Joy 10:00-2:00pm

Word For You Today


God doesn't pretend that we're never going to have trouble in our life. In fact He even uses the word 'when', not 'if': 'When you meet trials of various kinds...' (James 1:2), 'when we run into problems and trials...' (Romans 5:3 NLT). Hmm. That might not sound very comforting to us, but coming right up behind it is some good news.

God doesn't lie about Himself either. 'The name of the Lord is a fortified tower; the righteous run to it and are safe' (Proverbs 18:10 NIV). God's 'name' speaks of His character, His reliability and His faithfulness. People without God are forced to be their own god (and that's a pretty terrifying thought, on many levels), relying on their own strength and wisdom to get them through life's turbulence. Those who love God can say, 'God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging' (Psalm 46:1-3 NIV).

If God won't lie about who He is (a safe place to hide), then He definitely isn't going to hold back who He is (our safe place to hide) when we need Him.

So what now? Think of someone going through a tough time. Chat to them and offer to pray, full of faith that God promises, and is willing, to be a storm shelter for them.

Soulfood : Gal 5:23, 1 Jn 2:15-17, Prov 29:18, Gen 39:1-23



Today's verse is a pretty intense one! It sounds like God is hemming us in, locking us off, sealing us away from the world. One of the more literal Bible versions even says that God is 'besieging' us!

And... yes, that is what He's doing. When we make a commitment not to sin, when we say 'God, I reject evil and choose Your path', we start an agreement with Him. For the rest of our lives (for better or worse, richer or poorer, etc...) we are asking Him to wash us of our sin and lift us up to live a better life. It's going to be tough sometimes. If we start down a thought-route or action that is against His principles, we are asking Him to help us deal with it in His way. His ways are never to oppress us, nor to abuse us, but only ever for our good and our true freedom.

His ways are always to help us live better and get wiser. The hand that holds us up is the same hand that keeps us out of destruction's path - He is always there to help when we teeter on its edge.

So what now? Imagine yourself going into an old abandoned house. Open the front door, brush the cobwebs off your face, and switch on your torch. Watch the rats scurry away to the walls and through the floorboards. This is what happens when the light of Christ shines into your life. Thank God that He 'besieges' you!

Soulfood : Judg 16:1-19:15, Mk 9:14-29, Ps 47, Prov 13:11-12



Sometimes we think we're superheroes - riding in on a white horse to save our friends/city/world, on an assignment from God. But we need to hear from God for these assignments. We all want to hear from God, but when we don't the temptation can be to run off on our own terms. When we feel like God's put us on hold, patience in prayer and persistence in looking out for His messages will get us where we want to be: closer to Him.

Our personal visions or dreams and even our own discipleship-process can be lured into self-gazing mode. But when God takes that place as the worshiped-One at the centre of our lives, as the Highest King and the only jewel worth being gazed at, everything falls into place as it should - we know we're not the Saviour, we're just blessed into being helpers, privileged to be guides for those around us.

Being over-enthusiastic isn't the issue, and neither is running off with our own ideas. The problem comes when we start making our own vision, dream or entrepreneurial spirit the centre of our lives and stop being sacrificial and God-and-others-centred.


So what now? Draw (or stick a picture of) a small cross in the corner of the mirror that you use every day (the one you brush your teeth in front of?). Every time you use that mirror, refocus your eyes from yourself to the One whom that cross represents.


Soulfood : Judg 9:34-11:40, Mk 8:27-38, Ps 129, Prov 20:25, Ecc 5:4-6



It's been said that all of the human experience can be found in the Psalms. Every emotion, every need, every cry of the heart. Every kind of prayer that people might pray is there. The Psalms give us reassurance that we're allowed to express ourselves. In fact they give us permission to be honest before God about whatever we're feeling. One of the most common prayers in the Psalms is an impatient question: 'How long, O Lord?'

