lives, it’s our fault that it happened. But sometimes when we hear God’s call and we decide to go a different way, life can become challenging. That’s because we’re not walking the path God had for us. The captain of Paul’s ship didn’t listen to Paul’s warning, and he ended up losing a lot. Jonah refused to go where God told Him to go; instead he went in the opposite direction and found himself caught up in a huge storm. We have to remember that God’s plans are far better than anything we could come up with ourselves. When we hear Him call us, we need to obey. Secondly, we can know without doubt that we’re not alone in the storm. God promises to never leave us, and that includes when we’re facing tough times. In the middle of Paul’s storm, an angel spoke to Him and said: ‘Do not be afraid, Paul’ (Acts 27:24 NIV). When the disciples cried out to Jesus, who was sleeping during the storm, He calmed the wind and the waves. When we have God on board, there’s not a storm that’s powerful enough to take us under. We need to keep trusting God. He will bring us through the storm.
Gen 10-12; Luke 8:1-15; Ps 108; Prov 3:31-32
Acts 27:25 NIV
On his way to Rome, Paul went through a devastating storm. His story teaches us three valuable lessons: (1) Your disobedience can cause a storm. Because the captain wouldn’t heed Paul’s warning, he lost his ship, his cargo, and almost his life. Your disobedience can cause a storm in your health, your finances, your family, and your career. God doesn’t preface His commandments by saying, “If you feel like it, do this.” No. He means what He says and He intends it for your good, so pay attention! (2) You’re not alone in the storm. God is with you and He’s watching over you. Paul said: “There stood by me this night the angel of God, whose I am, and whom I serve, saying, Fear not…God hath given thee all them that sail with thee. Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer: for I believe God” (vv. 23-25). With God on board, there’s not a storm powerful enough to take you under. (3) When you stand on God’s promises, you have His authority. Paul may have looked like a prisoner, but in reality he had more power than the captain. Though bound in chains, he was the freest man on the ship. You see, when you’ve heard clearly from God, you can handle any situation because His Word says: “No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper…every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord” (Isaiah 54:17). So the word for you today is: Keep trusting God and He will bring you through this storm!
Soul food: Gen 10-12; Luke 8:1-15; Ps 108; Prov 3:31-32