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Word For You Today

WHAT ARE YOU HEARING?

'...The word of the Lord came to Elijah...saying...

For three years all people talked about was the drought God had told Elijah to announce. Then God gave him a weather update: everyone should get ready for storm season. We've got to be ready for God's updates too - listening in so we'll be ready for what life throws at us.

God is more than willing to tell us when to save and when to spend, when to buy and when to sell, when to talk and when to be silent. 'Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, "This is the way, walk in it"' (Isaiah 30:21 NKJ). But, for many of us, often Satan's so busy whispering in our ears that the voice of God is drowned out. Satan's got some special lines he's perfected: 'You're a loser. You're ugly. You're rubbish. Nobody loves you.' Like we'd ever hear that from God! Not a chance. He's on our side and only waits our invitation to fight for us.

Knowing He would soon be crucified, Jesus prayed, '"Father, glorify Your name." Then a voice came from Heaven, saying, 'I have both glorified it and will glorify it again." Therefore the people who stood by and heard it said that it had thundered...' (John 12:28-29 NKJ). Isn't it amazing? Some can hear the voice of God, while others hear only noise.

So what now? What are you hearing? Who are you listening to? The voice of God or the devil's noise? Make a choice to tune out Satan and tune into God.

SoulFood: Job 1-4, Luke 1:1-25, Ps 105:23-36, Ecc 7:5-8

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TEMPER TEMPER (3)

Let's get to the root of this anger business: it's pretty clear that charging angrily into a situation doesn't get us anywhere. And God's not keen on us doing that either. The thing is, there are much, much better (and God-approved) ways to deal with those heated moments. We know, in some situations it's impossible to not feel a flash of rage - we can't exactly choose what to feel. But, what is our choice is what we do with that feeling.



Here are some options: (1) Keep it in. Don't say anything while we let that anger stay with us for the rest of the day/week/century. OR (2) Act in the heat of the moment and mood. Let the objects of our anger know exactly what we think of them. OR (3) Have a conversation. Calmly. Try to understand what made your blood boil, and go from there.



Now, only one of those options makes sense to us. Care to take a guess? Yes, it's number (3)! We'd recommend facing the thing that bugs you with as much grace and God-given understanding as you can. Proverbs 15:1 NIV says 'A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.' Gentleness may not seem like the easiest, or most impressive, response to an enraging situation. But it's the right one.



So what now? Next time you feel like giving someone a piece of your mind, stop. Breathe. Ask the person: 'To help me understand, what did you mean by...' and use their answer as the start of a dialogue.

Soulfood : Est 5-10, Jn 21, Ps 18:1-29, Prov 26:24-27

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TEMPER TEMPER (2)

When you look through the lens of misguided anger, what you choose to focus on tends to end up being all you actually see. Being blind to reality is dangerous, because it causes you to go to extremes. At one point David was a young shepherd who played the harp. He played for Saul and kept him calm. Yet when it was clear that God had chosen David to take lead the nation, starting with the defeat of a giant named Goliath, Saul got bitter.



The people sang 'Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands' (1 Samuel 18:7 NIV). Saul saw David as a threat to his throne. Don't they realise this boy was nothing until I took him in, Saul thought. Who was it that saw him promoted to the highest ranks? Me! What next - my throne? Is that what he wants? To be king? And from that day on Saul kept a jealous eye on David; an angry fire burned in his veins.



If you read the story of this pair's relationship, one thing becomes clear - David is one of the best friends that Saul could ever have had. Letting anger manipulate us, even in subtle ways, is always dangerous. Let's not allow it to happen.



So what now? Is there anyone in your life who stirs up anger in you? Don't allow it to build up; nip it in the bud and set yourself free from anger possibility destroying your life.

Soulfood : Luke 1:26-56, Lk 2:1-40, Lk 2:41-52, Jn 2:1-12

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TEMPER TEMPER (1)

In Genesis 4:3-7, we read that Cain was jealous that his brother's gift was accepted and his wasn't. He let resentment build up. He hadn't found a way of dealing with his forceful emotions, and his feelings had swayed his thinking. When he murdered his brother, a timeless truth rang out, '...A hot-tempered person commits all kinds of sin' (Proverbs 29:22 NLT).



Anger can be Godly when used to move us to righteous action. We are right to feel angry about human trafficking, for instance. When we see injustice, it can be a Godly reaction to want to say something and make a difference. But often anger is destructive, leading to terrible consequences. Jesus said that when you let anger build up against someone in your heart, you're already making a big mistake (Matthew 5:21-22). Anger can be a seriously damaging thing. Controlling it and asking God to keep it in check is a huge deal.



