Job 11:18 NIV
None of us want bad things to happen to us. Whether it’s illness, grief, a broken heart, financial ruin or something else, we want to avoid these things. The popular phrase goes ‘we need the bad times to appreciate the good’ and that’s true, but most of us would prefer to just experience the good and no bad at all. We can even become fearful of these things happening, living in dread that something terrible is about to happen or constantly avoiding situations and people that could cause hurt. But there’s hope. We don’t have to live like that. The Bible says: ‘You will be secure, because there is hope; you will look about you and take your rest in safety.’ God doesn’t promise that our lives will be easy and only full of good things, but He does promise that He’ll never leave us. There’s nothing that could happen to us that we’d have to face on our own. ‘So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand’ (Isaiah 41:10 NIV). We won’t always understand why bad things are happening to us, why it seems like things in our lives are falling apart, but we can trust that God will use everything that happens for good (have a look at Romans 8:28). And when we keep our eyes on God and we keep trusting Him, we’ll make it out the other side of whatever circumstances we’re facing. ‘They won’t be afraid of bad news; their hearts are steady because they trust the LORD.’ (Psalm 112:7 NCV).
Rom 3:21-6:23; John 8:31-41; Ps 83:1-8; Prov 29:19-22
Job 30:20 NCV
Ever feel like God isn’t answering you? Job felt the same way when he said, ‘I cry out to you, God, but you do not answer; I stand up, but you just look at me… when I hoped for good, only evil came to me; when I looked for light, darkness came’ (vv. 20 & 26 NCV). All of us go through times when it feels like God’s slipped away from us. What’s He up to? Why doesn’t He respond? Because there are some lessons we can only learn when He’s silent: 1) Silence doesn’t mean absence. Sometimes God says to us, ‘Be still, and know that I am God’ (Psalm 46:10 NIV). You have to feel really secure with somebody to just sit quietly with them. Silence makes us take the emphasis off words and build a level of intimacy where they’re not necessary. When we are upset, grieving or overwhelmed, the person who comforts us the most is often the one who sits silently with us and shares our pain. So if we want to be comfortable with God, we need to learn to sit in silence with Him. 2) Silence tests your faith. Remember when you were little and learning to ride a bike? Your mum or dad ran alongside you, holding onto the bike and keeping it straight and steady while you learned to control it. Then when you felt a bit more confident, they tested you by letting go for a few metres to see how much you’d learned. Sometimes God takes a step back to see how far we have progressed in our faith. It doesn’t mean He isn’t there – He’s actually right there, ready to catch us if we fall – it just means He’s asking us to trust Him in the silence.
2 Chr 5-7; Mark 5:31-43; Ps 119:89-96; Prov 21:20-23
Ecclesiastes 1:7 NKJV
The Bible talks about the water cycle. “All the rivers run into the sea, yet the sea is not full; to the place from which the rivers come, there they return again.” Every day the Mississippi River dumps approximately 420 billion gallons of water into the Gulf of Mexico. And when you think about the Thames, the Nile, and the Amazon, every day the same thing is happening in rivers all around the world. So where does all that water go? The answer lies in the hydrologic cycle, which the Bible introduced almost three millennia ago. The wise King Solomon wrote, “If the clouds be full of rain, they empty themselves upon the earth” (Ecclesiastes 11:3). Amos the prophet said, “He… calls the waters of the sea, and pours them out on the face of the earth” (Amos 9:6 NKJV). And Job’s friend Elihu said, “Behold, God is great… He draws up drops of water, which distill as rain from the mist, which the clouds drop down and pour abundantly on man” (Job 36:26-28 NKJV). The idea of a complete water cycle was not fully understood by science until the seventeenth century. Yet more than two thousand years prior to the discoveries of brilliant minds like Pierre Perrault, Edme Mariotte, Edmond Halley, and others, the Bible clearly explained the water cycle. The truth is, your Bible is inspired, inerrant, reliable, and more up-to-date than tomorrow morning’s newspaper. Every newspaper has a correction column acknowledging its printed errors. Not the Bible! You can trust it to guide you right in every area of your life.
Soul food: 1 Chr 10:1-12:22; Mark 3:20-35; Ps 119:33-40; Prov 20:28-30
Proverbs 11:13 NLT
Ever off-loaded your situation to someone, only to find everyone now knows your business? It’s not a nice feeling. When we trust someone, open up to them and allow them to see our vulnerabilities, we don’t want it passed around. When that happens, it can break down relationships because we stop trusting and decide not to confide in that person again. Opening up to other people is always going to be a risk, but it’s something we should be doing. We need each other for support, advice and encouragement. So we need to make sure we’re thinking carefully about who we are choosing to confide in. The Bible says: ‘Those who are trustworthy can keep a confidence.’ It also says: ‘A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid anyone who talks too much’ (Proverbs 20:19 NIV). We need to be on the lookout for trustworthy people who can keep what we tell them to themselves rather than telling others and spreading gossip. We also need to confide in people who we know will seek God on our behalf and who will give us wise, godly advice. In James 3 it says: ‘Real wisdom, God’s wisdom, begins with a holy life and is characterised by getting along with others. It is gentle and reasonable, overflowing with mercy and blessings, not hot one day and cold the next, not two-faced’ (v.17 MSG). Not only should we be finding people like this to confide in, we should also focus on making sure that we are people like this. People who are trustworthy and will respond to others in a gentle and godly way. So when others have a problem, they will know that they confide in us.
1 Chr 3:1-4:23; Mark 2:1-12; Ps 119:1-8; Prov 20:15-18
Proverbs 14:12 NKJV
Ever noticed how zoo keepers handle an injured animal? Even though the keeper is only interested in helping, the animal doesn’t understand because it is focused solely on the pain. As a result, it strikes out at the very one who’s trying to help. Is that what’s happening in your life right now? Perhaps people who call themselves Christians have hurt you. You didn’t expect them to be the ones inflicting the pain. You may have been hurt to the extent that you no longer trust anybody – not even God. You haven’t actually said, “Lord, I don’t trust You,” but your actions speak louder than your words. You avoid reading His Word to find an answer. You won’t pray, or allow anyone to pray for you. You try to bury yourself in your job. You move from one relationship to another. You try alcohol or mood-altering chemicals. You spend hours watching television and surfing the Internet, and some of the things you’re watching violate your conscience and leave you feeling worse. What’s the answer? (1) Turn to God. Give Him “all your worries and cares…for he cares about you” (1 Peter 5:7 NLT). Give Him your pain, your failures, your hang-ups, and your challenges. (2) Forgive the person who hurt you. Obsessing over what they did and trying to make them pay just keeps you chained to them. But forgiveness breaks the chain and sets you free. In your own strength you may be able to do something to alleviate your pain. But God can destroy the root of the pain and cause you to walk victoriously into the future.
Soul food: Eph 1:1-4:16; Mat 24:26-35; Ps 79; Prov 17:24-26