Acts 21:1-4, 7-8 tells the story of Paul travelling through various places and encouraging Christians as he went. Just focusing on the travel, it says ‘After saying farewell to the Ephesian elders, we sailed straight to the island of Cos. The next day we reached Rhodes and then went to Patara. There we boarded a ship sailing for Phoenicia. We …landed at the harbour of Tyre, in Syria, where the ship was to unload its cargo. We went ashore, found the local believers, and stayed with them a week…‘ (Skip verses 5 and 6) ‘The next stop after leaving Tyre was Ptolemais, where we greeted the brothers and sisters and stayed for one day. The next day we went on to Caesarea and stayed at the home of Philip the Evangelist, one of the seven men who had been chosen to distribute food.‘
This story illustrates the passion Paul had for God and the Church. He travelled the world teaching and encouraging believers wherever he went.
The passion Paul had for God and the Church inspires me. However, when it comes to my life, I can so effortlessly get busy with unimportant tasks. I never intend to put God below other things, but it is so easy to find fun and exciting things to fill my day.
Does your life reflect the passion Paul had? Travelling the world is obviously not required to pursue God passionately. Loving God looks different for everyone, but is there an opportunity to bring your passion to a higher level? Do you find yourself ‘too busy’ to spend a meaningful time alone with God each day?
I was at university, on my way to the library after class. ‘Caleb!’ Someone was calling my name. I looked around to see classmate from last year. He was fast-walking toward me with a friend of his. They asked me to join them in the library, and we ended up talking for hours. Later that week, I saw them again. I wanted to study alone because I get more done, but they saw me and were following me. I couldn’t shake them.
Every day provides an opportunity to have an impact on someone’s life. Are you influencing the people around you? Is the effect you have on others easily seen?
1 Peter 2:12 says ‘Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honourable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.‘ Every day you are with people who don’t believe in God, your actions are on display. You can show God to those around you in small, simple ways. Live each day intentionally.
This week God has been talking to me about family. It started when I was talking with a friend about her family. Her family experienced some hardship but didn’t handle it well. As a result, some relationships suffered and today still need attention.
The conversation I had with my friend reminded me of my family. Last year I moved away from family but didn’t make an effort to stay in contact. I wanted to leave them behind as much as possible because of my past (terrible) experiences. However, after some thinking and praying, I believe God wants me to connect with them again.
Have you struggled with your family in the past? Are there relationships you can help mend?
1 Corinthians 13:1-3 says ‘If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.‘
God wants every one of us to love each other the way He loves. This includes family.
I was talking to a friend at church when he started talking about another friend of mine in a negative way. He didn’t respect them at all, saying they were an idiot. I’m sure there was a reason why this friend wasn’t the smartest, but that doesn’t justify putting them down like that! Not only did my friend manage to pull down my friend, but he also lost my trust.
Honesty is critical, but say behind someone’s back what you would say to their face. It may be hard, to be honest in a respectful way when they are wrong, but it is so essential to maintaining trust in relationships. If something is wrong, tell them! The worst thing to do is gossip about them when they are likely to fix their problem if only they were told.
2 Corinthians 8:21 says ‘For we aim at what is honourable not only in the Lord’s sight but also in the sight of man.‘ Respect and honesty build trust, one small conversation at a time. Don’t underestimate its power, but instead aim to respect everyone, including God.
Worshipping God is powerful. When I open my heart and worship, every little thing fades into nothing. My perspective changes as I focus all my attention and energy. I can feel every part of me worshipping. As I sing, my words become a prayer. I experience a powerful sensation shoot through my body, often leading to tears falling down my face. This real and raw submission to God gives me more peace than I can describe, more love than I can understand, and the strength to face any situation.
I love worshipping! I have to set a timer on my phone or risk spending hours alone, inevitably making me late for something. The act of worship puts me into a timeless state. I lose all other senses.
John 4:23-24 says ‘But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.‘
As this verse shows, when we worship, we are connecting directly to God. God is seeking worshippers, but unfortunately, in this age, there are so many distractions that take our attention; Worshipping God changes that attention to God and aligns us with Him. If you aren’t feeling connected with God or haven’t experienced this, set aside 2 hours with no distractions, play worship music and listen to the words, making them your prayer. You will not feel the same after! (Ideally, 20+ minutes of daily worship will become a part of every morning.)
