Days
Eloise 10:00-2:00pm

Word For You Today

HOW'S YOUR WORK ETHIC? (1)

'O Lord...give me success today.' Genesis 24:12 NIV

Ever spent time thinking about what God thinks about your work? Whether it's education / part time job / full time career, it may take up a reasonable amount of your headspace. In Colossians, Paul gives us a clear principle to live by: 'work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord' (Colossians 3:23 NIV). Today we'll be looking at what to do when 'work' is difficult and you don't really want to do it 'as if for the Lord'.

Ever heard of Eliezer? Back in Genesis, Abraham commissioned him with the job of finding Isaac (Abraham's son) a wife. Bit of a strange-sounding task that - finding a spouse for the boss' son. And not an easy one either; he had to start from scratch. This is where we learn a big lesson from Eliezer: just because it's part of our job to do something doesn't mean we aren't allowed to invite God right into the centre of it. The verse at the top is a quote: he prayed for success.

A quick aside - praying for God to be with you is never going to be a bad idea. We just need to make sure success doesn't become our god. If getting to the top (or staying there) is our reason for getting up every morning, we'll need to find way to dethrone that attitude.

So what now? God wants to help you meet your potential. Don't have a clue what that looks like? Under pressure? Read the whole of Eliezer's success story in Genesis 24.

SoulFood: Ecc 9-12, John 12:1-11, Ps 76, Pro 30:15-17

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THE SIN OF OMISSION

We spend a large chunk of our time at church, youth group, home groups, this magazine talking about honouring God by not making wrong choices (which, for hopefully obvious reasons, is a decent shout). The wrong we do holds us back from knowing God. Yet, Jesus focussed a lot on something a little different: the good we fail to do. And THAT can be a touchy subject. Not something Jesus wanted to shy away from, though. The servant who buried his resources (Luke 16:19-24), and the barren fig tree (Mark 11:20-24) are examples of Jesus calling out procrastination, laziness, unwillingness and the like.

And guess what? We're not free from that, either. How many times have you caught yourself killing productive-time by scrolling down that news feed, and forgetting exactly why you opened up Facebook in the first place? We reckon we've all done something similar. And if that's true; we're probably fairly prone to larger-scale laziness.

None of us has got it all together yet, and we all need to get to know God better. But at the end of the day (and at the start/middle, too) - the best way to get a deep spiritual life is to look out for ways to serve others, and not to think twice about it: get straight to it.

So what now? Worried that you aren't doing these things? Your works for God aren't the way you get saved, but it's definitely time to consider doing what you know He's asked you to do.

Soulfood : Ecc 5-8, Jn 11:38-57, Ps 81, Prov 30:11-14

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STABILISING PEACE

Our last couple of days have been centred around the input into our lives: what we see and hear. Now, what happens when we don't keep watch over all of that? When there's so much going on that we've forgotten to keep looking and listening out for God?

Well, try this for size: fear. And we don't just mean being scared out of our wits about stuff. When we aren't 'fearing' God (which means respecting and reverencing Him), we find ourselves giving people the final say in our lives. It might be a bully or a critic. In fact, Jesus knew that ultimately, if God calls us to something, we have to be careful that even those closest to us don't hold us up from doing our 'Father's business' (Luke 2:49).

It's not always easy when the world around us is wary about who we are as Christians, too. Keeping one's head screwed on even when it looks like a storm's coming is a challenge to anyone. But Jesus says '...Take heart...l have overcome the world' (John 16:33 NLT). It wouldn't have taken much for the disciples to start panicking about doing 'life' without Jesus. They'd just been let in on knowing how much opposition they'd come up against, and on top of that, Jesus was about to leave them. But the fact that Jesus promised to be with them in Spirit was more than enough to reassure them. And it's got to be the same for us, too.

So what now? Give thanks to God that His Spirit is always with you and that you can stand out as an example of stability and peace in times of turmoil.

Soulfood : Ecc 1-4, Jn 11:28-37, Ps 50, Prov 30:7-10

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WHAT ARE YOU HEARING?

What we hear can be life-changing, whether for good or bad. What we hear changes the way we think and act. A snide comment can make us regret wearing our favourite outfit. Gossip can make us prejudiced against someone we don't really know. We (often believe and) act on what we're told - and this includes all that negative self-talk, too.

So, is Word For You Today about to give some vague obvious advice about listening out for God, and leave it there? Well, not precisely. Answering why we need it is the best starting point for seeing all the ways He can speak to us.

