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Word For You Today

Haters Gonna Hate

When Jesus healed a blind man, He also met some surprising opposition (Pssst - John 9). Before Jesus healed the man, His disciples were already keen on finding some sort of blame for the man's problems. They wanted to know if he was blind because of his or his parents' sins (John 9:2). Unlike the society around Him, Jesus wasn't looking to blame the man or his family; He was only concerned in healing him. So that's what He did. Except then the Pharisees got in on the act (John 9:16). Since they had their own strict, worked-out ideas on exactly what was and wasn't important to God, they were quick to judge Jesus (who, actually, was God... hmm, awkward) for not sticking to what they expected. Hmmmm.



Sometimes, it seems like you can't please anyone... Know the feeling? But how did Jesus respond? He kept calm and, more than that, kept His centrepoint of love. Despite all that went down in John 9, nothing fazed Him, because He knew that He did what His Father wanted.



When we're pushing ever closer to God, we can know that were working for His way, with Him. Then, because of His backing, we're well placed to answer the critics with a (loving) smile that says, 'I know what Im doing.'



So what now? Going through something at the moment that's bringing opposition? Make time today to bring it before God. Ask: am I defending this because of who God is, or because of what I want? Take as long as is needed to chat it over with Him.

Soulfood : Jon 1-4, Luke 10:1-12, Ps 141, Prov 4:18-19

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Zoom Out

Have you ever played that game where you have to look at a really zoomed-in picture of something and try to guess what it is? At first, the picture looks like pointless blobs of colour or confusing shapes. Then you zoom out and realise it was a dog or a ferris wheel the whole time.



When you want to follow Jesus and change the world, it can end up feeling a bit like that. You're trying your hardest to live for God and show others His love, but sometimes it feels like it's not going anywhere. You're reading your Bible and telling people about Jesus but it's all still just blobs of colour and close up dog-fur. Here's the thing. If we look at what we do on its own then, just like the zoomed-in picture, it probably won't look that great.



God's vision is that zoom-out realisation. On your own, you might be the dog's nostril or the electric lights on the ferris wheel, but when you zoom out and realise that life's random, insignificant bits fit into God's big picture, it gives them purpose. Your small-feeling efforts and dreams become amazing when you add them to the mix of God's plan. It still might not all feel glamorous, but it matters.



If your effort has a focus on God, it's never wasted. If you pray that your effort fits more and more into God's purposes, then you'll see something glorious.



So what now? If you're feeling a bit frustrated about where you fit, tell God. Be honest about the fed-up-ness, and ask Him for a big picture view.

Soulfood : Num 34-36, Luke 9:46-62, Ps 138, Prov 4:14-17

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Boost

Ask God to direct your dreams, and you'll live in a way you never could otherwise:



(1) You'll be passionate and ready to go. Being part of God's massive vision for the world is a pretty good reason to get out of bed. God's plan is something we're all involved in, and all have a valuable part in. Put your best shoes on. This is exciting stuff and, the truth is, the passion that the world has to offer - friends, romance, success, fame - doesnt have anything on Jesus' passion.



(2) You'll get an idea of direction. Life beyond the education conveyor belt, with its big decisions, serious study and bills, can be pretty scary. Having your life already directed towards God's visions is an amazing way to start. So your go-to thought becomes 'Does X, Y or Z decision bring me closer to God? No? It's probably not the right thing then.



(3) You'll know what to do with that God-given direction. Have you ever got something you wanted so much and then realised it wasn't that great anyway? New phone? An invitation to that party? None of those things can give you purpose if they're not dedicated to, and used by, God. That's how Jesus is different. Jesus gives meaning. Focusing on God's big vision means that your life matters. God's got things for you to do. Get involved.



So what now? Ask yourself: What makes me passionate, ready to go, etc? Could that be part of God's plan for your life? Do something practical today to begin running after it.

Soulfood : Num 6:1-21, Mt 4:1-17, Mk 2:18-22, Lk 9:23-26

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You Have A Dream

Throughout the Bible God uses ordinary people to share His dream and plans with the world - Mary, the pregnant teenager; awkward, stuttering Moses; a crowd of scruffy fishermen from Galilee. In one story this mismatched bunch of scruffy fisherfolk have been fishing all night and caught nothing. Jesus tells them, 'Do not be afraid. From now on you will catch men' (Luke 5:10 NKJ). And they did. The massive worldwide Church sprung from the lives of those twelve guys.



