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Word For You Today

If you want mercy show mercy



'Be merciful, just as your father is merciful.' Luke 6:36 NIV

The award-winning writer Ernest Hemingway tells the story of a father and his teenage son who lived in Spain. Their relationship fell apart and the son ran away from home. After a few years, the father began the long journey looking for his boy and, after a long time, he put an ad in the Madrid newspaper as a last resort. His son's name was Paco (a very common name in Spain). It just read, 'Dear Paco, meet me in front of the Madrid newspaper office tomorrow at noon. All is forgiven. I love you.' The next day at noon, in front of the newspaper office there were 800 Pacos all looking for forgiveness!

Whom do you need to forgive today? Forgive them! You can't have a sorted relationship with God if you have un-sorted issues with others. Yes, people will hurt you, especially those you're close to. Letting go of hurt (especially when you've been wronged) is really hard to do, but not impossible. When you won't forgive someone, the truth is it that it's you who hurts.

You have not been created to carry the stress that goes with bearing a grudge! Indeed, there's a mountain of medical evidence to say that holding onto resentment can actually destroy your health. If you think you'll ever need mercy, show it. Jesus said, 'Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy' (Matthew 5:7 NIV).

So what now? Is God speaking to you about showing mercy to someone? If so, don't put it off any longer!

Soulfood: Jas 1-2 Mt 9:27-38 Ps 91 Pro 3:3-4,

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Can you see God's hand in it



'The Lord directs the steps of the godly.' Psalm 37:23 NLT

Has something so painful happened to you that it's left you feeling scarred and useless? Have you experienced people saying things about you that have left you feeling insecure and ineffective? And has the experience left you feeling that you can't make a difference in anything, let alone for God.

If that's where you're at today, read these words: 'The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand' (Psalm 37:23-24 NLT). Do you believe that? Ask God right now to root those words deep in your heart.

You see, God loves to use people who don't have it all together (which actually includes all of us)! Sometimes it's hard to understand why, but if we allow God to use us, he will blow our minds by what he can do through us. God loves to use people who, in the eyes of the world, are 'less than likely to,' because they are usually more empathetic and more willing to give others a chance. They understand that without God they never would have made it. And then God gets even more glory.

So what now? Don't limit what you think you're capable of or what you want to do with your life. God is capable of anything and, if you're willing to be used, then you can't possibly begin to imagine the things he has in store for you. Be prepared to see God's hand in your life.

Soulfood: Dan 11-12 Mt 9:14-26 Ps 89:38-52 Pro 3:1-2,

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A thankful heart



'I will bless the Lord at all times.' Psalm 34:1 NKJV

David said, 'I will bless the Lord at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth' (Psalm 34:1 NKJV). It may sound like a very sweet, Christian thing to say, but is it realistic? Absolutely! A thankful heart should be a way of life.

Did you know that a thankful heart can even save your life? When Jonah ran from God then ended up in the belly of the whale, he told God, 'I will sacrifice to you with... thanksgiving' (Jonah 2:9 NKJV). And when he did God gave the whale a dose of sea sickness and it spewed Jonah up onto the beach!

When you're down in the dumps or everything's crashing around you, that's when you need to raise your voice and praise God. The reason you can 'live by faith, not by sight' (2 Corinthians 5:7 NIV), is because you know that whatever is going on right now, God is working on your behalf. David said, 'Magnify the Lord with me' (Psalm 34:3 NKJV)! Praise acts like a magnifying glass; it helps you realise that God is much bigger than your problem. Nothing has really changed apart from your focus! Instead of focusing on the problem (we all tend towards self-pity sometimes), your faith is released and you start wanting solutions and looking to God for them.

So what now? If you're in a crisis, praise God, even if you're not feeling it. When your lips are full of thanksgiving and praise, it will have a massive effect on your life and build your faith.

Soulfood: Dan 8-10 Mt 9:1-13 Ps 89:15-37 Pro 2:21-22,

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Get through the storm well



'In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.' Romans 8:37 NIV

Yesterday we learned some lessons from Paul's shipwreck experience. Today let's look at getting through a storm well!

(1) Prepare for storms! The wise man built his house on a rock because he understood that life is never smooth; sooner or later a storm comes (see Matthew 7:24). 'A prudent person foresees danger and takes precautions' (Proverbs 22:3 NKJV). Being prepared for a storm will help you anticipate and navigate its dangers. (2) Stay calm! Panic kills more pilots than bad weather because it clouds their ability to think. In the storm Jesus said to his disciples, 'It is I; don't be afraid' (Mark 6:50 TLB). If you're not looking to Jesus you're freaked out by the problem, frantically searching for a solution or desperately looking to others to get you out of the storm. To get through a problem in one piece, continually fix your gaze on Jesus. (3) Never abandon your purpose! The crew on Paul's ship threw the cargo, the purpose for their journey, overboard. Never let go of the vision God called you to, because it's this vision that will sustain you through the hard times. Later Paul would write, 'And we know that all that happens to us is working for our good if we love God and are fitting into his plans' (Romans 8:28 TLB).

