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Word For You Today

Being vulnerable

'Two people are better than one...If one falls down, the other can help him up.' Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 NCV

It can be hard to talk about our fears, loneliness, guilt, or need to be loved. Maybe we struggle to trust others, or we don't think our problems are important enough, or we're ashamed of what we're struggling with and want to avoid the judgment of others.

God created us to feel and express our emotions in community with others. The Bible says: 'Two people are better than one...If one falls down, the other can help him up' (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 NCV). The Bible says we should be carrying each other's burdens (see Galatians 6:2), but we need to be willing to be vulnerable and share those burdens. It's right to be cautious about who we share with. When we do trust someone, it can be healing for us to take off the masks we're wearing and tell them how we're really feeling. By sharing with others, we gain support, whether practically or physically. It also helps build our relationships and encourages people to open up to us too.

David wasn't afraid to share his emotions. He said to God, 'I will cry to you, when my heart is overwhelmed' (Psalm 61:2 NKJV). If we're struggling to open up to others, we can start by opening up to God. He's always prepared to listen and help us deal with things. And, whatever we tell him doesn't affect how much he loves us.

So what now? Next time someone you trust asks you how you are, be vulnerable with them and ask them to pray for you.

Soulfood: Job 24-28, Matt 25:31-46, Ps 38:13-22, Pro 8:24-26


Real lasting justice

'"It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord.' Romans 12:19 NIV

This is what God calls us to do when someone causes us pain: 'Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honourable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone. Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to...God. For the Scriptures say, "I will take revenge; I will pay them back," says the Lord. Instead..."If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals of shame on their heads." Don't let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good' (Romans 12:17-21 NLT).

The Bible says: 'Do not be bitter or angry or mad. Never shout angrily or say things to hurt others. Never do anything evil. Be kind and loving to each other, and forgive each other just as God forgave you in Christ' (Ephesians 4:31-32 NCV).

Revenge is not God's way; forgiveness is. Forgiving someone doesn't mean they avoid justice; it means we're trusting God to deal out justice. And he never gives up on a person. Even after we've moved on, God's still there pricking the person's conscience, stirring conviction in their heart, and orchestrating redemption and change in their life. So let's try and be people who forgive those who have hurt us, and leave the justice to God.

So what now? Ask God to help you forgive the people who have hurt you. Ask him to be at work in their lives.

Soulfood: Job 21-23, Matt 25:14-30, Ps 38:1-12, Pro 8:22-23


You are special

'I will praise You, for I am...wonderfully made.' Psalm 139:14 NKJV

Author Sarah Hupp writes: 'Did you know you started out as a single cell, and within that cell was enough DNA to hold the equivalent of 1,000 volumes of coded blueprints? Or that [the DNA in that one cell] determined the colour of your hair and eyes, the shape of your nose, and the size of your ring finger? Did you know nobody else has your fingerprints...the same sparkling eyes...the same laugh ...or looks at things the way you do? You're an original, and it didn't happen by accident. God designed your DNA. He made you the way he wanted you to be. He gave you your voice, your smile, your freckles, your curly hair, all those things that make you who you are. And because God made you, you're special to him and to fact, the world wouldn't be complete without you.'

The psalmist said, 'I will praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvellous are your works, and that my soul knows very well' (Psalm 139:14 NKJV). Sometimes we focus on our limitations, failings and struggles, and assume we don't measure up. We compare ourselves to others and conclude we're not good enough. But, God created us uniquely, so instead of critiquing and comparing ourselves, let's allow God to show us our real identity. Let's accept who he has made us to be, and embrace the things he has for us to do.

So what now? Write down three things about yourself to thank God for. Praise God that you are unique and wonderfully made.

Soulfood: Job 18-20, Matt 25:1-13, Ps 55:12-23, Pro 8:19-21


Turning failure to success

'For though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again.' Proverbs 24:16 NIV

When we're doing what God's called us to do, we will face challenges and experience points of failure. The only way to avoid failing is to never do anything - and that's not what God's called us to do. The real question is not whether or not we're going to fail, but whether we're going to learn from those experiences and turn them into wisdom to thrive.

Times of failure will happen. But, do our failures make us afraid to try again or give us insight to succeed the next time? The Bible says: 'For though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again, but the wicked stumble when calamity strikes' (Proverbs 24:16 NIV). The next time we fail at something, let's not feel bad about our failure but ask ourselves these questions: 'What have I learned? Am I grateful for this experience? How can I turn it into success? Where do I go from here? Who else has failed like this, and how can they help me? How can my experience help others? Did I actually fail, or just fall short of an unrealistically high goal? What did I handle well about this experience?'

