Proverbs 18:24 MSG
The Bible says: ‘Friends come and…go, but a true friend sticks by you.’ So what’s the difference between a friend and a true friend? Friends can be there for you sometimes, but true friends help each other out, no matter what it costs. The Bible tells us that ‘two…are better off than one…they can help each other…If one…falls, the other can reach out…But someone who falls alone is in real trouble’ (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 NLT). Do we have someone who reaches out to us when we’re struggling? Do we reach out to others? The Bible encourages us to carry each other’s burdens (have a look at Galatians 6:2). And when we ‘rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn’ (Romans 12:15 NIV) despite what’s happening in our own lives, we show that we’re putting others needs before our own. True friends also give each other advice when we’re facing a tough situations. The Bible says, ‘The sweetness of a…friend gives delight by hearty counsel’ (Proverbs 27:9 NKJV). A true friend will pray for us, and share any wisdom they’ve gained from experiences in their lives, just because they want to help us make the right decisions in our lives. But they will also hold us accountable. When we go off God’s path for us and start going our own way, we can think we’re doing the right thing. But our true friends can remind us that God knows best and show us where we’re going wrong. True friends love us enough to be honest even when it’s hard and can hurt for a while. So if we’ve got someone like this in our lives, we’ve found a true friend.
2 Cor 9:1-11:15; Luke 2:8-20; Ps 144:9-15; Prov 16:4-7
Colossians 4:6 NIV
Our words have power. They can lift people up or bring them down. They can heal or they can hurt. They can speak God’s truth or the enemy’s lies. And we have the ability to choose, every day, the way we use our words. The Bible says: ‘May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight’ (Psalm 19:14 NIV). When we stop and think, are our words pleasing to God? We can end up saying things in the heat of the moment, we criticise others and promote ourselves, or we tear ourselves down by saying that we’re not good enough. Controlling our words is something we all struggle with. Maybe this is why words are mentioned so many times in the Bible. In James, we’re taught that the tongue is hard to control. ‘The tongue runs wild, a wanton killer. With our tongues we bless God our Father; with the same tongues we curse the very men and women he made in his image’ (v.8-9 MSG). And if we don’t try and use wisdom when speaking, our words can have bad consequences. When we’ve criticised others, we may quickly forget what we’ve said to them, but those words may stay with that person for their whole life. It can take years to break off things that other people have spoken over us. ‘It only takes a spark, remember, to set off a forest fire. A careless or wrongly placed word out of your mouth can do that’ (James 3:5 MSG). Instead, the Bible tells us to ‘Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone’ (NLT).
Ezek 27:25-30:26; Mark 15:33-47; Ps 143; Prov 15:8-10
Galatians 6:2 NLT
Dr. Raymond Vath said, “We must do for others what they cannot do for themselves, but we must not do for them what they will not do for themselves. The problem is finding the wisdom to know the difference.” You can be too helpful! By doing for somebody what they can do for themselves, you undermine their self-reliance and create an unhealthy dependence. So instead of rushing in and taking over: (1) Show them manageable action steps. By helping them take charge of their life you’re arming them against despair and powerlessness. And by validating their efforts you’re helping them to rebuild their fragile confidence. A word of caution, however: When the crisis involves irreversible loss like divorce or death, the work of simply getting through one day at a time is action enough. (2) Give them hope. In the depth of crisis there seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel – a sense that the suffering will go on endlessly. Growth and improvement can’t happen without hope. Hope provides energy, and brings relief based on the conviction that things will improve. God promises, “I will bless you with a future filled with hope – a future of success, not…suffering” (Jeremiah 29:11 CEV). (3) Be sure to follow up. Crises are seldom resolved quickly. Although life may eventually take on some semblance of normalcy, there may be episodes of relapse into sadness, helplessness, or loneliness. Your words may bring comfort, but your ongoing attentiveness will help the hurting person maintain faith and progress in their journey to healing.
Soul food: Judg 19:16-21:25; Mark 11:27-33; Ps 45; Prov 13:13-16
Proverbs 22:29 NIV
Here’s a prayer for success at work: “Lord, I thank You for the way You’ve made me, for the many gifts and talents You’ve placed within me, and I trust that I’m the best person for this job. I am grateful for each and every one of the personalities I work with, even the ones I don’t particularly like or understand. I ask that my focus would be on accomplishing the goals You have set forth for me to perform during my time in this position. Give me wisdom and discernment on the job, even in the midst of a hostile environment. Help me to learn what You want to teach me here, and give me patience as You prepare me for the future. Help me to do my best, and to always remain positive and hopeful. Please quiet the complaints and disappointments of my heart with Your perfect peace, and allow me to trust You with my job. Dress me in the garments of praise and the righteousness of Christ that I may bring You glory where I work. Allow me to know my true identity, to walk in Your favor, and to seek to please You more than those with whom I work. Where there is contention, let me be a peacemaker. Where there is deceit, let me speak truth. Where there is despair, let me bring hope. Where there is fear, let me bring faith. Where there is darkness, let me bring light. Where there is sadness, let me bring joy. These things I ask in Jesus’ name, amen.”
Soul food: Judg 9:34-11:40; Mark 10:35-52; Ps 129; Prov 20:25; Ecc 5:4-6
Proverbs 22:29 NIV
We should all want to be successful for God. His idea of success isn’t the same as the world’s idea of success, so it’s important that we take time to pray about our work and the tasks He’s assigned to us, so we can stay focused and on track. Here’s a prayer we can all pray, whatever our task is: ‘Lord, I thank You for the way You’ve made me, for all the gifts and talents You’ve given me, and I trust that I’m the best person for the task You’ve assigned to me. I’m grateful for all the people I work with and connect with, even the ones I don’t really like or understand. Please help me keep my focus on accomplishing the goals You’ve set for me. Give me wisdom and discernment, especially if I’m in a difficult situation. Help me to learn what You want to teach me through this task, and give me patience as You prepare me for the future. Help me to do my best, and to always remain positive and hopeful. Please soothe the complaints and disappointments of my heart with Your perfect peace. Help me to bring You glory and share Your love through the work I’m doing. Allow me to know my true identity, to walk in Your favour, and help me seek to please You. Keep me on the path You’ve laid out for me. Help me to be a peacemaker in times of conflict or argument. When others around me are being deceitful or untrustworthy, help me speak only the truth. Help me bring hope, faith and joy to places where there is despair, fear and sadness. Help me be a light in the darkness. I ask these things in Jesus’ name. Amen.’
Judg 9:34-11:40; Mark 10:35-52; Ps 129; Prov 20:25; Ecc 5:4-6