Afternoons with Ash

Word For You Today

Run Away Once...

Jonah said a quick no to God. And days later, he allowed several incensed sailors to chuck him over the side of their boat and into a raging sea. That situation escalated really quickly.

The thing about running from your mistakes is that the consequences have a nasty habit of blowing way out of proportion. When Jonah turned his back on Gods command, do you reckon he saw the whole ragingstormoverboardbellyofawhale chain of events coming?

When you say no to God, it might seem like a simple act in the moment. You might hope thats the end of it. But hiding from God takes you to places that you wouldnt have gone before (even if theyre only in your mind), and you lose the path into Gods best for you. Jonah saw all this happen to him pity it had to happen from the belly of a fish.

And then Jonah 3:1 happens. In his regret, Jonah dares to glance back at God, and the whale vomits him up on the shore. There, God speaks again.

What can we learn from this? No matter how far gone you feel you are, God will speak to you again and again. If youre burying your head with shame, dare a glance back at Him. Chances are Hell love that youve turned to Him. Try to run from Him once, Hes willing to take your shame away. Try it twice, Hes willing to take your shame away. Three times, and it goes on...

So what now? If you think God may have said something to you that youve rejected, ask Him to ask you again today.

Soulfood : Judg 19:16 -21:25, Matt 13:10-23, Ps 128, Prov 13:17-19


Priests (3): Jesus, and Us!

So weve looked at Adam and Eve as priests, weve looked at the Old Testament Temple priests but can you think of someone who totally fulfilled this priesthood idea, and then some?

Jesus. Ultimate Prophet He revealed God to humanity. Ultimate King, He is chiefrulerandboss over all Creation. Ultimate Priest in His life and even more so in His death and resurrection, Jesus enabled mankind to go back into God, and God into mankind.

People could do with knowing about Jesus. And you are saved to be like Jesus. Wherever you are, the people around you could do with seeing God shine through you, and hearing the news that Jesus died because He loved them so much.

How can you be this priest? Get close to God, choose to bring Him into Creation around you, and bring Creation to Him, constantly, in prayer. And bring Him into your conversations bring that Good News into a world that needs it. You are a priest. And the more you go to Him for guidance on how to live that out, day to day, the more Hell build you up in it, instructing and teaching you to do it better and better.

So what now? Write P R I E S T down a page. Spend ten minutes researching the word priest (in dictionaries, Bible concordances, whatever). From that research, note down a singleword challenge for yourself, beginning with each letter, then live it out today.

Soulfood : Judg 16:1 - 19:15, Matt 13:1-9, Ps 45, Prov 13:13-16


Priests (1): Co-workers

God created Adam to work creation before mankind fell (Genesis 2:15). Work wasnt punishment it was a good thing, a job to do, as part of tending Creation.

Adam and Eve were intended to represent God to Creation to reign over it (Genesis 1:26 NLT), in the same sort of way that God does, through looking after it and growing it well. He gave them a share in His work because He delights in involving His children in building the world in love. The joy they were to find in growing that world for Him was meant to inspire them to represent it back to Him: to be like excited kids, asked to plant seeds by a parent who anticipates them running back, yelling, Come and see! Its so cool! when the seeds sprouted; and to make a conscious choice to thank Him.

Gods children were created as His partners: unequal, sure, but deeply adored jointowners of a beautiful project. Their priesthood was part of their Godgiven purpose and identity.

Today, our earth has changed a lot, but our calling is still to: (1) represent God to our world. Bring Him into it and be Jesus to those who need Him. (2) Represent it back to Him. Make the choice to enjoy this world and constantly bring it to Him in prayer.

So what now? Try this: (1) Chop the big end off a carrot or parsnip. (2) Put the end in a saucer of water. (3) Replace the water every day, and pray as you do. (4) Watch the shoots come.

Soulfood : Judg 12-15, Matt 12:38-50, Ps 47, Prov 13:11-12


Wisdom: A Tool, Not A Mood

Paintbrushes exist because our hands alone cant do more than fingerpaint. Hammers do a better job with nails than our elbows or foreheads. Tools are for tasks we cant do with our bodies. And if you dont have a paintbrush but you want to paint, you simply go out and get one you dont wallow in despair about how difficult it is to use your hair as a paintbrush.

In the Bible, James says, If any of you is lacking in wisdom, ask God (James 1:5 NRS). Wisdoms a tool that you can acquire. Wisdoms not a magic wand, or some greyhaired expert that youll morph into at the end of your Christian walk.

