Helping others (1)

2019-03-08
Jeremiah 32:33 NIV

Most of us like to help others. We hear about their problems and then we want to do something to help them. But sometimes we’ll come across people that we can’t help – at least not right now. So let’s take a look at the sort of people who we can struggle to help: 1) People who keep making excuses. We can’t help someone until they’re willing to take responsibility for their life and want to make a change. If people won’t take the advice in the Bible, then they probably won’t take ours either. Notice what God said about the Israelites: ‘Though I taught them again and again, they would not listen or respond.’ If they won’t listen to God, our opinion won’t make much of a difference. 2) People who move in the wrong circles. The Bible says, ‘Bad company corrupts good character’ (1 Corinthians 15:33 NLT). The company we keep influences our conduct and character, and those two things can affect our future. There can be people who simply don’t belong in our lives, and we can’t move forward until we break the link that connects us and get away from their influence. 3) People who blame God for their problems. When trouble comes, they ask, ‘Why did God allow this to happen to me?’ But the truth is, we’ll never see God as our solution until we stop seeing Him as the cause of our problem. When we come across people who don’t want to be helped, it doesn’t mean we should give up on them completely. We can still be there for them, love them, and pray for them, but it’s just important to recognise when we should stop trying to offer advice and solutions, and ask God to open their hearts to receive help.

Exo 36-38; Luke 15:1-10; Ps 27; Prov 7:10-20

Grace

2019-02-12
Romans 5:20 NIV

Sometimes we can be worried that God won’t accept us because of our sins. We think we’ve made too many mistakes, we’ve gone too far off His path for us, and that we don’t deserve His love. But we don’t need to be worried about that. Paul said: ‘Where sin increased, grace increased all the more.’ Before Paul’s Damascus Road conversion (you can read about that in Acts 9), he was ‘Public Sinner Number One’ (1 Timothy 1:15 MSG). Afterwards, God used him to reach the world with the gospel. ‘Grace’ was so central to Paul’s message that he mentions it at the beginning of all his letters. God’s grace means that we have His favour, even though we do things wrong and don’t deserve it. And we don’t have to do anything to earn this grace, it’s a gift. The Bible says: ‘You have been saved by grace through believing. You did not save yourselves; it was a gift from God’ (Ephesians 2:8 NCV). When we try and make ourselves right and pure before God we’ll inevitably feel like we’re facing an impossible task. But when we believe that God’s grace covers us, and all our mistakes, we can stop striving to be perfect and allow our perfect God to sort things for us. We’re His redeemed children and He sees us through the blood of Jesus, which cleanses all of our sins (have a read of 1 John 1:9). There’s nothing we can do to make God love us more, and nothing we can do to make Him love us less. So let’s stop striving to earn God’s love and acceptance, and acknowledge His grace towards each one of us.

Gen 30:25-31:55; Luke 9:37-45; Ps 145:1-13; Prov 4:20-22

Finances

2019-01-31
Matthew 6:24 NIV

Money is one of the things that can cause problems. If handled well, it’s useful for us living our lives and helping others. But when we get into debt, rely on retail therapy to feel better, feel like our value depends on our salary, or simply just love money rather than God, we can end up living in an ungodly way. God never says that we shouldn’t have money, and that we shouldn’t spend it, but the Bible does give us some guidelines to help us be godly stewards of our finances. Saving money is a great, and necessary, way to prepare for the future, and to make sure we have enough for days to come. But we shouldn’t save to the point of never relying on God to provide for us, and at the expense of being generous givers. Matthew 6 says: ‘Don’t store treasures for yourselves here on earth where moths and rust will destroy them and thieves can break in and steal them. But store your treasures in heaven where they cannot be destroyed by moths or rust and where thieves cannot break in and steal them’ (vv.19-20 NCV). We can’t take all our money with us when we die, so let’s make sure that we’re sensible and godly in the way we’re saving. We also shouldn’t be spending our money all on ourselves. Throughout the Bible, we’re called to live selflessly. We need to be generous and sacrificial in our giving. When we see people in need, and we have the means to help, let’s help them out. Let’s give what we can to our churches to help them reach more people. And most importantly, let’s remember that we can’t serve both God and money. Which will you choose to serve?

Gen 1-3; Luke 7:11-23; Ps 107:23-32; Prov 3:25-26

Be patient

2019-01-13
James 1:2-4 TLV

You’re closer than you know to becoming the person God wants you to be. By His enabling grace, you’ll make it through this trial and come out stronger and wiser. Paul says, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31 NKJV). God is for you! That means you can do the thing you are afraid you can’t do. The prison bars you’re beating against are in your mind. And since you put them up, with God’s help you can take them down. God wants to set you free from the fearful attitudes that have held you back for so long; to release you to live up to your full potential. The right attitude can overcome almost any barrier. For example, the Bible says, “Love never fails” (1 Corinthians 13:8 NIV). Why? Because love isn’t dependent on your emotions or circumstances, it’s a servant of your will. Love is a decision! Jesus said, “This is my commandment, that ye love one another, as I have loved you” (John 15:12). And if Jesus commands it, He will enable you to do it! Beginning is usually the hard part. The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step; after that it gets easier. But look out; old attitudes will try to resurface and come back stronger than ever. Don’t let them. Radio commentator Paul Harvey says, “You can always tell when you’re on the road to success; it’s uphill all the way.” So be patient; it will take time to get there. But anything worthwhile is worth working for!

Soul food: 1 Sam 3:1-11; Acts 9:1-9

Ask God for a dream (3)

2019-01-03
Genesis 37:5 NKJV

The story of Joseph teaches that success can cause others to mistreat you. Not everyone will celebrate your success, including some of those closest to you. When Jesus’ fame began to spread, the first people to reject Him were from the town He grew up in. It caused Him to say, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own country” (Matthew 13:57 NKJV). The Bible says of Joseph, “His brothers envied him” (Genesis 37:11 NKJV). There it is – envy! When God blesses you, those who feel left out may target you. Some may feel more worthy and deserving, and that your blessing came at their expense. That’s how Cain felt when he murdered his brother Abel. That’s how King Saul felt when David killed Goliath and the people sang, “Saul has killed thousands, but David has killed tens of thousands” (1 Samuel 29:5 GNT). Shortly afterwards Saul started throwing spears at David. And the spear never left his hand until it plunged into his own heart. That’s because envy is like a boomerang; it comes back to hurt the one who throws it. When their father threw a party to celebrate the homecoming of his prodigal son, the older brother said, “These many years I have served you…yet you never gave me a…feast” (See Luke 15:29 AMPC). He made three mistakes we often make: (a) He compared himself to his brother. (b) He exposed his brother’s sins and shortcomings. (c) He failed to appreciate the extent of his father’s love for him and the blessings he had bestowed on him. So learn from his mistakes.

Soul food: Isa 4-7; Luke 1:11-25; Ps 90:7-17; Prov 1:5-9