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Word For You Today

Your God is bigger

'For the battle is the Lord's.' 1 Samuel 17:47 NIV

How we handle life depends on how big we believe God is. If he's too small: (1) We'll live in constant anxiety, thinking we need to fix things on our own. (2) Our outlook will be dictated by our surroundings and circumstances. We will be focused on what's in front of us rather than on the God who melts mountains (see Micah 1:4). (3) We'll be people-pleasers who are over-influenced by other people's opinions, words and actions. (4) We'll constantly crave recognition because we don't understand that God sees us, cares for us and loves us. Hebrews 6:10 (NLT) says: 'For God is not unjust. He will not forget how hard you have worked for him and how you have shown your love to him by caring for other believers'.

When Goliath threatened the Israelites, they were 'dismayed and terrified' (1 Samuel 17:11 NIV). They didn't think their God was big enough. But David believed differently. He volunteered to fight the giant Goliath. He remembered that God had saved him before, and believed he would save him now (see 1 Samuel 17:32-37).

We can face anything when we know what David knew - 'the battle is the Lord's' (1 Samuel 17:47 NIV). Like David did, we may feel small, but let's believe that our God is big enough to come through for us.

So what now? Write a list of all the tough situations you, and those you know, are facing right now. Then, in bold letters, write 'My God is bigger' at the top.

Soulfood: 2 Kings 16:1 - 18:16, Luke 1:39-56, Ps 139:7-12, Pro 13:24


Victory through God

'He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.' 1 Corinthians 15:57 NIV

Life can throw us tough situations. Here are three things to keep in mind to help us get through them:

(1) Expand our concept of God. We can get to know better who God is by reading his Word. What is our God like? Loving or judgmental? Distant or available? Limited or powerful? Our concept of God will determine how much we trust him with our lives. (2) See ourselves as God sees us. He sees us not just as we are, but as we will be. If our past experiences have led us to see ourselves as worthless, we can change our self-image by believing what God says about us in his Word. He tells us that we're his children: we're chosen, loved and accepted. And when we really hear and learn to believe his opinion, we won't be so concerned with what others think of us. (3) Recognise Satan's limitations. The only power he has over us is the power we give him by remaining 'unaware of his schemes' (2 Corinthians 2:11 NIV). The Bible says, 'Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you' (James 4:7 NIV). We have power over Satan - let's use it.

With God at our side, we are meant to be victorious: 'God... makes us victorious through Jesus Christ our Lord' (1 Corinthians 15:57 TLB).

So what now? Do you need to expand your concept of God, see yourself as God sees you, or recognise Satan's limitations? Grow in these and experience more victory in your life.

Soulfood: 2 Kings 13-15, Luke 1:26-38, Ps 139:1-6, Pro 13:21-23


The perfect Father

'Joseph... a just man.' Matthew 1:19 ESV

Ever wonder how Joseph felt to be chosen as the earthly father of Jesus? When he found out that his fianc? Mary was pregnant, his initial reaction was to break off the engagement. The Bible tells us that 'Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly' (Matthew 1:19 ESV). Joseph was a fair and caring man. He didn't want Mary to be shamed in the community. But God had other plans and told him, through a dream, to stay with Mary and raise Jesus as his own (see Matthew 1:20-21 NIV).

Then God spoke to Joseph through a dream again. He told him to take Mary and Jesus to Egypt to keep them safe from Herod, and then told him when it was the right time to head back to Nazareth (read Matthew 2:23-14; 20-21). Each time God spoke to him, Joseph was obedient. He followed God's call on his life, even though it went against the norms of society.

Having a father who listens to God is ideal, but we're not all in that position. Our earthly fathers may have made, or still make, decisions that don't seem very godly. But whatever our experience, we have a perfect Father in God, who knows everything about us, knows how to look after us and has the best in store for us.

So what now? No matter what your experience of your earthly father is or was, thank God that he is always a trustworthy Father to us.

Soulfood: 2 Kings 10-12, Luke 1:11-25, Ps 73:17-28, Pro 13:20


In God's strength

'God... arms me with strength and keeps my way secure.' Psalm 18:32 NIV

When we're facing something bigger than we can handle, God wants us to rely on his strength, not our own.

In 2 Corinthians 1:8-9 (NIV), Paul talks about the troubles they experienced in Asia. He writes: 'We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead'. Gideon's battle against the Midianites (read Judges 7) is another great example of God wanting us to recognise and rely on his strength. Gideon started out with an army of 32,000 men, but gradually God reduced it down to 300. He said: 'You have too many men. I cannot deliver Midian into their hands, or Israel would boast against me, "My own strength has saved me"' (Judges 7:2 NIV). In human eyes, going into battle with an army of only 300 men would mean certain defeat. But they won, using God's strength.

