Word For You Today

Confess and be free 1

'Everything that is hidden will be shown, and everything that is secret will be made known.' Luke 12:2 NCV

We often feel under pressure to be perfect Christians. We may feel that people are waiting for us to make a mistake so they can point out we're no better than them. And we're not. We all make mistakes. We all have things we're not proud of or would prefer to hide. So we put on a public face that makes us look good and disguises our flaws and mistakes.

But Jesus said: 'Everything that is hidden will be shown, and everything that is secret will be made known' (Luke 12:2 NCV). God knows the things we do wrong and the unhealthy attitudes we have. But more important to him is the potential he sees in us. But until we acknowledge and confess the things we struggle with, we won't feel free to walk in openness in relationship with God.

Have you ever kept something hidden from your family? The thing you've done wrong weighs on your mind and affects your relationship with them. It's the same with God when we don't admit our wrong behaviour or attitude to him. So to restore that relationship, we need to open up to him and bring our sins from the darkness and into the light where God can help us work on those areas and reach the potential he sees in us.

So what now? Is there anything you haven't confessed to God yet? Be completely open with him, so that you can be set free and move on to be all you were meant to be in God.

Soulfood: Rom 15-16 Jn 11:17-27 Ps 8 Pro 30:5-6,


Our perfect Father

'Bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord.' Ephesians 6:4 NLT

'Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord' (Ephesians 6:4 NLT). For those of us who aren't parents, we might think this verse doesn't apply to us. But when we look deeper, it's teaching us a lot about God's character, as our Father.

In Greek, the word for 'discipline' is paideia. Other ways to translate paideia are training, instruction, correction and nurture - just about everything needed to bring up a child, and everything we'll experience from God when we choose to let him be part of our lives. He nurtures, guides, loves, encourages and protects us. He instructs us on his plan for our lives and trains us to fulfil that plan.

And God disciplines and corrects us when we need to be guided back onto his path. We may think that discipline's a negative thing. But the Bible reminds us that 'God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it' (Hebrews 12:10-11 NIV).

God disciplines us from a place of love, not from a place of revenge for disobeying his instructions. Ephesians 6:4 is a picture of the perfect father. And that's what God is to us.

So what now? Thank God that he is a perfect Father, who wants you to be the best version of yourself.

Soulfood: Rom 12-14 Jn 11:1-16 Ps 105:1-15 Pro 30:1-4,


Why go to church

'Christ loved the church.' Ephesians 5:25 NIV

Here are a few reasons why going to church is a really good thing to do:

(1) It's what God wants us to do. 'You should not stay away from the church meetings...but you should meet together and encourage each other' (Hebrews 10:25 NCV). (2) It's an opportunity to be part of a community of believers. Romans 12:5-6 reminds us that 'in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us' (NIV). We can achieve more when we work as a team, where people with different skills and gifts can all contribute to the church's work. (3) It's a place to give and receive encouragement. Paul wrote to the church in Thessalonica: 'encourage each other and give each other strength, just as you are doing now' (1 Thessalonians 5:11 NCV). We should all be doing the same. (4) It's a time we can fully devote to praising and worshipping God. Psalm 29:2 says, 'Praise the Lord for the glory of his name; worship the Lord because he is holy' (NCV).

This doesn't mean that church is the only place to meet with believers and praise God - we can thank him anywhere, anytime - but attending church helps us make sure we're regularly focusing on him and his people.

So what now? Make a list of all your positives for going to church. Keep your list. Whenever you don't feel like going to church, re-read these positives for encouragement.

Soulfood: Rom 9:17-11:36 Jn 10:22-42 Ps 83:9-18 Pro 29:23-27,


Pray for them

'Remember...those who are mistreated.' Hebrews 13:3 NIV

The Bible tells us, 'Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters' (Hebrews 13:1 NIV). Then it gets specific: 'Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering' (Hebrews 13:3 NIV).

When we offer to pray for someone who's struggling, we often say a few words to God about them, asking him to help them and strengthen them. But do our prayers really come from our heart, as if we were praying for ourselves in that same situation? That's the challenge in Hebrews 13:3. When we make the choice to follow Christ, we become part of the body of Christ: 'In Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others' (Romans 12:5 NIV). When another Christian is suffering, we should think of them as if it's a part of our own body that's hurting. When we've got a physical injury, we'll usually do whatever we need to take away the pain and heal the injury.

