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Word For You Today

Confess and be free 4

'You forgave me! All my guilt is gone.' Psalm 32:5 NLT

Let's be clear about this: nobody is perfect. Ecclesiastes 7:20 says, 'Not a single person on earth is always good and never sins' (NLT). Only Jesus can claim never to have sinned. And yet, when we've done something wrong, we feel like the only person in the world who's made that mistake. Guilt makes us feel lonely. We don't want to open up to anyone, so we isolate ourselves. We think others will judge us or reject us for what we've done. (If we're honest, we may have avoided someone when we discovered some less-than-great fact about them!)

So we put on the 'everything's fine' mask, while secretly carrying that guilt inside us. It's humbling and uncomfortable to own up about the things we've done wrong. But the Bible says, 'A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in times of need' (Proverbs 17:17 NLT). If we decided to open up about our mistakes, maybe some would turn away from us. We might also be surprised to find out who would stick with us.

We can be certain that God won't turn away from us. He's told us, 'Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you' (Hebrews 13:5 NIV). God is our truest and most faithful friend. Even if it is intimidating to confess to our perfect God, we can be confident he'll welcome us and draw us close to him when we do.

So what now? As you pray today, talk to God as if you're talking to your most trusted friend. Because that's who he is.

Soulfood: Ecc 5-8 Jn 11:38-57 Ps 81 Pro 30:11-14,


Confess and be free 3

'Finally, I confessed all my sins to you and stopped trying to hide my guilt.' Psalm 32:5 NLT

When we've done something wrong, or even many things wrong, we may think that we've made too many mistakes for God to ever want us to do Kingdom work for him. But, actually, when we confess to him, it makes a massive difference. When we choose to confide in him, we can experience freedom from the guilt we've kept bottled up. The psalmist wrote: 'When I refused to confess my sin, my body wasted away...My strength evaporated like water in the summer heat...Finally, I confessed all my sins to you and stopped trying to hide my guilt...And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone' (Psalm 32:3-5 NLT).

When we confess, then ask for and accept God's forgiveness, we're taking responsibility for our actions while acknowledging that he's greater than us, and far greater than our sins. It releases us from the prison of guilt and regret that we've built up around ourselves, cleanses us and restores our relationship with him.

God can use all our experiences for his purpose, even if those experiences are bad ones. Think about it - who would be better placed to reach others and tell them about God than someone who's also battled in a certain area and then gone on to experience God's grace and forgiveness?

So what now? When you've done wrong, confess it quickly to God, accept his forgiveness, and experience freedom from guilt and shame. Then ask him how you can turn that mistake into something positive for his Kingdom.

Soulfood: Ecc 1-4 Jn 11:28-37 Ps 50 Pro 30:7-10,


Confess and be free 2

'Whoever confesses and abandons [sins] receives compassion.' Proverbs 28:13 GWT

Ever done any decorating? Maybe the wall plaster has a couple of cracks. Nothing too big, but they ruin the surface and don't look good. So you fill them in and paint over them. It all looks fine, but you know there are problems below the surface. Eventually, a quick fix just isn't enough and you have to completely re-plaster the wall and start afresh.

It can be like that with hidden sin. We might feel ashamed of the things we've done wrong, or think that nobody else can have done anything as bad. So we cover over our sins to appear to be the righteous, perfect people we wish we were. But it's only a quick fix, and sooner or later we're going to be hurt by the guilt of what we've kept hidden. Proverbs 28:13 says: 'Whoever covers over his sins does not prosper. Whoever confesses and abandons them receives compassion.' (GWT).

So, our best option is to bring our wrongdoings into the open. The Bible tells us: 'If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness' (1 John 1:9 NIV). God promises to forgive us if we admit what we've done wrong, and he always keeps his promises.

So what now? Have a good heart-to-heart confession time with God. Although it might be painful to open up and tell him, you can be sure of his forgiveness. And when you do, you'll feel freedom and enjoy a fresh, new start.

Soulfood: Dan 1:3-21 Dan 3:7-30 Dan 5:10-12 Dan 9:1-19,


Confess and be free 1

'Everything that is hidden will be shown, and everything that is secret will be made known.' Luke 12:2 NCV

We often feel under pressure to be perfect Christians. We may feel that people are waiting for us to make a mistake so they can point out we're no better than them. And we're not. We all make mistakes. We all have things we're not proud of or would prefer to hide. So we put on a public face that makes us look good and disguises our flaws and mistakes.

