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Word For You Today

Hard work and rest

'Work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord.' Colossians 3:23 NIV

Whether for our exams, our job or our relationships, hard work pays off. Sometimes we may start something with loads of energy and passion, only to become discouraged and stop working towards achieving what we set out to do. Maybe we don't see the progress we wanted, or maybe nobody recognises the hard work we're putting in.

But the Bible tells us: 'Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters' (Colossians 3:23 NIV). When we think we're working for people, it's easy to become discouraged or not give it our all. But when we remember we're working for God, whatever our task is, it's easier to give it everything we have. But sometimes we can burn out. God's not asking us to work to the point where we become ill. Even if our projects or work are for really good causes, we need to take care of ourselves too. Even Jesus needed rest, and recognised we need rest too. He told the disciples: '"Let's get away from the crowds for a while and rest." For those who were coming and going were many, and they did not even have time to eat' (Mark 6:31 TLB).

So we need to make sure we're putting our all into whatever we do, but also resting so that we don't burn out.

So what now? Think through what you have to do today. Commit yourself to giving every task your all, and make sure you build in times of rest to your day too.

Soulfood: Gen 40-41 Jn 18:1-18 Ps 147:12-20 Ecc 4:9-12,



'He gave himself fully to his work for God.' 2 Chronicles 31:21 NCV

Sometimes we think that to be truly successful in God's eyes, we have to work in the church or ministry or missions. But that's not true. We can be successful in God's eyes in any work we do, whether we're a church leader, plumber, teacher, shop assistant or managing director. It all depends on our attitude and our motive. We need to make sure we're working for God's glory rather than for our own.

Hezekiah became king of Judah by the age of 25. In the world's eyes he was successful. The Bible says that: 'In everything that he undertook in the service of God's temple and in obedience to the law and the commands, he sought his God and worked wholeheartedly. And so he prospered' (2 Chronicles 31:21 NIV).

There are three keys to Hezekiah's success. First, he was obedient to the law. God had spoken to Joshua about that same thing: 'Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go' (Joshua 1:7 NIV). Secondly, Hezekiah sought God, to make sure he was doing his will. And thirdly, he worked wholeheartedly. 'Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters' (Colossians 3:23 NIV). These things made him successful in God's eyes.

So what now? Thank God that he will make you successful, wherever you work. Thank him that you shine for him, no matter what you do.

Soulfood: Gen 37-39 Jn 17:1-26 Ps 147:1-11 Ecc 3:5-8,


Guidance 4

'Along unfamiliar paths I will guide them.' Isaiah 42:16 NIV

When we feel we've been guided by God, whether through his Word, his Spirit or another person, we have a choice to make. Are we going to step out and follow his leading or stay where we are? Sometimes it seems like the better (or easier/safer) option is to stay where we are instead of stepping into something new or unknown. We may doubt whether we heard God correctly, but God promises us: 'I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them" (Isaiah 42:16 NIV).

When deciding to follow God's leading or not, there are two things we can ask ourselves. Firstly, what makes the risk so difficult for us? Risk and change can be uncomfortable, challenging and even threatening. But the Bible says: 'Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding' (Proverbs 3:5 NIV). God knows we'll be tempted to lean on what we understand, but remember that he knows things far beyond what we understand. Secondly, are we willing to make a change? If we're going to follow God's will, we need to be prepared for things to change. But he works everything for good, so if it's his will, it's worth the risk and the change.

So what now? Memorise Proverbs 3:5 and then repeat it to yourself whenever you feel afraid to follow God's leading.

Soulfood: Gen 35-36 Jn 16:19-33 Ps 2 Ecc 3:1-4,


Guidance 3

'The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice.' Proverbs 12:15 NIV

Sometimes God uses people to advise and guide us. Moses experienced this. Instead of getting help, he tried to do it all himself. At that point his father-in-law, Jethro, said to him, 'What you are doing is not good' (Exodus 18:17 NIV). Then he told Moses to delegate responsibility to capable leaders who could share the load with him. 'Moses listened to his father-in-law and did everything he said' (Exodus 18:24 NIV). As a result, Moses' problem was solved, and Israel made it successfully to the Promised Land.

