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Word For You Today

BREAKTHROUGH

'...They called the name of that place Baal Perazim.' 1 Chronicles 14:11 NKJV

There was a man called King David. The Philistines invaded his part of Israel. (They had a history... David vs. Goliath. Awkward.) But before David slapped on his swordbelt, He checked with God. He said, 'Shall I go up against the Philistines? Will You deliver them into my hand?' and God replied, 'Go up... I will...', so David fought and defeated the Philistines through God's power (1 Chronicles 14). Afterwards, David said, 'God has broken through my enemies by my hand like a breakthrough of water.' Therefore they called the name of that place Baal Perazim (which means 'breaking through') (1 Chronicles 14:9-11 NKJ).
What do we learn here? (1) David reminded himself that 'the Lord had made him king' (1 Chronicles 14:2). God called you, and His Spirit lives inside you. You are His. He is on your side. That's huge. (2) David simply asked God, 'Shall I go up against the Philistines' (1 Chronicles 14:10 NKJ)? Seriously. Just ask God. What is He telling you to do? Obey that, and you'll come out on top. (3) David gave God the credit: 'God has broken through my enemies' (1 Chronicles 14:11 NKJ). God does amazing things. Sometimes He does them for you, sometimes He does them through you. When He does something good, let the world know. When the breakthrough comes for you, make sure you remember to tell everyone Who made it happen. Sing His praises whenever you can.
So what now? Has God done something cool in your life lately? A breakthrough? Shout it out. Facebook it. Tweet it.

SoulFood: Ezra 6-8, Luke 10:1-15, Ps 78:9-16, Pro 19:24-26

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GET READY FOR ACTION (1)

God said this to Joshua: 'Moses my servant is dead ...get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give [you]...I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses... you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them' (Joshua 1:2-6 NIV). The lead-up to this point was a rough ride for Joshua. Previously, he spent a load of time serving Moses, and did it graciously and attentively. That's totally admirable, seeing as they spent all that time wandering around a scorching desert with people who complained about everything. It would've been easy for Joshua to become an impatient rebel along with them, but he didn't. He didn't get pushy or irritated. He used that time as preparation. Every day in the desert prepared him for the mahooooosive task of leading Israel into the Promised Land. God never, ever wastes experience. Every single thing you've been through, including all the stuff that makes zero sense right now, is preparation for what God's got in store.

At the end of his life Joshua was able to say to the Israelites: 'Now I am about to go the way of all the earth. You know with all your heart and soul that not one of all the good promises the Lord your God gave you has failed. Every promise has been fulfilled...' (Joshua 23:14 NIV).

So what now? God made you for a special purpose. Prepare yourself so that the God who came through for Joshua can come through for you too.

Soulfood : Hab 1-3, Lk 8:26-39, Ps 65, Prov 19:5-8

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MATURITY? (1)

Every birthday, it feels like there should be some sort of fanfare and that someone should hand you the golden keys of maturity. (We know, we feel that too.) Unlucky. It's not going to happen. 'Reaching maturity' is a very (very, very) long and complex process. There's rarely a moment, other than on TV, that anyone ever gets a 'You're a man now!' experience (ok, pipe down, Bear Grylls). The journey towards feeling all wise and grown-up can leave you in a confusing no-man's land, between the safe, clear world of childhood and the responsibility and authority of 'grown-up' life. People tell you to 'grow up already' while others are saying, 'you can't do that, you're too young'.

It can be perplexing and majorly stressful. But there's a solution. 'Those who are planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish...' (Psalm 92:13 NKJ). That means that stressing won't help you grow: putting down roots in God will. If you chase God, and trust Him to take care of stuff, He'll give you direction and peace about your place in life. If you live for Him and have a little patience, He'll help you grow into that maturity. Sweet deal.

So what now? When you're out and about today, pick up a pack of any kind of seeds (pretty flowers, red hot chillies... whatever floats your boat). Plant them. Water them. If they're in some rich soil, they'll grow nicely in time. Optional extra: Sit and watch them until they're fully grown... No? Yet you expect yourself to watch yourself completely mature in the time it takes to get dressed...

Soulfood : 2 Sam 22:31-24:25, Lk 7:36-50, Ps 140, Prov 18:21-22

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CANDY CRUSHED

The good life that advertisements offer is all about owning more and more. But it's a trap. Any ad that says, 'Your hair could look like this!' is playing on your insecurity. Listen out: there's an underlying message that says, 'you're not good enough, and we'll make you better.'

Jesus declares something totally different to the world's consumer choices. He breezes right past the question of 'how much stuff is enough'. Life, for Him, is about putting your desires in their right place. 'Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the Kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in Heaven that will never fail' (Luke 12:32-33 NIV).