Lately, I have been challenged not to judge others. I often find myself looking at the appearance of other people, and if they don’t look good enough for my standards, thinking they don’t care for themselves properly. This thinking is very unhealthy because it changes my perspective of others from how much they are valued the way God loves them to the way I see them.
The past two weeks I have been working toward not judging others. I noticed myself appreciating people more and getting along with everyone better. I found I have more in common than I first realised. I really started to see others positively.
Matthew 7:1-5 says ‘ “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” ‘
This week I will continue to look at others positively, not judging on appearances but having a genuine interest in them.
As I was kneeling by my bed listening to worship music, I felt refreshed. I felt the power of God gently flowing into my body, slowly filling me with peace and love. I love this feeling!
You can find peace and rest in God’s presence. If life is too busy, too stressful, or too intense, stop for 30 minutes and focus on God. He will fill you and give you strength to keep going.
Exodus 33:14 says ‘And he said, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”’ In this verse, God is speaking to Moses. God reminds him he is not alone. With God’s presence, rest is found.
At around the age of 18, I went to one night of a youth camp. A guest speaker was preaching about being filled with God. Afterwards, I knelt for prayer and just started crying out to God, asking Him to fill me. As I was kneeling people began praying for me. The feeling of God filling me intensified. After a little time, I started to feel normal again and thought that must be it. I thought God filled me, but He had more. The Holy Spirit spoke to me and said ‘Caleb if you want more, press in harder.’ I started praying again, and tears continued to flow even more freely. After repeating this process four or five times, I was a wreak. I looked terrible! (I know because I went to the bathroom after and looked in the mirror. I was shocked at how bad I looked!) I had given everything I had to God. At that time, I felt so close to God I could feel every little uncaring comment and each rude remark. I felt all my senses on high alert, each one pouring love. I have never felt closer to God all my life. There has never been a time before or after that has been even close.
How hungry are you? Are you willing to put everything out there? Are you ready to surrender everything to God and trust Him to fill you, or are you too busy? Do you want a life-changing experience, or are you comfortable with your current relationship with God?
Revelation 3:20 says ‘Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.‘ In this verse, Jesus is talking. He desperately wants a relationship with you! Regardless of your current position with God, if you open your heart, even more, God will respond.
When I was in high school, my teacher asked me what I aspired to do when I grew up. I wanted to make a lot of money, so I considered training to be an astronaut, a mechanic or an IT professional. The problem was, these careers were all my idea of success. They were good ideas, but not necessarily God’s idea.
Ten years later, I am praying every day that God will place his desires for me in my heart. I ask that He leads me and directs my path. I know I will never find fulfilment and meaning by chasing my dreams. The world tells me to do what makes me happy, but the problem is that what makes me truly happy is not what I want to do, but rather, what God wants me to do. I only find real purpose in God.
Psalm 23:1 says “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.” This verse brings me peace because it reminds me to trust in God as he leads me on the path He set for me.
Today I was reading the story of Joseph from the book of Genesis. As the story goes, his brothers are jealous of him and exchange him as a slave. He is taken to Egypt and sold to work for the rest of his sorry life. At this point, he has a choice to make. He can hold a grudge and hate his life; He has every reason to hate his brothers, and every excuse to be angry. On the other hand, he could choose to forgive his brothers and make the most of his situation. He chose the latter.
In my life, I have had to choose between forgiving and holding a grudge many times. Although I haven’t been sold out by my brothers, people I care about have hurt me deeply. I had to learn to forgive my parents, even though they didn’t deserve it. (There were many problems at home, and eventually, my parents divorced.) Because I chose to forgive, I am now able to love again.
The path of forgiveness is hard and long, but very important. I forgive by taking each negative thought captive and turning it into a positive one. For example, when a thought comes, that says ‘I can’t believe [this] happened. How could mum or dad do that?!’ I stop and think. ‘Yes, that bad thing happened, and it shouldn’t have, but I forgive them, and I love them unconditionally because that is how God loves.’