Word For You Today

Called to be radical

'Each of us will give an account of himself to God.' Romans 14:12 TLB

You have to be up to stepping out of your comfort zone when you follow God. This means that, if God directs you to, you'll need to do things, either for him or in his name, that your family, friends and colleagues may not understand or agree with.

Timid people tend to feel safer doing what others do; they are fearful of breaking the mould or standing alone. Anytime you step outside of the boundaries of what others think is cool or normal, you risk rejection, but you can't allow that to keep you from fulfilling your God-given purpose. Confronting criticism becomes a little easier when you remember that ultimately 'each of us will give an account of himself to God' (Romans 14:12 TLB). Yes, it stings when you're criticised, but if you're to succeed at anything you must have the same attitude that Paul had: 'I care very little if I am judged by you... it is the Lord who judges me' (1 Corinthians 4:3-4 NIV).

When you're courageous, it doesn't mean you're not afraid, it just means that you know that the 'cause' is worth standing up for. Courageous people can handle being the only ones who dare to do something radical for Jesus. This means being a 'revolutionary,' like Jesus was while he was on earth!

So what now? How could you be a revolutionary? By standing up for the marginalised, by showing love when it's hard to, by speaking the truth in a negative environment. By showing others who Jesus is! Be radical.

Soulfood: 2 Ki 24-25 Mt 26:1-25 Ps 19 Pro 8:6-7,


Flex or bend

'Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him.' Jeremiah 17:7 NIV

Samson was one of the 'heavies' in the old days of Israel. His birth was miraculous: his mother was childless but an angel appeared to her and promised her a son, who she was to dedicate to God. She was not to cut his hair, as this was his source of strength in delivering the Israelites from their enemies, the Philistines. She obeyed. So Samson was very strong physically. But he had a weakness for women, and he was tricked into divulging what the secret of his strength was by Delilah, a spy for the Philistines. Bad move! Judges 16:19 (NCV) says 'She called in a man to shave off...Samson's hair...and his strength left him'. The consequences for Samson were disastrous. He lost his physical strength and he was captured by the enemy. Samson's ego had become bigger than his faith. He was no good to anyone.

Jesus said, 'Apart from me you can do nothing' (John 15:5 NIV). So be careful. Make sure you trust more in your bended knees than your metaphorical 'muscles' (the stuff you are good at). 'Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, and whose confidence is in him' (Jeremiah 17:7 NIV).

Samson's hair did grow back and he did eventually kill over 3,000 Philistines at once, but he died in the process.

So what now? With God you are strong; without him you are weak! Think about the hard stuff in your life and ask, 'Should I flex my muscles or bend my knees and pray?' You know the answer!

Soulfood: 2 Ki 21-23 Mt 25:24-46 Ps 11 Pro 8:4-5,



'Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always.' 1 Chronicles 16:11 NIV

Talking to God can be difficult sometimes. You can run out of stuff to pray or your prayers end up more like a list of wants and needs.

Here's one tip to help make prayer easier; P. R. A. Y: Praise. Don't hold back. Plug in your iPod and praise. Rap, sing, write, draw, dance. Use your own words or find verses in the Bible; check out 1 Chronicles 29:11-13; Repent. When you spend more time with God you'll quickly get a good idea of the attitudes, wrong beliefs and selfish behaviour that clutter your life. It's important to ask God to forgive these sins but also to ask him to help you turn away from them. Repentance is when you choose to change; Ask. This is the easy part! But you may stop asking when you don't see answers quickly. Don't give up. Prayer has power. Sometimes you see the effects quickly - like switching on a light. Sometimes it takes longer - like a kettle. Sometimes your prayers are changing you rather than your circumstances. Jesus had a story on prayer about a woman who didn't give up asking. Have a read of Luke 18:1-8; Yield. This old fashion word just means give in, let go, allow God to do whatever he wants in your life. He knows best.

So what now? P. R. A. Y. Once you get into this habit, you'll find your prayers flow easier and become more of an intimate conversation with the one who is always waiting for you to talk to him.

Soulfood: 2 Ki 18:17-20:21 Mt 25:1-23 Ps 115 Pro 8:1-3,


The Abba Effect

'Our Father in Heaven.' Matthew 6:9 GWT

Praying is amazing. We can talk to the creator of the universe just as if we've got a 'hands free kit'. Jesus taught his friends to pray (see The Lord's Prayer in Matthew 6:5-14). He began by helping them to understand God in a way that was new for them; God as a truly loving Dad or, in their language, 'Abba'.

Author Max Lucado once visited Israel with his family. He had an awesome time and wrote about it: 'One afternoon in old Jerusalem, I found myself behind a Jewish family; a father and his three little girls. The four-year-old fell a few steps behind and couldn't see her father. "Abba!" she called. He stopped and immediately he extended his hand and she took it. He held her hand tightly as they descended the ramp. When they stopped at a busy street, she stepped off the curb and he pulled her back. When the signal changed he led her and her sisters through the busy road. In the middle of the street, he reached down, swept her up into his arms and continued their journey.'

