The River with Dan

Sundays with Joy

Word For You Today

Walk in humility

'He must become greater... I must become less.' John 3:30 TLB

The Bible describes the call of God as '...the high calling...' (Philippians 3:14 KJV). Yet the higher your calling takes you the lower you must become in your own eyes. That means taking all the big-ups and praise that comes your way and passing them on to God. Jesus said of John the Baptist, '...there is not a greater prophet...' (Luke 7:28 NKJV). Yet John said of Jesus, 'He must become greater... I must become less' (John 3:30 TLB).

Paul had something tricky in his life that he struggled to cope with; he called it '...a thorn in my flesh...' (2 Corinthians 12:7 NIV). We are not told what the 'thorn' in Paul's life was but we know why he had it. Essentially, he admitted, '...to keep me from being conceited...' (2 Corinthians 12:7 GWT). Paul also writes: '...not that we think we can do anything of lasting value by ourselves. Our only power and success come from God' (2 Corinthians 3:5 TLB).

Being humble isn't saying, 'Oh I'm rubbish, I can't do anything' It's when we know that our gifts come from God and that we need his help with those gifts. If we do things without God, even the things we are good at, it doesn't take long before we can't handle it. 'Pride leads to destruction; a proud attitude brings ruin' (Proverbs 16:18 NCV).

So what now? Be humble and needy - this will force you to rely on God for strength. When you put your pride aside, you will be totally effective at whatever you do.

Soulfood: Zech 12-14, Mark 14:43-52, Ps 54, Prov 25:1-3


You have the victory

'Put on the full armour of God...' Ephesians 6:11 NIV

The enemy, the devil, isn't going to send you a congratulations card because you've decided to live for Jesus. No, every chance he gets he'll try to attack you. 'Attack me where?' In your areas of vulnerability, like your emotions, your relationships, your faith!

Paul writes, 'Put on the full armour of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes' (Ephesians 6:11 NIV). Notice the words, 'that you can take your stand.' The armour is God's; the stand is yours! God's armour is for those who are willing to stand for what's important; like the salvation of your family, the success of your friendships, your walk with God, or anything else of value to you.

Pay attention to Paul's words in Ephesians 6:17: 'Take...the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.' The sword referred to here is a large dagger used for fighting at close range. Understand this: some days you'll have to go toe-to-toe with the enemy's ways. To defeat him you'll need to know how to use God's Word, which is described as '...alive...sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates...it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart' (Hebrews 4:12 NIV). When you come face to face with the devil, God's Word renders him powerless.

So what now? Remember: 'My dear [child], you belong to God and have defeated them; because God's Spirit, who is in you, is greater than the devil, who is in the world' (1 John 4:4 NCV). Take your stand. You have the victory already, through Christ!

Soulfood: Zech 9-11, Mark 14:27-42, Ps 52, Prov 24:32-34


Learn to rest in God

'I will personally go with you, Moses, I will give you rest...' Exodus 33:14 NLT

Has success brought pressures you can't cope with? Is what got you excited yesterday stressing you out today?We think we know what we want - usually because we see it in someone else's life. But God knows what we need. Children don't know what they don't need. Their favourite words are 'Give me...' When we're young and don't get what we want, we stomp our feet and throw a fit. When we're in our teens and don't get our own way, we rebel and scream, 'You're ruining my life!' When we're older and wiser we start to understand why Mum and Dad said 'No'. When God says 'No' or 'Later' it's because he sees where it could end.Here are tough words for want-it-alls: '...they believed what he said...They quickly forgot...they did not wait...They had an unreasonable desire... In the desert they tested God. He gave them what they asked for. He also gave them a... disease' (Psalm 106:12-15 GWT). They got what they wanted, but they didn't grow spiritually. That's a battle you'll fight too if you want it all right now!Do you feel empty? Or spiritually dry? Are you so busy thinking about what you can get that you are forgetting the 'real giver'? Sometimes you need to wait. So what now? Don't rush ahead trying to get what you want without hearing what God has to say. He does know best.

Soulfood: Num 29:1-6, Mt 24, Rev 11:15-19


Won by love

'...The kindness of God leads...to repentance.' Romans 2:4 NAS

We live a world where the better you do, the bigger the reward! For example, the premier football clubs give their players a bonus if they win their match, and extra cash is given to those who score a goal - don't they get paid enough already?

Often, people think this is how God works too. They think that if they do the right things then they have 'earned their place in Heaven.' Maybe it's about being baptised, and once they've 'done' that they are sorted. Maybe it's 'living a good life' or even 'going to church'. But God doesn't dish out bonus places for Heaven to those who perform well or do the right things. We could never do enough to be saved. Jesus has done everything. He has scored all the goals and won all the matches, we just get the rewards. Isn't that amazing!

