Stress: 6

‘Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where He prayed.’ Mark 1:35 NIV

Make prayer your daily habit. Prayer is the great stress-reliever. Jesus began His day with prayer. He often stopped throughout the day to pray, and He ended each day with prayer. Now, if Jesus made time for prayer as busy as He was, how much more do you need to do it! Time alone with God can be a decompression chamber for life’s stresses. We talk to God in prayer, tell Him what’s on our minds, and let Him talk to us as we read the Bible. Then we look at our schedule, evaluate our priorities, and wait for instructions.

If we lived that way, Big Pharma would go broke because we wouldn’t need a fraction of the tranquillisers they market! Many of our problems come from our inability to sit still. We just don’t know how to be quiet. God says, ‘Be still, and know that I am God.’ (Psalm 46:10 KJV) And one reason we don’t know God more personally is because we can’t be still. We’re too busy to be quiet and just think.

Someone observed that, ironically, when people lose their way, they often double their speed. The story’s told of a World War II Air Force pilot who was flying over the Pacific. When he radioed the tower and the controller asked for his location, he replied, ‘I don’t know—but I’m making record time!’ A lot of us are like that, speeding through life without knowing where we’re headed. We need to start our morning with prayer like Jesus did, and stop throughout the day to pray again and recharge our spiritual batteries.

SoulFood: Job 5–7, Matt 24:1–14, Ps 116:1–11, Pro 8:8–9

word4today an adaptation of The Word For Today is authored by Bob and Debby Gass and published under licence from UCB International Copyright © 2020

Today’s Readings

Job 5–7 ()

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5:1   “Call now; is there anyone who will answer you?
    To which of the holy ones will you turn?
  Surely vexation kills the fool,
    and jealousy slays the simple.
  I have seen the fool taking root,
    but suddenly I cursed his dwelling.
  His children are far from safety;
    they are crushed in the gate,
    and there is no one to deliver them.
  The hungry eat his harvest,
    and he takes it even out of thorns,
    and the thirsty pant after his wealth.
  For affliction does not come from the dust,
    nor does trouble sprout from the ground,
  but man is born to trouble
    as the sparks fly upward.
  “As for me, I would seek God,
    and to God would I commit my cause,
  who does great things and unsearchable,
    marvelous things without number:
10   he gives rain on the earth
    and sends waters on the fields;
11   he sets on high those who are lowly,
    and those who mourn are lifted to safety.
12   He frustrates the devices of the crafty,
    so that their hands achieve no success.
13   He catches the wise in their own craftiness,
    and the schemes of the wily are brought to a quick end.
14   They meet with darkness in the daytime
    and grope at noonday as in the night.
15   But he saves the needy from the sword of their mouth
    and from the hand of the mighty.
16   So the poor have hope,
    and injustice shuts her mouth.
17   “Behold, blessed is the one whom God reproves;
    therefore despise not the discipline of the Almighty.
18   For he wounds, but he binds up;
    he shatters, but his hands heal.
19   He will deliver you from six troubles;
    in seven no evil shall touch you.
20   In famine he will redeem you from death,
    and in war from the power of the sword.
21   You shall be hidden from the lash of the tongue,
    and shall not fear destruction when it comes.
22   At destruction and famine you shall laugh,
    and shall not fear the beasts of the earth.
23   For you shall be in league with the stones of the field,
    and the beasts of the field shall be at peace with you.
24   You shall know that your tent is at peace,
    and you shall inspect your fold and miss nothing.
25   You shall know also that your offspring shall be many,
    and your descendants as the grass of the earth.
26   You shall come to your grave in ripe old age,
    like a sheaf gathered up in its season.
27   Behold, this we have searched out; it is true.
    Hear, and know it for your good.”

6:1 Then Job answered and said:

