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Word For You Today

Godly words

'The lips of the godly speak helpful words.' Proverbs 10:32 NLT

Having integrity includes how we use our words. If we wouldn't say something because a parent, friend or Jesus himself was standing next to us, then we probably shouldn't be saying it at all. God's always with us and he knows every word we've ever said and will ever say. He even knows the words we don't say - the ones we think. Jesus declared: 'What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs' (Luke 12:3 NIV). He knows everything about us.

In Psalm 139:4 (NIV) it says, 'before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely'. The word 'completely' suggests that he doesn't just know the word, but the motive with which we said it.

The thought of God knowing everything about us can seem daunting. It could seem there's nothing we can do about it. But that's not the case. God shows us where we're going wrong so we can change it. And he knows we're never going to be perfect; we're human. Instead of being disappointed in us for when we mess up our words, he's there encouraging us to do it differently next time around, encouraging us to say and think godly words. 'The lips of the godly speak helpful words' (Proverbs 10:32 NLT). Let's aspire to that.

So what now? In every conversation you have, imagine Jesus physically standing next to you. See how it changes the words you decide to use.

Soulfood: Ezek 14:1-16:52 Mk 14:43-52 Ps 129 Pro 14:25-28,


Be truthful to yourself

'Dishonest gain will never last, so why take the risk?' Proverbs 21:6 TLB

Ever done a test in school/college/uni and, at the end, the tutor's asked everyone to mark their own paper? What would you do if there was an answer you'd missed, but suddenly you remembered what it was? You've got the opportunity right there to change it. Nobody would know. It's just one little question, and you really did know the answer, you'd just forgotten it... Those are thoughts we might have if we found ourselves in that situation. We might try to justify why it's ok to do it 'just this once'. But if we give in to that temptation, we're proving that we're potentially capable of giving in to bigger, more serious temptations. The effect on us in the long run matters.

Each small, individual sin gradually chips away at our integrity. Doing the right thing might have a cost attached to it, but it costs us more to abandon our principles and our integrity. The Bible says, 'Like a bird hatching an egg it did not lay, so are...people who get rich by cheating. When their lives are half finished, they will lose their riches. At the will be clear they were fools' (Jeremiah 17:11 NCV). Whatever we might gain from that small temptation, we'll end up losing at some point.

So, let's commit to walking in integrity, from this moment.

So what now? If there's a time in your past when you didn't behave with total honesty, bring it before God and ask to move forward with him into a life that's full of integrity.

Soulfood: Ezek 10-13 Mk 14:27-42 Ps 124 Pro 14:21-24,


Let go and move forward

'Forget all that...I'm doing a brand-new thing.' Isaiah 43:18-19 TLB

Ever said or done something you regret, and then keep replaying the scenario in your head, wishing you could go back and do things differently?

Well, here's what God says: (1) 'Your sins are forgiven through Christ' (1 John 2:12 GWT). We don't earn forgiveness by doing good deeds or acts of service. We're forgiven because Jesus paid the price for us on the cross. Whatever we've done, or not done, his forgiveness is readily available to us when we accept him. (2) 'I...will blot out your sins for my own sake and will never think of them again' (Isaiah 43:25 NLT). God isn't going to keep bringing up our past mistakes. That means there's no need for us to keep guilt-tripping. (3) 'Forget all that... For I'm going to do a brand-new thing... Don't you see it? I will make a road through the wilderness' (Isaiah 43:18-19 TLB). When we've done something wrong, we might think we've ruined our chances. But God willingly gives us a fresh, clean start. He asks us not to look back, and instead focus on what he's got lined up for our future.

The only reason for us to remember our past mistakes is to learn something from them. When we learn from the past it has the potential to make our future better.

So what now? Is there some guilt you find really hard to let go of? Remind yourself that God has forgiven you, and forgotten your sin. Now, ask God to show you the new thing he's got planned for you.

Soulfood: Ezek 5-9 Mk 14:12-26 Ps 4 Pro 14:17-20,


Dealing with anger 5

'Is it right for you to be angry...?' Jonah 4:9 TLB

We usually get angry in a selfish way. We get angry at things that affect us: we feel we've been treated badly or when things don't work out how we thought they would. Jonah became angry when the tree he was using as shelter died. In fact, he became so angry that he didn't see the point of carrying on. 'Then God said to Jonah, "Is it right for you to be angry because the plant died? ... You feel sorry for yourself when your shelter is destroyed, though you did no work to put it there, and it is, at best, short-lived"' (Jonah 4:9-10 TLB).

