Josh 2:00-7:00pm

Word For You Today

Role model

'By the grace of God I am what I am.' 1 Corinthians 15:10 NIV

Role models can shape you and make you, or break you. It's important to choose them well. But remember, if you model your life on someone else's - even if they're amazing - you risk becoming something God doesn't want you to be. Your 'heroes' wrestle with blind spots and character flaws too. Paul said, 'I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God' (1 Corinthians 15:9 NIV). The same thing with Peter; we're told that as he 'entered the house, Cornelius met him and fell at his feet in reverence. But Peter made him get up. "Stand up," he said, 'I am only a man myself"' (Acts 10:25-26 NIV).

Say a friend starts a business and makes money, but when you quit your job and follow in his footsteps you go broke. Or say a co-worker wears something that looks great on her, but on you the same outfit looks like a sack tied in the middle. The danger in hero worship is that you miss the unique path God has mapped out for you personally. Another person's gifts, purpose, journey and time-frame will be different from yours.

God is 'jealous' about you (see Deuteronomy 4:24). He wants to protect you from anything that diminishes your uniqueness, or threatens your relationship with him. To be safe, make Jesus your first-and-last role model.

So what now? Think about who your role models are, and why. And, make a list of what makes you unique to forge your own path.

Soulfood: Lev 1-4 Luke 20:20-26 Ps 31 Pro 8:34-36,


Love your church 3

'We have this treasure in jars of clay.' 2 Corinthians 4:7 NIV

Being Christian doesn't mean we're perfect. Here's why: (1) We're human. But even with full knowledge of our highest potential and our lowest sins, God loves us unconditionally. The Bible says, 'We have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us' (2 Corinthians 4:7 NIV). God looks beyond our humanness and our outward behaviour and sees the potential inside us.

(2) We get distracted. In the Old Testament, a soldier was commanded to take a prisoner to a certain destination. His orders were clear: 'Lose the prisoner and you'll lose your life.' So what happened? The soldier said, 'While I was busy doing something else, the prisoner disappeared' (1 Kings 20:40 NLT). The soldier lost his prisoner and paid with his life. The same can happen to us if we get distracted by worldly things and take our focus off God. So we need to pay attention to our spiritual life and refuse to let other things take over.

(3) We're asleep spiritually. Whilst Samson slept Delilah cut his hair and handed him over to his enemies (see Judges 16:19-21). And it was while the servants slept that an enemy sowed weeds among the wheat and the harvest was lost (see Matthew 13:25). 'Think carefully about what is right, and stop sinning' (1 Corinthians 15:34 NLT). We need to stay alert to living our lives attuned to Jesus.

So what now? Love the people of your church, in all their humanness. Jesus does.

Soulfood: 2 Thes 1-3 Luke 20:9-19 Ps 18:30-50 Pro 8:32-33,


Love your church 2

'Unless these men stay with the ship, you cannot be saved.' Acts 27:31 NIV

The church is full of people with 'stuff' they need to work through; maybe we'd even describe ourselves as one of them. But God keeps working with us, because he sees our value in his Kingdom.

After writing about gossipers, complainers, the lustful and the greedy, Jude ends his short book with these words: 'Now all glory to God, who is able to keep you from falling away and will bring you with great joy into his glorious presence without a single fault' (Jude 1:24 NLT). In Acts 27, Paul was travelling on a ship. When they hit a storm, the ship's sailors tried to escape in the lifeboats. But Paul said to them, 'Unless these men stay with the ship, you cannot be saved' (Acts 27:31 NIV). When we don't like something about our church, it's tempting for us to react in the same way and leave. But maybe God's put us there for a reason, and wants us to ride out the storm. That doesn't mean it's sometimes wrong to leave a church, but we need to make sure our reasons for leaving are scriptural rather than self-centred or based on personal preferences.

If your church is having problems, don't be the first to leave. Be the first to say, 'Let's pray for our church; let's do what we can to improve it and keep it working for God's Kingdom and glory, in line with his will.'

So what now? Make a regular time each week to pray for your church. See if others from your church will join you.

Soulfood: Est 5-10 Luke 20:1-8 Ps 18:1-29 Pro 26:24-27,


Love your church 1

'Christ loved the church and gave himself for her.' Ephesians 5:25 NIV

Before we criticise our church, it's good to remind ourselves that 'Christ loved the church and gave himself for her' (Ephesians 5:25 NIV). Every church is made up of imperfect people, people who Jesus loved so much that he gave up his life for them. We can't expect our churches to be perfect when they consist of people who get things wrong, struggle, misunderstand, and so on - people just like us!

