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Word For You Today

Prayer is your lifeline



'Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.' Colossians 4:2 NIV

We can never underestimate how important prayer is. Our best example (for everything!), Jesus, rose before dawn to pray. Sometimes he prayed all night. Other times he left the crowds to pray (see Luke 5:16 and Matthew 14:23). He valued time with God, even above doing the things God had called him to do. Likewise, our work for God is hugely important, but time spent deepening our relationship with God is even more important. Our power, peace, joy and effectiveness are directly related to the time we spend in God's presence - and this happens through prayer.

Prayer is about cultivating a close relationship with our Father and Friend. Through this relationship, we learn to trust him. But, just like any friendship, it needs to be prioritised. We can't expect to feel close to God in the hard times if we haven't spent time talking to him in the good ones.

We can struggle to make prayer a priority. The Bible says: 'Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful' (Colossians 4:2 NIV). How devoted are we? How much do we desire to spend time talking to God? How willing are we to sit and listen to what he wants to say to us? It doesn't matter about the words we use, God's interested in the heart we come with.

So what now? Prayer is your lifeline! Today, thank God that he longs to be in relationship with you because he loves you and wants the best for you. Ask him to help you prioritise your prayer life with him, just as Jesus did.

Soulfood: 1 Kings 10-11, Mark 13:1-11, Ps 82, Pro 12:18-19

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Give every situation to God



'In every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.' Philippians 4:6 NIV

Every day we have so much to think about, decide and do, which can cause anxiety and stress levels to increase. But it doesn't have to be like that: 'Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus' (Philippians 4:6-7 NIV). We have a God who is interested in every detail of our lives. 1 Peter 5:7 (CEV) says: 'God cares for you, so turn all your worries over to him'.

The word 'thanksgiving' also appears in these verses in Philippians. Being thankful to God for the blessings he gives us, and the things that are going well in our lives, can help us deal with the anxiety and stress. Being intentionally grateful helps lift our eyes from our problems. It helps us gain perspective and realise that God's still good, no matter what is going on. God's Word says: 'Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus' (1 Thessalonians 5:18 NIV).

Handing everything over to God doesn't necessarily mean that our situations change, although God is always working, but he'll give us his peace to keep us from being overwhelmed by our circumstances.

So what now? Write two prayers to God. In the first prayer hand over any tough situation you're facing to him. In the second, express your thankfulness that he is working on this situation.

Soulfood: 1 Kings 8-9, Mark 12:28-44, Ps 113, Pro 12:15-17

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Content whatever happens



'I have learned how to be content.' Philippians 4:11 NLT

It's easy to be content and at peace when things are going well, but what about when things seem to be falling apart? Paul said: 'I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances' (Philippians 4:11 NIV). The Greek word for content actually translates as 'self-sufficient'. This would have resonated with the culture of the time as self-sufficiency was a key theme of the Stoic philosophy - which was about being independent and rational, and having self-control. Those reading Paul's letter would probably have been familiar with the principles of Stoicism. But Paul's 'contentment' went much deeper than self-sufficiency...

When we become a Christian, we're a new person. In his letter to the Galatians, Paul wrote: 'I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me' (Galatians 2:20 NIV). With Christ living in us, we're to be God-sufficient.

When we recognise that in God we have everything we need, contentment is right there for us. We can trust him and know that he loves us and is working for our good. We can know that his promise to provide for our every need is true (see Philippians 4:19). We don't need to compare our situations with others, because we'll be content to rely on God.

So what now? Which area of your life do you need contentment in? Ask God to help you to be God-sufficient in this area.

Soulfood: Lev 23:15-22, Acts 2:1-18,

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Work for unity



'Let's stop condemning each other.' Romans 14:13 NLT

During the first century, cities like Rome attracted people from many different cultures. Consequently the early church's mission to 'make disciples of all the nations' (see Matthew 28:19) sometimes led to conflict. For example, they argued about which day of the week was the most holy, and what they could or couldn't eat. It's the reason Paul wrote, 'Welcome people who are weak in faith, but don't get into an argument over differences of opinion' (Romans 14:1 GWT).

Today, the church can be just as divisive and judgmental. But remember, 'Each of us will give a personal account to God. So let's stop condemning each other...instead...live in such a way that you will not cause another believer to stumble' (Romans 14:12-13 NLT). When genuine differences come up on fundamental issues, we need to behave in a Christlike way without picking fights, criticising or looking down on people.

