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Word For You Today

Hearing God is your top priority

'Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand!' Matthew 11:15 NLT

Hearing God is your top priority! You learn to hear from God by making time to listen to him!

Fifteen times in the New Testament Jesus said, '...anyone with ears to hear should listen'! This tells you three important things: (1) As part of God's family you have spiritual ears; even if you are deaf in the natural your spiritual ears hear God speak to your spirit. (2) You have to use them. Are your spiritual ears clogged up with worldly wax! (3) Hearing from God must become your top priority. Babies are born with the ability to hear, but don't understand. Understanding takes time; it requires intimacy with their parents. Get the idea? Luke writes: 'Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures' (Luke 24:45 NIV).

Looking back over your life you realise that God has often talked to you, you just didn't understand what he was saying at the time. He's patient with you while you learn.

So what now? It's not easier to hear God's voice when you're having a rough time; you're just more keen to listen to him when things are difficult! Until that changes, you'll only go to him in a storm and not hear what he's saying in your everyday life. Jesus said, 'By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as God tells me' (John 5:30 NLT). Jesus only did what his Father in Heaven told him to do; he wants you to learn to live that way too!

Soulfood: Lev 27:30-33, Num 31:48-54, 1 Cor 16:1-3, 1 Cor 16:1-3


Set it straight

'See to it that . . . no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.' Hebrews 12:15 NIV

When someone upsets you, what's the first thing you do? Call your best mate and tell them what's happened, highlighting exactly what you think of the person who did it? You're effectively passing on your offence to your mate. Now, what happens when the situation with the person who upset you is resolved? What about the mate you offloaded on - have you set things straight with them?

Remember that what you say has an effect, whether for good or bad. Be careful what you say in the heat of the moment because it could shape the opinion of those who hear it. It's great to move from resenting to forgiving; but when you were angry did your derogatory words leave a distorted image of someone else's character?

James writes, ' quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires' (James 1:19-20 NLT). The writer to the Hebrews says: 'Guard against turning back from the grace of God. Let no one become like a bitter plant that grows up and causes many troubles with its poison' (Hebrews 12:15 GNT). Reckless words leave lasting damage. Let that thought stop you before you do it again.

So what now? Is there someone you need to go and see regarding your words about another person? It's tough but you need to do it. Swallow your pride and set it straight. Jesus said, 'If you... remember... that another... has something against you... go away and make peace with that person' (Matthew 5:23-24 GWT).

Soulfood: Job 1-4, John 21:1-25, Ps 57, Ecc 7:13-15


Grab hold of life today

'Those who work hard will prosper.' Proverbs 13:4 NLT

Often a lazy person's favourite phrase is, 'I can't be bothered' and their day is littered with excuse after excuse for why they haven't done what's been asked of them. Has a 'lazy bones' you know sprung to mind or are you thinking that the lazy person is actually you?

Did you know that laziness will take your life down a dead end road? Listen: 'Lazy people are soon poor; hard workers get rich' (Proverbs 10:4 NLT). If you're lazy then every area of your life will suffer; your relationships, your future and your health. If you have an 'I can't be bothered' approach to life then, whilst others seem to be zooming ahead, you'll be wondering what you have to show for your life. Hanging with your mates is generally more appealing than studying! But if you apply yourself and make an effort you'll be surprised how much it pays off later on. Don't let the fear of failure stop you from trying. If you do mess up, get back on your feet and don't allow the devil to get the better of you.

God isn't lazy! He is always watching out for you. He never sleeps! Don't panic, it does say, 'He gives sleep to those he loves' (Psalm 127:2 NCV), but his purpose for your life doesn't come wrapped in a duvet. He wants you to be like Paul who said, 'I press on toward the goal to win the prize' (Philippians 3:14 NIV).

So what now? Don't let life pass you by, grab hold of it today!

Soulfood: Est 5-10, John 20:1-31, Ps 105:37-45, Ecc 7:9-12


No worries

'Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything...then his peace will guard your hearts and minds.' Philippians 4:6-7 NLT

Are you worried today? Listen: 'God cares for you, so turn all your worries over to him' (1 Peter 5:7 NCV). How? Talk to him; getting God involved is the best thing you can do to help yourself.