If we're willing to view our failure in a positive light and to analyse how we can use what we've learnt in the future, the things we go through will enable us to grow stronger and wiser.

So what now? When was the last time you experienced failure? Ask yourself the questions in this reading, asking, most importantly, God for his wisdom (see James 1:5).

Soulfood: Job 15-17, Matt 24:36-51, Ps 55:1-11, Pro 8:17-18


Trust God

'Trust the Lord with all your heart.' Proverbs 3:5 NCV

When we step into a situation which is outside of our comfort zone or face a situation we struggle with, we can be tempted to retreat. We want to run to a place of safety and avoid facing the battles. Standing on the threshold of the Promised Land, Joshua realised there were seven nations and forty kings to be conquered before he could possess it. So God told him, 'No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you' (Joshua 1:5 NIV). God was asking Joshua to trust him. And he was encouraging Joshua to look back and see how steadfast he had always been with Moses.

The Bible says: 'Trust the Lord with all your heart, and don't depend on your own understanding' (Proverbs 3:5 NCV). Each time we face a difficult situation, we need to trust God. He doesn't promise that the road will be easy, but he does promise to never leave our side through the tough times. We can be tempted to give up when the valleys are long, hard and tiring. But if we keep going, and keep trusting God, he'll help us reach the other side.

Seeing God's faithfulness in the past, whether in our own lives or someone else's, can help us trust him today.

So what now? Spend some time reflecting on God's faithfulness to you in the past. Thank him for those times.

Soulfood: Matt 5:5, Num 12:1-15, Ps 37:1-11, Phil 2:5-11


No foothold for the enemy

'Do not give the devil a foothold.' Ephesians 4:27 NIV

The Bible says, '"In your anger do not sin": Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold' (Ephesians 4:26-27 NIV). The word translated 'foothold' in the NIV version is the Greek word topos. It means a place, territory or ground. And anger gives ground to the devil. Bitterness invites him to occupy a space in our hearts.

Our human nature makes us more likely to become angry and frustrated in situations where we should show grace. When we get hurt by others, it's harder to forgive than it is to remain bitter and resentful. But if we realise the devil has a 'foothold' in our lives, we need to make him leave. How? By beginning the process of forgiveness, avoiding making mental lists of the 'wrongs' people have done to us, and praying for those we struggle to get along with. We need to turn our attention away from what they did to us and focus on what Jesus did for us. Jesus died for them too. And if he thinks they're worth forgiving, then they are.

Forgiveness isn't easy. Some days when we think we've healed and moved on, then something happens that makes the pain return. We then have to start the process of forgiving again. When we're actively trying to forgive, love and become more Christlike, we're not giving the devil a 'foothold' in our lives.

So what now? Is there someone you need to forgive? Ask God to help you begin the process of forgiveness today.

Soulfood: Job 11-14, Matt 24:26-35, Ps 13, Pro 8:14-16


Encourage don't judge

'Never criticise or condemn - or it will all come back on you.' Luke 6:37 TLB

Ever criticised or judged someone because of something they've done, or not done? We can probably all answer 'yes' to this question. We can be quick to point out other people's faults. But Jesus said: 'And why worry about a speck in the eye of a brother when you have a board in your own? Should you say, 'Friend, let me help you get that speck out of your eye,' when you can't even see because of the board in your own? Hypocrite! First get rid of the board. Then you can see to help your brother' (Matthew 7:3-5 TLB).

None of us is perfect; only God is. And he is the only one who can judge. In Romans, it says: 'If you think you can judge others, you are wrong. When you judge them, you are really judging yourself guilty, because you do the same things they do. God judges those who do wrong things, and we know that his judging is right' (2:1-2 NCV). The Message version of this verse says, 'Don't pick on people, jump on their failures, criticise their faults - unless, of course, you want the same treatment.'

Instead of judging and criticising, Paul says, 'When we have the opportunity to help...we should do it' (Galatians 6:10 NCV). So we need to be looking for ways to bless and encourage people, even when we know they can't do anything in return.

So what now? Next time you find yourself criticising someone, stop! Ask God to show you something you need to work on in your life.

Soulfood: Job 8-10, Matt 24:15-25, Ps 116:12-19, Pro 8:10-13

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