Pray with confidence

James 5:16 NCV

The Bible says: ‘When a believing person prays, great things happen. Elijah was a human being just like us. He prayed that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years!’ (v.16-17 NCV). There are two things in particular for us to take note of here:

1) ‘A believing person.’ When we pray, we need to believe that God will hear and answer our prayers. ‘Anyone who comes to God must believe that he is real and that he rewards those who truly want to find him’ (Hebrews 11:6 NCV).

In Matthew 6, Jesus says: ‘When you pray, don’t be like those people who don’t know God. They continue saying things that mean nothing, thinking that God will hear them because of their many words’ (v.7 NCV). The only requirement for seeing ‘great things happen’ is to believe.

We might hear other people praying almost fiercely, full of emotion and passion. There’s nothing wrong with praying that way (as long as we’re not doing it for effect), but we mustn’t fall into the trap of thinking it’s the only way God will hear and answer us. Our feelings may move us, but it’s our faith that moves God. A simple, quiet prayer coming from a heart that believes and trusts in Him will get His attention.

2) ‘Elijah was a human being just like us.’ Elijah was righteous, but that doesn’t mean he was perfect. His prayers were effective, but he still struggled at times with fear and despair. He really was ‘just like us’. So we can pray with confidence, knowing that we don’t need to be perfect for God to listen, answer, and do great things. We just need to trust and believe.

2 Tim 1-4; John 21:15-25; Ps 47; Prov 31:6-9

How to keep your peace and joy

Romans 15:13 AMPC

The Lord has promised us a sense of joy in the midst of every circumstance we face. Jesus said, “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete” (John 15:11 NIV). So how can you hold on to your joy and not lose it?

The apostle Paul tells us, “May the God of your hope so fill you with all joy and peace in believing [through the experience of your faith] that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound and be overflowing (bubbling over) with hope” (Romans 15:13 AMPC). Notice that all-important word “believing.” It’s okay to have questions, but you must never doubt God’s love and faithfulness toward you.

One Bible teacher writes: “I remember an evening when I was feeling strongly dissatisfied and discontented. I had no peace or joy and was absolutely miserable. I read Romans chapter 15:13, and it was indeed ‘a word in season’ for me. My problem was simple: I was doubting instead of believing. I was doubting God’s unconditional love for me, doubting that I could hear from Him, doubting His call on my life, doubting that He was pleased with me. I was filled with doubt…doubt…doubt. When I saw the problem and got back into faith and out of doubt…my joy and peace returned immediately. I’ve found the same thing to be true again and again in my life. When my joy and peace seem to be gone, I check my believing – usually it is gone also.”

And the same principle applies to you today!

Soul food: Jonah 2; Luke 11:29-32

Love what you do

Colossians 3:23 NASB

You will know that your job is your “calling” when you do what you love, and love what you do.

Philanthropist and industrialist Andrew Carnegie said: “The average person puts only 25 percent of their energy and ability into their work. The world takes off its hat to those who put in more than 50 percent, and stands on its head for those few and far-between souls who devote 100 percent.”

Thomas Edison loved work. In his latter years he established Menlo Park, the world’s first factory for making nothing but inventions. It was a forerunner to the private research laboratories now maintained by so many large companies. At Menlo Park Edison promised to turn out “a minor invention every ten days, and a big thing every six months or so.” At one point he was working on forty-seven things at once. Other inventors may have been richer, but no inventor has ever been more enthusiastic or successful.

When you believe that what you do makes a difference, you have a different feeling about what you do. When you believe your job has worth in God’s eyes, you’re no longer vulnerable to the critics or dependent upon the cheerleaders.

Paul said, “I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me” (Acts 20:24 NIV). One of the last prayers Jesus prayed was “I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do” (John 17:4 NIV). If you are serious about pleasing God, make that your prayer too.

Soul food: 2 Sam 20:1-22:30; John 5:1-15; Ps 15; Prov 24:7

Should you invest?

Ecclesiastes 11:4 NIV

Should you risk investing, or wait for a “lucky break” that could make you rich overnight? Solomon answers, “Ship your grain across the sea; after many days you may receive a return” (v. 1 NIV). That means invest prayerfully and wisely, and be patient because it may take “many days” before you’ll get a return.

The get-rich-quick mentality isn’t scriptural. “Invest in seven ventures, yes, in eight; you do not know what disaster may come upon the land” (v. 2 NIV). So invest, but diversify; allow for market fluctuations. This is a play-it-wise approach, not a play-it-safe one.

Be faith-driven instead of fear-driven. Fear allows the unpredictable to determine your actions. Godly wisdom, plus faith, is the key to investing. Waiting for “the ideal time” will keep you paralyzed. Success isn’t in the absence of challenges, it’s having the wisdom to manage them and keep moving forward.

The Bible says, “Whoever watches the wind will not plant; whoever looks at the clouds will not reap.” If you let the odds immobilize you, you’ll never sow – which means you’ll never reap.

The bottom line is this: Life is full of unknowns, and just “as you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother’s womb…you cannot understand the work of God” (v. 5 NIV). You don’t have to know it all or be able to predict the outcome. Just seek God, then act on the wisdom He gives you (See James 1:5). You don’t have to understand how He’s going to work on your behalf – you only need to believe He will!

Soul food: 1 Sam 18:1-20:29; John 1:1-13; Ps 92; Prov 22:24-25

Declare: “This is working for me”

2 Corinthians 4:17 NKJV

In a survey, pollster George Barna reported that two out of three Americans refer to themselves as “casual Christians.” It’s an interesting term, but what does it mean? In essence it means uncommitted…hit-and-miss…when I feel like it. But here’s how Paul describes the Christian life: “We have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us” (v. 7 NKJV). Note the word “treasure.” Paul treasured what God had put within him; he protected it, rejoiced over it, and maximized it. Does that mean the Christian life will be easy or trouble free? No, Paul continues: “Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing…the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal” (vv. 16-18 NKJV). Notice that “our…affliction…is working for us.” God uses life’s experiences – good and bad – to enrich, sharpen, deepen, and stabilize you. And here’s another important truth: What you believe and speak during difficult times determines the quality of your spiritual life and your future. “Since we have the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, ‘I believed and therefore I spoke,’ we also believe and therefore speak” (v. 13 NKJV). So instead of seeing your situation as working against you, stand up in faith today and declare: “This is working for me!”

Soul food: 1 Sam 8-10; Luke 24:13-24; Ps 68:24-35; Prov 22:5-6