Saturday Afternoon with Josh

Word For You Today

Forgive and be Free

'...forgive one another, as God has forgiven you through Christ.' Ephesians 4:32 GNT

Do you know that forgiveness has very little to do with the other person; it's a decision you make, like expelling carbon dioxide from your lungs because you know that holding on to it will only poison you. So release it. Let all that bitterness out and breathe in the oxygen of God's love.

The test of love is to forgive the guilty. That's what God did for you - and it's what he expects you to do for others! Not suggests, expects! Here's a little test to do right now - are you refusing to forgive some things that aren't any worse than something you've done to other people? Forgive them, or you'll never be free to enjoy the relationship God wants you to have with them; and with him.

Whatever you don't forgive, you relive. That's what makes you keep striking out at others, and robs you of the joy of loving and being loved in return. Unforgiveness is an umbilical cord that keeps you tied to the past. When you forgive, you cut that cord. When you refuse to, you remain connected to memories that can distort your personality. That's how issues pass from generation to generation.

So what now? Take charge today by saying, 'This ends here and now, and it ends with me!' Learn to receive forgiveness from God - and from those you've hurt - then offer it out to those who've hurt you. Do it so that your heart will become tender, your spirit lighter, your mind freer, and your vision clearer.

Soulfood: 1 Ki 14-15, Luke 12:13-21, Ps 61, Prov 6:16-19


When the Truth Stands Up for You

'...everyone, including truth itself, speaks highly of Demetrius...' 3 John 1:12 TLB

When other people say cool things about you, you have acceptance; but when the truth itself stands up for you, you have character. Demetrius had it; do you? As you read these words today, take time to ask yourself, 'Do I have character?'

Character is confidence dressed in humility. It keeps its word, its temper and its friends. It has a steady eye, a steady nerve, a steady tongue, and steady habits. It's silent when it has nothing to say, thoughtful and compassionate when it does speak. Character is always first to make amends when something's wrong. Character doesn't run scared; it's surefooted, brave, and handles whatever comes along. Character has a sense of humour. It knows that a good laugh is the oil in the engine of relationships. Character never makes excuses. It learns from its mistakes and becomes wiser. Character knows that respect and good manners are small things that make a big difference. Money can't buy character. A billionaire can be totally without it while a busker may have it oozing out of every pore. Character can walk with kings and eat with tramps. Everyone is equal, and equally loved through the eyes of Character. Character is a journey, not a destination. The path is rarely broad or flat but the way is certain, marked by a set of footprints left in the earth 2000 years ago. Character leads, only as it follows.

So what now? Do you have character? Does the truth stand up for you?

Soulfood: 1 Ki 12-13, Luke 12:1-12, Ps 58, Prov 6:12-15


He'll be Waiting

'...after I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back...' John 14:3 GNT

Born during the 1880's, John Todd was six when his parents died. His wealthy auntie offered him a home, and when her servant Caesar went to get him the conversation went like this: John: 'Will I like living there?' Caesar: 'You'll be in good hands.' John: 'Will she love me?' Caesar: 'Yes, she's got a big heart.' John: 'Will I have my own room and a puppy?' Caesar: 'Everything's all set.' John: 'Will she go to bed before I arrive?' Caesar: 'No, she'll be waiting for you.' Sure enough, as they approached he saw a candle in the window and his auntie in the doorway. She kissed him and welcomed him. Over the years she became a true mother to him.

Years later, when his auntie's health was failing, she wrote to him, wondering what would become of her. Todd wrote back: 'My dear aunt: Years ago I left a house of death not knowing where I was going, whether anyone cared, or if that was the end of me. The ride was long but your servant encouraged me. Finally I arrived to your warm embrace and a new home. I was welcomed; I felt safe. You did all this for me, now it's your turn to go. I'm writing to let you know someone will be waiting up for you. Your room's ready, the light's on, the door's open, and they're expecting you. I know, because once, long ago, I saw God standing in your doorway.'

So what now? Good news: you need not fear death because Jesus went ahead; and he'll be waiting for you.

Soulfood: 1 Ki 10-11, Luke 11:45-54, Ps 53, Prov 6:9-11


Keep God Number One

'...keep away from anything that might take God's place...' 1 John 5:21 NLT

Old Testament time...The Israelites were complaining about the food God was miraculously providing in the desert. 'Then the Lord sent venomous snakes among them; they bit the people and many Israelites died' (Numbers 21:6 NIV). Not surprisingly, the people repented and begged God to remove the snakes. Then something weirder happened - God told Moses to make a bronze snake sculpture, and said whoever looked at it would be healed - and they were. Bizarre!

But there's more... For centuries the people preserved, protected and polished this bronze snake, dragging it everywhere, until they ended up worshipping it. Something that had once been an answer to prayer became an idol. Eventually King Hezekiah '...broke into pieces the bronze snake...the Israelites had been burning incense to it...' (2 Kings 18:4 NIV).

