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Word For You Today

Trust God

'Trust the Lord with all your heart.' Proverbs 3:5 NCV

When we step into a situation which is outside of our comfort zone or face a situation we struggle with, we can be tempted to retreat. We want to run to a place of safety and avoid facing the battles. Standing on the threshold of the Promised Land, Joshua realised there were seven nations and forty kings to be conquered before he could possess it. So God told him, 'No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you' (Joshua 1:5 NIV). God was asking Joshua to trust him. And he was encouraging Joshua to look back and see how steadfast he had always been with Moses.

The Bible says: 'Trust the Lord with all your heart, and don't depend on your own understanding' (Proverbs 3:5 NCV). Each time we face a difficult situation, we need to trust God. He doesn't promise that the road will be easy, but he does promise to never leave our side through the tough times. We can be tempted to give up when the valleys are long, hard and tiring. But if we keep going, and keep trusting God, he'll help us reach the other side.

Seeing God's faithfulness in the past, whether in our own lives or someone else's, can help us trust him today.

So what now? Spend some time reflecting on God's faithfulness to you in the past. Thank him for those times.

Soulfood: Matt 5:5, Num 12:1-15, Ps 37:1-11, Phil 2:5-11


No foothold for the enemy

'Do not give the devil a foothold.' Ephesians 4:27 NIV

The Bible says, '"In your anger do not sin": Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold' (Ephesians 4:26-27 NIV). The word translated 'foothold' in the NIV version is the Greek word topos. It means a place, territory or ground. And anger gives ground to the devil. Bitterness invites him to occupy a space in our hearts.

Our human nature makes us more likely to become angry and frustrated in situations where we should show grace. When we get hurt by others, it's harder to forgive than it is to remain bitter and resentful. But if we realise the devil has a 'foothold' in our lives, we need to make him leave. How? By beginning the process of forgiveness, avoiding making mental lists of the 'wrongs' people have done to us, and praying for those we struggle to get along with. We need to turn our attention away from what they did to us and focus on what Jesus did for us. Jesus died for them too. And if he thinks they're worth forgiving, then they are.

Forgiveness isn't easy. Some days when we think we've healed and moved on, then something happens that makes the pain return. We then have to start the process of forgiving again. When we're actively trying to forgive, love and become more Christlike, we're not giving the devil a 'foothold' in our lives.

So what now? Is there someone you need to forgive? Ask God to help you begin the process of forgiveness today.

Soulfood: Job 11-14, Matt 24:26-35, Ps 13, Pro 8:14-16


Encourage don't judge

'Never criticise or condemn - or it will all come back on you.' Luke 6:37 TLB

Ever criticised or judged someone because of something they've done, or not done? We can probably all answer 'yes' to this question. We can be quick to point out other people's faults. But Jesus said: 'And why worry about a speck in the eye of a brother when you have a board in your own? Should you say, 'Friend, let me help you get that speck out of your eye,' when you can't even see because of the board in your own? Hypocrite! First get rid of the board. Then you can see to help your brother' (Matthew 7:3-5 TLB).

None of us is perfect; only God is. And he is the only one who can judge. In Romans, it says: 'If you think you can judge others, you are wrong. When you judge them, you are really judging yourself guilty, because you do the same things they do. God judges those who do wrong things, and we know that his judging is right' (2:1-2 NCV). The Message version of this verse says, 'Don't pick on people, jump on their failures, criticise their faults - unless, of course, you want the same treatment.'

Instead of judging and criticising, Paul says, 'When we have the opportunity to help...we should do it' (Galatians 6:10 NCV). So we need to be looking for ways to bless and encourage people, even when we know they can't do anything in return.

So what now? Next time you find yourself criticising someone, stop! Ask God to show you something you need to work on in your life.

Soulfood: Job 8-10, Matt 24:15-25, Ps 116:12-19, Pro 8:10-13


Cry out to God

'In my distress I cried out to the Lord.' Psalm 18:6 NLT

Even when we reach a point where we're exhausted, tired and burnt out, afraid, disappointed, discouraged, or close to giving up, there's still hope. We can cry out to God, and he promises to hear us. Whatever we're facing, big or small, God is the answer.

The psalms are full of examples of people crying out to God when they were in overwhelming circumstances. 'In my distress I cried out to the Lord...[and] he heard me' (Psalm 18:6 NLT); 'I cried out to God to hear me. When I was in distress, I sought the Lord' (Psalm 77:1-2 NIV); 'Hear me, Lord, my plea is just; listen to my cry' (Psalm 17:1 NIV).

