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Word For You Today

Learn to be content 1

'...I have learned to be content...' Philippians 4:11 NAS

A rich man decided to have all he owned converted into gold bars and gripped the sack of treasure tightly as he breathed his last breath. An angel informed him that he couldn't bring his sack with him but, after much begging from the man, the angel received permission from God to let him take in one piece of carry-on luggage. At the pearly gates, St. Peter opened the sack to inspect the worldly items that the man found too precious to leave behind and exclaimed, 'You brought pavement?' What a waste of effort as '... the great street of the city [in Heaven] was of gold' (Revelation 21:21 NIV).

The average person is bombarded with about 300 advertisements a day. It's a mega-billion-dollar industry designed to make us want what they're selling. But there's a subtle message being conveyed. In a word, it's dissatisfaction, and it eats away at us by creating a desire for bigger, better, more. The Bible says, 'We...brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything content' (1 Timothy 6:7-8 NAS).

So does satisfaction mean not setting goals or aiming higher? Does it mean not enjoying nice things? No, it just means not letting all those nice things 'own' you. Paul said, '...I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want' (Philippians 4:12 NIV).

So what now? Paul mastered the art of contentment by learning to say, 'That's not essential. I can live without it.' How content are you?

Soulfood: Ex 30-32, John 3:22-36, Ps 32, Prov 27:1-3


How well do you listen

'It's before you listen.' Proverbs 18:13 CEV

In a particular episode of the 90's comedy series Friends, Chandler is awake all night worrying about a meeting he has at work the following day. When the time arrives he is so tired he falls asleep during the meeting! He wakes up to find his boss asking if he agrees with what's just been discussed. In a panicky moment he has a guess at the answer, says yes, and discovers he's just agreed to move from New York to Oklahoma!

How many times have you seen gameshow contestants buzz in to answer before the end of the question and find they've got it wrong? Life can be the same. 'Foot-in-mouth disease' or speaking before we think is a common thing and, the truth is, we all do it sometimes! How many people have we upset by answering a question too quickly, because we didn't give them a chance to say what they had to, or we weren't really listening to what they were actually saying?

The book of Proverbs is full of the word listen. One verse quite bluntly says to us, 'To answer before listening - that is folly and shame' (Proverbs 18:13 NIV). Real listening involves more than keeping your mouth shut. You need to pay attention, make sure you really understand what's being said and carefully think through your response.

So what now? People are important. Ask yourself as you interact with others, whether with a friend or shop assistant - how well am I listening?

Soulfood: Joel 2:23-32, Acts 2:1-21


Give to the poor

'...the godly man gives generously to the poor...' 2 Corinthians 9:9 TLB

Giving can be tough to do. As children we tend only to see our own world, demanding what we want, and usually we get it. But as we grow up, our vision changes and becomes broader as we are exposed to the world around us. The Bible is very clear that we are to give: 'There is more happiness in giving than in receiving' (Acts 20:35 GNT). It is also especially important to give to the poorest of the poor.

'They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor; their righteousness endures forever' (2 Corinthians 9:9 NIV). What does this mean? Well, God is totally committed to loving and healing a hurting world; he is concerned for the poor and making sure that everyone gets a chance to hear the amazing news of the Gospel... and, the most exciting part is that he has chosen you to be a part of his strategy to take care of a hurting, needy world.

What an opportunity! God doesn't want to just do it all himself, he wants to partner with you?

So what now? Think about what part God wants you to play. There is always a way to give to others. Volunteer at your church, sell stuff on TradeMe to get some cash, run a sponsored charity event - do what you can to give to the poor. The 'poor' are those without means or money, and those without hope. Ask God to show you how he wants you to partner with him.

Soulfood: Ex 28-29, John 3:9-21, Ps 100, Prov 26:27-28


What's your dream 2

'Joseph had a dream...' Genesis 37:5 NIV

Pursue the dream God has given you no matter how crazy it may seem, because dreams are like your children; they're the joy of your present and the hope of your future. Protect them. Feed them. Encourage them to grow, for as long as you have a dream you'll never be old.

Joseph was betrayed by his family, wrongly imprisoned and accused of trying to seduce his boss's wife... but despite all this his dream carried him all the way to his destiny as ruler of Egypt. Remember, we're talking about God-given dreams that lead to God-honouring results, not selfish ambition.

