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Word For You Today

TAKE TIME OUT

'...Let's go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile...' Mark 6:31 NLT

Mark 6:31 is Jesus telling His disciples that He wanted a decent bit of quiet time. Did He get it? Well, no. Not right then. They went off to find that 'quiet place' and got followed by crowds. Instead of a chilled Jesus-and-His-pals time, a small event we've come to call the Feeding of the Five Thousand happened.

But as soon as that miraculous time was finished, the Bible says that Jesus 'went up to the hills by Himself to pray' (Mark 6:46 NLT). Just like the rest of us, Jesus needed time out. He had a busy, busy life but He never allowed Himself to be overwhelmed by His work. When things became too hectic, He took Himself off, usually up a mountain, and spent a while away from everything. Just Him and God.

Now, even though we don't have crowds chasing us around, our lives can get super hectic. And, just like Jesus, our planned quiet time off can be replaced far too easily, either with work or socialising. It's vitally important to step back every now and then, spend quality time with God and some time just doing nothing (yes, that really is ok).

So what now? Pick a day. A whole day. Schedule it in as a day for nothing but rest and relaxation. Plan in something you enjoy. And stick to it. Put it on your calendar now. Maybe even think about making it a regular event.

SoulFood: Zech 9-11; Luke 23:13-25; Ps 34; Pro 24:29-31

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JESUS-LIKE: FIRST COME HOME

'...Accept My teachings and learn from Me...' Matthew 11:29 NCV

Does the challenge to 'live like Jesus' seem too daunting? Stop! The call of Christianity is not to 'Live Like Jesus'. The call of Christianity is 'Come Home, All Is Forgiven.' The call to 'live like Jesus' is for after that, after you've come 'home', after you've been picked up and held by the adoring Father of the universe.

So if you're worried that you're not thinking or acting enough like Jesus, don't run out of His arms. From inside those arms you can see His heart and see how the Son that you're 'copying' does life.

We all really want to live like Jesus. But if any of us allow ourselves to slip into thinking "if I don't live like Jesus... am I really a Christian?...", we've believed the lie that it depends on us being holy enough, or a good enough Jesus-copy. That's not what the cross was about.

Living like Jesus is something that God grows (and usually not overnight) in the lives of those who have been called 'home' whilst they were still dirty, tired, and broken. The only thing that every single one of us needs to do like Jesus did, is receive the love of His Father. The rest flows from that place.

So what now? Go 'home'. Today, take 10 or 20 minutes, not doing anything, to spend time in God's presence allowing Him to adore you. That will make being 'Jesus-like' a whole lot easier.

SoulFood: Zech 5-8; Luke 23:1-12; Ps 39; Pro 24:26-28

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JESUS-LIKE: HUMILITY

'Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.' Philippians 2:5 NIV

We know. You have rights. You deserve to be happy. And live freely. (And sarcasm aside, we do actually hope you know that!) But, sometimes, we can cling to our 'rights' until our fingers turn blue and we're kicking and climbing on others to keep hold of what we think we're entitled to. That is not Jesus-like. Think about it. Then check out Philippians 2:1-11. That's right. Jesus 'was like God in everything. But He did not think that being equal with God was something to be used for His own benefit. But He gave up His place with God and made Himself nothing. He was born as a man and became like a servant....' (NCV).

He took on the status of a servant. A humble servant. The King of the universe didn't see Himself as too entitled to anything to step right down onto this messy, ignorant earth. And He didn't step down onto a comfy, shiny, gold throne; He placed Himself in a rough old animal trough. More than that - He died the death of a criminal. He definitely didn't deserve that. And that's our example to follow. If stuff that we don't deserve comes our way (and we're guessing it probably will, at some point), Jesus shows that it's our job to deal with it gracefully. We're called to find the balance between living healthy lives for ourselves, and putting others (appropriately) first. Tricky, but it's definitely doable. That's the way that Jesus lives.

So what now? Hold some doors open today. See how many people you can allow to go first through them, before you do. Stand back and be humble. (But please, if you're at all concerned you're being taken advantage of, chat to someone older and wiser, even if just to check. There is a fine line between serving and being taken advantage of.)

SoulFood: 2 Tim 1-4; Luke 22:54-62; Ps 19; Pro 24:19-22

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BEING ACTIVELY GOOD

'We know that all things work together for good...' Romans 8:28 NKJ

Romans 8:28. All things work together for the good of God-lovers. We've all probably heard this, a lot. But, when you really look at it, that verse packs a punch. It calls for actively doing good in our lives. Read it again, slooowly, and out loud. 'And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose' (NIV).

Try the same with John 14:21 (NIV): 'Whoever has My commands and keeps them is the one who loves Me. The one who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I too will love them and show Myself to them'.

