Slow down! (1)

2020-11-28
Philippians 3:13 NLT

We live in the day of multitasking. We talk on the phone, apply makeup, drink coffee, eat lunch, feed the kids, and even read text messages while barreling down the highway. Dr. Richard Swenson says: “In some instances we are more productive…some people crochet while watching the news. And in certain jobs it’s considered necessary; clerks on the Stock Exchange floor are required to run around doing five things at once. But isn’t it bizarre that when a 48-year-old broker drops dead, his colleagues keep working around the lifeless body receiving CPR?

The dramatic escalation of busyness has given us too much to do in a short time. The standard strategy…instead of refusing to take on more…is to do two, three, or four things at once. It’s an extension of the do-more-and-more-with-less-and-less philosophy. But someone forgot to do the math! By doing two things at once you divert 30 percent of your attention from the primary task; you sacrifice quality for quantity, which leads to more errors. You may end up finishing more tasks, but with poorer products and frazzled nerves. The downside of multitasking isn’t well-advertised…so we keep experimenting to see how far we can push the envelope.

However, when it comes to relationships, multitasking can be disastrous. We don’t listen…it takes too much time. Families need focus…babies need what they need when they need it. You either parent them or you don’t.

Paul didn’t live like that. He focused ‘on…one thing,’ which was the person in front of him.” A dog has four feet, but it doesn’t try to walk down four roads! So slow down and establish a pace that’s sane and sustainable.

Soul food: 2 Chr 32-34; John 14:15-25; Ps 118:19-29; Prov 28:5-8

Learning from Moses (2)

2020-10-25
Hebrews 11:25 NIV

Second: You must take responsibility for your life. “Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin” (vv. 24-25 NIV). First, Moses refused to be anyone but himself. Next, he chose to go God’s way.

The principle here is that you can always replace a negative with a positive. You don’t just stop doing something – you start doing something else. The Christian life isn’t a matter of negative rules and regulations. It’s a matter of relationships – with God, with other people, and with yourself.

Notice, Moses made his decision “when he had grown up.” It’s a mark of maturity when you can settle the issue of personal responsibility. When Moses was a baby, it was okay to postpone the decision about who he was. But when he became an adult he had to make a choice, assume responsibility for his own life, and move ahead. It’s always easy to blame others: “I’d go God’s way if my boyfriend or girlfriend, mother or father, husband or wife, would do it too.” Or, “I’d be a better person today if I had better parents.”

You can’t choose all the circumstances that come into your life, but you can choose whether those things will make you a bitter person or a better person. Ultimately no one can ruin your life except you! The Devil can’t, because he doesn’t have enough power – and God won’t, because He loves you. So choose to go God’s way!

Soul food: Matt 6:5-15; Jas 5:13-18; 1 Thes 5:16-18

An understanding heart

2020-09-17
Jeremiah 17:9 NLT

Imagine God comes to see you, and says you can ask for anything you want and He’ll give it to you. What would you ask for? Top exam results? A new car? Or maybe you’d ask for awesome prayer times or the gift of prophecy. Well, this happened one night to Solomon in 1 Kings 3. While he was asleep, God appeared in his dream, saying ‘Ask! What shall I give you?’ (v. 5 NKJV). Solomon could’ve asked for anything – more money, more land, a closer relationship with God – but he asked for ‘an understanding heart to judge Your people, that I may discern between good and evil’ (v. 9 NKJV). What exactly is ‘an understanding heart’? In the Hebrew text, ‘understanding’ is translated from the verb ‘shama’. It can also mean ‘hearing’ or ‘listening’. Solomon’s asking for a heart that hears, a heart that listens. Being able to really listen to the people he governs, and listen to God, means that Solomon’s perfectly placed to understand the full picture and make fair judgements over his people. It’s an amazingly selfless request – it’ll help Solomon be a better person, but that’ll radiate outwards and help him meet the needs of the people he leads. Solomon understands his God-given responsibility to them, and in that moment he chooses something that’ll benefit everyone, over a nice, ‘I deserve this’ personal reward. So how can we apply this to ourselves? If we ask God for ‘an understanding heart’, it’ll help us truly listen to other people so we understand their situations and feelings. It’ll help us hear from God and discern how He wants us to act. It’ll help us meet their needs and build relationships with them.

Eze 43-45; Luke 22:39-53; Ps 19; Prov 21:3

Restored

2020-07-21
Job 42:10 NLT

Judah faced huge destruction after the people had continually been disobedient to God. Joel wrote that ‘What the locust swarm has left the great locusts have eaten; what the great locusts have left the young locusts have eaten; what the young locusts have left other locusts have eaten’ (Joel 1:4 NIV). Sometimes it can feel like things in our lives have been destroyed too. It can feel like locusts have devoured our hope, our success, our joy, and our relationships. But even when everything seems like a mess, and there doesn’t seem to be any way forward, there is hope. Later in the book of Joel, God says: ‘I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten…my great army that I sent among you’ (Joel 2:25 NIV). Other translations use the words ‘restore’ (ESV) or ‘give you back’ (NLT) instead of ‘repay’. God’s promising to bring goodness back to Judah again. He’s promising to restore all that was lost and destroyed. And He can bring restoration to our lives too. In the Bible, we read about a man called Job who faced immense loss. He lost his health, his wealth, and his family. But, in the last chapter of the book of Job it says, ‘The Lord restored his fortunes…The Lord blessed Job in the second half of his life even more than in the beginning’ (Job 42:10-12 NLT). Not only was Job’s life restored, but He was blessed even more. If we’re feeling like we’re broken and that our life is a mess, let’s put our trust in the One who can restore us. And let’s have hope that we’ll see God’s blessing more than we ever have before.

Acts 10-11; Luke 8:40-56; Ps 14; Prov 16:6-7

Competition

2020-06-15
Genesis 27:19 NIV

Ever found yourself in competition with a friend or family member? In the Bible, we read about the brothers Esau and Jacob. Their parents had favourites. Isaac preferred the eldest son, Esau, while Rebekah preferred her second child Jacob. This favouritism may have been what started the competition between the brothers. Or maybe Jacob simply didn’t like being the youngest. In those days, the eldest received a special blessing and had rights that the younger son didn’t get. Jacob, along with his mother Rebekah, decided to plot against Esau and tricked Isaac into blessing him instead. The Bible tells us that ‘Jacob said to his father, “I am Esau your firstborn”‘ (you can read the full story in Genesis 27). The competition in this family didn’t stop there. Jacob later married two sisters: Leah and Rachel. He loved Rachel more and Leah resented her for that. Leah could have children while Rachel couldn’t, which caused Rachel to resent Leah. Both competed against each other. Leah tried to win Jacob’s love while Rachel tried to have children to keep up with Leah. When competition and comparison takes root, we lose focus of who God has created us to be and things He’s planned for us to do. It can lead to messy situations and a breakdown in relationships. Maybe there isn’t someone who we’re directly competing with, but there are posts on social media which make us feel inadequate and we try and change our behaviour to keep up with others. Maybe we only feel good about ourselves when we’re achieving more than other people. Instead of competing and comparing, we need to be confident in our identity as children of God, and focus on doing the things He’s called us to do.

2 Kings 7-9; Luke 1:1-10; Ps 73:1-16; Prov 13:17-19