Word For You Today


'Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men.' Ephesians 6:7 NIV

Here are two great verses: 'Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men' (Ephesians 6:7 NIV); and 'I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from My Father I have made known to you' (John 15:15 NIV). They give a whole new spin to what service is.

When we work to serve God, it becomes more than drudging, low-level service. We're actually part of some of God's plans (we're certainly in on His biggest plan of all - the whole Salvation Plan). And that, in turn, means that Jesus calls us 'friend'.

Hold on a second. Friend. He calls us friend. When we decide to serve Jesus, He doesn't say 'Oh, thanks for that, little minion.' He says 'Bless you, my dear, precious friend.' The One who's worked for forever to save us all calls us friend, and not even because of the meagre amount of good that we (might) get done here on earth. It's purely because, 'Everything that I learned from my Father, I have made known to you' (John 15:15 NIV). So, when we're told to 'Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men,' we're actually being told to serve as if we're serving our closest friend, who's given everything He has to allow us to live truly well. Kind of puts things in perspective, doesn't it?

So what now? Do something servant-like for a friend (an earthly one) today. You'll feel the new spin. Your heart will soar.

SoulFood: Hos 1-5; Luke 19:22-40; Ps 116:12-19; Pro 8:10-13



'They go from strength to strength, till each appears before God in Zion.' Psalm 84:7 NIV

The great boxer Muhammad Ali once said, 'What keeps me going is goals.' He's right; our motivation for doing something is nearly always the prize we receive at the end. Jesus didn't beat around the bush when He appealed to these desires in us: He promises 'treasure in Heaven' (Matthew 6:20).

But to get the treasure, we're to live boldly for God here in the world. That means going from strength to strength in our living out of what God asks us to do, here. Paul says, in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27, that we're to keep our eyes fixed on the prize of where God and His people are - so, Heaven - and run with all our might toward it.

As we live for Him, there are two things that keep us going: joyful remembering and hopeful looking forward. That's what pilgrims used to do, back in the day when pilgrimages were a popular way of expressing faith in God. A pilgrim is described as 'a traveller (literally one who has come from afar) who is on a journey to a holy place. Typically, this is a physical journeying (often on foot) to some place of special significance'. As they travelled they'd be: remembering Christ, letting Him be known, and looking forwards.

So what now? Treat your day like a pilgrimage. As you go about your day, with its ups and downs, remind yourself that you have the sure hope of Heaven. Let that motivate you to do bold, good works for God. And, don't forget to enjoy your day too - Jesus came that we may have abundant life here on earth too!

SoulFood: 2 Kings 24-25; Luke 19:1-21; Ps 116:1-11; Pro 8:8-9



It's probably fair to say that we're most likely to be bold (especially about sharing our faith) when we're feeling closest to God. So, lesson 1: if you're a Christian but have made a bit of a hash of the whole purity/truthfulness/ kindness/nameafruit (...see Galatians 5:22-23), God won't reject your 'sorry'. The past is there to be learnt from, not burnt from.

Yet what about when we mess up over and over? Ever done the 'I promise I won't do that sin any more' thing, and then (no matter how long you manage to hold off) you seem to fall back into the habit? Breaking news! God is 'transforming us from one degree of glory to another' (2 Corinthians 3:18). One degree. To another. That implies that you (a) Aren't perfect, and (b) Can, with God's help, get closer to His likeness. Satan loves to reach into whatever dark pit of 'won't-go-back-there' he can find, and drag back up whatever he knows will make you squirm before God. We've all been there. Guess what? There is no darkness in your life that Jesus hasn't forgiven.

To bring this back round: don't sweat that you aren't perfect. God's pretty aware of that bit. When you know you're out of your depth or really struggling, don't sweat. He's got you - 'Be still' and let Him take the strain.

So what now? God wants you to pray, declare out loud even, the pains that stop you from feeling His closeness and power. Giving these pains to God gives the enemy no room to operate in your life.

Soulfood : 2 Ki 21-23, Luke 18:18-43, Ps 19, Prov 8:6-7



'The wicked flee though no one pursues, but the righteous are as bold as a lion.' Proverbs 28:1 NIV

Having a guilty conscience means always running - whether from the people you've hurt; from the people who'd be in charge of punishing you; or even (Jonah-style) from God. But today's verse tells us that running is pretty much pointless, because 'no one pursues'. When we're running from guilt, chances are that we're mostly only running from our own conscience. And, especially because this running is all in our heads, we don't really get anywhere.

