Word For You Today


'Give ear and come to Me; listen, that you may live. I will make an everlasting covenant with you...' Isaiah 55:3 NIV

So, let's bring these last two days' readings together. God's care looks like the love of a good parent might: sometimes comfort, sometimes discipline. But when we zoom out, it's all part of His promise never to stop loving us. There's a word for that. Our Bibles usually translate it as 'loving-kindness', but the oldest Bibles called it 'hesed'.

'Hesed' is the love promised by God for His people. It is different from every other form of love out there because it is loyalty from a perfect God. His unshakeable, undeserved love that sticks with us because He is for us. Even when we feel like rubbish. 2 Timothy 2:13 says 'If we are faithless He remains faithful'. God knows we're an awkward bunch - and He doesn't mind. 'Hesed' is an active love: not just a one-off sweet deal at the cross, but God moving in our lives every day. This is great news!

And God doesn't force us to accept it! We enter out of our own freedom into the relationship of love. Even when our feelings betray us, or we have a bad day and can't be bothered with the thought of picking up a Bible, God's given us something that goes beyond emotions, a love that we can decide to do, not just feel our way into.

So what now? Spend some alone time with God, thanking Him out loud for being such a great parent. The more you thank Him, the more aware you will become of His love in your life.

SoulFood: 1 Chron 19:1 - 23:20; Luke 13:1-17; Ps 119:49-56; Pro 21:4-6



'Blessed are those whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the Lord.' Psalms 119:1 NIV

If we want to grow as His children, God wants us to do more than only lean on His mercy. We need to start there; absolutely everything has to come from His love for us first, but equally, that isn't the end of His gift to us. He wants us to develop our character as we put His laws into practise, because we can grow into something better.

God is a Father who wants to see us become closer to the likeness of Him that He made us in. He is not some guy shouting down rules from the clouds. When we get this, His correction starts to make sense. We start to listen to His laws, to stay attentive for the voice of God that draws us into life, to see joy where we currently struggle with sin, to 'get' the need for discipline where we have no patience.

He will resist our excuse-making, our posing, and our hiding from obedience because He's painting a bigger picture. We only know whatever details are in front of us right now, but He knows how the whole thing is going to look when it's finished. We only know the corner of the room we happen to be in today, He has the blueprints for the whole house.

So what now? 'He wants them to learn to walk... If only the will to walk is really there He is pleased even with their stumbles.' Like that quote? Get yourself a copy of CS Lewis' The Screwtape Letters. It's a goldmine of wisdom on the subject of God's (loving) discipline.

SoulFood: 1 Chron 16-18; Luke 12:49-59; Ps 119:41-48; Pro 21:1-3



'You gave me life and showed me kindness, and in Your providence watched over my spirit.' Job 10:12 NIV

We're not likely to hear people say 'God is my mother'. But some of the things we usually expect our mothers to do, God also does for us. God's care, kindness and (yep, almost motherly...) life-giving love is there for us. We are supposed to get comfort from it, when we need it.

In Job 10, Job's life has gone down the tubes. He's alone. He's covered in painful sores. Most of his family is dead. Then he remembers where he came from in the first place. Job asks God where His comfort and care have gone; why has God stopped acting like the good Parent he used to know?

When we've lost perspective on our life because things are tough, we can turn to God like this. He's the Provider who has promised to keep a caring eye on us all our lives, so we can say, 'God - You birthed me into this world. You saved me and promised to look after me. Where are You now? Come help me!' Job recognised that he needed this kind of perspective. He looked back on his life and recognised that God had always been faithful, and it's the same for us - He's been with us since day one, and isn't about to stop.

So what now? You know that 'just came back after a weekend/month/term away' catch up chat that happens when you get home? Have it with God. Just spend time talking through life right now with Him. Ask Him to have His hand in it.

SoulFood: 1 Chron 12:23 - 15:29; Luke 12:35-48; Ps 119:33-40; Pro 20:28-30



'...In all things grow up into Him who is Head, that is, Christ.' Ephesians 4:15 NIV

Yesterday we saw that when we know God loves us (the whole person, not just the parts of us that we like) we can be more honest with ourselves and others about our shortcomings.

Today we're looking onwards. Ephesians 4 gives us a route into becoming someone who looks, sounds, and moves like Christ. The whole way through, this chapter is confident that we can get there. '...you must be a new and different person, holy and good. Clothe yourself with this new nature' (Ephesians 4:24 TLB). 'Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind...' (Ephesians 4:14 NIV). What this chapter is saying sounds crazy - "YOU, dear reader, can become like Jesus!" - and it doesn't hold back from letting us know.