So, when we're praying for others, let's avoid falling into the habit of saying words that sound like the right thing to pray. Instead, let's pray from our hearts, for as long as it takes, as if it's us having to go through the same situation.

So what now? Who's on your prayer list at the moment? Today, pray for them as if you were facing those circumstances. Do you notice a difference in your prayers?

Soulfood: Rom 7:1-9:16 Jn 10:11-21 Ps 83:1-8 Pro 29:19-22,


Fear of Rejection

'The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.' Hebrews 13:6 NIV

When we are insecure in our identity, we are prone to fear rejection. Because deep down we believe we're unacceptable, we try to prove our worth through our actions. Sometimes this extends to our relationship with God as well.

But we don't need to let the fear of rejection control us. It's true that we'll all face rejection to some degree in this world, but we can be confident that we're already accepted by God. We don't have to look a certain way or do certain things to earn his approval. 'The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart' (1 Samuel 16:7 NIV). So, if our heart is fixed on God, we can be sure that we have his acceptance.

The Bible tells us that Jesus faced rejection: 'the living Stone - rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him' (1 Peter 2:4 NIV). This verse is also true for us - we may be rejected by people, but God has chosen us and we're precious to him. So, when we feel that we're not good enough and start striving to be accepted, we need to remind ourselves that God accepts us and loves us. And it's his opinion of us that matters the most.

So what now? Write a letter to yourself, as if you were writing to a special friend. Tell yourself all your good points and how much you're loved by God. Every time you feel you're not good enough, read the letter.

Soulfood: Rom 3:21-6:23 Jn 10:1-10 Ps 133 Pro 29:15-18,


Fear of Failure

'For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid.' 2 Timothy 1:7 NIV

Whether it's about an upcoming event, a job interview, a relationship or something else, fear of failure is very common. It's the most common fear of all, and it keeps us from fulfilling any vision God may give us. But if we think about it honestly, the consequences of failing aren't usually as big as we imagine they will be. Our mistakes are usually survivable, and they are teaching tools that sharpen us and make us better people.

We all want to be perfect, but the fact is we all fail on different levels in our lives. If we allow the fear of failure to stop us from stepping out, we may miss what God has for us. It's important to remember that failing doesn't make us a failure. If we never take the risks, or never try again, then we prevent growth and learning.

The Bible says: 'For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline' (2 Timothy 1:7 NIV). We don't need to be timid; using the gifts God's given us, we can take risks based on faith, trusting him for success. We may still feel fear. Those thoughts of 'What if I fail?' may still come. But when they do, we can hand them over to God. He gives us peace when fear rises up. 'When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy' (Psalm 94:19 NIV).

So what now? Is there something you've been avoiding because you're afraid of failing? Take a step towards having a go at it.

Soulfood: Rom 1:1-3:20 Jn 9:24-41 Ps 99 Pro 29:11-14,


Fear of Crisis

'Do not fear, for I am with you.' Isaiah 41:10 NIV

Whether it's illness, grief, a broken heart, financial ruin or something else, each of us would want to be spared from these difficult things of life. The popular phrase goes, 'we need the bad times to appreciate the good,' and that's true to a point, but most of us would prefer to only experience the good.

We can live in dread that something terrible is going to happen, or constantly avoid situations and people that could cause hurt. But that's no way for us to live. God doesn't promise that our lives will be only full of good things, but he does promise that he'll never leave us. There's nothing that could happen to us that we'd have to face on our own. 'So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand' (Isaiah 41:10 NIV).

We won't always understand why bad things happen to us, or why it seems like our lives are falling apart, but we can trust that God will use everything that happens to bring out good for those who love him (see Romans 8:28). And when we keep our eyes on God and keep trusting him, we'll make it out the other side of whatever circumstances we're facing. 'They won't be afraid of bad news; their hearts are steady because they trust the Lord' (Psalm 112:7 NCV).

So what now? Read Psalm 91. Write down any verses you feel particularly stand out to you.

Soulfood: Job 1 Job 2:7-10 Job 40:1-5 Job 42:7-17,

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