The Morning Wakeup
Leanna, Bjorn & Josh 6:00-10:00am

Word For You Today

MIRROR, MIRROR

Time to fess up... we don't always like what we see in the mirror. Despite anything we might be taught in church about self-acceptance, it's not easy to appreciate all our God-given features. Whatever we look like, here are some sobering spiritual truths to consider: (1) Truly resenting your looks puts you at odds with God, the Creator. The Bible says, 'You have no right to argue with your Creator. You are...a clay pot shaped by a potter. The clay doesn't ask, "Why did you make me this way?''' (Isaiah 45:9 CEV). God intends us to carry His presence, as clay containers. We're not designed to just be a fancy ornament on display.

(2) Comparing your outtakes to someone's highlight reel will never give you a true perspective on humankind. Just look to the famous people who are desperately unhappy; we all need God to truly live. And, although it can be hard, let's make sure that our conception of 'good' appearance isn't decided by what we see on our screens and billboards. An airbrushed model isn't a role model. Be careful.

So, if we aren't to compare ourselves to others, what option is left? Only one - God. 'Look only to Jesus, the One who began our faith and who makes it perfect...' (Hebrews 12:2 NCV). When we focus on Him, the rat-race for popularity and good image will grow 'strangely dim'.

So what now? Search the web for a song called 'Turn your eyes upon Jesus'. You might well be familiar with it, but the lyrics apply well to this very personal subject.

Soulfood : Ex 28-29, Jn 4:1-12, Ps 89:38-52, Prov 26:23-26

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BEING WISE WITH MONEY

How rich do you want to be? You might have ambitions to be a millionaire or even just to be 'comfortable', but have you considered what the Bible says about you and money?

For a start, nothing we possess actually belongs to us: it's all God's (Psalms 24:1). So no matter how hard you struggle to acquire more, you're still only ever the caretaker of it. That truth is actually really freeing: it means that the pressure is off. You're not defined by the size of your bank account and you can trust God to bless you like He says He will: 'The blessing of the Lord brings wealth, without painful toil for it' (Proverbs 10:22 NIV).

But God's pretty hot on stewardship - that is, the way that you manage the stuff He gives you. Are you stingy? Are you reckless? Are you self-centred when it comes to money? Don't expect Him to bless you with very much of it then. The Bible is clear about generosity (check out Luke 6:38 for a cracking promise). It's also clear about taking responsibility: in Luke 16:11, Jesus says that if you can't be trusted with worldly wealth, you won't be trusted with 'true riches'.

So what now? What have you been given? You might have a job, a part-time job or an allowance; whatever it is, you've been entrusted with it. So start thinking about ways you can be generous with it.

Soulfood : Ex 25-27, Jn 3:22-36, Ps 89:15-37, Prov 26:20-22

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DOES GOD REALLY HEAL?

Let's cut to the chase: if God calls Himself a healer, and we know that Jesus spent a lot of miracle-hours healing people, and we believe that the Holy Spirit is powerful, then we can safely say that yes - God can and does heal people today.

But that's really easy to say before someone we love gets diagnosed with cancer, or the doctor says we're injured beyond repair. Believing God for healing is a whole other ball-game once it actually becomes necessary.

And then there are the healings that don't ever come: the times when our faith gets shaken out from the edges because we just don't understand why. So we wrestle with the idea that God is still good and powerful when it feels like He's nowhere. And we wonder if we prayed the 'wrong way', or not enough. And all the while the pain of disappointment sits on our chest like a double-decker bus...

There is a choice to be made. Either God is a liar, or He's telling the truth. If He's the truth, then perhaps our perception of healing is incomplete. Perhaps it's possible to face sickness, and still know total peace - and even joy. Perhaps, when it feels like God's ignoring you, He's actually healing the stuff that's unseen.

So what now? Have a think about this famous C.S Lewis quote: 'God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pain. It is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.' And thank God that He will 'speak' to you, and help you to hear Him, whatever the circumstances.

Soulfood : Ex 22-24, Jn 3:1-21, Ps 89:1-14, Prov 26:17-19

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CORRECTION, CONSEQUENCE AND THE SMALL VOICE

What does God's correction look like? Back in the Old Testament, the consequences of messing up were steeeeeep. Plagues of locusts and pillars of salt, anyone? In the New Testament, Jesus came so that if we accept Him, we don't get punished like we deserve. But that doesn't mean God sits idly by while we get on with crazy living. Correction, rather than punishment, is a sign of a God who loves us and wants the best for us.

Sometimes correction might come in the form of direct consequence. If you drive too fast, you may get a ticket, which will be an incentive not to speed again, right? Alternatively, correction might feel like a quiet spiritual prompting. A tiny voice inside that says, 'Not that way...' And you can choose - because you can always choose - whether or not you listen.