King David often cried out to God. David said: 'He reached down from Heaven and rescued me; ...he led me to a place of safety; he rescued me because he delights in me' (Psalm 18:16, 19 NLT). David discovered that God was his 'rock...fortress and...deliverer' (Psalm 18:2 NIV). He recognised that God was a place of safety where the enemy couldn't get to him: 'The name of the Lord is a fortified tower; the righteous run to it and are safe' (Proverbs 18:10 NIV). This tower represents security in God where we're lifted above our circumstances, where we regain perspective, where we can look ahead and know that God is helping us in our trials.

So what now? Cry out to God today. Tell him what you're facing, big or small, then sit quietly and listen to what he has to say to you.

Soulfood: Job 5-7, Matt 24:1-14, Ps 116:1-11, Pro 8:8-9


Surrender to God 5

'Not what I will, but what you will.' Mark 14:36 NIV

Surrender involves sacrifice. Jesus often identified the particular area where surrender was needed in a person's life. To the woman caught in adultery he said, 'Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more' (John 8:11 NKJV). Jesus didn't condemn her; instead he forgave her and encouraged her to surrender her old life controlled by her desires. He doesn't condemn us either; he encourages us to hand everything over to him.

Surrender often involves money, because money often centres around trust and control. To a rich businessman who wanted to follow him, Jesus said, 'Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in Heaven' (Mark 10:21 NIV). But the man was unwilling to do it. How willing are we to surrender everything to him? Surrender may involve telling someone about a grudge, habit or sin we have. God may prompt us to talk about something we struggle with or have failed at. This can make us feel uncomfortable. Will we surrender, when surrender means doing something uncomfortable? If it were comfortable, it wouldn't be surrender.

The greatest example of surrender was Jesus in Gethsemane, praying, 'Not my will, but yours be done' (Luke 22:42 NIV). It was the hardest prayer he ever prayed, and the one that launched him into his destiny. The prayer that brings God's power is often the prayer of surrender.

So what now? Ask God which area of your life you need to surrender to him. Then pray that his will would be done in that area.

Soulfood: Job 1-4, Matt 23:23-39, Ps 19, Pro 8:6-7


Surrender to God 4

'Offer your bodies as a living God.' Romans 12:1 NIV

Paul writes, 'Offer your bodies as a living sacrifice...pleasing to God' (Romans 12:1 NIV). During a Jewish sacrifice, an animal would be killed, then its body was placed on the altar. But Paul says that we should be a 'living sacrifice'. We have to choose to get on the altar and stay there. He's encouraging us to surrender to God day by day, moment by moment.

This surrender involves all areas of our lives: everything we think, say and do. For example, suppose somebody does something that makes us angry. Without even trying, our minds will probably fill with all kinds of bad thoughts, and we'll be more likely to react unhelpfully, perhaps with avoidance, gossiping or retaliation. But, if we surrender to him, he will show us how to respond with grace. When we surrender our response to God, we hand over our thoughts and feelings to him. Sometimes, because we were hurt, those thoughts may come back. This means we need to surrender all over again.

As we learn to surrender to God in each given situation, we will no longer be controlled by the thoughts and emotions that rise up. 'The psalmist said, 'Each morning I... lay my requests before you, praying earnestly' (Psalm 5:3 TLB). And that's exactly what we need to do. We need to offer every part of our lives, every day, to God - for him to use for his glory.

So what now? Each morning during the week ahead, spend some time offering up every part of your life to God.

Soulfood: 1 Thes 1-5, Matt 23:13-22, Ps 11, Pro 8:4-5


Surrender to God 3

'Teach me to do your God.' Psalm 143:10 NIV

Surrendering to God brings freedom. This seems strange: surrendering requires us to give up control and let God lead - how can we experience freedom by doing that?

God can help us overcome any problem we face. He gives breakthrough and freedom when we hand our issues, both present and past, over to him. If we try to overcome our problem by our own will and strength, it will beat us. But if we surrender to God, freedom becomes possible. Surrender, which we often associate with defeat, actually turns out to be the only way to victory. The Bible says: 'For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it' (Matthew 16:25 NIV). By surrendering to God, we are allowing ourselves to fulfil our ultimate purpose and be all that we were created for. The Bible says: 'Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground' (Psalm 143:10 NIV). Surrendering to God means we're allowing him to lead us, guide us, teach us and speak into our lives.

Jesus said: 'I came that they may have life and have it abundantly (John 10:10 ESV). When we let Jesus take control of our lives, we can live life to the full, because his plans for our lives are so much better than anything we come up.

So what now? What do you need freedom from? Your past? Your temptations? Today, surrender it to God and ask him to help you experience true freedom.

Soulfood: Gen 50, Haggai 1-2, Matt 23:1-12, Ps 115

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