The Bible contains many verses about God's promise to give us victory through his strength. One of the most famous is in Isaiah 40:29-31 (NIV): 'He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak...those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength'.

So what now? Research verses that talk about God's strength. Write a few down so you can read them in the tough times. In fact, it's probably good to read one each day - God's strength is perfect for every situation.

Soulfood: 2 Kings 7-9, Luke 1:1-10, Ps 73:1-16, Pro 13:17-19


True humility

'God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.' 1 Peter 5:5 NLT

There are two kinds of humility mentioned in the Bible. Firstly, there's false humility. Being falsely humble is acting like we're putting God and others first, but actually we're doing things for our own motives. It's usually self-focused and it draws attention to us and away from Christ. It is something that's quite easy to discern in our words and behaviour.

Secondly, there's true humility. Truly humble people don't draw attention to themselves. They don't take offence easily or fight back; they turn the other cheek. But this doesn't mean that they're cowardly or weak; true humility requires courage. Humility means we take a lower place than we deserve, we keep quiet about our achievements, and we tolerate comments, insults and false accusations for the sake of a higher purpose. True humility doesn't make us think less of ourselves, it makes us think of ourselves less.

Peter addresses the subject in these words: '"God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble." So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honour' (1 Peter 5:5-6 NLT). James 4:10 (NIV) says a similar thing: 'Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up'. Instead of trying to force things and promote ourselves, we need to wait and allow God to lift us up in his timing.

So what now? Set this daily reminder on your phone: 'Everything I am, I owe to God; everything I have came from God. To him be all the glory'. That's true humility.

Soulfood: Rev 19:11-16, Acts 3:1-16, Phil 2:5-11


Forgive it frees you

'God will bless you when people insult you.' Luke 6:22 CEV

Jesus is our greatest example of how to respond in any situation.

When misunderstanding has caused the difficult circumstance, the answer is forgiveness. We may prefer to avoid the process of forgiveness because we think it's letting someone off the hook for what they've done. But forgiveness doesn't mean that: it operates on a much deeper level. It means we let go of the offence, which prevents bitterness from building up inside us. Here's a great statement: 'To be greater is to forgive the one who has treated you badly.' The process of forgiveness can be very challenging but God will give us the strength we need to be able to do it.

Jesus said: 'God will bless you when others hate you and won't have anything to do with you. God will bless you when people insult you and say cruel things about you, all because you are a follower of the Son of Man. Long ago your own people did these same things to the prophets. So when this happens to you, be happy and jump for joy! You will have a great reward in Heaven' (Luke 6:22-23 CEV). By living this way, we also take back our power by refusing to let another person dictate our mood and our perspective, and we keep our joy.

So what now? When someone hurts you, you'll always feel better if you respond as Jesus suggests. Cut offence off at the roots. Know that when you forgive that person, you will be blessed and set free from pain.

Soulfood: 2 Kings 4:18 - 6:33, Mark 16, Ps 80:12-19, Pro 13:13-16


Love wisdom

'If you love wisdom and don't reject her, she will watch over you.' Proverbs 4:6 CEV

Today, there are so many voices in the world trying to tell us how to live. Through media and social media we're bombarded with advice and things we, apparently, should aim for. We see other people's lives and we can wonder why ours isn't matching up. It's not surprising that we can start listening to them. We can feel like we need to put ourselves first, carry on when we should let go, or run away when we should stand our ground. If we make decisions based on our own understanding we can easily end up with heartbreak, hurt and regret.

When it comes to living life, we need wisdom - God's wisdom; it's so much better than ours. The Bible says: 'The wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy' (James 3:17 NKJV).

Proverbs 3:5-6 (NCV) says: 'Trust the Lord with all your heart, and don't depend on your own understanding. Remember the Lord in all you do, and he will give you success.' And Proverbs 4:6 (NCV) tells us: 'Hold on to wisdom, and it will take care of you. Love it, and it will keep you safe' (Proverbs 4:6 NCV). We need to be asking God for his perfect advice.

So what now? In what area of your life do you need to make a decision? Ask God for help - he wants you to ask him, He says he will gladly give you more than enough wisdom for your situation (see James 1:5).

Soulfood: 2 Kings 1:1 - 4:17, Mark 15:33-47, Ps 80:1-11, Pro 13:11-12

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