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Word For You Today

Fuel up your love for God

'You don't love you did at first!' Revelation 2:4 NLT

Love is like a fire; when it's not fuelled, it goes out. In earlier years Paul wrote to the Ephesian church: 'Grace be with all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ with incorruptible love' (Ephesians 6:24 NAS). Their love for the Lord was so strong that Paul commended them for it. But by the time Christ speaks to the same church in the book of Revelation, their love for him had faded: 'I have seen your hard work and patient endurance. I know you don't tolerate evil people. You have examined the claims of those who say they are apostles but are not. You have discovered they are liars. You have patiently suffered for me without quitting. But... you don't love me or each other as you did at first!... Turn back to me' (Revelation 2:2-5 NLT).

Evangelical leader John Stott wrote: 'They'd fallen from the early heights of devotion to Christ which they'd climbed. They'd descended to the plains of mediocrity. In a word...the hearts of the Ephesian Christians had chilled...Their early devotion to Christ had cooled. They'd been in love with him, but...had fallen out of love.' We can go to church, read our Bibles and pray every day, yet not love God as we should. Loving God is a commitment and a heart attitude, and a daily decision to honour him in all we say and do.

So what now? Keep your love for God fuelled up. Why not blast out your favourite worship songs to get you off to a great start in God each day.

Soulfood: Ex 33-35 Jn 4:27-38 Ps 32 Pro 27:1-3,


God's will for you

'If we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.' 1 John 5:14 NIV

When you were younger, did you ever make a wish as you watched a shooting star or blew out your birthday candles? It's something we can still find ourselves saying: 'I wish my life was like this', or 'I wish this would happen'. The problem with wishing on a star or on candles is that they have no power to make our dreams come true. But God does have that power. So, when your wishes become prayers that line up with his will, they can become a reality. 'And we are confident that he hears us whenever we ask for anything that pleases him. And since we know he hears us when we make our requests, we also know that he will give us what we ask for' (1 John 5:14-15 NLT).

So how do we know God's 'will': what pleases him and aligns with his character? We need to spend time with him, pray, read his Word. Then we'll know his heart and promises for us, and we'll see his answers to our wishes.

But even when your 'wishes' are in line with God's will, you need faith: to open your eyes to see that God's promises are for you personally; and to draw the fulfilment of his promises into your life.

So what now? Next time one of your friends has a birthday, ask if they have a prayer that they want to see fulfilled. Get them to blow out the candles on their cake, but instead of wishing, ask everyone in the room to pray about that thing.

Soulfood: Ex 30-32 Jn 4:13-26 Ps 100 Pro 26:27-28,


Turn fear to faith

'God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid.' Isaiah 12:2 NKJV

Sometimes fear can be useful. When we are in physical danger, fear acts as an alarm that something's wrong and that we need to get help or get out! Also, the Bible mentions fearing God; see Psalm 111:5, Ecclesiastes 12:13 and Proverbs 14:27 for some examples - there are many more. This doesn't mean we're to be scared of God. Instead, it means we should respect him and his will.

The Bible also talks about the fear that overwhelms us and negatively affects the way we live our lives. Most of us have some area of fear we want to break free from. If we try to break free in our own strength, we'll find it very difficult, if not impossible. We need to do it in God's strength. When the Bible talks about this type of fear, it's in the context of 'do not fear', or 'don't be afraid', or 'God calmed my fears' (find examples in Psalm 34:4, Isaiah 41:10 or Joshua 1:9). In Psalm 56:3 (NIV) David wrote: 'When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise - in God I trust and am not afraid.'

When we feel frightened, for whatever reason, it's best to tell God and resolve to turn our fear into faith and trust in him.

So what now? If you're struggling with fear, it might be a good idea to speak to a trusted friend or tell your pastor about it. Ask them to join you in asking God to draw close and fill you with his peace.

Soulfood: Ex 28-29 Jn 4:1-12 Ps 89:38-52 Pro 26:23-26,


Keep growing

'Let the wise listen and add to their learning.' Proverbs 1:5 NIV

The Bible says that we need to 'grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ' (2 Peter 3:18 NIV) and that 'the wise listen and add to their learning' (Proverbs 1:5 NIV). But how do we grow? We grow through changing our attitudes and responses to things. We need to determine what stops us from moving forward in our faith: is it not spending time with God, a bad habit, repeatedly giving in to temptation, fear of being uncomfortable? Many things can be barriers to us advancing in spiritual maturity.

