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Word For You Today

Don't just read it do it 1

'Do not merely listen to the what it says.' James 1:22 NIV

It's a great thing to gain knowledge about God and being a Christian: reading the Bible, reading Christian books, studying theology, listening to sermons. But it's only great if we're putting that knowledge into action in our lives. This knowledge needs to translate into praying, seeking God's presence, loving a difficult person, forgiving someone, giving some of our money away, stopping to say thanks or sorry, encouraging a friend, blessing an enemy... the list goes on. Learning about God's character and attitude is so important because then we know how our character should be too.

James wrote: 'Be doers of the word, and not hearers only' (James 1:22 NKJV). And Paul told the Philippian church: 'Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me - put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you' (Philippians 4:9 NIV). Actually being Christlike to those around us is what makes us truly Christian.

It is challenging to put what we learn about God into action. It's easier to be remain 'just as we are.' Doing something about what we learn means making effort and probably being out of our comfort zone. But the Bible says: 'God planned for us to do good things and to live as he has always wanted us to live. That's why he sent Christ to make us what we are' (Ephesians 2:10 CEV). Being a Christian means taking Christlike action and having a great life.

So what now? What have you learned about Jesus lately? Put that into action and live!

Soulfood: Rom 7:1-25 Rom 8 Rom 9:1-16 Luke 5:12-26 Ps 96 Pro 3:5-6,


Christlike on earth

'On earth, just as it is in Heaven.' Matthew 6:10 TLB

After Jesus' resurrection, he must have resembled himself, because the disciples recognised him. He ate and drank with them. He could be touched. He miraculously passed through walls. He appeared in various places to different people. His transformed body no longer aged, and it didn't suffer sickness and death. And this is the promise we receive: 'We are citizens of Heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly awaiting him to return as our Saviour. He will take our weak mortal bodies and change them into glorious bodies like his own, using the same power with which he will bring everything under his control' (Philippians 3:20-21 NLT).

In The Lord's Prayer, Jesus prays: 'We ask that your Kingdom will come now. May your will be done here on earth, just as it is in Heaven' (Matthew 6:10 TLB). As we go through our lives on earth, our mortal bodies wear out. But, as children of God, we can be 'improving' on earth, 'as it is in Heaven.' In 2 Corinthians 3:18 (NCV) we read, 'We all show the Lord's glory, and we are being changed to be like him. This change in us brings ever greater glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.'

God's constantly working in us to help us develop a Christlike character. It's something he promises to start now, and a process that will be complete once we reach Heaven.

So what now? Thank God for his promise to make you more like him, here on earth. You can make a difference, now!

Soulfood: Rom 3:21-31 Rom 4-5 Rom 6:1-23 Luke 5:1-11 Ps 91 Pro 3:3-4,


Samson and Samuel 5

'Jesus often slipped away to be alone so he could pray.' Luke 5:16 NCV

The final difference between Samson and Samuel involves prayer. The Bible only mentions two occasions when Samson prayed. The first was when he thought he was dying of thirst: 'Because he was very thirsty, he cried out to the Lord' (Judges 15:18 NIV). The second was in the last moments of his life when he'd lost everything and ended up in prison. 'Then Samson prayed to the Lord, "Sovereign Lord, remember me. Please, God, strengthen me just once more"' (Judges 16:28 NIV). Sometimes our prayer life is like this. We only pray when we're in need or in a desperate situation.

Samuel had a strong prayer life. The Bible tells us that people realised he 'was a true prophet of the Lord' (1 Samuel 3:20 NCV). This is the kind of prayer life God wants us to have. He wants us to be able to recognise his voice and to listen when he has things to tell us. Prayer shouldn't be one way.

Jesus, of course, is our best example of prayer. Sometimes he prayed through the night; other times he was up praying before dawn. The Bible says: 'Jesus often slipped away to be alone so he could pray' (Luke 5:16 NCV). It was the secret of his effectiveness whilst he was on earth. By taking the time out to pray and connect with God, he was drawing in close to his Father, his source of life.

So what now? Draw near to your source today. Shut yourself off from all distractions and focus on getting closer to your Dad in Heaven.

Soulfood: Rom 1:1 - 3:20 Luke 4:31-44 Ps 89:38-52 Pro 3:1-2,


Samson and Samuel 4

'The Lord has helped us to this point.' 1 Samuel 7:12 NCV

Another difference between Samson and Samuel can be seen in their accountability. Samson had an independent attitude and refused to be accountable to anyone or to work with others. 'This time I have a right to get even with the Philistines; I will really harm them' (Judges 15:3 NIV). God had sent him to help free the Israelites from Philistine rule but he was more interested in personal revenge. Samuel, on the other hand, worked alongside others. When he prayed and God gave Israel a spectacular victory over their enemies, he took no credit. 'After this happened Samuel took a stone and set it up... He named the stone Ebenezer, saying, "The Lord has helped us to this point"' (1 Samuel 7:12 NCV).

