Afternoons with Ash

Word For You Today

Get His Strength

The author Edith Schaeffer came up with the idea that Heavens museum has two exhibits. In the first one theres a display of Satans weapons, his trials and torments thrown against Gods people. Theyre in pieces broken when God miraculously stepped in. The second shows Satans weapons broken when believers couldnt see God in their situation but trusted He was good anyway, and so they overcame.

Collapsing beneath the weight of everything around you? Just about done with your secrets, failures and weaknesses? And, worst of all, does it feel like God isnt going to show up to help? If youre seeing God miraculously moving in everyone elses life, but youre getting frustrated at the silence in your own, there absolutely is something for you, too. There is no worseoff Christian class that gets less than others. God promises strength for you, a mighty inner strength that comes from above and girds your heart with iron. Youve got the Holy Spirit in you already, so its a case of praying to Someone closer than close.

Meditating on Gods Word can be a useful prayertool. Meditating means to slowly and actively looking at what God says. Try these five steps: Pause, Presence (acknowledge Gods presence), Picture (look for the picture that comes into your head when you see the verse), Ponder (how does it fit with your life?) and Promise (take away a promise from God for your life).

So what now? Practise with todays verse. Stop and examine it, using these five steps. Get His strength for your circumstances.

Soulfood : Lam 3:40 - 5:22, Matt 14:1-12, Ps 82, Prov 14:5-8


BFFL Shuffle

We dont care how old you are, the whole making friends thing is always relevant. It doesnt really get any easier, does it? Whenever we hit a new stage in our life, we can find ourselves feeling that familiar how do I make friends? feeling.

So here are some practical tips. First of all, try talking. Practice really does make perfect. Dont worry about being witty and original just try speaking. This will build your confidence as well as allowing others an opportunity to get to know you. Second, learn to listen. You dont have to have a life or death story of How I scaled Kilimanjaro without an inhaler for people to want to talk to you. Actually people generally love talking about themselves so, by listening, you give them a chance to be centre stage. Thirdly, have the courage to be you. Dont apologise for the lame bands you like or pretend to be the life and soul... if youre more happy with a quiet coffee and a chat. Youre a masterpiece in Gods eyes (even if theres a bit of spiritual renovation still to go). And finally, choose your friends. There will always be cliques and tribes who think everyone should know their place (yawn). But there will also be those not bothered about whos in and whos out. People who wont judge you are going to make better friends anyway.

So what now? Thank God for the people around you. If you feel like theres something missing for you, peoplewise, ask God to fill that gap somehow. He put you together and He not only knows you need friendships, but what sort as well.

Soulfood : Lam 1:1 - 3:39, Matt 13:47-58, Ps 113, Prov 14:1-4


No Robes, No Problem

1 Samuel 18 has two strong friends performing an ancient covenant ritual a promise to cover the other persons back until death. After David had finished talking with Saul, he met Jonathan, the kings son. There was an immediate bond between themJonathan made a solemn pact with David, because he loved him as he loved himself. Jonathan sealed the pact by taking off his robe and giving it to David, together with his tunic, sword, bow and belt (1 Samuel 18:14 NLT).

Its a peculiar bit of Bible passage, isnt it? Why would Jonathan go to those extremes to prove his friendship whats wrong with a coffee and a chat? Jonathan does something humble and costly by making a covenant with David. Hes the kings son and heir to the throne. By handing over his tunic, sword and belt, he symbolises giving up his inheritance to David. Jonathan is dressing David to be the next king. Wow.

The highest form of friendship puts others before ourselves. Do you want the best for your mate or do you secretly, even mentally, oneup them, so you have the higher status? Do you give up the things that youve been privileged with for your friends sakes?

So what now? Have a good think: Are there things in your life that you need to give up for, or give to, or extend to, a friend. It could lead to something incredibly meaningful and life-changing.

Soulfood : Gal 4-6, Matt 13:36-46, Ps 108, Prov 13:24-25


Call the Heathens Friends

In Matthew 18 (specifically 18:15-17) Jesus says that if people dont repent, then they should be treated like a pagan or a tax collector. Read that, then get ready to protest, get crafting some hateful signs and placards.

Back? Good. Before we start the pagan purge, its worth looking up what Jesus meant by treating someone like a pagan or a tax collector.

Now, as far as the Jews were concerned, they were the lowest lifeform. But, funnily enough, whenever we see Jesus interacting with any sinners, pagans or tax collectors, it doesnt look anything like a public protest. Jesus shows each sinner He meets a soft heart and honest care. When He came across someone who He disagreed with, Jesus, looking at him, loved him (Mark 10:21 ESV). When He met an outcast tax collector, He told him: I must stay at your house today (Luke 19:5 NIV). When Judas, His betrayer, sold Him out, He called him friend (Matthew 26:50).

He wasnt pretending they werent sinners. But He loved them to the point of spending so much time with them that others thought He was just as drunk and sinful as them. He didnt care that others saw Him as nave or mistaken everything He did was to show sinners a way to a restored connection with the Father.

So what now? What would Jesus have you do and say regarding the unrepentant, leastworthy person you know? Make a mini placard that bears His message of love to them.

Soulfood : Gal 1-3, Matt 13:24- 35, Ps 101, Prov 13:20-23


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

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