The River with Dan

Sundays with Joy

Word For You Today

Stay in touch 2

'Never stop praying.' 1 Thessalonians 5:17 GWT

Today we'll give a few practical tips to help you stay in touch with God:

(1) Start your day right. When you first wake up and you're enjoying your duvet more than you're looking forward to the world outside, pray! 'God, thanks for a new day, help me make the most of it - let it be a day of destiny!' Then instead of checking your mobile, read a Psalm or something from the life of Jesus. Let the words inspire and challenge you. (2) Tune in to visual clues. Use your daily routine as a trigger for prayer. For example, when you're showering, pray, 'Jesus, give me a clean heart and a right attitude' (Paraphrase, see Psalm 51:10). Whenever you meet somebody, silently ask God to bless them. When your school or work friends are being idiots pray, 'Lord, give me grace, help me be a light where it's dark.' That's how you 'never stop praying.' (3) Invent ways to stay focused. Ever notice how your mind wanders the minute you start praying? Try using a note pad when you pray - jot down the things that are distracting you under the headline 'I'll get to that later' then talk to God with an uncluttered mind. And remember, God wants to talk to you too, so be alert and listen. What he tells you will be more important than anything else you'll hear.

So what now? With a bit of rhythm, creativity and determination you can 'never stop praying.' God is waiting to hear from you; are you ready to stay in touch?

Soulfood: 2 Sam 3:22 - 7:17, Matt 25:14-30, Ps 118:1-9, Prov 18:4-6


Stay in touch 1

'Never stop praying.' 1 Thessalonians 5:17 GWT

Paul says, 'Never stop praying' (1 Thessalonians 5:17 GWT). Why? Because, no matter what you are doing in your day, God loves to hear from you!

Author Cheri Fuller writes: 'I used to think if I didn't pray at a certain time each day, my prayers didn't count. Then I discovered that Paul's command to "Pray all the time," means more than just spending a lot of time on your knees; it means having constant communication with God, and an increasing awareness of his presence. This didn't really sink in until my son left for college. Busy with his studies, he didn't call home often. But when he did I'd drop everything just to hear his voice! Now I realise that God feels the same way about me, only 100 times more! I also noticed throughout the Bible God used short prayers to accomplish great things - like raising the dead and parting the Red Sea. Then it dawned on me that thoughts such as, "If I can't pray for an hour, why bother?" are foolish. It's wonderful to have longer prayer sessions when I can, but knowing short prayers have a big impact, encourages me to pray throughout the day.'

Everyone has their own rhythm of prayer, but the important thing is that we are continually sharing our hearts with our heavenly Father.

So what now? Pay attention to your own rhythms of prayer. Are you really opening up or just going through the motions? God loves to hear your voice, so stay in touch with him.

Soulfood: 2 Sam 1:1 - 3:21, Matt 25:1-13, Ps 109:16-31, Prov 18:1-3



'...The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light.' Matthew 6:22 NIV

You're at the cinema watching the latest blockbuster... there's a moment when everything goes quiet then 'Aaaaaagh!'... the bad guy suddenly appears on the screen and you jump out of your seat! Why? Because our eyes are wired right into the core of our brain and we have built-in reactions over which we have very little control.

We live in a hugely visual culture. Everywhere we look there is an advertising display unit or TV screen. We only have to scan the shelves of magazines briefly to see that the publishers do all they can to appeal to the most basic human impulses. You see, pictures work like a springboard to a new level of thought. Once we've seen something, our mind has captured it in its memory bank.

Even more amazing thing than this ability is that the brain God has given us allows us to 'see' with our minds - to create mental 'movies'! It's called visualisation, and we visualise using what we have stored in our memory banks. With this in mind, as followers of Jesus, we are called to store up good images in our memory banks. The Apostle Paul told his mates, '...Think about the things that are true and honourable and right and pure and beautiful and respectful' (Philippians 4:8 NCV).

So what now? What will you visualise today? Jesus said '...If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light' (Matthew 6:22 NIV). Choose to keep your eyes healthy.

Soulfood: Eph 4:17 - 6:24, Matt 24:36-51, Ps 109:1-15, Prov 17:27-28


Deal with your fears

'Say to those who are fearful-hearted, "Be strong..."' Isaiah 35:4 NKJ

An old man was asked what had stolen most of his life's joy. He replied, 'Things that never happened!' Our fears are the worst liars; we should never make decisions based on them.

Instead we should: (1) Tackle them head-on. King David did: 'When I am afraid, I will put my trust in you' (Psalm 56:3 NLT). Bill Hybels is pastor of one of the world's biggest churches. As a kid he was timid, but his dad kept challenging him. Bill says, 'He'd take me down to our produce company and bark out, "Billy, reverse that lorry!" ...I'd drag myself into the cab of that 40-foot artic, shaking with fear. Sometimes it would take me 45 minutes and the lorry would be half jackknifed...but when I crawled out, dad would say, "Good job." And next would be easier.' How do we conquer fear? By confronting it! (2) Hang out with brave people. Solomon said, 'Walk with the wise and become wise...' (Proverbs 13:20 NIV). Don't hang out with people who habitually cave in or play it safe. Hang out with brave people. Read up on brave Bible characters, like Daniel, Deborah, Esther and Peter. (3) Go for it. Dealing with fear isn't optional, it's foundational. We need it to live each day for Jesus, to build better relationships, to reach the lost and care for the broken.

