I was in the middle of a lecture at university when I realised I had an assignment that was due 11:00 am that morning! I knew I missed out on those marks already. “How could this happen?” “How could I miss such easy marks?” “I’m stupid.” Voices in my head started yelling at me telling me I am not good enough. However, in the middle of these voices, I had peace. I knew that no matter what happens, God is with me.
It can be so easy to live a life filled with stress, anxiety, fear or doubt. Voices will try to discourage and bring you down when you make mistakes. The better way to live is with peace; it is very freeing! It’s like a bubble of protection is around your heart keeping you safe.
How can this peace be found? Keep your mind and heart with God (daily devotion and prayer achieves this.) Isaiah 26:3 says ‘You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you because he trusts in you.‘ You will know when your trust is in God because no matter what life throws at you, peace remains.
I was struggling with depression. I found every day hard to manage. I believed in God but didn’t know Him. One night I was alone in my bed. I started praying to God. “God, if you’re real, help me.” All of a sudden, I felt love so powerful I can’t describe it. Every little thing faded away into nothing. All I felt was love!
Are you struggling with depression? Are you finding each day hard to manage? Pray to God and ask Him to give you more love. He is very caring and would love to hear you ask Him!
James 4:8 says ‘Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.‘ Rather than being distracted by everything around me, I choose to draw near to God and meet Him where I am.
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.
Last night I led the discussion for a bible study. To say it didn’t quite go to plan is an understatement. By my measures, it was a complete failure! There was no flow, no depth, no participation. After the night was over and everyone left, I talked with the other leader and discussed what went wrong. What we discovered were many reasons that all added up. In the end, though, we decided not to let it get to us. The experience especially shook me, but I had to get over it! Life is not perfect, but God and His love for me is! My worth is not found in how well I lead, but God’s love for me!
Jeremiah 29:11 says ‘For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.‘ God has plans for me, and He does not restrict them because of one failure.
Luke 12:6-7 says ‘Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.‘ God sees exceptional value in me, but not only me; His love is for everyone!
I am encouraged that God loves me just the same, and no matter what other people think, that will never change. God’s love is not just for me, though; it is for everyone!
When I was a boy, I found many ways to test my parent’s patience. I examined the boundaries while trying to find a new way to be entertained. One day I thought it would be fun to ‘prank call’ the police. Afterwards, I thought nothing of it until an officer came and visited the residence to find out what happened! As it turned out nothing was wrong, he left.
Now I am older I know not to create false alarms just for fun, but sometimes I find myself looking for the next fun thing. I know I don’t live for pleasure, but the way of this world is to live this way. As a Christian, I need to choose the narrow path of discipline, love, compassion and following God.
Matthew 7:13-14 says “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.“
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.’
From a young age, I remember experiencing nightmares. These nightmares weren’t just scary dreams; they were torture from hell. In any given night I would find myself running. I was running from hungry animals: wolves, dogs, bears, lions or snakes. These animals were after me to devour me. After running and hiding as much as I could, eventually, these animals would find me and would tear me apart, limb from limb and eat me alive. I remember waking after each dream covered in thick sweat, my little heart pounding inside my chest violently. At that waking moment, I realised I was in a dream, but the fear was just as real after waking. At that time, I would find I had wet myself. From age 4 through till 8 I was afraid to fall asleep because I knew I wouldn’t find rest. Home life was far from ideal, and after a stressful day at home, I would experience an even more terrifying night. This stress led to bad sleeping habits and wetting the bed every night up until age 7.
Thankfully, the story doesn’t end there; I would go on to discover God’s love for me and the power it has to overcome fear. At 15 years old I started praying that if God were real, He would find me and help me. At 16 during one of my prayers, God’s love came and ‘washed over’ me. It is a feeling hard to describe, but I will do my best. This feeling of love was so powerful that I couldn’t stop crying. The crying was extreme. I couldn’t control it. At that moment I knew I was loved. I knew I was important and not forgotten. All the years of neglect and abuse vanished in an instant. My built up hate toward others was also taken away. All my fear became empty and vanished.
In the Bible, 1 John 4:18 says “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” This verse is right in my life. If I ever feel fear, I pray and worship with everything I have.
If you have a problem with fear, you have a problem with love. Pray that God will show you the love He showed me.
Prayer: God, I ask that you show me your love. I want to know you more intimately and want to be free from fear. I know that fear is never from you, so I pray that you would free me from it. Let the love you show me flow through me to others that they may also know your love. Amen.
Today I found it natural to spend time with God. My devotion didn’t feel forced, but instead very refreshing. I have often experienced reading the Bible, praying and worshipping as dry and dull. I can’t wait to finish so I can do something else. I don’t feel a real connection because I’m not there for the right reasons. I have found myself being there to ‘tick the devotion box.’ Today was different when I felt a natural pull toward worshipping and praying. I found myself thoroughly enjoying the time and feeling disappointed when it ended.
Real relationships are based on love. I will never build a strong relationship by giving five minutes each day. I have a choice to make. I can give with generosity, or I can love the smallest amount possible. After giving my time I don’t feel like I lost what I have given, but instead, I feel like I have gained from it. Real relationships are built on love, not duty.