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Word For You Today

Time for God



'All your men are to appear before the Sovereign Lord.' Exodus 34:23 NIV

You're right up against a deadline, so your prayer time and usual Bible reading time will just have to wait. Sound familiar? We've all been there. Although we don't mean to neglect God, we worry about fitting everything in, and our time with God is often the first thing to suffer when time's tight. Truth is, it's the thing we must not give up.

Exodus 34:21 (NIV) says: 'Six days you shall labour, but on the seventh day you shall rest; even during the ploughing season and the harvest you must rest.' God instructed the Israelites to take a day off from work to devote to him, even during the busiest time of the year when crops needed to be gathered in before the bad weather came. Then God commanded, 'Three times a year all your men are to appear before the Sovereign Lord...no one will covet your land when you go' (Exodus 34:23-24 NIV). Three times a year the men of Israel were to go on a spiritual retreat and seek God's guidance, which would leave their families and possessions unguarded. But God promised to protect it all while they were away spending time with him.

When we stop spending time with God for something we think is more urgent or important, it shows we're trying to take control instead of trusting him. Instead, we should make God our priority.

So what now? If you're struggling with time, invite God into your deadline and ask him to help you prioritise and accomplish everything that needs to be done.

Soulfood: Josh 22-24 Lk 20:27-40 Ps 27 Pro 23:16-18,

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Obedience



'Submit yourselves, then, to God.' James 4:7 NIV

Submission and obedience don't sound very comfortable or cool but, from a biblical perspective, they are positive forces to accomplish good, not negative forces that God's using to make us feel oppressed or inferior.

When it comes to obedience as God intends, our best role model is Jesus: (1) He was obedient to his parents' authority (see Exodus 20:12). After Jesus' parents found him in the temple as a young boy, the Bible tells us: 'He returned with them to Nazareth and was obedient to them' (Luke 2:51 GWT). (2) He respected the authority of secular rulers (as long as their authority didn't clash with God's will). When the Pharisees tried to trick Jesus by asking him if they should pay taxes, Jesus replied, 'Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and give to God what belongs to God' (Mark 12:17 NLT). (3) He always submitted to God's will. Before he was arrested and crucified, he prayed, 'My Father, if it is possible, do not give me this cup of suffering. But do what you want, not what I want' (Matthew 26:39 NCV). When we're obedient and submit to God's authority, we're letting God work in and through us.

So what now? In the original writings of the Bible, one of the Greek words used for submission and obedience is hupotasso. It means to place yourself willingly under the authority of another. So, why not submit (or re-submit) yourself to God, and be willing to give your all to him, allowing him to use you as he sees best.

Soulfood: Num 29:1-6 Mt 24 Rev 11:15-19 1 Cor 15:50-58,

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Speak up



'She gave also to her husband with her, and he ate.' Genesis 3:6 NAS

In Genesis, before God created Eve, he warned Adam not to eat the forbidden fruit. It was Adam's responsibility to pass this message on to Eve. Later, the devil suggested to Eve that she disobey God and eat the fruit. The Bible tells us: 'When the woman saw that the tree was good for food...she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate' (Genesis 3:6 NAS). Notice it says Adam was 'with her'. He could have spoken up, but instead he joined her in disobeying God. They both had the opportunity to choose to obey, but neither chose God's way. Their decision had massive repercussions, for themselves and for the rest of mankind.

One thing we can learn from this story is the importance of speaking up when we see someone going against God's Word. James says, 'If someone among you wanders away from the truth and is brought back, you can be sure that whoever brings the sinner back from wandering will save that person from death and bring about the forgiveness of many sins' (James 5:19-20 NLT).

By speaking out when we know something is wrong, we could help to turn a situation around and bring our friends and loved ones back to Christ.

So what now? Is there a friend or family member who's doing something that goes against God's Word? First, pray about the situation. Then, as long as you're not putting yourself at risk, go and speak to the person about it.

Soulfood: Jn 14:6-11 Acts 4:8-12 Acts 16:22-34 John 3:13-21,

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God has a plan trust him



'He makes everything work out according to his plan.' Ephesians 1:11 NLT

Sometimes we pray for a certain thing, thinking it's good for us, but only God knows what's best for us. Sometimes he'll say to us, 'Not that way. If you trust me, I've got something better for you.' We can get upset when God says no to us, not realising we might have been more upset if he'd given us what we asked for.

That's why it's so important for us to pray for God's guidance. Trusting God and following his plan can be like walking down a misty lane. The mist hides whatever's at the end, and you can only see a couple of steps ahead of you. But as you go further along that lane and venture into the mist, more of the goal is revealed and comes into focus.