Paul says, '...the kindness of God leads...to repentance' (Romans 2:4 NAS). Notice, he didn't say the scare tactics of a preacher or Christians frowning in disapproval. No, genuine repentance (changing our lives) is our response to the unconditional love of a perfect God, who loved us before we loved him. When you encounter a Saviour like that, you want to please him.

It's like the football players getting bonuses before they play but then running their hearts out on the pitch because they are grateful to play for such a great club.

So what now? Live a life for God, not because it will get you anything but because you've already been given it!

Soulfood: Zech 5-8, Mark 14:12-26, Ps 34


I'm loving it 2

'...let us not love with words...but with actions...' 1 John 3:18 NIV

'James and John (the sons of Zebedee, but Jesus nicknamed them "Sons of Thunder")' (Mark 3:17 NLT). Why did Jesus give his two mates this nickname? They were fishermen, not weathermen. In the gospels James and John come across as being hardcore, fired up, passionate, 100% committed, but didn't have a lot of time for anyone who wasn't as fired up as they were.

Check what Luke says: '...The people of the village refused to have anything to do with Jesus... When James and John heard about it, they said to Jesus, "Lord, should we order down fire from Heaven to burn them up"' (Luke 9:53-54 NLT)? Jesus pulled them up on this: they had lots of zeal but not much love. Over time, John's nickname changed to the 'apostle of love' as he experienced the love of Christ. It's like the 'son of thunder' was downgraded to a 'brother of breeze' SYMBOL 74 \f "Wingdings" \s 11.

His nickname might have softened but John was still just as hardcore! This is what he says about loving others: 'If anyone says, "I love God" and hates his brother, he is a liar...' (1 John 4:20 ESV) - wow John, tell us what you really think! John is passionate about Christians living lives of love, but words aren't enough! Jesus didn't just say 'God loves you;' he put those words into action and '...laid down his life for us...' (1 John 3:16 NIV).

So what now? Today put some words into action. Don't just say 'I love God' or even 'I love others', do something about it!

Soulfood: Zech 1-4, Mark 14:1-11, Ps 39, Prov 24:26-28


I'm loving it 1

'I have loved you even as the father has loved me. Remain in my love.' John 15:9 NLT

Ever met someone so obsessed with something they don't stop talking about it? A new boyfriend, their football team, a band or computer game?

The apostle John was obsessed with love. In the five New Testament books written by him he uses the word love one hundred times! He became known as the apostle of love. Why? Because love changed him. In his gospel he calls himself 'the one Jesus loved' (see John 21:20). Was he being big headed? No, he was simply blown away by the unconditional, no strings attached, undeserving love that Jesus had shown him - and shows everyone. '...so we know and rely on the love that God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them' (1 John 4:16 NIV). No wonder John thinks love is so important! He knew love wasn't just an emotion or something that made God do kind things every now and then. Love summed up the very nature of God, describing who God is: God is love.

John even says this: 'Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love' (1 John 4:8 NIV). So, if you don't love then you don't know God! That's why John is so obsessed with love: because God '...first loved us' (1 John 4:19 NIV); because he wants to remain in God's love (John 15:9 NIV); because he wants to know God by loving others (see 1 John 4:8).

So what now? How's your love life?

Soulfood: 2 Tim 1-4, Mark 13:24-37, Ps 3, Prov 24:23-25


Live a disciplined life

'For the Spirit... gives us... self-discipline...' 2 Timothy 1:7 NIV

Living a disciplined life does three things for you: (1) It strengthens you on the inside! Discipline makes you strong. It provides you with shock absorbers for the potholes of life. It enlarges your ability to summon up courage when life gets tough. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego refused to bow to a pagan king's statue even when threatened with a fiery furnace: '...the God whom we serve is able to save us...But even if he doesn't...we will never serve your gods...' (Daniel 3:17-18 NLT). All of their lives these guys had toughened themselves through discipline, in order to face such a testing moment.

(2) It brings your gifts to their highest level of effectiveness. 'How do you get to be number one?' is a question every wannabe sports star or musician asks. Answer: 'You practise, practise, practise.' David's first victory wasn't over Goliath. He had years of practise defending his sheep against wolves, a lion and a bear, to prepare him and give him the spirit and skills needed to take on the Philistine champion.

(3) It inspires others. Paul writes to Timothy, 'You...know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, persecutions, sufferings...' (2 Timothy 3:10-11 NIV). Paul's greatest gift to Timothy was the example of a disciplined life. Now Timothy had a role model of excellent living. And there's no better gift!

So what now? One of the fruits of living in God is self-discipline. You actually have discipline in you to live a very meaningful life.

Soulfood: 2 Kings 6:8-20, Eph 1:15-23

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