Nights with Josh

Word For You Today

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


From Clay to Pots (2)


Yesterday we looked at God's plan to craft us into all that we can be. And guess what? There's more good news. When we decide to do our own thing, and shut ourselves off from being open to God's will, God is still waiting to shape us.

What stops us from being open to God's work? First up, pride. One of the signs of pride is not accepting help even when we really need it, because we think we can do it alone. And to be honest, that's what we sometimes do with God. There's a lesson from pretty much the whole of humanity: 'Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall' (Proverbs 16:18 ESV). Pride was the first step that Adam and Eve took in believing that they knew better than God. It's tough, but it's a useful warning: we need to watch for areas in our own lives that we keep prideful control over ourselves.

And next up, complacency. Ever been praying for God to touch a part of your life, and He does? But six months later you find yourself struggling with the same thing again. Why's that? Chances are you assumed you had it sorted and stopped keeping check. When you struggle with something, it's rare it will completely disappear. Complacency lets pride slip back in.


So what now? Look back over the last six months of your life. What have you improved on? What have you let slip? Rather than beating yourself up over it (the fact you're looking into it shows that God's Spirit is in your life), allow the Potter to move back in.

Soulfood : Gen 4-6, John 11:45-57, Ps 95, Prov 30:29-33


From Clay to Pots (1)


The process of becoming a pot from a lump of clay can't be a pleasant one. The clay is shaped, left to set, and then put in a furnace. But at no point does the clay stop having a purpose.

Although at times it may be difficult to see what God the Potter is doing with us, He promises that He is. We're a work in progress and the situations we find ourselves in, and the feelings we face, can sometimes feel more important than that, but nothing is stronger than this Potter's commitment to finishing what He began. That said, we have to remember that the Potter has the right to mould us as He sees fit. If the Potter needs a vase, the clay has no right to complain that it dreamt of being a soap dish. The Potter, not the clay, determines the end-product in the same way that the Holy Spirit determines our place and role in the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:18).

God has created us each with an individual purpose. He has given us the things we need to fulfil that purpose and He's preparing us for it. Sometimes we may not know what our purpose is. Sometimes it may even appear that we aren't being prepared at all. But we have the master Potter, and we can trust that He is working something amazing in us.


So what now? Make something today - pottery, building, baking, drawing. Think about how the ingredients and process are as important as the finished product.

Soulfood : Deut 9:13-29, Luke 4:1-13




Want a peek into what 'God's will' is? Hint: some of it's written down. In the Bible. Honestly it is. If we want a good guide for praying in sync with God's will, then praying using His Scripture is a pretty solid start. That Bible also says that: 'This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us...we know that we have what we asked of Him' (1 John 5:14-15 NIV). But. If we've ever prayed for something and not seen it instantly materialise, we must be aware that God grants us what we've asked for, but in His (best) timing. So that may mean waiting...

In the meantime, here are some tips on God's Word: (1) Speak it. Throughout the Old Testament, the prophets reminded God of His promises to Israel using their Scriptures. They didn't think He was forgetful... but they knew the value of saying them out loud. (2) Share it. Deuteronomy 6:6-7 sets it out. Go read someone. (3) Obey it. Chew over this one: Obedience to God's Word is faith in action. Obedience is getting in line with God's plan and, in obedience, we will find that we are increasingly able to ask for things according to His will. Makes sense really.


So what now? What are the things you've asked God for and are waiting for answers on? Focusing on God's will, in prayer, in speech and in obedience, will really help you to see the answers appear more clearly.

Soulfood : Gen 1-3, John 11:38-44, Ps 102:18-28, Prov 30:24-28


Yes, You


'Let Christ's in you.' This is an invitation, not an invasion. It is a conscious decision we have to make. But if we're really going to allow God's Word to live in us we have to do a few things:

(1) Read it. It's not about learning to recite Scripture (though that does help), but reading God's word, prayerfully, brings power and wisdom. '...the Word of God is alive and active... it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart' (Hebrews 4:12 NIV). (2) Meditate on it. Or, 'chew on' it. Let our spiritual digestive juices process God's Word until its tasty wisdom-vitamins become part of us; strengthening, energising and directing us.

(3) Believe it. 'My Word...always produces... It will accomplish all I want it to' (Isaiah 55:11 NLT). That is, unless His word is not believed. 'The message... did them no good, because they only heard and did not believe as well' (Hebrews 4:2 PHPS). We can know God's promises but they'll be only as effective as a nice story if we don't also believe them. (4) Receive it. We have a habit of thinking that for some reason God's promises can apply to everyone around us but not us. There's nothing about us that makes us so 'special' that God's promises can't reach us.


So what now? Write down five of God's promises that are most important to you. Now remember, they all apply to you. Now, read through them again and say 'I receive this promise' to each.

Soulfood : Ecc 10-12, John 11:28-37, Ps 102:12-17, Prov 30:21-23


Muddled Words


How many times have you sat down to read your Bible and felt completely lost? Have you ever read an entire passage, chapter or book and wondered what you even read? The Bible is not only centuries old, but contains so many different types of writing (poems, historical accounts, names-of-who-fathered-who, visions from God...) that it can be a bit of a head-scratch in places. But that doesn't mean you should give up. People wrote the Bible through the power of the Holy Spirit (2 Timothy 3:16), and through the same Holy Spirit you are able to better understand the Bible, as long as you ask for help.

1 Corinthians 2:9-10 NLT goes further: 'No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love Him. But it was to us that God revealed these things by His Spirit. For His Spirit searches out everything and shows us God's deep secrets.' There may be days when the Bible may look like a jumble of words, and overwhelmingly confusing, but God gave you the Holy Spirit to guide you and show you what He wants you to see. The wells to the depths of Heaven's wisdom are right there for you, the best 'message from God' in the world is in your hand, and the Author Himself wants to be your guide.


So what now? Sit with your Bible (app?) closed for five minutes. Ask God to join you, to study with you, and to speak to you through what you're about to read. Then go to a passage that you've struggled with before, and see what happens.

Soulfood : Ecc 7-9, John 11:17-27, Ps 102:1-11, Prov 30:18-20

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