So what now? Today God says to you, 'Be strong,' whatever you are facing. But you can't expect him to do all the work; you've got to deal with your fears!

Soulfood: Exodus 20:1-17, Matt 5:1-12


Godfocussed prayers

'...God will hear our prayers when we ask for what pleases him.' 1 John 5:14 CEV

Reality check: are your prayers ever self-centred? Too many prayers are about our human wishes, not God's holy plans. '...God will hear our prayers when we ask for what pleases him' (1 John 5:14 CEV).

Three examples of our self-centred prayers: (1) The trivial. We pray for good weather for our day out when maybe it hasn't rained for ages and the farmer down the road needs water! If we remember that our lives are part of God's bigger picture, then our prayers will become stepping stones to wisdom and maturity. (2) The selfish. Listen: '...your prayers are not answered, because you pray...for selfish reasons' (James 4:3 CEV). One young woman at a prayer group said, 'My boyfriend's army unit just got called to the Middle East. Please pray he won't have to go.' It's easy to understand her worries, but her request is a bit selfish. He's a soldier who has signed up for a very dangerous job. Our lives often include risk and hardship, so God promises peace and protection, not immunity and comfort. (3) The controlling. Jesus taught us to pray '...your will be done...' (Matthew 6:10 NIV). Let's not bargain with God. Why ask God to make the people in our lives conform to our wishes, when he doesn't even force them to conform to his? God always answers when we ask 'for what pleases him' (1 John 5:14 CEV).

So what now? God loves you so much and has a great plan for your life. Pray for his will to be done in your life.

Soulfood: Eph 1:1 - 4:16, Matt 24:26-35, Ps 79, Prov 17:24-26


You do measure up

'...Do not worry about anything, but pray...' Philippians 4:6 NCV

Striving to do better is a good thing, but perfectionism isn't. A mother of three children complained to her doctor, 'I just can't get the house cleaned the way I like it before everyone leaves in the morning.' She was so stressed out, he put her on antidepressants. But why? Nobody was holding a gun to her head saying, 'Every dish must be put away and every towel folded - or else!' Life had become one big 'to-do list' and she could never get to the bottom of it. Yet no one but herself had created the stress she was experiencing - and passing on to her family!

Answer these questions: (1) Have my ambitions become so all consuming that I've forgotten how to chill and be happy? (2) Have I made 'having everything under control' a condition for my happiness? (3) Do I beat myself (or other people) up when I can't meet my own stupidly unrealistic expectations?

The first step toward recovering your peace is to make sure that none of the stress in your life is self-inflicted. The second is realising that life pays no attention to your fancy plans anyway. So don't risk losing your friends or making yourself ill. Whether it's obsessing over your looks or performance, the roots of perfectionism grow in the soil of insecurity.

So what now? Don't listen to any voice that whispers, 'You'll never measure up!' That's a lie; don't believe it. You are loved, approved and accepted - by God! Your worth comes from him, and his opinion of you never changes!

Soulfood: 1 Sam 27-31, Matt 24:15-25, Ps 137, Prov 17:22-23


Standing in the gap

'...I searched for someone to stand in the gap...but I found no one.' Ezekiel 22:30 NLT

When Chris Milbrath went to work with Co-Mission in the Ukraine, the last thing he envisioned was being hospitalised. He had a constant hardcore stomach-ache. His doctor diagnosed a ruptured appendix and told him that without surgery he'd die. Infection set in. Then halfway across the world one of Chris' prayer supporters woke suddenly during the night. She didn't know why, but she knew she had to pray for him. Within 24 hours a missions group in Moscow heard about the situation. A small jet 'just happened to be available' to airlift Chris to Geneva where one of Switzerland's best surgeons 'just happened to be available' to perform additional surgery that saved his life. Later, comparing notes and factoring in the time zones, they discovered that her prayer-burden 'just happened to coincide' with the time he was clinging to life. Chris said, 'I can't help wondering what would've happened to me if that woman had just rolled over and said, "I'll pray for Chris tomorrow.'' God says, '"I searched for someone to stand in the gap...but I found no one"' (Ezekiel 22:30 NLT).

Prayer can be a lonely business with very anti-social hours! Prayer warriors realise what's at stake and stay on their knees until they sense they've broken through any barriers. James writes, '...When a believing person prays, great things happen' (James 5:16 NCV).

So what now? When God prompts you to pray for somebody, don't wait - do it! Your prayers may be the solution to that person and a tough situation.

Soulfood: 1 Sam 24-26, Matt 24:1-14, Ps 122, Prov 17:18-21

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