Word For You Today

Desire Wealth

'It is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth.' Deuteronomy 8:18 NIV

Making money and working hard at our job are things that can bring glory to God. In Acts 16, we're introduced to Lydia, a businesswoman who dealt in textiles. She was one of Paul's first converts to Christianity and was so successful she owned her own home. It was large enough to become the first recorded meeting place for the church in Europe. Her desire to succeed in business led her closer to God.

It's not wrong for us to want to make money, but if that desire stops us being generous, leads us into debt or causes us to be dissatisfied, then we need to re-evaluate what we're doing. When God told the Israelites that he was bringing them into a good land, he reminded them to thank him for what they would experience. 'When you become successful, don't say, "I'm rich, and I've earned it all myself". Instead, remember that the Lord your God gives you the strength to make a living' (Deuteronomy 8:17-18 CEV).

We should be glorifying him through all we do. 'So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God' (1 Corinthians 10:31 NIV). When our desire for financial success is to glorify God and bless others, he will help us succeed. The Bible warns, 'You cannot serve both God and money' (Matthew 6:24 NIV). We need to determine our reasons for making money.

So what now? Ask yourself: 'Am I making money for myself, or is my heart generous and glorifying God?'

Soulfood: 2 Ki 4:18-44 2 Ki 5 2 Ki 6:1-33 Mark 12:1-12 Ps 48 Pro 13:2-3,


It's great to read God's Word

'All Scripture is given by inspiration of God.' 2 Timothy 3:16 NKJV

Whether we think it's outdated, unhelpful, boring or something we can't fit in to our busy schedules, it can be easy for our Bible to be left unopened. But Paul wrote to Timothy: 'The whole Bible was given to us by inspiration from God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realise what is wrong in our lives' (2 Timothy 3:16 TLB).

So, here are some important reasons to read our Bibles. Firstly, the Bible helps keep us on the right path. It shows us how God wants us to live. God will never say something to us through others, or our own thoughts, that doesn't line up with what he's clearly revealed in his Word. When we know the Scriptures, we can discern whether it's God speaking or not. Secondly, it helps us know we're truly saved. John writes: 'These things I have written to you...that you may know...you have eternal life, and...continue to believe in the name of the Son of God' (1 John 5:13 NKJV). And thirdly, reading the Bible helps us to identify, and be equipped for, our calling. Paul says, '[The Bible] is God's way of making us well prepared at every point, fully equipped to do good to everyone' (2 Timothy 3:17 TLB).

So what now? Why not start a Bible reading plan - if you don't do one already. Check out the SoulFood Bible reading plan at the end of each day's reading of Word For You Today. It'll help you read the whole Bible in a year.

Soulfood: 2 Ki 1:1-18 2 Ki 2 2 Ki 3 2Ki 4:1-17 Mark 11:27-33 Ps 1 Pro 13:1,


Use your creativity

'They made an opening in the roof.' Mark 2:4 NIV

All of us are creative in some way. Maybe we like writing, baking, painting, drawing, making music or interacting with others. It's very handy to use our creativity to find a solution. That's what a group of people in the Bible did when they were trying to get their friend in to see Jesus. Their friend was paralysed and they believed Jesus could heal him. But the house Jesus was in was too crowded to even get through the door. So they had a creative thought. 'They made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on' (Mark 2:4 NIV).

Sometimes we can feel like we're stuck in a problem, and that we're not getting anywhere. But God has made us all with the ability to be creative. We are made in his image (see Genesis 1) and he's a creative God.

When we're feeling like we can't move forward, we may need to change our perspective and think outside of the box. This is particularly true in our relationship with God when we feel it has become mundane or a duty. It may mean having to go through the roof instead of the door. There are plenty of alternative, creative ways to connect with God: journal, read books, study theology, worship him through art, music, hospitality or nature. The creative possibilities, because of our creative God, are endless.

So what now? Why not investigate a new and creative way of connecting with your loving heavenly Father.

Soulfood: Rev 19-22 Mark 11:12-26 Ps 129 Pro 12:27-28,


Integrity wins 2

'Nebuchadnezzar made a gold statue ninety feet tall.' Daniel 3:1 NLT

The statue of himself that King Nebuchadnezzar had built was the ultimate display of pride. Truth is, we all have a little of 'Nebuchadnezzar' in us. We can get upset when people don't do what we want or get angry when we don't get our own way. We want people to acknowledge the good in us.

We may not admit it, but part of us really likes being praised and worshipped. We wouldn't build a massive statue though; our monuments to ourselves are much more subtle. We might exaggerate on our CV, choose an edited photo for our profile picture, or hide the less-than-great areas of our lives. When we cover up our insecurities like this, it shows that we're not finding our identity and security in Christ for our lives.

