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Word For You Today

The Lord's Prayer 1



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

Jesus always led by example. One day Jesus' disciples watched him praying. Afterwards they said: 'Lord, teach us to pray' (Luke 11:1 NLT). It was then that he gave them what's now known as The Lord's Prayer.

Can you remember when you last prayed The Lord's Prayer? If not, how come? Did you grow up saying it so often that it's become boring? A bit too traditional and structured for you; not free-flowing enough? Or have you never taken the time to learn it off by heart? Or do you not know it at all? You should - it's amazing - and powerful!

There are many types of prayer throughout the Bible, and today millions of people around the world offer their prayers for guidance, forgiveness, unity, protection, salvation! The Lord's Prayer is great in that it covers every area of our lives.

It's time for us to take up The Lord's Prayer challenge! For the next few days we're going to go back to the only prayer Jesus himself gave us to pray. And let's face it, who knows more about prayer? Can you imagine Jesus giving us a prayer that wouldn't move us, move God, or move the mountains we face?

So what now? Get ready to take a deeper look at the most famous prayer, from Jesus himself. Why not read it for yourself before we go into it deeper tomorrow - in Matthew 6:9-13.

Soulfood: 2 Chr 12-15, Mark 6:14- 29, Ps 119:105-112, Prov 21:28-31

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Right place at the right time with the right answer



'...Namaan told the king what the girl had said.' 2 Kings 5:4 CEV

God used a cleaning maid to reach an army general, and introduce him to a God who could heal him of his leprosy. Her story is recorded in 2 Kings, chapter 5. Dig your Bible out and take a look at it. There are two important lessons in it for you:

(1) There's a purpose for you being where you are! Instead of complaining, start looking for somebody who needs what God's given you. This girl wasn't there just to clean the house; she was there because God specially arranged it. Think: all of your life could be training for one shot, one opportunity, one moment. Peter writes, '...Always be prepared to give an answer...' (1 Peter 3:15 NIV). Will you capture it or just let it slip?

(2) What a difference a day can make! Yesterday she was a nobody; today changing someone' life, for good. The world focuses on the big names, but when they've run out of answers and can't manufacture hope, God says 'I will pour out my Spirit even on servants - men and women alike' (Joel 2:29 NLT). When he does, people who normally look through you will suddenly begin to listen, because you're in the right place, at the right time, with the right answer.

So what now? Don't allow your lack of experience, your postcode or low grades to silence you. Keep your mind fresh and your faith strong! Just be available for God to use you today as only he can!

Soulfood: 2 Chr 8-11, Mark 6:1-13, Ps 119:97-104, Prov 21:24-27

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Practise practise practise



'...even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy...' Ephesians 1:4 NLT

The world says: 'I did it my way' and 'nobody tells me what to do'. It's an independent streak breaks apart families and communities. But Paul shows us that God's best for us is to be holy in Jesus - something we can't do on our own!

Paul writes later, '...put off your old self...put on the new self...' (Ephesians 4:22-24 NIV). When you start letting go of the self-made you and putting on the God-made you, it'll feel strange. But just as new shoes don't feel comfortable at first, so your new way of approaching life will also take getting used to. As you continue to 'put on the new self' you'll become more and more at home with it.

It works like this. You have to: (a) practise doing the right thing until you automatically do the right thing; (b) practise being on time for appointments until it feels weird to be late for anything; (c) practise giving some of your spending money to the needy in the world; (d) practise telling the truth until the smallest lie troubles your conscience and sticks in your throat; (e) practise speaking encouragement until every cynical word is deleted from your vocabulary.

So what now? We all need practise, daily. By taking practical steps like these, you are re-training yourself to walk God's way - and restraining yourself from walking any other way. You are saying to God, 'It's no longer a matter of me making up my own rules, it's about what you say and direct me to do.'

Soulfood: 2 Chr 5-7, Mark 5:31-43, Ps 119:89-96, Prov 21:20-23

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You display Jesus



'..."Sir, we want to meet Jesus"' John 12:21 NLT

One day some Greeks came to Philip saying, '..."Sir, we want to meet Jesus"' (John 12:21 NLT). If we listen carefully - that's what people are still saying today.

We could suggest they go to church to see Jesus. But really, when we recognise that somebody is looking for Jesus, we should not need to send them anywhere. We are the first port of a call to this important introduction.

When you made your decision to give your life to him, he came and made his home in your heart (see Ephesians 3:17). Yes, people may have questions that you can't answer, but you have the power of prayer. If someone is genuinely seeking God, they won't decline your offer of prayer. Ask them gently if you can put your hand on their arm while you pray. Then invite Jesus to come and flood their life with his love. And when you get to the 'Amen', ask them if they would like to add anything - they need to know that the door is open for them too.