God brings the right people to you at the right time. People to advise, encourage and inspire you. We need to learn to recognise them and be humble enough to listen to their wisdom, and then put it into action. But we also need to learn to work out when we're listening to the wrong people: people who are not giving godly advice and leading us away from God and his plans for us. We can work that out by letting those who are trustworthy, objective, good at listening to us and who answer prayerfully, speak into our lives. And we can be praying too. We can ask God to send the right people to help us and we can pray about whether the advice we're being given is advice we should be implementing.

Let's be open to the people God sends into our lives to help guide us.

So what now? Is there someone who's given you great godly advice recently? Do something to thank them today.

Soulfood: Gen 32-34 Jn 16:1-18 Ps 130 Pro 31:28-31,


Guidance 2

'Test everything; hold on to what is good.' 1 Thessalonians 5:21 GWT

God doesn't always speak to us in the ways we think he will. He can definitely guide us through the Bible, but he may guide us with an image that keeps reappearing or a picture that shows us what's ahead. He may speak to us in prophetic words, or guide our feelings. If we're not used to hearing God's voice in different ways, it can be challenging to work out whether it's him speaking or not.

The better we know someone, the easier it is to recognise and know their voice. We can get to know God through spending time with him and getting to know him intimately. And when his Spirit prompts us to do something, or shows us something, or someone gives us a prophetic word, we need to discern whether it's from God. The Bible says: 'Don't put out the Spirit's fire. Don't despise what God has revealed. Instead, test everything. Hold on to what is good. Keep away from every kind of evil' (1 Thessalonians 5:19-22 GWT). And once we've tested it, we need to carry it out.

The apostle Jude said, 'I felt compelled to write and urge you to contend for the faith' (Jude v.3 NIV). Those words - 'I felt compelled to' - are the inner promptings of the Holy Spirit. And Jude knew he had to write. So when we get that prompting, we need to listen and respond.

So what now? Spend time talking to God about any decisions you need to make. Write down anything you feel he's saying to you.

Soulfood: Gen 30:25-31:55 Jn 15:18-27 Ps 65 Pro 31:25-27,


Guidance 1

'Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.' Psalm 119:105 NIV

When we have decisions to make it may feel like we're stumbling in the dark. We can be unsure of which path to take. And when these decisions are life-changing, the pressure seems even worse. What we need is God's light to see the way forward.

The Psalmist wrote, 'Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path' (Psalm 119:105 NIV). Without a regular intake of God's Word, we'll be 'in the dark' as to what's best for us and the direction our lives should go. So we need to make sure we turn to his Word first, rather than as our last resort. And when God uses scripture to guide us, we can be sure that what he says to us will happen. 'I the Lord will speak what I will, and it shall be fulfilled' (Ezekiel 12:25 NIV). The Bible also reminds us that God gives us wisdom and discernment to make decisions. We may not receive a clear word from him about what to do, but he'll give us the discernment we need to work it out.

Sometimes it takes time to find the light in the darkness and to figure out which way we should go, but during that time of searching we need to keep trusting God. He is faithful to direct us. 'Not one word has failed of all the good promises he gave' (1 Kings 8:56 NIV).

So what now? Got a decision to make? Dig deeper into God's Word and ask him to bring light into your situation.

Soulfood: Gen 28:1-30:24 Jn 15:5-17 Ps 14 Pro 31:22-24,


Do something

'Treat others as you want them to treat you.' Matthew 7:12 CEV

The Bible often tells us to put others first, showing them compassion, care and love. Jesus sums it up in a single sentence: 'Treat others as you want them to treat you' (Matthew 7:12 CEV). We can find a similar phrase in other religions and cultures around the world, but these are usually worded passively, along the lines of 'Don't do to others what you wouldn't like done to yourself' or 'Don't do to something to another person that you would find hurtful'. It's only a small difference, but it means so much.

It's much harder to actively do something than to passively not do something. If Jesus had also worded it passively, all we'd need to do is to stay away from people, so we couldn't harm or upset them. It would give us an easy way out to avoid people we don't really get on with or prefer to avoid.

But Jesus tells us to actively seek out ways to show love and compassion to others. There are no exceptions. Earlier, Jesus had explained 'You have heard that it was said, "Love your neighbour and hate your enemy." But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in Heaven' (Matthew 5:43-45 NIV). It's a high standard to aim for, but with God's help, it's something we can achieve.

So what now? Do something extra for each person living in your house today. Make them breakfast, or do their washing up, or take them out for coffee.

Soulfood: Lk 10:38-42 Jn 11:1-44 John 11:1-44 John 12:1-3,

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