Sunday Arvo with Holly

Word For You Today

Time to step aside

'He must become greater... I must become less.' John 3:30 TLB

When the crowds left John the Baptist to follow Jesus, he said: 'He must become greater... I must become less' (John 3:30 TLB). John knew that the crowd leaving him for Christ had been placed under his care for a period of time. For John this was just fine.

John's view of the crowd presents us with an important principle. John could have said 'I'm a preacher, I need people to listen to me' or 'I'm the one who has done all the work; why should he get all the credit'. But John knew that for Jesus, the answer to people's salvation, to increase in the minds and hearts of the people, John must decrease and step aside. He had done what he had been called to do, for that time.

Maybe you lead, or would like to lead. Maybe you're a preacher, performer or worshipper. If God has given you gifts it can be easy to stand up and be noticed. But do you need to be noticed? Or do you see the gifts and opportunities God has given you as way of helping others get what they actually need...Jesus.

So what now? What is success, as God counts success? It's when others hear you, but follow Jesus. It's when others see some quality in you that causes them to fall more in love with him. Only when that happens, and you feel like you've lost nothing in the process, can you truly say, 'Father, I step aside. I've done what you called me to do.'

Soulfood: Neh 8-10, Mark 12:13-27, Ps 78:56-64, Prov 24: 5-9


Family the love test

'My command is this: love each other as I have loved you...' John 15:12 NIV

There's an old French saying which goes like this: 'It is not only necessary to love, it is necessary to say so using words if we have to.' You know, Jesus is pretty serious about this love thing, he commands us to love. 'Yes but, Jesus... you haven't met my brother!'

This is what the Bible says about true love: 'Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous, it does not brag, and it is not proud. Love is not rude, is not selfish, and does not get upset with others. Love does not count up wrongs that have been done. Love takes no pleasure in evil but rejoices over the truth. Love patiently accepts all things. It always trusts, always hopes, and always endures. Love never ends...' (1 Corinthians 13:4-8 NCV).

When we read those verses it is a real challenge to be able to swap the word love with your own name. Could you say that about yourself and your relationship with your family? Tough isn't it? Maybe you could start with the little things.

So what now? If you normally wake up with a scowl and a grunt and trundle into the bathroom to find your mum has given you a clean towel, say thank you to her. Little things like this can change a whole person's day and make life more bearable for them. Make someone a cup of tea without being asked. Tidy your room, do your homework, put the bin out. You might make your mum cry - in a good way!

Soulfood: Neh 5-7, Mark 12:1-12, Ps 78:40-55, Prov 24:1-4


Family house of honour

'Honour your father and your mother...' Exodus 20:12 NIV

What does it mean to honour someone? This is what the dictionary says: 'Honour: high respect, a feeling of pride or pleasure from being shown such respect, a person or thing that brings credit'

There are ways that we can honour and love our parents whilst recognising that they are far from perfect. It is possible to strongly disagree with them about something and yet maintain a respectful attitude to them. God wants us to be able to love and respect those people who brought us into the world. If parents feel dishonoured or disrespected, they can make others around them miserable too: 'You never listen to me!' 'I'm fed up with being spoken to like that.' 'While you're under this roof you will do what I say!' Sound familiar?

Now, we may find loving our parents very difficult, particularly if we feel that they have ill-treated us or shown some major failing. But honouring them is what we need to aim for. As hard as it may be, it's kind of part of the deal.

Often we feel the solution to our family problems is that the 'other people' need to change. Are we the perfect person to live with? Do we find it very easy to blame our parents when things go wrong? What if the 'If she stopped doing that...' or 'If only he didn't do this...' is just an excuse. The Bible challenges us to be the one who changes.

So what now? Would your family life be better if you loved your mum and dad differently?

Soulfood: Neh 1-4, Mark 11:27-33, Ps 78:32-39, Prov 23:29-35


Family designed to work

'God places the lonely in families...' Psalm 68:6 NLT

For some people family means a place of safety and warmth; for others it means a constant battle or unhappiness. Whatever your experience, there may have been times when you wanted to shout 'Get me out of here!' When someone's in a really (really) bad mood, or someone's not doing their share of the chores, or someone lets you down, it can be hard to imagine a good reason for having a family.

When God first created people he designed them to live in peace with him and each other, but sin soon messed that up. Check out Genesis 4 to see the impact sin had on families. Anger, jealousy, cruelty and scandal quickly become part of family life. It breaks God's heart when this happens in families.

God knows that families can go wrong but he also knows they can work. They can protect us, teach us, love us and help us. Family is so important to God that he has adopted us into his own family and calls us his children. He even tells the church to love each other like a family, especially those who have lost or been let down by their own families.

