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Word For You Today

Take the initiative 5

'Let everyone be sure that he is doing his very best.' Galatians 6:4 TLB

Any stage actor will tell you that one of the trickiest moments in performing is getting the first line out. Will it be loud enough? What if my voice breaks mid-sentence? What if my mind goes completely blank? Once the play gets going, the doubts seem to take care of themselves.

Sometimes our lives can be a bit like that; we get so wrapped up in the nagging doubts that we stop ourselves from starting. We worry about the things that might happen tomorrow, or next week or in ten years' time. James knew this: 'Look here, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town...We will do business there and make a profit." How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog - it's here a little while, then it's gone' (James 4:13-14 NLT).

It might be that God eventually leads you to win an Oscar; it might be that God has plans for you to smuggle Bibles into dangerous locations. But, where are you placed today? What's cooking on the menu now? The easier you find it to get to grips with making the best of what you have now, the easier it will be for you to get to grips with what God asks you to do in the future.

So what now? Wherever you're up to at the moment, push through the doubts of the 'opening lines', work out your best use of time and get on with it. That's initiative!

Soulfood: 2 Ki 7-8 Mt 23:1-14 Ps 27 Pro 7:10-13,


Take the initiative 4

'Let everyone be sure that he is doing his very best.' Galatians 6:4 TLB

Successful people don't need a fuse lit under them. Their driving force comes from their God-given purpose within. They live for a cause greater than themselves. If you want a blueprint in 'how to make your life stand up and count', check out what Martin Luther King Jr did.

In the 1960's the United States experienced one of its darkest periods of treating African American people with no value and worth, unfairly forcing second class existences on millions of lives. Like an Old Testament prophet, Martin Luther King Jr took the initiative, becoming the voice of justice, the people's spokesperson, God's messenger. How did he do it? Not by fists, force or ferocity, but with the power of peace, the lesson of love and the grace of God. Half a century later it's easy to lose sight of the opposition King and his followers faced: they were handcuffed and beaten up, clubbed with sticks, water cannoned, jolted by jailers' cattle prods; many, including King himself, would eventually lose their lives.

These history makers recognised the time to stand up and be counted, they used their lives to live out God's justice 'on earth as it is in Heaven' (see Matthew 6:10). Jesus said, 'true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth. The Father is looking for people like that to worship him....' (John 4:23 GWT).

So what now? Live for a cause greater than yourself. Don't sit back; take up the initiative, do your best and run.

Soulfood: 2 Ki 4:18-6:33 Mt 22:34-46 Ps 112 Pro 7:6-9,


Take the initiative 1

'Take a lesson from the ants.' Proverbs 6:6 NLT

Sometimes we can spend too much time waiting for the go-ahead for our next move from God, whether it be to go to China or Africa, or which course to take at uni. Listen: we are called to be alert to God's work wherever we've been placed, at any particular time. There really is no time or place like the present for knuckling down and doing the things that please God. And part of doing is taking the initiative to make plans.

It would be fascinating (and sad) to see how many opportunities from God people have missed because they were waiting or doing unimportant things. Don't waste a lifetime waiting for your big break; be alert to today and take the initiative. If God really doesn't want you to do something, he will close that door!

Solomon writes: 'Take a lesson from the ants... Learn from their ways and become wise! Though they have no... ruler to make them work, they labour hard all summer, gathering food for the winter. But you... how long will you sleep?... A little extra sleep, a little more slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest - then poverty will pounce on you like a bandit, scarcity will attack you like an armed robber' (Proverbs 6:6-11 GNT). He meant: whatever we do (or neglect to do) catches up with us.

So what now? God has brilliant things in store for your future, but you don't live in the future; you live in the now. So start making a difference now? Take the initiative.

Soulfood: Rev 19-22 Mt 22:1-14 Ps 106:1-23 Pro 7:1-2,


Make your money God's servant

'Those who love money will never have enough.' Ecclesiastes 5:10 NIV

Everyone needs money to live, but it's important that it doesn't rule our lives!

Here are three things that money is not: (1) A best mate. A wad of money might buy you a bit of bling, but it won't be a shoulder to cry on when you're hurting, it won't have you in stitches over the phone, it won't have a kick about with you down at the park. Money can buy people; it can't buy friends. (2) A ticket to happiness. What would you spend your millions on anyway: a fast car; swimming pool for the house; pair of solid gold underpants? You'd soon become bored with your latest new gadget or toy. Jesus knows this, that's why he said, 'Life is not about having a lot of material possessions' (Luke 12:15 GWT). (3) A comfort. Jesus told a story about a rich man who thought he had everything worked out (see Luke 12:16-21). He had so many material possessions that he didn't have enough room for them. Rather than being creative and kind with his stuff, he decided to keep it and build bigger spaces to store it all in. That same night he died. So, who ended up with all his stuff? Not him, that's for sure.

