Word For You Today

At home in God's presence

'Lord, through all the generations you have been our home!' Psalm 90:1 NLT

At the end of a hard day it feels good to come home to a place we know - a place to kick off our shoes and just be. God's presence can become equally comfortable to us. With time, we can learn to go there for strength, protection and guidance. God wants us to be at home in his presence and aware of his nearness at all times.

If we're not careful, we can think of God as a discussion point instead of a place to dwell, but he wants us to see him as the one in whom 'we live and move and have our being' (Acts 17:28 NIV). When God led the children of Israel through the wilderness, he didn't show up briefly once a day. No, the pillar of fire was present with them all night and the cloud of smoke was with them all day. God never leaves us. Jesus promised, 'I am with you always' (Matthew 28:20 NIV).

The psalmist said, 'I ask only one thing, Lord: let me live in your house every day of my life' (Psalm 27:4 CEV). It can be challenging to be focused on living in the house of the Lord when there are so many things trying to steal our attention. But we're always just one decision away from our Father's presence. He's always welcoming us to spend time with him, we just need to choose that above everything else.

So what now? Where do you feel most at home? Go there today, get comfortable and spend time soaking in God's presence.

Soulfood: 2 Sam 12:1-14:20 Lk 7:24-35 Ps 118:10-18 Pro 18:7-9,


Finding the 'key log'

'I thought about my ways.' Psalm 119:59 NKJV

In a car race, each stage has to be approached with purpose and care, otherwise the car can crash or go off course. It's the same with our lives: how we approach each stage dictates how our 'race' will go. Sometimes a glitch happens and the car, and our lives, can veer off course.

When professional loggers discover a logjam, they climb a large tree near the river so they can look over the jam and find the cause. What they're looking for is the 'key log' creating the jam. Once they remove that, the river takes care of the rest. The point is, we don't necessarily need to change all our thinking to get our lives back on track - there may be a single specific issue that needs adjusting. Once we do, our lives will begin to flow in the right direction again.

So how can we discover any 'key logs' that are putting us off course? Firstly, know that it's best not to do it alone. Asking God (and a trusted person) to help us identify or point out the 'key logs' - any negative attitudes or behaviour - we have is very useful. God is always willing to walk the journey of transformation alongside us.

So what now? Got some 'key logs' in your life that need to be removed? Remember this: it's not about criticising yourself; it's about assessing where you're at and how you can approach your life better. Ask God to help you and be willing to make any adjustments.

Soulfood: 2 Sam 7:18-11:27 Lk 7:11-23 Ps 118:1-9 Pro 18:4-6,


Released by God's Spirit

'The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.' Romans 8:2 NKJV

Sometimes we feel that we fall short of God's standards. We reflect on our flaws, failures and weaknesses and think we'll never be good enough. Unfortunately, we're never going to be perfect while we're here on earth, but that doesn't mean that we need to beat ourselves up!

Paul wasn't stressed about his weaknesses; instead he boasted about them. 'If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness' (2 Corinthians 11:30 NIV). When we're weak, God can show his strength and we rely on him more. The Old Testament is full of laws that needed to be followed to be 'right' with God. But, because of Jesus, we're not under those laws. We don't need to earn God's acceptance by trying harder to be better. Instead, we have the Holy Spirit to help guide, transform and strengthen us. 'By dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code' (Romans 7:6 NIV).

This doesn't mean we can slack off, thinking we can do anything we like. We still need to desire to become more like Christ and to do things God's way. It's not about constantly striving and stressing. It's not about trying harder, but leaning harder on God's Spirit who lives in us.

So what now? Every time you feel under pressure to strive and meet God's 'standards', say to yourself 'I have been released from the law'.

Soulfood: Mt 5:8 Ps 24:3-6 Ps 18:17-26 1 John 3:1-3,


Grow in tolerance for others

'God shows no partiality.' Acts 10:34 NKJV

Tolerance isn't just about agreeing to embrace our differences. It's about accepting another's freedom to believe what they want, and to respect those beliefs. One of the best tests of spiritual maturity is: how willing am I to love and pray for those whose beliefs and behaviours are unacceptable to me? Instead of condemning people, we should have compassion for them and show them a better way. Let's be clear: compassion doesn't mean compromise. We need to be like our heavenly Father, who loves sinners, but hates sin.