Samson was 'me' focused, but Samuel was 'us' focused. The psalmist said, 'How good and pleasant it is when God's people live together in unity...for there the Lord bestows his blessing' (Psalm 133:1, 3 NIV).

The secret of walking in God's blessing is not to operate alone, but to cooperate with others. That's how the New Testament church did it. 'After further threats they let them go...on their release, Peter and John went back to their own people (Acts 4:21, 23 NIV). The apostles had relationships in place with those who knew how to advise, guide, strengthen and encourage them, pray and share God's Word with them. We all need relationships like this.

So what now? Do you have someone to advise, encourage and pray for you? If not, ask your church leader to help find you a mentor.

Soulfood: Judg 16:23-31 2 Cor 12:3-10,


Samson and Samuel 3

'The Lord your God was your king.' 1 Samuel 12:12 NKJV

Samson and Samuel also had differing motives. Samson repeatedly dishonoured God by his actions and his lifestyle. In contrast, honouring God was Samuel's highest priority. When Israel wanted a king in order to be like all the surrounding nations, he said to the people, 'The Lord your God was your king.' His respect and honour for God is also shown through how he instructed the people: 'But be sure to fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you' (1 Samuel 12:24 NIV).

We need to assess whether our lifestyle and actions are honouring God. Is our aim to make God look good or make ourselves look good? When we live for ourselves, and our own motives and glory, we become focused on what we can gain, and can easily be influenced by the culture we live in. Or we may keep up the Christian lifestyle and be tempted to think that we're doing well enough in our own strength.

But the truth is that without the power of God's indwelling Spirit, none of us has what it takes to live as God calls us to. We need his strength. So let's make sure we're staying humble, seeking only to glorify God and living in a way that honours him.

So what now? Take a few minutes out of your day to think honestly about your lifestyle and actions this week. Were they God-honouring? If not, what changes can you make for the week ahead?

Soulfood: Isa 63-66 Luke 4:14-30 Ps 89:15-37 Pro 2:21-22,


Samson and Samuel 2

'Get her for me. She's the right one for me.' Judges 14:3 NIV

The second difference between Samson and Samuel is to do with relationships. Samson was guided by his desires. 'Samson said to his father, "Get her for me. She's the right one for me"' (Judges 14:3 NIV). Following his desires didn't go too well for Samson. When he ended up with Delilah, he lost his strength, reputation and anointing, and eventually his life (see Judges 16). Samuel's story was different. Eli the High Priest had two sons who he had ordained to the priesthood, but God wasn't impressed with the way they chose to live, and this included their relationships. He said: 'I will raise up for myself a faithful priest, who will do according to what is in my heart and mind' (1 Samuel 2:35 NIV). And this was Samuel.

The contrasting stories of Samson and Samuel show that we really need to ask for God's guidance and help with our relationships. We need to be asking for his wisdom to be able to do relationships his way, rather than the world's way. God knows best.

It's much harder when we're in a relationship with someone who doesn't share our faith, values, goals or priorities. We can end up in a tug of war, pulling in different directions. When problems arise we need someone by our side who turns to the same source as we do for the solution: God.

So what now? Think about all of your relationships (family, friends, colleagues...). Are there any in which you need to practise more of God's principles? Work on those relationships from now on.

Soulfood: Isa 58-62 Luke 4:1-13 Ps 89:1-14 Pro 2:20,


Samson and Samuel 1

'I do not have time to tell about...Samson...and Samuel.' Hebrews 11:32 NIV

Samson and Samuel are mentioned in the same verse, but there are big differences between them and the way they lived their lives.

The first difference is based on how they dealt with their finances. Samson was greedy and manipulating. One day Samson bet thirty Philistine princes that they couldn't solve his riddle, saying, 'if you can't tell me the answer, you must give me thirty linen garments and thirty sets of clothes (Judges 14:13 NIV). The words 'you must give me' say a lot. Not only is he trying to demonstrate authority, he's also making up business transactions to benefit only himself. Many people in business today use unethical monetary practices. Even some people in ministry twist the scriptures and resort to emotional manipulation to raise money. Samuel was totally different. He practised integrity. After forty years of exemplary leadership, the people paid this tribute to him: 'You have not cheated or oppressed us' (1 Samuel 12:4 NKJV).

As Christians, we should have integrity in all aspects of our lives, including our finances. Jesus knew how much money could be an issue when he said: 'Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also' (Matthew 6:21 NIV). When money is too high on our priority list, our hearts can be focused on the wrong thing. Let's keep God at the highest place in our lives, and practise integrity when handling our finances.

So what now? Spend some time thinking about how you handle your finances. What are you putting first in your life - God or money?

Soulfood: Isa 53-57 Luke 3:21-38 Ps 84 Pro 2:16-19,

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