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Word For You Today

Change your thinking 2

'You know my thoughts before I think them.' Psalm 139:2 NCV

How we feel is often determined by the thoughts we have. For example, worried people tend to think anxious thoughts, and eventually those thoughts become so automatic in their everyday lives. Or negative people usually feel down about things because their mind has started to automatically think pessimistically about everything. Our thought patterns, both positive and negative, can become so much of a habit that they become our default setting.

So, if we want to change our lives, we must change the way we think. God knows exactly what each one of us is thinking. David exclaimed: 'Lord, you have examined me and know all about me... You know my thoughts before I think them' (Psalm 139:1-2 NCV).

God can help us become aware of what's going on in our minds at each moment. David prayed, 'Test me and know my anxious thoughts' (Psalm 139:23 NIV). He was asking God to show him where he was going wrong in his thinking. And we can ask God to do that for us too. God will direct us to where our thought patterns are wrong and help us deal with them. Not only will he show us how to remove wrong thoughts, but also how to replace them with the right ones, by setting our minds on 'what the Spirit desires' (Romans 8:5 NIV).

So what now? Pray the prayer of David today: 'Test me and know my anxious thoughts'. Then ask God to help you deal with any anxious thoughts he shows you. It's time to set your mind on the right things.

Soulfood: Isa 49-52, Matt 13:1-9, Ps 67, Pro 4:1-2


Change your thinking 1

'Those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.' Romans 8:5 NIV

To become the person God wants us to be, we need to set our minds on the right things. This is easier said than done, particularly when our circumstances are tough and our immediate problems take over our lives. We may feel powerless to change anything in our lives, but we're not. Circumstances can impact our lives and make us feel certain emotions. We might not be able to change what's happening, but we can change how we think about what's happening. The way we think inevitably reflects the way we live.

So, to become the best version of ourselves, we need to think thoughts that line up with God's truth. Even though the process to healthy thinking can be hard going, we can rest in the knowledge that we don't have to do it on our own. The Bible says: 'Let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think' (Romans 12:2 NLT). God's Word can help us to think with faith instead of fear, assurance instead of anxiety, and joy instead of negativity.

Paul says: 'Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things' (Philippians 4:8 NIV). When our minds are 'set on what the Spirit desires', our lives will begin to change for the better.

So what now? Write down the thoughts you've been having about a tough situation you're facing. Then take the time to read the Bible to fill your mind with God's Word instead.

Soulfood: Isa 45-48, Matt 12:38-50, Ps 120, Pro 3:33-35



'Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.' James 4:10 NIV

Self-esteem means placing our confidence in ourselves and in our own successes. Placing emphasis on self-esteem means we can end up quite self-focused. We can begin to think we don't need God, and that we can manage perfectly well on our own. We end up celebrating what we have achieved. This is different to placing our identity in Christ, having confidence in who he is and then giving the glory back to God.

The Bible says: 'Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up' (James 4:10 NIV). Our lives don't work as well if we focus on promoting ourselves and striving to be the best on our own merits. We should never forget that we're only who we are because of who God is. We're only called because God chose to call us. We're only accepted because of God's unfailing love and Jesus' sacrifice. We're only strong because God is our strength. We're only wonderfully made because we're created by the ultimate Creator, who made us in his likeness.

It's vital for us to know who we are, but also to have the humility to recognise that we're only who we are because of God. And let's have the confidence to believe that everything God says about us is true, that he is good, and that we can trust him with our lives.

So what now? Spend time reflecting on how amazing God is. Have confidence in him first, rather than in yourself. You'll find it takes a lot of pressure off how you view and do life.

Soulfood: Isa 42-44, Matt 12:22-37, Ps 108, Pro 3:31-32


Help in the storms

'Such a violent storm arose that the ship threatened to break up' Jonah 1:4 NIV

On its way to Rome, Paul's ship ran into a storm. When Jonah was sailing away from Nineveh, he hit a storm. When Jesus' disciples were crossing a lake, a storm arose. These were physical storms. Mostly, the storms we experience in our lives are circumstantial, emotional or relational. But we can still apply these biblical stories of storms to our situations.

Firstly, our disobedience can cause storms. This does not mean that every time something bad happens, it's our fault. But sometimes when we hear God's call and choose to go a different way, life can become challenging. The captain of Paul's ship didn't heed Paul's warning, and ended up shipwrecked. Jonah's rebellion against God's instructions led him directly into a huge storm. God's path for our lives is far better than any of our own plans. When we hear him call, it's for our own good to obey.

