When God speaks

Isaiah 55:11 MSG

Every word God speaks contains the power to create whatever He says. When He created the world, He simply said, ‘Let there be’ and it existed. And every word of the Bible has the power to change and grow us. Hebrews 4:12 says, ‘For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart’ (NIV). But God’s words to us aren’t just written in the Bible. We have the amazing privilege of hearing God speaking personally to us. He can speak in many different ways. It may be through another person, a picture, or even a prophecy. The more we get to know His voice, the easier it is to recognise when He is speaking to us. When God speaks something over us, it can be easy to start to doubt it when nothing seems to be happening. We question whether we really heard God. We wonder if He really meant what He said. But in Isaiah we are told that His words will ‘not come back empty-handed’. They will achieve their purpose. God doesn’t say things just for the sake of it; there is meaning and life in every word. Every promise He makes will be fulfilled. The Bible says: ‘For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ’ (2 Corinthians 1:20 NIV). It may not be in the timeframe that we want or expect, but we can trust that His words are true and accurate. When God speaks we need to listen. We need to hold on to the words He has said, and believe that He will do what He has said He will do.

2 Chr 8-11; John 11:17-27; Ps 8; Prov 26:23-26

God’s got this

Mark 4:40 NLT

When life seems to be going wrong, and everything seems up in the air, we have a choice to make. We can either panic or we can trust God and believe that He’s got it all under control. Many of us would like to say we do the second, but often we wonder if we are going to be able to cope with what we are facing. We search frantically for things that will help or distract instead of bringing it all to the feet of Jesus and acknowledging that He is still in control. When the disciples were in the boat and a storm arose, Jesus was asleep. It might have appeared that He wasn’t in control. The storm was raging, the disciples were scared, and Jesus didn’t seem to be waking up and doing something about it. ‘The disciples woke him up, shouting, “Teacher, don’t you care that we are going to drown?”‘ (Mark 4:38 NLT). Sometimes we can find ourselves shouting at God too. The storms in our lives seem to be getting increasingly strong, and we shout at God trying to get His attention. But Jesus ‘rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Silence! Be still!” Suddenly the wind stopped, and there was a great calm’ (Mark 4:39 NLT). There’s no doubt that God has the power to calm our storms too. He is in control of everything, and can bring calm just by speaking into the situation. Jesus asked the disciples: ‘Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?’ It’s natural for us to be afraid in stormy situations, but God wants us to have faith in Him. He wants us to trust His goodness and believe that He can calm the storm. He is ultimately in control, so why should we be afraid?

1 John 3:11-5:21; John 7:25-44; Ps 104:27-35; Prov 24:29

Songs of worship

Isaiah 12:5 NIV

Sung worship is a core part of most church services. Some of us love singing our praises to God, while others of us stand there wondering why we have to sing and whether the person next to us can hear how out of tune we are. It’s true that worship is not just about singing, it’s a lifestyle based on the right attitude in our hearts, but music and singing is an important part of our worship. The truths of God’s Word have been passed down from generation to generation through preaching, teaching, and books. But they have also been passed down through hymns of worship that we sing in church. When we sing them, we are proclaiming the truth of God’s Word and at the same time we are taking this truth on board and meditating on it. When we read God’s Word out loud we are declaring His truths over ourselves, and our situations. And it’s the same when we sing. By singing out hymns and songs full of His truth, we are encouraging our souls to believe what we are singing. Paul writes, ‘Be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord’ (vv.18-19 NKJV). But singing as worship isn’t just a New Testament command, the book of Psalms is a book of songs to God. And in Isaiah 12 we are instructed to: ‘Sing to the LORD, for he has done glorious things’. But whether we prefer reading or singing, the most important thing is getting into God’s Word, getting God’s Word into us, and praising Him for Who He is and what He has done.

Hab 1-3; John 5:1-15; Ps 15; Prov 24:7

Everybody you meet has potential

Galatians 6:10 NLT

Have you ever watched a train switch on to the same track as several disconnected rail cars, hook up, and together move forward? The truth is if you want to help people you’ve got to get on the same track, connect with them, and help move them forward. But before you can do that there are two rules you need to observe: (1) Never take anyone for granted. Tip O’Neill, former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, said that during an election one of his elderly neighbors told him, “I voted for you again today even though you didn’t ask me to.” Surprised, O’Neill replied, “But I’ve known you all my life, Mrs. O’Brien. I took out your garbage and mowed your lawn – I didn’t think I had to ask.” In a motherly tone she replied, “It’s always nice to be asked!” (2) Believe that everyone has potential. Mother Teresa said, “We don’t have to be extraordinary in any way. I can do what you can’t do, you can do what I can’t do, and together we can do great things.” You may not be able to help everybody, but you can help somebody. The thing Andrew is most noted for in Scripture is introducing his brother Peter to Jesus. But Peter ended up bringing multitudes to Jesus. In the New Jerusalem you’ll see the name of each of the apostles written above its twelve foundations (See Revelation 21:14). And Andrew’s name will be there. How come? Because he believed everybody has the potential to make a difference once they know Jesus.

Soul food: 1 Kings 14-15; Mark 9:14-29; Ps 101; Prov 12:12-13

The transforming truth about Calvary (4)

John 19:30 NIV

Calvary was victorious! The cross may look like the triumph of evil over goodness, the powerful over the powerless, but only to those who don’t understand Christ’s mission. Never was courage greater or strength stronger. When He cried, “It is finished” (some translations read “It is completed”), He didn’t mean, “I’m finished, My cause is defeated.” Far from being crushed at Calvary, Jesus triumphed in three ways: (1) He conquered His own human desire to avoid unspeakable suffering: “He…bowed with his face to the ground, praying, ‘My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine'” (Matthew 26:39 NLT). (2) He conquered the demonic powers of darkness. “In this way, he disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross” (Colossians 2:15 NLT). (3) He conquered the law’s stubborn demands against sinners. “Christ…brought the Law to an end, so that everyone who believes is put right with God” (Romans 10:4 GNT). At Calvary love triumphed over law, forever freeing us who could never live up to God’s law. “It is finished” was the cry of a victor instead of a victim! It didn’t look that way to the crowd or to His devastated disciples. But it did three days later when the empty tomb proved Jesus had won the victory over death. It all comes down to this: “If you confess that Jesus is Lord and believe that God raised him from death, you will be saved” (v. 9 GNT).

Soul food: Gen 22:1-18; Luke 23:26-49; Ps 22; Isa 53