Sunday Arvo with Saskia

Word For You Today

Deep Breath

We know you've just started reading, but stop... and take that deep breath we mention in the title.

How did that feel? Did you feel anything or was it just normal? Breathing is (fortunately) an automatic function that you don't have to think about. Sounds simple, but there's actually a whole going on when you breathe - oxygen makes its way to blood vessels, carbon dioxide works its way back out, lungs move, the diaphragm gets in on the act: all part of the amazing and intricate processes that keep you alive.

Right, enough of the science lesson. The whole point: We forget that we need to breathe, but God has given us the air for each breath as well as all the body-function means to enjoy it. ' Him we live and move and have our being' (Acts 17:28 ESV).

God looks over you, lovingly and steadily, providing all you need. From breathing, to eating, to speaking, and sleeping - God created the world that allows you do all of that. It's a sign of His love for you. Deep. The Bible says, 'God formed the man from dust and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life' (Genesis 2:7 ESV). Get encouraged today in all your circumstances that God '... will sustain you' (Psalm 55:22 ESV).

So what now? Let's do a breathing exercise. As you breathe in, thank God for giving you the breath of life, and as you breathe out ask Him to help you show Him to others through your life today.

Soulfood : Is 53:1-12, Acts 8:26-40


Gods Got It (3)

If everything we have belongs to God and He provides everything we need, how should we think about the things we have? Lets say, by way of example, Word For You Today posts you a laptop, instead of the next issue. Weve sent it to you because we want you to have a go at writing Word For You Today devotional readings for a while, instead of us, so technically the laptop is still ours. Well want the laptop back. Really youre just borrowing our laptop for a long time. To talk in Christian terms: youre not given the laptop on loan, youve been given it for a purpose. Adam and Eve were given the world with purpose. While they looked after it, God wanted them to make it flourish and make everything in it point to God.

So how should we think about the things we have? Remember that they all belong to God. After all, we brought nothing with us when we came into the world, and we cant take anything with us when we leave it (1 Timothy 6:7 NLT).

God knows exactly what you need and asks you to use the things He has given you for a reason. The best way to look at the stuff that you have is as something given to you, with the purpose of making the world flourish.

So what now? For a few moments, turn off your phone. Look quietly around your room at what you own and thank God for it all. Pray, show me how to use what Youve blessed me with.

Soulfood : Num 25-26, Luke 8:40-56, Ps 120, Prov 3:33-35


Gods Got It (2)

God was upset with His people. Hosea wrote about how theyd grown ungrateful, even though God had given them a pretty miraculous set-up. They were a nation chosen by God, and He wanted to use those Israelites to demonstrate to other nations how to live fully and rightly. He brought them out of Egypt and made sure that they ate plenty while they were in the wilderness (Hosea 13.4-6). Thats provision a dry word for an abundant, pulse-raising truth: God has your back. But thats not the happy, full-belly ending of the story. As soon as they were satisfied, they became proud and forgot about [God] (Hosea 13:6 NIV).

That things-got-good-so-I-accidentally-forgot-about-God mentality can be all too familiar. But, thats not a relationship with God. We dont forget about our friends when they go out of their way to make us happy, because we see what they did and it strengthens our relationship. But, because we cant see God, we often dont see that He just made whatever-good-thing-it-is.

What would our relationship with Him look like if we lived every moment remembering that He is the source of everything we need, and that Hes choosing to give it to us?

So what now? Every time someone gives you something you need today, whether its a smile at the right moment, or a tissue when youre about to sneeze, thank them. Take a moment to tell them why you appreciate the thing they did.

Soulfood : Num 22-24, Luke 8:26-39, Ps 108, Prov 3:31-32


Gods Got It (1)

One of the oldest stories in the Bible has a bunch of early humans getting greedy and restless. So much so that they decided to build a colossal tower. But this tower project wasnt just a boredom buster. They built it because they wanted to stockpile power. They wanted more than they had (This story would be Genesis 11:4-9, fact-checkers). Naturally, we want to gather more than we need, we keep buying things and piling up our possessions, but why do we do this? Because it makes us feel safe? Maybe we stock up riches to feel comfortable.

Remember though: The earth is the Lords and everything in it, the world and all its people belong to Him (Psalm 24:1 NLT). When we trust in what we own, in our hard-earned savings and/or privileges, then were forgetting something important.

All that we have comes from God. Our trust shouldnt be in our stuff, but in His generosity. Does the Bible have something to say about that, too? Yes, it warns: those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which is so unreliable. Their trust should be in God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment (1 Timothy 6:17 NLT). When we realise stuff isnt ours to keep, its easier to be generous with it.

