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Word For You Today

HE DID IT!

'...What must I do to be saved?' Acts 16:30 NIV

An old lady spent her first flight sitting forwards awkwardly in her chair, elbows firmly on both armrests, looking straight ahead for the whole journey. When the plane landed the passenger next to her asked if she'd enjoyed the flight. 'It was alright' she said, 'but I didn't put my whole weight on it...'

The punchline: We do the same thing when we try to get along with God based on our own awesomeness - by working harder, praying longer, having a super lovely personality, or whatever. But, there's no way to do work that's been done for us.

In the natural we will never be able to get along with God because all the wrong we've done. Sin stops us from seeing or wanting God by ourselves. We can't trust in our own ability to get on God's good side; we just don't have that ability, any more than old ladies can cruise at 30,000 feet of their own accord.

But God's done something about you. He loves you. He looked past His own right to judge you or punish you, and absolutely embraced you - on the cross. He did it, and only He did it. He took the sinless-ness of Jesus and gave it to you. The moment you place your trust in Jesus, you're flying, with something you can lean back into with your full weight, and the full acceptance of God bearing you up and onward.

So what now? Thanking God that 'He did it' and then singing a couple of worship songs is a good back-to-basics way to start the day looking in the right direction, towards Him.

SoulFood: 1 Chron 3:1 - 4:23; Luke 11:29-44; Ps 78:65-72; Pro 20:11-14

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THE BARRIERS ARE IN YOUR MIND

'...He has sent me to proclaim freedom...recovery...release...favour.' Luke 4:18-19 NIV

If you look at ancient sea maps you'll see places that are marked with pictures of dragons ('Here Be Monsteres', sort of thing) to warn off sailors. Were the dragons real? Not very, but they were real enough in the minds of the sailors.

Think of a barracuda in an aquarium tank. A glass barrier divides one half from the other. Each time the barracuda tries to swim at it, it bumps into it. And if the barrier is then taken away, the barracuda won't swim beyond that point - because, yes, the barrier is still in its mind.

Jesus was sent to proclaim freedom, recovery and release. Satan will place barriers in your mind that say you can't go beyond a certain point in life. The barriers are lies. But a lie is as effective as the truth if you believe it and act on it. The Bible is filled with stories of people who were thought to be 'little' or way too insignificant to matter, who went on to smash through barriers they thought they couldn't. God used them to do amazing things. He'll do that for you too, no matter how small or limited you feel, if you ask for it.

So what now? A lie is as effective as the truth when you believe it. Christians are people of the truth, so ask God for His help to see where other people are struggling believing wrong things about themselves. Pray for ways to join Jesus today in breaking down those barriers in their lives.

SoulFood: 1 Chron 1-2; Luke 11:14-28; Ps 78:56-64; Pro 20:7-10

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A WAY PAST WORRY (2)

'...I tell you not to worry about everyday life...' Matthew 6:25 NLT

Jesus said, 'Therefore I tell you, stop being perpetually uneasy (anxious and worried) about your life...' (Matthew 6:25 AMP). Not because the stuff you're worrying about doesn't exist, but because committing it all to God throws our focus back on the One who can fully care for us, has cared for us, and is going to carry on caring for us.

Philippians 4:6-7 (NKJ) says, '...let your requests be made known to God, and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds through Christ Jesus.' Another Bible version puts it like this, 'Then, because you belong to Christ Jesus, God will bless you with peace that no one can completely understand. And this peace will control the way you think and feel' (CEV).

When you're more caught up in your love for God than concerned with getting over your worry, you often find that the worry melts off like candle wax anyway. So, let your problems drive you into the arms of Jesus. And when you get there, stay there, ok?

So what now? Author and speaker Mark Yaconelli suggests this five-minute-long-ish activity you might like to try if you're feeling worried: Sit in a relaxed pose. Slow your breathing. Then relax your muscles, group by group, head to feet. Say with each breath in: 'Into Your hands', and with each breath out: 'I commit my spirit'. After a few minutes of this prayer rhythm, thank God, and get on with your day!

SoulFood: 1 John 3:11 - 5:21; Luke 11:1-13; Ps 78:40-55; Pro 20:4-6

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COURAGE WITH COLD FEET

'Benaiah...went down into a pit on a snowy day and killed a lion.' 2 Samuel 23:20 NIV

Benaiah was one of King David's 'mighty men'. His résumé reads: 'Benaiah...was a valiant fighter...He...went down into a pit on a snowy day and killed a lion.' That's what is called 'courage with cold feet'. The greatest courage of all is showing courage in the face of fear. Someone said, 'Courage is just fear that has said its prayers.' When you know you have heard clearly from God, you are filled with faith in that moment. It puts steel in your spine.
Benaiah's courage, especially with cold feet, is the reason he is a famously valiant member of King David's mightiest men. Because there is no middle ground to hide in, he fights the lion and he kills it. Thousands of years later, God and His people still look at this personality trait as characteristic of the God-centred soul: boldness, right at the moment that fear threatens to swamp you.
Think: when you can't keep your distance from the thing you're fearing, how do you respond? What puts steel in your spine when fear presses in?
So what now? If you're frozen with fear, for any reason, a good idea would be to ask some Christian friends if you can all meet up and pray about it. While it's great to ask for advice, simply praying together could actually be more powerful.

SoulFood: Ezra 9-10; Luke 10:16-28; Ps 78:17-31; Pro 19:27-29

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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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