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Word For You Today

Get closer to God

'Draw near to God and he will draw near to you.' James 4:8 NKJV

To get to know someone well, we need to spend time with them, ask them questions, and listen carefully to what they say. We can't build great relationships if we're only talking to people when we want something, if we're distracted by our phones, or if we don't let them get a word in edgeways.

We will never know everything about God, but we can get closer to him. The Bible says: 'Draw near to God and he will draw near to you' (James 4:8 NKJV). We have to make space in our day to spend quality time with him. We need to ask him questions and then listen to what he wants to say to us. We need to be reading the Bible and allowing the Holy Spirit to show us new things in its verses. We need to cultivate an attitude like the psalmist, who wrote 'Lord, tell me your ways. Show me how to live. Guide me in your truth, and teach me, my God, my Saviour. I trust you all day long' (Psalm 25:4-5 NCV).

We're called to surrender to God, and this is much easier when we understand more about him. God chose us, he is for us and he is good - knowing this comes through spending quality time with him. Even if it's been a while since we sat silently and listened to God, he always welcomes us back.

So what now? Ask God to help you move closer and closer to him - it will change your perspective on everything.

Soulfood: Gen 4-6, Matt 17:14-27, Ps 40:9-17, Pro 6:6-8


The Holy Spirit with us

'The Holy Spirit... will teach you much... remind you of everything I myself have told you.' John 14:26 TLB

The Bible tells us many things about the Holy Spirit.

Here are a few: (1) The Holy Spirit determines our gifts and skills. The Bible says: 'The one and only [Holy] Spirit... decides which gift each person should have' (1 Corinthians 12:11 NLT). So, if we're feeling like we're not good at anything, we can ask the Holy Spirit to show us what our gifts are. (2) The Holy Spirit guides us. Where we are matters. During a famine, God sent Elijah to the brook Cherith, saying, 'I have directed the ravens to supply you with food there' (1 Kings 17:4 NIV). If Elijah had decided to rather stay where he was, he'd have missed his miracle. When we know God's voice and follow his direction, we experience his blessing. (3) The Holy Spirit can be grieved. 'Do not grieve the Holy Spirit' (Ephesians 4:30 NIV). The Greek word used for 'grieve' can also mean 'to afflict with sorrow' and 'to experience deep emotional pain'. Our sins cause the Holy Spirit sadness. But we don't have to live with guilt and shame; God promises to forgive us when we repent. (4) The Holy Spirit brings freedom. The Bible says: 'Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom' (2 Corinthians 3:17 NIV). In God's presence we find freedom from the things we struggle with or feel trapped by.

So what now? Ask the Holy Spirit to make you more aware of his presence, and to make your heart a place where he feels at home.

Soulfood: Gen 1-3, Matt 17:1-13, Ps 40:1-8, Pro 6:1-5


Compliment rather than compare

'We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us.' Romans 12:6 NIV

When we're insecure in our identity, we can find ourselves looking at others as a measurement of our worth. But the Bible says: 'We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us' (Romans 12:6 NIV). God made us all uniquely. He has given us different gifts and skills. The Bible describes this as a body (see 1 Corinthians 12). The body has different parts - eyes, ears, arms, legs - and it's the same with the body of Christ. There are people who can teach, lead, prophecy, encourage - and they're all needed in God's Kingdom.

We can't all be skilled in the same area because that means that nothing would get done. So when someone else does something that we struggle to do, we can thank God that he gave them that gift, rather than comparing ourselves to them and feeling bad about ourselves. On the other hand, sometimes we compare to make ourselves feel better. We see someone not skilled in an area we are and become proud of our ability. The Bible says, 'Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves' (Philippians 2:3 NIV).

Let's stop comparing and start accepting the unique identity that God has given us. Let's focus on becoming secure in who we are in Christ.

So what now? When you feel bad about yourself, remind yourself of something you're good at. And, when you're tempted to think you're better than someone else, compliment them instead. Always choose to compliment rather than compare.

Soulfood: Titus 2:1-14, Gen 39:6-12, Pro 25:28


Hand over resentment to Jesus

'Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers over all wrongs.' Proverbs 10:12 NIV

When we hold on to resentment we remain 'at war' with people - but ironically that war is also inside ourselves. Resentment is all consuming: we're constantly trying to figure out who's right and who's wrong, and we can spend so much time trying to justify and prove our position as victim that we lose our peace and joy.

When we hold on to resentment, we not only keep the conflict going but we deny ourselves the opportunity to heal. We're the ones who remain unhappy. Resentment can take root in all of us, but it doesn't have to. We can end our conflicts and let go of resentment. It can be easier said than done; it's challenging to let go of hurt. We can't control what other people do, but we can decide how we respond.