So what now? Feeling bored or restless today? Trusting that God will look after you, do the opposite of those who built Babel: rather than seeking to get stuff for yourself, give one thing away in the next 24 hours.

Soulfood : Num 19-21, Luke 8:16-25, Ps 111, Prov 3:29-30


Wavy Feels

Feelings are like waves they come and go and are caused by the wind and tides forces we cant see. Ever sunk your feet into the sand to let a big wave crash against you? Felt how powerful they are? Feelings can be the same.

Paul, writing to the church in Philippi, says, discern what is best (Philippians 1:10 NIV). Solid advice. We cant always trust our feelings. Why? Because, like waves, they come and go; theyre sometimes small and sometimes huge. Heres the lesson: test your feelings, otherwise youll end up allowing your feelings [to] get out of control (Colossians 3:5 NIV). We have to test our gut because emotions come in all forms from accurate (and even God-given) feelings that alert us to danger or give insight into a situation, to the opposite, untrue feelings that make us think were unwanted and unloved.

Thing is, though, youre not defined by how you feel, but by what God says about you. You may feel unwanted, but remember, God says are precious and I love you (Isaiah 43:4 ESV). And it can be difficult to really feel that sometimes. But you can choose to get to grips with what God says about you. When youre struggling to sense your preciousness, a head-knowledge of Gods Word, along with an invitation to the Holy Spirit, can be the starting point for a deeper, heart-knowledge of His love.

So what now? Lets go Sunday school, and memorise Romans 5:8. Then, whatever feeling-waves hit you, youll know what defines you: Gods massive, sacrificial love for you.

Soulfood : Num 16-18, Luke 8:1-15, Ps 107:33-43, Prov 3:27-28


Comeback King

In Luke 5, Jesus taught His soon-to-be disciple Simon a cracking lesson. He hopped on to Simons fishing boat to get a bit of space from a crowd of followers, then they floated out on the sea for a bit. Simon was convinced that they wouldnt catch any fish, because the nets had been completely empty so far. (Ever been fishing? Its harder when there arent any.) But Jesus told Simon, Push the boat out further to the deep water and... let out your nets for a catch. Simon replied, We worked hard all night long and caught nothing. But, if You say so, I will let out the nets (Luke 5:4-5 GNT). Almost immediately the nets were filled to the brim with fish. So full they began to sink. Great comeback, Jesus!

Do you feel like Simon? Youve tried everything, or maybe youve experienced too many disappointments to keep trying, so youre ready to give up.

Heres the lesson: Your whole situation can change when you invite Jesus on board. Some would call it a risk, but what Simon experienced when he began to follow Jesus was a life of adventure. Youre called to that, too. You just need to make room for Jesus, follow what He says, and walk into a life of adventure with Him.

So what now? That instruction to push out into the deep water is profound, when you think about it in spiritual terms. So spend at least half an hour in a block this week pushing out into the deep by praying and listening to God.

Soulfood : Num 14-15, Luke 7:36-50, Ps 107:23-32, Prov 3:25-26


Be Vulnerable


Before Adam and Eve messed up, we're told that 'they were both naked... and... not ashamed' (Genesis 2:25 NKJ). Now why, of all the details we could be told about Adam and Eve, is the fact they were starkers something we'd need to know? Well, eventually, Adam and Eve messed up. They separated themselves from God, and began to feel awkward about their nakedness. And since then, so have the rest of us: nakedness is a big deal. It means we're vulnerable. (This is also why that birthday-suit is for life-long, covenant-bound relationships only. Marriage matters, people.)

We reckon we're told about Adam and Eve's lack of clothing so that we can track the change in how they feel about that, in relation to God. Suddenly, they start to feel they have something to (literally) hide. They feel weak and helpless. Which we would, in the middle of a huge garden with no clothes on, having just realised the situation. Anyone who's worn a swimming suit in public has felt self-consciousness.

But. God saw them, and sees us, for all that we are, regardless of how we try to hide. No matter how much we dread being seen, weak and vulnerable, stripped down to the real us, He sees every lumpy, blemished, undesirable bit of us, and loves us anyway. Yes, we mean that He loves every bit of your body that you hate. But we mean your soul, too. Don't dread being real with Him. He sees you and loves you.


So what now? Sometimes, being vulnerable helps you get stronger. Give God all your vulnerabilities. Expose yourself to Him to get closer to Him.

Soulfood : Exod 16:1-35, Jn 6:30-40

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