If you're not sure what to say here are some words to help you: 'Father, you told me not to be afraid because you're with me, and that those who have a go at me will have to deal with you too' (see Isaiah 41:10-11). 'You said that if I hang out with you then you'll protect me from anything the devil tries to throw at me. You've ordered your angels to fight for me' (see Psalm 91:10-11). 'You said when I'm in over my head you won't let me drown, and when the heat is on you won't let me get burnt because you're watching out for me' (see Isaiah 43:2-3). 'You said no weapon formed against me shall win' (see Isaiah 54:17). 'I can't keep the enemy from trying, but I know that if I stick close to you he hasn't got a hope. You said if I ask anything in your will, you'd do it' (see 1 John 5:14-15); 'and that if I do what you ask I will be blessed throughout my day and when I sleep at night' (see Deuteronomy 28:6). 'You told me to give all my troubles to you and you would take care of me' (see 1 Peter 5:7).

So what now? 'Father. Today I'm taking you at your Word. You said it! I believe it! No worries! Amen.'

Soulfood: Est 1-4, John 19:18-42, Ps 105:23-36, Ecc 7:5-8


Praying like Jesus

' how you should pray.' Matthew 6:9 NIV

In Matthew 6:9-13, Jesus taught his disciples a pivotal prayer.

You're praying to your 'Father in Heaven'. You're not only asking for God's input into your life but you're declaring your relationship to him. He's not just the Creator of the universe, he's your heavenly Dad; you have complete assurance that you belong to him. You can create something and then not care much for it, but true fathers have an attachment of love to their child, forever. And there's more to this special prayer of Jesus... 'Hallowed be your name' means he's not just your Father, he's your God. You can love him and be loved by him, but God is God and deserves your respect. 'Your kingdom come' releases God's power. 'Your will be done' releases his purpose. 'Give us today our daily bread' releases his provision. The things you lack and long for begin to flow into your life because now you've accessed his power and discovered his purpose for you. 'Forgive us our sins, as we also have forgiven those who sin against us' reminds you it's easier to forgive when you recall the things God has forgiven you for. Remembering God's goodness to you gives you the grace to forgive others, and even understand them! 'Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one' means you enter each day prepared for battle, promised victory and protected against all of the devil's attacks.

So what now? Jesus said, ' how you should pray' (Matthew 6:9 NIV), so let's follow his lead.

Soulfood: Gen 50, Hag 1-2, John 19:1-17, Ps 18:1-29, Prov 26:24-27


Guard your heart 2

'Guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.' Proverbs 4:23 NIV

Yesterday we discussed how what is in your heart affects the rest of you; your attitudes, emotions, desires and motivation. So, how do you guard your heart from the things that have a bad effect on it? Here are some helpful tips:

(1) Don't take part in gossip. There is power in what you say (see James 3), so use your words for good instead of evil. (2) Make it a habit to think about good things. 'I will praise the Lord at all times; his praise is always on my lips' (Psalm 34:1 NCV). Singing songs to God gets our focus off ourselves and on to him. It reminds us how great God is and how we shouldn't allow negative things get to us. If something is negatively affecting your heart, start thanking God for how good he has been to you and you'll soon chill out and move on.

(3) Get to know his Word. When you read the Bible, it shines a light on your path (see Psalm 119:105) and helps lead you into good things rather than destructive ones. You'll also get to know God's character so it will be easier to discern what make him happy and what doesn't. (4) Talk to him. If something is bothering you, let him know and ask for his help to deal with it. 'Trust in him at all times... pour out your hearts to him' (Psalm 62:8 NIV) and his peace will guard your heart (see Philippians 4:7).

So what now? Remember to guard your heart!

Soulfood: Gen 47-49, John 18:25-40, Ps 105:8-22, Ecc 7:1-4


Guard your Heart 1

'Guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.' Proverbs 4:23 NIV

The Bible says that when you give your life to Jesus, God gives you a new heart, 'I will give you one heart and a new spirit; I will take from you your hearts of stone and give you tender hearts of love' (Ezekiel 11:19 TLB). To understand what this means you need to know that the 'heart' talked about here isn't the organ beating in your chest! God is talking about the centre of your attitude, emotion, desire and motivation; in old Hebrew thinking the 'heart' is all that, and more.

Listen: 'Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it' (Proverbs 4:23 NIV). Every aspect of your life flows from your heart. If you're jealous or angry it takes root in your heart; the core of who you are. It influences everything you do. King Solomon refers to the heart as a source of life, like a well. A well was the source of water for a community and if the well was poisoned the lives of the people who drew water were threatened.

If you have allowed poison into your heart, for example jealousy or words of gossip, then it will affect you, whether you like it or not. How do you get rid of poison? Suck it out! How? Go to God and apologise for letting that nasty stuff invade your heart and then ask him to make it clean again. Result? A fresh start. But don't fall for the same trap again.

So what now? Remember to guard your heart!

Soulfood: Gen 44-46, John 18:1-24, Ps 105:1-7, Ecc 5:13-16

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