SCRIPTURE TEXT: “hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.” –Hebrews 10:23
God is not going to give you a promise and then say, “You know, maybe I didn’t mean that.” And when He does answer, He wants us to give Him glory and praise because He truly has worked on our behalf. When God gives us a promise, we can be sure He will do what He has said. It is a matter of demonstrating His character and nature to us. Believing God, trusting God, studying His Word, and applying it to your life are elements of the Christian faith that must work together. God is not going to operate one way one day and then another way the next. He tells us in His Word will always line up with His nature and character. God is faithful. Therefore, His Word is trustworthy and His promises are too. He is faithful to keep everyone. Not one promise will fail — ever. People will say one thing and then go and do something else.
Many will be kind and supportive in your presence but later will oppose you. But God never will. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8). That is a promise you can claim! Why does God choose to give promises to you and me? He wants us to learn something about His character. God is faithful, true, loving, patient, forgiving, kind, and so much more. He gives promises to us so that we will see His nature and learn deeper truths about His character and personal care for us. You may have a definite need and wonder what God is going to do.
You have prayed and asked Him to give you His wisdom. While studying His Word, you find yourself reading the following: Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.— Proverbs 3:5-6Is this a promise you can claim? Absolutely. God is saying, “I’m aware of what you are facing. I know your need. Trust Me, lean on Me and not on your human knowledge, and I will provide all that you need and so much more.” Paul underscores this very thing when he writes,‘My God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus’—Philippians 4:19
By His divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a Godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know Him, the one who has called us to Himself by means of His marvellous glory and excellence. And because of His glory and excellence, He has given us great and precious promises. These are promises that enable you to share His divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires” – 2 Peter 1:3-4 (NLT)
SCRIPTURE TEXT: “Let heaven fill your thoughts; don’t spend your time worrying about things down here.” –Colossians 3:2 (TLB)
True freedom comes when you focus your mind on God’s truth. But how do you focus your mind on the right things so you can experience freedom? Here are three things you can do that will make the biggest difference in managing your mind.First, think about Jesus. Hebrews 12:3 says, “Think about Jesus’ example. He held on while wicked people were doing evil things to him. So do not get tired and stop trying” (NCV). What gives you the power to keep on going? You think about Jesus. Keep your mind on who the Bible says he is and the example he’s given you for how to live a life that pleases God.Second, think about others. “Let us think about each other and help each other to show love and do good deeds” (Hebrews 10:24 NCV). Most of the people around the world think about themselves first. So anybody who thinks more about others than they do about themselves is going to shine. When you choose to think about what others may need and how you can help, you’ll find it’s hard to let your problems get you down.Third, think about eternity. The Bible says in Colossians 3:2, “Let heaven fill your thoughts; don’t spend your time worrying about things down here” (TLB). Whatever you’re worried about today is probably not going to matter in five years, much less in eternity. Everything is put into perspective when you think about your life in light of eternity.Whatever situation you’re facing today, stop and think about what you’re thinking about. Then choose to focus on Jesus, other people, and your home in eternity. It will take the focus off of yourself, which is how God intended for you to live. And it will transform your life!
SCRIPTURE TEXT: “Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit.” –Romans 8:5 (NLT)
Have you ever felt like you are a hostage to your thoughts? Maybe you just can’t get a thought out of your mind. Or you often find yourself doing things you don’t want to do. You knowingly engage in self-defeating behaviour. You know something is not good for you, but you do it anyway.
Romans 7:23 says, “I see a different law at work in my body—a law that fights against the law which my mind approves of. It makes me a prisoner to the law of sin which is at work in my body” (GNT). Because of your sinful nature, you think of yourself and your wants more than what God wants. It’s a battle in your mind, and you’re losing it. Your old nature—who you were before Jesus changed your life—is not your friend. It is the source of all your self-defeating habits that tend to take you down.
Do you want to break those habits and have more control over the way you think? Then you need to hear and understand this truth: You don’t have to believe everything you think. Your mind lies to you all the time. Just because you think something is true doesn’t make it true. Just because you feel something is true doesn’t make it true.
Your mind and your emotions often lie to you. Part of spiritual growth—becoming more like Jesus—is learning to know the difference between thoughts that are true and those that are not. One of the most important disciplines you can build in life is to challenge your own thoughts. Say to yourself, “I know what I’m thinking, but is that really true?” No matter how far you go in your spiritual walk, your old, sinful nature will keep trying to take control of your thoughts. You have to learn to question your thoughts, not just one time but throughout your day and throughout your life!
