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Word For You Today

All glory to God 1

'That the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you.' 2 Thessalonians 1:12 NIV

Composer Bach's Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring, is a very popular soundtrack for brides walking down the aisle. And for good reason - it's a pretty stunning piece. The reason Bach's music touches our souls is because it came from his soul. Bach's cantatas were prayers before they were songs. Before he started scoring a sheet of music he would scrawl 'JJ' - Jesu, Juya - right at the top. It means 'Jesus, help me.' Then at the bottom, he wrote three letters: 'SDG' - Soli Deo Gloria - 'to the glory of God alone.' His life was a stunning picture of laser-focused, God-glorifying motive. So is your life.

No one can glorify God like you, or for you, because your life is an original score. 'Soli Deo Gloria' symbolises living for an audience of one; for the applause of the nail-scarred hands. It's declaring that Jesus Christ is your all. Nothing more, nothing less, nothing else.

Paul gives us a prayer to help us live like this: 'That our God may count you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may fulfil every good purpose of yours and every act prompted by your faith. We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God' (2 Thessalonians 1:11-12 NIV).

So what now? At the start of your day, draw 'JJ' on the back of one hand. Then at the end, draw 'SDG' on the other. Pray about what they mean to you throughout the day.

Soulfood: Ps 118:19-29 Matt 21:1-16,


Do the Brother Lawrence

'Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.' Zechariah 8:23 NKJV

The prophet Zechariah wrote, 'Many people, even strong nations, will come... and say, "Please be my friend, for I know that God is with you"' (Zechariah 8:22-23 TLB).

In the 17th Century, a cook and dish washer named Nicholas Herman was constantly worried about whether or not he was saved. Then one day, whilst looking at a tree, he was struck by the truth in Psalm 1:3 - that the secret to growing spiritually is in being rooted and grounded in God. So he decided to make his life an experiment in what he called 'the habitual, silent, secret conversation of the soul with God.' Today he's better known as Brother Lawrence. Although he spent his life in obscurity working in a monastery kitchen, how he interacted with God made people from around the world long to know God like he did. They would queue to watch him wash dishes because the presence of God was so strong around him. His friends said he 'found God much while repairing shoes as...praying with the community.' After he died they made a book of his letters and conversations, called The Practice of the Presence of God. It's one of the most widely read books of the last four centuries.

Jesus said, 'If I am lifted up...I will draw all peoples to myself' (John 12:32 NKJV). The more you cultivate the presence of God in your life, the more others will be attracted to him.

So what now? Today, do a Brother Lawrence: in whatever you do, be quietly aware of God's presence with you and around you.

Soulfood: Dan 5-7 Luke 22:47-53 Ps 103:1-12 Pro 10:13,


Open your heart

'Whatever you did for one of the least of these... you did for me.' Matthew 25:40 NIV

Jesus gave a picture of the day when we'll all meet him, beyond this life: 'All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people... the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then the King will say to those on his right, "Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance"' (Matthew 25:32-34 NIV). But here's what happens to the others: 'He will say to those on his left, "Depart from me"' (Matthew 25:41 NIV). Why? What moves Jesus to say that? Was one group more morally spotless and shiny? Was one group more doctrinally correct? Actually, neither of the above.

Jesus said our destiny is based on showing compassion for our fellow man. You may be thinking, 'Aren't we saved by faith alone?' Yes. But as Martin Luther pointed out, 'The faith that saves us is never alone.' The Bible says that faith without works is dead (see James 2:26). Jesus said that this was the standard that will make us or break us with him: 'I was naked and you clothed me; I was sick and you visited me; I was in prison and you came to me' (Matthew 25:36 NKJV). Then he personalised it. 'Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me' (Matthew 25:40 NIV).

So what now? Take a risk today and open your heart to someone's needs. Spend time praying, asking God how you can meet that need. And then, act.

Soulfood: Dan 3-4 Luke 22:39-46 Ps 130 Pro 10:12,


Pray for God's favour

'You bless the righteous...with your favour.' Psalm 5:12 NIV

When you ask someone for a favour, you're generally asking for something they don't owe you. The Bible says this about God: 'You bless the righteous; you surround them with your favour as with a shield' (Psalm 5:12 NIV). The word 'righteous' doesn't mean flawless, otherwise none of us would qualify for his blessing. Instead, it means to be clothed in 'the righteousness of God'; in other words, despite all our imperfections, we're made acceptable before God, which allows us to experience his favour (see 2 Corinthians 5:21). God gives us favour willingly when we're open to him and accept him into our lives.

