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Word For You Today

A LIFE FULL OF FRUIT

There's an old saying, 'If you were accused of being a Christian, would anyone find enough evidence to convict you?' Hmm. What evidence would they find? Maybe they'd find your Spotify playlist full of the best of Hillsong. A 'WWJD' bracelet tucked away in your drawer. Maybe an old Easter Camp programme knocking about.



Ok for a start, but what about the deeper stuff? Would they find you praying when the door is locked? Or volunteering down the old folks' home (or foodbank)? Or slipping an extra ten dollars in the collection plate when nobody is looking? Would they find you on biblegateway.com more often than Facebook? Meditating more than gaming? Encouraging as opposed to backbiting? Could they trust you, respect you, admire your honesty? Would you be found moping or inspired? Lustful or loving? Jesus didn't say, 'A Christian is known by the size of his fish bumper-sticker.' No, He said, '...a tree is recognised by its fruit' (Matthew 12:33 NIV). 'You...must be an example...by doing good works of every kind. Let everything you do reflect the integrity and seriousness of your teaching' (Titus 2:7 NLT).



So what now? God's done everything needed to open up your relationship with Him. You can't 'work' it into perfection. But - relationship - yes? Now He's made it available, have all of the areas of your life got involved in that relationship? How do you fare with these challenges? Think your relationship needs more commitment? Pray. Prayer is always the fuel for Godly character. Ask God for more good evidence in your life.

Soulfood : Job 21-23, Lk 2:1-7, Ps 128, Ecc 10:5-9

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PAUL + TIMOTHY

Paul took a young guy named Timothy under his wing. They had such a strong mentor/mentee relationship Paul called him his 'true son in the faith' (1 Timothy 1:2 GNT). The pair ended up travelling, helping to grow, and look after, churches. They even ended up in prison on more than one occasion for their Godly work together. Paul helped Timothy become the person that God wanted him to be, and he could only do that because Timothy knew how to take advice seriously.



It's so, so important to be able to learn from others. You will always have something to learn. André Agassi is a world-class tennis player who has a coach who isn't nearly as good on the court as he is. 'Tennis requires subtle adjustments crucial to winning and my coach... is the best... The older I get, the more valuable he becomes.' Even consistent winners need help to improve!



Chances are, there's someone in your church who could teach you a lot - someone to go back to with questions and problems and ideas and prayer requests and, well, everything.



So what now? Go on... ask for advice. It can sometimes feel a bit weird talking about faith with someone outside of our group of mates. Especially when the person seems to be one of those have-it-all-together people. But that's exactly the sort of person who might just make a great mentor. It's worth being brave.

Soulfood : Jn 14:6-11, Acts 4:8-12, Acts 16:22-34, Mt 1:18-21

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DO WHAT YOU KNOW IS RIGHT - JUST DO IT!

You have something important to do. And after dozens of texts, meaningless tasks and even a tidy room later, you'll do it. Even though, really, you should have just done it first thing...



Following God can sometimes, very unfortunately, follow that routine. Have a think, are there certain aspects of the Christian life too difficult to start attempting? Or maybe something God's been prompting you to do that just feels too big? You already know that the answer isn't in ignoring those things. We don't really need to tell you that. But we will anyway. The answer isn't in ignoring what needs to be done and doing something else instead. Procrastination gets you nowhere.



James 4:13-17 talks about how we can't really know about the future (aside from what God tells us about it, when He chooses to). Then, it says: 'So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.' Essentially, James is saying 'get your act into gear and do what you know is right.'



So what now? Is there something that God wants you to do that you've been putting off or ignoring? Is there a part of the Christian life that you've never really wanted to adopt, even though you know you should? Well, here's some practical advice for today: Just do it!

Soulfood : Job 15-17, Lk 1:67-80, Ps 12, Ecc 9:17-18

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NO COMPARE, NO COMPARE, NO COMPARE

Remember that kid in your nursery class, you know, the one with cool light-up trainers that made your regular off-white sneakers feel really rubbish? No? Just like that, chances are, in a few years you won't remember measuring yourself against someone else's standards. So why bother now? You might want what those around you seem to have, but honestly, you'll have forgotten about it not too far down the track.



And, as for now, God gives you exactly what you need. So, the guy next to you has something that looks really flashy right now? That's a part of their plan. God's taking care of your plan, and He's asking you to work with Him to be all that you are made to be. And, believe it or not, He'll give you the right tools to get there (He's amazing like that!).



