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

Word For You Today

A New Approach to Obedience (1)

Paul says, '...God is working in you giving you the desire to obey Him and the power to do what pleases Him.' Most of us don't connect obedience with pleasure. Perhaps we had parents who made us obey them. Now it's not wrong for parents to expect obedience, or teachers to expect cooperation from their class. But it's not the best motivation for obedience. The element that's missing is the 'want to' factor God built into each of us at the point of salvation. This takes the 'ought to/have to/better do it or else God will zap you' element out of it! It elevates obeying God to an excited response because of all that He's done for you.

Obedience is not something you have to manufacture; the desire is already present in you - it just needs to be activated. This will often come during a time of worship, prayer, or listening to a preacher. Nobody wants their relationship with God to be like the boy who misbehaved and was told by his mother to go and sit in the corner. After a few minutes she called to him from the other room, 'Are you still sitting down?' He replied, 'Yes, I'm sitting down on the outside, but I'm standing up on the inside.' You could call that obedience, but actually it's rebellion. Real obedience is gladly doing on the outside, what you really want to do on the inside.

So what now? Ask God to give you the 'want to' factor when it comes to obeying Him. What He wants us to do is always 'all good!'

Soulfood : 2 Cor 5-8, Mk 16, Ps 144:1-8, Prov 16:1-3

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HE WILL WIN OUT

'Who made God then?' 'If God exists why is there so much suffering in the world?' 'Christians are mostly hypocrites.' 'Religion is outdated and causes wars.' 'Christianity is a crutch for weak people.' 'How can you know what's really true?'

Have you ever had questions and statements like these flung at you, leaving you unsure how to respond? Maybe you've become discouraged and been tempted to stop sharing your faith. Maybe you've even given up praying because of it. It happens to lots of Christians and it can be very demoralising.

In Galatians 1:13 (NLT) Paul writes; 'I violently persecuted God's church. I did my best to destroy it.' Paul had no thoughts of becoming a Christian. His intent was to destabilise the Church, and he never dreamt that one day he'd switch sides. But when God has a plan, He will do whatever it takes to fulfil it. So when Paul held the coats of Stephen's executioners, even then God was hatching a plan to make him one of the most remarkable Christians of all time.

Just like Paul, He has plans for your friends with all their objections, tricky questions, or questionable lifestyle choices. Tougher nuts have been cracked! God's grace will win out, so hold in there, and don't lose hope!

So what now? Try to love as God loves. He sees your imperfections and your doubts and loves you regardless. That should help you not to give up on someone just because they haven't 'got it' yet.

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

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ANCHORED IN ABSOLUTE GOOD

We're in a society that's moved away from the ideas of absolute good and absolute evil. So having something concrete to stand for will set you apart (in a really good way).

The Bible calls us to stick with the boundaries set by our forerunners (see Proverbs 22:28). If we stay within the age-old knowledge of God's law, we also draw on age-old power to change our world through obedience to God. Obedience may sound like a bit of a stuffy word (or, you know, a dog training thing), but it's the foundation of a God-centred life. The really old root of the word obedience is a mixture of 'ob' - 'to be near' and 'audio' - 'to hear'. If we are close to someone, and hear an instruction from them, the 'obedience' part isn't a choice, it's the natural next step. If we live our lives in proximity to God, obeying His voice will be automatic upon hearing it.

So, hear this from God's Word: '...hold on to what is good. Reject every kind of evil' (1 Thessalonians 5:21 NIV). God is absolutely good, no question, and His way is absolutely right, so hold on to it.

In a world that's all at sea, bobbing along with changing boundaries and drifting with the tide, we can anchor ourselves in a steady-as-a-rock God and show a better (and unfailingly right) way to those floating along in the current.

So what now? When you feel your faith compromised or are uncertain which way to choose, hold on to the good of God's Word, even though it may be tough. He will not fail you.

Soulfood : 2 Cor 1-4, Mk 15:33-47, Ps 139:13-24, Prov 15:31-33

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WORTH (5)

Dr Jay Adams tells the story of a guy who decided to quit worrying. When a friend noticed how chilled he looked and asked what he'd done, he said, 'It's simple; I hired a guy to do my worrying for me.' Asked how much that cost, he replied, '$500 a day.' 'Where will you get the money?' his stressed friend asked. His reply? 'That's his worry, not mine!'

Jesus tells us to hand our worries over to Him; and He won't even charge us! He understands that we're anxious about money and clothes and having what we need. So He instructs us, 'Do not worry, saying, "What shall we eat?"...or "What shall we wear"' (Matthew 6:31 NIV)? He's basically saying to you, 'Don't be a stress-head!' Instead, see how much more God's in control: 'Look at the birds...your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? ...God clothes the grass of the field... will He not much more clothe you' (Matthew 6:26-30 NIV)?

