Helping the hurting (4)

2019-05-13
Mark 10:51 NIV

When someone tells you all their problems, and you can see that they’re hurting, it’s often our instinct to want to do something to fix things. We want to give them advice and take charge of the situation. Sometimes people need us to do that, but sometimes it can actually be damaging, both for them and for us. If we take on all their problems and make ourselves responsible for fixing them, we can become stressed and burned out. Often it’s only God who can fix the situation. Also, if we take control, we’re preventing the person from learning to lean on God through what they’re going through. In Mark 10 we read about a blind man called Bartimaeus. He cried out to Jesus and Jesus asked ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ This might sound strange because Jesus knew the man was blind, and knew that he would want to be healed. By asking, Jesus allowed Bartimaeus to declare out loud exactly what he wanted. How often do we simply assume we know what other people need, rather than asking them what we can do for them? If we take the time to ask, we might find that they simply want someone to sit with them while they cry, to not say anything but just be there. The Bible says: ‘Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn’ (Romans 12:15 NIV). This means we need to try to recognise the emotions of another person. Sometimes people just need to feel understood and be told that it’s okay to feel what they’re feeling, rather than being given advice. Let’s be people who ask how we can help before stepping in.

Heb 5-8; Mark 6:30-44; Ps 18:30-50; Prov 11:22

Diversity

2019-05-08
Colossians 3:11 MSG

If we limit ourselves only to people who think exactly like us, we’ll never grow or accomplish what God has in mind for us. Instead, we need to be surrounding ourselves with a whole range of people. We need people of different ages, different personalities, and different skill sets. We need people who will challenge our opinions sometimes. We need people who can teach us new things, and help us grow. We need people who are strong in our weak areas. Think of the people Jesus picked to be His followers. Luke was a doctor, and Peter and John were fishermen. Jesus needed them all to accomplish His mission. Everyone is unique, and everyone can offer something different. We all have our own role to play. So we should be complementing each other, not competing with each other. The body of Christ analogy (which you can read about in 1 Corinthians 12) sums it up perfectly. Each part of our human body is needed, but they are all different. The Bible says: ‘If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be?’ (1 Corinthians 12:17 NIV). We all have different skills and personalities, but they all work together and are needed. Who are we to judge other people, or decide that they have nothing to offer us? The Message version of the Bible says: ‘Everyone is defined by Christ, everyone is included in Christ.’ Let’s be inclusive, welcoming and encouraging. Let’s grow and learn from each other, rather than comparing. Let’s celebrate our diversity.

Num 34-36; Mark 5:21-30; Ps 57; Prov 11:14

Heaven’s treasure

2019-05-03
Luke 12:15 NCV

Today’s culture is one of ‘getting’. We buy one thing, but then something new and better is released, and we think we need that. We want to get the promotion and the raise. We think that new things, and more money, will make us happy. But Jesus said: ‘Life is not measured by how much one owns.’ What we think will be a blessing can end up being a burden. What we strive for today can cause us stress tomorrow. When money or materialism become our main focus, we lose sight of God and the blessings He has for us. In Matthew 6 we’re told, ‘No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money’ (v.24 NIV). God knows our needs, and promises to provide for them. Jesus said, ‘Your heavenly Father…knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else…and he will give you everything you need’ (Matthew 6:32-33 NLT). Where is our treasure? That’s a really important question to ask ourselves, because the Bible tells us that where our treasure is, our heart is there too. ‘Store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also’ (Matthew 6:20-21 NIV). So if we think our treasure is our possessions and our money, our heart will be in the world. But if we know our real treasure is in heaven, then our heart will be focused on God and the blessings He promises us.

Num 25-26; Mark 4:13-25; Ps 37:32-40; Prov 11:7-8

Spiritual intuition

2019-03-04
Isaiah 30:21 NIV

Ever felt something inside you urging you to do a certain thing, but instead you allowed your head to overrule the voice in your spirit? That inner voice is our spiritual intuition, the part of us God speaks to. The Bible says, ‘Your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”‘ John the apostle put it this way: ‘You have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things’ (1 John 2:20 NKJV). We need to learn to trust that ‘anointing’ because it will tell us what we need to do, when we need to act, what direction we need to take, and what changes we need to make. Often we don’t act on our spiritual intuition because we feel like we need to think it through, to analyse whether it’s really the right thing to do. Thinking about it is definitely wise, as is checking whether it lines up with what the Bible says. But the trouble comes when we procrastinate and never act on it, until we become paralysed and afraid to do anything. We have to learn to recognise and trust our spiritual intuition. It’s our connection to the greatest source of wisdom in the universe – God’s wisdom. Our spiritual intuition can be summed up by these words in the Bible: ‘For it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfil his good purpose’ (Philippians 2:13 NIVUK). So the next time our spiritual intuition tells us something and it lines up with Scripture, let’s do our best to act on it.

Exo 25-27; Luke 13:18-35; Ps 136; Prov 6:30-35

“At home” in the Lord

2019-01-21
Psalm 90:1 NKJV

David wrote: “Some of you were lost in the scorching desert, far from a town. You were hungry and thirsty and about to give up. You were in serious trouble, but you prayed to the Lord, and he rescued you…he brought you to a town” (Psalm 107:4-7 CEV). Our souls need a place where we’re at rest; a place where we can lay down our worries, weariness, and frustrations. “My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God” (Psalm 84:2 NIV). Recognizing that our souls need a place to call home, Jesus said, “Live in me. Make your home in me” (John 15:4 TM). Notice, He doesn’t invite you as a visitor, but a family member enjoying all the benefits that go with it. “How do I enter into this dwelling place?” you ask. If someone gave you a beautiful home, how would you take possession of it? You’d make sure the giver was serious, inspect the necessary paperwork, then move in and enjoy it. Is the Lord serious when He says to us, “Live in me”? Yes. Is your name on the required biblical “paperwork”? Yes. Then by an act of your faith, pack up and move in today. Poet S. T. Coleridge wrote, “Faith is an affirmation, and an act, that bids eternal truth be present fact.” Turn your faith into “present fact” and declare, “The Lord is now my permanent, secure dwelling place.” Repeat it as often as needed. Claim the promise: “Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations.”

Soul food: Rom 1:1-3:20; Luke 4:31-44; Ps 89:38-52; Prov 3:1-2