In Bible days, Jews looked down on Gentiles and referred to them as 'dogs' (see Matthew 15:26-28). But Jesus came and redeemed those 'dogs' and turned them into disciples. When Cornelius the Gentile summoned Peter the Jew to his home, Peter said, 'You know how unlawful it is for a Jewish man to keep company or go to one of another nation. But God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean' (Acts 10:28 NKJV). God was shaking up deeply-rooted traditions and opening up new opportunities for the Gospel. Peter continued, 'God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears him and works righteousness is accepted by him' (Acts 10:34-35 NKJV).

If we're open to God, he'll work in us to grow our tolerance, and show us new ways to share his love.

So what now? Talk to people from a different Christian denomination or different faith to you. Spend time listening to their beliefs and share yours with them if they are open.

Soulfood: 2 Sam 3:22-7:17 Lk 7:1-10 Ps 109:16-31 Pro 18:1-3,


Faith developers

'I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother... and in your mother.' 2 Timothy 1:5 NIV

A 'faith developer' is someone who plays a significant role in helping others reach a higher level of faith in their lives. They show others the best way to live, they inspire people not to quit, and have faith that others are attracted to. They're the most Christlike person around.

Faith development should be a chain reaction. Someone helps develop our faith and, in turn, we then help develop someone else's faith. Timothy is a great example of this. Paul tells us that Timothy has 'sincere faith' and that his grandmother and mother had this faith too. They helped build up Timothy's faith, so that, at a young age, Timothy became a key figure in the spread of the Gospel. Paul advised him: 'Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity' (1 Timothy 4:12 NIV).

We don't always appreciate hearing advice from other people, but when they're sharing God's wisdom with us we need to be taking it on board. And, in turn, if there's someone we feel God's showing us to guide or encourage, we should the wisdom that he gives us and be their 'faith developer'.

So what now? Who has played a significant role in developing your faith: a family member, a friend or a member of your church? If you can, thank them for helping you grow in faith.

Soulfood: 2 Sam 1:1-3:21 Lk 6:37-49 Ps 109:1-15 Pro 17:27-28,


Be the peacemaker

'For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder.' James 3:16 NIV

Paul wrote: 'Live in harmony by showing love for each other. Be united in what you think, as if you were only one person. Don't be jealous or proud, but be humble and consider others more important than yourselves. Care about them as much as you care about yourselves' (Philippians 2:2-4 CEV). Negative conflict causes problems. When we think too much of ourselves, our relationships become full of comparing, competing and condemning.

When disorder comes, we need to counteract it with love, humility and selflessness. The Bible says: 'Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many' (Hebrews 12:15 NLT). We need to aim to live in harmony. When God prompts us to 'turn the other cheek', or be the first to apologise or put someone else's needs above our own, he gives the grace and wisdom to do it. 'The wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and...good deeds. It shows no favouritism and is always sincere. And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness' (James 3:17-18 NLT).

Conflict that's rooted in selfishness and jealousy needs to be avoided. Instead, we need to be peacemakers.

So what now? Experiencing conflict in a relationship? Pray that you'd be the peacemaker in the situation.

Soulfood: Eph 4:17-6:24 Lk 6:27-36 Ps 79 Pro 17:24-26,


Chase down change

'When your endurance is fully developed, you will be...complete.' James 1:4 NLT

Most of us resist change. We want improvement but we don't like the cost that goes with it. We'll be motivated to change when we hear a good sermon, or hear God's voice, but getting psyched up can be tiring: it makes us realise we have work to do. But, you'll never become who God intends you to be by staying where you are.

Even though God would delight in you if you never grew at all, he has so much more for you. Will you step into it? You won't be able to if you just want to sit around all day. It's not enough to want change, or be open to it: you must run after it. Take a look at today's full verse: 'So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing' (James 1:4 NLT). It's about learning to push back with faith when life pushes hard on you, and keep going. God's inviting you to become 'mature and complete', and the way there is with perseverance.

In yesterday's reading we learned that God is committed to 'forming Christ' in you. So, big picture, God's the one that brings about the change in you. But, the day-to-day work is yours to do. God's asking, 'How much are you willing to do to step into what I have for you?'

So what now? Make one small good change at a time. And chase it down! You will not regret it as you see yourself becoming more complete.

Soulfood: Eph 1:1-4:16 Lk 6:17-26 Ps 137 Pro 17:22-23,

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