Bjorn 6:00-10:00am

Word For You Today


Back in ancient times, one of the most effective defences a city could have was whopping great walls around its perimeters. With walls, a city had much less chance of being taken over. Walls provided a first line of defence. There'd be trained watchmen stationed on top of them, and the minute they caught sight of an incoming enemy, they'd raise the alarm for the guards to rush to the gates and fight back.

'Whoever has no rule over his own spirit is like a city broken down, without walls' (Proverbs 25:28 NKJ). So, when we don't bother with self-control, we leave ourselves wide open to an incoming enemy we wouldn't want to settle down in the city of our soul. The minute we allow ourselves to do just-that-one-thing- we-know-we-shouldn't, we start to let our walls down. And once those walls are down, it becomes ever-easier to let one more thing slide. And then another thing. And another. And...

You get the idea. The bottom line is this: letting something slide, even one tiny little thing, doesn't work. We may not feel the impact immediately, but even the smallest thing changes the way we think about what's right. It draws us a step further away from God. And each step further away makes the next one a little easier to take.

So what now? Ask the Holy Spirit for His help in growing self-control. And then ask for His help in maintaining it and keeping your walls intact.

Soulfood : Num 4:34 - 6:27, Luke 6:17-26, Ps 104:24-35, Prov 3:11-12



Nowadays we often see charities set up in malls and outside supermarkets. Representatives stop passersby, trying to persuade them to sign up and to give money to their cause. Why do they even exist? Probably because the needs exist, and not enough people are doing/giving enough to fix those needs. Charities talk about us having 'donor fatigue' - we've seen so many 'Please, give just $20 a month...' ads they just don't have an effect on us anymore.

Contrast that with Mother Theresa, who gave her life to rescuing sick babies and caring for the dying. She said: 'The biggest disease today isn't leprosy or cancer. It's the feeling of being uncared for, unwanted - of being deserted and alone.' She was asked why she did what she did, and her response? 'Because Jesus did.' Hmm.

The Bible contains many words from the prophets. Half of what they say calls out sin and the other half calls out those who see people suffering and do nothing about it. If we call ourselves God's - we call ourselves to His action. Today's reading isn't meant to start a guilt trip, forcing you to donate regularly to a charity - it's a reminder that our faith is the sort that has actions partnered with it. If your faith is all words and no action at the moment, you'll probably find that choosing to serve strengthens your faith.

So what now? If you haven't yet asked at your church about places to serve, now would probably be a good opportunity.

Soulfood : Num 1-2, Luke 5:27-39, Ps 100, Prov 3:7-8



'Let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth' (1 John 3:18 NIV). Jesus set a pretty strong example, actually. Turns out He didn't say: 'Oh go on guys, play nice, please?' or throw casual platitudes over His shoulder at the homeless and hurting as He passed: 'Mm, yeah, bless you...' Jesus was massively concerned about the wounded world He'd stepped into.

So concerned, the Gospel writers had to create a new word to describe that compassion. They said that Jesus was 'moved in the depths of His gut' (yes, it's splagchnizomai, Greek fans) for people. And then there's the shortest verse in the Bible: 'Jesus wept' (John 11:35). Ours is a God who, when He stepped into this messy and broken world of ours, went from healing to healing, from feeding the hungry to restoring outcasts. And His harsher teachings? Only against those who exclude these broken vulnerable ones. It turns out they were (and we are...) pretty precious to Him.

What about the poor and hungry in your city? What if one Sunday the back row of your church was filled with homeless, (literally) unclean, maybe even alcohol-dependent people who had wandered in to see what your church was like? Do we get stirred up for these precious-to-Jesus people? Is it time to put your compassion into action, rather than cross the road?

So what now? Ask at your church about ways to serve in your area.

Soulfood : Jas 3-5, Luke 5:12-26, Ps 96, Prov 3:5-6



'If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging.' Romans 12:8 NLT

We all need encouragement. Sometimes life is exhausting and we want to give up. Sometimes the apple of temptation is too shiny and we want to give in. All sorts of people around you may be in very weak places today, under the surface.