A life of listening to advertisements will become crushingly oppressive for your sense of worth. John Piper said, 'If the heart is satisfied with all that God is for us in Jesus, the power of sin [or the adverts...] to lure us away from the wisdom of Christ is broken.' God really is pleased to offer you a different way of life, even in tiny things. He really has something better than the treadmill of buying stuff. Try finding out what it might be. God isn't opposed to you having money. He's just against anything taking His place in your life! He knows that 'Your heart will be where your treasure is' (Matthew 6:21 NCV).

So what now? Every now and again it is helpful to assess your reasons for buying something. (It may also help you to become a more discerning consumer :).

Soulfood : Eph 4:17-6:24, Lk 5:12-26, Ps 79, Prov 17:24-26

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RELEASE

Stormie Omartian's mother locked her in a cupboard because she couldn't stand to see her daughter's face. Stormie writes: 'I was raised by a mentally ill mother... her behaviour left me with guilt, hopelessness, helplessness and deep emotional pain. By the time I was a young woman I was still locked in, only the boundaries were emotional not physical - a deep, ever-present pain which expressed itself through self-destruction and paralysing fear. Years later [with help from a Christian counsellor] I learned that unforgiveness as deeply rooted as mine... must be unravelled one layer at a time. One day I felt led to pray, "Lord, give me a heart like Yours for my mother." Immediately I had a vision of her as a beautiful, fun-loving, gifted woman with no resemblance to the person I knew... I was seeing her the way God made her to be, not the way she'd become. In an instant I put together the pieces of her past - her mother's tragic death... the suicide of her beloved uncle and foster father, her feelings of abandonment, guilt, bitterness and unforgiveness... Touching the heart of God brought such forgiveness that when she died... I had no bad feelings. In fact, the more I forgave her the more God brought to mind good memories."

So what now? Only God knows how life has shaped those who hurt you. To move on in your life, you may need to, like Stormie, pray a prayer of release and let go of the past.

Soulfood : Eph 1:1-4:16, Lk 5:1-11, Ps 137, Prov 17:22-23

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HOW DO I GET INTO THE BIBLE? (2)

Ever got so attached to your mobile you genuinely thought you could hear it go off when you were rooms away or outside? Or had that thing where you reach for it right before you get a text? You're just a bit too used it! Your brain is listening for what it expects.

As you spend more time in your Bible, your brain will be expecting more too. It will begin to see deeper than the words, stories and rules on the surface. You go through them to get to God. After you've been reading and praying through it for a while, you intuitively learn God's heart patterns, you listen out for what to expect from His character, and in your real life decisions you can work out what to do much more simply.

Wondering about who to hang out with? How much money to split between the needy and your own convenience? How far is too far in your relationship with the mall? When you've really got to grips with the Bible, God's truth becomes something you can feel in your bones, you can almost reach for it before you read: 'I will put My instructions deep within them, and I will write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be My people' (Jeremiah 31:33 NLT). It has 'effectively worked in you' and become second nature.

So what now? Here's an easy way to start. Why not read one of the readings in SoulFood today - see below. What is the phrase of God's truth that stands out for you? How can you apply it to your life?

Soulfood : 1 Sam 27-31, Lk 4:31-44, Ps 122, Prov 17:18-21

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HOW DO I GET INTO THE BIBLE? (1)

At the back of your mind maybe you're thinking you could be doing more to get yourself into Bible reading. Here are some useful tips to make it easier for you...

One proven and helpful way to get better at Bible reading is an old practice where you simply slow down. Over 5 - 10 minutes, read a chosen verse or two of the Bible, slowly. Listen out for a word or section that touches your heart. In silence, repeat it over to yourself (repeating brings your whole attention to it). Give your distracting thoughts and concerns up to God, and let Him speak to you through what you've read.

An example of how this kind of approach changes minds: in the 1950s in South America, some people who were too poor to own individual Bibles got together to read Scripture in groups. For them, the words of Scripture were their final authority. One day they read that God was a God who 'raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap' (Psalm 113:7 ESV). They quickly realised that God's Word was meant for them, and that they could no longer live within oppression.

Here we live in a country where the Bible is easily available. Are we going to we use it to let it transform our lives like they did? What changes would you have to make in your life, if you allowed the Bible to be your final authority?

So what now? Try it! Give it 5 - 10 minutes, keep the pace slow, and remember that it's not about covering a set amount of chapters, or verses, but rather concentrating on letting a small chunk of God's truth settle in your heart.

Soulfood : 1 Sam 24-26, Lk 4:14-30, Ps 110, Prov 17:15-17

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