Leaning in and keep a spiritual ear out for God is the only way to get the most out of life. In fact, you really won't be prepared for all life will throw at you without open communication with God. The prophet Elijah was an amazing guy. There's a lot we can learn from him. Today's verse comes after a long period of severe drought. The people were able to get ready to make the most of the long-awaited rainwater because Elijah was able to hear from God and pass on the message - he heard God and changed lives.

Your relationship with God isn't just a blessing to others. It's meant to change you, the world and to spread the Kingdom of God. Getting close to God radically changes so many lives for the better.

So what now? Spend time in your Bible today and get that 'spark' back in your relationship with Him.

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

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WHAT ARE YOU SEEING?

In today and tomorrow's readings, we'll be looking at what we see, and what we hear. Starting with the verse above, we have to recognise and trust God that there's more than what we see.



So, what are you seeing? Is something ruling your life that you haven't brought before God? Joseph's father saw a blood-stained coat, and the deceitful mask of sorrow on his son's faces, and believed Joseph was dead. He lived for years in grief because of the coat that he saw - but sometimes, there's a difference between what we can see and the actual reality of the situation. Here's another example: in 2 Kings 6:16-17, Elisha's servant becomes terrified at the size of the army approaching. Elisha's answer is not one of panic. Not one of despair. He said: 'Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.' You can read what happens for yourself (well, go on then... we'll still be here when you get back). The servant's fear was put well and truly into perspective.



Trust in God isn't a crystal ball, or a set of blueprints. It's more like a lifejacket. We don't necessarily see the way forward. But we can ask for God's perspective. We've all been there; taken one look at the deadline / job requirements / doctor's prognosis, then allowed these things to dictate our perspective.



So what now? Whatever situation you're in today, pray and get God's perspective on it - ask to see it the way He sees it.

Soulfood : Dan 1:3-21, Dan 5:10-31, Dan 6, Dan 9:1-19

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PRAYER FORMULA? (6)

'Lead us not into temptation...' seems a bit of an odd thing to pray. William Barclay argues that the word 'temptation' here is referring to the craving towards the wrong things in life. The compromises. The giving-in. God will never tempt us. James 1:13 is clear about this: 'When tempted, no one should ever say, "God is tempting me." For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He tempt anyone.' The next line of the Lord's Prayer implies where temptation actually comes from: 'Deliver us from the evil one.'



Evil one - what does this mean? Take a look at the state of the world - children forced to join armies; 27 million people trafficked into slavery; whole regions of nations starving; diseases spreading... and the list goes on - it is pretty obvious there is an evil in this world. Some people try to ignore evil, hoping it will ignore them. But we need to be aware of it.



'Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil...' warns us to take the better path. Lusts, selfish ambition, greed, all contribute to what's wrong with the world. Jesus teaches us to pray against it. To choose another way. To live, not as single individuals, but as God's family.



So what now? Practice 'choosing to live like God's family' even in the smallest things. You will be amazed how your life will change when you choose 'good'.

Soulfood : Rom 12-14, Jn 11:1-16, Ps 4, Prov 30:1-4

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PRAYER FORMULA? (5)

'Forgive us our sins, just as we have forgiven those who have sinned against us' (Matthew 6:12 NLT). God is holy. When we enter His presence, we soon realise we are not. Glossing over our mini-mistakes and little lapses might work in our own heads, but won't get us anywhere with the God known as Righteousness (1 Corinthians 1:30). Best be straight with Him: God isn't waiting to rap you on the knuckles. He's waiting to restore you. To give you back your dignity. But He can't sort the problem if you're denying it. Tell it straight and He'll straighten you out. Guaranteed.

There is a catch, though. You can't get God's forgiveness if you won't forgive others. Dad likes His house in order. He's not impressed with backbiting children holding grudges against one another. If you want a clear mind, you'd better clear it with others too. 'If you forgive men... your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not... your Father will not forgive your sins' (Matthew 6:14-15 NIV).

This is as much for our benefit as for others. Carrying around a collection of hurts and insults is crippling. There is freedom for us when we let go. Somebody once said, 'Forgiveness is letting go of the other man's throat.' But it is also letting go of our own throats.

So what now? How about spending time owning up to God? Think of those people you've been grumbling/brooding about. Decide to fully, completely, overflowingly forgive them. If this seems hard, work it through with God's help. Ask Him to help empower your will to work towards forgiveness, however long it takes.

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

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