Word For You Today

The life is in the blood



'The blood of Jesus Christ...cleanses us from all sin.' 1 John 1:7 NKJV

The New Testament mentions' blood' around 100 times: half of those refer specifically to Jesus' blood. From this we can see that it's hugely important in God's message to us.

Romans 5:9 reminds us that 'we have now been justified by his blood' (NIV), and 2 Corinthians 6:18 records God saying, 'I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters' (NIV). Blood 'justifies' who a child's parents are and passes on their DNA. So, if Jesus has given us his blood we are, inarguably, God's children with his blueprint running through our veins.

Blood does three important things for us. (1) Blood provides the right things to cleanse and heal our wounds. It's the blood that goes to the broken, injured skin to clean the cut and create a clot to seal the wound. This is the first role of Jesus' blood, to cleanse and heal us from our sin. That is why he allowed it to be spilled for us on the cross. (2) Blood contains white cells which defend the body against infection. They fight off any attack, destroy everything harmful, and protect against anything that could make the body ill, just like Jesus does for his body, the church. (3) Blood carries oxygen around the whole body, which is then burned to produce energy. The blood of Jesus is our fuel. This allows us to fully live the life that he promises us.

So what now? Today, sit in Jesus' presence and thank him for healing, defending and energising you through his blood.

Soulfood: Exo 30-32, Matt 8:18-27, Ps 89:1-14, Pro 2:20

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Follow God's map



'I focus on this one thing.' Philippians 3:13 NLT

To keep moving forward on any new journey, we need a trustworthy map. We can be so used to drawing up battle plans, goals, S.M.A.R.T. targets and next steps that it can be easy to think that we should be the ones to draw the map. When we're chasing a dream, our laser focus could exclude him, especially when there's pressure from timelines or other objectives.

For any dream, our main focus should be on one thing - God. When our biggest life goal is to glorify God and to carry out his work, our map will develop as we seek him. Proverbs 16:9 says 'In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps' (NIV). God does want us to put full effort into living out his plans, so we can't just sit around and wait for him to drop everything in our lap. It's vital that we take the time out to ask him where to go next, and then chase that with all our hearts. His plans work best when we make space to regularly ask him for the next step. Sometimes, that's why he allows us to face uncertainty: he wants us to ask him questions, to keep us checking in with him, to stop us racing ahead.

God is our main focus, so let's allow him to draw up our map.

So what now? This coming week, go somewhere where you need to use a map, or map app, to get to. As you travel, ask God to reveal the next steps of his map for your life.

Soulfood: Luke 2:8-20, Pro 3:13-18, Ps 119:161-168

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Live as you were meant to



'But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law.' Galatians 5:18 NIV

When God's Spirit lives in us, he means for our lives to be wonderfully turned around. He wants us to change the way that we feel, think and operate, because it is really good for us. When we become his, God wants us to live a life that reflects him, and he equips us to do that by changing our hearts, from the inside out.

It has been thought by several Christian writers that, after Jesus' sacrifice on the cross and God giving the Holy Spirit to us for every day, we can read the Ten Commandments as promises, rather than rules. With a changed heart, when God says, 'You will have no other gods before me' (Exodus 20:3 NIV), he is describing what our lives are meant to look like with him, and telling us that, with his Spirit, we won't desire our worldly idols any more. He won't let us off the hook when it comes to things that matter to him, but not because he's standing over our shoulder ready to punish us. We'll stay in line with his will because we understand his heart and want to do the same.

When we ask God's Spirit to live in us, we are inviting him to make us more like him - as we were designed to be. Our hearts are meant to change and we are meant to move away from what's wrong to what's right, naturally.

So what now? Thank God for his Holy Spirit in you, making you more like him. Enjoy living as you were meant to.

Soulfood: Exo 28-29, Matt 8:10-17, Ps 84, Pro 2:16-19

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Dealing with criticism well



'Bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.' Luke 6:28 NIV

There are two kinds of criticism. Constructive criticism, when founded in truth and delivered well, can help us move forward in our God-given goals. Proverbs 15:31 says: 'Healthy correction is good, and if you accept it, you will be wise' (CEV). Destructive criticism threatens to derail and disempower us.

