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Word For You Today

Samson and Samuel 3

'The Lord your God was your king.' 1 Samuel 12:12 NKJV

Samson and Samuel also had differing motives. Samson repeatedly dishonoured God by his actions and his lifestyle. In contrast, honouring God was Samuel's highest priority. When Israel wanted a king in order to be like all the surrounding nations, he said to the people, 'The Lord your God was your king.' His respect and honour for God is also shown through how he instructed the people: 'But be sure to fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you' (1 Samuel 12:24 NIV).

We need to assess whether our lifestyle and actions are honouring God. Is our aim to make God look good or make ourselves look good? When we live for ourselves, and our own motives and glory, we become focused on what we can gain, and can easily be influenced by the culture we live in. Or we may keep up the Christian lifestyle and be tempted to think that we're doing well enough in our own strength.

But the truth is that without the power of God's indwelling Spirit, none of us has what it takes to live as God calls us to. We need his strength. So let's make sure we're staying humble, seeking only to glorify God and living in a way that honours him.

So what now? Take a few minutes out of your day to think honestly about your lifestyle and actions this week. Were they God-honouring? If not, what changes can you make for the week ahead?

Soulfood: Isa 63-66 Luke 4:14-30 Ps 89:15-37 Pro 2:21-22,


Samson and Samuel 2

'Get her for me. She's the right one for me.' Judges 14:3 NIV

The second difference between Samson and Samuel is to do with relationships. Samson was guided by his desires. 'Samson said to his father, "Get her for me. She's the right one for me"' (Judges 14:3 NIV). Following his desires didn't go too well for Samson. When he ended up with Delilah, he lost his strength, reputation and anointing, and eventually his life (see Judges 16). Samuel's story was different. Eli the High Priest had two sons who he had ordained to the priesthood, but God wasn't impressed with the way they chose to live, and this included their relationships. He said: 'I will raise up for myself a faithful priest, who will do according to what is in my heart and mind' (1 Samuel 2:35 NIV). And this was Samuel.

The contrasting stories of Samson and Samuel show that we really need to ask for God's guidance and help with our relationships. We need to be asking for his wisdom to be able to do relationships his way, rather than the world's way. God knows best.

It's much harder when we're in a relationship with someone who doesn't share our faith, values, goals or priorities. We can end up in a tug of war, pulling in different directions. When problems arise we need someone by our side who turns to the same source as we do for the solution: God.

So what now? Think about all of your relationships (family, friends, colleagues...). Are there any in which you need to practise more of God's principles? Work on those relationships from now on.

Soulfood: Isa 58-62 Luke 4:1-13 Ps 89:1-14 Pro 2:20,


Samson and Samuel 1

'I do not have time to tell about...Samson...and Samuel.' Hebrews 11:32 NIV

Samson and Samuel are mentioned in the same verse, but there are big differences between them and the way they lived their lives.

The first difference is based on how they dealt with their finances. Samson was greedy and manipulating. One day Samson bet thirty Philistine princes that they couldn't solve his riddle, saying, 'if you can't tell me the answer, you must give me thirty linen garments and thirty sets of clothes (Judges 14:13 NIV). The words 'you must give me' say a lot. Not only is he trying to demonstrate authority, he's also making up business transactions to benefit only himself. Many people in business today use unethical monetary practices. Even some people in ministry twist the scriptures and resort to emotional manipulation to raise money. Samuel was totally different. He practised integrity. After forty years of exemplary leadership, the people paid this tribute to him: 'You have not cheated or oppressed us' (1 Samuel 12:4 NKJV).

As Christians, we should have integrity in all aspects of our lives, including our finances. Jesus knew how much money could be an issue when he said: 'Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also' (Matthew 6:21 NIV). When money is too high on our priority list, our hearts can be focused on the wrong thing. Let's keep God at the highest place in our lives, and practise integrity when handling our finances.

So what now? Spend some time thinking about how you handle your finances. What are you putting first in your life - God or money?

Soulfood: Isa 53-57 Luke 3:21-38 Ps 84 Pro 2:16-19,


'Write it down'

'Moses then wrote down everything the Lord had said.' Exodus 24:4 NIV

In the Bible God sometimes told people to write down what he had told them. He said to Moses: Write down these words, because with these words I have made an agreement with you and Israel' (Exodus 34:27 NCV). And to Habakkuk he said: 'Write the vision and make it plain on tablets, that he may run who reads it' (Habakkuk 2:2 NKJV).