We all go through difficult times, and genuinely difficult times bring out genuinely difficult emotions. If a member of our family was seriously ill and we tried walking around with a fixed grin on your face, we'd be lying to ourselves and hurting our family too - dealing with hard stuff doesn't mean we need to put on a tough exterior of 'everything's ok.' Not at all. It's important not to hide our emotions but to ask God to help us handle them. The Psalms are our guide to the 'how'.

But more than that, the Psalms give us hope. Hope that someone else has been here before - and come out the other side. Hope that God is listening, and is big enough to take the worst we've got to throw at Him.


So what now? Start at Psalm 1 and skim read each Psalm, until you find one that reflects what you're feeling. There is at least one that will beautifully capture where you are at.


Soulfood : Judg 7:1-9:33, Mk 8:14-26, Ps 93, Prov 13:7-8





Very often, if people were force fed certain food growing up (e.g. broccoli), they may always have a gag reflex to that particular food! Same in our day-to-day lives. If people have only experienced judgment from Christians and been Bible bashed in every argument or conversation, it's hardly likely they'd want to 'taste and see that the Lord is good'. They'll not want to have anything to do with 'those Christians', much like broccoli haters will avoid anything with broccoli in it.

Too often Christians make the mistake of presenting the Gospel without the love of God. The Bible's clear about us taking the message to the world, but we're called to do that as real followers-of-Christ, not as holier-than-thou Christians. We're called to share our lives with people and to love others. That provides the best soil for the seeds of salvation to grow in.

If God's in our lives, we can't help but share Him, too. When we're led by the Holy Spirit and we ask Him for opportunities to speak about God, everyday conversations can open up to bigger opportunities than we can imagine.

However, sometimes we may be called to share God's Gospel in a louder, bolder, indirect way. If that's the case, pray, check with Scripture, make sure it's love-based and do it.


So what now? Next time you're spending time with a group of non-Christian mates, tell them just one good thing that God has done for you recently. That way, they get to hear about God without the focus being on them and their 'non-Christian'-ness.


Soulfood : Judg 4-6, Mk 8:1-13, Ps 88:9b-18, Prov 13:4-6



Today's verse is so amazing and encouraging. But, did you notice that there are some key words at the beginning (and words at the beginning of a sentence can often be the ones we need to pay most attention to): 'If you remain in Me....'

If you remain in God, your desires and prayers will become increasingly geared towards wanting more of His good, flourishing growth in your life, and in the lives of those around you. God promises to provide all our needs, so if you really need something, believe God will provide. However, it is not as easy as it sounds. Think about it. If you really need that top-of-the-range fresh-out pro-computer, God will give it to you. But if you actually only need a pen and paper, that may just be what you get. (But He is a good God, and He may just give you more than you need - because He loves you.)

You've got to live knowing that whatever you get from God is the best for you at that time, and you'll learn to rejoice in being given (only) what you need. His hand will reach to you, and sort out your provisions. But always seek to look for His face first, and His hand second.


So what now? Tough question time: what do you want most in your life right now? Out with it. Does your need line up with what you've read today?


Soulfood : Judg 1-3, Mk 7:24-37, Ps 88:1-9a, Prov 13:1-3



Proverbs 4:11 says, 'I will teach you wisdom's ways and lead you in straight paths.'

Does this feel more like a straitjacket to you? The world lures us in with a bunch of keys that God doesn't want us to grab. And that's what the straight path is - not grabbing the world's shiny, empty things. God wants us to walk that path because it's the way to a full life in Him. Living for the shiny things of the world will damage your soul and rob you of that full life. And as Matthew 7:14 says: 'What do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?'

It's a 'you're either with Me or against Me' deal with God. That's not because He's a cling-on (or a Klingon) - it's because what this world offers is (a cling-on, not Klingon). And He's come to save us from it. The rich and famous don't have the answer. The 'anything goes as long as it makes me happy' student-flat-style living doesn't have the answer. Only God can satisfy your soul.

So what now? Go through Proverbs 4 and circle all of the benefits that God says will be yours if you walk that straight path. If you need a reminder of why it's worth being His, that'll do it.

Soulfood : Gal 5:23, Is 40:9-11, Is 42:1-4, Ps 18:31-35

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