The point is that we end up with nothing when we rely on our money and possessions rather than relying on God.

So what now? Aim to be 'loaded' with God, not with cash. That way, you're more likely to use the money you have wisely. Make your money God's servant.

Soulfood: Rev 15-18 Mt 21:33-46 Ps 136:13-26 Pro 6:32-35,


Be a team player

'Diotrephes, who loves to be first.' 3 John 1:9 NIV

It's an old clich? but, you know when your coach harps on about there being 'No "I" in team"', well, he's right. Soccer player Cristiano Ronaldo is considered phenomenal at dribbling a ball, but if he was to face a whole team just by himself, he'd get nowhere. It doesn't matter how gifted he is, he still needs forwards to pass to, defenders to mop up mistakes, a keeper for a clean sheet - you get the picture.

It's the same with us. Our gifts and strengths fit in with other people's gifts and strengths. The last thing you want in a team is a 'prima donna' who refuses to work well with others. The early church knew all about that: 'But Diotrephes, who loves to be the leader, refuses to have anything to do with us...Not only does he refuse to welcome the travelling teachers, he also tells others not to help them. And when they do help, he puts them out of the church' (3 John 1:9-10 NLT). Diotrephes wasn't a team player. He wanted centre stage for himself. Self-appointed 'stars' are insecure; they can't get beyond themselves to work with others.

Don't be like Diotrephes; use your talent as part of a team. Get connected. You'll go much further with others than without them.

So what now? Think about the 'teams' you're part of: family, friends, sports team or church. Think about the goals each team has. How can you add your strengths to each team for a happier, more effective outcome?

Soulfood: Rev 10-14 Mt 21:18-32 Ps 136:1-12 Pro 6:30-31,



'The Lord tested Joseph's character.' Psalm 105:19 NLT

Joseph, son of Jacob, in the Bible, is a textbook example of putting up with the pain and hanging in with God. The story, which you can read about in Genesis 37-45, begins with a classic case of 'Golden Child syndrome'. Jacob had many sons, but only Joseph is given the now world-famous 'amazing technicolour dreamcoat'. This, understandably, really miffed his brothers. Later, when he reports an arrogant dream he has had about them, things get really rough for him. He is left for dead by his brothers, sold to people traffickers, then gets thrown into an Egyptian prison for a crime he didn't commit, and he's pretty much left there, as everyone forgets about him. A horrific chain of events sparked off, all because he was a bit big-headed and ignorant as a teenager.

Yet Joseph hung in there. He went on to become a dream interpreter for the Pharoah, then chancellor of Egypt. The story ends with all of Joseph's earlier dreams about his brothers coming true, and eventually reconciliation with his family.

Through all these trials and pain, his character was refined. This story should give all of us hope. Its happy ending is not the point. The point is that God wants more than to just do stuff through us, he wants to build good and solid character in us.

So what now? Your life is different to Joseph's but it will still be filled with character building times. Hang in there, trust in God and grow on the inside.

Soulfood: Rev 5-9 Mt 21:1-17 Ps 77 Pro 6:29,


Stay in step with God

'For we are...created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.' Ephesians 2:10 NIV

Any Dancing with the Stars fans out there? Yes? Well, then you'll know the importance of keeping in step, not missing the beat and moving in rhythm.

Acts 17:28 (NIV) says something similar; 'In him, we live, and move and have our being'. The Holy Spirit is like our dance partner in life, laying down the beat, setting the rhythms and moving us with grace. Once you start moving your feet in time to the Spirit, nothing matters as much as keeping in step. When the Spirit moves, we move. When the Spirit pauses, we pause. When the Spirit acts, we act. Listen to his timing, it's perfect for how you will move. In the film Billy Elliot, Billy's dad wants him to be a boxer like him and his dad before him. But Billy knows he's cut out for ballet not boxing.

The Bible puts it like this: 'Live a life worthy of the calling you have received' (Ephesians 4:1 NIV), meaning: 'Don't drag your feet, don't try and do it yourself, walk in step with God'. Any dancers off doing their own thing on Dancing with the Stars are sure to be booted off the show; good movement is about being in tune with each other. Don't go it alone, only God can direct you in the best way for your life.

So what now? Only you know, through the Holy Spirit, what God's cut you out for. So, whether it's dancing or boxing or nursing or accounting, stay in step with God and you'll succeed.

Soulfood: Rev 1-4 Mt 20:17-34 Ps 70 Pro 6:26-28,

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