But spiritual growth doesn't happen automatically. Growth always begins with a decision. When Jesus asked Matthew to become His disciple, Matthew didn't get all the implications of his decision; he more or less said 'Yes, ok,' and went from there. That's all you need to get started. A decision. Nothing shapes your life like the decisions you make. If you want to know what you'll be like 20 or 30 years from now, look closely at the commitments that rule your life today.

So what now? Why not accept the challenge of Ephesians? Look at your commitments and priorities. Write them up. If you have a laptop or smartphone, type out a page with today's verse at the top. And keep it up to date as you become more and more 'you' in Christ.

SoulFood: 1 Chron 10:1 - 12:22; Luke 12:22-34; Ps 119:25-32; Pro 20:25-27




'...Put on the new self, created to be like God...' Ephesians 4:24 NIV

There are times when God's laws seem ludicrous to us. It's probably fair to say that some of them seem beyond human ability. Like, 'be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect'.

But perhaps that's the point. In Jesus you have a new, different self, and when you surrender your own ability to 'do' Christianity, you 'put off your old self...and...put on the new self, created to be like God...' (Ephesians 4:22-24 NIV).

Is this still true even when you have to grit your teeth and really force yourself to obey God's laws, past your first instincts? Yes. Living by God's laws will become your instinct with time (read Romans 6:17). It's like when you're coming around after a deep sleep. It takes a while to remember who and where you are. With time you realise you are a new person.

Christian speaker Arthur Burt said, 'I knew a man who always said "Keep looking down," "You mean keep looking up, don't you?", "No! No! We are seated together with Christ in heavenly places!"' As Christians we are no longer our old selves. We're new, and we're already at home with Christ and His laws, even if it doesn't feel that way just yet.

So what now? Next time you have the impulse to react in the usual negative or half-hearted way to a particular situation, stop, look down... remember your new self - the one that instinctively sees things from a heavenly perspective.

SoulFood: 1 Chron 7:20 - 9:44; Luke 12:13-21; Ps 119:17-24; Pro 20:22-24



'...I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me.' Romans 7:21 NIV
We've all been in a situation when we knew the right thing to do, but just couldn't go through with it? When we walked away from something good and disliked ourselves for it. When we actively hurt other people and it still made us feel bad. Maybe our own wrong habits in our actions and attitudes cause inner struggle and we beat up on ourselves.
What we're actually called to do when we see our own sin is not wallow in guilt or get really annoyed at ourselves, but to return to God in our thoughts. Eventually, as we do this more and more, we get the sense of the 'the fear of the Lord'. 'The fear of the Lord' is a gift that prods us when we're going wrong; when the Spirit tugs us by the collar and stops us from getting into a wrong situation or bad thought process (not Spidey-sense, superhero fans, but, ... close enough). God will reorder our habits, our mind's patterns; He is willing to do this, and is just waiting for us to return to Him.
So what now? 'Practice' getting sensitive to God's approval and His God-tug in prayer time and during your day. Use His tug to quit beating yourself up and to change your wrong habits into healthy responses.
SoulFood: 1 Chron 6:1 - 7:19; Luke 12:1-12; Ps 119:9-16; Pro 20:19-21


'...Each of you must...speak truthfully to your neighbour...' Ephesians 4:25 NIV

Christian lingo: that strange language that means we say, 'Wow, that guy is really anointed at playing guitar' instead of 'Nice guitar playing, mate!'

Sometimes, to speak the truth effectively, we have to ditch the Christian-ese lingo. Sometimes for people to feel heard and properly related to, we need to say things a little more down to earth. This isn't to say that Christian words are wrong; Christian words can make tricky ideas plain and shed light on deeper truths. But, when these are overused, they can cause unseen barriers between Christians and non-churchgoers. To those who don't know much about this God-stuff, what do 'grace', or 'God bless you' even mean?

We can throw in the odd 'Christian-ese' word when it needs to be there, but it is so much better when we say, for example: Jesus put it all right for you' rather than, 'You have been justified through Christ'; or 'I don't understand either' rather than, 'God's ways are higher!'; The list goes on.

Let's talk about this amazing life we have through Jesus in a 'language' that others can get - to make the truth clear for them.

So what now? Look up a few typical Christian-ese words and reword them to use the next time you're with your un-churched friends. It could help to break down some old barriers and draw them closer to Him.

SoulFood: 1 Chron 4:24 - 5:26; Luke 11:45-54; Ps 119:1-8; Pro 20:15-18

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