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Word For You Today

Dealing with our sin

'He appeared so that he might take away our sins.' 1 John 3:5 NIV

Sin can be described as our 'selfish independent nature', where we choose to go against God's best for us. When we refuse to confront our sins and deal with them, we become a target for the enemy. The Bible says: 'If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall' (1 Corinthians 10:12 NLT).

The Bible says, 'All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God' (Romans 3:23 NIV). But our sin doesn't mean the end for us: 'He appeared so that he might take away our sins' (1 John 3:5 NIV). Because of Jesus's sacrifice on the cross, we're loved, forgiven and accepted and promised eternal life. John 3:16-17 says: 'For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him' (NIV). Jesus will forgive our sins, declare us righteous, and give us strength if we come to him with a repentant heart and receive his mercy and grace.

But, we have to be willing to confess and deal with our sins. We can't use the forgiveness of God as an excuse to keep on sinning. When we truly value the sacrifice that Jesus made to wipe all our sins away, we'll want to focus on doing what pleases him.

So what now? Is there a sin in your life that seems to have become a habit? Confess it to God and ask for his strength to deal with it. Maybe talk to someone you trust too, so that you can be kept accountable to overcome it.

Soulfood: Gen 40-41, Matt 22:1-14, Ps 27, Pro 7:10-20


God's truth brings happiness

'Let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.' Romans 12:2 NLT

When our thoughts are directed by what the world tells us, we set ourselves up for unhappiness. Instead, if we allow God's Word to fill our minds and shape our thoughts, we'll think more like him and live life as he intended us to... 'Let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think' (Romans 12:2 NLT).

Here are some unhelpful thoughts we can have that need to be lined up with God's truth: (1) There's a special person out there who will make me happy. If we're basing our happiness on another person, we're bound to be disappointed. We need to find our happiness in God. (2) When I attain a certain position or have a specific amount of money, I'll be happy. It's good to have goals, but when we believe that our happiness will only come when we reach them, we'll be discontented with our life as it is now (see Luke 12:15). (3) I can't help it; it's just the way I am. This is a way to avoid taking responsibility for our actions. It's true that our personality can influence how we behave, but we are all called to become more Christlike.

Jesus said, 'Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free' (John 8:32 NIV) - a life of freedom where we can become everything God wants us to be.

So what now? Memorise John 8:32. When you think a thought that doesn't line up with God's truth, say that verse to yourself; this is true happiness.

Soulfood: Gen 37-39, Matt 21:33-46, Ps 112, Pro 7:6-9


Helping others 2

'They refused to pay attention...and would not listen.' Zechariah 7:11-12 NIV

Here are some more types of people who can be hard to help.

(1) People who want to talk but not listen. James highlights two kinds of people - hearers and doers. He wrote: 'Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says' (James 1:22 NIV). It can be easy to offload problems but not take on board any advice. They like to complain about them, but don't necessarily want to change anything because it's too hard or uncomfortable. (2) People who don't think we're qualified to help them. Jesus wasn't respected in his home town, yet he was the very person they needed (see John 1:11-12). When people are unwilling to accept our help and advice, chances are they may not be ready to grow and deal with their problems. (3) People who want what we have, but not what we know. These people want to be rescued but not instructed; comforted but not corrected. And when we keep rescuing them from their situations, they don't learn what God can teach them.

It's worth remembering that we are ultimately not responsible for fixing other people's situations. They should be dependent on God, not us. So instead of striving to meet others' needs, let's try to connect them to God, who is able to meet all our needs.

So what now? Allow yourself to be helped too. Next time you're offloading your problems, make an effort to really listen to any advice you're given. Write it down and ask God whether it's advice you should take on board.

Soulfood: Gen 35-36, Matt 21:18-32, Ps 106:24-48, Pro 7:3-5


Helping others 1

'They would not listen or respond.' Jeremiah 32:33 NIV

Most of us like to help others. But sometimes we'll come across people we can't help - at least not right now.

Who are these people? (1) People who keep making excuses. We can't help someone until they're willing to take responsibility for their own life and make a change. Notice what God said about the Israelites: 'Though I taught them again and again, they would not listen or respond' (Jeremiah 32:33 NIV). If people won't even listen to God, our opinion won't make much of a difference. (2) People who move in the wrong circles. The Bible says, 'Bad company corrupts good character' (1 Corinthians 15:33 NLT). There are people we simply can't associate with, and we have to break the link that connects and negatively influences us. (3) People who blame God for their problems. When trouble comes, they ask, 'Why did God allow this to happen to me?' But the truth is, we'll never see God as our solution until we stop seeing him as the cause of our problem.

