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Word For You Today



'...Put on the new self, created to be like God...' Ephesians 4:24 NIV

There are times when God's laws seem ludicrous to us. It's probably fair to say that some of them seem beyond human ability. Like, 'be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect'.

But perhaps that's the point. In Jesus you have a new, different self, and when you surrender your own ability to 'do' Christianity, you 'put off your old self...and...put on the new self, created to be like God...' (Ephesians 4:22-24 NIV).

Is this still true even when you have to grit your teeth and really force yourself to obey God's laws, past your first instincts? Yes. Living by God's laws will become your instinct with time (read Romans 6:17). It's like when you're coming around after a deep sleep. It takes a while to remember who and where you are. With time you realise you are a new person.

Christian speaker Arthur Burt said, 'I knew a man who always said "Keep looking down," "You mean keep looking up, don't you?", "No! No! We are seated together with Christ in heavenly places!"' As Christians we are no longer our old selves. We're new, and we're already at home with Christ and His laws, even if it doesn't feel that way just yet.

So what now? Next time you have the impulse to react in the usual negative or half-hearted way to a particular situation, stop, look down... remember your new self - the one that instinctively sees things from a heavenly perspective.

SoulFood: 1 Chron 7:20 - 9:44; Luke 12:13-21; Ps 119:17-24; Pro 20:22-24



'...I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me.' Romans 7:21 NIV
We've all been in a situation when we knew the right thing to do, but just couldn't go through with it? When we walked away from something good and disliked ourselves for it. When we actively hurt other people and it still made us feel bad. Maybe our own wrong habits in our actions and attitudes cause inner struggle and we beat up on ourselves.
What we're actually called to do when we see our own sin is not wallow in guilt or get really annoyed at ourselves, but to return to God in our thoughts. Eventually, as we do this more and more, we get the sense of the 'the fear of the Lord'. 'The fear of the Lord' is a gift that prods us when we're going wrong; when the Spirit tugs us by the collar and stops us from getting into a wrong situation or bad thought process (not Spidey-sense, superhero fans, but, ... close enough). God will reorder our habits, our mind's patterns; He is willing to do this, and is just waiting for us to return to Him.
So what now? 'Practice' getting sensitive to God's approval and His God-tug in prayer time and during your day. Use His tug to quit beating yourself up and to change your wrong habits into healthy responses.
SoulFood: 1 Chron 6:1 - 7:19; Luke 12:1-12; Ps 119:9-16; Pro 20:19-21


'...Each of you must...speak truthfully to your neighbour...' Ephesians 4:25 NIV

Christian lingo: that strange language that means we say, 'Wow, that guy is really anointed at playing guitar' instead of 'Nice guitar playing, mate!'

Sometimes, to speak the truth effectively, we have to ditch the Christian-ese lingo. Sometimes for people to feel heard and properly related to, we need to say things a little more down to earth. This isn't to say that Christian words are wrong; Christian words can make tricky ideas plain and shed light on deeper truths. But, when these are overused, they can cause unseen barriers between Christians and non-churchgoers. To those who don't know much about this God-stuff, what do 'grace', or 'God bless you' even mean?

We can throw in the odd 'Christian-ese' word when it needs to be there, but it is so much better when we say, for example: Jesus put it all right for you' rather than, 'You have been justified through Christ'; or 'I don't understand either' rather than, 'God's ways are higher!'; The list goes on.

Let's talk about this amazing life we have through Jesus in a 'language' that others can get - to make the truth clear for them.

So what now? Look up a few typical Christian-ese words and reword them to use the next time you're with your un-churched friends. It could help to break down some old barriers and draw them closer to Him.

SoulFood: 1 Chron 4:24 - 5:26; Luke 11:45-54; Ps 119:1-8; Pro 20:15-18



'...What must I do to be saved?' Acts 16:30 NIV

An old lady spent her first flight sitting forwards awkwardly in her chair, elbows firmly on both armrests, looking straight ahead for the whole journey. When the plane landed the passenger next to her asked if she'd enjoyed the flight. 'It was alright' she said, 'but I didn't put my whole weight on it...'

The punchline: We do the same thing when we try to get along with God based on our own awesomeness - by working harder, praying longer, having a super lovely personality, or whatever. But, there's no way to do work that's been done for us.

In the natural we will never be able to get along with God because all the wrong we've done. Sin stops us from seeing or wanting God by ourselves. We can't trust in our own ability to get on God's good side; we just don't have that ability, any more than old ladies can cruise at 30,000 feet of their own accord.