So, is there another option? What about the second half of that verse? 'The righteous are as bold as lions'. Actually... That says a lot about God's power. It says that, when we're righteous, we're granted the boldness of the fiercest lion. And here's even more good news: John 1:12-13. Yes. Because of Jesus, we're fully adopted into God's family. That means that, because He chooses to always see us in and through Christ, we're called, and most importantly enabled, to be righteous. That means that we can all take a firm hold of that boldness. The first step towards that is to focus our whole attention on living out the righteousness we're offered.

So what now? Let's use our righteous boldness to avoid being runners. If you feel like there are some mistakes you're running from (or have run from in the past) do these three things: (1). Worship. Know that you're righteous, because of Jesus. (2). Own up to the mistake before God. Ask for His healing for it. (3). Own up to the people/person affected. Have any conversations that need to happen.

SoulFood: 2 Kings 18:17 - 20:21; Luke 18:1-17; Ps 11; Pro 8:4-5



It's easy to let your eyes drift off what God's given you and find yourself fixated on someone else's lot. Surprisingly, God has a lot to say about this idea of contentment with your own lot in life. Have a good read of the book of Ecclesiastes. Chapter 5 verses 18-20 lays out how God's given you opportunities to scrape joy out of every corner your life. Another version puts it like this: 'It is good and fitting for one to eat and drink, and to enjoy... for it is his heritage' (NKJV).

But when you're struggling to get that contentment and basic happiness out of life, another person's life suddenly becomes much more appealing. One myth, the 'forever myth', tells you your own situation will never improve. Another, the 'never myth', says if things get any worse you'll never be able to handle them. Both are distortions. Contentment with your life comes from the hands of the God who deals out enough, for each person, for today.

So what now? Think over things in your life that you may take for granted: a great friend, listening to music, sports or the taste of your favourite meal. God has made them all for your appreciation, signs that He's with you. If you're going through some tough times, remember that they'll pass, and that God's with you all the way (Isaiah 41:10).

Soulfood : 2 Ki 16:1 - 18:16, Luke 17:20-37, Ps 115, Prov 8:1-3



Silence isn't absence. Sometimes God says to you, 'Be still, and know that I am God' (Psalm 46:10 NIV). When God seems silent, He can be giving us a chance to discover Him again in a totally new way.

You have to be really secure with somebody to just sit quietly with them. Silence takes the emphasis off words and builds a level of intimacy where they're no longer necessary. Something changes in your relationship with God when you sit silently with Him.

But what if you're waiting desperately for some answer to prayer? First up, check out the conversation around today's verse in Job. Second, Charles Trumbull said, 'God knows when to withhold or grant visible signs of encouragement. It's good when He sends confirmation, but we grow faster when we've trusted Him without it. Those who do, always receive the greatest visible evidence of His love.' God answers every prayer; it's just that across some He writes, 'Just wait.'

It takes as long as it takes - and usually feels uncomfortable the whole time. But there's good news. Eventually your prayers become less about getting answers and more about realising that you're with God, and right alongside His long-lasting provision for you, at a deeper level than you imagined.

So what now? (Yes, this is the same 'So what now?' as yesterday's reading.) If this reading speaks to you today - stop asking for things. Just for a little while. Plan some prayer times over the next few days that are just for listening out for God, and look for Him speaking to you in an unexpected way.

Soulfood : 2 Ki 10-12, Luke 16:19-31, Ps 24, Prov 7:24-25



'Lord. Where. Are. You?' Do you feel like God isn't answering that prayer? Job felt like it too. 'I cry out to You, O God, but You do not answer; I stand up, but You merely look at me... When I hoped for good, evil came; when I looked for light, then came darkness' (Job 30:20 & 26 NIV). All of us go through times when it feels like God vanished when we weren't looking. And when we go looking in the place where we left Him, He isn't there.

When you've been in that place for a while, you meet two old friends for the first time, again. Yourself. And, eventually, God. By recognising that God doesn't always talk in the same way, you surrender that control over your expectations. But when you give that up, you get something else. Maybe you used to hear from God in a particular way. That's ok. That's normal. The change there isn't Him abandoning you.

As Mother Teresa said, 'In the silence of the heart God speaks. If you face God in prayer and silence, God will speak to you. It is only when you realise your nothingness, your emptiness, that God can fill you with Himself.' There's a real communication that goes on when you and God are silent together. More on that tomorrow, too.

So what now? If this speaks to you today - stop asking for things. Just for a little while. Plan some prayer times over the next few days that are just for listening out for God, and look for Him speaking to you in an unexpected way.

Soulfood : 2 Ki 7-9, Luke 16:1-18, Ps 135, Prov 7:21-23

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