Word For You Today

'Write it down'

'Moses then wrote down everything the Lord had said.' Exodus 24:4 NIV

In the Bible God sometimes told people to write down what he had told them. He said to Moses: Write down these words, because with these words I have made an agreement with you and Israel' (Exodus 34:27 NCV). And to Habakkuk he said: 'Write the vision and make it plain on tablets, that he may run who reads it' (Habakkuk 2:2 NKJV).

Writing down the things God tells and shows us can help us remember them, and can remind us of God's faithfulness and promises. It can serve as an encouragement for when we are feeling despondent and needing assurance or direction. It can show us how our relationship with God is going, and help us understand where we are at in our lives.

God loves us to express ourselves to him. He loves us to be honest with him and with ourselves, and this can be easier to do when we write it down. One way we could do this is by regularly journalling. Journalling is like a spiritual discipline. Our journalling journey can be as unique as we are: we can write in an actual journal or scrapbook or record our journey online - as long as its easy to access. If we're not such wordy people, we could draw or collage in our journal as an expression of our journey. It's a great habit to develop, whichever form it takes.

So what now? Whether you journal already, or have never tried it, set some time aside today to write down what you feel God's saying to you.

Soulfood: Isa 49-52 Luke 3:11-20 Ps 81 Pro 2:11-15,


Give God your 'firstfruits'

'Honour the Lord...with the firstfruits of all your crops.' Proverbs 3:9 NIV

Solomon wrote: 'Honour the Lord with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine' (Proverbs 3:9-10 NIV). The people who heard those words lived off their land and their livestock. Whenever they reaped a harvest or birthed new cattle, they'd take the first sheaf or the firstborn calf, the 'firstfruits,' to the temple and offer it to the Lord. By doing this they were acknowledging that everything they had was from God and belonged to God. And that everything they needed for the future depended upon God's goodness to them.

Today, we come across many different opinions on 'tithing.' The most commonly held view is that it is giving 10 per cent of your income back to the church. Others may give to different organisations or individuals. Some may give more than 10 per cent. We should pray for God's guidance before deciding how, and how much, to give.

We can also make sure we're giving God our 'firstfruits' - the best bits, not the leftovers - of our time and attention. The main thing is to 'give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver' (2 Corinthians 9:7 NIV).

So what now? Set aside time in your day to spend with God. Resolve to let nothing get in the way of it. Once you've been doing this for a little while, you'll notice how much your trust and confidence in him increase.

Soulfood: Isa 45-48 Luke 3:1-10 Ps 79 Pro 2:9-10,


Diligence rocks

'Diligent hands bring wealth.' Proverbs 10:4 NIV

A diligent person wants to contribute, work, and make a difference to their families and to society. Whether we're in employment or a student, are we diligent in our work? Do we resent that we have to work? Or is the work we're doing not quite good enough for us?

In the Bible, people had all sorts of jobs. The first man, Adam, tended the Garden of Eden (see Genesis 2:15). Jesus was a carpenter (see Mark 6:3). And the apostle Paul was a tentmaker (see Acts 18:1-3). We may not always enjoy the work we're doing, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't put our all into it. The Bible says: 'Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters' (Colossians 3:23 NIV). When we think that our work is for God, whatever we're doing, then it's easier to do the work with diligence and motivation.

And it's not just our day-to-day work that we need to be diligent in. We need to be motivated in developing our relationship with God and building our character to become more like Jesus. Peter wrote: 'For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love' (2 Peter 1:5-7 NIV).

So what now? Whatever work you do today, do it diligently. When you do, you are honouring God and making a positive difference to all around you.

Soulfood: Isa 42-44 Luke 2:41-52 Ps 74:12-23 Pro 2:7-8,


God's idea of 'rich'

'The blessing of the Lord makes a person rich, and he adds no sorrow with it.' Proverbs 10:22 NLT

When we think of being rich, usually we think of it as 'having plenty of money'. But what's God's idea of being rich? God wants us to be 'rich' in every area of our lives: in our relationships, our health, our peace of mind, our careers, and in everything that concerns us.

And in every area of 'richness' God longs for us to steward what he has given us well. He loves for us to share our 'riches.' In the parable of the three servants in Matthew 25:14-30, each servant was trusted with a different amount of money, depending on their ability to look after it. Imagine if the third servant had been given the largest amount of money, and then did nothing worthwhile with it. (The money could be a talent that God's given us, with the return on investment being how we've helped others through that talent). Matthew 25:29 (NLT) says: 'To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have an abundance. But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away.'