Babies have milk before they're ready to move on to solid foods. And it's the same for us spiritually. First we need to be fed the basics, but at some point we need solid spiritual food. The Bible says: 'Solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil' (Hebrews 5:14 NIV).

We're not going to mature spiritually simply by wishing we'd reach it. We need to prioritise time with God, read his Word, commit to overcome things that stunt us spiritually and spend time with people more mature in their faith than we are. Let's make spiritual growth the number one priority in our lives. It is so worth it!

So what now? Choose one thing you could start doing to grow your faith, and choose one thing you could stop doing that's a barrier to becoming more spiritually mature. Make those changes this week and then honestly assess how your faith has changed at the end of the week.

Soulfood: Ex 25-27 Jn 3:22-36 Ps 89:15-37 Pro 26:20-22,


Put on your new self

'Put on the new self.' Ephesians 4:24 NIV

When we allow a wrong thought into our mind, we may be tempted to excuse it, saying, 'What harm will it do?' The truth is, it can do a lot of harm. The Bible says, 'Put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires...put on the new self, created to be like God...Put off falsehood and speak truthfully...Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need. Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up...Do not grieve the Holy Spirit...Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you' (Ephesians 4:22-32 NIV).

Until we 'take off' our old stuff (unhealthy attitudes, pastimes and practices), we can't 'put on' our new, more Christlike clothing. To 'put on the new' requires us to actively refuse to dwell on the old thoughts when they come to mind, and instead focus on the Christlike nature that God's developing in us.

So what now? Read slowly through Ephesians 4:22-32. Are there any areas of your old self that you're holding on to? Ask God to help you fill those areas with Christ's nature instead.

Soulfood: Ex 22-24 Jn 3:1-21 Ps 89:1-14 Pro 26:17-19,


Peace radiates outwards

'Great peace have those who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble.' Psalm 119:165 NIV

Life's not always easy. We all experience stress, conflict, deadlines, expectations and personal pressures that 'gang up' on us, trying to rob us of peace. No one is immune to stress, frustration and the feeling that we're on the 'treadmill of life'. When we feel like that, we're definitely not 'at peace'. And the real answer to stress and worry can't be found anywhere apart from God.

The Bible talks about three kinds of peace. (1) Peace with God. 'Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ' (Romans 5:1 NIV). This is eternal peace, and it comes from knowing that we have a relationship with a God who loves, cares, protects and forgives us. (2) Peace with yourself. 'Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts' (Colossians 3:15 NIV). This is internal peace, a sense of calm in our minds and souls which many of us find hard to experience. (3) Peace with others. 'As far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone' (Romans 12:18 NIV). This is external peace, and we need it so that our relationships with others work well.

So, here's the process: when you're at peace with God you'll be at peace with yourself, and when you're at peace with yourself you'll be at peace with others. That's how peace radiates outwards.

So what now? Focus on developing intimacy with God at the beginning of each day and experience how the peace you feel afterwards radiates outwards for the rest of the day.

Soulfood: Heb 11:22 Gen 39:1-23 Gen 45:1-11 Gen 50:15-26,


An appetite for God's Word

'His Word can cut through our spirits.' Hebrews 4:12 CEV

When we read the Bible, God gives us strength and guidance for our lives that we can't get from anywhere else. The Bible 'is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realise what is wrong in our lives; it straightens us out and helps us do what is right' (2 Timothy 3:16 TLB). God's Word can also 'cut through our spirits' (Hebrews 4:12 CEV). Through his Word, God brings to the surface unresolved issues and helps us to deal with them. He exposes our bad habits and shows us how to conquer them. He shows us our selfish and unloving attitudes, then reveals how to repent and change.

Regularly Bible reading makes us more aware of what God says about who he is, who we are, and what he's done for us. Making time to regularly read the Bible requires effort on our part. Life's busy and we may find it hard to fit it in to our day. But it's vital that we do.

If we're struggling to make time to read the Bible, we need to ask God to give us a greater appetite for his Word. When we get physically hungry, we know to find something to eat. When we get spiritually hungry, we need to be reading God's Word. The Bible says: 'Man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord' (Deuteronomy 8:3 NIV).

So what now? Each time you get hungry today, read a few verses of the Bible before you eat.

Soulfood: Ex 19-21 Jn 2:12-25 Ps 110 Pro 26:13-16,

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