Afternoons with Ash

Word For You Today

Let It Go!


To start with, it's good to acknowledge that anger is a natural response to when we see wrong - even Jesus made His thoughts known when people disrespected God's house (Matthew 21:12). It's when we hold onto that anger that it becomes a problem. We've all been there. Got into an argument one day and replayed the situation over and over again in our minds, imagined ourselves vindicated. If we don't try to respond constructively - and calmly - we leave the door wide open for all the anger to spill out. And that's when the enemy can niggle his way in, and make us start acting on a completely different path to what God wants for us. Anger makes more anger. Let anger have enough breathing room, and you start breathing fire: people start seeing you as the dragon in the den (probably without the stash of golden cash?).

Here's what Jesus teaches about letting go of anger: 'So when you offer your gift to God...and you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift... Go and make peace with that person...' (Matthew 5:23-24 NCV). It brings much more freedom to channel your anger into making things right. As hard as it might be, giving full vent to your anger will only let it grow. Approach life in a way where you're willing to not let your feelings get the better of a situation.


So what now? Look to resolve. Do you have a thought festering in your mind? It's time to pray for a way to approach whoever's involved. Or, if that's difficult, talk to someone you can trust. Don't let it stay inside.

Soulfood : Gen 25:19 - 27:46, John 13:31-38, Ps 65, Prov 31:25-27


Attention, Please


Shah Jahan wanted to build something epic in memory of his recently-deceased wife. So he took her coffin and ordered the construction of the majestic white Taj Mahal to begin around it. How sweet. But. During the process, which took many years, he went one day to check the work and tripped over an old wooden box. He threw the box out in a huff. You can see where this is going... It took him months to figure out it was his wife's coffin. Eeeeesh.

Giving people 'the affection due' to them is important, whether they're our Mrs or Mr or not. Now, when we say affection, we don't mean cuddles. We mean respect, attention, help... y'know, basic human stuff that applies to every relationship we have. Mostly, we approach our friendships and family relations with decent intentions. We want to give others the attention and respect they deserve. But, life happens. We can get so wrapped up in the stuff we're doing that we neglect those who need our love. Not massively, but we can get snappy, not reply to that text, or generally push someone to the bottom of our priorities.

The bottom line is, people matter more than the busy-ness that takes up most of our lives. And it's vital to show them.


So what now? What could you do with right now? Food? A cup of coffee? Help with cleaning? Whatever it is, pay some attention and make/do it for someone else, before doing your own.

Soulfood : Gen 24:1 - 25:18, John 13:18-30, Ps 14, Prov 31:22-24


Jesus IS Lord?


There's no better decision than choosing to believe that God raised Jesus from the dead, and knowing that this resurrection has given you a new life with Him. There's nothing better than knowing that you believe, and can declare, that Jesus is Lord. If you've decided that, BRILLIANT. (If not, give it some thought.)

Today we're looking at what Jesus being 'Lord' means. Is it believing and declaring that Jesus is 'Lord' over all Creation, the universe and beyond? Yessir. Is it believing and declaring that Jesus is 'Lord' over your whole life? Yes - indeedy. Is the second one strangely more difficult? You bet! To look at the universe and decide Jesus is Lord makes sense; we can see it exhibited in the amazingness of the galaxies. But to tell Him that He can be in charge of us, that we're going to put Him first (even over things we like, or want) starts to cost us something. Choosing to live as a Christian is harder.

Jesus tells us that part of His rescue of our lives is us mysteriously joining Him in His death - 'crucifying' our own egos and our own priorities; in fact anything that might challenge Him being Lord of our lives. And we will tend to rise up and fight this Lord we've invited in. It'll take us purposefully, daily, confessing that Jesus is Lord over us to 'crucify' our disagreements with Him. But all of that safe in the knowledge that His will is good for us.


So what now? Take five to chat with God. Are you crucifying your in-built resistance to Him? Is He fully Lord over your life?

Soulfood : Exod 17.1-7, John 4:1-42


Words Are Not A Cold, Dead Thing



We hear words like these all the time - words that talk at us but not to us and that want something from us. The world is full of cold words like these, and we even use them on each other. It's sometimes easier to treat people like they're not there. It takes less effort.

But actually, the way we talk to people can make all the difference. The language that we choose to use, and the effort that we put in can be a part of demonstrating God's love to others. God tasks us with being gracious in our words. 'Graciousness' is giving more of ourselves to others than we need to - it's paying attention to people, recognising them especially when we don't have to.