When we understand what God thinks about us, and how much Jesus was prepared to sacrifice for us, we can be secure in who we are. Paul wrote: 'I no longer live, but Christ lives in me' (Galatians 2:20 GWT). Once we really take to heart the fact that God loves us and that he's delighted to put in the effort to help us work on our flaws and failings, we'll find that it doesn't matter so much what other people think about us. We won't crave praise and flattery. We'll crave God instead.

So what now? What things have you exaggerated or hidden to make yourself look good? Grab your integrity back. Ask God to give you a fresh awareness of his opinion and love for you.

Soulfood: Exo 20:16 Deut 19:15-20 Rev 21:8,


Integrity wins 1

'The king appointed Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego administrators over...Babylon.' Daniel 2:49 NIV

In the Old Testament, we're told that King Nebuchadnezzar built a huge statue of himself, and then commanded everyone to bow down and worship it (see Daniel 3:1-6). Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego knew they should only be worshipping God. But they also knew that if they refused, they'd be executed. In spite of this, they made the decision to stand up for what was right, rather than bow down to what they knew was wrong. They chose to say to the king: 'If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from your Majesty's hand' (Daniel 3:17 NIV). They were thrown in the fire, and God did deliver them!

In New Zealand today we are unlikely to be thrown into a fire when we defend our faith or our stance against injustice. But there could still be hard and hurtful consequences from others. When we compromise our integrity and take matters into our own hands, we don't leave room for God to move. If Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego had compromised what they truly believed and bowed to the statue, they would have missed out on God's supernatural intervention, and there would be no testimony of who God is!

Their integrity paid off: 'Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the province of Babylon' (Daniel 3:30 NIV).

So what now? What are you facing that could compromise your integrity? Make a decision today to trust Jesus and stand up for what's right. And then watch Jesus work!

Soulfood: Rev 15-18 Mark 11:1-11 Ps 124 Pro 12:26,


God is in the storm

'When... the storm continued raging, we finally gave up all hope of being saved.' Acts 27:20 NIV

There are times when it seems that God is not there. We can feel abandoned, terrified and hopeless, like we have to face our situations alone. Paul understood those feelings. He'd longed for an opportunity to preach in Rome, and was on his way there when a hurricane destroyed his ship. Before setting sail, Paul had foreseen the loss of the ship, cargo and everyone on board (see Acts 27:10). He tried to warn the crew of the impending tragedy, but his words were disregarded. When the storm hit, despair hit them, and Paul and his companions 'finally gave up all hope of being saved' (Acts 27:20 NIV). Then after fourteen days lost at sea - when the hurricane was fiercest - God sent an angel. 'Do not be afraid, Paul...God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you' (Acts 27:24 NIV). Just when it looked like Paul's mission to preach in Rome would be stopped, God faithfully brought them through the storm to the exact destination. Paul would then go on to declare God's Word before Caesar in Rome (see Acts 28).

Sometimes we feel like we're caught in a storm. Remember, when the storm is raging, we can run to God for comfort and protection. And, when the storm is over, he can use what we went through to grow us. Whatever trial we're facing right now, we can trust God to carry us through it.

So what now? Ask God to speak into the storm you're facing and turn it around for good.

Soulfood: Rev 10-14 Mark 10:35-52 Ps 4 Pro 12:25,


Spiritual maturity

'Let us go on instead and become mature.' Hebrews 6:1 NLT

As children grow and mature, they progress from milk to solid foods. Our spiritual journey is compared to this progression. The Bible says: 'Anyone who lives on milk is still a baby and knows nothing about right teaching. But solid food is for those who are grown up' (Hebrews 5:13-14 NCV).

We need more than a weekly church service and rushed moments with God to become spiritually mature. We need quality time to build our relationship with God, and we need to dig deeper into the Bible so we can move on from the basic teaching. The Bible says, 'Let us stop going over the basic teachings about Christ again and again. Let us go on instead and become mature in our understanding' (Hebrews 6:1 NLT).

And it's very important that we take ownership of our own spiritual journey. We can't rely on other people to develop our faith through weekly sermons, encouragement or conferences. These are all great things to help in spiritual growth, but we need to make the decision to take our own steps to progressing spiritually too. Let's be people who 'delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night' (Psalm 1:2 NLT). Let's be people who make becoming spiritually mature a priority in our lives.

So what now? Go deeper with God. Maybe journal or read a different translation of the Bible. As you commit to learn more, you'll love your growth of spiritual maturity.

Soulfood: Luke 24:50-53 Acts 1:1-11 Eph 4:7-10,

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