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Word For You Today

Childlike faith

'If you don't... become like a child, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven.' Matthew 18:3 CEV

Matthew writes: 'At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, "Who, then, is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?" He called a little child to him... And he said: "Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven"' (Matthew 18:1-3 NIV).

We can learn a lot from watching little children. They find a way to enjoy whatever they're doing. They're quick to forgive: one moment they're fighting over something, the next moment they're playing happily together. And children don't need to worry about bills, meals or making ends meet because they implicitly trust that those who care for them will provide them with what they need. Children live like they're free: they don't run around feeling guilty and condemned. And that's how we should live too. He's forgiven us, so we don't need to walk in guilt and shame any more.

Through this command, Jesus teaches us: (1) To have simple faith. (2) To pray simple prayers. (3) To be quick to repent and forgive. (4) To ask for God's help and trust he'll answer. (5) To believe that our heavenly Father is good and that 'the Lord will withhold no good thing from those who do what is right' (Psalm 84:11 NLT). With this kind of simplicity in our relationship with God, we'll find ourselves growing spiritually and enjoying him more than ever.

So what now? Today, focus on having childlike faith: trusting your heavenly Father, knowing that you are loved, forgiven and free.

Soulfood: Joel 1-3, Luke 7:24-35, Ps 118:19-29, Pro 15:33


Ask for God's plan

'You will hear a voice saying, "This is the road! Now follow it."' Isaiah 30:21 CEV

Jesus understood God's plan for his life - the redemption of humankind - and lived each day of his life in the light of it. He spent many late nights and early mornings in prayer, asking his Father for guidance. At the end of his life he could pray, 'I have glorified you on the earth. I have finished the work which you have given me to do' (John 17:4 NKJV).

Planning is really helpful if we want to be successful. It helps keep us on track. And as God's children, our plan should be led by God, otherwise pressures and people can take us in the wrong direction. When seeking a plan for our lives, it's good to ask God to reveal things to us. The Bible promises us that: 'Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, "This is the way, walk in it"' (Isaiah 30:21 NKJV). His plans for us are so much better than any we, or anyone else, can come up with. 'As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts' (Isaiah 55:9 NIV).

God's plans for us are unique; we need not compare with or copy anyone else. Instead we need to focus on discovering God's unique plan for our lives, and then decide to follow it.

So what now? Whether you have a plan or you need to find out what it is, dedicate time to ask God to reveal his plan for you. Make a note of anything you feel he's saying.

Soulfood: Jer 51-52, Luke 7:11-23, Ps 118:10-18, Pro 15:31-32


Who are you looking at

'Peter asked Jesus, "What about him, Lord?"' John 21:21 NLT

The Bible says, 'Peter turned around and saw behind them the disciple Jesus loved - the one who had leaned over to Jesus during supper and asked, "Lord, who will betray you?" Peter asked Jesus, "What about him, Lord?" Jesus replied, "If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? As for you, follow me." So the rumour spread among the community of believers that this disciple wouldn't die. But that isn't what Jesus said at all. He only said, "If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you"' (John 21:20-23 NLT)? When Peter asked Jesus, 'What about him, Lord?' he was referring to the apostle John, who enjoyed an especially close relationship with Christ. And Jesus said, 'Get your eyes off John and keep them on me. Follow me and you can have a close relationship with me too.'

People will disappoint you, just as you will disappoint them. But Jesus will never disappoint you if you keep your eyes on him and follow him. Even with the best of intentions people will give you poor advice, and you will give them poor advice. But Jesus won't. He doesn't merely know the way, he says, 'I am the way' (John 14:6 NKJV). He says, 'He who follows me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life' (John 8:12 NKJV).

So what now? The word for you today is one of the most fundamental principles in Christian living: take your eyes off people and keep them on Jesus.

Soulfood: Jer 49-50, Luke 7:1-10, Ps 118:1-9, Pro 15:27-30



'My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.' Exodus 33:14 NKJV

Moses, one of the greatest leaders in the Bible, got totally stressed out with his responsibilities. God had called Moses to lead his people out of Egypt and into the Promised Land. But the Israelites were not easy to deal with: they were rebellious and they repeatedly complained. Moses' father-in-law noticed the stress Moses was under and said, 'What you are doing is not good. You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone' (Exodus 18:17-18 NIV).

The answer for Moses' stress can be summed up in two parts: (1) Delegate the work to qualified people and trust them to do it. Part of being a good leader is admitting that other people are assigned to do certain tasks, and then allowing them to be involved. (2) Draw on God's strength rather than our own. God told Moses, 'My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest' (Exodus 33:14 NKJV). The word 'rest' means 'inner peace, well-being, security and confidence'. God wants us to find rest in him.

