Colossians 4:2 NIV
What do we do when we’re under pressure, stressed, overwhelmed, and facing challenging circumstances? Do we turn to God or do we turn away? As life becomes more and more pressurised, we need to pray more, not less. Jesus rose before dawn to pray. Sometimes He prayed all night. Other times He left the crowds to pray (take a look at Luke 5:16 and Matthew 14:23). He valued time with God, even above doing the things God had called Him to do. Our kingdom work is hugely important, but time spent deepening our relationship with God is even more important. Our power, peace, joy, and effectiveness are directly related to the time we spend in God’s presence, and we do that through prayer. It isn’t just about listing off all the things we need or desire. It’s about cultivating a close relationship with a Father and a Friend. Through that relationship, we learn to trust Him when things get hard. But, just like any friendship, it needs to be prioritised. We can’t expect to feel close to God in the hard times, if we haven’t spent time talking to Him in the good ones. But we can often struggle to pray every day. Prayer requires discipline that only we can put in place. It’s up to us to decide to prioritise prayer. The Bible says: ‘Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.’ How devoted are we? How much do we desire to spend time talking to God? How willing are we to sit and listen to what He wants to say to us? It doesn’t matter about the words we use, God’s interested in the heart we come with. We need to wholeheartedly seek God and bring our problems to Him.
Luke 24:50-53; Acts 1:1-11; Eph 4:7-10
Psalm 103:7 NIV
Moses said to God: ‘If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favour with you’ (Exodus 33:13 NIVUK). Israel was in a crisis that threatened their relationship with God, but Moses didn’t pray, ‘Lord, please resolve it for me’. Instead he prayed, ‘Teach me Your ways so I may know You.’ He wanted more than just information about God, he wanted intimacy with Him: to know His heart and mind – how He thought and felt about the situation. Knowing God and having His favour would bring all the other things he needed, including a solution to the crisis. And God gave him what he asked for. ‘He made known his ways to Moses, his deeds to the people of Israel.’ God responded to Moses’ request, saying, ‘My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest’ (Exodus 33:14 NIV). In the Hebrew text ‘you’ is singular. God promised to accompany Moses and give rest only to him. But this wasn’t enough for Moses. His prayer went beyond his own concerns: ‘If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here’ (v. 15 NIV). Are our prayers bigger than ourselves and our own needs? The Bible says, ‘For God so loved the world’ (John 3:16 NIV). Do we love the world too? Do we care that people are struggling and need God? Do we have a heart for people who don’t yet know Jesus? Are we willing to make sure our prayers don’t always focus on our own needs but that they focus on our family, our town, and the world?
Dan 5-7; Luke 22:47-53; Ps 103:1-12; Prov 10:13
Acts 8:35 CEV
In Acts chapter eight we read the story of a high-profile leader who was won to Christ. This man held a position similar to the Chancellor of the Exchequer in Britain and the Secretary of the Treasury in the United States. And he was led to Christ by a low-profile person called Philip, a church deacon (See vv. 26-40). Let’s look at how it happened and see what we can learn: (1) Philip was ready. When this man needed someone to explain the gospel to him, Philip was ready to do it. Could you have done that? When God has a job that needs to be done, could He call on you? Would you be prepared? And willing? “If anybody asks you why you believe as you do…tell him” (1 Peter 3:15 TLB). (2) Philip was wise. He didn’t barge in and start preaching, or put this man on the spot by asking “gotcha” questions. Note two things about Philip: (a) He was led by God’s spirit (See Acts 8:29 CEV). (b) He recognized the right moment (See v. 35 CEV). Good soul-winners are sensitive and strategic. (3) Philip was clear. Instead of a vague dialogue about religion, he spoke directly about Jesus. That’s what people need – a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ! They need to know He’s alive, and that He loves them. That He’s powerful enough to run the universe, yet personal enough to forgive their sins, break their habits, and resolve their doubts. Your job is to extend the invitation, and let Jesus do the rest. Do you need a soul-winning strategy? Try this one – it works!
Soul food: Isa 53:1-12; Acts 8:26-40
Acts 8:35 NIV
In Acts 8 we read the story of a high-profile leader who became a Christian. This man held a position similar to the Chancellor of the Exchequer in Britain. And he was led to Christ by a low-profile person called Philip, a church deacon (have a read of Acts 8:26-40). Let’s look at how it happened and see what we can learn: 1) Philip was ready. When this man needed someone to explain the gospel to him, Philip was ready to do it. Are we ready, and willing? Are we prepared to share our faith with people we meet? The Bible says: ‘Always be ready to answer everyone who asks you to explain about the hope you have’ (1 Peter 3:15 NCV). 2) Philip was wise. He didn’t just barge in and start preaching, or put this man on the spot. Philip was led by God’s spirit. ‘The Spirit said to Philip, “Go to that chariot and stay near it”‘ (Acts 8:29 NCV). He recognised the right moment. He spoke to the man about the passage that he was reading before he jumped in and shared the gospel. Sometimes we need to build up a relationship with the person before we can tell them about Jesus. 3) Philip was clear. Instead of a vague dialogue about religion, he spoke directly about Jesus. That’s what people need – a relationship with Jesus. They need to know He’s alive, and that He loves them. That He’s powerful enough to run the universe, yet personal enough to forgive their sins, break their habits, and resolve their doubts. Our job is to extend the invitation, and let Jesus do the rest.
Soul food: Gen 25:19-27:46; Luke 9:18-27; Ps 138; Prov 4:14-17
Philippians 3:13 NLT
In order to move forward with confidence on your life’s journey, you need a reliable road map. In the Bible this is called a dream or a vision. For Moses, it was leading God’s people out of slavery and into the Promised Land. For Florence Nightingale, it meant bringing healing and hope to wounded and dying soldiers in Crimea. For Thomas Edison, it was illuminating the world with incandescent light. The fact is, anyone who ever made a difference in life started with a dream, and eventually it became their life’s passion. For the publishers of this devotional, it’s putting God’s Word into the hands of as many people as possible in every nation on earth! How can you tell if your vision is from God? It will bless you and benefit others. Now, if your dream is only to live in a mansion and accumulate a fortune for yourself, don’t count on God to underwrite it. Furthermore, your dream is worth only what you’re willing to pay for it. Inspiration without perspiration is just a daydream. Forty percent of the people you meet have great ideas, but all they do is talk about them. Another 40 percent work hard and would be willing to give their all for a great dream – but they don’t have one. Only the remaining 20 percent have a dream and the faith to make it come true. And even if you’re part of that group, there are no guarantees you’ll succeed. But you have a good chance – better than 80 percent of those around you. So go ahead – dare to dream.
Soul food: Isa 63-66; Luke 4:14-30; Ps 89:15-37; Prov 2:21-22