Word For You Today

Peace radiates outwards

'Great peace have those who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble.' Psalm 119:165 NIV

Life's not always easy. We all experience stress, conflict, deadlines, expectations and personal pressures that 'gang up' on us, trying to rob us of peace. No one is immune to stress, frustration and the feeling that we're on the 'treadmill of life'. When we feel like that, we're definitely not 'at peace'. And the real answer to stress and worry can't be found anywhere apart from God.

The Bible talks about three kinds of peace. (1) Peace with God. 'Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ' (Romans 5:1 NIV). This is eternal peace, and it comes from knowing that we have a relationship with a God who loves, cares, protects and forgives us. (2) Peace with yourself. 'Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts' (Colossians 3:15 NIV). This is internal peace, a sense of calm in our minds and souls which many of us find hard to experience. (3) Peace with others. 'As far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone' (Romans 12:18 NIV). This is external peace, and we need it so that our relationships with others work well.

So, here's the process: when you're at peace with God you'll be at peace with yourself, and when you're at peace with yourself you'll be at peace with others. That's how peace radiates outwards.

So what now? Focus on developing intimacy with God at the beginning of each day and experience how the peace you feel afterwards radiates outwards for the rest of the day.

Soulfood: Heb 11:22 Gen 39:1-23 Gen 45:1-11 Gen 50:15-26,


An appetite for God's Word

'His Word can cut through our spirits.' Hebrews 4:12 CEV

When we read the Bible, God gives us strength and guidance for our lives that we can't get from anywhere else. The Bible 'is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realise what is wrong in our lives; it straightens us out and helps us do what is right' (2 Timothy 3:16 TLB). God's Word can also 'cut through our spirits' (Hebrews 4:12 CEV). Through his Word, God brings to the surface unresolved issues and helps us to deal with them. He exposes our bad habits and shows us how to conquer them. He shows us our selfish and unloving attitudes, then reveals how to repent and change.

Regularly Bible reading makes us more aware of what God says about who he is, who we are, and what he's done for us. Making time to regularly read the Bible requires effort on our part. Life's busy and we may find it hard to fit it in to our day. But it's vital that we do.

If we're struggling to make time to read the Bible, we need to ask God to give us a greater appetite for his Word. When we get physically hungry, we know to find something to eat. When we get spiritually hungry, we need to be reading God's Word. The Bible says: 'Man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord' (Deuteronomy 8:3 NIV).

So what now? Each time you get hungry today, read a few verses of the Bible before you eat.

Soulfood: Ex 19-21 Jn 2:12-25 Ps 110 Pro 26:13-16,


Change your thinking

'Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.' Philippians 4:8 NLT

When we become Christians, we accept God's gift of salvation, and God works in us to make our nature more Christlike. We don't suddenly become Christlike - it's a lifelong process. And part of that process involves changing the way we think - from a worldly, negative and limiting mindset to a heavenly, positive and Kingdom mindset. That's not easy when we've spent our lives thinking a certain way, but it's something God requires us to invest effort into. A change in thinking requires discipline and determination.

The quality of fuel we put into something determines its performance. Imagine you owned a racehorse. If you only fed it cheap, poor quality food, you couldn't expect it to win races. It's the same with your mind. You have to feed it the best things you can. Our minds absorb and reflect whatever they're exposed to: events we attend, relationships we have, materials we read, music we listen to, images we're exposed to, conversations we engage in. Whatever occupies our thoughts shapes our minds and eventually our characters and our future.

The Bible says, 'Don't copy the behaviour and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God's will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect' (Romans 12:2 NLT).

So what now? Start each day this week by reading Philippians 4:8 and Romans 12:2, then ask God to help you fill your mind with thoughts that are 'excellent and worthy of praise'.

Soulfood: Ex 16-18 Jn 2:1-11 Ps 23 Pro 26:10-12,


Trusting God in the storm

''I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.' Philippians 4:13 NLT

Sometimes God helps us grow our faith by allowing us to go through challenging situations. We need to have something to look forward to and believe God for, otherwise our faith stays in one place. Mark 6:45-51 (NIV) says, 'Jesus made his disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him.' When a storm came up in the night, the disciples had to row through it for hours until Jesus walked across the water to meet them. As soon as he climbed into the boat, the storm died down.

Jesus didn't prevent his disciples from facing the storm. Jesus also knew the right time to step in. He was teaching them to follow his instruction and trust him even when things were difficult. He teaches us the same things today through our challenges.