God does not want us to live with stress, constantly on the edge of burnout. He wants us to learn to share our workload, and to turn to him for the rest and peace we so desperately need.

So what now? Feeling overwhelmed with your responsibilities? Ask for help with a task. And ask God for the rest his presence offers. Learn to live stress-less, as your heavenly Father intended.

Soulfood: Heb 11:7, Gen 6:9-22, Gen 8:18-22, Matt 24:36-44


No need to compare

'Rachel... became jealous of her sister.' Genesis 30:1 NLT

The story of Rachel and Leah (in Genesis 29 and 30) is a story full of comparison. When Jacob arrived at his uncle's farm, he knew he wanted Rachel to be his wife. But his uncle tricked him and he ended up marrying Rachel's oldest sister Leah. Later, his uncle allowed him to marry Rachel as well, in exchange for another seven years of work. These two sisters were pulled into comparison. Leah knew she wasn't Jacob's first choice. When Leah's first son was born she said: 'Surely my husband will love me now' (Genesis 29:32 NIV). Her desperation to be loved like Rachel was clear. Then Rachel was unable to have children, while Leah had many. We're told that 'when Rachel saw that she was not bearing Jacob any children, she became jealous of her sister' (Genesis 30:1 NIV)!

We can all relate to this to some degree. In our relationships and through social media, we see other people's families, houses, jobs, talents (the list goes on!) and we feel we don't measure up. If we're not careful, comparison can destroy our relationships, and rob us of our joy!

There is no room for comparison when we're following Jesus (note: this applies to seeing ourselves as better and worse off than others). Let's focus on the blessings and journey God has for us individually.

So what now? Next time you're scrolling through social media, pray for the people who post something amazing about their lives. Thank God for blessing them. And thank him for the good things in your life!

Soulfood: Jer 45-48, Luke 6:37-49, Ps 109:16-31, Pro 15:23-26


Keep going watching Jesus

'Let us run...keeping our eyes on Jesus.' Hebrews 12:1-2 NLT

In the Bible we are encouraged to: 'Run with endurance the race that God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honour beside God's throne. Think of all...he endured...then you won't become weary and give up' (Hebrews 12:1-3 NLT).

Jesus kept going, even when things got tough, even when God's plan for him involved suffering and pain. We can see his moment of anguish in the Garden of Gethsemane on the night he was betrayed by Judas. He cried out to God: 'My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will' (Matthew 26:39 NIV). Even in his moment of wanting to give up, he still believed that God's will for his life was the best thing.

And when we're struggling to keep on running, we need to believe that God has everything under control, and that he's working everything for our good (see Romans 8:28). Jesus' faith, endurance and perseverance are a great example to us, and an encouragement to us to keep going when we feel we can't.

So what now? Over the next few weeks, do a Jesus study in one of the gospel books: Matthew, Mark, Luke or John. How did he respond to life, how did he keep going? Keep going, watching Jesus, your champion.

Soulfood: Jer 41-44, Luke 6:27-36, Ps 109:1-15, Pro 15:22


It's worth it

'Take up [your] cross and follow me.' Mark 8:34 NIV

Jesus never promised that when we follow him everything will go super smoothly or that we'll get everything we think we want and need. In fact, he said: 'Take up [your] cross and follow me' (Mark 8:34 NIV) - this suggests surrender and a willingness to put to death the parts of our character, behaviour and lifestyle that don't line up with following him. He asks us to give him our hopes and dreams, relationships, time and gifts - because he knows how to best work them out.

This 'following Jesus' can get challenging, and when hard times come we may even wonder if it's really worth it. But, there is an amazing reward waiting for us - we have the promise of eternal life with Jesus because he took up his cross and followed his Father's plan. But there aren't just eternal benefits to wholeheartedly following Jesus; we're promised a deep and close relationship with him right now. He promises to walk alongside us through everything we face, to listen to us when we call, to give us strength when we feel weak.

Jesus told a story of people who said they would follow him but then had things they felt they had to sort first (see Luke 9:57-62). Are we prepared to leave our old things behind, and surrender and follow him for the rest of our lives?

So what now? When life gets tough and following Jesus seems very hard, ask him to remind you of the goodness of life with him, now and for eternity. A relationship with Jesus is worth it.

Soulfood: Jer 36:27 - 40:16, Luke 6:17-26, Ps 79, Pro 15:18-21

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