Part of the point of being corrected is so that you don't stay the same. Romans 12:2 (NIV) says '...be transformed by the renewing of your mind...' and in 2 Corinthians 3:18, Paul says that we're all '...being transformed...' into God's likeness. That process requires change, and - yes - correction. The key is to lift your gaze from your correction to His process.

So what now? Take a moment today to think about the ways you feel God corrects you. Do you need to become more sensitive to His nudges? Could you do with learning from the consequences of a lesson you've repeated over and over?

Soulfood : Ex 19-21, Jn 2:12-25, Ps 110, Prov 26:13-16

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BUSTING SOME MARRIAGE MYTHS

 



Unless you've got a specific calling to be single all your life, you're probably hoping to get married at some point. And that's totally fine, because in the first book of the Bible God establishes that 'It's not good for [wo]man to be alone' (Genesis 2:18).



There are two unhelpful schools of thought about marriage running rampant in Christian culture right now: (1) That God wants you to be perfectly happy being single and then (and only then) He'll present you with the man/woman of your dreams and (2) That you must find 'the right person' or 'be the right person' before you get married.



The first is wrong because although the Bible teaches us to learn contentment in all situations, God knows our hearts' desires and He isn't a mean dad who withholds good things just for kicks. There is no magic formula that your singleness will 'unlock'. There is only His will, and the command for you to seek it. The second is wrong because your walk with God doesn't end the moment you meet your future spouse. You must work to be the 'right person' every single day, primarily for God, but also because if both of you are doing that, your relationship will thrive.



You don't have to be a perfect person when you get married. Your spouse won't be, that's for sure.



 



So what now? Give thanks to God that He is working on your life and in your life to prepare you for when you do meet that special someone. Give thanks that He has the best plan for your life in every area, including your life partner.

Soulfood : Heb 11:22, Gen 39:1-23, Gen 45:1-11, Gen 50:15-26

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A SATNAV THAT WORKS!

 



'I told you to turn at the top of the road!' 'But the SatNav said...' 'Forget the SatNav. We've ended up in the river!'



When it comes to your life's direction, you don't want to rely on a dodgy SatNav to steer you. Here are a few navigation systems to avoid:



(1). Your emotions: Very rarely will raw feelings about something point you down the right path. These powerful little hormone combos make up a large part of who we are, but emotions are also very changeable. Handle with care. (2). Your mind: Sometimes God's direction just doesn't seem logical at all. Rub mud into a man's eyes and he'll see (John 9:11). Throw your net down for the thousandth time, and this time you'll catch some fish (John 21:5-6). Sounds a bit crazy, right? Except, God says clearly, 'My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts...My ways are far beyond anything you could imagine' (Isaiah 55:8 NLT). (3). Well-meaning people: When someone starts a sentence with 'God told me to tell you that...' resist the urge to take everything at face value immediately. Whilst God absolutely does use people to deliver His messages, sometimes people get things wrong. Ask God yourself.



There's a lot of stuff out there promising to show us the right way, when really what we need is a solid, close relationship with God and a hunger for his Word.



 



So what now? Thank God that He is the perfect 'SatNav'. Check out Proverbs 28:26 and contemplate what it means to 'walk in wisdom'.

Soulfood : Ex 16-18, Jn 2:1-11, Ps 23, Prov 26:10-12

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HOW SWEET THE SOUND

You may not believe that your ten minutes of wailing 'Amazing Grace' in the shower does a whole lot, but the Bible says that worship packs quite a punch. Ever heard the story of Jehoshaphat? His people were about to be smashed to bits by a huge enemy army. Jehoshaphat didn't hang about. He went straight to God and reminded Him 'You are so powerful that no one can defeat You' (2 Chronicles 20:6 CEV), and God - through a prophet called Jahaziel - replied, 'You will not have to fight...the Lord will be with you' (2 Chronicles 20:17 NIV).

Jehoshaphat led his army out to the battlefield, and told the worshippers to get right out there in front and sing praises to God. As soon as they started to sing, God did all the fighting on their behalf. He confused the opposition, and they began to wipe each other out. Nobody in Jehoshaphat's army raised a weapon. Pretty soon 'every soldier in the enemy's army was lying dead on the ground' (2 Chronicles 20:24 CEV).

As soon as you see an enemy on the horizon - whatever that might look like to you - don't waste time. Seek God and worship Him. Worship requires you to look up to God and, if you're looking up, you can't navel-gaze. When you focus on His power instead of your problem, He moves on your behalf.

So what now? Next time you're singing 'Amazing Grace' in the shower, focus on using it as a weapon to defeat a problem in your life, or in the life of someone else.

Soulfood : Ex 13-15, Jn 1:43-51, Ps 131, Prov 26:7-9

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