If your church was absolutely perfect, how intimidating would that be to someone visiting for the first time? Someone who was broken, desperate and struggling would probably feel unworthy to set foot inside such a faultless place. The truth is, we've all felt unworthy to come into even the edges of God's presence. But his love for us and Jesus' sacrifice on the cross mean that he thinks us worthy.

Churches do make mistakes sometimes, just like we do. One of the harshest things Jesus said was to Peter, the disciple who was destined to become a leader in the church: 'Go away from me, Satan! You are not helping me! You don't care about the things of God, but only about the things people think are important' (Matthew 16:23 NLT). But the great thing is that when we mess up, the same grace that restored Peter is there for us. And that same grace is available to our church too.

So what now? Have you criticised your church recently? If it is a genuine criticism (not just because of your personal preferences), what could you do to improve the situation?

Soulfood: Est 1-4 Luke 19:45-48 Ps 69:19-36 Pro 8:30-31,


When what worked won't work

'Let us go on...and become mature in our understanding.' Hebrews 6:1 NLT

Hermit crabs live in shells until they outgrow them, then they find a bigger one. They do this for their whole lives - a process that repeats over and over. Is what worked in the past not working for you now? A job you've outgrown, or a relationship you need to reset or leave, or a method you need to change. Just because something's tried and tested doesn't mean it's for forever. Whatever it is, don't get so settled that you can't let go and move on when you need to.

David said, 'You...freed me when I was hemmed in and relieved me when I was in distress' (Psalm 4:1 AMP). Be willing to move out of your comfort zone and deal with a bit of distress. That's what makes you grow. It won't feel freeing and enlarging right away, but you can bet it will start to. Instead of hanging in and trying harder, sometimes you have to stop and ask, 'Is this situation good for me?' If you're not sure, ask God for 'an understanding heart so that [you] can...know the difference between right and wrong' (1 Kings 3:9 NLT). And when he tells you what to do - do it - even though at first it may feel alien or difficult.

When God says it's time to move on, he has a better shell for you somewhere.

So what now? Find a photo of a shell and write 'God always has something better for me' on it. Keep it for when you need a reminder of his promises when he's moving you on.

Soulfood: Job 40-42 Luke 19:37-44 Ps 69:1-18 Pro 8:27-29,


Be moved by compassion

'He was moved with compassion for them.' Matthew 9:36 NKJV

The news headlines are full of tragedy, poverty and suffering. We can become so desensitised that we switch off. Other times we may see their need as too huge and overwhelming for us to make a difference.

The Bible tells of a time when Peter and John were heading to the temple and saw someone in need. This person had been crippled from birth and begged outside the temple gates every day. 'Then Peter said, "Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk." And he took him by the right hand...lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength' (Acts 3:6-7 NKJV). Peter could have decided to keep walking. He didn't have any money to give the man. But he chose to stop and as a result the crippled man who'd sat begging for most of his life rose up and walked into a new life.

Through God's power people can be healed and freed and lives can be transformed. But we have to see the need and act with compassion. We have to choose, like Peter, to stop even when we think we have nothing to offer. When we see someone's need and reach out to meet it, God releases his power.

So what now? Next time you see someone in need, stop and think what you could do to help them out, however big or small. Your compassion could make a difference in their life.

Soulfood: Lev 27:30-33 Num 31:48-54 1 Cor 16:1-3 2 Cor 9:1-15,


SOS prayers

'God...always helps in times of trouble. So we will not be afraid.' Psalm 46:1-2 NCV

God desires an ongoing, loving relationship with us, in our everyday and in our extraordinary times. Sometimes we may find ourselves in some sort of emergency, or we might be feeling so panicked by something we're faced with that we need an immediate talk with God. Even if our prayer life hasn't been brilliant, he's there for us, day and night. Emergency prayers are simply desperate cries for God's help.

Maybe some of us have struggled to believe that God's a loving, kind Father, or even to believe that he exists at all. But when we've run out of options and realise that we can't fix everything ourselves, a crisis can become an opportunity to experience God's grace and power, and to see our faith grow fast. The psalmist wrote, 'I call to you in times of trouble, because you will answer me' (Psalm 86:7 NCV).

If you're in a crisis today, pray these words: 'Father, I can't see a way out of this. Let me feel your Spirit and your encouraging presence. Help me to see that with you, all things are possible to those who believe. Things look hopeless to me, but you see them from a heavenly perspective. Today I thank you that you're my God, and the one who "always helps in times of trouble"' (Psalm 46:1-2 NCV).

So what now? Talk to God about your day, however mundane it's been. If you're in a crisis, pray the prayer above. Or if you know someone who's facing major problems, why not offer to pray it with them?

Soulfood: Job 38-39 Luke 19:28-36 Ps 38:13-22 Pro 8:24-26,

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