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Word For You Today

Become More Generous



'Some people give much but get back even more...' Proverbs 11:24 NCV

A church leader once stood before his church when speaking on giving. He told the church 'Each month I go through the accounts and see what everyone gives. If anyone gives more than me, I increase what I give.' Generosity is a wonderful thing. This leader's commitment to make sure he gave the most was good, but did he really need to announce it?

Jesus teaches us loads about generosity. We learn from him that generosity is great because it: (1) Turns our focus outward. When we're focussed on helping others we forget to be selfish! (2) Blesses other people. When we are generous, others benefit. (3) Helps us - the giver. Ever given generously to someone who really needed it, even if you had none left for yourself? It feels great.

Someone once said 'You have not lived a perfect day, even though you have earned your money, unless you've done something for someone who'll never be able to repay you.' That's why Solomon wrote, 'Some people give much but get back even more...' (Proverbs 11:24 NCV).

So what now? Do you want to be blessed? Become more generous! If you're worried about your motives and don't want pride to get in, simply keep it quiet! Do others need to know how much you give and to what? Not at all. If you really want everyone to know what you did for someone you seriously need to consider why you gave. God sees everything you do and everything you sacrifice, and you will be rewarded.

Soulfood: Jer 1-3, Luke 19:28-40, Ps 55:12-23, Prov 8:19-21

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Put Things Right



'...Do what is right in the eyes of everyone.' Romans 12:17 NIV

A Korean guy once approached the counter at an American airline company. He explained that nine years earlier, when he was 17, he'd travelled dishonestly on a child's ticket and now he wanted to pay the difference. The agent was stunned by his honesty. Billy Kim was 17 when the Korean war broke out. His dad died and his school was bombed, so he joined the American Troops, shining boots and washing dishes. When he landed in San Francisco he was really excited but he was worried that he had to find his way to Virginia and he had no money. His cheeky friends decided to buy him a child's ticket and, pretending he was a child, they pinned a note to his uniform saying: 'To whom it may concern, send this boy to Route 1, Box 75, Danville, Virginia.' But the story doesn't end there. Billy later became pastor of a church of over 10,000 people. He became president of a huge broadcasting company and even translated for evangelist Billy Graham. Not bad for a shoe-shine boy!

Paul writes '...do what is right in the eyes of everyone' (Romans 12:17 NIV). God chooses his leaders not because of their connections and good looks but because of their character. Just because you can get away with something, doesn't make it ok! The Bible is very clear about putting things right. Something hanging over you - even if only you know about it - needs sorting out.

So what now? Think about what you need to do to put things right, then do it.

Soulfood: Hos 11-14, Luke 19:11-27, Ps 55:1-11, Prov 8:17-18

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Good Leaders Serve



'...If you want to be right at the top, you must serve.' Matthew 20:27 TLB

Are you in a position of power? You may not think so but, whoever you are, chances are that one way or another you are. Whether you lead a youth group or cell group, a football team, a band or just your little brothers or sisters, chances are that you are in a position of power in some way.

Loads of books have been written about power. They teach you how to manipulate people, and use them get do what you want. Power can be a very dangerous thing if it's not used properly and people often end up getting hurt and trampled on. Most people need power to feel important and worth something, but this is the exact opposite of what Jesus taught. Power is dangerous unless you know your worth in God. If you understand just what he thinks of you then using others to feel important is totally unnecessary.

Being in power is about being a servant. Serve faithfully and whole-heartedly, not so you can become powerful, but to become more like Jesus. Jesus had all the power in the universe at his fingertips yet he was a servant. As you become more trustworthy and faithful you will become more 'powerful', but you will handle it in the right way.

So what now? Think about the people who look up to you and follow your example - are you using your 'power' correctly? If you want to be a leader, serve.

Soulfood: Hos 6-10, Luke 19:1-10, Ps 13, Prov 8:14-16

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Don't Set Yourself Up



'...Capture every thought...' 2 Corinthians 10:5 NCV

Every action begins as a thought. Before you kick a habit physically, you have to win the battle in your mind. That's why Paul writes, 'Capture every thought...make it give up and obey Christ' (2 Corinthians 10:5 NCV).

Have you ever noticed that when you are trying not to think about something it's all you think about? In order to 'capture a thought' you can't do it by thinking 'I must not think that, I must not think that...'. The only way to fight it is with the truth - what does God say about this? If you focus on the truth you'll forget what you're trying not to think about!