Whatever you don't have is as much a part of the plan as what you do have. And yes, that can be horribly disappointing sometimes. Especially when everyone else seems to have everything sorted. But, not getting those grades/that job/the girl may have been the first step towards a bigger and better plan.



So what now? Pray for God's view of your situation and ask for His help in seeing it His way. Cross out (with a pen, or, if you're reading this on a screen, with your fingers...) the first NO COMPARE in the title when you've prayed it through. Repeat for the other two.

Soulfood : Job 11-14, Lk 1:57-66, Ps 67, Ecc 9:10-12

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THORNS (2)

Yesterday, we thought about how Heaven's answer to a thorny existence is a thorn-crowned Saviour. Now, there's another part to that story. There is, shall we say, another set of thorns. After Jesus wore that crown and beat the consequences of sin, God decided to use thorns for His (and our) good. Being a Christian doesn't mean that we get to entirely avoid all difficult stuff. It means we know Who we turn to when the difficult stuff happens.



Look at 2 Corinthians 12:7-10. Paul mentions 'a thorn in the flesh' - something that really made life hard for him. Something that was trying to get in the way of his relationship with God. We all have those thorns. And God allows them for one reason: that we use them as inspiration to look to Him. We can't beat thorns in our own strength. The only thing to do is to turn to God and ask Him for help. He may not remove them straight away, but He'll certainly strengthen our relationship with Him while we're dealing with them.



And look back at yesterday's reading - Jesus who bled from the thorn of death in our place. The 'thorns' of this life don't last for eternity; they help prepare you for it. As long as you're really-truly-striving for the life of love that God asks for, He'll make 'all things work together for good' (Romans 8:28 NKJ).



So what now? Chat to some wiser/older Christians you really trust about your own 'thorn in the flesh'. Get them to pray with you, asking for God's strength in dealing with your personal thorns.

Soulfood : Job 8-10, Lk 1:39-56, Ps 57, Ecc 7:19-22

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THORNS (1)

In Genesis 3, Adam and Eve made a choice, and because of that choice came consequences. After that, everything changed. Like everything. The whole world. The link between God and humans was no longer the same. People got locked into their own self-and-others-destructive choices. Existence became... well, thorny. Go back to Genesis 3 and check out verse 18. There. Those thorns mentioned represent all of the consequences of humanity's choices - sin, separation and death.



Now, read Matthew 27:31 about the crown of thorns placed on Jesus' head by the Roman soldiers: 'When they had twisted a crown of thorns, they put it on His head...' Just before He gave His life to free us all, Jesus took those thorns - sin, separation and death - upon Himself, and wore them literally as a crown. He took all of the consequences meant for us, and experienced the death that goes with them. And, by doing that, He became our bridge back to God. By wearing those thorns, He beat them. Jesus beat sin; He beat separation; He beat death. Because of Him, we can choose to live a life full of God and grace. Then, because of Him, we can spend the rest of forever with that same God.



So what now? Take a few minutes to really think over what Jesus did. It's the absolute centre of the Christian faith. Then, when you've done that, write a 'thank you' note to Jesus. Stick it up somewhere prominent to remind you regularly of what He did in dying for you.

Soulfood : Job 5-7, Lk 1:26-38, Ps 105:37-45, Ecc 7:9-14

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WHAT ARE YOU HEARING?

'...The word of the Lord came to Elijah...saying...

For three years all people talked about was the drought God had told Elijah to announce. Then God gave him a weather update: everyone should get ready for storm season. We've got to be ready for God's updates too - listening in so we'll be ready for what life throws at us.

God is more than willing to tell us when to save and when to spend, when to buy and when to sell, when to talk and when to be silent. 'Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, "This is the way, walk in it"' (Isaiah 30:21 NKJ). But, for many of us, often Satan's so busy whispering in our ears that the voice of God is drowned out. Satan's got some special lines he's perfected: 'You're a loser. You're ugly. You're rubbish. Nobody loves you.' Like we'd ever hear that from God! Not a chance. He's on our side and only waits our invitation to fight for us.

Knowing He would soon be crucified, Jesus prayed, '"Father, glorify Your name." Then a voice came from Heaven, saying, 'I have both glorified it and will glorify it again." Therefore the people who stood by and heard it said that it had thundered...' (John 12:28-29 NKJ). Isn't it amazing? Some can hear the voice of God, while others hear only noise.

So what now? What are you hearing? Who are you listening to? The voice of God or the devil's noise? Make a choice to tune out Satan and tune into God.

SoulFood: Job 1-4, Luke 1:1-25, Ps 105:23-36, Ecc 7:5-8

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