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Word For You Today

Loved Forgiven Accepted

'We all stumble in many ways.' James 3:2 NIV

When we make a mistake, we can beat ourselves up about it. We overthink it, think we've failed and anticipate that we'll fail again. This mindset is dangerous. Our self-esteem evaporates and we can label ourselves as failures. But this isn't our identity. It's true that we'll make mistakes. James wrote: 'We all stumble in many ways' (James 3:2 NIV), and Solomon said: 'There is no one on earth who does what is right all the time and never makes a mistake' (Ecclesiastes 7:20 GNT).

We will fail, but we aren't failures. It's good to recognise where we're going wrong so that we can avoid making the same mistakes. God doesn't see all our mistakes and condemn us. Instead, he forgives us and continues to love and accept us. The Bible says: 'There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus' (Romans 8:1 NIV). God isn't condemning us, so we need to stop condemning ourselves.

We're all a work in progress. In Philippians 1:6 (NLT), it says: 'God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.' God's working on us, and he'll finish what he's started. He's not a harsh God who's angry when we make mistakes. He's gentle with us, so let's be gentle with ourselves too.

So what now? Next time you find yourself focusing on your mistakes, declare out loud 'I am forgiven and accepted by God.'

Soulfood: 2 Chr 8-11 Lk 15:1-10 Ps 119:89-96 Pro 21:20-23,


Practise humility

'They had been arguing about which of them was the greatest.' Mark 9:34 CEV

Jesus asked his disciples, '"What were you arguing about...?" They had been arguing about which one of them was the greatest, and so they did not answer...he said, "If you want the place of honour, you must...serve others"' (Mark 9:33-35 CEV).

If, after living with Jesus day and night for three years, his own disciples struggled with the concept of humility, it's not surprising that we struggle with humility too. Jesus showed the disciples what it means to be humble with a practical example. 'During the meal Jesus got up, removed his outer garment, and wrapped a towel around his waist. He put some water into a large bowl. Then he began washing his disciples' feet and drying them with the towel he was wearing' (John 13:4-5 CEV). Jesus went on to say: 'If your Lord and teacher has washed your feet, you should do the same for each other. I have set the example, and you should do for each other exactly what I have done for you' (John 13:14-15 CEV).

Serving others as Jesus asks us to can be difficult. When people annoy or hurt us, or put us down, the last thing we feel like doing is humbly serving them. Serving humbly is serving without expecting something in return. It's more than an action we're called to do. Author and preacher Chuck Swindoll writes: 'For the followers of Christ...humility isn't a religious concept, it's a way of life.'

So what now? Think of a way to serve someone today. Then go and put that thought into action.

Soulfood: 2 Chr 5-7 Lk 14:25-35 Ps 119:81-88 Pro 21:17-19,


How God works

'Because you say so, I will.' Luke 5:5 NIV

The Bible says: 'When he [Jesus] had finished speaking, he said to Simon, "Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch." Simon answered, "Master, we've worked hard all night and haven't caught anything. But because you say so, I will"...When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break...Then Jesus said..."Don't be afraid; from now on you will fish for people." So they...left everything and followed him' (Luke 5:4-11 NIV).

This story shows three ways in which God works: (1) He uses ordinary situations to do extraordinary things. The disciples were in their normal workplace, and Jesus showed up and changed their lives. We need to look for God opportunities in our daily routines. (2) He moves us from the security of the shallows to the risks of the deep. With fishing, the best catch is usually found in the deep waters, where the storms are. If we want to experience the deep catch, we may have to face the storms. But Jesus promises to be with us in the storm. (3) He encourages us to stretch our faith. He called the disciples to more than fishing; he called them to help to save people. When God calls us to something that stretches our faith to its limit, we have a choice: we can give in to doubt, or say, like Peter, 'Because you say so, I will' (Luke 5:5 NIV).

So what now? In your normal day, look out for God opportunities to do something extraordinary for him.

Soulfood: Jn 4:4-26 Jn 7:37-41 Exo 17:1-7 Isa 35:1-7,


'Lord where are you' 2

'He will bring justice if you will only wait.' Job 35:14 NLT

When you plant a seed, it can take ages before you see a little green shoot pushing through the soil. It waits until the time is right to emerge. If it's too early or late, or the conditions aren't right, the young plant will struggle or fail. It's like this with our God-given skills, dreams and visions. God's planted certain things within each of us, and we have to wait for them to take root and grow.

When Job was in despair, his friend Elihu said, 'You say you can't see him, but he will bring justice if you will only wait' (Job 35:14 NLT). Author Charles Trumbull said, 'God knows when to withhold or grant visible signs of encouragement. It's good when he sends confirmation, but we grow faster when we've trusted him without it. Those who do, always receive the greatest visible evidence of his love.'

