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Change happens 2



'I will not let you go unless you bless me.' Genesis 32:26 NIV

Change happens through commitment. When Jacob realised he was wrestling with the angel of the Lord, he said, 'I will not let you go unless you bless me' (Genesis 32:26 NIV). Jacob was committed and persistent; he stuck with it until he worked his way through it. He didn't like where he was, but he was totally committed to stick with it until God turned it around for his good.

When God gets our attention through a crisis, he doesn't always solve it immediately; sometimes he waits to see whether we're really committed to change. Today we're so used to getting everything instantly that we struggle with patience and waiting. When we don't get an immediate answer to our prayer we can give up on God and go our own way. We won't always get out of a crisis overnight; we have to be committed to the process. Sometimes God has to lead us through and teach us things rather than solving it instantly. The Bible says: 'The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him...it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord' (Lamentations 3:24; 26 NIV).

If we're committed to God and what he wants to do, we'll make it out the other side of the situation. Not only will our circumstances change, but we will too.

So what now? Choose one thing in your life that you need change in; just one, don't over-commit! Now, give that thing to God and ask him to help you commit to making change happen.

Soulfood: Lev 23:15-22 Acts 2:1-18,

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Change happens 1



'And we all...are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory.' 2 Corinthians 3:18 NIV

Change happens through crisis. God used a crisis to change things for Jacob (see Genesis 32). Jacob was in a desperate situation. He realised he needed to go home but that meant he'd have to face the anger of his brother Esau. That night, in his tent, he wrestled with the angel of the Lord until the morning. But it dawned on Jacob that he was wrestling with God, and it was a fight he couldn't win. God then changed Jacob's name to Israel. The crisis brought a change.

God lets us wrestle with an issue we can't resolve in order to get our attention. He'll bring us to a place where we realise that we can't handle the situation on our own, and that we need him. When we get to that stage, we're so close to breakthrough. God knows that we'll struggle to change until we realise that change is really necessary. A crisis is a way for us to realise that. God uses these tough times to lead us back to him and to stir us up where we've become too comfortable. He is constantly working to transform us to be like him. 'And we all...are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory' (2 Corinthians 3:18 NIV).

So when you're facing a crisis, you can be sure that God will cause some change to happen. Be open to what he wants to do.

So what now? Do you know someone who's going through a crisis? Commit to praying for them until they experience a breakthrough.

Soulfood: Ruth 1-4 Mk 9:38-50 Ps 18:30-50 Pro 12:25-28,

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Lead by example



'The elders who lead the church well should receive double honour.' 1 Timothy 5:17 NCV

We read a lot in the Bible about advice for leaders. Now, we're not all called into specific leadership roles, so we may think that this advice isn't relevant to us. However, as Christians we're all responsible for setting a good example for others in our daily lives. 1 Timothy 4:12 (NCV) says: 'Be an example to the believers with your words, your actions, your love, your faith, and your pure life.'

So how can you be effective in this area? Here's advice we can all apply to our lives: (1) Be accountable to someone. Find a trusted friend or older Christian who knows you well and can pray with you regularly, encourage you, strengthen you in your vulnerable areas, and give advice and correction. Find someone who can help shape you into the person God's created you to be. (2) Get your priorities in order. Helping out with every church activity is great, but if it means you're neglecting your family or your personal time with God, or you're getting burned out, you need to have a re-think about what you can take on. Which leads us to: (3) Protect your time with God. 'Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you' (James 4:8 ESV). Allow nothing to threaten your time with God, your greatest priority.

Let's apply this advice to our own lives and we will be leading by example.

So what now? Which of those three points do you feel is lacking in your life? Make a deliberate effort this week to work on it.

Soulfood: Obad Mal 1-4 Mk 9:30-37 Ps 18:1-29 Pro 12:23-24,

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'Nothing' time



'The brook dried up.' 1 Kings 17:7 NIV

That moment when things run out. A dream dies. A relationship ends. Resources or finances reach zero. That's when God can minister to us by providing seemingly unreal, supernatural ways forward. That 'nothing' time is really precious: it's a moment when God invites us to rely on him for the way forward.

Elijah sat at a brook and watched it wither up and dry out. Our faith journey isn't complete until, one day, we're left with nothing like he was. God let Elijah trust him for a supernatural way forward when that thing he desperately needed ran out. It took real faith that God would actually come through. We can't just rely on theoretical faith in those moments. Just knowing the facts about God won't do it for us. As we trust him in the real world for real things, God makes our faith tougher and more muscular. If God had led Elijah immediately to the solution, Elijah would've missed all of that, and his faith would've stayed young and weak.