God's heart is for us to choose to hand resentment over to him. The Bible says: 'Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers over all wrongs' (Proverbs 10:12 NIV). We need to let the love and peace of God fill us so that it overflows to others - including those who have upset us. What would Jesus do if he was wronged? He'd turn the other cheek (see Matthew 5:39). We need to ask Jesus to help us turn the other cheek and forgive those who have hurt us.

So what now? If you're holding on to resentment, pray this prayer: 'Lord, I'm angry. Help me to let it go. Help me to forgive the person who hurt me and be set free. Amen.'

Soulfood: Ecc 9-12, Matt 16:13-28, Ps 36, Pro 5:21-23


Helping others with Jesus' help

'What I do have I give you.' Acts 3:6 NIV

The Bible says, 'Peter said, "Look at us...Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk." Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man's feet and ankles became strong' (Acts 3:4-7 NIV).

Peter did three things that we can also do when helping others: (1) Get their attention. Peter told the man, 'Look at us'. Hurting people are often so distracted by their pain, past experiences and future fears, that they don't even know they need help, so we need to get their attention. (2) Introduce them to the name that's greater than their problem. That name is 'Jesus', and it's greater than every sickness and situation. The Bible says: 'At the name of Jesus every knee should bow' (Philippians 2:10 NIV). It's not up to us to make everything right; sometimes all we can do is point them to Jesus. (3) Help them up. 'Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man's feet and ankles became strong' (Acts 3:7 NIV). Because he'd been in the same condition for a long time, he needed help to get up. And there are people around us who need help to get up and get them to Jesus. God can, and does, use us to be that someone.

So what now? Next time you're helping someone, point them to Jesus so they know he is the one who fixes their situation for good.

Soulfood: Ecc 5-8, Matt 16:1-12, Ps 33:13-22, Pro 5:15-20


Identity God's child

'We...saw giants...we felt like grasshoppers.' Numbers 13:33 NLT

How many of us struggle to see ourselves in a good light? How many wish God had created us differently? How often do we compare ourselves to others? When this happens, we need to reclaim our identity: to soak ourselves in God's truth and see ourselves as he sees us. The Bible tells us we are chosen by God, for himself (see John 15:16). We are 'children of God' (1 John 3:1 NIV); children 'of the light and... day. We do not belong to the night or... darkness' (1 Thessalonians 5:5 NIV). He sees us as 'fearfully and wonderfully made' (Psalm 139:14 NIV). We're also 'more than conquerors' with God's help (Romans 8:37 NIV).

In the Old Testament, we read about twelve spies being sent ahead into the Promised Land. On their return, ten of them said, 'We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them' (Numbers 13:33 NIV). But the other two, Joshua and Caleb, said, 'We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it' (Numbers 13:30 NIV). Joshua and Caleb got it right. They saw themselves as God saw them. They recognised that with God, they could overcome.

When we see ourselves through our own eyes, we think like those 10 spies. But when we see ourselves as God sees us, we know that we can do whatever he calls us to do.

So what now? Ask God to give you a new understanding of how he sees you - loved, righteous, blessed, powerful and as his child.

Soulfood: Ecc 1-4, Matt 15:29-39, Ps 33:1-12, Pro 5:7-14


Always give thanks

'Jesus said, "Weren't ten men healed? Where are the other nine?"' Luke 17:17 NCV

During Jesus' time on earth, lepers were considered unclean people; not permitted to come into contact with others. The Bible tells us that ten men with a skin disease 'did not come close to Jesus but called to him, "Jesus! Master! Have mercy on us"' (Luke 17:12-13 NCV)! Jesus healed ten lepers, but only one returned to say, 'Thank you'. 'Jesus said, "Weren't ten men healed? Where are the other nine"' (Luke 17:17 NCV)? We don't know why the other men didn't come back: maybe they were too busy, too scared, too ungrateful or simply forgetful. We can be tempted to think badly of those nine men, but how often have we had a prayer answered and not come back to thank God? How often do we ask for the next thing without thanking God for what he's just done for us?

God told the Israelites that they were heading for a good and plentiful land. This must have been great news to them as they had been wandering in the wilderness for forty years. But God reminded them that while they were enjoying their new plentiful life, they should not forget that God had brought them to that place (see Deuteronomy 8).

Whether we experience healing, favour or something else, let's remember that it is God who answered our prayers. Then, let's go back to him and give thanks.

So what now? Write down a few things that God has answered in your past. Thank him for what he's done. He is a good Father and provider to us.

Soulfood: Rom 15-16, Matt 15:15-28, Ps 28, Pro 5:3-6

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