The Morning Wake Up with Bjorn & Tiff

Word For You Today

Give It Your All

'Wholeheartedness' is all about sincerity and commitment. We could describe Abraham that way, to a T. He was so God-fearing and committed that he was willing to sacrifice his only son (have a read of Genesis 22:1-19 for a reminder). That's sincere faith, right there. And when we look at how God responded to this kind of faith it's a good reminder of how we should be willing to live. In Genesis 22:17 NLT God says, through an angel, that He will '...certainly bless' Abraham. Verse 18 goes on: God says '...through your descendants all the nations of the earth will be blessed - all because you have obeyed me.'

Wow. When we're willing to go the extra mile for God, He certainly notices. When we learn to live out our faith with heart, He blesses whatever we're doing for Him. Now that doesn't mean that playing in the worship group has a direct correlation to the dollars in our bank balance. But it does mean that, when we give it absolutely everything we've got, living with a generous heart, we'll begin to see God at work and we'll learn to recognise His blessings.

So what now? Have a wardrobe clearout. But, among the too-small t-shirts and last year's jeans, give away something that you like and wear. If Abraham could prepare to sacrifice his son, you can sacrifice that jumper. Give the clothes to someone who might be struggling to get new ones or, if you don't know anyone who is, take them to a charity shop.

Soulfood : Josh 1-4, Mark 10:1-12, Ps 103:1-12, Prov 22:27-29


Close-Range Pain (2)

Ok, you went for your prayer walk yesterday. You identified some of the stuff that's been weighing on your heart, and are working through it with God. Great. Really, really great.

And the next step after that? Well, maybe there isn't one. It could be that once you've acknowledged what's going on inside of you, and taken it to God, you're done. Often, all we need to 'get over something' is to actually face up to the thing itself. Maybe, then, you can just keep praying it through, and you'll be A-Ok.

If, however you feel like you need an extra step to feel completely 'over it', then here are a couple of ideas. (We're going to interrupt ourselves here to tell you to spend five praying through any issues again. Come back and carry on reading from here when you're done, though.)

(1) Talk to the person or people or organisation involved. Do it rationally, calmly and with as much grace as you (and Jesus through you) can muster, but do talk about the fact that you're hurt. (2) If, after doing that, you're still hurt, talk to someone else - a trusted, older friend. Sometimes, if the hurt goes deep, we need that outside perspective.

So what now? It's powerful to keep looking outwards to others, even if you're going through hurt. Pay for someone's lunch today. If you find yourself in a coffee shop, ask the person next in the queue what they want, and pay for it. If you don't have the cash to do that, strike up a conversation with them instead. Dare you.

Soulfood : Gen 11:1-9, Phil 2:1-11


Close-Range Pain (1)

Ever been paintballing? It's the close-range shots that hurt the most. And it's the same with life stuff. We get wounded if something close to our hearts, or someone that we trust, turns out to be not quite how we thought, or wanted. Betrayal, man. It stings (King David felt it - read the whole story in Psalm 55). Even if we're not the type to admit to feeling 'wounded' when stuff goes wrong, it still affects us. Betrayal, and other messy life-stuff, throws us out of balance. And, truth is, not dealing with it properly affects our relationship with God. This might feel like a tough idea, but not taking time to work through those it separates us from the fullness of God's grace. Matthew 6:14-15 brings that home.

Also, not dealing with hurt can lead us into a new sense of not-quite-full-trust towards God. The likelihood is that we might not be yelling at the sky, raging at God, but perhaps just feeling slightly... off. We're not saying that it's a conscious act, but the stuff that sits on our heart changes its landscape. And there's only one thing that fixes it. Honesty. With God, and ourselves. It's ok to feel hurt. It's not un-Christian. It's not petty. It's human. And, guess what, we are human.

So what now? We need to learn to hand over the deep stuff to the Holy Spirit. Go for a 30 minute prayer walk today, and assess whether anything is sitting, undealt with, in your mind. Talk to God about it, 100% honestly. Keep nothing back. Invite Him to heal you.

Soulfood : 3 Jn, Jude, Mark 9:38-50, Ps 84, Prov 22:24-26


Nope. No. No Can Do.

Believe it or not, even people who have decided to live generously are allowed to say the word 'no'. Wow. Great, we can get out of stacking the chairs at church now? Not exactly, let's have a look at when it's appropriate. We've been looking at God-filled change and desire over the past few days, and now it's time to think about how those things can get crowded out sometimes.

Often we find ourselves in the Christian habit of saying 'yes' to just about everything we get asked to do, especially when it's at church. Let's get one thing straight, making ourselves available to serve isn't a bad thing: in fact, the Bible says God honours anyone that serves Jesus (John 12:26). But when we start to say 'yes' to too many things, we're in danger of giving a half-hearted effort, and our God-filled desires often begin to get cut short. We end up confused about our priorities, and it's our own time with God that usually suffers the most.