  “Oh that my vexation were weighed,
    and all my calamity laid in the balances!
  For then it would be heavier than the sand of the sea;
    therefore my words have been rash.
  For the arrows of the Almighty are in me;
    my spirit drinks their poison;
    the terrors of God are arrayed against me.
  Does the wild donkey bray when he has grass,
    or the ox low over his fodder?
  Can that which is tasteless be eaten without salt,
    or is there any taste in the juice of the mallow?
  My appetite refuses to touch them;
    they are as food that is loathsome to me.
  “Oh that I might have my request,
    and that God would fulfill my hope,
  that it would please God to crush me,
    that he would let loose his hand and cut me off!
10   This would be my comfort;
    I would even exult in pain unsparing,
    for I have not denied the words of the Holy One.
11   What is my strength, that I should wait?
    And what is my end, that I should be patient?
12   Is my strength the strength of stones, or is my flesh bronze?
13   Have I any help in me,
    when resource is driven from me?
14   “He who withholds kindness from a friend
    forsakes the fear of the Almighty.
15   My brothers are treacherous as a torrent-bed,
    as torrential streams that pass away,
16   which are dark with ice,
    and where the snow hides itself.
17   When they melt, they disappear;
    when it is hot, they vanish from their place.
18   The caravans turn aside from their course;
    they go up into the waste and perish.
19   The caravans of Tema look,
    the travelers of Sheba hope.
20   They are ashamed because they were confident;
    they come there and are disappointed.
21   For you have now become nothing;
    you see my calamity and are afraid.
22   Have I said, ‘Make me a gift’?
    Or, ‘From your wealth offer a bribe for me’?
23   Or, ‘Deliver me from the adversary's hand’?
    Or, ‘Redeem me from the hand of the ruthless’?
24   “Teach me, and I will be silent;
    make me understand how I have gone astray.
25   How forceful are upright words!
    But what does reproof from you reprove?
26   Do you think that you can reprove words,
    when the speech of a despairing man is wind?
27   You would even cast lots over the fatherless,
    and bargain over your friend.
28   “But now, be pleased to look at me,
    for I will not lie to your face.
29   Please turn; let no injustice be done.
    Turn now; my vindication is at stake.
30   Is there any injustice on my tongue?
    Cannot my palate discern the cause of calamity?

7:1   “Has not man a hard service on earth,
    and are not his days like the days of a hired hand?
  Like a slave who longs for the shadow,
    and like a hired hand who looks for his wages,
  so I am allotted months of emptiness,
    and nights of misery are apportioned to me.
  When I lie down I say, ‘When shall I arise?’
    But the night is long,
    and I am full of tossing till the dawn.
  My flesh is clothed with worms and dirt;
    my skin hardens, then breaks out afresh.
  My days are swifter than a weaver's shuttle
    and come to their end without hope.
  “Remember that my life is a breath;
    my eye will never again see good.
  The eye of him who sees me will behold me no more;
    while your eyes are on me, I shall be gone.
  As the cloud fades and vanishes,
    so he who goes down to Sheol does not come up;
10   he returns no more to his house,
    nor does his place know him anymore.
11   “Therefore I will not restrain my mouth;
    I will speak in the anguish of my spirit;
    I will complain in the bitterness of my soul.
12   Am I the sea, or a sea monster,
    that you set a guard over me?
13   When I say, ‘My bed will comfort me,
    my couch will ease my complaint,’
14   then you scare me with dreams
    and terrify me with visions,
15   so that I would choose strangling
    and death rather than my bones.
16   I loathe my life; I would not live forever.
    Leave me alone, for my days are a breath.
17   What is man, that you make so much of him,
    and that you set your heart on him,
18   visit him every morning
    and test him every moment?
19   How long will you not look away from me,
    nor leave me alone till I swallow my spit?
20   If I sin, what do I do to you, you watcher of mankind?
    Why have you made me your mark?
    Why have I become a burden to you?
21   Why do you not pardon my transgression
    and take away my iniquity?
  For now I shall lie in the earth;
    you will seek me, but I shall not be.”

Matthew 24:1–14 ()

()

24:1 Jesus left the temple and was going away, when his disciples came to point out to him the buildings of the temple. But he answered them, “You see all these, do you not? Truly, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.”

As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” And Jesus answered them, “See that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are but the beginning of the birth pains.

“Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name's sake. 10 And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. 11 And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. 12 And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

Psalm 116:1–11 ()

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116:1   I love the LORD, because he has heard
    my voice and my pleas for mercy.
  Because he inclined his ear to me,
    therefore I will call on him as long as I live.
  The snares of death encompassed me;
    the pangs of Sheol laid hold on me;
    I suffered distress and anguish.
  Then I called on the name of the LORD:
    “O LORD, I pray, deliver my soul!”
  Gracious is the LORD, and righteous;
    our God is merciful.
  The LORD preserves the simple;
    when I was brought low, he saved me.
  Return, O my soul, to your rest;
    for the LORD has dealt bountifully with you.
  For you have delivered my soul from death,
    my eyes from tears,
    my feet from stumbling;
  I will walk before the LORD
    in the land of the living.
10   I believed, even when I spoke:
    “I am greatly afflicted”;
11   I said in my alarm,
    “All mankind are liars.”

Proverbs 8:8–9 ()

()

  All the words of my mouth are righteous;
    there is nothing twisted or crooked in them.
  They are all straight to him who understands,
    and right to those who find knowledge.

Thu 19 March, 2020


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