When you start to think nobody likes you, ask yourself if that’s really true. If you think it’s never going to get better, ask yourself if it’s true. When you think your life is worthless, question what Satan is trying to convince you of. Then, remember what you know from God’s Word to be true.
Talk It Over What habitual thoughts can you stop believing when you hold them up to the light of God’s Word? What are the things that please the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:5)? What makes it difficult for you to surrender your thoughts to the Holy Spirit?
SCRIPTURE TEXT: “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago.” —Ephesians 2:10 (NLT)
God didn’t create anything without a purpose. If you’re breathing, you have a purpose. In Christ, you have something to offer the world. When God made you, He wired you in a certain way and uniquely shaped you for a contribution. Nobody has been you in the past or will be you in the future. God doesn’t create clones or copies. Even identical twins are different in thousands of ways. Your thumbprint, voice, footprint, heartbeat, and eyes are unique. You’re not one in a million. You’re one in trillions. God custom-made you. And he wants you to be you. You may have heard all your life, “Why can’t you be more like [your brother or sister or friend]?”
But if God hadn’t wanted you to be you, then you wouldn’t exist. And, yet, you may spend your life trying to be somebody you’re not. When you do that, you miss your whole purpose.
God did not make you and put you here on this planet just to breathe air, take up space, and die. If you’re here, there’s a contribution that only you can make.“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago” (Ephesians 2:10 NLT). You are God’s masterpiece. Before you were born, God planned the good things He wanted you to do with your life. In other words, He gave you a ministry. Everybody has a ministry. You can find your ministry by looking at how God shaped you. He gave you unique spiritual gifts, abilities, and experiences to help other people.
When you see how you are shaped and use that shape to bless others, then you will find your ministry. And you will find your purpose.
Talk It Over
What do you think happens if you don’t fulfil your purpose? How does fulfilling your purpose or ministry affect the church? Think about how God has uniquely shaped you. Make a list of your spiritual gifts, abilities, personality, and experiences. How might God want you to use them for ministry?
SCRIPTURE TEXT: “Don’t pay attention to everything people say.” —Ecclesiastes 7:21 (GNT)
What makes social media so addictive? Why do you have to go back and check a picture 50 times after you post? Why are you constantly checking your phone?
Everybody wants the approval of others. People desperately need to be liked! When you hear the “ding” of a notification, dopamine is released in your brain, and it’s extremely satisfying. Every “ding” feeds your need for approval, and it feels like you can’t get enough.
But the Bible says, “Dear friends, don’t let public opinion influence how you live out our glorious, Christ-originated faith” (James 2:1 The Message).The truth is that public opinion doesn’t have anything to do with your faith. So don’t let public opinion decide what you believe, feel, or do. It will never lead you in the direction of Jesus Christ.The Bible also says in Ecclesiastes 7:21,“Don’t pay attention to everything people say” (GNT).Even when you make the wisest, happiest, most encouraging social media post, some people still will post comments that will not meet your expectations or may just be downright mean. If you make the post because you need a certain number of likes to feel better about yourself, then you are going to be disappointed.When you’re not living for the approval of others, though, what one person says on social media is not going to make or break you. Everyone wants the approval of others. But living for the approval of One will help you use social media as a useful tool and not a crutch.
Talk It OverWhat is your motivation when you post on social media?How does the amount of time you spend on your phone reflect whose approval you’re living for?In what ways have you let public opinion dictate what you believe or how you act?
SCRIPTURE TEXT: “By faith [Moses] left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible.” —Hebrews 11:27
Either we live by faith or we live by fear. The Bible says of Moses in Hebrews 11:27, “By faith he left Egypt,not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible” (NIV). Moses teaches us that living by faith rather than by fear is a choice. He went to the most powerful man in the world and said, “You know those slaves that are building all your pyramids? I’m taking them, and we’re all leaving. You’re not going to have slave labour anymore.
Let my people go.”Moses had every reason to be afraid. He was going up against a powerful man who was considered a god, and whatever Pharaoh said, you had to do. What he said was the law. And here came Moses and declared, “We aren’t going to do what you say anymore. I’m not afraid of you because I report to a higher authority.” That took some guts! Do you want that same kind of faith in your life so you can overcome your fear?
