Days
Eloise 10:00-2:00pm

Word For You Today

GOD OF RESTORATION (1)

Jesus told many illustrative stories (parables) that did not make sense and had outcomes that were usually very opposite to what we would expect, or even want.

Here's just one of those stories. Jesus is telling the gathered crowd, 'Imagine a son is reading his dad's last will and testament,' He begins. 'Only the dad isn't dead yet!' The crowd erupts with laughter. They enjoy a good laugh. And this story sounds very intriguing. Jesus tells the tale with all its absurdity. The son makes a moonlight dash with his portion of the inheritance. He spends it like a glutton, and finds himself down-and-out, chomping on pig swill. The crowd is really enjoying this comical comeuppance - the prodigal reduced to scoffing an unclean animal's slops! Quite right too! They think they know exactly where this tale is going.

But then comes the punch line. Only it's not funny. It's peculiar. It's surreal. The father throws a party and spends extravagant amounts of money on the son's return. He brings him back into the family as a full son. Say that last bit again, Jesus!

The crowd can't believe this ending. Why does the father not only forgive his son but also give him everything back he lost? Because that is the way God treats His children.

So what now? You know what the great thing is! God is still in the business of restoring. So, if you feel particularly bad about something you've done or you've walked away from your loving Father, come home, and be restored!

Soulfood : Ezek 14:1-16:52, Mk 12:13-27, Ps 129, Prov 14:25-28

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PRAYER MATTERS

Exodus 17:10-13 goes: 'So Joshua fought the Amalekites ... and Moses, Aaron, and Hur went to the top of the hill. As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. When Moses' hands grew tired ... Aaron and Hur held his hands up ... So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army.

This story is about intercessory prayer. What's an 'intercessor'? Job said, 'My intercessor is my friend...on behalf of a man he pleads with God as a man pleads for his friend' (Job 16:20-21 NIV). So, someone who prays to God for other people. Who knows what went on at the top of that hill? Perhaps, as Moses prayed, God gave the Israelites battle strategies? Perhaps prayer caused confusion and disunity in the Amalekites' camp? Perhaps, the spiritual realms changed through prayer allowing goodness to overcome evil? Truth is, we don't know exactly how prayer won out that day. We only know it did.

It is the same for you. God wants you to pray for others because it matters. God wants you to intercede because it will win. God wants you to 'take up' and 'put on' His mind and perspective. Perhaps that's why Jesus told us to pray for our enemies. Prayer reveals to us what God believes for them. Prayer matters.

So what now? Pray, and ask God to pop a person into your thoughts. Make the commitment to pray for them every day, and look out for the consequences in their life.

Soulfood : Ezek 10-13, Mk 12:1-12, Ps 124, Prov 14:21-24

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SHARING IS CARING (2)

Jerusalem 2,000 years ago was no stranger to infection. Leprosy was far more prevalent than it is today. In order to prevent the disease spreading, the community created certain rules: lepers were ordered to wear a sign, ring a bell (like a cow - yes, just a bit demeaning), keep their distance. This way, it was thought, the threat of catching and passing on the illness could be contained.

Jerusalem 2,000 years ago also feared the dangers of moral infection. Or teachings from another faith. Or other people's world views. Don't mix with non-Jewish types! Don't eat with a tax collector! Don't trade ideas with a Roman. Avoid the 'sinner' (like you would a leper). This way a good Jewish person could remain a good Jewish person.

And then Jesus came. He broke bread with tax collectors. He hung out with prostitutes. He touched lepers. Actually touched them! Jesus went in search of the outcasts. He seemed to be a law unto Himself. Instead of being infected Himself; He infected others. He infected the forgotten with dignity and humanity. He infected those who has messed up with second chances. He infected sinful people with the holiness germ.

So what now? Who are the outcasts, forgotten and lepers in your circles? How can you reach out to them and infect them with dignity and the love of Christ? Ask God to show you someone.

Soulfood : Ezek 5-9, Mk 11:27-33, Ps 4, Prov 14:17-20

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SHARING IS CARING (1)

An evangelist tells a story about a time he met a young person who was in church for the first time. The boy was fixed on the image of Jesus dying on a cross. The evangelist watched the boy. His gaze didn't move. The boy's mouth was gaping. The evangelist watched. The boy scrunched up his eyebrow and then relaxed. The evangelist watched. He scrunched then relaxed. The evangelist sensed an opportunity. He walked over to the boy. Scrunch. He stood shoulder to shoulder with him. Relax. The boy remained fixated. The evangelist sensed the moment. And then the boy asked, 'Who is it?' The evangelist wondered what he meant. 'The guy stretched out on that thing. Who is he? What's he doing?'

