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Word For You Today

Becoming whole and healthy

'Let us examine our ways...and...return to the Lord.' Lamentations 3:40 NIV

We may pray, 'Lord, make me a better person.' But, we need to be willing to examine each area of our lives, and allow God to reveal which areas we need to be healthier in.

To start the habit of becoming whole, answer these questions carefully and prayerfully: (1) Am I honest and careful with my finances? Do I avoid debt and give generously to others? (2) Do I expose myself to inappropriate situations or material I know I shouldn't be? (3) Do I spend enough time with my family, and would they say that I do? (4) Do I tell the truth even when it brings me hurt or criticism? (5) Do I find it easy to say, 'I was wrong. I'm sorry'? (6) Am I compromising any area of my life, or refusing to face the consequences of my actions? (7) Have I formed habits that are detrimental to my health, job, family or faith? (8) Am I proud, selfish or arrogant? (9) Have I taken credit for things that others did? (10) Have I failed to confess something to someone? (11) Have I been insensitive or offensive to anyone? (12) Am I spending enough time with my heavenly Father?

The Bible says: 'Let us examine our ways...and... return to the Lord' (Lamentations 3:40 NIV). It is totally for our own good!

So what now? Get real with God as you answer these questions. Which areas need some attention and work? It's not about being 'a better person' - it's about being whole and healthy, which is God's desire for you.

Soulfood: 2 Chr 5-7, John 11:1-16, Ps 83:9-18, Pro 26:17-22


Seeing God's goodness

'I have done nothing here that they should put me into the dungeon.' Genesis 40:15 NKJV

When we're going through a tough time, it can be easy to ask 'Why?' and question where God is. We can analyse everything to see if we're being punished for something, or feel hopeless.

Many great Bible heroes faced really tough situations. They must have wondered where God was in those times. Joseph ended up in prison, as did Paul. John was exiled on a remote island. Lazarus faced illness, then death! But God used all this suffering for good. The imprisoned Paul wrote the Epistles. The banished John saw Heaven. Lazarus' death led to Jesus performing one of his greatest miracles (see John 11). The prison in which they placed Joseph became his stepping-stone to the palace for which God had destined him.

The thing is, unless we believe that God didn't cause our suffering, then we won't see the good that he can bring out of it. Looking back, Joseph could say, 'You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish... the saving of many lives' (Genesis 50:20 NIV). When we look for God's goodness and purposes in our situations, we'll stop blaming him and see those situations differently. We'll see them as stepping-stones to blessing, and opportunities to learn and grow. We'll see them as ways for God to be glorified.

So what now? God will use the circumstances you're in to strengthen you, draw you closer, and accomplish his will for your life. So, look for his goodness in whatever you're facing.

Soulfood: 2 Chr 1-4, John 10:22-42, Ps 83:1-8, Pro 26:13-16


Fully committed

'I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ.' Philippians 3:8 NKJV

Nowhere in the Bible does God say he's going to send us to safe places to do easy things. But he does promise that we will be safe in him and that he'll never leave us to do challenging things on our own. He says he'll always be with us (see Deuteronomy 31:6).

Paul was fully committed to God: He wrote: 'Those things were important to me, but now I think they are worth nothing because of Christ... I think that all things are worth nothing compared with the greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord...I want to know Christ and the power that raised him from the dead. I want to share in his sufferings and become like him in his death' (Philippians 3:7-10 NCV). He said, 'to live is Christ and to die is gain' (Philippians 1:21 NIV).

Faced with the cross, even Jesus prayed the ultimate prayer of commitment: 'Yet not my will, but yours be done' (Luke 22:42 NIV). This may seem pretty extreme, but God's looking for 'all-in' faith. He's looking for followers who'll put him above everything else in their lives.

So what now? In order to do life with God, and to walk in his ways, it's best to be fully committed, because his way is perfect and all his promises prove true (see Psalm 18:30). It's okay when your commitment is lower than you'd like - God is always committed to you. Ask God to help you be fully committed to him. It is totally worth it!

Soulfood: 1 Chr 26:20-32, 1 Chr 27, 1 Chr 28, 1 Chr 29:1-30, John 10:11-21, Ps 133, Pro 26:7-12


Future focus

'Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might.' Ecclesiastes 9:10 NIV

The Bible says: 'Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might' (Ecclesiastes 9:10 NIV). It also says: 'Whatever you do, work heartily' (Colossians 3:23 ESV). That seems like great advice for when we're fully on board and passionate about our work or studies - it's easy to put all our effort into it. But what happens when what we're doing now seems insignificant and unrewarding?