If we really do want to 'press on' towards godliness (Philippians 3:14 style), we have to make sure that we're not going to burn out. Reaching forwards takes effort. Let's use our Spirit-led desires (remember them from yesterday?) to discern what we need to say 'yes' to, and what we need to put on a back burner, or even turn down completely.

So what now? Encourage a generous friend today. Take someone out for coffee and steer the conversation towards how they're doing. Make sure they're not saying 'yes' more than they should.

Soulfood : 2 Chr 35-36, 2 Jn, Mark 9:30-37, Ps 119:169-176, Prov 22:20-23


Renovate Good Times (2)

Yesterday we looked at change in us from God. Today we're looking at desires for us from God: the desires that are for God's masterplan for creation. In Philippians 2:13 NIV it says God works in us ' order to fulfil His good purpose.' Inviting Jesus into our lives opens us up to being ambassadors, the ones in this world to translate God's will into action.

The more we seek God, the more we desire Him and His purpose. His desires become ours, and they're achieved through the individuality and unique talents He's given to us. In John 15:5 NIV Jesus said 'I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in Me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing.' Our desires must stem from our desire for God. When we seek God, whether it's through His Word, time spent in worship, or in prayer, we learn to listen to God's heart.

In Psalm 37:4 NIV it says, 'Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.' When our heartbeat gets in step with God, amazing, powerful stuff happens, and the world learns what Christians are really about.

So what now? Think about which of the world's problems you'd solve if you could. Plan two actions to do something about that issue. Make one action practical (e.g. if you want to help with homelessness, pray for or give to someone homeless), and one political (e.g. then, write a letter to your MP about improving homeless facilities in your area).

Soulfood : 2 Chr 32-34, Mark 9:14-29, Ps 119:161-168, Prov 22:17-19


Renovate Good Times (1)

Ever watch those daytime TV shows where they try to decorate a house before the owners arrive back? They're always the same, you get the stressful middle bit, the overly emotional ending, and at least two garish 'feature walls'. And sometimes our lives are the same: that bit in the middle where everyone stresses out, followed by an emotional fallout.

When we're so keen to see ourselves change (to quit that habit, to be more Christ-like, to pursue what's holy - all good things) we can forget that it's only possible with God's Spirit. We try it alone, we stress and pressure ourselves to improve, which can send us crashing into all sorts of negative places.

Just like the makeover shows, though, God wants to 'renovate' you. Take a look at what's on offer in Philippians 1:9-11 NIV: '...depth of insight', 'pure and blameless', 'filled with the fruit of righteousness.' Sounds kind of huge. But God's a renovation pro. The Holy Spirit is the only one who can renovate and refresh you, and make you more like the Christian you desire to be. When you allow God's Spirit to work on the stuff that you can't, you'll begin to see change.

So what now? When you're done pondering over the things that might need renovating in your own heart, find something to renovate for someone else. Clean up something that you don't use - a techie gadget you don't use anymore, some decent clothes that you never wear - and give it to someone who really will use it. Think big, and get creative.

Soulfood : 2 Chr 29-31, Mark 9:1-13, Ps 119:145-160, Prov 22:14-16


Bubble-wrap socks

A stubbed toe as we go to the bathroom, an empty milk bottle as we get breakfast, and by lunchtime we realise we've been in a foul mood all morning. Sometimes, the little things that go wrong can make us massively grumpy. That's without even getting onto the more serious stuff that goes wrong.. So how on earth did Paul manage to say that he '...learned the secret of living in every situation...' (Philippians 412 NLT)? Had he created a bubble wrap sock that protected his toes from ever getting stubbed? Or maybe he'd taken to hiding the milk to ensure there was enough left for his bowl of Weetbix?

Doubt it! We reckon it's probably more to do with the spiritual choices he was making. He was choosing to spend time praising God, even when things were looking bleak. He believed in a God that was greater than his circumstances and more powerful than his emotions. So...the secret? Take a look at Philippians 4:4...Yep. Rejoicing. The original Greek for rejoicing, 'chairo', is often translated as meaning 'to experience God's grace', or to be 'conscious of His favour'.

Let's stay conscious of that grace today and make like Paul; let's go out there, rejoicing.

So what now? Sing! Seriously. Sing the most cheerful worship song you can think of, out of doors (!), today. Even better, grab some friends and have a little worship session somewhere in the open. Remember, the key is to share your 'chairo' with the world, so joyful head bob dances get extra points.

Soulfood : 2 Chr 25-28, Mark 8:27-38, Ps 119:137-144, Prov 22:11-13

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