Think it can't happen to you, today? John says, '...keep away from anything that might take God's place in your hearts' (1 John 5:21 NLT). Anything or anybody can become an idol; your football team, your fashionable wardrobe, your fancy new mobile... Now, there's nothing wrong with enjoying all this stuff. It's only when this stuff begins to take God's place!

So what now? Take a quick look at all the stuff in your life. Which has the potential to be (or is already) taking more of your time than it should? Jesus deserves '...first place in everything' (Colossians 1:18 NAS) - without exception. When he's truly at the centre of your life, everything else is just icing on the cake.

Soulfood: 1 Ki 8-9, Luke 11:29-44, Ps 40:9-17, Prov 6:6-8


Plan A

'...I know the plans I have for you...' Jeremiah 29:11 NIV

Nothing shocks God or catches him off guard. He didn't panic when Adam and Eve messed up in the Garden of Eden. He didn't freak out when the ancient world was becoming a 24-7 sin factory. Israel may have tried his patience but it never made him gasp in surprise. That's because God has always had a plan. And his plan includes your life too. It's detailed, like a road map. Whatever wrong turns you've made in your life, however lost you feel, he can get you back on track. The Bible says he has 'plans to prosper...and not to harm give you hope and a future' (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV).

But sometimes you feel like you're travelling through the night, it's hard to see the signposts, the road gets bumpy... maybe you get sick, fail an important exam, fall out with your best thing happens after the other, you're not sure you'll survive.

When the crisis you're facing makes you want to throw in the towel, remember this: our problems become God's opportunities. He loves to transform our stupidest mistakes into priceless gems of wisdom, he turns our cuts and bruises into greater strength, and our deepest fears into unshakeable faith. How? By showing us a bit more of his master plan! When we think the story's over, he just turns the page.

So what now? Trust God today. You have not thrown him off course. Plan A is still on track. And refuse to give place to discouragement no matter what.

Soulfood: 1 Ki 6-7, Luke 11:14-28, Ps 40:1-8, Prov 6:1-5


Soar with Your Dream

'...the vision is... for an appointed time...' Habakkuk 2:3 NKJ

Dreams come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. There are dreams that buzz around in your head like a bee for a few days, then just vanish. Other dreams seem to make a permanent cosy nest in your heart. Then there are dreams that seem to grow daily deep in your spirit until you feel like they're getting so big you'll explode!

Often we don't pursue our dreams because we're afraid of failing; it's safer to pet them in private instead of letting them fly in public. Broadcaster and author Chuck Swindoll says, 'We're short of eagles and running over with parrots. Content to sit safely on our evangelical perches and repeat religious words, we're fast becoming overpopulated with bright-collared birds having soft bellies, big beaks and little heads. What would help would be more keen-eyed, wide-winged creatures willing to soar...exploring the illimitable ranges of the Kingdom.'

Listen: 'Commit your work to the Lord, then it will succeed' (Proverbs 16:3 TLB). God's the one who gives us the courage to step out on to the tightrope of life and the one who promises to '...keep you from falling...' (Jude 1:24 GNT). He strengthens us to do what we've never done before. He empowers us to get off square one!

So what now? Yes, stepping out to pursue a dream can be scary, but it's better than staying in supposed safety. Jesus is the one who will be there as you take those big steps when you allow your dream to fly.

Soulfood: 1 Ki 3-5, Luke 11:1-13, Ps 36, Prov 5:21-23


God's the Best DJ

'...I will answer your prayers... I have set a time...' Isaiah 49:8 CEV

On the dance floor it's quite easy to tell the people who have rhythm from the people who don't! But you don't need to worry if it's not you who's ripping up the place with your moves; there's a rhythm that's a far better than any famous DJ can produce... and God determines that beat. God has a 'set...time.' It's not always predictable, sometimes he moves suddenly. But usually he tips you off in advance about changes he has in mind. He gives you the passion to pursue fresh interests, and before long you're thinking, 'Hey - the beat changed - when did that happen?' Isn't that how all the best DJs do it!?

Then comes the dramatic pause. Why? Because it takes time for change to produce the maximum impact. During that time God: (a) helps you forget your past so it can't pollute your future; and (b) prepares your heart for fresh experiences.

Why is it that even though God says, '...when the time comes, I all this' (Isaiah 60:22 CEV), we generally don't appreciate his timing until after the fact? If only we would allow God to work out his plan at his tempo! It makes sense really, doesn't it?

So what now? It's easier to know when to bust a move if you're already in step with God and bouncing to the beat. Be a mover on the dance floor like the Apostle Paul - he's the one who encouraged us to '...keep in step with the Spirit' (Galatians 5:25 NIV).

Soulfood: Ps 23, Jn 10:7-18

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