So, we can just have huge dreams and God will make them happen? Not quite. Paul tells us that because Jesus died for us, '... you are not your own; you were bought at a price' (1 Corinthians 6:19-20 NIV). We can't just come up with any old dream and run off with it hoping God will come round to the idea. Giving our lives to Jesus means that we give Him our dreams and our visions too. And, does that mean Jesus is going to take all of the fun out of your dreams? Not necessarily. Putting our dreams in God's hands, trusting that His plans for us (and His perspective on our plans) really are best for us, keeps us rooted in plans that are good. It also keeps us in plans that He's interested in, which means He's going to be putting some serious power behind making them happen.



So what now? Over the next week keep a notebook with you, write down your dreams. Pray those things through a week from now, and see if you can find where God's taking you.

Soulfood : Num 32:25-33:56, Luke 9:34-45, Ps 134, Prov 4:5-13

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Flawsome

There's a bit in the movie Mean Girls that sums up how supposedly normal it is to self-criticise: 'My nail beds suck. I hate my calves. My hairline is so weird...' Sadly, we could probably rerun a version of that scene with examples that we could hear in our classroom/workplace. Far too frequently we hear someone say something negative about themselves. Or, even, it's far too often we say something critical about ourselves.



The thing is, by constantly focusing on the negative and getting caught up in what we don't like about ourselves and others, it becomes impossible to be grateful. If we're constantly focused on what we don't like about ourselves, we're going to find it hard to feel happy or fulfilled. We're not talking about never trying to be better here. The Bible clearly says that trying to be more like Jesus should be near the top of our to-do lists. That means not obsessing about what's wrong.



So what should you do when you feel those critical thoughts come creeping into your head? Stop. Remind yourself that when God made you, He didn't make a mistake. Paul tells us in Romans 8:28 NIV that '...in all things God works for the good of those who love Him.' He's got it under control and He knows what He's doing. Just bring what you have, and God can do the rest.



So what now? Make it your mission to compliment five people today. Each time you compliment someone, also say an inner thanks to God for something positive He's given you.

Soulfood : Num 30:1-32:24, Luke 9:18-33, Ps 125, Prov 4:3-4

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Deep Breath

We know you've just started reading, but stop... and take that deep breath we mention in the title.



How did that feel? Did you feel anything or was it just normal? Breathing is (fortunately) an automatic function that you don't have to think about. Sounds simple, but there's actually a whole going on when you breathe - oxygen makes its way to blood vessels, carbon dioxide works its way back out, lungs move, the diaphragm gets in on the act: all part of the amazing and intricate processes that keep you alive.



Right, enough of the science lesson. The whole point: We forget that we need to breathe, but God has given us the air for each breath as well as all the body-function means to enjoy it. '...in Him we live and move and have our being' (Acts 17:28 ESV).



God looks over you, lovingly and steadily, providing all you need. From breathing, to eating, to speaking, and sleeping - God created the world that allows you do all of that. It's a sign of His love for you. Deep. The Bible says, 'God formed the man from dust and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life' (Genesis 2:7 ESV). Get encouraged today in all your circumstances that God '... will sustain you' (Psalm 55:22 ESV).



So what now? Let's do a breathing exercise. As you breathe in, thank God for giving you the breath of life, and as you breathe out ask Him to help you show Him to others through your life today.

Soulfood : Is 53:1-12, Acts 8:26-40

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Gods Got It (3)

If everything we have belongs to God and He provides everything we need, how should we think about the things we have? Lets say, by way of example, Word For You Today posts you a laptop, instead of the next issue. Weve sent it to you because we want you to have a go at writing Word For You Today devotional readings for a while, instead of us, so technically the laptop is still ours. Well want the laptop back. Really youre just borrowing our laptop for a long time. To talk in Christian terms: youre not given the laptop on loan, youve been given it for a purpose. Adam and Eve were given the world with purpose. While they looked after it, God wanted them to make it flourish and make everything in it point to God.

So how should we think about the things we have? Remember that they all belong to God. After all, we brought nothing with us when we came into the world, and we cant take anything with us when we leave it (1 Timothy 6:7 NLT).

God knows exactly what you need and asks you to use the things He has given you for a reason. The best way to look at the stuff that you have is as something given to you, with the purpose of making the world flourish.

So what now? For a few moments, turn off your phone. Look quietly around your room at what you own and thank God for it all. Pray, show me how to use what Youve blessed me with.

Soulfood : Num 25-26, Luke 8:40-56, Ps 120, Prov 3:33-35

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