God's a big God. He'll give you all you need. Stressing is for people who don't know Him, and don't have their security in Him. So today, instead of stressing about tomorrow, why don't you try focusing instead on 'His Kingdom and His righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well...' (Matthew 6:33 NIV). Trust that He's got it all in control.

So what now? Look up your local foodbank. Those guys do fantastic work. See if they need any voluntary help, or if you can buy them any food (or both). What better place to remind yourself that God will provide for you?

Soulfood : Ezek 46-48, Mk 15:16-32, Ps 139:7-12, Prov 15:28-30

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WORTH (4)

Life can be wonderful. To live on a world like ours, with all its wonder and complexity and joy, is a great gift. But sometimes life doesn't seem like a gift. Sometimes it can feel like an empty, friendless place.

Jesus said, 'Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father's will.' God knows when we fall, and His will is to lift us up again. Perhaps you were flying high and - boom! - life knocked your wings, and you were left in the cold. A mistake. A secret. A betrayal. An illness. A death. Life has a funny habit of stealing the wind beneath our wings. Sometimes we even feel so wing-clipped, we can't ever see ourselves in the sky again. The past plus our fear keep us on the ground.

God's an expert at throwing birds back into the sky. Simon Peter's wings were clipped by guilt and regret. He denied Jesus three times. God restored him to his destiny - Peter's faith (yes, faith! despite the fact he'd doubted so much!) became the rock the church was built upon. Jonah fell through disobedience. His destiny was returned when he finally called Nineveh to repentance. David's plunge to the ground occurred because of his wandering eye. But he recovered from the Bathsheba episode to be forever known as 'a man after God's own heart.' The battle isn't over your past, it's over your future. God isn't looking to point the finger today; He's looking to restore your destiny. He wants you to fly again.

So what now? God saw you when you fell. Pray, seeking Him, and you'll find the wind beneath your wings.

Soulfood : Ezek 43-45, Mk 15:1-15, Ps 139:1-6, Prov 15:25-27

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WORTH (3)

That feeling of loneliness we mentioned yesterday - remember it? For some people this is all they've known. Long-term friendlessness means deep suffering. How totally out of place is that in a good world created by a Father God?

Most churches are well-known for looking out for the homeless and poor; for helping society's forgotten people, and inviting them to a weekly service. For anyone who feels like an outcast, a real welcome to church is more than just finding a Spiritual home, it sometimes means feeling human for the first time.

Chronic loneliness also includes the single mother, and the socially awkward, unemployed kid who shows up and mumbles when you say hello. And what about those with severe autism? Jesus has an especially wide welcome for all of those we think are beyond our reach.

He came to '...seek and to save that which was lost' (Luke 19:10 NIV). That includes those we count as too small or too seemingly insignificant for God to go looking for. He wants to give them a home in a safe place, in close proximity to others. And He wants other Christians to be serious about welcoming them there. And that means each one of us.

So what now? Find it hard to talk to people with fewer social skills than you? Can you think of one person like that who you may bump into over the course of your day? Make a decision to chat to them for a while.

Soulfood : Ezek 40:10-42:20, Mk 14:53-72, Ps 73:17-28, Prov 15:22-24

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WORTH (2)

The writer of Psalm 102 wrote 'I am like...a sparrow alone on the housetop.' To be honest, we probably all know that feeling. We've sat there while our group of friends talks about something we don't get. We've gone somewhere new alone. We've awkwardly perched on the sidelines of a party / youth group, even if only once or twice. We all have our own tailored experience of loneliness. And it hurts.

But, it feels painful because we were built for more. The Bible opens with God playing matchmaker for Adam with Eve, and the final letters in the Bible are written from one group of friends to another. In the pages between, God pursues His people, but again and again they reject Him - that pretty much sums up the Old Testament. And then there's Jesus with His twelve best mates. One by one they turn their backs on him.

Clearly we are not built to 'go it alone'. In Jesus, God has known the pain of loneliness. It's not in His plan for you. If you need them, He will bring friends to you. If you need to, ask Him for company! Know that it's a big part of what He's made you for.

 

So what now? Remember, Jesus spent a lot of time with the waifs and strays. Look out for the person that's pushed to the side today, someone who gets ignored or excluded. Go ask them how their day's going (no matter how hard it is!).

 

Soulfood : Ezek 37:1-40:9, Mk 14:43-52, Ps 73:1-16, Prov 15:18-21

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