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Word For You Today

Life is what you make it

'For the happy heart, life is a continual feast.' Proverbs 15:15 NLT

Our circumstances will affect how we feel, but we shouldn't allow them to dictate our feelings. The thing that can really affect our day, whatever it brings, is our attitude. The Bible says, 'For the despondent, every day brings trouble; for the happy heart, life is a continual feast' (Proverbs 15:15 NLT). Positive people don't necessarily have an easier life that those who are negative; it's their attitude to situations that makes the difference.

In the book Pollyanna, the title character is an orphan who plays what she calls 'the glad game' - whatever situation she's facing, she looks for something in it to be glad about. When she's given a bleak, bare room to stay in, she decides to be glad about the view from the window. When she's given only bread and milk for a meal, she decides to be glad because she likes them. Her optimistic outlook is infectious, and she encourages everyone else to look on the bright side too.

We have a choice too. We can choose to let things get us down and focus only on the negative. Or we can decide that we're going to be like Paul and say, 'I have learned the secret of being content in any situation...I can do all this through him who gives me strength' (Philippians 4:12-13 NIV).

So what now? Each day, make a conscious decision to go about your day with a happy heart and a positive attitude. If tough times do come, remember you've got a God who loves you and is there for you.

Soulfood: Job 35-37 Luke 19:20-27 Ps 38:1-12 Pro 8:22-23,


Helping others 4

'The man saw Peter and John going into the temple and asked them for money.' Acts 3:3 NCV

Peter and John were willing to let the lame man at the temple gate interrupt their plans, and maybe make them late for prayer. Is it possible to be so busy with religious activities that we don't take time for people who are hurting? When we're busy, we can get so caught up with everything we're doing, and all our routines, that we miss the people right in front of us who need our help.

The Bible says: 'Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others' (Philippians 2:3-4 NIV). Paul describes Jesus as 'the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me' (Galatians 2:20 NIV). It seems counterintuitive, but Jesus taught that we're more blessed when we give than when we receive. Giving fuels us; withholding drains us. Giving requires energy, and that's not always easy, especially in stressful situations. But with God's help we can see past our own stress and situations, and focus our minds on others.

Being a giver is a win-win: it helps others, plus it energises and fills us with joy. So let's 'not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased' (Hebrews 13:16 NIV).

So what now? Give someone something today. Whether that means buying something they need, giving them some of your time or simply giving them a smile - see who you can bless.

Soulfood: Job 32-34 Luke 19:11-19 Ps 55:12-23 Pro 8:19-21,


Helping others 3

'The man looked at them, thinking they were going to give him some money.' Acts 3:5 NCV

Sometimes we can help someone in need and then see it all go wrong because the person isn't ready to be helped. Sometimes people become attached to their problems and like to talk about them but, when offered help, they're not willing to give the problems up.

Before the lame man at the temple gate received his healing, he 'gave [Peter and John] his attention, expecting to get something from them' (Acts 3:5 NIV). This man was asking for money, not a solution to his problem, probably because he didn't believe that there was a solution. When people have lost hope that their situations can change, we need to remind them that God can move mountains and can make the impossible possible. Jesus said: 'With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible' (Matthew 19:26 NIV).

We also have to learn to recognise the difference between what people want and what they truly need. Sometimes they need to be strengthened; other times they need to be stretched. Sometimes they need comfort; other times correction. This man didn't need a handout - he needed a hand up. And that's what Peter gave him. 'He took him by the right hand and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength' (Acts 3:7 NKJV).

So what now? Do you know someone who's lost hope that their situation can change? Ask God to help you discern what they need. And, remind them of this: 'With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible' (Matthew 19:26 NIV).

Soulfood: Job 29-31 Luke 19:1-10 Ps 55:1-11 Pro 8:17-18,


Helping others 2

'I don't have any silver or gold, but I do have something else I can give you.' Acts 3:6 NCV

In order to truly help others, it's good to know ourselves - what we have to offer and what our strengths, skills and resources are. 'Peter said, "Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you"' (Acts 3:6 NCV). Peter couldn't give the crippled man the money, but he could give him something even better - the ability to walk.

We need to become comfortable in our own skin and confident in our calling. Paul writes: 'God in his kindness gave each of us different gifts. If your gift is speaking what God has revealed, make sure what you say agrees with the Christian faith. If your gift is serving, then devote yourself to serving. If it is teaching, devote yourself to teaching. If it is encouraging others, devote yourself to giving encouragement. If it is sharing, be generous. If it is leadership, lead enthusiastically. If it is helping people in need, help them cheerfully. Love sincerely' (Romans 12:6-9 GWT).