When Paul was in prison, he said, 'I have learned to be satisfied with the things I have and with everything that happens' (Philippians 4:11 NCV). His contentment didn't come from his surroundings - he was in prison during most of his ministry. His contentment came from trusting God and knowing that he 'makes everything work out according to his plan' (Ephesians 1:11 NLT). Paul didn't understand every detail of God's plan, but he trusted God with every step he took. And that's what we need to do too.

So what now? Find a photo of a misty lane. When you're struggling to understand God's plan for you, use the photo to remind you that you just need to trust him for the next step. He'll work out the rest.

Soulfood: Josh 19:24-21:45 Lk 20:20-26 Ps 112 Pro 23:13-15,

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Discover who you're called to reach



'How is it that each of us hears them in our native language?' Acts 2:8 NIV

The Bible tells us: '[The disciples] were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they began to speak different languages by the power the Holy Spirit was giving them. There were some religious Jews staying in Jerusalem...each one heard them speaking in his own language. They were completely amazed at this. They said, "Look! Aren't all these people that we hear speaking from Galilee? Then how is it possible that we each hear them in our own languages"' (Acts 2:4-8 NCV)? What they were witnessing was fulfilment of an Old Testament prophesy: 'I will pour out my Spirit on all kinds of people' (Joel 2:28 NCV).

What can we learn from this? When we're filled with God's Spirit, he'll equip each of us to reach a specific kind of person or group of people in a way they'll understand. Psalm 33:15 (NKJV) says: 'He fashions [our] hearts individually.' God doesn't ask each of us to reach every type of person. Instead, he's created us to have a heart for certain groups.

To find out who you're meant to reach out to, think about: (1) Who do you find it easy to talk to? Children, youth, women, business people? (2) Who do you feel the most compassion for? It might be homeless people, asylum seekers, victims of violence. Chances are your answers are where your heart and calling lie.

So what now? When you've considered these two questions, talk to your pastor or a trusted Christian about where you feel God's leading you.

Soulfood: Josh 16:1-19:23 Lk 20:9-19 Ps 20 Pro 23:10-12,

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Be open to advice



'The wise listen to advice.' Proverbs 12:15 NIV

Sometimes we think we don't need anyone else's advice. But that's not the case. The Bible says that, 'the wise listen to advice' (Proverbs 12:15 NIV) and that we should 'listen to advice and accept discipline' (Proverbs 19:20 NIV).

God often uses others to guide us and encourage us to go a certain way. But, not everyone will be giving us the right advice: it may be given out of self-interest or from ignorance. We need to be discerning. 'The simple believe anything, but the prudent give thought to their steps' (Proverbs 14:15 NIV). So, when we're given advice, it's a good idea to pray about whether we should take that advice on board or not. And if we feel that it's godly advice, we then need to make sure we're putting that advice into action.

God uses us to give advice to others too. We need to be open to God's guiding when it comes to sharing advice. Not only do we need to make sure we're speaking godly advice into people's lives, but we need to consider how we deliver the advice. Advice shouldn't come across with aggression, judgement or patronisation. It shouldn't sound like we think we know better than the person we're advising. Instead, we should be 'speaking the truth with love' (Ephesians 4:15 NCV). And encouraging the person to pray for God's guidance too.

So what now? Take some time to read through a few chapters of the book of Proverbs and highlight any verses that jump out at you about advice and wisdom.

Soulfood: Josh 14-15 Lk 20:1-8 Ps 142 Pro 23:7-9,

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No longer slaves



'Christ has set us free! This means we are really free.' Galatians 5:1 CEV

There are many things in life that can make us feel like we're stuck in chains: from the way we think about ourselves, to huge life-controlling issues such as anxiety and depression. We may know in theory that 'Christ has set us free' (Galatians 5:1 CEV), and we may desperately want to live in freedom, but the chains feel so much part of our lives that we're not sure how to live without them. We actually keep ourselves chained up.

When God took the Israelites out of slavery and towards the Promised Land, it should only have taken 11 days but it ended up taking 40 years. They complained endlessly and, as a result, kept going around the same mountain again and again. They'd been in slavery for 400 years, and they thought and talked like slaves. They couldn't grasp what God had promised them. Finally, he told them, 'You have stayed long enough at this mountain...See, I have given you this land. Go in and take possession of the land the Lord swore he would give to your fathers' (Deuteronomy 1:6;8 NIV).

God has promised us freedom. And we need to move in to and possess the freedom he's promised us. The Bible says: 'Christ has set us free! This means we are really free. Now hold on to your freedom and don't ever become slaves of the Law again' (Galatians 5:1 CEV).

So what now? Today, make the choice to step away from those chains, and refuse to let anyone, including yourself, put them back on you again.

Soulfood: Josh 11-13 Lk 19:41-48 Ps 111 Pro 23:4-6,

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