Nineteenth-century American preacher and abolitionist Phillips Brooks wrote, 'Do not pray for easy lives. Pray to be stronger men. Do not pray for tasks equal to your power, pray for power equal to your tasks.' We don't experience the extent of God's resources until we do something that seems impossible. That's when we discover: 'I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength' (Philippians 4:13 NLT).

So what now? Is there a situation you're feeling intimidated by? Trust God to help you grow your faith and strength through the situation.

Soulfood: Ex 13-15 Jn 1:43-51 Ps 131 Pro 26:7-9,


Friendship 4

'You can trust a friend who corrects you.' Proverbs 27:6 CEV

Two important qualities that can help deepen a friendship are honesty and loyalty. The Bible says, 'You can trust a friend who corrects you, but kisses from an enemy are nothing but lies' (Proverbs 27:6 CEV). Sometimes we need our friends to tell us where we're going wrong. While that can be hard to take, we know we have a great friend when they're prepared to take that risk and tell us the truth. It may not be what we want to hear, and it may hurt, but in the long run it will help us.

Honesty is necessary for a friendship to survive. Both parties need to be prepared to tell the truth, in a loving and constructive way (see Ephesians 4:15). We need to be asking whether each person trusts the other enough to open up to them and to be opened up to. If each person can, then this is a great foundation for a strong and lasting friendship.

Our friendships also need loyalty. 'There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother' (Proverbs 18:24 NKJV). The word 'stick' refers to how skin sticks to the bone. It suggests just how close one friend should be to another. We need to be building friendships where we know we can turn to one another in the tough seasons, not just in the great ones. We need to know we have lasting friendships.

So what now? Contact a friend you trust completely with a message to say that you're grateful for their friendship to you.

Soulfood: Ex 10-12 Jn 1:29-42 Ps 29 Pro 26:4-6,


Friendship 3

'Spend time with the wise and you will become wise, but the friends of fools will suffer.' Proverbs 13:20 NCV

Being in a close friendship doesn't mean that the relationship will never be challenging or that both people will agree on everything. Sometimes we can see our friends going down the wrong path, and they may even try and take us on that path too. But, being a good friend doesn't mean we must support our friends in every decision they make. When that decision is harmful to them, or to us, we can speak up and ask them, sensitively, to reconsider what they're choosing to do. We need to be brave enough to stand up for what we believe in, at the risk of upsetting the friendship. Peer pressure and people-pleasing have no place in friendships.

If we're strong in our faith and identity, we'll be able to be truthful and constructive in our friendships. Being close friends with someone gives us the opportunity to speak God's truth and wisdom into their lives, and them into our lives. The Bible says: 'As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another' (Proverbs 27:17 NIV).

So, not only do we need to be open to standing up for what's right, but we need to be prepared to accept when our friends challenge us about our attitudes or actions. The Bible says: 'Spend time with the wise and you will become wise, but the friends of fools will suffer' (Proverbs 13:20 NCV).

So what now? Do you have a friend who's heading down the wrong path? Ask God for the opportunity to speak his truth and wisdom into their lives.

Soulfood: Ex 7-9 Jn 1:14-28 Ps 92 Pro 26:1-3,


Friendship 2

'A man who has friends must himself be friendly.' Proverbs 18:24 NKJV

If we want to have, and keep, good friends, we need to make sure we're being a good friend too. We can't expect people to show us friendship when we're not prepared to show it back. A friendship, just like any relationship between two people, needs both people to invest. It requires both people to treat each other well. It means being there for each other in the easy times and in the hard times. It means being someone who can open up to people and also being someone who others feel comfortable opening up to.

Being a good friend isn't to do with personality. We can be loud or quiet, open or reserved, confident or shy and still be a great friend. It's the fruits of the spirit in our lives - 'love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control' - that determine how good a friend we are (see Galatians 5:22-23 NCV). If that feels like too big a list for us to try and achieve at the moment, we can remember the call to 'do to others what you would want them to do to you' (Luke 6:31 NCV).

Sometimes it's challenging to take a look at our character and think about where we can improve, but God can show us which areas we need to work on in order to be a better friend to others.

So what now? Ask your closest friends which qualities in you they appreciate. And, if you're feeling brave, ask them what areas they think you need to work on too.

Soulfood: Ex 4-6 Jn 1:1-13 Ps 63 Pro 25:26-28,

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