If you're stuck in 'nothing' time today, take courage from this: God is watching how you trust him, and he's longing for you to grow your faith. Now's the time to trust God to pour out Heaven's resources to meet your need.

So what now? Are you watching something fall apart around you? Honestly check yourself: how does this make you feel about God? Are you finding it difficult to trust him? He is waiting for you to chat to him about making something out of 'nothing' time.

Soulfood: 1 Pet 1-5 Mk 9:14-29 Ps 49 Pro 12:20-22,

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Pursue peace



'Search for peace, and work to maintain it.' Psalm 34:14 NLT

The apostle Paul writes up a list of things the world does that children of God aren't made for. And it's easy to agree with him, right until the end: 'idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions' (Galatians 5:20 ESV). Divisions. Staying distant from people, shunning them for what they've done or who they are. It's up there with being involved in pagan worship and wizardry, according to Paul. And yet, uncomfortably, it's a sin we slip into without realising.

But the Bible says, instead, we're to 'seek, inquire for... crave peace and pursue (go after)' peace (Psalm 34:14 AMP). People of God should actively work to make peace happen. We're should be fired up by the idea of peace. And when it isn't there, we should grieve its absence.

What does peace look like for you? Maybe peace has to start in your own life: figure out what's stealing your own sense of peace, and run from that peacelessness into the arms of your Father in Heaven (see Isaiah 26:3). Maybe it's in your circles of family and friends: you've worked up a long-standing rivalry or you've shunned someone because of their dodgy social media posts. You may need to build some bridges. Or maybe it's in your community: prejudices, elitism or power-hoarding have kept people apart. Whatever peace you pursue, know that it's something that Jesus, the Prince of Peace, values very highly.

So what now? Carry peace in your heart towards everyone you meet today, even those who are more difficult.

Soulfood: Deut 32:29-34:12 Mk 9:1-13 Ps 62 Pro 12:18-19,

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Go for the gold



'A woman of Samaria came to draw water.' John 4:7 NKJV

Jesus constantly saw the best in people whom others had overlooked. He chose to spend time with the 'outcasts'. Once, he even spent time with a woman who was excommunicated by her community - she had gone to fetch water when she knew others wouldn't be around to condemn her. Five divorces down, she wasn't exactly everyone's best friend. Stigma will do that to you. But Jesus saw someone who would receive him as Messiah. So he introduced himself to her as the Saviour of the world - something he hadn't done for his disciples, or Nicodemus, or the religious leaders. He saw something in her that would listen. She left totally changed by the encounter, and became the first evangelist in her whole region.

Often, Christians approach evangelism as if it's a conquest. Like they have to fix bad people. But Jesus looked at it relationally. When he looked at the people God had made, he saw them with dignity and treated them as such. He spoke to them in a way that connected with their deepest pain and pointed them to what would help them more than anything - himself.

So today, see the gold that God's put in people, this treasure that persists in them even if they've broken relationship with him. Draw it out. Connect it back to God.

So what now? Ask God to show you what he loves about a non-Christian friend of yours. Share your thoughts with them of how God sees them (in as relaxed a way as you can). Go for the gold!

Soulfood: Deut 30:1-32:28 Mk 8:27-38 Ps 57 Pro 12:15-17,

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Hold on help is on the way



'The hair on his head began to grow again.' Judges 16:22 NIV

Samson lost everything: his hair, his strength, his sight, his position, his family and his reputation. The mightiest man in Israel was now being tortured in a Philistine dungeon. At his lowest point Samson cried out to God for help, and got it. 'The hair on his head began to grow again' (Judges 16:22 NIV). His hair, which was the secret of his strength, was restored. And he's mentioned alongside the other heroes of faith in Hebrews 11:32.

When we're at our lowest points and we're hurting, we can know that God hears our cries and will free us and provide for us. We just need to be patient. Waiting can be challenging; we want the situation to be resolved and we can sometimes think that we won't make it through. But God's help is on its way. When Job was facing illness, the death of family members and the destruction of everything he owned, he said: 'I will wait for my renewal to come' (Job 14:14 NIV). God restored Job and gave him back twice as much as he lost. And he wants to do the same for us.

You can be sure that God will renew you. The Bible says: 'But the people who trust the Lord will become strong again. They will rise up as an eagle in the sky; they will run and not need rest; they will walk and not become tired' (Isaiah 40:31 NCV).

So what now? If you're feeling weak today, don't fear. Ask God to fill you with his strength. Hold on - help is on the way.

Soulfood: Deut 28-29 Mk 8:14-26 Ps 44:17-26 Pro 12:12-14,

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