Wisdom is there to help you build your life, today. Tools are for tasks we cant do with what weve got within ourselves, and wisdom is for those times when real life situations temptations, hard choices, troubled friends get the better of our normal ability to cope.

You use wisdom in your everyday life, in the middle of temptations and hard choices. You get it, just as James says, by asking God plainly and directly for it. So pick it up and practise.

So what now? If the ability to make wise choices seems impossibly distant, start small. If you really want the ability to say, Im a wise person, then ask God for the opportunity to make one small, wise choice today. Take it in steps, so that by the end of the month you can look back and count the wise choices youve made.

Soulfood : Judg 9:34- 11:40, Matt 12:22-37, Ps 97, Prov 20:25, Ecc 5:4-6


21 Icons

Icons are what you click on when you want to open a programme on a computer a little picture of a disc, a sheet of paper, a fox snuggling the earth (yes, we know, other internet browsers are available). You go through icons to get to the programme you want.

You, and we, are icons. Were shortcuts to God. Of all the wonderful things in this universe fiery stars in the sky, giant sea beasts that churn up waters, the booming and rumble of mighty storms you, and we, are what God looks like most. Look through the New Testament for clues. It says that we are made to be like Gods Son (Romans 8:29). Not the stars, not the sky, not the earth. We are the ones called to be like Gods Son.

So if we look closely at you, or you look closely at us (all savedbygrace people) we all get to see beyond ourselves, to a bit of God. If you hear our stories, or we hear yours, Hes bursting through them; more so than He does through the mightiest waterfall or biggest cosmic storm.

So what now? So, you are not perfect and youre flawed round the edges. But, in Gods eyes you are made perfect through Christ and therefore He can use you to help others big time! Thank Him, look to Him and be the icon youre meant to be!

Soulfood : Judg 7:1 - 9:33, Matt 12:15-21, Ps 129, Prov 13:9-10


No More Scare Tactics

Jesus doesnt want us to spend our lives worrying. During His Sermon on the Mount, He essentially writes it off it as useless: Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life (Matthew 6:27 NIV)? Hes right of course. It is useless to continue worrying.

But we cant always do that so easily. Pauls advice to worriers in his letter to the Philippians is pretty standard Christian advice, but its still megauseful: pray. Replace bad habit with good habit. Dont hold back the things youre stressing about from God. Hes big enough, and wise enough, to handle anything youve got swirling around your head. In fact, one of the names for the Holy Spirit is Counsellor, so helping us when we feel overwhelmed is one of His specialties.

Praying about worry can sometimes feel like just the Christian task to do, but its actually how we put ourselves in the hands of the Father who comforts us. Its no meaningless task.

The next time you feel particularly worried about something, take Pauls advice and just hammer out a prayer. You dont have to feel guilty about not having had your eyes fixed on Him since the word go. Obviously the ideal is for us to ask God into everything from the getgo, but even if we turn to Him at the last minute, He will still smile, kneel and pick us up.


So what now? Every time you worry about something today, even the smallest thing, write it down. Then, say a prayer about it. Cross the worries out once theyre dealt with.

Soulfood : Judg 4-6, Matt 12:1- 14, Ps 93, Prov 13:7-8


Your Financial Future

People who put their trust in money often learn about the risk in a financial crisis. History, anyone? In 1923 German money became practically worthless due to a series of catastrophes. The cost of a loaf of bread shot to 200,000,000,000 marks: thats about 10 billion per slice! People lost everything.

Looking back over the last 100 years you can see plenty of financial crises which left lives devastated. Money isnt the answer to lifes problems; it doesnt love you or free you and it isnt reliable.

It can be tempting to trust wholeheartedly in providing for ourselves but we are called to completely trust in God, in all things, no matter how uncomfortable that can make us. It can feel incredibly awkward stepping out into places or careers that Gods called us to, not knowing where the support will come from. But He says: I will never leave you nor forsake you. That certainly doesnt mean lie back and do nothing because God will make money rain from the sky generally we are called to work in some way. It does mean, however, that you can completely trust God with your whole financial future, no matter what crises hit. It also means that everything were given is His in the first place; its never really ours to hold onto, which is a pretty good springboard thought to help us get our hearts around living generously.

So what now? Ask God to help you to live contentedly where you are right now. Thank Him that He has your financial future in His hands.

Soulfood : Judg 1-3, Matt 11:20-30, Ps 88: 9b-18, Prov 13:4-6

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