Waiting is frustrating, and usually feels uncomfortable. But that time of waiting is a time of preparation and growth below the surface, just like a seed. And if we're willing to trust God while he works within us, our prayers become less about getting answers and more about connecting with him. By letting him work: (1) We begin to realise he's always with us; (2) We develop a deeper level of intimacy with him; (3) We discover we can trust him for the entire journey.

So what now? Get a packet of seeds or bulbs and plant them. Every day you're waiting for them to grow, thank God for the preparation he's working within you.

Soulfood: 2 Chr 1-4 Lk 14:15-24 Ps 119:73-80 Pro 21:14-16,


'Lord where are you' 1

'I cry out to you, God, but you do not answer.' Job 30:20 NCV

Job felt that God wasn't there for him: 'I cry out to you, God, but you do not answer; I stand up, but you just look at me...when I hoped for good, only evil came to me; when I looked for light, darkness came' (Job 30:20 & 26 NCV). All of us go through times when it feels like God's not there.

There are lessons we can only learn when God's silent: (1) Silence doesn't mean absence. Sometimes God says to us, 'Be still, and know that I am God' (Psalm 46:10 NIV). You have to feel really secure with somebody to just sit quietly with them. Silence makes us build a level of intimacy where words aren't necessary. Most often, the person who comforts us is the one who sits silently with us and shares our pain. So, to feel truly comfortable with God, we need to learn to sit in silence with him. (2) Silence tests your faith. Remember when you were learning to ride a bike? Your mum or dad ran alongside you, keeping it straight and steady while you learned to control it. Then when you felt a bit more confident, they let go for a while to see how much you'd learned. Sometimes God takes a step back to see how we've progressed in our faith. It doesn't mean he isn't there; it means he's asking us to trust him in the silence.

So what now? Where are you most aware of God's presence? Go to that place and simply sit in silence with God.

Soulfood: 1 Chr 26:20-29:30 Lk 14:1-14 Ps 119:65-72 Pro 21:10-13,


The importance of fellowship

'If we say that we have fellowship with him.' 1 John 1:6 NKJV

When we experience tension with a family member, our conversations can become shallow and forced. We might even find we're more comfortable spending time apart from them, and find that we don't really want fellowship with that person anymore. Fellowship involves dedicating time to spend with another person, or group of people, which allows growth and development in our relationships.

More than we need fellowship in our human relationships, we need it with God. If we lose trust in God, or doubt or question his character, our prayers can become superficial. Then we avoid spending time with him. God stops being our priority and then our lives begin to look different. The Bible says, 'If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth' (1 John 1:6 NKJV). The main way to build our relationship with Jesus is to listen to what he says. When Peter and the disciples were fishing, the Lord told them to cast their nets on the right side of the boat. When they obeyed, they caught a boatload of fish. But what followed was something even greater; they had fellowship with Jesus while sharing a meal together.

If we're feeling distant in our relationship with Jesus, then we need to do something to put the most important relationship in our lives right.

So what now? Invite some friends around, cook a meal and enjoy spending time together. Use it as an opportunity to pray for each other and share what God's been doing in your lives.

Soulfood: 1 Chr 23:21-26:19 Lk 13:18-35 Ps 119:57-64 Pro 21:7-9,


Be gentle

'Speak evil of no one...avoid gentle.' Titus 3:2 ESV

When Paul wrote to Titus in Crete, the Cretans were living a very hedonistic lifestyle. 'One of Crete's own prophets has said it: '"Cretans are always liars, evil brutes, lazy gluttons." This saying is true' (Titus 1:12-13 NIV). Paul instructed Titus to: 'Remind your people to obey the government and its officers, and always to be obedient and ready for any honest work. They must not speak evil of anyone, nor quarrel, but be gentle and truly courteous to all' (Titus 3:1-2 TLB).

There are many similarities between first century Crete and the world today. There is still much evil and people are determined to live their way, not God's way. The words Titus was asked to speak to the Cretans also apply to us. We're called to 'not speak evil of anyone...nor gentle.' This can be really hard, especially when we're feeling hurt or frustrated. We can end up saying things we don't actually mean. Or maybe we jump to the wrong conclusions and find our relationships become full of misunderstandings.

We get the most positive response from others when we speak with gentleness. 'A gentle answer will calm a person's anger, but an unkind answer will cause more anger' (Proverbs 15:1 NCV). It can be challenging to keep our words gentle, especially when we feel justified to strike back, but gentleness is one of the fruits of the Spirit (see Galatians 5:22-23) and is something we need to strive for.

So what now? Ask God to keep your heart gentle towards others (and towards yourself)!

Soulfood: 1 Chr 19:1-23:20 Lk 13:1-17 Ps 119:49-56 Pro 21:4-6,

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