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Word For You Today

GOLD STANDARD?

Take a look at today's verse (we couldn't fit it all - definitely a good excuse for you to crack open your Bible, though... hint...). We human beings are all too quick to compare ourselves with others and think that we are not good/smart/good looking enough. But, can our comparisons go the other way? Is it sometimes a little too easy to be comfortable in our own skin?

Here it is: what about when we know we really excel in a particular area? When we know we've got a skill/ability/physical attribute that our friends/peers/colleagues don't have, it can get a bit too easy to be happy with ourselves. Today's verse, in Biblical context, was written in reference to those high up in society, and the (uber-celebrity) athletes of the time. They knew they were good at what they did, and pretty much nobody could touch them. Yet the writer Paul is using it to warn us not to assume that we're the standard to measure by.

So, how is it possible to really be good at something, but not compare yourself negatively with others who aren't so good? 2 Corinthians 10:17 says: 'Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.' Don't let your self-esteem hinge on that winning ability you have? Acknowledge that it's God-given. It's meant to build others up, not put them down.

So what now? It's good to acknowledge the positive areas in your life. Write down a list of your strengths. Now, thank God for them and ask Him to maximise them for His glory and for the benefit of others.

Soulfood : 1 Cor 15-16, Lk 24:36-44, Ps 60, Prov 25:21-22

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THE ACTUAL PRODIGAL SON (4)

Last one. Let's wrap this thought-provoking story up with three points: (1) Anger holds you back. You won't learn or grow if you take up the 'older brother' attitude - becoming critical and resentful whenever you see something positive happening in someone else's life. We've all been there. The only way to receive and appreciate our full inheritance is to forgive and move on.

(2) '...Son...all that I have is yours' (Luke 15:31 NKJ). There it is, plain and simple: there was enough to go around for the prodigal son and his older brother. When you notice God rocking someone's life, He's not forgotten you. And He certainly won't hold back from abundantly blessing you too.

(3) The Father always listens: It seems obvious, but the older brother didn't think so. But God says: 'Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need' (Hebrews 4:16 NIV). If the older brother just asked for help to overcome his bitterness, life would have far easier for him.

So what now? If any one of those points resonates, make yourself a cup of tea, sit down and be honest with God about it. Come Home!

Soulfood : 1 Cor 12-14, Lk 24:25-35, Ps 68:19-35, Prov 25:17-20

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THE ACTUAL PRODIGAL SON (3)

The last couple of days we've focused on the older brother in the parable of the prodigal son. Today, we thought we'd address the main character in the parable, the younger brother. Like his older sibling, he didn't fully grasp the nature of his father, but for different reasons. When he walked away from his home, he left all the good he could have freely had. Who in their right mind would do that? Everything he needed for a full life was right under his nose.

His 'dumb' move definitely sunk in later. The younger brother got up and chose to admit his mistakes, and his father was waiting for the son with open arms. And, like the prodigal son, when we look back in hindsight at a good thing we've left behind, it's easy to admit that we've been stupid (think of the robes! think of the inheritance! think of the cake!). Finding ourselves stuck in a rut with no strength left and nowhere to turn is often when we realise we should have stayed in the house, where God's got everything we need.

Messing up is never the end of the story with our Father in Heaven. But turning back to God does take real humility - we can either stick it out alone, or run back home with nothing to show for what we've done. Yet, coming back home is what matters.

So what now? Re-read the prodigal son story. Which son are you most like? What is the Father like? Consider: do you need to return home or take a new look at the home He has provided for you?

Soulfood : 1 Cor 10-11, Lk 24:13-24, Ps 68:1-18, Prov 25:13-16

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THE ACTUAL PRODIGAL SON (2)

To fully understand exactly who God is, it might be that we have to reach a low point. Our own personal pig-sty can put the love of God that we're missing back into perspective, leading us to 'repentance' (turning back to God). So, it took a lot for the younger son in the Prodigal Son story to finally come to his senses, after walking out on all his father had for him.

But, what about the older brother in the story: was he guilty of something just as bad? In a house with his loving father, completely cared for and supplied with everything he needed, he still hadn't come to his senses. Check this out: '...This son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him' (Luke 15:30 NIV)! Ouch. He didn't think the younger son deserved it... true, but neither did he. Unlike the younger son, he wasn't aware of his problem: judgmentalism. He built himself up by tearing his 'unholy' brother down.