We have to have future focus - to see beyond what we can see right now and have faith that the 'now' will be useful in the future. Our 'now' could be a stepping-stone for something God wants to do through us later. Maybe we need these experiences and moments to grow us and prepare us for what God has in store for us. 'God is working in you to help you want to do and be able to do what pleases him' (Philippians 2:13 NCV). If we only ever do what we feel like doing or enjoy doing, we may overlook relationships and undervalue experiences essential to our future.

If we're not enjoying what we're doing 'now' we need to ask God to give us future focus. We need to learn to walk by faith and not by sight (see 2 Corinthians 5:7). Our today is connected to our tomorrow, so it seems like wisdom to maximise each opportunity and relationship that comes our way.

So what now? Think back to a seemingly insignificant moment in your life that prepared you for the place you're in now. Thank God for those moments.

Soulfood: Gen 14:18-24, Ps 110, Heb 5:5-10


Turn to God's Word

'I will not break my agreement nor change what I have said.' Psalm 89:34 NCV

Some days we feel like staying under our duvets all day or escaping the pressures of life by jetting off to another country. But geographical cures and escaping don't solve our problems; they just relocate them. Instead, we need to turn to a source of strength, hope and encouragement that never fails - our heavenly Father. He says, 'I will not break my agreement nor change what I have said' (Psalm 89:34 NCV).

The Bible is full of verses to help us focus on God rather than on how we feel. Here are a few: 'When I am in distress, I call to you, because you answer me' (Psalm 86:7 NIV); 'He sent his word and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions' (Psalm 107:20 NKJV). 'I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living' (Psalm 27:13 NIV); 'I will go in the strength of the Lord God' (Psalm 71:16 NKJV); 'Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken' (Psalm 55:22 NIV); 'Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you' (1 Peter 5:7 NIV).

When we allow God's Word to fill our minds and our hearts, we are reminded that our identity is in Christ, that we have a God who is always there for us, and that we have better days to come.

So what now? Choose a Bible verse from this reading. Write it out. Memorise it. Go back to it each time you feel down.

Soulfood: 1 Chr 23:21-32, 1 Chr 24, 1 Chr 25, 1 Chr 26:1-19, John 10:1-10, Ps 99, Pro 26:1-6


Our life's purpose in God

'For we are...created...for good works.' Ephesians 2:10 NKJV

God 'has created us in Christ Jesus to live lives filled with good works that he has prepared for us to do' (Ephesians 2:10 GWT). Before we decide on what we'll devote our lives to, we need to seek God for guidance. Nothing takes the place of doing what he knows is best for us. A 'successful' life can be full of emptiness and lack of fulfilment if God's not leading it.

God created each of us for a specific purpose. Here are four questions to ask ourselves when it comes to identifying our own life's purpose: (1) What am I searching for? All of us have a strong desire in our hearts; something that speaks to our deepest thoughts and emotions and sets our souls on fire. (2) Why was I created? We need to consider the unique mix of abilities, relationships and resources available to us, our personal history, and the opportunities around us. (3) Do I believe in my potential? If we don't believe in ourselves, it will be harder to believe we can do anything God calls us to do, or even that God would want to use us. But he's given us all gifts and skills, and he'll equip us to do whatever he's asking of us. (4) When should I start? We should be starting now. Once we discover our life's purpose, we mustn't waste time getting started on fulfilling it.

So what now? If you're not yet sure what God's purpose for your life is,pray about and answer the four questions in the reading.

Soulfood: 1 Chr 19, 1 Chr 20, 1 Chr 21, 1 Chr 22, 1 Chr 23:1-20, John 9:24-41, Ps 115, Pro 25:26-28


No more peoplepleasing

'Christ has truly set us free...make sure that you stay free.' Galatians 5:1 NLT

Some of us find it hard to give ourselves permission to think, say or enjoy certain things because we fear others will disapprove. We're people-pleasers - we gauge things by what others think, whether it be our family, our peer group, our school or work friends. We are actually operating legalistically, according to our perceived rules of others.

The apostle Paul had a bit to say about people-pleasing. He wrote: 'Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ' (Galatians 1:10 NIV). And, when he found out that the Galatians were policing people's lives and forcing them to live by Jewish traditions instead of the Gospel of grace, he wrote 'Make stay free...don't get tied up again in slavery to the law' (Galatians 5:1 NLT).

It can be really hard to stop being a people-pleaser, especially if we've been one for so long. But, it's healthy to stop being tied up trying to, sometimes obsessively, gain others' approval. People-pleasing is not what God wants for us. He wants us to be committed followers and 'pleasers' of him. He wants us to focus on living for him. He wants us to realise that his love and approval are enough for us.

So what now? Next time you find yourself doing something to gain the approval of others, stop and remind yourself that the only approval that matters is God's and you already have it.

Soulfood: 1 Chr 16-18, John 9:13-23, Ps 105:1-15, Pro 25:23-25

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