So, those who do what God teaches love Him. And they will have everything in their lives positioned for their good. If we want the 'all things working together for good' bonus, we're called to live like God wants. We have to actually 'do' loving God in our actions and thoughts, not just sing it in songs and tell Him in prayers every now and then. Re-reading Romans 8:28 with that thought in mind feels a little punchier. It's no longer something nice to say when someone's had a bad day. It becomes a call to act in the way that Jesus teaches us to, in order to have a truly good life.

So what now? Matthew 25:34-40 gives a good overview of actions that are important to God. In every situation, look for what God would have you do for Him, to bring about good.

SoulFood: Micah 5-7; Luke 22:39-53; Ps 24; Pro 24:15-18

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WHO IS IN YOUR PATH?

'...Through love serve one another.' Galatians 5:13 NKJ

To be our most effective for God it's best to have the right people around us, giving us the necessary pointers, handing us the necessary materials or just cheering us on when we need it. And God makes sure that happens. Whatever He's planning for you, He'll drop you in exactly the right situation to make it happen how He wants. That means He'll steer you into the right place, at the right time, with the right group of people around you. That's pretty good of Him, huh?

Any of the people in your life could be there because God wants them to be. Seriously. If you carry the person of Jesus in you (like... by being a Christian) then God will be arranging things around you. He'll put people in your path. And they might just be the key to God's next step for you, whether that's by developing some part of your character, or by sending an opportunity your way. So take your relationships to God, the good along with the bad, and ask Him for the strength and maturity to recognise God-given people and opportunities. And make sure to be patient with, and grace-full to, every single person in your life. Who knows what role they may end up playing in the future?

So what now? Write down three names - the person you absolutely love to be around; a person you find difficult to be around; and a person who you miss being around. Ask God to help you unravel the reasons they are (or are no longer) in your life, and to give you peace about that. And hey, while you're at it, pray for those people too!

SoulFood: Micah 1-4; Luke 22:24-38; Ps 78:65-72; Pro 24:11-14

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BE (A GOOD) CHEEKY

Luke 11:5-8 tells the story of a guy who knocks on his neighbour's door in the middle of the night to ask to borrow some bread. The neighbour mutters to himself something along the lines of 'Ugh. I was in bed. And I have to be up at six to wash the goats...'. Then he graciously gets up, opens his door and gives the guy some bread. All because he had the sheer cheek to knock in the first place.

You see, God admires guts. It's not that He wants us to be rude, He wants us to know the love He has for us, and what He invites us to ask for. He makes it pretty clear - 'Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you' (Matthew 7:7 NKJ). A wise preacher said: 'the battle shall not go to the strong, nor to the smart, but to the cheeky'. If you ever put sweets into your parent's supermarket trolley whilst they watched your cheeky grin, you know what we're talking about.

If you want to hear from God, start up the conversation. Ask Him to speak. He's always on the other side of the door waiting to answer. Just make sure you're ready for Him to speak. It's no good asking anything of God if you don't make space and silence to hear back.

So what now? Have you ever trusted that God would answer any prayer you asked? Remind yourself of that feeling of trust, then, with 'good cheekiness' ask Him for something else that you need an answer for. He is waiting to be asked.

Soulfood : Neh 11-13, Lk 22:14-23, Ps 78:56-64, Prov 24:5-10

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FORGIVENESS FOR FREEDOM

It's normal (and right) to go through the process of healing from being hurt. But, the forgiveness thing still has to happen. Have a look back at yesterday's reading. Jesus stepped in to fix things between us and God, which hurt Him, in the form of metal nails, whip-lashes, spears and a crown of thorns. And it came with its own soundtrack of the careless laughter of His enemies, alongside the heartbroken cries of His family. But He faced the experience, full of forgiveness. Jesus shows that there is a healthy way to get over hurt. That forgiveness is not about staying the victim, but about taking control through loving-but-strong action. He did it so that we could be let off for all our past, present and future sins.

Wow. We think that should be enough inspiration to forgive the people who've acted really terribly towards us. It may not practically make it much easier to do, we know, but it provides the best reason to forgive. And, incidentally, the whole beautiful plan of what Jesus did on the cross for us provides a bridge back to God's power. And if anything can help you to forgive, it's God's power. Just ask Him.

So what now? Matthew 6:12 (NLT) says 'Forgive us for our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us'. Give thanks to Jesus that He taught you how to forgive, providing a way for us to forgive others. Then forgive anyone who has wronged you - let them off what they have done... it will actually set you free as well!

Soulfood : Neh 8-10, Lk 22:1-13, Ps 78:40-55, Prov 24:1-4

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