Daniel 2:21 NIV
When we’re going through a rough time, we need to remember that it won’t last forever. Just as there are seasons throughout the year, there are seasons in our lives too. Daniel said: ‘He changes times and seasons…He gives wisdom.’ If we’re in a season of hardship, disappointment, hurt, or loneliness, we can rest in the knowledge that it will end. And through it, we’ll have more wisdom for our future. Sometimes our greatest blessings come from our most negative circumstances. Paul wrote: ‘Our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!’ (2 Corinthians 4:17 NLT). Tough times don’t last. When we have the right attitude, we know that we’ll survive. So how can we have the right attitude when we’re in a stormy season of life? We need to remain calm, discipline ourselves to focus on what we can do, and trust God to do what we can’t. It’s also wise for us to avoid making big decisions when we’re in a storm. Just as the wind blows wildly during a storm, our thoughts can become wild and frantic, and that’s not the best time to make big decisions. A bad decision can take us down the wrong path, and lead us further away from God’s plans and purposes for us. When we have an unhelpful attitude, we’re unlikely to make decisions that are helpful to us. If we’re in a storm, and struggling to have the right attitude, we can take the advice Paul gave to the church in Philippi. He said: ‘Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need…His peace will guard your hearts and minds’ (Philippians 4:6-7 NLT).
Num 27-29; Mark 8:27-38; Ps 62; Prov 11:15
Psalm 71:3 NLT
The Bible says, ‘Don’t brag about tomorrow, since you don’t know what the day will bring’ (Proverbs 27:1 NLT). Every morning when we wake up, we have no idea what will happen to us that day. Sometimes the day is filled with good things, other times unexpected bad things happen. We live in a real world with real problems. We’re not immune to bad situations happening in our lives. Satan wants to attack us, discourage us, and make us afraid of what’s going to happen. We’re told to: ‘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). It can be easy to start fearing the future, especially when lots of bad things seem to be happening to us and those we love. While we can’t avoid experiencing some of these things, we can avoid being fearful. In Psalm 91, it says: ‘Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night, nor the arrow that flies in the day. Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness, nor the disaster that strikes at midday’ (vv.5-6 NLT). So how can we stop being afraid? We can choose to believe that God is our protector, fortress, and hiding place. The psalmist wrote: ‘Be my rock of safety where I can always hide. Give the order to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress.’ No matter what comes our way, we need to trust that when it arrives, God will give us the strength to cope. As long as we remain strong inwardly and keep trusting God, we can handle anything that comes against us outwardly and keep moving forward.
Lev 26-27; Mark 2:13-22; Ps 103:1-12; Prov 10:13
Proverbs 3:6 NIV
In the Bible, Daniel was forced to decide if he was going to be a conformer or a transformer. Conformers are controlled by pressure. Other people can pressure us to do things that we know we shouldn’t do. But we want to fit in with them, or be liked by them, so we end up doing the things we know are wrong. Sometimes we don’t want to stand out from the crowd, so we decide to do what everybody else is doing. Transformers stick to their principles. It can be very challenging to do what’s right when we’re living in a world that’s going the opposite way. But God doesn’t want us to go down the wrong path, because He loves us and wants to protect us. God knows better than we do how to avoid pain, frustration, and destruction in our lives. When we follow His commands we can avoid heartache and the loss of our reputation. By refusing to eat the king’s meat, Daniel was showing his dedication to God. He was standing up for what he knew was the right thing, even though it could have made him unpopular. Sometimes people talk about following our conscience. But while our conscience can give us an idea of what’s right and wrong, we need to go to God and ask Him to show us the right thing to do. He loves it when we’re obedient to Him, so He doesn’t try and hide the right path from us. The Bible says: ‘Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.’ He’ll give us the strength we need to stand out from the crowd and do the right thing.
Matt 5:6; Isa 55:1-7; Ps 63:1-5; John 4:1-34
Isaiah 26:3 NLT
The secret to “perfect peace” lies in this Scripture: “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!” It’s not your circumstances, but how you think about them that robs you of peace. Focusing on your circumstances just causes more anxiety, because circumstances constantly change and often spin out of your control. However, God never changes, and nothing ever spins out of His control. Peace and worry are mutually exclusive. Worry throttles your confidence, chokes your perspective, and suffocates your spirit. It robs you of the peace that comes from knowing the God who can handle anything, and through whom all things are possible. The reason we worry so much is because we engage in exactly the opposite behavior to that which brings peace. Worry is like a “no-confidence” vote in God. You may not intend it that way, but every time you give in to worry, in essence, you’re saying: “I don’t believe God can or will handle this for me. I’m not sure I can trust Him in this matter, so I’ll just have to carry this burden and take care of the problem myself.” God is either the object of your trust or just a part-time helper you call on when you can’t handle things on your own. It’s reminiscent of the elephant and the mouse that walked over a bridge. When they got to the other side, the mouse said, “Man, we really shook that bridge!” When you begin to see God as playing the major role and you the minor one, you’ll begin to find the peace which has eluded you for so long.
Soul food: Job 8-10; Matt 24:15-25; Ps 116:12-19; Prov 8:10-13
1 Peter 1:8 NIV
In his book, Talking Dogs, Sam Mason continues: “During the last couple of years of his life, Tigger, one of our dearly loved Italian greyhounds, gradually lost his sight. He’d developed cataracts. They robbed him of his vision, but they couldn’t steal his precious relationship with his masters. My wife Carol often referred to Tigger as her ‘lovey-dovey boy.’ He would stand (not sit!) on our laps, putting his paws on either side of our necks, then affectionately tuck his head under our chins. It was adorable. Blind though he was, Tigger’s desire for the ones he could no longer see was unaffected. In spite of the cataracts that blurred our features, somehow he still managed to look us in the face. His diminished capacities may have hampered his movements, but his love and trust toward his masters remained rock solid. All of us who have placed our trust in the Lord possess handicaps…even spiritual ones. Do we use them as excuses for not pursuing God as intensely as we ought? Do we allow these hindrances to ration our love for Him? Or do we, with God’s help, find the strength to reach past our limitations to experience the unbounded joy of His presence, and fulfill the calling He’s placed on our lives? Yes, we may sometimes grope about in darkness every now and then, even stumbling and falling. But we can trust the One who understands our seasons of blindness. We can open our hearts to His love and love Him back…sight unseen!”
Soul food: Gen 24:1-25:18; Matt 20:1-16; Ps 70; Prov 6:26-28