God has a dream for you and if you are willing to go for it he'll reveal it to you. When he does, remember three things: (1) Dreams are specific and personal, not public and general. God won't give somebody else your dream, he'll give it to you. He may confirm it through others, but he'll reveal it to you. When he does, don't share it with the wrong people or you'll get hurt. Like Joseph's brothers, they won't be able to handle it, especially if it doesn't include them. (2) Dreams are usually a bit beyond belief. Often your dream will make sensible people say, 'You've got to be kidding!' Remember, that's their opinion, not God's; with him 'everything is possible' (Matthew 19:26 GWT). (3) Dreams create winners. Everyone has a dream, even if it's hidden deep down in them. Walk by faith, discover yours and live life big.

So what now? Find your God-given dream and follow it.

Soulfood: Ex 25-27, John 3:1-8, Ps 89:38-52, Prov 26:23-26


What's your dream 1

'...Faith without works is dead.' James 2:20 NKJV

When you dream you see beyond your limitations and move closer to the way God sees things; you move from where you are to where he wants you to be; you begin to see your goals in their completed state. The question isn't 'Can you dream?', but 'Do you have the courage to act on it?'

A dream is usually something that will stretch us to way beyond what we are used to or think we can handle. God doesn't miraculously lift us into our dream and place us in the middle of it. The process of reaching that dream involves the following: (a) Trusting God daily for all we need; (b) Being led by God when there are no sign posts; (c) Getting up each morning with our eyes fixed on our dream and moving steadily towards it; (d) Refusing to become like those who complain and sabotage their dreams.

Now for a warning: others will try to steal your dream. It could be someone who never had their own dream, or if they did they abandoned it. It could even be a family member who reminds you of what God couldn't or wouldn't do through someone like you. It could be you sabotaging your own dream!

So what now? What is your dream? What has God let you see that doesn't yet exist? You'll never out-dream God! For: '...By his mighty power at work within us [he] is able to do far more than we would ever dare to ask or even dream of' (Ephesians 3:20 TLB). Go for it!

Soulfood: Ex 22-24, John 2:12-25, Ps 89:15-37, Prov 26:20-22



'...Don't be surprised...that you are going through testing...' 1 Peter 4:12 CEV

Have you ever had a teacher tell you at the beginning of a school term that there would be tests without any warning? Maybe you didn't like it, but at least you knew to be prepared by doing your homework and completing your assignments on time. As unfair as it seemed, you couldn't say you hadn't been told.

God's Word tells us the same thing: 'Don't be surprised...that you are going through testing' (1 Peter 4:12 CEV). Now, these tests aren't necessarily ones you'd have chosen for yourself because they never seem to come at the right time and always seem to be on a subject you're worst at! That's because they're not for the teacher's benefit, they're for yours! The tests of life are designed to sharpen you mentally and strengthen you spiritually. When tests come, and they will, you've got two choices. One: act like a victim, moan, mope about and complain that you've been singled out and that life's 'just not fair'. Two: let them teach you more about yourself and the God you serve.

Often when you're in the middle of being tested it can feel like there's no way you can possibly get through it! But here's a comforting thought: God will never give you more than you can handle. He is there to help you pass the test. His Word says, '...God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able...' (1 Corinthians 10:13 NAS).

So what now? Be prepared! And allow the tests to show you more of God.

Soulfood: Ex 19-21, John 2:1-11, Ps 89: 1-14, Prov 26:17-19


Money matters

'Pay your debts...' Romans 13:8 GWT

Every week a little boy went to church with his grandmother and every week after church they would stop at the local dairy and buy an ice cream. One day his gran was unwell so she sent the boy to church by himself with two $2 coins - one for the offering and the other for an ice cream. On the way to church the boy crossed a bridge and decided to jump up and down to shake it. He heard a clunk as one of the coins fell from his pocket into the water. 'Oh well' the boy said, 'there goes God's coin!'

When it comes to our money, it's quite easy for giving to God to take second (or third... or last) place on the list. Like the little boy, what we need or want sometimes takes higher priority than giving to God. God promises to supply all our needs but the problem is that often we confuse what we need with what we want! Today, access to money is quite easy. Many young people find that in a short space of time they have managed to run up all sorts of debt. That's why it's important to get our money priorities straight, from God's point of view.

The Bible says: (a) ' catch only a fleeting glimpse of wealth before it is gone...' (Proverbs 23:4-5 GWT); (b) 'Honour the Lord with... the best part of everything' (Proverbs 3:9 NLT); (c) 'Don't fall in love with money...' (Hebrews 13:5 CEV).

So what now? Save yourself a lot of trouble. Be wise with your money.

Soulfood: Ex 16-18, John 1:43-51, Ps 110, Prov 26:13-16

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