Nineteenth century evangelist and writer D.L. Moody said, 'If I take care of my character, God will take care of my reputation'. Part of doing life is accepting that people will talk about us, and some will spread negativity, especially if we're involved in a worthy cause. But as D.L. Moody observed, when we try our best to follow God, he will protect our reputation. If we are striving to life a godly life, then the truth of that will provide its own proof. Unfounded negativity from others cannot stand up against a holy life. We can be confident that God will restore truth and protect those who live for him.

If we know we have done all we can with integrity, we can follow the instruction of Luke 6:28 to 'bless those who curse you' and 'pray for those who mistreat you' (NIV). When we allow God to teach us how to deal with destructive or unfounded criticism, we will find the wisdom and strength to not only stand up against our critics' words, but to pray blessing over them.

So what now? Write out five important, encouraging truths about yourself. Put that list somewhere where you can look at it when you need encouragement for dealing with criticism.

Soulfood: Exo 25-27, Matt 8:1-9, Ps 81, Pro 2:11-15

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Acting in the opposite spirit



'Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other.' Ephesians 4:32 NIV

Throughout our lives we will always be challenged by people. But God calls us to treat each other well. We won't always want to, but he reminds us to love, forgive and be gentle with everyone we meet - no matter how we're feeling. Ephesians 4:31-32 reads: 'Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you' (NIV).

We're called to react lovingly to others because we have the ultimate example of love and forgiveness through Jesus. His model is the perfect template for our treatment of others. He didn't wait for us to ask before he forgave us. Similarly, we should forgive proactively. God still holds us accountable for the wrong things we do, and challenges us when we need to be pulled up. But he does it in a caring way, with wholehearted forgiveness and understanding. We are to do the same to others.

Reality check: people are usually not trying to make our life more difficult on purpose - they may be unaware of the impact their behaviour has, or they may be dealing with something difficult in their own lives. By acting in the opposite spirit to how we feel, we are showing them God's love and could actually be bringing breakthrough for them.

So what now? Ask God to help you show his love towards your 'difficult people'. You never know the goodness and breakthrough you could bring by acting opposite to how you feel.

Soulfood: Exo 22-24, Matt 7:15-29, Ps 79, Pro 2:9-10

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Stop and rest



'Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you.' Psalm 55:22 NIV

We're called to be active in our lives: to pray and to do. We know that God asks us to get stuck in and do our part. But sometimes we can get so caught up 'doing' that we forget to spend time resting in his presence. The world moves at such a fast pace - it can be difficult to take time to recharge and give everything to God. Sometimes it feels like taking that moment to stand still is giving the world permission to run ahead of us.It's so important to take the time to catch our breath and rest in God's presence. It's a clich? - but a good one - but an empty cup really can't pour anything out. Hebrews 13:21 talks about God equipping us with the tools to do his work, which we probably won't notice him doing unless we stop and take stock. Spending time 'casting our cares' on God is vital to ensure that his plans happen in the right way and time. It also takes the pressure off us!If we give our life, with its cares, over to him, he'll be the one directing its course, with our help - if and when he needs it ??. Let's face it, he'll do a much better job than we can in our own strength. So what now? Set aside an hour this week to be completely by yourself, doing something relaxing that you feel recharges you. Talk, and listen, to God throughout that hour, and ask him to refresh and equip you for the tasks ahead.

Soulfood: Exo 19-21, Matt 7:1-14, Ps 74:12-23, Pro 2:7-8

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Move mountains with God



'Whoever says...and does not doubt in his heart...will have whatever he says.' Mark 11:23 NKJV

Mark 11:23 says 'Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, "Go, throw yourself into the sea," and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them' (NIV). God's promise that our belief in him empowers us to command mountains to jump into the sea is incredible!

However, sometimes we doubt we can summon up that amount of faith. When we feel like this, it's important to remind ourselves of all the miraculous things we know God has done in the past. Holding on to what we know of him is exactly how to grow our faith in our current situation. When we find ourselves faced with a situation that seems too big to solve, let's ask: 'When have I seen God work in a situation like this?' We need to recall our past experiences, read the miracles in the Bible, and ask those around us for testimonies of God working in their lives. Once we're armed with the confidence that God has moved before, we can speak to our situation with authority. We can look at whatever is facing us, no matter how big, and command it to throw itself into the sea, because we have God in us.

When we stand in the full belief that God has moved mountains before, he will do it again.

So what now? Start to collect mountain-moving moments: your own, or those of your family and friends, or those going through similar situations to you. Update this collection as you see God working.

Soulfood: Exo 16-18, Matt 6:19-34, Ps 74:1-11, Pro 2:6

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