Afternoons with Sherryn
2-7pm

Word For You Today

SPIRITUAL WARFARE (1)

What is spiritual warfare? The things of this world around us are caused and affected by angels, demons, and God's people, as part of a spiritual war. It's big. It might sound... peculiar... but when we've accepted 'God' as one Spirit living in a realm beyond our sight, it follows that there may well be other spirits (small 's') to be aware of in this life.

So let's brush up on our battle plans: 1. Know your enemy. It's not as simple as 'God versus the devil'. 'The accuser' (what 'Satan' means in the original Hebrew) isn't God's equal. God created everything, including the devil (the Bible tells us that Satan was a good angel before he rebelled against God), and God has ultimate power over everything.

God allows Satan to exist and to act (Job 1:12) for reasons that we can trust are best in the long run, but if Satan tried to take on God directly, there'd be no contest (check Revelation 12:7-9). So, he 'indirectly' attacks God by attacking His precious children. Yes, us. Satan's out to destroy the things, and the people, of God. But, whilst it's true that this needs to be taken seriously...GOD IS STRONGER.

 

So what now? In war, clever lies are often more effective than face-to-face fights. Don't be surprised if, in the situation you're in, it seems like Satan's more powerful. It's not true; it's a powerful lie in his strategy. The oldest known Christian creed is 'Jesus is Lord'. In every place of fear or despair you find yourself in, speak that out to the darkness, over and over.

 

Soulfood : Deut 30:1-32:28, Mk 6:14-29, Ps 57, Prov 12:15-17

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LOVE IS A VERB

'Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.' (That's Martin Luther King Jr.) When we're actively looking for ways to show love to others, not just holding it as an 'idea' in our heads, it can shift atmospheres, perspectives and feelings all for the better. Often it starts with a practical act of the love.

When King David showed kindness to a man called Mephibosheth who was disabled in both his legs (see 2 Samuel 9), he let him sit at his table and eat with him. Today it's hugely, and rightly, un-PC to shun anyone who's physically impaired. Back then, it was the opposite. But when David let Mephibosheth sit at his table he was making a point - with his legs hidden under the King's table, he appeared to everyone to be just as David knew he was: equal.

There are countless people like Mephibosheth who think they don't deserve to be shown any respect or kindness. But showing them the love of Jesus can break the pattern of who they think they are. They can become free to know who they are in Christ, deeply moulded to His image.

 

So what now? Next time you feel compassion towards someone, consider that to be God prodding you. Take it as an instruction to do something (buy them a burger, offer to carry their bag, just say hello). And think...what would happen if you made that a way of life?

 

Soulfood : Deut 28-29, Mk 6:1-13, Ps 44:17-26, Prov 12:12-14

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THANKS, MUM!

Erma Bombeck wrote: 'When God was creating mothers, on His sixth day of overtime the angel said, "You're fiddling around a lot on this one." God replied, "Have you seen the specs on this order? She's to have 18,000 replaceable moving parts, run on black coffee and leftovers, have a kiss that cures anything from broken legs to disappointed love affairs...and six pairs of hands!" "Six pairs of hands? No way!" the angel said. God said, "And the challenging bit is the three pairs of eyes mothers need. One pair that sees through doors, another in back of her head that sees what she shouldn't be able to see, another in front for looking at a child who's goofed and saying, 'I understand, and I love you', without speaking." The angel said, "Lord, take a break. Tomorrow..." "I can't," God said. "I'm close to creating something so like Myself. Already she can heal herself when she's sick, feed a family on a pound of minced beef, and get a nine year-old to stand under a shower!" Touching her, the angel said, "She's too soft!" "But so tough!" God replied. "You can't imagine what this mother can endure." "Can it think?" asked the angel. "Not only think, it reasons and compromises," God said. Running his finger across the mother's cheek, the angel said, "There's a leak!" "It's not a leak," God said. "It's a tear." "What's it for?" asked the angel. "It's for joy, sadness, pain, disappointment, loneliness and pride." The angel declared, "Lord, You're a Genius!".'

Just a columnist's fictional story, but well worth pondering. Thanks, Mum!

So what now? Grab your Mum (or the lady closest to being a Mum to you), thank her and tell her you love her!

Soulfood : Gal 5:22, Lk 19:11-26, Ps 36:5-9, Heb 10:19-23

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UP AGAINST THE ROPES

Theologian Russell D Moore writes, 'Resistance to temptation means taking desire seriously. Both Jesus and Satan do.' Well, that's interesting. Ever been in a sermon where the preacher tells you to 'just get over' your wrong desire? That temptations are easy to beat if you just get your act together? Those sermons are all well and good, but we don't think it's quite as simple as they make it sound. The Bible doesn't either: 'Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle'... 'are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh' (Colossians 2:21, 23). Temptation is a big thing, and there's no way to 'discipline' yourself past it. The only way past temptation is through God.

