Deuteronomy 2:2-3 NLT
A biologist experimented with what he called “processional caterpillars.” He lined up caterpillars on the rim of a pot that held a plant so that the lead caterpillar was head-to-tail with the last caterpillar, with no break in the parade. The tiny creatures walked around the rim of the pot for a full week before they died of exhaustion and starvation. Not once did any of them break out of line and venture over to the plant to eat. Food was only inches away, but their follow-the-crowd instinct was stronger than the drive to eat and survive. The same thing happened to an entire generation of Israelites. They walked in circles in the wilderness for forty years, even though they were only eleven miles from the Promised Land. If you’re in a rut today, ask yourself these three questions: (1) Is this rut of my own making? We choose a rut because it’s comfortable and requires no risk. And getting out of it requires courage and a willingness to make table, tough choices you follow through on. (2) Who am I following? We adopt certain patterns because someone has taught them to us directly, or by example. Instead of mindlessly following the crowd, seek God’s will for your life and commit yourself to doing it. (3) Where am I going? The Bible says, “Where there is no vision, the people perish” (Proverbs 29:18). If you want to get out of the rut you’re in today, ask God to give you a vision for your life – He will! And when He does, pour yourself into it.
Soul food: 1 Thes 4:1-5; 2 Cor 5:14-21; Ps 77:11-20; Prov 9:10-12
Deuteronomy 2:3 NIV
The Israelites walked in circles in the wilderness for forty years, even though they were only eleven miles from the Promised Land. We might not be physically walking in circles, but we can find ourselves going round the same habits and thought patterns time and time again. God said to the Israelites: ‘You have made your way around this hill country long enough; now turn north.’ And maybe as we head into the New Year, it’s time for us to turn a different way too. Maybe we need to break a habit that we have been trapped by. Maybe we need to think about the things we believe about ourselves and see whether they need to be changed to the truth. Just because we have always lived a certain way, or always believed certain thoughts about ourselves, doesn’t mean it always has to be that way. But it’s not enough to just want to change. We have to actually make changes in our lives to ensure we are not going round in circles any longer. That can feel scary. When we have lived a certain way for a long period of time, it can feel uncomfortable to do something different. We might feel weak and unable to make the changes we need to, but we can say the same words as Paul: ‘I can do all this through him who gives me strength’ (Philippians 4:13 NIV). We will be more likely to stick to our changes if we have a clear idea of God’s vision for our lives. The Bible says: ‘Where there is no vision, the people perish’ (Proverbs 29:18 KJV). We need to ask God to give us a vision for our lives, and then ask for the courage to step out of our cycles and into that vision.
1 Thes 4:1-5; 2 Cor 5:14-21; Ps 77:11-20; Prov 9:10-12
Deuteronomium 2:2-3 NLV
‘n Bioloog het met sogenaamde ‘professionele ruspes’ geëksperimenteer. Hy het die ruspes agtermekaar op die randjie van ‘n potplant neergesit, sodat die voorste en die laaste ruspe aan mekaar geraak het, met geen openinge in die parade nie. Die klein skepsels het vir ‘n volle week op die rand van die pot geloop voor hulle van uitputting en honger gesterf het. Nie een keer het een van hulle uit die lyn uit beweeg of op die plant geklim om te eet nie. Kos was net sentimeters ver, maar hulle instink om die skare te volg was groter as die drif om te eet en te oorleef. Dieselfde het met ‘n hele generasie Israeliete gebeur. Hulle het vir veertig jaar lank in sirkels in die woestyn geloop, terwyl hulle net sewentien kilometer van die Beloofde Land af was. As jy vandag in ‘n groef is, vra jouself die volgende drie vrae af: 1) Is hierdie groef my eie maaksel? Ons kies ‘n groef omdat dit gemaklik is en geen risiko inhou nie. Dit verg moed en ‘n gewilligheid om moeilike keuses te maak om daaruit te kom. 2) Wie volg ek? Ons neem sekere patrone aan omdat iemand dit direk of deur hulle voorbeeld vir ons geleer het. In plaas daarvan om klakkeloos die skare te volg, soek eerder God se wil en wy jouself daaraan toe om dit te doen. 3) Waarheen is ek op pad? Die Bybel sê: ‘Wanneer ‘n volk nie duidelikheid het oor die wil van God nie, word hulle koersloos…’ (Spreuke 29:18 NLV). As jy vandag uit jou groef uit wil klim, vra God om vir jou ‘n visie te gee – Hy sal! Wanneer Hy dit doen, wy jouself volkome daaraan toe.
Sielskos: 1 Tess 4:1-5; 2 Kor 5:14-21; Ps 77:11-20; Spr 9:10-12
2 Corinthians 12:9 NLT
When we have an area of life that we are weak in, we can feel guilty and ashamed because of it. When Paul was praying about the ‘thorn’ he had, God answered by explaining how Paul’s weakness was an opportunity for His power to work. Paul writes: ‘Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong’ (vv.8-10 NLT). Before God spoke, all Paul wanted was for God to remove his problem. After God spoke, he realised that in his problem he had found something better and greater – supernatural strength for those tough times, which helps us realise that God’s presence is greater than our problems and His purpose is greater than our pain. Sometimes we can be so busy telling God what we think He ought to do for us that we can’t hear God telling us what He wants to do in us. The Bible tells us that God ‘gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak’ (Isaiah 40:29 NIV). When we have to rely on His strength rather than our own, we are closer to Him and dependent on Him. And any time we are victorious in that area, it glorifies Him. We don’t need to feel ashamed about our weaknesses; instead we need to thank God that His power can work through us.
1 Cor 16; Matt 3:7-10; Ps 75; Prov 31:31
2 Corinthians 12:9 NLT
Paul writes: “Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, ‘My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.’ So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (vv. 8-10 NLT). Paul didn’t get the answer he was looking for until he quit praying and started listening. Sometimes we’re so busy telling God what He ought to do for us, that we can’t hear God telling us what He wants to do in us. If you have a stubborn problem in your life, maybe it’s time to quit talking and start listening. God taught Paul lessons at the best time he could learn them – during difficulties. So the bad news about tough times turns out to be the good news after all – that you learn more about God in the valley than you do on the mountaintop. C. S. Lewis describes how God uses pain to communicate with us: “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts to us in our pains.” Before God spoke, all Paul wanted was to remove his problem. After God spoke, he realized that in his problem he had found something better and greater – supernatural strength reserved for those tough times when we realize God’s presence is greater than our problems and His purpose is greater than our pain.
Soul food: 1 Cor 16; Matt 3:7-10; Ps 75; Prov 31:31