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Word For You Today

Be fully immersed

'For all of you who were baptised into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.' Galatians 3:27 NIV

Being 'immersed' has two meanings. First, it means to be dipped or submerged. This is what happens when we're baptised. In baptism we publicly declare that we're trusting in the death, burial and resurrection of Christ for our salvation. But, unless we're committed to following Christ in every area of our lives, baptism just means we go down into the water dry and come up wet and unchanged.

That's where the second definition comes in. Immersed also means to be involved deeply. We need to be deeply involved in Christ. We need to be clothed in, shaped by, full of and surrounded by him. Everything we do needs to be shaped by him.

Jesus told the disciples: 'Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age' (Matthew 28:19-20 NIV). This verse shows we need to be immersed in: (1) The principles of Christ. Jesus says, 'obey everything', not just the parts we're comfortable with; (2) The purposes of Christ. We're called to tell others about Jesus. He says: 'Go...and make disciples;' (3) The presence of Christ. Jesus promised: 'I am with you always.' Let's cultivate a sense of his presence in all we do. He's always there, we just need to immerse ourselves in him.

So what now? Being a follower of Jesus means it's all about him! Be fully immersed in Jesus!

Soulfood: Luke 10:25-37, Eph 4:31-32, Gen 50:15-21


Use your words for good

'I will...teach you what to say.' Exodus 4:12 NIV

What we say, and how we say it, is really important. Our words are meant to be 'used for good'. The Bible says: 'Therefore encourage one another and build each other up' (1 Thessalonians 5:11 NIV). Jesus spoke with compassion far more often than he spoke with confrontation. The Bible tells us that by 'speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ' (Ephesians 4:15 NIV).

It's also good to remember that there are times to speak and times to remain quiet. Our words, however we intend them, won't always be helpful. We need to pray before we speak into people's situations. We need to make sure we're speaking helpful, godly things that will not only build up, but bring life to situations that seem broken and dry. When Ezekiel was given a prophetic vision of dry bones in a valley, he was also given the words to speak: 'Prophesy to these bones and say to them, "Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life"' (Ezekiel 37:4-5 NIV).

God always gives words that bring life and encouragement into situations. Are we ready to speak his words?

So what now? God says, "I will... teach you what to say' (Exodus 4:12 NIV). Ask God for his words in every situation, and use them to build up, not break down. Use your words for good.

Soulfood: Isa 4-7, Matt 10:1-10, Ps 100, Pro 3:7-8


Becoming whole and healthy

'The Lord corrects those he loves.' Proverbs 3:12 NCV

No-one likes being corrected. It's never fun to be 'called out' for something 'unhelpful' we said or did. But we need to understand that correction from God isn't punishment or criticism, but an opportunity to become more like Jesus - our ultimate aim as his followers. God's correction shows us the better way to speak or behave.

When God corrects us, hard as it may seem to do, we should welcome it. His Word tells us: 'My child, do not reject the Lord's discipline, and don't get angry when he corrects you. The Lord corrects those he loves, just as parents correct the child they delight in' (Proverbs 3:11-12 NCV). It also says: 'So hold on through your sufferings, because they are like a father's discipline. God is treating you as children. All children are disciplined by their fathers...God disciplines us to help us, so we can become holy as he is. We do not enjoy being disciplined. It is painful at the time, but later, after we have learned from it, we have peace, because we start living in the right way' (Hebrews 12:7, 11 NCV).

God wants us to become holy (living in the right way). He loves us so much that he wants to help transform us into whole, healthy beings. And he never angrily punishes us: he gently corrects us, guides us back to the right path, and strengthens us so we can keep walking the right way.

So what now? Next time you feel God's correcting you, thank him for the opportunity to learn and become whole and healthy.

Soulfood: Isa 1-3, Matt 9:27-38, Ps 96, Pro 3:5-6


Open up a 'testimony account'

'It is right to refresh your memory.' 2 Peter 1:13 NIV

Sometimes it may feel like our faith is being stretched to what seems like breaking point. It's in these the tougher times that our faith can actually be strengthened and grown. When we're facing those 'breaking point' times, it's not easy to focus on being strengthened. In fact, it can be tempting to give up, and believe that God isn't going to help us.

When we feel like that we need to refer back to our 'testimony account' of God's faithfulness to us in the past. Have a read of Psalm 77 - it's a great example of doing this. The psalmist was in deep distress and cried out to God. In verses 11 and 12 he said: 'I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. I will consider all your works and meditate on all your mighty deeds.' And we need to do the same. We need to remember the times God has come through for us (and for others) - and fill our 'testimony account' with good news stories. This will help us have faith that he can come through for us now.

In fact, it is good to continually be updating our 'testimony accounts'. Peter wrote: 'I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth...It is right to refresh your memory' (2 Peter 1:12-13 NIV).

So what now? If you haven't already, open up a 'testimony account'. Spend time recalling your (and others') stories of God's faithfulness and 'bank' them.

Soulfood: Exo 39-40, Matt 9:14-26, Ps 91, Pro 3:3-4


Let God in

'The crowd began pleading with Jesus to...leave them alone.' Mark 5:17 NLT

The Bible says when 'those who had seen what happened told the others about the demon-possessed man and the pigs...the crowd began pleading with Jesus to...leave them alone' (Mark 5:16-17 NLT). They had just witnessed an astounding miracle, yet they were 'pleading with Jesus to...leave them alone'. Maybe they were afraid he'd interfere with their work, like he did with the owner of the pigs. Or perhaps they thought he would disrupt their lives too much. Either way, they wanted no part of what Jesus had to offer.

We may not directly say to God, 'leave me alone' but we can keep areas of our lives away from him, preferring he wasn't involved. We may be happy to let him in to our family, but not our work life. Or happy to let him have our public lives, but want to keep our private lives to ourselves. We're happy to let him use our skills, but want to use our money as we want. But God wants all of us. He wants to be Lord of every aspect of our lives - including those areas we'd rather have control of.

Sometimes, we need to reassess our hearts. Are we finding it hard to trust God? Do we feel like we need to be in control rather than surrender to him? Instead of saying to God, 'leave me alone', let's say to him 'please come into every area of my life.'

So what now? What area of your life are you not letting God in to? Let him in - you won't regret it.

Soulfood: Exo 36-38, Matt 9:1-13, Ps 89:38-52, Pro 3:1-2


Welcome home

'Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations.' Psalm 90:1 NIV

Our souls need a place to rest; a place to lay down worries, weariness and hurts. When our souls don't have a place to call home, we can feel as if we're in the wilderness, not sure which way to turn. We may feel abandoned, thinking that we have to do everything alone.

Often we can find ourselves 'dwelling' in other places: work, family, even serving in church. Those places are not bad in themselves, but they do not offer our souls real rest. In Psalm 107:4-7 David wrote: 'Some wandered in desert wastelands, finding no way to a city where they could settle...Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He led them by a straight way to a city where they could settle' (NIV). God knows we need a home, and he knows when our souls have tried to find their homes somewhere else. When we cry out to him, he comes out to the wilderness and rescues us. He leads our souls back to him.

David said: ''Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations' (Psalm 90:1 NIV). Our home is with our Father and his son. Jesus said, 'Live in me, and I will live in you' (John 15:4 GWT). This is the best home for our souls.

So what now? If your soul has been feeling restless and homeless, know that there is a perfect home - where you can lay your worries, weariness and hurts. Welcome to your Father's house.

Soulfood: Exo 33-35, Matt 8:28-34, Ps 89:15-37, Pro 2:21-22


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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