Secondly, we can know without doubt that we're not alone in the storm. God promises to never leave us, and this includes when we're facing tough times. In the middle of Paul's storm, an angel spoke to him and said: 'Do not be afraid, Paul' (Acts 27:24 NIV). When the disciples cried out to Jesus, who was sleeping during the storm, he calmed the wind and the waves. When we have God on board, there's no storm powerful enough to take us under.

So what now? Draw some storm clouds and write down a storm you're currently facing. Spend time thanking God for guiding you through the storm.

Soulfood: Isa 38-41, Matt 12:15-21, Ps 111, Pro 3:29-30



'Carry each other's burdens, will fulfil the law of Christ.' Galatians 6:2 NIV

Everyone we meet is struggling with something. If someone is reacting badly, cold or angrily, it might be because they're going through a really hard time. Maybe someone has hurt them, or they're feeling lost in life, or they're hiding a sin they can't break free from. When we realise this, it makes it easier to have compassion for others.

When people react badly, it can be tempting to become upset, or even give up on them. But that's not what Jesus did. Jesus saw the best in people and went out of his way to be gracious to them and remove their burdens. When a man with a skin disease came to him, he was met with compassion. Other people would have refused to go near the man, because the law at the time forced those with leprosy to live alone (see Leviticus 13). But Jesus, 'moved with compassion,...reached out and touched him...instantly the leprosy disappeared, and the man was healed' (Mark 1:41-42 NLT).

The Bible says: 'Carry each other's burdens, will fulfil the law of Christ' (Galatians 6:2 NIV). This doesn't mean we need to fix people's situations for them; it means we help where we can and carry their burdens to the arms of our Father - he is the ultimate burden-lifter.

So what now? Simply reminding someone you're praying for them, or giving them a hug, or offering to listen to their story is sometimes all someone needs to ease their troubles. You might be the only person they encounter today who has compassion for them. Be a burden-lifter.

Soulfood: Isa 34-37, Matt 12:1-14, Ps 107:33-43, Pro 3:27-28


Having 'just enough'

'Give me just enough to satisfy my needs.' Proverbs 30:8 NLT

Ever bought something, enjoyed it for a while, and then wanted something better? We may think we'll be happier when we get the latest phone, car, home, etc, but possessions don't bring lasting happiness. Neither does money. Money can help us live a good life, but having too much of it can cause problems, just like having too little can.

In Proverbs 30:7-9, we find this prayer: 'O God, I beg two favours from you; let me have them before I die. First, help me never to tell a lie. Second, give me neither poverty nor riches! Give me just enough to satisfy my needs. For if I grow rich, I may deny you and say, "Who is the Lord?" And if I am too poor, I may steal and thus insult God's holy name"' (NLT). It's interesting that the writer says 'enough to satisfy my needs' - not enough to satisfy his wants, desires, or dreams - just his needs.

Honestly, how much more stuff do we really need? Could we happily live off what we already have? True satisfaction comes from God. The Bible says that it's God who 'satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things' (Psalm 107:9 NIV). He knows our needs and will meet them (see Matthew 6:25-34). He can provide 'enough to satisfy' our needs.

So what now? Buy a bar of chocolate and eat one piece. Take time to appreciate that piece and be satisfied with it. Keep the rest of the bar for another day. Watch how it's 'just enough' chocolate for that day.

Soulfood: Luke 6:27-36, Exo 23:1-9, Rom 12:14-21


Looking forward to everlasting life

'The one who believes in me will live, even though they die.' John 11:25 NIV

The end of our life generally isn't something we'd prefer to think about. For most of us, it seems way off in the distant future. But, as followers of Jesus, it's important to prepare now for spending the rest of eternity with God in Heaven.

When Jesus' good friend Lazarus was sick, his sisters Martha and Mary sent a message to Jesus to let him know. By the time Jesus got to their house, Lazarus had died and had been lying in a tomb for four days. But Jesus tells Martha, 'the one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die' (John 11:25-26 NIV). He asks her if she believes this, and she replies, 'I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God' (John 11:27 NIV). Later, Jesus goes to the tomb and calls to Lazarus, who comes out wrapped in grave clothes, but fully alive. Just like his own death and resurrection later, Jesus shows that he has power over death for those who believe in him. We don't need to fear it because, just like Lazarus emerging from the tomb, it's a new beginning, and we'll be reunited with Jesus.

We can't avoid death, but when we believe in him, we can be sure that, for us, death means eternal life.

So what now? Give thanks to Jesus that, through him, you can look forward to eternal life. And thank him that your life with him now can be amazing too.

Soulfood: Isa 30-33, Matt 11:20-30, Ps 107:23-32, Pro 3:25-26

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