When we are 'rich,' with money or wisdom or a skill, we need to consider how we can use that 'wealth' to bless and help others, and maybe even bring them to Christ. This perspective may be very different to how we've thought before, but that's how God's Kingdom works.

So what now? Think of a gift or skill that God's blessed you with. Use your 'richness' to help at least one other person today.

Soulfood: 1 Sam 3:1-11 Acts 9:1-9,


Removing the labels

'We have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view.' 2 Corinthians 5:16 NLT

People label people - based on their personality, appearance, capabilities, nationality, gender, or many other things. We like to be able to fit people into neat categories. But labelling causes division not unity, exclusion not inclusion, prejudice not love. 'Them and us.'

This is definitely not the message that Jesus brought to the world. He demonstrated unity, inclusion and love, and he calls us to show the same. When Jesus met the Samaritan woman at the well, he defied the labels and rules the society at that time had defined. This is how the meeting unfolded... Jesus asked the woman for a drink and she replied with 'You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink' (John 4:9 NIV)? Jews and Samaritans didn't associate with one another, this woman had been divorced five times and she was a Gentile. So Jesus talking to this woman would've been shocking. But he looked beyond the labels the society had imposed.

Let's avoid labelling others. Those who are labelled can start to believe it and act like the label is true, rather than basing their identity on what God says about them. Removing labels can be really hard, so let's be careful with what we're speaking over people. And let's work towards unity, inclusion and love, just as Jesus did.

So what now? Is there someone you know who seems to always be on the side-line because they are slightly different? Make the effort to spend some time with them and include them this week.

Soulfood: Isa 38-41 Luke 2:34-40 Ps 74:1-11 Pro 2:6,



'If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God.' James 1:5 NIV

When we're not sure which direction to take in life, we have a God who delights in giving us wisdom. When we're experiencing a conflict or a problem in our lives, he has the answers. The Bible says: 'If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God' (James 1:5 NIV). God may use others to give us his wisdom, but we should ask God before anyone else. He should be the one we turn to first, for whatever we're facing and for whatever we need.

God loves it when we desire his wisdom. We see this in the story of Solomon. When God asked Solomon what he wanted, Solomon replied that he wanted wisdom and discernment to be able to rule his people effectively. The Bible tells us that 'the Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for this' (1 Kings 3:10 NIV). And when we seek God's wisdom, we not only please him, but we're blessed too. 'Blessed are those who find wisdom, those who gain understanding' (Proverbs 3:13 NIV).

Our main source for finding wisdom is through God's Word, the Bible. Here we find how God wants us to live, and it's full of advice through the stories of people who experienced things just like we face today. When we take the time to read the Bible and apply its principles, we are exercising his wisdom.

So what now? Challenge: read the book of Proverbs. It's full of wisdom and advice for living well. Read a couple of chapters a day until you make it right through the book.

Soulfood: Isa 34-37 Luke 2:21-33 Ps 71:17-24 Pro 2:3-5,


Freedom indeed

'If the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.' John 8:36 NKJV

We can feel like we're not totally free on the inside, like we're tied up in chains we can't break free from. We may have felt like this for a long time. We may have tried to find freedom from things that hold us back but we still feel imprisoned. But the Bible says, 'If the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed' (John 8:36 NKJV).

God wants to set us free and to live life to the full (see John 10:10). We can't do that when we're being held back by things in our lives. It's only by developing a close relationship with God that we get free and stay free. His presence brings peace and serenity. His presence fills the emptiness within us and enables us to say no. His Word renews our mind and reframes our attitudes. With him we are able to resist temptation and have strength to keep going. God's freedom is a freedom that lasts.

The Bible says: 'Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom' (2 Corinthians 3:17 NIV). We can be tempted to put the chains back on again because we're not sure what life without them is like, or we're not sure who we are without them. But with God's help we won't only find freedom, but remain in it.

So what now? Whatever is chaining you up and holding you back, declare out loud: 'Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom!' Choose to throw the chains away.

Soulfood: Isa 30-33 Luke 2:8-20 Ps 71:1-16 Pro 2:1-2,

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