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Word For You Today

Our life's purpose in God

'For we are...created...for good works.' Ephesians 2:10 NKJV

God 'has created us in Christ Jesus to live lives filled with good works that he has prepared for us to do' (Ephesians 2:10 GWT). Before we decide on what we'll devote our lives to, we need to seek God for guidance. Nothing takes the place of doing what he knows is best for us. A 'successful' life can be full of emptiness and lack of fulfilment if God's not leading it.

God created each of us for a specific purpose. Here are four questions to ask ourselves when it comes to identifying our own life's purpose: (1) What am I searching for? All of us have a strong desire in our hearts; something that speaks to our deepest thoughts and emotions and sets our souls on fire. (2) Why was I created? We need to consider the unique mix of abilities, relationships and resources available to us, our personal history, and the opportunities around us. (3) Do I believe in my potential? If we don't believe in ourselves, it will be harder to believe we can do anything God calls us to do, or even that God would want to use us. But he's given us all gifts and skills, and he'll equip us to do whatever he's asking of us. (4) When should I start? We should be starting now. Once we discover our life's purpose, we mustn't waste time getting started on fulfilling it.

So what now? If you're not yet sure what God's purpose for your life is,pray about and answer the four questions in the reading.

Soulfood: 1 Chr 19, 1 Chr 20, 1 Chr 21, 1 Chr 22, 1 Chr 23:1-20, John 9:24-41, Ps 115, Pro 25:26-28


No more peoplepleasing

'Christ has truly set us free...make sure that you stay free.' Galatians 5:1 NLT

Some of us find it hard to give ourselves permission to think, say or enjoy certain things because we fear others will disapprove. We're people-pleasers - we gauge things by what others think, whether it be our family, our peer group, our school or work friends. We are actually operating legalistically, according to our perceived rules of others.

The apostle Paul had a bit to say about people-pleasing. He wrote: 'Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ' (Galatians 1:10 NIV). And, when he found out that the Galatians were policing people's lives and forcing them to live by Jewish traditions instead of the Gospel of grace, he wrote 'Make stay free...don't get tied up again in slavery to the law' (Galatians 5:1 NLT).

It can be really hard to stop being a people-pleaser, especially if we've been one for so long. But, it's healthy to stop being tied up trying to, sometimes obsessively, gain others' approval. People-pleasing is not what God wants for us. He wants us to be committed followers and 'pleasers' of him. He wants us to focus on living for him. He wants us to realise that his love and approval are enough for us.

So what now? Next time you find yourself doing something to gain the approval of others, stop and remind yourself that the only approval that matters is God's and you already have it.

Soulfood: 1 Chr 16-18, John 9:13-23, Ps 105:1-15, Pro 25:23-25


Your good and his glory

'If you suffer for doing good and...endure...this is commendable before God.' 1 Peter 2:20 NIV

Many people we admire in Scripture were unfairly treated. For example, Daniel was thrown to the lions and Joseph was put in prison. The Bible says: 'If you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable...To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps' (1 Peter 2:20-21 NIV).

We're 'called' to overcome difficulties. Everything we go through prepares us to serve our heavenly Father more effectively. Paul said, 'At my first hearing no one stood up in my defense...However, the Lord stood by me and gave me strength so that I could finish spreading the Good News' (2 Timothy 4:16-17 GWT). Paul didn't see it as enduring; he saw it as advancing.

When we face difficult circumstances we can feel encouraged that we're growing in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord (see 2 Peter 3:18). It's important to remember that God's not the source of our pain and that, with his strength, we can grow through it and he'll be glorified through it. He can turn any situation we face into something good. Romans 8:28 says: 'In all things God works for the good of those who love him' (NIV). So, whether God takes us out of the situation or brings us through it, we can trust he's working for our good and his glory.

So what now? If you're in a tough situation, write out 'God's working for my good and his glory', and read it each time you're struggling to trust him.

Soulfood: 1 Chr 12:23-40, 1 Chr 13, 1 Chr 14, 1 Chr 15:1-15:29, John 9:1-12, Ps 68, Pro 25:21-22


Joseph's coats 3

'He dressed him in robes of fine linen.' Genesis 41:42 NIV

The third coat Joseph wore was: the coat of destiny. Joseph honoured God, even through really difficult circumstances, and ended up on the throne of Egypt, fulfilling his destiny. The psalmist said God 'sent a man before them - Joseph, sold as a slave... till what he foretold came to pass, till the word of the Lord proved him true. The king sent and released him, the ruler of peoples set him free. He made him master of his household, ruler over all he possessed' (Psalm 105:17-21 NIV).