Writing down the things God tells and shows us can help us remember them, and can remind us of God's faithfulness and promises. It can serve as an encouragement for when we are feeling despondent and needing assurance or direction. It can show us how our relationship with God is going, and help us understand where we are at in our lives.

God loves us to express ourselves to him. He loves us to be honest with him and with ourselves, and this can be easier to do when we write it down. One way we could do this is by regularly journalling. Journalling is like a spiritual discipline. Our journalling journey can be as unique as we are: we can write in an actual journal or scrapbook or record our journey online - as long as its easy to access. If we're not such wordy people, we could draw or collage in our journal as an expression of our journey. It's a great habit to develop, whichever form it takes.

So what now? Whether you journal already, or have never tried it, set some time aside today to write down what you feel God's saying to you.

Soulfood: Isa 49-52 Luke 3:11-20 Ps 81 Pro 2:11-15,


Give God your 'firstfruits'

'Honour the Lord...with the firstfruits of all your crops.' Proverbs 3:9 NIV

Solomon wrote: 'Honour the Lord with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine' (Proverbs 3:9-10 NIV). The people who heard those words lived off their land and their livestock. Whenever they reaped a harvest or birthed new cattle, they'd take the first sheaf or the firstborn calf, the 'firstfruits,' to the temple and offer it to the Lord. By doing this they were acknowledging that everything they had was from God and belonged to God. And that everything they needed for the future depended upon God's goodness to them.

Today, we come across many different opinions on 'tithing.' The most commonly held view is that it is giving 10 per cent of your income back to the church. Others may give to different organisations or individuals. Some may give more than 10 per cent. We should pray for God's guidance before deciding how, and how much, to give.

We can also make sure we're giving God our 'firstfruits' - the best bits, not the leftovers - of our time and attention. The main thing is to 'give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver' (2 Corinthians 9:7 NIV).

So what now? Set aside time in your day to spend with God. Resolve to let nothing get in the way of it. Once you've been doing this for a little while, you'll notice how much your trust and confidence in him increase.

Soulfood: Isa 45-48 Luke 3:1-10 Ps 79 Pro 2:9-10,


Diligence rocks

'Diligent hands bring wealth.' Proverbs 10:4 NIV

A diligent person wants to contribute, work, and make a difference to their families and to society. Whether we're in employment or a student, are we diligent in our work? Do we resent that we have to work? Or is the work we're doing not quite good enough for us?

In the Bible, people had all sorts of jobs. The first man, Adam, tended the Garden of Eden (see Genesis 2:15). Jesus was a carpenter (see Mark 6:3). And the apostle Paul was a tentmaker (see Acts 18:1-3). We may not always enjoy the work we're doing, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't put our all into it. The Bible says: 'Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters' (Colossians 3:23 NIV). When we think that our work is for God, whatever we're doing, then it's easier to do the work with diligence and motivation.

And it's not just our day-to-day work that we need to be diligent in. We need to be motivated in developing our relationship with God and building our character to become more like Jesus. Peter wrote: 'For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love' (2 Peter 1:5-7 NIV).

So what now? Whatever work you do today, do it diligently. When you do, you are honouring God and making a positive difference to all around you.

Soulfood: Isa 42-44 Luke 2:41-52 Ps 74:12-23 Pro 2:7-8,


God's idea of 'rich'

'The blessing of the Lord makes a person rich, and he adds no sorrow with it.' Proverbs 10:22 NLT

When we think of being rich, usually we think of it as 'having plenty of money'. But what's God's idea of being rich? God wants us to be 'rich' in every area of our lives: in our relationships, our health, our peace of mind, our careers, and in everything that concerns us.

And in every area of 'richness' God longs for us to steward what he has given us well. He loves for us to share our 'riches.' In the parable of the three servants in Matthew 25:14-30, each servant was trusted with a different amount of money, depending on their ability to look after it. Imagine if the third servant had been given the largest amount of money, and then did nothing worthwhile with it. (The money could be a talent that God's given us, with the return on investment being how we've helped others through that talent). Matthew 25:29 (NLT) says: 'To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have an abundance. But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away.'

When we are 'rich,' with money or wisdom or a skill, we need to consider how we can use that 'wealth' to bless and help others, and maybe even bring them to Christ. This perspective may be very different to how we've thought before, but that's how God's Kingdom works.

So what now? Think of a gift or skill that God's blessed you with. Use your 'richness' to help at least one other person today.

Soulfood: 1 Sam 3:1-11 Acts 9:1-9,

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