So what now? If you live with the wounds or scars of a broken and hurting family, God wants very much for healing and reconciliation to happen. Ask him for his help: whether it's something that can be easily fixed, or something that has been painful for a long time.

Soulfood: Dan 6:1-24, Acts 12:1-19


Why not

'...Be so always...' Galatians 4:18 NIV

Admiral Hyman Rickover, who was once head of the United States Nuclear Navy, personally interviewed every officer on board his nuclear submarines. Among them was former President-to-be Jimmy Carter.

This is Carter's account of the interview: 'He looked straight into my eyes. He never smiled. I was saturated with cold sweat. Finally he asked a question and I thought I could redeem myself. "How did you stand in your class at the Naval Academy?" I had done very well so I swelled my chest with pride and answered, "Sir, I stood fifty-ninth out of a class of eight hundred and twenty!" I sat back waiting for congratulations - which never came. Instead, the question: "Did you do your best?" I started to say, "Yes, sir," but I...recalled several times at the Academy when I could have learned more about our allies, our enemies, weapons, strategy, and so forth. I was just human. I finally gulped and said, "No, sir, I didn't always do my best." He looked at me for a long time, then turned his chair around to end the interview. He asked one final question, which I have never been able to forget - or to answer. He said, "Why not?" I sat there for a while, shaken, then slowly left the room.'

So what now? That's a question to ask yourself at the end of each day: 'Did I do my best?' You can be certain it's a question you'll face when you stand at the Judgment Seat of Christ to be evaluated and rewarded. If you can't answer yes, the question then will be, 'Why not?'

Soulfood: Col 3-4 + Philem, Mark 11:12-26, Ps 78:17-31, rov 23:26-28


Make prayer a habit 2

'...Lord, teach us to pray...' Luke 11:1 NIV

Many Christians struggle with prayer. You set aside time, you start talking, but before you know it your mind has wandered and instead of praying you are wondering 'what's the collective noun for hamsters' (it's a 'horde' of hamsters, by the way). Sometimes after two minutes you have run out of things to say. Or you give God a list of things you want him to do and that's it!

The disciples needed help with prayer - 'Lord, teach us to pray...' (Luke 11:1 NIV). And so do we.

Here are three helpful tips: (1) Ask for help. Ask the Holy Spirit to come and help you focus your mind, guide your thoughts and draw you close to Jesus. Jesus called the Spirit 'the helper'. (2) Try using some structure. Look at The Lord's Prayer in Luke 11 - we covered it last month (check out August 19th-27th). Take each line and use it as spring board for your prayers. Another structure to use is A.C.T.S. A=adoration, C=confession, T=thanks, S=supplication (which means asking for things). Try and spend five minutes on each letter. (3) Write stuff down. Buy a notebook and start to write your prayers out instead of saying them. It can really help stop your mind from wandering. Also it's a really good thing to look back on and see how God has answered your prayers.

So what now? God doesn't give you points for prayer. You don't pass or fail. He just loves it when you are praying. See if any of these tips can help your prayer this week.

Soulfood: Col 1-2, Mark 11:1-11, Ps 78:9-16, Prov 23:22-25


Make prayer a habit 1

'Pray without ceasing.' 1 Thessalonians 5:17 NKJV

Today we're talking about prayer. Paul says, 'Pray without ceasing' (1 Thessalonians 5:17 NKJV). You can pray anywhere, anytime, about anything. Your prayers can be out loud or silent, long or short, public or private. 'Pray without ceasing' just means to be chatting with God wherever and whenever.

If you find your daily prayer life waning, ask yourself: (a) Has my love for Jesus grown cold? (b) Do I believe I can handle life on my own? (c) Have I forgotten how much God longs to spend time with me?

'But I'm so busy!' That's the lamest excuse you can offer; how you spend your time reveals what's important to you! The truth is, if you don't pray it's because you don't realise its potential, or you're unaware of the condition of your heart. Prayer puts the situation into God's hands, otherwise whose hands is it in? Yours? Now that's a scary thought!

So what now? Does your prayer life need a tune-up? Answer these three questions: (1) How often do I pray? If you can't remember when, you're living undirected, uncorrected and unprotected. (2) How's my faith level? Do you wonder if prayer really changes anything? John Wesley (a famous old school preacher) said, 'God does nothing except in answer to prayer.' If you don't pray the best thing that can happen - is nothing. (3) How's my sincerity? Are you just going through the motions? Maybe you need to rethink about who you're talking to, and how he feels about you.

Soulfood: Josh 22-24, Mark 10:35-52, Ps 78:1-8, Prov 23:19-21

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