So what now? Why not put together a preparation plan for a 'storm' you anticipate may happen. Trust God to help you prepare and get through it well.

Soulfood: Ex 20:7 Is 29:22-24 Matt 6:9 Phil 2:5-11,

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Reach shore safely



'You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory.' Psalm 73:24 NIV

In Acts 27, the apostle Paul is on a missionary voyage to Asia. The trip is fraught with difficulty and eventually ends in a shipwreck, despite Paul's advice and warnings. What went wrong? Read the story and notice the following: (1) They thought they knew best. 'Since the harbour was unsuitable...the majority decided that we should sail on' (Acts 27:12 NIV). God doesn't guide us by the majority vote, but by his Spirit. (2) They were impatient to get to their destination. The Bible never tells us to 'hurry up or you'll miss God'! In the wilderness Israel learned that when the cloud moved, they moved; when the cloud stopped, to wait on God. (3) They failed to listen to solid advice. 'But the centurion, instead of listening to what Paul said, followed the advice of the pilot...' (Acts 27:11 NIV). Take note of the advice and warnings of others in difficult situations or you could find yourself in trouble. (4) They looked at the circumstances instead of to God to guide them. 'When a gentle south wind began to blow, they thought they had obtained what they wanted; so they...sailed. Before very long...The ship was caught by the storm' (Acts 27:13-15 NIV). Sometimes you can't avoid the storm, but look up at God in the storm. He is always there with his provision and protection.

So what now? If you want to reach the shore safely, ask God to show you the way, and follow his guidance!

Soulfood: Dan 5-7 Mt 8:28-34 Ps 89:1-14 Pro 2:20,

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Sing



'I will praise the Lord God with a song and a thankful heart.' Psalm 69:30 CEV

The Bible is full of what God has to say about the things we say. Words are powerful; they can raise people up or bash them down. How we speak to ourselves and others makes a difference. The Bible, especially the book of Psalms, is also full of references to using song as a release for praise and celebration.

Why are spiritual songs so powerful? (1) They help you get real: Check out the psalms and you will find the songwriters are full on with their honesty. They keep it real with God and with other people. Check out Psalm 51. In it David expresses his remorse for what he has done and his thankfulness at God's forgiveness in one sitting. God can work more powerfully when you are honest! (2) They help you get close: Songs are a vehicle to help you get closer to God. They can express better something that's on your heart. God is invited to get closer to you when you are singing about how much you adore him. (3) They help you see the true view: When you praise God through song it somehow helps you to see things as they really are! He is your awesome, all powerful Dad, who can help you in every area of your life!

So what now? Use song to express yourself (yes, even if you're not pitch perfect!). Put on your favourite Christian CD, or Life FM (your favourite radio station ??) and get singing! It will make a huge difference to each day.

Soulfood: Dan 3-4 Mt 8:18-27 Ps 84 Pro 2:16-19,

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We are family



'We must bear the "burden" of being considerate of the doubts and fears of others.' Romans 15:2 TLB

In a family, acceptance shouldn't be based on how easygoing, talented or smart you are; but on the fact that you belong to each other. 'Be devoted to each other like a loving family. Excel in showing respect' (Romans 12:10 GWT). Guess what: Jesus' family is full of people from every age, stage and position in life. He loves them all: the confident and the shy; the 'jock' and the 'nerd'; the rich one and the poor one; the kind one and the unkind one; the 'easy to get along with' one and the annoying one. And, as Christians we are part of this family.

People need a place to be themselves and make mistakes without being judged. Only in this place of acceptance will people open up, share their deepest needs and grow. Yes, even those who are more of a challenge. They are family!

So the question is, will we love and accept all the members of the family too, and treat them with respect? Will we put ourselves in their shoes and understand where they are coming from. When we know what they've been through or are still going through it'll help us be more understanding. Just because we don't have a problem with something doesn't mean we don't take others problems seriously! Sometimes a person's attitude and behaviour can change when they think people are listening to them.

So what now? Show some love to all your 'family' this week. Take time to understand those you usually find more difficult to understand.

Soulfood: Dan 1-2 Mt 8:10-17 Ps 81 Pro 2:11-15,

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