But Jesus said: 'Everything that is hidden will be shown, and everything that is secret will be made known' (Luke 12:2 NCV). God knows the things we do wrong and the unhealthy attitudes we have. But more important to him is the potential he sees in us. But until we acknowledge and confess the things we struggle with, we won't feel free to walk in openness in relationship with God.

Have you ever kept something hidden from your family? The thing you've done wrong weighs on your mind and affects your relationship with them. It's the same with God when we don't admit our wrong behaviour or attitude to him. So to restore that relationship, we need to open up to him and bring our sins from the darkness and into the light where God can help us work on those areas and reach the potential he sees in us.

So what now? Is there anything you haven't confessed to God yet? Be completely open with him, so that you can be set free and move on to be all you were meant to be in God.

Soulfood: Rom 15-16 Jn 11:17-27 Ps 8 Pro 30:5-6,


Our perfect Father

'Bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord.' Ephesians 6:4 NLT

'Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord' (Ephesians 6:4 NLT). For those of us who aren't parents, we might think this verse doesn't apply to us. But when we look deeper, it's teaching us a lot about God's character, as our Father.

In Greek, the word for 'discipline' is paideia. Other ways to translate paideia are training, instruction, correction and nurture - just about everything needed to bring up a child, and everything we'll experience from God when we choose to let him be part of our lives. He nurtures, guides, loves, encourages and protects us. He instructs us on his plan for our lives and trains us to fulfil that plan.

And God disciplines and corrects us when we need to be guided back onto his path. We may think that discipline's a negative thing. But the Bible reminds us that 'God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it' (Hebrews 12:10-11 NIV).

God disciplines us from a place of love, not from a place of revenge for disobeying his instructions. Ephesians 6:4 is a picture of the perfect father. And that's what God is to us.

So what now? Thank God that he is a perfect Father, who wants you to be the best version of yourself.

Soulfood: Rom 12-14 Jn 11:1-16 Ps 105:1-15 Pro 30:1-4,


Why go to church

'Christ loved the church.' Ephesians 5:25 NIV

Here are a few reasons why going to church is a really good thing to do:

(1) It's what God wants us to do. 'You should not stay away from the church meetings...but you should meet together and encourage each other' (Hebrews 10:25 NCV). (2) It's an opportunity to be part of a community of believers. Romans 12:5-6 reminds us that 'in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us' (NIV). We can achieve more when we work as a team, where people with different skills and gifts can all contribute to the church's work. (3) It's a place to give and receive encouragement. Paul wrote to the church in Thessalonica: 'encourage each other and give each other strength, just as you are doing now' (1 Thessalonians 5:11 NCV). We should all be doing the same. (4) It's a time we can fully devote to praising and worshipping God. Psalm 29:2 says, 'Praise the Lord for the glory of his name; worship the Lord because he is holy' (NCV).

This doesn't mean that church is the only place to meet with believers and praise God - we can thank him anywhere, anytime - but attending church helps us make sure we're regularly focusing on him and his people.

So what now? Make a list of all your positives for going to church. Keep your list. Whenever you don't feel like going to church, re-read these positives for encouragement.

Soulfood: Rom 9:17-11:36 Jn 10:22-42 Ps 83:9-18 Pro 29:23-27,


Pray for them

'Remember...those who are mistreated.' Hebrews 13:3 NIV

The Bible tells us, 'Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters' (Hebrews 13:1 NIV). Then it gets specific: 'Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering' (Hebrews 13:3 NIV).

When we offer to pray for someone who's struggling, we often say a few words to God about them, asking him to help them and strengthen them. But do our prayers really come from our heart, as if we were praying for ourselves in that same situation? That's the challenge in Hebrews 13:3. When we make the choice to follow Christ, we become part of the body of Christ: 'In Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others' (Romans 12:5 NIV). When another Christian is suffering, we should think of them as if it's a part of our own body that's hurting. When we've got a physical injury, we'll usually do whatever we need to take away the pain and heal the injury.

So, when we're praying for others, let's avoid falling into the habit of saying words that sound like the right thing to pray. Instead, let's pray from our hearts, for as long as it takes, as if it's us having to go through the same situation.

So what now? Who's on your prayer list at the moment? Today, pray for them as if you were facing those circumstances. Do you notice a difference in your prayers?

Soulfood: Rom 7:1-9:16 Jn 10:11-21 Ps 83:1-8 Pro 29:19-22,

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