Getting people to listen to you (1)

Mark 12:37 NKJV

The Bible says concerning Jesus: “The common people heard Him gladly.” Why? Because His words were backed by these all-important things: His character, His conduct, and His concern for others. In short, Jesus earned the right to speak. Have you? Getting people to listen calls for: Insight. When what you say truly helps somebody, you form a connection. Benjamin Franklin, one of the most admired figures in American history and known for his homespun wisdom, had a remarkable career. Interestingly, he had little formal education. He attended school for only two years, yet he was highly respected because of his knowledge and keen insight. A voracious reader and an intellectually curious man, he became expert in a remarkable number of areas: printing and publishing, politics, civic activism, the sciences, and diplomacy. He was an innovative inventor who secured the support of France during the Revolutionary War, founded the first public library in America, served as the first president of the American Philosophical Society, and helped draft the Declaration of Independence. Biographer Walter Isaacson called Franklin “the most accomplished American of his age and the most influential in inventing the type of society America would become.” People felt a sense of connection when Franklin shared his wisdom. Here’s how this applies to you. When you love people, work hard, study, develop and share your expertise in a given area, they will learn to respect and listen to you. And when it comes to listening, you don’t get what you demand, you get what you earn.

Soul food: Eph 4:17-6:24; Luke 6:27-36; Ps 79; Prov 17:24-26

Church foundations (1)

Matthew 16:18 NIV

After Jesus’ ascension, the early church was founded. But even before this, Jesus already knew that the church would be built through Peter. After Simon Peter had recognised Jesus’ identity as the Messiah, Jesus recognised Simon Peter’s. Jesus said: ‘I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church.’ Peter’s faith took a bit of a fall as Jesus approached His death. He denied that he knew Jesus three times, just as Jesus had predicted. But after the resurrection, Jesus gave Peter a chance to make up for his mistake. Jesus asked him, three times, whether he loved Him (have a read of John 21:15-19). And then Peter did become one of the early instigators of the church. When we read about the early church in Acts 2, Peter is right there in the midst of what’s going on. In fact, after the Holy Spirit came down on them, Peter preached the truth of Jesus to all the people there. And he was the one who instructed them on what they should do next, saying: ‘Repent and be baptised, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit’ (Acts 2:38 NIVUK). And around 3000 were added to the church that day. That’s a lot of people. God used Peter despite his mistakes. And when we make a mistake, God doesn’t give up on us either. He gives us another opportunity to get things right. And He will still use us, call us and equip us in the kingdom. Our mistakes don’t mean God discounts us. We’re still who He says we are, and we can still do what He’s asked us to do.

Matt 5:7; Matt 18:21-35; Ps 103:8-18; Lam 3:22-24

Ants (4)

John 17:4 NKJV

Ants don’t have any sort of retirement. They always have a job to do, whatever stage of life they’re at. Ants literally die working. That doesn’t mean that we should all suddenly become workaholics. The Bible doesn’t promote a lifestyle that is dangerous to our health and makes us neglect important things like friends and family. In fact, God set us the example of resting when He took six days to create the world and everything in it, and then took time on the seventh day to rest. But our contemporary idea of retirement can’t be found in the Bible. As long as we are alive, God’s got work for us to do. We are never too old or too young for God to use us, and He’s always got a plan for us, whatever stage we are at, whether we are new to being a Christian, or if we’ve been following Him our entire lives. Jesus’ ministry lasted 3-and-a-half years, and at the end of it He said, ‘I have finished the work which You have given Me to do.’ Salvation is available to us because Jesus proved Himself to be a faithful labourer who stayed on the task until the job God had assigned to Him was completed. Rest and relaxation, and even retirement are worthy and well-deserved rewards for a time (even a lifetime) of hard work. But the truth is, as long as we are alive God has something for each of us to do. And in fulfilling the tasks He’s given us, we will not only find joy and fulfilment, we will bless those around us too.

1 Sam 16-17; Luke 4:31-44; Ps 102:1-11; Prov 17:4-6

God gee vooruitgang aan almal

Spreuke 14:34 NLV

Die bekende ateïs Madalyn Murray O’Hair het eenmaal gesê, ‘Niks goeds het al ooit uit Christenskap gekom nie. As die Christendom dan niks goed gedoen het of iets goeds geproduseer het nie, moet ons dit verwerp.’ Selfs Christus het gesê, ‘Julle sal hulle aan hulle optrede uitken, net soos ‘n mens ‘n boom aan sy vrugte uitken…’ (Matteus 7:16 NLV). Met elke woord wat Christus egter gepreek het, is lewens verander en is daar wonderbaarlike dinge vir die samelewing gedoen. Neem die wetenskap as voorbeeld. Soos een kundige uitgewys het, kon die wetenskap in geen ander kultuur sy oorsprong gehad het nie. Dit kon nie uit die Moslemse kultuur ontstaan het nie as gevolg van hulle fatalistiese geloof, wat enige konsep van wetenskaplike vooruitgang verhoed. Dit kon ook nie vanuit die Boeddhiste of die Hindoes ontstaan het nie, omdat hulle glo dat die fisiese wêreld nie bestaan nie, dat niks behalwe God bestaan nie en dat hierdie alles net verbeelding is. Net deur Christenskap kon die wetenskap tot stand gekom het! Dink ook aan organisasies en mense wat die krotbuurte binnegaan om die verlatenes te red. Christene gee hulself aan hierdie mense. Vandag, met die verwydering van die Skrif uit groot dele van ons kultuur, sien ons hoe verval en korrupsie aan die orde van die dag is. Wat is dus die antwoord? Jesus het gesê, ‘Julle is die sout wat die aarde ‘n beter plek moet maak…’ (Matteus 5:13 NLV). Kry dus jou soutpot uit en begin om die lewensveranderende waarheid van God se Woord te versprei! Jesus het ook gesê, ‘Julle is die lig wat die wêreld moet verlig…’ (vers 14 NLV). Daar is nie genoeg duisternis in die wêreld om die lig van een klein kersie uit te doof nie. Laat jou lig dus skyn.

Sielskos: 1 Sam 1-3; Luk 3:1-10; Ps 59:1-8; Spr 16:20-22

Being there (3)

2 Corinthians 1:4 MSG

When we’re trying to be there for someone, we can be sympathetic or we can go one step further and be empathetic. While sympathy shows compassion and kindness, empathy provides understanding. Empathy is putting ourselves into their shoes. Walking the pain with them. And true empathy can only come from having gone through the same, or similar, experience. Throughout the Bible, we’re reminded that Jesus faced suffering. He had to face temptation from the devil, grief over the death of His friend Lazarus, He was betrayed by His friend and He had to die on the cross. So when we’re facing temptation, loneliness, grief, betrayal or death, we know that Jesus has been there before us. He understands. He’s walked in our shoes. And He will be there through it all. The Bible says that God ‘comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us.’ The things we have to go through can be used to help other people. We may be desperate for God to take the situation away from us, but He can bring something good from it. ‘And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose’ (Romans 8:28 NIV). Sometimes that something good is the fact that we can be there for someone else who’s facing the same situation. So when we’re going through hard times, we can remember that not only does Jesus fully understand how we’re feeling, but that we’re also being equipped to be the best people to ‘be there’ for others.

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