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Word For You Today

NO COMPARE, NO COMPARE, NO COMPARE

Remember that kid in your nursery class, you know, the one with cool light-up trainers that made your regular off-white sneakers feel really rubbish? No? Just like that, chances are, in a few years you won't remember measuring yourself against someone else's standards. So why bother now? You might want what those around you seem to have, but honestly, you'll have forgotten about it not too far down the track.



And, as for now, God gives you exactly what you need. So, the guy next to you has something that looks really flashy right now? That's a part of their plan. God's taking care of your plan, and He's asking you to work with Him to be all that you are made to be. And, believe it or not, He'll give you the right tools to get there (He's amazing like that!).



Whatever you don't have is as much a part of the plan as what you do have. And yes, that can be horribly disappointing sometimes. Especially when everyone else seems to have everything sorted. But, not getting those grades/that job/the girl may have been the first step towards a bigger and better plan.



So what now? Pray for God's view of your situation and ask for His help in seeing it His way. Cross out (with a pen, or, if you're reading this on a screen, with your fingers...) the first NO COMPARE in the title when you've prayed it through. Repeat for the other two.

Soulfood : Job 11-14, Lk 1:57-66, Ps 67, Ecc 9:10-12

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THORNS (2)

Yesterday, we thought about how Heaven's answer to a thorny existence is a thorn-crowned Saviour. Now, there's another part to that story. There is, shall we say, another set of thorns. After Jesus wore that crown and beat the consequences of sin, God decided to use thorns for His (and our) good. Being a Christian doesn't mean that we get to entirely avoid all difficult stuff. It means we know Who we turn to when the difficult stuff happens.



Look at 2 Corinthians 12:7-10. Paul mentions 'a thorn in the flesh' - something that really made life hard for him. Something that was trying to get in the way of his relationship with God. We all have those thorns. And God allows them for one reason: that we use them as inspiration to look to Him. We can't beat thorns in our own strength. The only thing to do is to turn to God and ask Him for help. He may not remove them straight away, but He'll certainly strengthen our relationship with Him while we're dealing with them.



And look back at yesterday's reading - Jesus who bled from the thorn of death in our place. The 'thorns' of this life don't last for eternity; they help prepare you for it. As long as you're really-truly-striving for the life of love that God asks for, He'll make 'all things work together for good' (Romans 8:28 NKJ).



So what now? Chat to some wiser/older Christians you really trust about your own 'thorn in the flesh'. Get them to pray with you, asking for God's strength in dealing with your personal thorns.

Soulfood : Job 8-10, Lk 1:39-56, Ps 57, Ecc 7:19-22

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THORNS (1)

In Genesis 3, Adam and Eve made a choice, and because of that choice came consequences. After that, everything changed. Like everything. The whole world. The link between God and humans was no longer the same. People got locked into their own self-and-others-destructive choices. Existence became... well, thorny. Go back to Genesis 3 and check out verse 18. There. Those thorns mentioned represent all of the consequences of humanity's choices - sin, separation and death.



Now, read Matthew 27:31 about the crown of thorns placed on Jesus' head by the Roman soldiers: 'When they had twisted a crown of thorns, they put it on His head...' Just before He gave His life to free us all, Jesus took those thorns - sin, separation and death - upon Himself, and wore them literally as a crown. He took all of the consequences meant for us, and experienced the death that goes with them. And, by doing that, He became our bridge back to God. By wearing those thorns, He beat them. Jesus beat sin; He beat separation; He beat death. Because of Him, we can choose to live a life full of God and grace. Then, because of Him, we can spend the rest of forever with that same God.



So what now? Take a few minutes to really think over what Jesus did. It's the absolute centre of the Christian faith. Then, when you've done that, write a 'thank you' note to Jesus. Stick it up somewhere prominent to remind you regularly of what He did in dying for you.

Soulfood : Job 5-7, Lk 1:26-38, Ps 105:37-45, Ecc 7:9-14

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WHAT ARE YOU HEARING?

'...The word of the Lord came to Elijah...saying...

For three years all people talked about was the drought God had told Elijah to announce. Then God gave him a weather update: everyone should get ready for storm season. We've got to be ready for God's updates too - listening in so we'll be ready for what life throws at us.

God is more than willing to tell us when to save and when to spend, when to buy and when to sell, when to talk and when to be silent. 'Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, "This is the way, walk in it"' (Isaiah 30:21 NKJ). But, for many of us, often Satan's so busy whispering in our ears that the voice of God is drowned out. Satan's got some special lines he's perfected: 'You're a loser. You're ugly. You're rubbish. Nobody loves you.' Like we'd ever hear that from God! Not a chance. He's on our side and only waits our invitation to fight for us.

