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Word For You Today

PREPARE FOR ATTACK - NEHEMIAH

Nehemiah lived about 2,400 years ago. He left a life of privilege to help rebuild the walls of ruined Jerusalem. But not everyone was happy about his efforts. A local bigwig, Sanballat, didn't want Nehemiah to succeed. 'Sanballat ...sent to me, saying, "Come, let us meet together"...But they thought to do me harm. So I sent messengers to them, saying, "I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down. Why should the work cease while I leave it and go down to you"? But they sent me this message four times, and I answered them in the same manner' (Nehemiah 6:2-4 NKJ).

Sometimes your answer just has to be 'No!' Any time you stop the work God has given you to do, you've sent the devil a signal his strategy is working. So you can expect more of the same. Think: if God can deliver you in times of trouble, surely He can defend you in times of misunderstanding! So get back up on the wall He has called you to build and keep working.

So what now? Don't get distracted. Don't listen to critical people, be patient in dealing with cautious people. Value the people who are committed to seeing God's work advance and you advance too! 'A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.' Recognise such people and build your life around them because they are a gift from God.

Soulfood : Song 5-8, Lk 1:39-56, Ps 21, Prov 16:16-19

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TOUCHING AN OPTIC NERVE?

Your eyes are wired to your brain: the optic nerve stretches from the back of the eye right into your head. Your very own high-speed, fibre-optic, in-head broadband. Every image and word you see shoots down it like a dart to your brain, and plants itself into your thoughts.

So, what happens when your eyes land on something that plants 'sex' in your mind? Well, simply, that wrong kind of sex becomes a part of your thoughts - yes, a part of you. What you're taking in changes how your brain understands sex. Experiencing (including 'just messing around' or 'just seeing') sex in the wrong way tears at the tissue of our Spirit and soul.

God crafted sex as a deeply personal and secure way to give ourselves to someone as part of only-the-most-serious commitment. It's made to live in healthy, lifelong marriage. It's God's plan for us to understand it as a celebration of a couple expressing lifelong love, but warped imagery leads to warped expectations.

If you are tempted, turn away or run away! Just as Joseph did when he was tempted. See Joseph's story in Genesis 39:1-18. And don't forget to check out the reward of his faithfulness in Genesis 41:38-45.

So what now? You're precious! You deserve the best! God says that and Word For You Today agrees with Him. Don't compromise with the precious gift of sex. You will not regret taking the secure path.

Soulfood : Song 1-4, Lk 1:26-38, Ps 17, Prov 16:12-15

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A New Approach to Obedience (3)

A guy trying to win a girl will do anything for her. She'll call him and say, 'I know it's late, you're tired and it's raining, but could you come over and change my flat tyre?' 'Sure, I'll be right over,' he says. And over he comes with a smile. Now, fast forward, they've been married 10 years. She asks him to get up off the sofa and do something for her. She has to say it three or four times - you'd think she'd asked him to cut off his leg the way he moans and groans! Then she gets upset. What's happening? What was once a pleasure has become a pain - because the love has cooled off!

Our problem isn't really obedience, it's keeping our love for Christ strong. Only love makes obedience a joy. Less obedience quite simply means less love. Lots of people allow the love to fizzle out of the Christian life, so that it just becomes a set of rules. But God has designed the Christian life around relationships, not rules. Rules without relationship lead to coldness. Jesus sent an angel to the Christians at Ephesus to say: 'I have this against you, that you have left your first love' (Revelation 2:4 NAS). In other words, 'You don't love Me like you used to.' Then He commanded them to return to the point where they had fallen, which is where they let their love for Him slip.

 

So what now? Is Christ saying the same thing to you today? Is it time for you to say to Jesus again 'Sure, I'll be right over' with a big smile on your face, glad to do anything He asks?

 

Soulfood : 2 Cor 11:16-13:14, Lk 1:11-25, Ps 8, Prov 16:8-11

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A New Approach to Obedience (2)

Jesus said, 'My yoke fits perfectly, and the burden I give you is light' (Matthew 11:30 NLT). Many who heard these words were farmers who used oxen to plough their fields. They understood what Jesus was saying because the yoke was one of their most important bits of equipment. It was a wooden attachment that fitted between two oxen so that their full pulling power could be released. They wouldn't dream of putting an ill-fitting yoke on their oxen that caused them to chafe, or pull the plough in a wonky line. Now, when Jesus used this illustration He wasn't saying that His followers are cows. Don't get take the 'pulling power' phrase literally! This is about Jesus having a role for you which suits your personality. He's saying there's a job for you to do, which will take some effort - but it's a job you were built for and will ultimately excel at.