God gives us all gifts and skills, and calls us to use them. That doesn't mean that we can't learn and grow in other areas, but we've got to know where we are strongest and most able. In order to help people we must love them, know what we have to offer, and connect with them at the point of their need.

So what now? Ask God how you can use your unique giftings and resources to help others. Remember, you can't do everything, and you can't help everyone; you just need to help those who God puts in your path.

Soulfood: Job 24-28 Luke 18:31-43 Ps 13 Pro 8:14-16,


Helping others 1

'One day Peter and John went to the Temple.' Acts 3:1 NCV

In Acts 3, Peter and John were walking to the temple at the time for prayer, when a crippled man asked them for money. Peter said to him: 'I don't have any silver or gold, but I do have something else I can give you. By the power of Jesus Christ from Nazareth, stand up and walk' (Acts 3:6 NCV)! And the man walked! This man was probably no stranger to Peter and John; he was always outside of the temple gates so they probably walked past him daily. But something about this day was different. Faith rose up in Peter, he saw an opportunity to glorify God, and he seized it.

When God shows us someone to help, we need to be prepared to act. Three and a half years of walking with Christ, listening to his teaching, and seeing his miracles had prepared Peter and John for this moment. So had the ten days they'd just spent in the upper room being filled with the Holy Spirit.

We don't know when God wants to work miracles through us. It may be on a day we least expect it to happen, in a way that we least expect. We can't give out of nothing. So we need to make sure we're filling ourselves with God and his Word. God's miracles often happen in ordinary moments.

So what now? As you're going about your normal day today, ask God to open your eyes to the people around you who he's calling you to help.

Soulfood: Job 21-23 Luke 18:18-30 Ps 116:12-19 Pro 8:10-13,


Show grace

'If we could be saved by keeping... laws, then there was no need for Christ to die.' Galatians 2:21 TLB

Grace is when we show favour to those who don't deserve it. And that's what God shows us: his love and favour are available to us, even though we make mistakes and misbehave. We can often be guilty of judging others for not living up to our standards. Jesus said, 'Don't judge others, and God won't judge you. Don't be hard on others, and God won't be hard on you. Forgive others, and God will forgive you' (Luke 6:37 CEV).

God doesn't desire to enforce a set of rules and regulations that we must stick to in order to have eternal life or to be in relationship with him. Paul writes, 'If a...relationship with God could come by rule-keeping...Christ died unnecessarily' (Galatians 2:21 TLB). But what do we do when it's obvious that someone is getting off track, or sinning intentionally? How do we show them grace but also show them that they're taking the wrong path? The Bible says: 'If another believer is overcome by sin...humbly help that person back onto the right careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself' (Galatians 6:1 NLT). We can help others without condemning or judging them. The Bible also tells us: 'If anyone has caused ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow' (2 Corinthians 2:5-7 NIV).

So we need to be forgiving, encouraging and showing others the same grace that we need ourselves.

So what now? Has someone hurt you recently? Ask God to help you forgive them and show them grace.

Soulfood: Est 4:13-17 Est 5:1-3 Matt 6:16-18 Mark 2:18-22,


Joyful obedience

'I take joy in doing your will.' Psalm 40:8 NLT

Obedience is often seen as something negative and restrictive, being told to do stuff or being victim to authority. But obedience to God is totally different. Following his commands and guidance should actually feel completely joyful.

Ever watched dogs taking part in agility competitions at a dog show? How ecstatic they are when they finish and get back to their trainers? Left to themselves, they'd rather be off chasing interesting smells or other dogs. But they've learned to suppress their will and submit to the will of their trainer. And a good trainer achieves this by showing love to their dog. The trainer's overjoyed when the dog's tried its best and done what it's been asked (even if it hasn't been successful), and the dog's delighted that they've made the trainer happy. It prefers to share in that joy than to follow its natural instincts, because that joy is just so amazing.

The psalmist wrote: 'I take joy in doing your will, my God, for your instructions are written on my heart' (Psalm 40:8 NLT). Obeying God wasn't a chore to be miserable about - it was something he desired to do above everything else. Of course, we may not like the task God's asked us to do, but we can take our joy from knowing we're doing our Father's will.

So what now? Next time you're faced with the choice of obeying God or going your own way, imagine a massive, joyful party waiting at the end of the task God's got for you. Not much beats joy!

Soulfood: Job 18-20 Luke 18:1-17 Ps 116:1-11 Pro 8:8-9,

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