The trials of life and attack from the enemy happen to us all. Five times in Genesis 39 the Bible says, 'The Lord was with Joseph.' But that did not exempt him from betrayal by his family, temptation from his boss' wife, accusations and false imprisonment, or disappointment at the hands of friends. Looking back, Joseph realised these experiences were 'training for reigning'. When faced with his brothers years after they sold him into slavery, he said: 'You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives' (Genesis 50:20 NIV).

The things we go through and the things that come against us can all be used by God to shape us for the great destiny he has for us.

So what now? Over this week, re-read the story of Joseph (in Genesis 37-46). Write down any thoughts about the three 'coats' of Joseph that stand out to you.

Soulfood: 1 Chr 10, 1 Chr 11, 1 Chr 12:1-22, John 8:42-59, Ps 49, Pro 25:18-20


Joseph's coats 2

'He left his [coat] in her hand, and fled.' Genesis 39:12 NKJV

The second coat Joseph wore was: the coat of temptation. Joseph was young, handsome, far from home and tempted by his boss' wife! The Bible says: 'She caught him by his cloak and said, "Come to bed with me!" But he left his cloak in her hand and ran out of the house' (Genesis 39:12 NIV). Joseph resisted her advances, saying, 'How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God' (Genesis 39:9 NIV)? He realised that he couldn't live with himself if he said yes. Remembering how God had loved, preserved and blessed him stopped him from giving in to the temptation in front of him.

David was a different story. After his affair with Bathsheba, he wrote: 'Against you, you only, have I sinned, and done this evil in your sight' (Psalm 51:4 NKJV). When we sin, it's against God - he's the one observing us. God forgave David, and he'll forgive us too. But David's story proves that sometimes we have to live with the consequences of our actions, and they can devastate not only us but those around us.

Paul the apostle acknowledged this truth: 'I treat my body hard and make it my slave so that I myself will not be disqualified after I have preached to others' (1 Corinthians 9:27 NCV). We have to discipline ourselves, and strengthen ourselves, so that we can stand against temptation and keep ourselves effective in God's Kingdom.

So what now? What's tempting you right now? Ask God to help you be strong, stand firm and resist it.

Soulfood: 1 Chr 7:20-40, 1 Chr 8, 1 Chr 9:1-44, John 8:31-41, Ps 30, Pro 25:13-17


Joseph's coats 1

'Israel loved Joseph more than all his sons... he made Joseph a special robe.' Genesis 37:3 GWT

Let's look at three different 'coats' Joseph wore - they present a picture of our lives as Christians. The first coat is the coat of salvation. It was a complete 'love gift' from his father. This sounds a lot like the story of our salvation. The Bible says, 'For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast' (Ephesians 2:8-9 NIV).

Motivated by jealousy and resentment, Joseph's brothers threw him into a pit. Then they dipped his coat in goat's blood to convince their father he'd been killed by a wild animal. The Bible says: 'The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanses us from all sin' (1 John 1:7 NKJV). In Old Testament times, when someone sinned they brought a sacrificial lamb to the altar and the priest shed its blood as payment for their sins. The priest did not examine the person, he examined the lamb. If the lamb was 'worthy', the person was accepted and their sins were atoned for.

So the moment we acknowledge our sin (separateness from God) and pray, 'Father, I come in the name of Jesus, the Lamb of God,' we're totally forgiven and accepted. 'Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need' (Hebrews 4:16 NKJV).

So what now? Thank God for your gift of salvation. Thank him for accepting you and forgiving you.

Soulfood: Gen 5:22-24, Heb 11:5, 2 Ki 2:1-12, Acts 1:9-11


Seek God's revelations

'He made known to us the mystery of his will.' Ephesians 1:9 NIV

When we teach someone something, we impart some of our wisdom to them. This gives that person a new understanding of something or reveals something that was once unclear or a mystery. This is exactly what God loves to do for us, only God-sized! We will never fully understand him or his ways, but he longs to reveal himself to us and impart some of his infinite wisdom into our lives.

It can be scary or confusing when we don't know which path or direction to take: for our relationships, career or spiritual life. But when we ask God he promises to show his purpose for our lives. He loves revealing things about his good and abundant character; he delights in revealing promises, breakthroughs and blessings. And he imparts this by his Spirit and through his Word, the Bible. He also reveals his will through the encouraging or kind words or actions of others, or we may wake up one morning with a different perspective about something.

God's will for our lives is amazing and big picture. He has 'made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfilment - to bring unity to all things in Heaven and on earth under Christ' (Ephesians 1:9-10 NIV).

So what now? Ask God to reveal his will for your day, a new thing about his character, or a promise he has for your future. Seek his revelations! They are for a great purpose.

Soulfood: 1 Chr 6, 1 Chr 7:1-19, John 8:21-30, Ps 86, Pro 25:8-12

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