Satan's goal is to sidetrack us into arguments and tension; the Bible tells us to 'be devoted to one another in love. Honour one another above yourselves' (Romans 12:10 NIV). We need to learn to respect other believers not because of who they are, but for whose they are. Paul writes, 'May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify...God' (Romans 15:5-6 NIV).

So what now? Next time you find yourself in a disagreement over beliefs, take a minute to ask God to help you respond with a heart of unity.

Soulfood: 1 Kings 6-7, Mark 12:1-27, Ps 101, Pro 12:12-14

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Use God's Word to help you



'The word of God is alive and active.' Hebrews 4:12 NIV

Our biggest battle is often in the area of our thoughts. If the enemy can keep our minds on worldly things, he can lead us towards sin and defeat. The Bible tells us to 'take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ' (2 Corinthians 10:5 NIV). But we can't transform our thinking if we're not sure what good thinking is.

The Bible is also known as 'the sword of the Spirit' - a weapon sharp enough to cut us loose from sin (see Ephesians 6:17). When we feel under attack from the enemy, we can use Scripture to help us fight the battle, like Jesus did when facing temptation from Satan in the desert (see Matthew 4:1-11). By saturating in God's Word we will recognise the enemy's lies and know the truth to replace them with.

In Hebrews 4:12 (NIV) we're told that 'the word of God is alive and active'. We can read a verse we've read hundreds of times before, and the Spirit can show us something new. God's Word is also described as 'a lamp for my feet, a light on my path' (Psalm 119:105 NIV) - it shows us where we're going wrong, and gives us wisdom for how to proceed. Whatever we're needing, the Bible, God's Word, can help us with it. But we must read it, reflect on it and follow its lead.

So what now? Need help with navigating God's Word? Why not try SoulFood, found with each reading in Word For You Today. You can read through the whole Bible in one year using it.

Soulfood: 1 Kings 3-5, Mark 11:27-33, Ps 128, Pro 12:10-11

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Keep trusting



'He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion.' Philippians 1:6 NIV

When we feel it's too hard to be 'more like Jesus,' we may become discouraged or want to give up. But God's committed to our spiritual growth. 'He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus' (Philippians 1:6 NIV).

God might not work in us the way we think he's going to. Sometimes he works by allowing the difficult times. Like with Job in the Bible. Job endured so much suffering and hardship, but his faith remained. He said, 'But he knows every detail of what is happening to me; and when he has examined me, he will pronounce me completely innocent - as pure as solid gold' (Job 23:10 TLB)! Gold is refined by heating it until all the impurities are gone. The process of trials helps us to change and become like gold too.

So even when we're making the same mistakes or struggling with the same issues, we need to keep trusting that God won't let us stay in that place, and will continue working in us. Inwardly we're being transformed. The Bible says: 'As all of us reflect the Lord's glory with faces that are not covered with veils, we are being changed into his image with ever-increasing glory. This comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit' (2 Corinthians 3:18 GWT).

So what now? Take time to read the book of Job. Ask God to help you have trust like Job had when you're going through hard times.

Soulfood: 1 Kings 1-2, Mark 11:12-26, Ps 45, Pro 12:7-9

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No multitasking



'Martha was distracted by all the preparations.' Luke 10:40 NIV

We live in a world where multitasking is normal, or even admired - for example, we have half an eye on our phones while we're working, eating or watching TV (or driving!). It's healthy to develop more balance in our tasks.

One day Jesus visited the home of two sisters, Martha and Mary. Martha was 'distracted by all the preparations that had to be made' (Luke 10:40 NIV), while Mary sat at the feet of Jesus and soaked up all he had to say. She was determined not to miss this moment in Jesus' presence. And Jesus said that Mary made a better choice than Martha did. He didn't tell Martha not to work; he told her that she was 'worried and upset about many things' (Luke 10:41 NIV). She was more concerned with what she needed to get done than with who she was with.

We need to train ourselves to focus our full attention on what we're involved in at any given time. And then finish it before starting something else. This requires discipline, but it's worth it, because being able to focus helps us enjoy the present moment. By slowing down, we'll learn to better appreciate each moment; and we'll probably hear more clearly when Jesus is wanting to chat to us.

So what now? Choose a task you need to do today. Forget about multitasking. Put your phone on silent while you complete the task, and focus on the task at hand. Fully appreciate the moment by moment.

Soulfood: John 6:1-15, John 6:25-40, 1 Cor 11:23-24

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