Knowing He would soon be crucified, Jesus prayed, '"Father, glorify Your name." Then a voice came from Heaven, saying, 'I have both glorified it and will glorify it again." Therefore the people who stood by and heard it said that it had thundered...' (John 12:28-29 NKJ). Isn't it amazing? Some can hear the voice of God, while others hear only noise.

So what now? What are you hearing? Who are you listening to? The voice of God or the devil's noise? Make a choice to tune out Satan and tune into God.

SoulFood: Job 1-4, Luke 1:1-25, Ps 105:23-36, Ecc 7:5-8

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TEMPER TEMPER (3)

Let's get to the root of this anger business: it's pretty clear that charging angrily into a situation doesn't get us anywhere. And God's not keen on us doing that either. The thing is, there are much, much better (and God-approved) ways to deal with those heated moments. We know, in some situations it's impossible to not feel a flash of rage - we can't exactly choose what to feel. But, what is our choice is what we do with that feeling.



Here are some options: (1) Keep it in. Don't say anything while we let that anger stay with us for the rest of the day/week/century. OR (2) Act in the heat of the moment and mood. Let the objects of our anger know exactly what we think of them. OR (3) Have a conversation. Calmly. Try to understand what made your blood boil, and go from there.



Now, only one of those options makes sense to us. Care to take a guess? Yes, it's number (3)! We'd recommend facing the thing that bugs you with as much grace and God-given understanding as you can. Proverbs 15:1 NIV says 'A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.' Gentleness may not seem like the easiest, or most impressive, response to an enraging situation. But it's the right one.



So what now? Next time you feel like giving someone a piece of your mind, stop. Breathe. Ask the person: 'To help me understand, what did you mean by...' and use their answer as the start of a dialogue.

Soulfood : Est 5-10, Jn 21, Ps 18:1-29, Prov 26:24-27

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TEMPER TEMPER (2)

When you look through the lens of misguided anger, what you choose to focus on tends to end up being all you actually see. Being blind to reality is dangerous, because it causes you to go to extremes. At one point David was a young shepherd who played the harp. He played for Saul and kept him calm. Yet when it was clear that God had chosen David to take lead the nation, starting with the defeat of a giant named Goliath, Saul got bitter.



The people sang 'Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands' (1 Samuel 18:7 NIV). Saul saw David as a threat to his throne. Don't they realise this boy was nothing until I took him in, Saul thought. Who was it that saw him promoted to the highest ranks? Me! What next - my throne? Is that what he wants? To be king? And from that day on Saul kept a jealous eye on David; an angry fire burned in his veins.



If you read the story of this pair's relationship, one thing becomes clear - David is one of the best friends that Saul could ever have had. Letting anger manipulate us, even in subtle ways, is always dangerous. Let's not allow it to happen.



So what now? Is there anyone in your life who stirs up anger in you? Don't allow it to build up; nip it in the bud and set yourself free from anger possibility destroying your life.

Soulfood : Luke 1:26-56, Lk 2:1-40, Lk 2:41-52, Jn 2:1-12

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TEMPER TEMPER (1)

In Genesis 4:3-7, we read that Cain was jealous that his brother's gift was accepted and his wasn't. He let resentment build up. He hadn't found a way of dealing with his forceful emotions, and his feelings had swayed his thinking. When he murdered his brother, a timeless truth rang out, '...A hot-tempered person commits all kinds of sin' (Proverbs 29:22 NLT).



Anger can be Godly when used to move us to righteous action. We are right to feel angry about human trafficking, for instance. When we see injustice, it can be a Godly reaction to want to say something and make a difference. But often anger is destructive, leading to terrible consequences. Jesus said that when you let anger build up against someone in your heart, you're already making a big mistake (Matthew 5:21-22). Anger can be a seriously damaging thing. Controlling it and asking God to keep it in check is a huge deal.



So, there's a right way and a wrong way to be 'angry'. One of the most helpful passages is: 'In your anger do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold' (Ephesians 4:26-27 NIV). When you can feel something stirring up within you, take a deep breath first and ask - is this going to create more pain rather than lead to healing?



So what now? Analyse your own anger: is it righteous or destructive? How are you going to deal with it? Begin by talking to God about it.

Soulfood : Est 1-4, Jn 20:19-31, Ps 105:8-22, Ecc 7:1-4

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