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Word For You Today

GOD (VERY MUCH NOT) IN A BOTTLE

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

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THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS (2)

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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THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS (1)

Strap yourselves in. This might be a rough one.

Having the 'best of both worlds' sounds like a great life policy but, really, it depends on the worlds we're talking about. God's really clear on certain 'worlds' not mixing: '...you cannot have a part in both the Lord's table and the table of demons' (1 Corinthians 10:21 NIV). The thing is, our God is a jealous God. Not 'jealous' in the way that means God thinks 'Oh how I wish I had Mr. Smith's car'; He's 'jealous' in that He wants our full devotion, our whole selves. God deserves nothing less. And note, He wants it, at least in part, because He also knows that's the best possible solution for us.

If we give space in our hearts to His enemy (who's supposed to be our enemy too), He becomes jealous for that piece of our heart that should be His - for His glory, and for our protection...

Every time we give our best to something that is not of Him, we compromise - we compromise our love, our holiness, and our relationship with God. And why should God stand for that? For Him, compromising His love for us is not an option. He would never go there. The least we owe Him is our commitment to live our lives for Him, and only Him.

So what now? Get serious. If there's a certain sin that you know you need to leave behind, do it. Today. Each time it rears its ugly head pray out loud 'God, I choose You and Your ways.'

Soulfood : Ruth 1-4, Mk 7:14-23, Ps 18:30-50, Prov 12:25-28

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TV, YOUR PERSONAL IV?

TV's like a hospital drip. Drips are there to introduce fluids directly into the body: if a patient's dehydrated or if they've lost a lot of fluid, for instance. But if the patient receives too much fluid, it can be harmful. Fatal, even.

TV drip-feeds all sorts of things directly into your brain. Like adverts. They're there to convince you that your life could be better if only you had [insert name of sweet new product here]. Before long, you'll find yourself thoroughly discontented, forgetting the truth of Philippians 4:19, that 'God will provide all [your] needs.'

Or like sexy, sexy... sex. TV continually focuses on the physical appearance. Even in camera angles and scenes that linger on the desirability of other people (in a sense, even in models swishing their hair), they're training you where to focus your gaze. Don't be surprised if you find it much harder to, 'Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honourable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable' (Philippians 4:8 NLT).

When we stop enjoying the goodness of people and life as God intended and instead see nothing more than products or bodies, our lives shrink.

 

So what now? Think about your relationship with your TV. Are you basing your physical, material and relational perceptions on what's being portrayed in adverts and programmes? Is it time for you to unhook from the TV IV-drip and focus on what God considers beautiful, worthy and good?

 

Soulfood : Obad, Mal 1-4, Mk 7:1-13, Ps 18:1-29, Prov 12:23-24

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SPIRITUAL WARFARE (3)

Sometimes, you may have to work through the consequences of some sin-mess you've created. (It doesn't mean God hasn't forgiven you, but when that sin affects other people, sometimes it can't just be undone). It's God allowing you to face a tough time because He has a greater plan for you, building 'discipline' in you to grow you, '...so that the proven genuineness of your faith - of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire - may result in praise, glory and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed' (1 Peter 1:6-7 NIV).

So, are we digressing from Spiritual Warfare and talking about Discipline today instead? Not quite.

1. We're saying 'be careful what you blame on Satan' - it could be that God is growing you. How to tell? Pray. Turn away from anything that could give Satan a claim over you ('repenting'). Declare that Jesus is Lord over your life. Whatever the cause of your 'bad things happening' is, submitting yourself to Jesus is the solution.

2. We're saying discipline is a 'spiritual warfare' thing. If you're living for God, keeping yourself from temptation, stepping out with Jesus when He prompts you to, lining up your priorities with His, you're getting yourself further into His protection! And, at the same time, arming yourself with the tools to help set other captives free! Like the army trains its soldiers, don't underestimate the warfare value of discipline.

So what now? Build that spiritual discipline. Pray Psalm 139:24 and listen to the Leader who loves you.

Soulfood : 1 Pet 1-5, Mk 6:45-56, Ps 49, Prov 12:20-22

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SPIRITUAL WARFARE (2)

Right, enemy identified. Now there's more strategic info coming...

2. Know the battlefield. God loves you, and wants you to know it. Satan wants to separate you from Him. The battle is over you. Your actions (which Satan can use to claim you) are based in your words and your words come from your thoughts. This is one reason why praising God is so powerful: you're focusing on Him in your mind AND you're welcoming Him into your mind. That's an impenetrable protection that God has gifted you with, and Satan can't get near it.

3. Know your protection. The best protection you have is, simply, JESUS. When you've said 'yes' to Jesus, He's set you free from any 'they sinned and now I own them!' claim that Satan had on you. You're not under his power. You're not in his kingdom. You're in Christ, with all the freedom, love, peace of mind and joy that entitles you to.

This isn't a blueprint for you to charge into Satan's kingdom, SAS style, and rescue hostages. Except... Remember how the battlefield is you? By getting your relationship with God sorted, choosing against sin, and wanting to see other people come to know Jesus is for them (Romans 8:31), you're storming the most important of strongholds.

So what now? Ephesians 6:10-20 is a picture of how to prepare yourself for warfare. We'd suggest you re-position yourself into that armour every day. Then take that freedom-message to a 'prisoner'!

Soulfood : Deut 32:29- 34:12, Mk 6:30-44, Ps 62, Prov 12:18-19

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SPIRITUAL WARFARE (1)

What is spiritual warfare? The things of this world around us are caused and affected by angels, demons, and God's people, as part of a spiritual war. It's big. It might sound... peculiar... but when we've accepted 'God' as one Spirit living in a realm beyond our sight, it follows that there may well be other spirits (small 's') to be aware of in this life.

So let's brush up on our battle plans: 1. Know your enemy. It's not as simple as 'God versus the devil'. 'The accuser' (what 'Satan' means in the original Hebrew) isn't God's equal. God created everything, including the devil (the Bible tells us that Satan was a good angel before he rebelled against God), and God has ultimate power over everything.

God allows Satan to exist and to act (Job 1:12) for reasons that we can trust are best in the long run, but if Satan tried to take on God directly, there'd be no contest (check Revelation 12:7-9). So, he 'indirectly' attacks God by attacking His precious children. Yes, us. Satan's out to destroy the things, and the people, of God. But, whilst it's true that this needs to be taken seriously...GOD IS STRONGER.

 

So what now? In war, clever lies are often more effective than face-to-face fights. Don't be surprised if, in the situation you're in, it seems like Satan's more powerful. It's not true; it's a powerful lie in his strategy. The oldest known Christian creed is 'Jesus is Lord'. In every place of fear or despair you find yourself in, speak that out to the darkness, over and over.

 

Soulfood : Deut 30:1-32:28, Mk 6:14-29, Ps 57, Prov 12:15-17

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