But God's done something about you. He loves you. He looked past His own right to judge you or punish you, and absolutely embraced you - on the cross. He did it, and only He did it. He took the sinless-ness of Jesus and gave it to you. The moment you place your trust in Jesus, you're flying, with something you can lean back into with your full weight, and the full acceptance of God bearing you up and onward.

So what now? Thanking God that 'He did it' and then singing a couple of worship songs is a good back-to-basics way to start the day looking in the right direction, towards Him.

SoulFood: 1 Chron 3:1 - 4:23; Luke 11:29-44; Ps 78:65-72; Pro 20:11-14



'...He has sent me to proclaim freedom...recovery...release...favour.' Luke 4:18-19 NIV

If you look at ancient sea maps you'll see places that are marked with pictures of dragons ('Here Be Monsteres', sort of thing) to warn off sailors. Were the dragons real? Not very, but they were real enough in the minds of the sailors.

Think of a barracuda in an aquarium tank. A glass barrier divides one half from the other. Each time the barracuda tries to swim at it, it bumps into it. And if the barrier is then taken away, the barracuda won't swim beyond that point - because, yes, the barrier is still in its mind.

Jesus was sent to proclaim freedom, recovery and release. Satan will place barriers in your mind that say you can't go beyond a certain point in life. The barriers are lies. But a lie is as effective as the truth if you believe it and act on it. The Bible is filled with stories of people who were thought to be 'little' or way too insignificant to matter, who went on to smash through barriers they thought they couldn't. God used them to do amazing things. He'll do that for you too, no matter how small or limited you feel, if you ask for it.

So what now? A lie is as effective as the truth when you believe it. Christians are people of the truth, so ask God for His help to see where other people are struggling believing wrong things about themselves. Pray for ways to join Jesus today in breaking down those barriers in their lives.

SoulFood: 1 Chron 1-2; Luke 11:14-28; Ps 78:56-64; Pro 20:7-10



'...I tell you not to worry about everyday life...' Matthew 6:25 NLT

Jesus said, 'Therefore I tell you, stop being perpetually uneasy (anxious and worried) about your life...' (Matthew 6:25 AMP). Not because the stuff you're worrying about doesn't exist, but because committing it all to God throws our focus back on the One who can fully care for us, has cared for us, and is going to carry on caring for us.

Philippians 4:6-7 (NKJ) says, '...let your requests be made known to God, and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds through Christ Jesus.' Another Bible version puts it like this, 'Then, because you belong to Christ Jesus, God will bless you with peace that no one can completely understand. And this peace will control the way you think and feel' (CEV).

When you're more caught up in your love for God than concerned with getting over your worry, you often find that the worry melts off like candle wax anyway. So, let your problems drive you into the arms of Jesus. And when you get there, stay there, ok?

So what now? Author and speaker Mark Yaconelli suggests this five-minute-long-ish activity you might like to try if you're feeling worried: Sit in a relaxed pose. Slow your breathing. Then relax your muscles, group by group, head to feet. Say with each breath in: 'Into Your hands', and with each breath out: 'I commit my spirit'. After a few minutes of this prayer rhythm, thank God, and get on with your day!

SoulFood: 1 John 3:11 - 5:21; Luke 11:1-13; Ps 78:40-55; Pro 20:4-6



'Benaiah...went down into a pit on a snowy day and killed a lion.' 2 Samuel 23:20 NIV

Benaiah was one of King David's 'mighty men'. His résumé reads: 'Benaiah...was a valiant fighter...He...went down into a pit on a snowy day and killed a lion.' That's what is called 'courage with cold feet'. The greatest courage of all is showing courage in the face of fear. Someone said, 'Courage is just fear that has said its prayers.' When you know you have heard clearly from God, you are filled with faith in that moment. It puts steel in your spine.
Benaiah's courage, especially with cold feet, is the reason he is a famously valiant member of King David's mightiest men. Because there is no middle ground to hide in, he fights the lion and he kills it. Thousands of years later, God and His people still look at this personality trait as characteristic of the God-centred soul: boldness, right at the moment that fear threatens to swamp you.
Think: when you can't keep your distance from the thing you're fearing, how do you respond? What puts steel in your spine when fear presses in?
So what now? If you're frozen with fear, for any reason, a good idea would be to ask some Christian friends if you can all meet up and pray about it. While it's great to ask for advice, simply praying together could actually be more powerful.

SoulFood: Ezra 9-10; Luke 10:16-28; Ps 78:17-31; Pro 19:27-29

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