Good examples

2018-06-13
2 Chronicles 26:4 NIV

When we’re children, we respect and look up to lots of people. Sometimes it’s someone in our family, maybe a teacher or someone like a youth leader. We want to be like them and respect them. They set us an example to follow and show us right from wrong. They may even set us an example of how to live close to God and how to follow His ways. Timothy’s faith was influenced by his mother and grandmother. Paul says: ‘I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also’ (2 Timothy 1:5 NIV). The example of strong faith from Lois and Eunice, inspired the faith of Timothy, someone who spread the news of God to others. And back in the Old Testament, Uzziah followed the example set by Amaziah, his father. The Bible says: ‘He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, just as his father…had done.’ Even as we get older, we still need good role models in our lives. We need people who can encourage us in our faith. People who can mentor us. And we also need to be good role models to others. We can mentor people younger than us. But we can also simply live in a Christlike way to show others the right way to live. The Bible tells us to ‘let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts’ (Colossians 3:16 NIV). When we live according to this verse, we’ll be a great example to all we meet.

Ezek 24:1-27:24; Mark 15:21-32; Ps 132:11-18; Prov 15:5-7

Being there (3)

2018-05-27
2 Corinthians 1:4 MGS

One way to help a friend in crisis is to help them identify important resources – spiritual, personal, and interpersonal. (1) Spiritual resources. “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1). God’s Word illuminates the darkness and confusion. His Spirit is the source of all comfort – He gives “peace…which surpasses all understanding” (Philippians 4:7 RSV). His presence addresses the loneliness, and His power enables the hurting heart to overcome feelings of helplessness. People in crisis are often disoriented, which causes them to forget what God has already given them. (2) Personal resources. Remind them of their unique strengths and skills. Help them recall past triumphs when they successfully navigated through tough times. Encourage a positive attitude that looks to the future rather than being paralyzed by present pain. Most importantly, strengthen their faith with prayer and truths from God’s Word. And last but not least, remind them of your support. (3) Interpersonal resources. Family members, friends, business associates, and neighbors are likely to be supportive, and community resources are also available for medical, financial, and material assistance. The local church is another network source. People in crisis are often too embarrassed to ask for help; they feel like they should be able to handle their own problems. Help them understand that you are blessed by giving, and that one day they too will have an opportunity to help “someone else who is going through hard times.”

Soul food: Gal 5:23; Isa 40:9-11; Isa 42:1-4; Ps 18:31-35

Being there (2)

2018-05-26
Galatians 6:2 NIV

When a friend or family member is in a crisis, we need to be there for them. Being there for people is what the kingdom of God is all about. We’re told to ‘carry each other’s burdens’. But ‘being there’ may look different depending on the person or the situation. Sometimes, we just need to be someone who listens and give people a safe space to express their emotions. Maybe we commit to praying for them in our own prayer time with God. Or meet up with them regularly to pray with them. Other times we offer practical help and advice to help them cope and grow through the situation they’re facing. But it’s not always easy. Sometimes people are hurting so much that they push us away, or don’t ask for help in the first place. We have to be perceptive to what people are going through, and what the best way to be there for them is. When they reach a stage of being open to advice, we can suggest a different way of looking at things. When we focus on our problems, we forget everything we’ve been blessed with and our problems seem huge. A change of perspective can help reduce people’s anxiety and the size of the problem in their minds. We can encourage them to concentrate on the present and ‘live one day at a time’ (Matthew 6:34 TLB). We can also encourage them to look to God in their situation. We can help them to focus on God and remind them of His faithfulness in the past. We can remind them that the Bible says: ‘The Lord is faithful and will give you strength and will protect you from the Evil One’ (2 Thessalonians 3:3 NCV).

Judg 16:1-19:15; Mark 11:12-26; Ps 47; Prov 13:11-12

Being there (2)


Galatians 6:2 CEV

When a friend or family member is in a crisis, your aim should be to help them cope with it and grow through it. Sometimes that’s easier said than done! As their hurting hearts adjust to new and unfamiliar circumstances, they might be skeptical about whom to trust. But being there for them is what the kingdom of God is all about! “Carry each other’s burdens” (v. 2 NIV). Your commitment can play a significant role in someone’s journey toward becoming emotionally healthy again. Here are three practical suggestions: (1) Don’t expect them to initiate contact. It’s common for people in crisis to withdraw rather than ask for help. Often they’re too distraught to know what they need, so you’ll probably have to make the first move. And please don’t feel like you have to be a professional. Two simple steps can make the hurting one feel valued and understood: (a) Listen carefully to their concerns and perceptions. (b) Maintain eye contact and show genuine interest. (2) Help reduce their anxiety. Offer a calming presence by inviting them to share their feelings. And if their viewpoint seems distorted, say something like, “May I suggest another way of looking at things?” (3) Help them focus on what’s important. They’re feeling overwhelmed, so help them sort out the issues that need their immediate attention. Instead of rehashing the past and worrying about the future, encourage them to concentrate on the present and “live one day at a time” (Matthew 6:34 TLB).

Soul food: Judg 16:1-19:15; Mark 11:12-26; Ps 47; Prov 13:11-12

Music

2018-05-06
Isaiah 30:29 NLT

The Bible says: ‘How good it is to sing praises to our God, how pleasant and fitting to praise Him!’ (Psalm 147:1 NIV). There’s something about expressing our love for God in music and singing that helps us to reinforce our faith. When we’ve been singing praise and worship songs, we tend to come away feeling uplifted and closer to God. Paul knew the value of music. In 1 Corinthians 14:15, he wrote: ‘I will pray with my spirit; but I will also pray with my understanding. I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my understanding’ (NIV). Paul must have valued music as much as prayer in his worship time. And when Paul and Silas were in prison, they sang worship songs together to encourage themselves and show that in spite of the terrible circumstances, their faith was unshaken and they could still pour out praise to God (take a look at Acts 16:25). Music is powerful because it can reflect every one of our moods. We might find we can express our feelings more effectively through music than we can by just talking. God doesn’t ask for perfect, rehearsed, polished prayers or songs from us. He just wants us to bring hearts full of enthusiastic praise and worship to Him. We could turn even the most mundane, boring task into an act of worship if we include music – imagine some of the great times we could have with God if we sang worship songs while we did the vacuuming or washed the dishes. So whether you’re the world’s best singer, a mediocre piano player, or if you can barely manage to snap your fingers on the beat – God wants to hear your music.

Gal 5:22; Luke 6:27-36; Exo 23:1-9; Rom 12:14-21