When we come across people who don't want to be helped, it doesn't mean we should give up on them completely. We can still be there for them, love them and pray for them, but it's important to recognise when we should stop trying to offer advice and solutions, and ask God to open their hearts to receive help.

So what now? If you know someone who doesn't want to be helped right now, pray for them every day and just be there for them.

Soulfood: Matt 5:3, Luke 18:9-14, Isa 57:14-21, 2 Sam 7:18-29


A new and living way

'We can enter through a new and living way.' Hebrews 10:20 NCV

In the Old Testament there were over six hundred religious laws. Every time someone failed to keep one, they had to offer an animal sacrifice as atonement. So people kept trying and failing, trying harder, failing again and sacrificing again... a never-ending cycle.

Then Jesus opened up 'a new and living way...for us' (Hebrews 10:20 NCV) of relationship with God; it included forgiveness for sin, and the replacement of sacrifices with faith in him. For many it was, and still is, just too good to be true, so they kept working to impress God. One Christian author writes: 'I lived that way for years... having to do everything perfectly; otherwise I was in trouble with God. Since this was an impossible standard to keep, it stole all my peace and joy. While I was trying to walk in love, I wasn't a very loving person. I couldn't give others what I didn't know how to receive myself! I wasn't receiving God's mercy for my failures; therefore I couldn't offer it to anybody else. I tried to follow all the rules, many that weren't even scriptural - just things to feel guilty about. But thank God I don't have to live that way anymore. Now I'm not working to be saved, I'm working because I am saved! My salvation isn't based on what I do, but solely on what Jesus has done for me.'

So what now? Thank God for the 'new and living way' Jesus provided, meaning that your relationship with him is not about you being perfect, but instead about his perfect love.

Soulfood: Gen 32-34, Matt 21:12-17, Ps 106:1-23, Pro 7:1-2


God's life now and forever

'For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.' Philippians 1:21 NIV

As humans, we have an inbuilt survival instinct, and the idea of dying can feel scary. But, as Christians, we have the promise of relationship and eternal life with God through Jesus' sacrifice on the cross. One day we'll enter Heaven and be reunited with him. We're told that 'he will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away' (Revelation 21:4 NIV). Those words have encouraged Christians to keep going for centuries.

In Philippians 1, Paul says, 'for to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain...I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body' (Philippians 1:21-24 NIV). Sometimes we become so focused on the problems we face in this world, that we can't begin to think about the eternal. But, like Paul, we should be desiring the day when we see Jesus face to face.

But, while we're still on earth we can't just sit around waiting for eternity - there are things we're called to do. We need to use the gifts and skills he's given us, and be telling people about Jesus and his promise of eternal life. We should live in the present, while remembering the promise of our eternal future.

So what now? Thank God for his promise of eternal life, and make the most of your life here now!

Soulfood: Gen 30:25 - 31:55, Matt 21:1-11, Ps 136:13-26, Pro 6:32-35


You God

'We are God's workers, working together.' 1 Corinthians 3:9 NCV

Sometimes we may wonder what our purpose in life is, and whether we really make a difference in the world. But God says: 'We are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do' (Ephesians 2:10 NIV). Before we were born, God already had 'good works' planned for us to do, and he created us with gifts and skills to help us do them. We can't do these works in our own strength. God's strength, wisdom and vision are so much greater than ours.

Paul writes, 'We are God's workers, working together' (1 Corinthians 3:9 NCV). We belong to God, and we're called to work alongside him to help bring his Kingdom to earth. God chooses to use people like us to fulfil his plans. We may not understand his whole plan, but we can still make a difference. Sometimes working with God may mean we travel to other places, other times we're called to work for him right where we are.

The Bible says, 'Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct your paths' (Proverbs 3:5-6 NKJV). God has called each of us to work alongside him, and even if it seems overwhelming, he'll lead and guide us - we just need to make the choice to trust him.

So what now? What good works can you do today? Find a way to help someone out, encourage them, or pray for them.

Soulfood: Gen 28:1 - 30:24, Matt 20:29-34, Ps 136:1-12, Pro 6:30-31

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