But there's another kind of anger: righteous anger. This is where we're angry at what makes God angry. It's anger against injustice, suffering, cruelty and oppression. It's when we move away from becoming angry about things that affect us and start being angry about things that affect others. It's anger that stirs us to pray for others, and to help and stand up for those who can't stand up for themselves.

Righteous anger is what we should be feeling and responding to. Are we prepared to move away from being focused on our own needs and focus on the needs of others?

So what now? Ask God to show you if there's anything about your anger situation in the previous days' readings that you could use as a catalyst for good. For example, if your anger was because someone was unfair to you, is there anything you can do to help others who are being unfairly treated?

Soulfood: Ezek 1-4 Mk 14:1-11 Ps 121 Pro 14:13-16,


Dealing with anger 4

'Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.' Ephesians 4:32 NIV

How should we respond when we're angry? The answer: in a Christlike way. Firstly, it's best not to leave conflicts unresolved and simmering. Instead we should aim to sort things out. The Bible tells us to not offer our gifts to God if we have unresolved conflicts. 'First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift' (Matthew 5:24 NIV). When there's anger involved, problems need to be sorted out and brought into the light. Secondly, we need to forgive. God calls us to be people who are 'kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other' (Ephesians 4:32 NIV) just as he forgives us. God's forgiveness is a gift; it's a part of his amazing grace towards us. So we need to show that same level of grace and forgiveness to others. Forgiving those who've hurt us is hard, but if we don't then it's us who hurt even more. Forgiving sets us free. Finally, we need to be understanding. We need to look at the bigger picture and consider what's caused someone to react in a hurtful way. Maybe they're hurting too, maybe they're going through a tough time or experiencing anger over something themselves. This doesn't excuse what they've done. Instead it takes the edge off our anger and softens our heart towards the person, motivating us to forgive and resolve the situation.

So what now? Re-think the situation that made you angry, and write down how you think Jesus would have handled it. Did you handle it like he would?

Soulfood: Amos 5:18-9:15 Mk 13:24-37 Ps 117 Pro 14:9-12,


Dealing with anger 3

'For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.' Luke 6:45 NIV

If we keep pouring liquid into a bottle, eventually it overflows. The same is true of our emotions. If we keep storing up the things that have hurt, angered or disappointed us they will eventually spill out. And, as it's a whole load of negative things being poured in, it will be negative things that flow out. Jesus said: 'A good man produces good deeds from a good heart. And an evil man produces evil deeds from his hidden wickedness. Whatever is in the heart overflows into speech' (Luke 6:45 TLB).

When our heart is being filled with negative emotions and we don't express them appropriately, then bitterness and resentment build and take root. Doctors say that resentment affects our physical health. It can also preoccupy our minds, drain our energy, stifle creativity, ruin our relationships and stop us being effective in God's kingdom. Holding onto anger, resentment and bitterness affects every part of our lives. Jesus said, 'If a brother sins against you, go to him privately and confront him with his fault' (Matthew 18:15 TLB). Jesus knew that we need to sort out conflicts to avoid a negative overflow.

Let's release our resentment by focusing on cultivating God's joy and peace instead, so that we 'may overflow with hope' (Romans 15:13 NIV).

So what now? Think about things you regret saying or doing when you were angry. Honestly ask yourself if they happened because you are holding on to bitterness in your heart. Ask God to remove any bitterness and fill your heart with joy and peace.

Soulfood: Gal 5:23 Prov 16:32 2 Pet 1:5-8 Heb 11:23-27,


Dealing with anger 2

'Everything in me will celebrate when you speak what is right.' Proverbs 23:16 NLT

When we get angry, it's natural for us to simply react, not thinking about what we say or do, or the consequences our angry outburst will have.

Sometimes we react by blaming others for how we feel or how we're acting. But this doesn't solve anything. It just makes others angry too and exacerbates the situation. The Bible reminds us that we need to take responsibility for our own actions and responses. 'First take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye' (Matthew 7:5 NIV). Whatever has caused our anger, our response is our responsibility. We need to be focused on changing our response rather than blaming other people and trying to change them. We can also resort to gossip or damaging someone's reputation when we're feeling hurt and angry. But that just widens the gap between us and the person, and makes reconciliation, forgiveness and resolution so much harder. Instead, we need to be more self-aware about our anger.

Anger can reveal what needs to be changed in a relationship. So let's ask God to show us what needs changing - first in ourselves and then in the way we relate to other people. Let's make sure that we 'speak what is right' rather than reacting with blame and gossip.

So what now? Get the notes you made yesterday. Have a think about the situation and write down any details about that time that you didn't handle well or that you regret.

Soulfood: Amos 1:1-5:17 Mk 13:12-23 Ps 82 Pro 14:5-8,

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