So, do a great thing today - encourage. The Bible gives different ways to do it... (1) Encourage through gifts: 'All those about them encouraged them with articles of silver, with gold, with cattle and with valuables...' (Ezra 1:6 NAS). So begins the story of God's people pooling together gifts to encourage a group from Judah to rebuild God's house. Perhaps you know a missionary or someone going on a mission trip - encourage them by giving a gift. (2) Encourage with kind words: 'And he who smooths metal with the hammer encourages him who beats the anvil...' (Isaiah 41:7 NAS). A compliment on the quality of somebody's work goes a long way. How about complimenting your church leader on their sermon? (3) Encourage through writing: 'When they had read it, they rejoiced because of its encouragement' (Acts 15:31 ESV). We'll leave you to figure out your way of doing that.

You never know when a humble 'thanks' or an honest compliment might just be the thing that keeps somebody going.

So what now? Use your imagination. Get creative in how you show your appreciation for someone today. You could make sure your church knows what you appreciate about it. However you do it, it's important to point out the good stuff.

SoulFood: Jas 1-2, Luke 5:1-11, Ps 91, Pro 3:3-4



Ever heard Christianity described as a race? It's much less of a sprint, and more of a marathon.

Think of Usain Bolt. His sprint is spectacular. But ask him to keep that speed up for 42 km, though, and he'd be all inhaler and ambulance. It's impossible to sprint a marathon. Trouble is, so many of us are impressed by the sprinters in church. It's good to be 'on fire' for God (in fact, it's not only pretty brilliant but what we're aiming for). But without those steady, do-it-even-when-you-don't-feel-like-it times of devotion where we let God take the lead, it's too easy to burn out. There's nothing wrong with stepping out for God. But Jesus set an example of clocking in regularly for the 'upward' God time as well as the 'outward' service.

Life is a marathon, not a sprint. King Saul ran like a sprinter. He got out of the blocks well enough but he compromised and ran without God. King David, on the other hand, ran marathon style - he waited fifteen years to be crowned King. A lesser athlete would've given up years before. Despite his shortcomings (a heap of them), the marathon approach meant that, as long as he was heading towards the finish line, there was time to get up again.

So what now? Ask yourself: do you need to think longer ahead in life than the day or week ahead of you? This is a simple question but it might need lots of mulling-over time.

Soulfood : Dan 11-12, Luke 4:31-44, Ps 89:38-52, Prov 3:1-2



American pastor and author Francis Chan uses a piece of rope as an illustration. He holds a piece that stretches the length of a stage and points to the very end which is painted red. The majority of the rope is white and he asks us to imagine this representing eternity. The red part represents our lifetime on earth. The red part is insignificant compared to the white. He suggests that too many of us focus on the small red part of the rope when there is an eternity of white awaiting us.

Most stuff here comes and goes. And where we invest our time, money and energy has a lot to do with that. Using your resources to bless others is going to have a lasting effect in their lives. Now, we aren't having a dig at your shopping habits... but holding back on your next pair of impulse-buy shoes will, frankly, leave more room to give generously. Asking 'where else could this go?' can apply to anything: time spent watching TV, scrolling through Facebook; whatever, any 'non-necessities'. We all need rest. We all need chill-space. But sometimes it helps to toughen up on our habits. It leaves that space open for us to pray about where we can invest.

So what now? What areas of your life do you need to reassess in view of eternity? It's helpful to keep this question in mind, at least some of the time: when you're about to impulse-buy or to spend an evening scrolling Facebook, ask yourself 'where else could this go?'

Soulfood : Dan 8-10, Luke 4:14-30, Ps 89:15-37, Prov 2:21-22



At some point in our lives, we've all felt inferior. Not needed. On the outside looking in. Like we don't fit - anywhere. And it hurts.

Take church as an example: it can be so easy in a world that seems to be run by outgoing extrovert types to believe that centre-stage is where the cool dudes hang out. But this is wrong; there's a bigger picture to look at. The best job you can possibly do is the one God has given you the gifts to fulfil. It's more than likely your church is full of people who need someone to encourage them. An outcast who needs a friend. A tech desk that needs a faithful worker. A project that needs volunteers.

Is this an aspiration-knockdown? Well, you'll be pleased to know we aren't telling you to wash prayer meeting coffee mugs until the end of time. But God is always ready to teach someone and lead them into their 'calling' - and that can start small.

So want now? Get to know yourself. Praying and learning about your abilities/personality type can be really helpful. Why? Because you can relax, knowing that God 'set His faithful people apart for Himself' (Psalm 4:3 NIV). Make an appointment to meet up with someone you trust, and ask them what they think your gifts are. Commit to challenge each other to put them to service, then meet up in a month to see what came from it.

Soulfood : Dan 5-7, Luke 4:1-13, Ps 89:1-14, Prov 2:20

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