Moore also says: '...desires are made to be stronger than human decisions. They are meant to show you that you are a creature and to point you to Christ. The antidote is to see where these desires point to the Gospel and to cling to the mystery itself, or rather the mystery Himself'.

The ongoing struggle with temptation is a privilege. Honestly! It helps point us to Him every day. And you can't wrestle with God without coming away different - wiser, calmer or tougher. Wrestling with God to be free from desire will change you, it will re-shape your heart and re-focus your thoughts. That is how you'll find your way through temptation.

So what now? Identify temptations you're finding hard to overcome. Instead of beating yourself up about them, thank God that His desire is to help you overcome them and ask Him to show you how.

Soulfood : Deut 25-27, Mk 5:31-43, Ps 44:9-16, Prov 12:10-11

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MAKING LEMONADE

Today, meet a woman who defined the meaning of going 'beyond the call of duty'. She knew Elisha was doing God's work and all she wanted was to serve him - starting with feeding him. Then she took it further. She organised a room to be built for him from scratch, complete with home comforts. Bonus!

She did all of this meeting-of-needs, despite having some pretty massive needs of her own. We learn through the story that she was absolutely desperate for a child, but with her husband well past his baby-making years, it didn't seem likely. That hole in her life didn't stop her serving to fill someone else's - she simply got on with loving God and reaching out to others. You might think that she had every reason to be bitter. But this woman refused to live a life of sour lemons. She chose to make lemonade.

Elisha, grateful for her serving heart, wanted to give back to her. And he did! God enabled him to correctly prophesy the arrival of her baby.

Jesus says, 'Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and He will give you everything you need' (Matthew 6:33 NLT). Even though she was living hundreds of years before these words were spoken, the woman of Shunem instinctively knew this was true and gave us a powerful example to follow.

So what now? That thing you're doing through with gritted teeth, or with a sour edge (think honestly)? Ask God for the grace to do it gladly. Then, make the decision to take those sour situations and make lemonade.

Soulfood : Deut 22-24, Mk 5:21-30, Ps 44:1-8, Prov 12:7-9

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SHAME OR RELEASE?

Shame says to people, 'You're not a good enough Christian,' 'Get more Christian-y,' 'Seriously, why aren't you a better Christian by now, I've been saying this like forever...?' In some ways, shame can be really good at getting us moving - but often in the wrong direction: 'Wow, I am awful, I'd better keep my head down.'

The problem is, when we hear and take in the message of shame, our lives get smaller and we shrink into ourselves. We cordon off our world and live far smaller than the one God has planned.

If you've ever been embarrassed or shamed by others, either privately or in public, know this: love is the main way to recover healthily. God's way is release. Conviction (His wake-up call to get our lives on track) leads to release. Condemnation (wallowing in fear, guilt or shame over a sin) doesn't; it loops you back into yourself. God only calls you out on sin to help you get out of the sin and pull you close to Him. If you feel yourself being convicted of something, deal with it, be turned away from it and walk on in the right direction - be released!

So what now? Whenever you feel led to point out a flaw or sin of someone else's (and please do it with genuine love; it's generally not cool to flat out criticise people), make the choice to support them through the change. After the initial 'Hey, I think God is saying this to you,' ask if they'd like any help in working through the issue.

Soulfood : Deut 18-21, Mk 5:11-20, Ps 37:32-40, Prov 12:4-6

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FORGET YOU

Do you remember being little and having those 'my dad's the best' arguments? Then, we got older and it stopped being about mum and dad - and it became all about us. We don't often say it out loud (at least not in church) but, in reality, our hearts can often drift towards a judgmental, self-promoting spirit, assuming we're better than other people. It makes us feel secure. This is not a new thing. Jesus found himself hanging around with a bunch of guys who started arguing about the oh-so-mature topic of... 'Who will be the greatest?'

Have you noticed that a lot about 'living for God' is living in opposites? Like loving your enemies instead of hating them (how hard is that!). And forgiving people instead of holding a grudge. Well, when Jesus was dealing with this argument between His disciples over greatness, He didn't quote a great philosopher to make His point. Instead, He pointed at a child. 'Whoever receives this little child in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me receives Him who sent Me. For he who is least among you all will be great' (Luke 9:48 NKJ).

 

So what now? When you next get that feeling of superiority or one-upmanship, forget you and humble yourself by making the person who it's directed at feel welcome in some way. Compliment them, or make them a cup of tea.

 

Soulfood : Deut 14-17, Mk 5:1-10, Ps 37:25-31, Prov 12:1-3

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