Graciousness in conversation is one of the first markers of an on-fire Christian. It's the difference between nodding with our eyes down when people hold a door open for us, or looking them in the eye and saying, 'Thanks!' It's why people who care for the paralysed and very elderly often make an effort to be friendly to them all the time. When we expect to be treated like an object, kind words can make all the difference. Graciousness in conversation means changing the focus of our words from ourselves to the other person.


So what now? Try switching most of the 'I's' in your conversations to 'You's' - it says to the other person, 'I see you, I know you're there, and you're worth my time.'

Soulfood : Gen 20-23, John 13:1-17, Ps 146, Prov 31:18-21


Make Your Words Like Honey


There's a story about an early-church believer called Ambrose. While he was asleep in his crib as a baby, a swarm of bees settled on his face and clustered round his lips. When his dad arrived, they flew off and left behind a drop of honey on his mouth. Old Man Ambrose, the story goes, nodded sagely and deduced that his son was destined for a life of speaking wise and sweet words. As you do.

Our faith knows all about the power of words to heal and help. Ambrose knew it. Jesus knew it. Way back in the ancient book of Proverbs, the healing and helping power of words is everywhere.

Look at the verses before today's verse: Proverbs 16:20-24. Then think about someone you know who is wise and honest right through to their heart. Doesn't it change how you hear the words they say? And how, if they say good words about you, you feel them right through you? If you're known as someone who always keeps 'small' details, or even big things back from people, then eventually your words will just skim off the surface of your friends and family. But, if you keep speaking from your heart, you'll get respect and trust. The good words you say to them will have a wonderful effect, because they'll know you mean them.


So what now? Smear yourself with honey and run through the streets. Haha, no. Ask God to touch your lips and give you honest and healing words from your heart. You'll discover there's real power in asking God for that.

Soulfood : Gen 17-19, John 12:37-50, Ps 118:19-29, Prov 31:14-17


Word Up


Over the next few days, we'll be getting to grips with the power of words. The power to heal, restore, to bring grace into conversation. Use them wisely and they'll become a tool for blessing others.

Ever said something without thinking that caused hurt or was totally inappropriate? Knowing the right thing to say can sometimes be difficult while, at other times, it's second nature to us. Here's the thing: what we say is formed by what we think, and what we think is formed by what's in our heart. '...As he thinks in his heart, so is he...' (Proverbs 23:7 NKJ). We need to get our mouth, mind and heart aligned with God in order to be able to say the right things at the right times.

When we're in a place to influence someone, it's best to make sure our mind is set in the right place. If we can't help but think how funny it would be if they fall over (literally or metaphorically), perhaps it's not time to offer too much, words-wise. The best alternative is to think encouraging thoughts. Willing that person on, and filling our brains with good thoughts will fill our hearts likewise. And since 'the mouth speaks what the heart is full of' (Luke 6:45 GNT), this kind of heart-filling is a good idea to fulfil the works God has prepared for us to do.


So what now? Nearly every day you will face situations and people who need a 'word' from you. What do you need to fill your heart with to give the best word?

Soulfood : Gen 13-16, John 12:20-36, Ps 118:10-18, Prov 31:10-13


Rules, Rules, Rules


'Christianity just has so many rules'; 'You're missing out on so much because of your faith!' Ring any bells? Sadly many people see Christianity as just that - rules, rules, rules. The Bible does show us God's commands, which require self-control, but rules aren't just there for the sake of it. There's good reason to restrict what we can do and how we can do it. People without rules and self-control become slaves to their emotions, to their desires, to this world.

God's rules give us freedom (sounds backwards, but it's 100% true). Freedom to live as God made us to, not to conform to society's norms. That freedom, however, can only be released if we obey God's rules. The good news is we're not left on our own to do this. God has sent us the Holy Spirit who lives inside us and, if we allow Him to, helps us to exercise self-control.

But self-control isn't just a physical thing; it's a mind thing too. It's one thing to stop ourselves from doing or saying something but it is more difficult to stop ourselves from indulging certain thoughts. Jesus tells us that when we actively think about stuff that isn't healthy, we are just as guilty as if we had actually done it (Matthew 5:28). So let us, with the help of the Holy Spirit, learn self-control for our minds.


So what now? Which of God's commandments or 'rules' do you find hardest to obey? Write it down. Now, write a way that following it could free you from something.

Soulfood : Gen 7-9, John 12:1-11, Ps 114, Prov 31:1-5

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