The closer you get to God, the more you’re going to be filled with faith. The further away you get from God, the more you’re going to be filled with fear.I cannot overemphasize the importance of faith for the rest of your life. The Bible says that whatever is not of faith is sin. How many times did you sin this week? A lot. So did I. Because anything I did that wasn’t done in faith but was done in doubt was a sin. The Bible also says that without faith it is impossible to please God. How many times did you please God this week?
Do you want something to change in your life? Instead of complaining, start believing. God is not moved by complaints. God is moved by faith, a truth we see in these words of Jesus: “According to your faith let it be done to you” (Matthew 9:29 NIV). You get to choose what he does in your life. Here’s the key: What matters is not the size of your faith but the size of the God you put it in. A little faith in a big God gets big results!
Talk It Over
What do you need to do to get closer to God so that you can be filled with faith?How has fear kept you from achieving God’s best for you?What is the outward evidence that someone is a faith-filled person?
SCRIPTURE TEXT: “Blessed is the man whom [the Lord] chasteneth . . .” —Psalm 94:12
God sometimes allows Christians to suffer, in order that they might learn the secret of obedience. The Psalmist said, “Before I was afflicted, I went astray; but now have I kept thy word” (Psalm 119:67). It was not until after great sorrow and much affliction that David learned obedience to God.My dear Christian friend, if you are today suffering at the hand of God and you have asked a thousand times, “Why?” I beg of you to be patient and quiet before God, and listen to the still, small voice. Bow under His loving hand and recognize that above the clouds the sun is shining. God has a purpose and design for your life, and what is happening to you is for your good.
PRAYER FOR THE DAY: The human in me says, “Why, Lord?” whenever I have to bear suffering—but the Spirit-filled me that was born again says, “I trust You, Father.”
SCRIPTURE TEXT: “Has the Lord as much pleasure in your burnt offerings and sacrifices as in your obedience? Obedience is far better than sacrifice. He is much more interested in your listening to Him than in your offering the fat of rams to Him. For rebellion is as bad as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as bad as worshipping idols” —1 Sam. 15:22-23
We all love to be accepted by our peers and by society. However, if we do not take care it is these very people who would lead us down the paths of destruction through numerous compromises. In contrast to Saul’s behaviour, Daniel in the Old Testament stands out as someone who resolved to stand by his principles come what may. God rewarded Daniel with great wisdom and spiritual insight, favour with kings and emperors, prophetic utterances, a glimpse into the plans of God and eternal life.
Sticking to his principles did not always make life easy for Daniel but eventually he always came out top because God honoured his obedience. In Daniel 1:8 for example, Daniel resolves not to eat the food served from the king’s table even though to many that privilege in itself should have been enough to compromise on the Jewish principle of not eating certain types of meat (pigs and all meat sacrificed to idols). I can well imagine the troubles he would have had from some of his peers. They would have called him names and even accused him of “over-worshipping” God. He however stuck to his guns and in return, he reaped the following:
• the guard who was supervising them, liked him enough to give him (and the 3 others what they asked for – vegetables and water – Daniel 1:12; • God made him look healthier than those who were eating the “choice” food from the king’s table – Daniel 1:15; • God gave him high intellectual and spiritual knowledge – Daniel 1:17; • he was selected into the king’s high service and was found to be ten times better in every matter of wisdom and understanding than all the magicians and enchanters in the whole kingdom – Daniel 1:20.
Daniel made enemies by doing a good job and not compromising his principles. Perhaps you are going through a similar situation. At home, at work, even in the church, you are catching flak for being “too rigid.” If being rigid means you are refusing to join the crowd in doing wrong even when it has become the norm, then praise God for your “lonely’ life. Remember that whenever you stand for what is true and right, people will look for ways to hold you back and tear you down. They will cheer at your slightest downfall and even hasten it. They will try to wear you down with “emotional blackmail”. However, if you conduct your life above reproach, like Daniel you will have nothing to hide and your enemies will have a difficult time finding legitimate charges against you. Of course, you can rely on God to vindicate you by protecting you even from the “jaws of the lions.”
SCRIPTURE TEXT: “…The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.” —John 6 : 63 To one of the most religious men of His day, Jesus said, “Ye must be born again” (John 3:7). Nicodemus could not substitute his profound knowledge of religion for spiritual rebirth, and neither can we. I have read a book on water skiing, and it did not take long for me to learn that I could never learn to water ski by reading a book-I would have to experience it.
I have read a number of books on golf, but none of them seems to improve my game; I must get out on the golf course and play. You may study theology and religion, but there comes a time when you must experience Christ for yourself.