So what now? People want to see Jesus in you. Sure, invite your friends to church, but when the meeting's over people want to see Jesus - in you. When you get through telling your mates what you believe, they want to see Jesus - in you. You don't have to defend him, just display him through your attitudes and actions. Jesus said, '...I, when I am lifted up...will draw all people to myself' (John 12:32 NIV). You do the displaying, Jesus does the drawing.

Soulfood: 2 Chr 1-4, Mark 5:21-30, Ps 119:81-88, Prov 21:17-19

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Don't be dragged down



'But I prayed, "Now strengthen my hands."' Nehemiah 6:9 NIV

We all know people who are unwilling to take responsibility for their own lives. They complain about everything and blame everyone else for things that go wrong. Often their negativity is a sign of a real struggle going on within them. Deep down they're afraid of rejection or their self worth is super low.

So how should you respond to such people? Well, be careful - if you can't lift them up, make sure they don't drag you down. Nehemiah from the Bible got a lot of criticism from scary people about the wall he was building. He put them straight: 'I am doing a great work! Why should I stop to visit with you' (Nehemiah 6:3 NLT)? He didn't get sidetracked, and '...the wall was finished - just fifty-two days after we had begun. When our enemies...heard about it, they were...humiliated. They realised this work had been done with the help of our God' (Nehemiah 6:15-16 NLT).

Was it easy working around negative people? No. How did Nehemiah do it? When he became discouraged he prayed to God to strengthen him (see Nehemiah 6:9). He didn't pray, 'Lord, zap them,' or, 'Lord make them nice to me.' He asked for strength, maintained a good attitude and prayed that God would take care of his critics. And God did.

So what now? Be careful not to develop a 'victim mentality'. Many of the people who aggravate you don't do it on purpose. Build up your own strength to deal with them; God will take care of the rest.

Soulfood: 1 Chr 26:20 - 29:30, Mark 5:11-20, Ps 119:73-80, Prov 21:14-16

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There is hope for tomorrow



'...on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.' Isaiah 9:2 NIV

Have you seen Groundhog Day? A 1993 movie where a guy gets stuck in the same day over and over. At first he thinks it's just a weird phase he's going through. Eventually he starts freaking out because he feels so trapped. Life loses its meaning because he's living without a future. Well, the world is full of people living feeling trapped and like they don't have a future.

That's why the message of Jesus' resurrection is so important! The whole world needed a breakthrough. The resurrection showed that Jesus was more than just a good bloke or wise teacher. He was God the Son - sent from Heaven to earth when there was no hope of a better tomorrow. Jesus' resurrection was like the sun coming up after the endless night that had hung over the earth. When Jesus broke through death itself he dealt with all the sins of the past and blazed a trail for us into a new future.

So listen...The resurrection is at the heart of our Christian faith and is an invitation to everyone who feels like they're stuck in Groundhog Day: (1) Those who feel trapped in a life that is less than God's best; (2) Those who have tried to change but failed again and again; (3) Those who have given up hope that tomorrow can be different to today.

So what now? The resurrection says: '...anyone who belongs to Christ is a new person. The past is forgotten' (2 Corinthians 5:17 CEV)! There is hope for tomorrow!

Soulfood: 1 Chr 23:21 - 26:19, Mark 5:1-10, Ps 119:65-72, Prov 21:10-13

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The power of 'shava'



'...I...cried out to my God; he heard my voice...' Psalm 18:6 NKJV

In his book, The Power Of Crying Out, Bill Gothard writes: 'The most significant difference between the prayers of God's people in Scripture (so powerfully effective) and our prayers today (so seemingly ineffective) is this: there was a fervency in the prayer of biblical saints - a fervency that is inherent in crying out. When we grasp this fact, the pages of scripture come alive with sound!'

The Oxford dictionary defines 'fervent' as: 'having or displaying passionate intensity.' King David says: '...I called upon the Lord, and cried out to my God; he heard my voice...' (Psalm 18:6 NKJV), and '...I called to you for help and you healed me' (Psalm 30:2 NIV). The Hebrew word for David's outcry is shava, a higher pitched cry for help.

A true father hears his children's cries, and lovingly responds. In the same way, crying out to God is our impulse, planted within us by the Holy Spirit. John says, 'See how much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are...' (1 John 3:1 NLT). God loves you so much - you should never be embarrassed to call out for his help.

So what now? God longs to be involved in every aspect of your life, especially the messy stuff! Did you know you can also allow the Holy Spirit to cry out from within you? If you're suppressing an urge to cry out to God, you could be quenching the Spirit of God? If so, it's time to make a change; forget your inhibitions and start to 'shava.'

Soulfood: Eccl 11:7 - 12:1, Ps 39:4-13, Jas 4:14, Jas 4:14

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