As Christians, one of the first things we need to accept is that God, our Father, loves us and that we don't have to do anything to earn His love. And be thankful for it! When we do this, it will make accepting others a lot easier. The younger rule-breaker son realised this truth and returned 'home'; the older brother had yet to come to his senses.

So what now? Think about what God gives us freely. Acceptance? Freedom? Now, show some of that to someone who needs it - invite them into your life or friendship group and get alongside them.

Soulfood : 1 Cor 7-9, Lk 24:1-12, Ps 91, Prov 25:9-12

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THE ACTUAL PRODIGAL SON (1)

 



Here's a story in the Bible you may have heard before. A father. Two sons. The younger brother wants out of the house. He leaves and messes up. On his return, he is welcomed with open arms.



Is this about leaving for uni? Nope. It's about walking out on what our 'father' God wants. He has an awful lot in store for His 'children', but sometimes we don't want to live under His care.



Now, let's look a bit closer at the Bible story: Both sons had their faults: one was miserable, but obedient. The other, younger one was a classic rule-breaker. It's hard to say who was the worse, deep down. See, both of them were self-centred. You might not be the problem child, but (and we know this is rough to consider) do you have any traits of the jealous older brother? In the parable, the father says '...Everything I have is yours' (Luke 15:31 NIV) to the tearaway. The older brother didn't like the sound of that. He didn't want the younger boy to get a share of what the father was undeservingly giving to them both. Sometimes, even though we're right in front of the Father, we can be so focused on the faults of others that we forget to look at Him for guidance.



 



So what now? Whether a rule-keeper or a rule-breaker by nature, keep your heart and motives right with Father God. That'll set you straight for the good stuff and plans that God has in store for you.

Soulfood : Heb 11:7, Gen 6:9-22, Gen 8:18-22, Mt 24:36-41

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TREASURED

 



Do you know that you are a treasure to God? Jesus tells His disciples a story about a bloke who was a pearl merchant who one day finds a beautiful pearl worth loads of money. So he goes and sells all that he has so that he can own that one pearl (Matthew 13:45-46). He knew that having that pearl was more important than owning everything else. To him the pearl was a treasure and he was willing to do anything he could to get it.



Do you know that you have massive value? You are like that pearl. God found you buried in the darkness and saw that even covered in loads of mud you were beautiful and worth so much. So He made a plan to rescue you. He gave away the very thing that He loved the most: His Son. Jesus became a living, breathing, walking, talking, hurting, hassled human. Through His life, death and resurrection He paid the price so that we could be rescued from darkness, cleaned up and put on display to show the world how great God is! It says in the Bible, 'Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also' (Matthew 6:21 NIV).



If you are God's treasure then that must mean that His heart is totally captivated by you. He loves you and wants you to treasure Him like He treasures you; to value your time with Him like that pearl. That's not too much to ask is it?



 



So what now? Ask yourself today, 'What do I treasure?'

Soulfood : 1 Cor 4-6, Lk 23:44-56, Ps 13, Prov 25:4-8

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DON'T LET REJECTION PUT YOU OFF

'...His own did not receive Him.' John 1:11 NKJ

Sometimes the word 'no' simply means 'not now, but ask again'. So don't let rejection stop you. Only when you see failure as final, are you finally a failure. Take a look at your past experiences. You encountered rejection in school and on the playground. Not everybody liked you, but you made it anyway, right? Jesus experienced more rejection than anybody who ever lived. 'He came unto His own, and His own received Him not.' Did He quit? No, He went on to others, to those who discerned His value. 'But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become the children of God' (John 1:12 NKJ).

Someone needs what you have; it is absolutely necessary to their success. Most great salespeople know that 14 out of 15 people will say no. So they make their presentations to as many as possible, in order to reach that one who will say yes. Jesus said, 'Whoever will not receive you...shake off the dust from your feet' (Matthew 10:14 NKJ). When you encounter rejection, shake it off and move on. Sooner or later you will succeed if you don't quit. Don't personalise it; because someone rejects what you have to offer doesn't mean they're rejecting you. Paul writes: 'For a great and effective door has opened to me, and there are many adversaries' (1 Corinthians 16:9 NKJ).

So what now? Opportunity and opposition - they go together like macaroni and cheese. Life is not going to hand you success on a silver platter; you've got to overcome adversity and outlast the opposition in order to walk through the door. And only two things are required: your faith and God's favour.


SoulFood: 1 Cor 1-3; Luke 23:35-43; Ps 54; Pro 25:1-3

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