Who'll take your hand when you're weak? Who'll guide you through the hectic streets of life? Who'll swing you up into his arms and carry you home? God, your loving Dad, your Abba. No matter what you're facing today just whisper, 'Abba,' and he'll be there for you!

So what now? The Lord's Prayer begins with 'Our Father in Heaven' (Matthew 6:9). That's the best place to start each day: knowing that God is your Father.

Soulfood: Gal 5:22 1 Cor 13 Eph 3:14-21 John 15:1-17,


God said

'I am watching over my word to perform it.' Jeremiah 1:12 NAS

Are you struggling with a habit that has developed a life of its own? Getting your head round the promises in the Bible can make a significant difference. 'I am watching over my word to perform it' (Jeremiah 1:12 NAS). In other words, God says: 'Trust me. I'm on it'. Sometimes the strength we need comes when we remind ourselves what God has said.

So, pray this each day: 'Lord, the Bible says that if I call on you, you will answer me; you will be with me in trouble' (see Psalm 91:15). You said that the power of the Holy Spirit inside me would set free me from being endlessly caught up in sin and failure (see Romans 8:2). You said if I fully commit my life to you, I'd have the strength to stand up to the devil and he would flee from me (see James 4:7). You said you've given me the power to deal with the wrong thoughts and ideas that invade my head (see 2 Corinthians 10:5). You said that my self-worth would be based solely on your love for me; and that you would do immeasurably more than I could ask or think because you are at work in me (see Ephesians 3:14-21). Thank you for helping me to overcome this habit. In Jesus' name. Amen.'

So what now? Here's another promise to encourage you: 'being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus (Philippians 1:6 NIV). God said it!

Soulfood: 2 Ki 16:1-18:16 Mt 24:29-51 Ps 26 Pro 7:26-27,


Learn to relax

'Do not be worried and upset; do not be afraid.' John 14:27 GNT

Picture it: Monday morning, the alarm doesn't go off. Skipping breakfast to try and make the bus, you see it pull off in the distance. As you start walking, the heavens open, reducing your nice new hairdo to a wet squelch on your forehead. Passing cars race through puddles like Hayden Paddon, drenching your new clothes and turning them muddy brown. You think about buying a snack from the local shop, but then realise your money is in your other pair of pants at home; which means no money for lunch either. When you finally make it to your destination, you discover that the meeting you were scheduled to attend has finished and everyone has left.

What's your reaction: (a) you burst into tears and shout at the person closest to you; (b) the vein in your neck pulsates, your fists clinch, your blood could boil potatoes, but you do nothing more than stew inside; or (c) you go with the flow; you've learned how to control your reactions in stressful situations.

Answer (c) is the ideal reaction. And it's what Jesus wants us to learn; to stop losing peace over every stress and strain, and to work on our reactions instead. Jesus said, Peace is what I leave with you; it is my own peace that I give you. I do not give it as the world does. Do not be worried and upset; do not be afraid' (John 14:27 GNT).

So what now? Learn to master yourself, then you can master stressful situations. It's not always easy but, next time you 'miss that bus,' give it a try.

Soulfood: 2 Ki 13-15 Mt 24:3-28 Ps 24 Pro 7:24-25,


Faith and careful planning

'We should make plans - counting on God to direct us.' Proverbs 16:9 TLB

Find the balance between faith and careful planning. You can't say, 'I'm going to upgrade from my pay-as-you-go phone to the latest pay-monthly phone on the market', if you don't have the money. And none of that, 'The Lord will provide' stuff! Is your network really going to send the bill to God?

Walking by faith does not mean walking into oncoming traffic. Trust God to provide, but don't 'blow your budget'. Trust God for safety, but don't try to pull a wheelie on the motorway! Trust God for your health, but don't lie around on the couch all day. Faith in God isn't a 'get out of jail' card. Give everything to God, yes, but not your sanity; you're given a brain for a reason.

'Fools are rewarded with nothing but more foolishness, but the wise are rewarded with knowledge' (Proverbs 14:18 NCV). Wisdom says do all you can, then trust God to do what you cannot do. Faith and careful planning go hand in hand. Dream dreams but keep your feet firmly on the ground. If you want to be a worship leader start practicing your chords and scales. If you want to win the Olympics, put down that bag of Doritos and get out there training. God can do heaps if you've got the faith but he expects you to do your part as well.

So what now? Want to achieve something big? Plan it with precision and wisdom, and pray about it with faith. The balance spells success.

Soulfood: 2 Ki 11-12 Mt 23:29-24:2 Ps 135 Pro 7:21-23,

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