The boy had lived all of his 13 years without ever seeing a picture of Jesus! He'd heard the word before but only as a swear word. How can somebody in this day and age never have come across Jesus? What did he think Christmas was for? Or Easter? Hadn't he heard why people wear crosses around their neck? The simple answer is also a simple question: how could he hear unless somebody told him?

So what now? Is there someone you know like this boy? Perhaps it's time for you to follow Jesus' example and befriend someone who doesn't know God. And, as a start, to let them know who the Christ of Christmas is and why there's a cross on churches all across New Zealand.

Soulfood : Ezek 1-4, Mk 11:12-26, Ps 121, Prov 14:13-16

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BE AN ARCHITECT

It's hard to get anything great built if you're determined to go it alone. We all need a team around us to achieve anything. However, it's impossible to work well with others if you can't give good, clear direction.

Ed Rowell once said, 'A dream is a better future in need of an architect who will show others how to make it a reality', which hits the nail on the head. Dreams and plans are great (when they're from God), but they're of no use if you can't explain them out of your head and to others. That's why you need to be an architect. You need to be able to take your vision and draw it out, clearly, in order for others to understand it. If you can only communicate your dream in a wishy-washy way to those helping you, you'll get wishy-washy support. People don't give their best to something they can't figure out. If people don't have an in-focus goal to stare at, they'll wander off course.

1 Corinthians 14:40 (NKJ) instructs us to 'let all things be done decently and in order'. That means that, when we are ordered and clear in our approach to making our dreams and visions reality, God approves. So, not only will people help you more, God will be behind you, helping you towards the goal.

 

So what now? Most organisations have mission statements that encapsulate what they are about. Try and reduce your vision to one short, sharp sentence. Keep that as your mission statement.

 

Soulfood : Amos 5:18-9:15, Mk 11:1-11, Ps 117, Prov 14:9-12

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GOD AT THE TOP AND THE BOTTOM

'Mountaintop moments.' Perhaps you've heard the phrase? Maybe you've even experienced them yourself - those epiphany moments when everything makes sense; when God feels close and your destiny seems clear. The Bible gives us plenty of evidence that God does spectacular things for His people on mountaintops. On Mount Moriah, He met with Abraham and Isaac. On Mount Horeb, He spoke to Moses through a burning bush. On Mount Sinai, He gave the Ten Commandments. On Mount Carmel, He sent down fire from Heaven.

But after one such mountaintop experience, Moses showed the people that God wasn't only to be found when they were feeling 'on top of the world'. Addressing the nation of Israel for the last time, Moses told them, 'There is no one like the God of Israel. He rides across the heavens to help you ... The eternal God is your refuge, and His everlasting arms are under you...' (Deuteronomy 33:26-27 NLT).

God's presence is always there for you. No matter how steep the valley you have to walk, no matter how sharp the descent, God's presence is higher and deeper.

So what now? You can never be lower than God can reach. Read Deuteronomy 33:26-27 again and write 'refuge' on a piece of paper. Take it out every time you're 'looking down' to remind you that God's everlasting arms are under you.

Soulfood : Lk 24:50-53, Acts 1:1-11, Eph 4:7-10

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WORSHIP... (Removes Even the Toughest Worries)

Nobody likes to feel burdened by others, but check this out - God actually wants to be burdened by you. 'Give your burdens to the Lord, and He will take care of you. He will not permit the godly to slip and fall' (Psalm 55:22 NLT).

One of our biggest weapons in combating every bad situation is worship. Whatever the situation, make the stone-cold rock-hard choice to rejoice and be glad. Choose to worship God, who is your ultimate Guide (to life, the universe and everything) to help you through your day. 'Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God' (Philippians 4:6 NIV).

Music as a form of worship can really help with squashing worry. One of the best ways to get to know another country's language is to learn songs in that language. It's the same with learning not to worry. If you fill your head with songs of God, you'll learn His language of comfort and freedom.

So what now? Have a favourite worship song on standby in your brain for every time you start to feel majorly anxious. Even repeating it silently to yourself in your mind can help to bring calm.

Soulfood : Gal 4-6, Mk 10:1-12, Ps 101, Prov 13:20-23

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