The River with Dan

The River with Joy

Word For You Today

How about now? ...Now? (1)

Wouldn't it be amazing if we wanted to sort something, and could snap our fingers and... BAM!... there it was? We all like to be in control. But that's not always going to happen (sorry...).

All through the Bible, God tells a lot of people to wait. A lot. But what does that little one-syllable word even mean? We'd say that waiting means 'to remain in a place of expectation'. It's not a passive, thumb-twiddling experience. We're expectant and hopeful that something is going to take place. It's a time to work with God. If we're patient, He can prepare us for what's ahead. The Psalmist said to be brave and courageous. Waiting can take real courage and faith. Everyone else may be jumping from one thing to the next, but being still, trusting and waiting on God in a state of expectation, is bravery. It's bravery because we're making ourselves vulnerable before God. We're telling Him that He can do whatever He needs to do in us, to prepare us for the next step.

You may not be able to fathom what God has for you (in fact, if He told you immediately you might not handle it, because you're not ready). So be patient and wait. Be brave. Be seeking God's face and open to Him working so that He can prepare you. When your answer comes, you'll be ready, and at peace.

So what now? Do you have any unanswered prayers? Pray about them again today, but focus on talking to God about what Hes going to teach you through the waiting.

Soulfood : Isa 9:1-7, Luke 2:1-7, Matt 4:12-16


A Complain Fast

We've all known times when it can be easier to complain than go the other way and build someone up. So, some practical steps we can take:

Step one: Go for gratitude. Even if it means forcing yourself to focus on positives rather than negatives, choose it. If you think hard, there'll be at least one thing that's positive. Practise appreciating where you are in life, even if you have ideas for where you'd rather be. Step two: Get the first word in. Go out of your way to give encouragement before complaining happens. When you're with a group of friends and someone starts complaining, it's easy to follow suit. But, we reckon it's best to set a culture of putting positivity first in those chats, to nip unnecessary, addictive complaining in the bud. Final step: Learn to let go. Tackling your moaning means you'll grow '...patience in the face of suffering...' (James 5:10 NIV).

Keeping a level head isnt easy. It will only come if we learn to be disciplined to not get into negativity. 1 Thessalonians 5:14 should be our model for handling any of those niggles: we may need to let someone know when they're getting things wrong, but our attitude is key. We need to learn to communicate lovingly, patiently and gracefully, and seek to understand that person too.

So what now? Time for a complain-fast. Next time you catch yourself about to speak negatively about someone, stop! Then, find a way to encourage that person.

Soulfood : Tit 1-3, Luke 10:13-24, Ps 145:1-13, Prov 4:20-22


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


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



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


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



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 ' 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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