So why do so many of us not feel an instant desire to get out there and get on with it? Quite simply because we've spent so long not being the person we were made to be, and not doing the things we were made to do, that the 'yoke' feels totally weird at first. The only way to make it feel less weird is just to get started and get into the groove!

So what now? Jesus has the perfect 'yoke' for you, to guide you in the 'groove' that suits you best. So why not get started now? Obedience isn't hard work; it's what you were made for!

Soulfood : 2 Cor 9:1-11:15, Lk 1:1-10, Ps 144:9-15, Prov 16:4-7

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A New Approach to Obedience (1)

Paul says, '...God is working in you giving you the desire to obey Him and the power to do what pleases Him.' Most of us don't connect obedience with pleasure. Perhaps we had parents who made us obey them. Now it's not wrong for parents to expect obedience, or teachers to expect cooperation from their class. But it's not the best motivation for obedience. The element that's missing is the 'want to' factor God built into each of us at the point of salvation. This takes the 'ought to/have to/better do it or else God will zap you' element out of it! It elevates obeying God to an excited response because of all that He's done for you.

Obedience is not something you have to manufacture; the desire is already present in you - it just needs to be activated. This will often come during a time of worship, prayer, or listening to a preacher. Nobody wants their relationship with God to be like the boy who misbehaved and was told by his mother to go and sit in the corner. After a few minutes she called to him from the other room, 'Are you still sitting down?' He replied, 'Yes, I'm sitting down on the outside, but I'm standing up on the inside.' You could call that obedience, but actually it's rebellion. Real obedience is gladly doing on the outside, what you really want to do on the inside.

So what now? Ask God to give you the 'want to' factor when it comes to obeying Him. What He wants us to do is always 'all good!'

Soulfood : 2 Cor 5-8, Mk 16, Ps 144:1-8, Prov 16:1-3

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HE WILL WIN OUT

'Who made God then?' 'If God exists why is there so much suffering in the world?' 'Christians are mostly hypocrites.' 'Religion is outdated and causes wars.' 'Christianity is a crutch for weak people.' 'How can you know what's really true?'

Have you ever had questions and statements like these flung at you, leaving you unsure how to respond? Maybe you've become discouraged and been tempted to stop sharing your faith. Maybe you've even given up praying because of it. It happens to lots of Christians and it can be very demoralising.

In Galatians 1:13 (NLT) Paul writes; 'I violently persecuted God's church. I did my best to destroy it.' Paul had no thoughts of becoming a Christian. His intent was to destabilise the Church, and he never dreamt that one day he'd switch sides. But when God has a plan, He will do whatever it takes to fulfil it. So when Paul held the coats of Stephen's executioners, even then God was hatching a plan to make him one of the most remarkable Christians of all time.

Just like Paul, He has plans for your friends with all their objections, tricky questions, or questionable lifestyle choices. Tougher nuts have been cracked! God's grace will win out, so hold in there, and don't lose hope!

So what now? Try to love as God loves. He sees your imperfections and your doubts and loves you regardless. That should help you not to give up on someone just because they haven't 'got it' yet.

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

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ANCHORED IN ABSOLUTE GOOD

We're in a society that's moved away from the ideas of absolute good and absolute evil. So having something concrete to stand for will set you apart (in a really good way).

The Bible calls us to stick with the boundaries set by our forerunners (see Proverbs 22:28). If we stay within the age-old knowledge of God's law, we also draw on age-old power to change our world through obedience to God. Obedience may sound like a bit of a stuffy word (or, you know, a dog training thing), but it's the foundation of a God-centred life. The really old root of the word obedience is a mixture of 'ob' - 'to be near' and 'audio' - 'to hear'. If we are close to someone, and hear an instruction from them, the 'obedience' part isn't a choice, it's the natural next step. If we live our lives in proximity to God, obeying His voice will be automatic upon hearing it.

So, hear this from God's Word: '...hold on to what is good. Reject every kind of evil' (1 Thessalonians 5:21 NIV). God is absolutely good, no question, and His way is absolutely right, so hold on to it.

In a world that's all at sea, bobbing along with changing boundaries and drifting with the tide, we can anchor ourselves in a steady-as-a-rock God and show a better (and unfailingly right) way to those floating along in the current.

So what now? When you feel your faith compromised or are uncertain which way to choose, hold on to the good of God's Word, even though it may be tough. He will not fail you.

Soulfood : 2 Cor 1-4, Mk 15:33-47, Ps 139:13-24, Prov 15:31-33

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