So, there's a right way and a wrong way to be 'angry'. One of the most helpful passages is: 'In your anger do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold' (Ephesians 4:26-27 NIV). When you can feel something stirring up within you, take a deep breath first and ask - is this going to create more pain rather than lead to healing?



So what now? Analyse your own anger: is it righteous or destructive? How are you going to deal with it? Begin by talking to God about it.

Soulfood : Est 1-4, Jn 20:19-31, Ps 105:8-22, Ecc 7:1-4

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REAL SERVICE

Can God count on you? Can other people? Are you (tick one): always reliable, kinda reliable (when it suits you) or mostly unreliable? The Bible describes Jesus like this: 'Having loved His own...He loved them to the end' (John 13:1 NKJ). Yes, other people could count on Him. And when it came to God, He could say, 'I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me' (John 5:30 NKJ). Yes again, God was able to count on Him.



When you make a commitment, do you keep it? Do you quit on a whim, or break your word because you get a better offer? Do you let people down? 'In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called him in a vision, '"Ananias!" "Yes, Lord," he answered' (Acts 9:10 NIV). God knew where to find Ananias. Does He know where to find you? And when He calls you, are you ready to stand up and be counted? Or is it: 'I hear you, God, but what You're asking is inconvenient right now. Would You mind asking again when my circumstances are better?' Your faithfulness shouldn't depend on convenience or affordability. It should depend only on your commitment to Christ.



So what now? The US Marine Corps motto, 'Semper Fidelis' is the Latin for 'Always Faithful'. It's a good motto for a disciple of Christ too. Have a think about how you're doing on the 'being counted on' front.

Soulfood : Gen 50, Hag 1-2, Jn 20:1-18, Ps 105:1-7, Ecc 5:13-17

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SECOND SERVICE

Imagine if Jesus came in the twenty-first century and not the first: He could have been a celebrity chef with the way He turned a couple of loaves and fish into a feast. Or got a TV series with the way He could heal the sick and raise the dead. But, despite having all of time to choose from, He came 2000 years ago. He's obviously more interested in people than in making a name for Himself.



Jesus doesn't just think it is a good idea to serve, He expects it: 'When you have done all things which you are commanded, say, "We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do..."' (Luke 17:10 NKJ). Key words - 'Our duty'. It isn't always easy to decide every day to keep in God's will. But as we stop dragging our feet to follow God, the obedience will pay off. Being ready to say 'yes' to that nudge He'll gives us when it's time to avoid that temptation / speak to that person / read the Bible / whatever He wants, it gets easier.



Jesus showed us what this looks like: 'For even the Son of Man did not come to be served. But to serve and give His life as a ransom for many' (Mark 10:45 NIV).



So what now? A challenge. There's real joy in serving God, but you'll need to put the willpower in. Up for it? In your prayer time today, have a look at your plan the day, and jot down the opportunities to serve someone in it. Ask Jesus to open some up and step up to them.

Soulfood : Gen 47-49, Jn 19:25-42, Ps 150, Ecc 5:10-12

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FIRST SERVE

We're regularly told that status matters - that the best thing you can be in this world is a celebrity. The fame. The wealth. The fans. The award ceremonies celebrating your existence. What is it that makes us hanker after respect and power? Fame is like the shiny fruit hanging in Eden. We'd all love a bite but we're half-sure we've been warned against it.



Ok, well what about spending a day walking like Mother Teresa? She set up schools for street children, held the dying in her arms, and cared for the disabled. Francis of Assisi traded his vast family wealth in order to live with outcasts and lepers and the homeless. This is the kind of fame that delights Heaven. This is the fame that Jesus is known for. Paul writes: 'You must have the same attitude that... Jesus had. Though He was God, He did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, He gave up His divine privileges... took the... position of a slave... humbled Himself in obedience to God and died a criminal's death on the cross. Therefore, God elevated Him to the place of highest honour and gave Him the name above all other names' (Philippians 2:5-9 NLT).



So what now? Being a celebrity means we expect others to serve us; being a Christ follower means we are called to serve others. Start to practise serving others this week. It's as easy as popping on the kettle for gran or washing the car for a neighbour. Try it!

Soulfood : Gen 44-46, Jn 19:1-24, Ps 148:7-14, Ecc 5:4-6

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