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Word For You Today

FORGET YOU

Do you remember being little and having those 'my dad's the best' arguments? Then, we got older and it stopped being about mum and dad - and it became all about us. We don't often say it out loud (at least not in church) but, in reality, our hearts can often drift towards a judgmental, self-promoting spirit, assuming we're better than other people. It makes us feel secure. This is not a new thing. Jesus found himself hanging around with a bunch of guys who started arguing about the oh-so-mature topic of... 'Who will be the greatest?'

Have you noticed that a lot about 'living for God' is living in opposites? Like loving your enemies instead of hating them (how hard is that!). And forgiving people instead of holding a grudge. Well, when Jesus was dealing with this argument between His disciples over greatness, He didn't quote a great philosopher to make His point. Instead, He pointed at a child. 'Whoever receives this little child in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me receives Him who sent Me. For he who is least among you all will be great' (Luke 9:48 NKJ).

 

So what now? When you next get that feeling of superiority or one-upmanship, forget you and humble yourself by making the person who it's directed at feel welcome in some way. Compliment them, or make them a cup of tea.

 

Soulfood : Deut 14-17, Mk 5:1-10, Ps 37:25-31, Prov 12:1-3

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IN TUNE?

Jesus suddenly stops in a marketplace and says, 'Who touched Me?' No one owns up. Peter says, "'Master, the people are crowding and pressing against You." But Jesus said, "Someone touched Me; I know that power has gone out from Me"' (Luke 8:45-46 NIV).

Jesus knew the difference between the clumsy bump of a passer-by and a deliberate faith-filled grasp. Where Peter was led by the lack of response in the natural (no one spoke up), Jesus knew that something had happened through His supernatural Spirit. He knew that, because of her illness, the woman held back from making herself known. She was seen as cursed by the people. Then the woman, who had been instantly healed when she touched Jesus, came forward and dropped at His feet, trembling. Because Jesus asked for a response, she could respond.

It's vital to our growth as Christians that we start to have the Jesus-like response, rather than the Peter-style response. In other words, we must control our thoughts to live under God-given discernment - that is, when God gives us an extra non-see-hear-taste-touch-smell nudge to identify something that would otherwise be difficult to know. The best way to find that is to get closer to Jesus. The closer we are to Him, the clearer we'll be able to see those hard-to-spot Spiritual things.

 

So what now? Ask your you-focused rationalising self to keep quiet for five minutes (we know it's hard, but press in). Then, ask God to help you with that in-tune-with-Him discerning ability. See what He says and take it from there.

 

Soulfood : Deut 11-13, Mk 4:26-41, Ps 37:16-24, Prov 11:30-31

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DEFEAT THOSE NIGHT TERRORS

Recognise this situation? You're lacking sleep. It's late, maybe around midnight. And your thoughts go a bit... well, dark. This is a top time for doubt (over real life stuff, God's goodness, or something you wouldn't usually worry about) to convince you that bad things are lurking under the surface and coming out in full force. Sometimes it can even feel like, despite your Christianity, there are other cruel 'truths' lurking somewhere below your faith in God.

Does that ever happen to you? Don't worry. You're definitely not alone. It happened to the disciples in a night-time thunderstorm (check the story in Luke 8:22-25).

To the disciples, in that moment, doubt and fear felt like everything there was to reality. Here's the thing though: these sorts of doubts don't sum you up and they're not the full measure of you. You can be aware of dangerous, not-from-God thoughts trying to get at you, but you don't have to be scared. In the Bible the 'enemy' is described as prowling around 'like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour' (1 Peter 5:8 NIV). Watch out for that. But know there's hope - there's a Mystery, deeper still, beyond the darkness.

So what now? Read Ephesians 6:10 -17. Every time you feel intimidated, visualise yourself in that situation, wearing a full suit of God's armour (see Ephesians 6:10-17), overcoming the situation!

Soulfood : Deut 8-10, Mk 4:13-25, Ps 37:8-15, Prov 11:27-29

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OPEN MOUTH. INSERT FOOT

The apostle Peter had a tendency to spill exactly what was on his mind. This meant sometimes he was spot on with what he said, sometimes he was way off, and other moments physically putting his foot in his mouth would actually have been more constructive than carrying on with the conversation.

In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus praises Peter and says he's blessed, but just a few verses on down, Peter puts his foot in it (again) and Jesus has to bring him down a peg (Matthew 16:17, 23). Sounds kind of like most of us, right? Striding along confidently for God one minute, then falling over our own feet the next.

Well, God gave some pretty good advice that could help us. When Jesus, Moses and Elijah were having a mountain-top meeting with Peter, James and John, Peter got pretty carried away, babbling on and on at Jesus. God dropped in (no biggie), and intervened by saying 'This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to Him' (Luke 9:35 NIV). They were all speechless after hearing that.

We can all use a bit of redirection sometimes. That 'listen to Jesus' refocus can be a make or break thing. The more we listen to God, the less we'll say things that He wouldn't want.

So what now? If you find yourself in a situation where you can tell you might say something a bit brainless, take a breath, take yourself out of the situation, and spend a moment listening for God's voice.

Soulfood : Gal 5:22, Lk 6:27-36, Ex 23:1-9, Rom 12:14-21

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Finding comfort in troubled times

You say, 'Surely Paul was too spiritually mature to feel downcast?' Apparently not! The chief apostle and leader of the church experienced discouragement, stress, restlessness and even fears. 'When we arrived in Macedonia there was no rest for us. Outside there was conflict from every direction, and inside there was fear. But God, who encourages those who are discouraged, encouraged us by the arrival of Titus...' (2 Corinthians 7:5-6 NLT). So, where do we turn for strength in our times of trouble?

Consider some ways God sends us comfort and encouragement: (1) He comforts us by His presence. 'Now may...God our Father, who loved us and by His grace gave us eternal comfort and a wonderful hope, comfort you and strengthen you in every good thing' (2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 NLT). It's God's nature to be with us, to give us comfort when we're mourning (Matthew 5:4), brokenhearted (Psalm 147:3), overwhelmed (Psalm 145:14), worried (Isaiah 41:10) or unwell (Psalm 41:3). But we must acknowledge His presence and accept His comfort! (2) He comforts us by His Word. 'Remember Your promise to me; it is my only hope. Your promise revives me; it comforts me in all my troubles' (Psalms 119:49-50 NLT).

(3) He comforts us through our prayers. '...As soon as I pray, You answer me; You encourage me by giving me strength' (Psalm 138:3 NLT). (4) He comforts us through Godly friends. Paul writes: 'God...comforted us by the coming of Titus.' Today, look for those who bring comfort, and practise comforting others.

SoulFood: 1 Timothy 4-6, Luke 9:37-45, Psa 42:1-5, Pro 19:12-14

The Word for Today is authored by Bob and Debby Gass and published under licence from UCB International Copyright 2011alt

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