The favour of God made it possible for people in the Bible to do great things that they couldn't have done in their own strength or without his support. God called a teenager named Esther to save the Jewish people. So she stepped out in faith, approached the king uninvited, even though it was against the rules, and 'he welcomed her (Esther 5:2 NLT). God made a way for her to do the job he'd given her. Without the favour of God, Ruth, a Gentile, wouldn't have been accepted by the Jews. But because God had a plan for her life and her heart was open to him, she ended up marrying Boaz. And from that union descended King David, and ultimately Jesus.

The Bible says, 'Good people obtain favour from the Lord' (Proverbs 12:2 NIV).

So what now? Gives thanks that you'll receive the favour of God today. Keep your heart open and look out for it!

Soulfood: Dan 1-2 Luke 22:24-38 Ps 127 Pro 10:11,


Get in the splash zone

'Do what God's word says. Don't merely listen to it.' James 1:22 GWT

You could easily spend a day at your favourite theme park without getting soaked by some passing flume ride. But ever noticed that they have a designated splash zone for people who want to get soaked? Positioning yourself to receive the 'soaking' makes all the difference. For example, as you read this, if you position yourself to receive by saying, 'Lord, I'll take action on what you show me,' you'll benefit much more than if you read just to get motivated or inspired.

To resist or to receive - a choice we have to make, often more than once, every day. Nothing dies quicker than a new idea in a closed mind. Every situation, if viewed correctly, is an opportunity. But opportunities can only drop into your lap if you put yourself where opportunities drop. Too often our minds are locked on one track. We're looking for red so we overlook blue; we're thinking 'tomorrow' and God is saying 'now.' We're looking everywhere, and the answer is 'right here'.

When a person is positioned correctly, they're ready to receive all God has for them. The Bible often uses the word 'simple'. The original term means 'thick, dull, and sluggish;' it means those who are insensitive and unreceptive to the thoughts of others. God will speak, but unless we listen, we won't hear what he has to say.

So what now? Get in the 'splash zone'. Or, even better, find the water cannon and stand in the way. As you listen for God's voice, be prepared to say, 'I'll take action on what you show me.'

Soulfood: Phil 1-4 Luke 22:14-23 Ps 43 Pro 10:10,


You're invited 5

'The Son is...sustaining all things by his powerful word.' Hebrews 1:3 NIV

We can get so focused on our troubles, worries and doubts that we forget that God's Word says: 'Goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life' (Psalm 23:6 ESV). Are you having difficulty enjoying your blessings because you're afraid they won't last? Maybe you're so adapted to trouble that you're continually braced for it, not able to relax.

It's time to stop worrying and start believing God's promises to you. He hasn't brought you this far to abandon you. He has 'appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit' (John 15:16 NLT). Lasting joy and being effective at what you do - that's God's plan for you. The Bible says: 'The Son is...sustaining all things by his powerful word' (Hebrews 1:3 NIV). God doesn't speak something over your life, then let it fall apart. He said, 'My word...will...achieve the purpose for which I sent it' (Isaiah 55:11 NIV).

In Genesis 1:14, God said, 'Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night' (ESV). That same sun shines today because of the word that brought it into being, and it'll shine again tomorrow. If God does that for an inanimate object like the sun, he can take care of you. So, believe that you're invited and chosen by him.

So what now? As you're out and about today, keep an eye out for birds. Remember God's promise that he'll look after sparrows, and then remember how much more he values you. Respond to God's invitations to you daily.

Soulfood: Lev 26-27 Luke 22:1-13 Ps 56 Pro 10:8-9,


You're invited 4

'I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit.' John 15:16 NLT

Take a look at Jesus' words to the disciples in John 15:16. It's a personal message of encouragement to us too. God personally chose each of us. He wanted us specifically for him. He has a plan for our lives. He helps us to keep going when we think we can't do what he asks. He encourages us when we've run out of steam. 'The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble...the Lord holds them by the hand' (Psalm 37:23-24 NLT). He wants us to be successful for him. 'No weapon turned against you will succeed...These benefits are enjoyed by the servants of the Lord' (Isaiah 54:17 NLT).

Just because we've been chosen by God doesn't mean we can go off and do our own thing. Paul said, 'Do you think we should continue sinning so that God will give us even more grace? No! We died to our old sinful lives, so how can we continue living with sin (Romans 6:1-2 NCV)? It's why God sometimes doesn't stop tests and temptations coming our way. He knows they'll help us understand that we're dependent on his love, and help us keep ourselves deeply rooted in him.

God has great assignments for each of us, and he wants to see us do our best in those assignments. When we realise that, nothing can stop us.

So what now? Begin each day this week by reminding yourself: 'God chose me'. Even when your condition isn't perfect, you are top of his invite list!

Soulfood: Lev 23:26-44 Lev 24 Lev 25:1-55 Luke 21:29-38 Ps 50:16-23 Pro 10:4-7,

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