You can't break a habit in your own strength. Willpower alone is not enough or you would have stopped it by now! This is what Paul wrote about the battle in the mind. '...Fix your thoughts on what is true and good and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely... Think about all you can praise God for and be glad about. Keep putting into practice all you learned from me and saw me doing, and the God of peace will be with you' (Philippians 4:8-9 TLB).

So what now? If you're trying to kick a habit, thought or attitude, you need to learn to recognise the 'triggers'. Good to figure out when you get tempted. If your problem is triggered by TV, don't watch it; if it's a magazine, don't read it; if it's a situation, don't go there! Don't set yourself up.

Soulfood: Hos 1-5, Luke 18:31-43, Ps 116:12-19, Prov 8:10-13

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Little Foxes



'Catch... the little foxes that ruin... our vineyards...' Song of Songs 2:15 NIV

In the Old Testament, Solomon discovered that it's 'the little foxes' that were ruining the vineyards. They seemed harmless enough but they were digging holes and generally wrecking the place.

In the story of Esther, King Xerxes hires his best mate Haman to be Prime Minister and gives him serious power. Esther was a Jew who had been chosen to be Queen because of her beauty. Esther's Uncle Mordecai worked in the palace and, as a Jew, he refused to bow to Haman as Haman had demanded. Haman was so angry with Mordecai that he convinced Xerxes to kill all the Jews, by pretending they were a threat. In the end Esther was able to save her people by showing the King what sort of monster Haman really was. Haman was a 'little fox' in Xerxes' vineyard. Xerxes hadn't realised it but Haman had sneakily wheedled his way in and caused a lot of damage!

There are 'little foxes' in all our lives, small things that creep in and seem totally harmless but at the end of the day they could destroy you if you don't deal with them. The foxes can be attitudes, habits, people, relationships, thoughts, feelings, places you shouldn't go, TV you shouldn't watch, websites you shouldn't be on; all these can seem harmless.

So what now? Ask God to show you today what 'little foxes' are in your life, that need taking care of before it's too late. Ask him to give you the strength and wisdom to know how to deal with them in the right way.

Soulfood: Lev 24:17-22, Deut 15:7-11, Matt 5:38-48, Matt 5:38-48

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God is Waiting for You



'The Lord is close to everyone who prays to him...' Psalm 145:18 NCV

Listen: One day a couple of youth workers were chatting to some kids on the street about Jesus and the way he heals. Excited, the kids decided to give this healing thing a try and invited the youth workers to go with them to meet their 'friend'. The youth workers were well up for it until they realised they had been taken to the scariest criminal on an inner-city estate who was struggling to walk. An audience of 50 or so local youth and criminals gathered to see the 'show' and whether God really could heal. Wondering how they ended up there, the terrified workers cried out to God and he answered them. The man walked.

God's help and healing is always available, but it flows more strongly towards those who really go after it. You get nothing sat around watching TV all day. God loves radical, on the edge, risk-taking faith.

If you really want to see God at work, take some chances for him today!

So what now? Maybe all you have today is a belief that God wants to help and a hope that he will. Maybe you feel like all you have to offer Jesus is your pain. Perhaps your past has kept you from coming to him before. Wherever you are at, come to him. God loves seeds of faith, no matter how small. Step out, trust him, take some action and get ready to give him all the praise. He may not always respond the way you expect but you're guaranteed a good answer!

Soulfood: 2 Ki 24-25, Luke 18:18-30, Ps 116:1-11, Prov 8:8-9

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Get Out of the Way Ego



'...Humble yourselves... that he may exalt you...' 1 Peter 5:6 NKJ

Have a think today about how you see yourself. Is it a good image or a bad one? Our egos (thinking we're top dog) can get in the way of God's blessing. It's hard to stay humble when we think a lot of ourselves. It's hard to stay humble when others tell us we've done a great job or we look great or we've achieved something brilliant. On the other hand, it's hard to be confident if we feel we have failed or we're not good enough or we don't look the way we want.

The Bible says we are to 'humble ourselves'. When Jesus was born, the Almighty God, Creator of Heaven and earth, humbled himself and made himself a mere human - not to be served but to serve! Jesus knew who he was yet he served his disciples; he even washed their smelly feet! He was a humble servant yet totally confident, because he knew who his Father was. Do you know who your Father is?

Despite what many think, being humble does not mean thinking less of yourself or talking yourself down or pretending you're no good at something. True humility means you simply think of yourself less often.

So what now? When you put your ego and personal motives aside, you'll be free: to serve and love others, help people, be friends with them, put their needs before yours. Why? Because that's exactly what Jesus did, and he came to be your example!

Soulfood: 2 Ki 21-23, Luke 18:1-17, Ps 19, Prov 8:6-7

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