Hold on

2019-12-07
Mark 4:15 NIV

Ever hear a talk or read a passage in the Bible and then a few moments later struggle to remember what it was about? This doesn’t always come down to whether or not we have a good memory. In the parable of the sower, Jesus said, ‘Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them.’ The enemy doesn’t want us to remember what God’s said to us. He doesn’t want to let God’s Word produce fruit in our lives. So how can we retain it? 1) Write it down. When we make notes on what we read and hear, we will retain more, be more impacted, and get much more out of it. God told Habakkuk: ‘Write down the revelation’ (Habakkuk 2:2 NIV), and we need to get into the habit of doing that too. 2) Pray it through. Unless we pray over the Word we are hearing, we will remain unchanged by it. We need to ask God to help us understand how the things we have been taught can apply to us. 3) Discuss it with others. God’s Word is like a seed that multiplies and grows when it’s watered by conversation with others who share our faith. 4) Practise it daily. It’s not good to just remember what we have been taught, we also need to do something with it. We need to allow it to change us. In the Bible, James wrote: ‘Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says’ (James 1:22 NIV). The more we practise all of these steps, the easier it will be to prevent the enemy from stealing the seeds of God’s Word from us.

Neh 1-4; John 18:1-11; Ps 148:7-14; Prov 29:16-21

Keep praying

2019-12-01
John 11:6 NIV

When we have been praying for something for a long time but God doesn’t seem to be doing anything, we can become discouraged. But God doesn’t always answer our prayers when we think He should. When Mary and Martha’s brother Lazarus was very sick, they sent a message to Jesus. They would have heard stories of the times Jesus had healed others, and would have expected Jesus to drop everything and come right away to heal His friend. But Jesus did something unexpected. He waited. Imagine how Mary and Martha felt. They knew Jesus well; they knew He was good, loving, and that He wanted to heal people. So why wasn’t He coming? Lazarus died, and Jesus still hadn’t made an appearance. We can often feel like that too. We pray about something, and then we are surprised when we are made to wait. We can find ourselves doubting God’s character, wondering whether He has abandoned us, stopped loving us, or isn’t actually as good as we thought He was. But God always comes through at the right time. Because He came to see Lazarus after he had died, He was able to glorify God through raising him back to life again. And His timing is perfect in our lives too. We don’t have to wait around doing nothing though. God wants us to keep praying, keep seeking His will, and keep trusting in Him. In Luke 18 there’s a parable about a widow who persistently asked a judge to help her get justice. Eventually this judge gave in. If persistent requests could persuade a hard-hearted judge to step in, how much more can our persistent requests to an all-loving God do. He longs to help us, so let’s not give up asking Him to.

Jer 31:31-37; Heb 8:1-13

Verstaan ons Hemelse Vader (1)

2019-10-24
Johannes 8:27 NLV

Godsdienstige mense in Jesus se tyd het dit moeilik gevind om die konsep van God se vaderskap te verstaan. Here, koning en regter het hulle verstaan – maar nie Vader nie. Hulle Ou Testamentiese geskrifte het skaars ‘n halfdosyn keer van God as Vader gepraat, terwyl die Nuwe Testament dit honderde kere noem. Jesus het self gesê: ‘En niemand ken die Vader nie, behalwe die Seun en elkeen aan wie die Seun die Vader wil bekendmaak’ (Matteus 11:27 NLV). Die waarheid is dat God ‘n raaisel vir hulle was, totdat Jesus die Vader aan hulle bekendgemaak het. Baie van ons verstaan nog steeds nie sy Vaderskap en die ryke seën wat ons in Hom het nie. Vader, God se allesomvattende naam, inkorporeer alles wat jy ooit sal nodig hê en openbaar presies hoe Hy oor jou voel. Hy verteenwoordig elke eienskap van die beste pa wat jy jou kan indink. Wat ookal ‘n liefdevolle pa vir sy behoeftige kind sal doen, sal jou hemelse Vader vir jou doen – en nog soveel meer. Sodra ons God as ons Vader erken, verdwyn ons vrese soos ons begin besef dat Hy aan al ons behoeftes sal voldoen. Jesus het gesê: ‘…dit maak julle Vader baie gelukkig om die koninkryk aan julle te gee’ (Lukas 12:32 NLV). Dit maak God gelukkig om jou die hulpbronne van sy koninkryk te gee. Hoekom? Omdat Hy jou net so liefhet soos wat Hy vir Jesus liefhet! In Johannes 17:23, bid Jesus met vertroue dat jou hemelse Vader jou liefhet, ‘…net soos U My liefhet’ (NLV). Sien God dus as jou Vader, begin soos sy kind optree en geniet die voordele wat lidmaatskap aan sy familie meebring (sien Efesiërs 2:19).

Sielskos: Esra 6-8; Joh 6:52-71; Ps 114; Spr 24:23-25

Make it a personal growth experience

2019-10-15
Ephesians 4:15 NIV

Before you confront someone over an issue, stop and examine your motives. Is your goal to help or humiliate them? Jesus was in the business of lifting and restoring people, and you should be in that business too. Ask yourself, would you approach things differently if you weren’t so personally involved? Are you confronting this person to make yourself look better? Cutting someone else down in order to lift yourself up is the lowest form of ego gratification. Poet Kahlil Gibran said, “To belittle, you have to be little.” Don’t do it! It’s a sign of insecurity. Remember Nehemiah’s response to those who tried to discourage him from rebuilding Jerusalem’s walls? “I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down: why should the work cease, whilst I leave it, and come down to you?” (Nehemiah 6:3). Don’t allow your critics to break your stride. Don’t give more credence to the sentiments of a critic than you would to the encouragement of a friend. Before you put somebody else’s life under the microscope, stop and examine your own. Are you grappling with the same issue, or one just as bad? Have you succeeded where you’re accusing somebody else of failing? In other words, have you earned the right to be heard? Paul writes, “Speaking the truth in love we will grow…in every respect.” Could it be that the situation you’re dealing with right now is an opportunity to measure your own maturity and make it a spiritual growth experience?

Soul food: 2 Pet 1-3; John 4:27-38; Ps 87; Prov 24:1-4

Seasons

2019-10-14
Psalm 30:5 NLT

Ever felt the pain of having so much to share, and nobody to share it with? Or feeling discouraged and disappointed because of a mistake, or from being let down by others? Or feeling unloved, rejected, and forgotten? We will all go through seasons where it feels dark. Where we are not sure that God’s light and joy can ever return to our hearts, and our lives. But when we are in those times, we can be assured that God knows what’s happening, He sees us, and He cares. His Word deals with real-life issues like loneliness, failure, and lack of self-worth. He repeatedly tells us to not be afraid. If we are struggling, we need to know that we are not alone. ‘The God of all comfort’ is with us (2 Corinthians 1:3). No one understands like Jesus. His family rejected Him, His disciples abandoned Him, and the crowd condemned Him. That’s why the Bible says ‘our high priest is able to understand our weaknesses. He was tempted in every way that we are’ (Hebrews 4:15 NCV). He knows, He understands, and He invites us to come to Him. The season we are in right now won’t last forever. A new one is coming, with new energy, new relationships, new experiences, and new joy. We can’t rush the seasons. The new season will come when it’s the right time. And God knows exactly when that will be. There may be things we need to learn and change in this season which will help us move forward in the next. It might feel uncomfortable right now, and we might be praying for this particular season to end, but God is working. So until our new season comes, let’s remember that ‘Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.’

Lev 23:33-44; John 7:1-40; Zech 14:16-21; Heb 11:8-16