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Word For You Today

Make a difference with God

'He has created us we can do the good things he planned for us.' Ephesians 2:10 NLT

We've been designed to do good works, and to carry out God's plan here on earth. We see pictures on the news of starving children and people dying from preventable illnesses because they can't afford to get food or treatment. We read about modern slavery and exploitation. We hear about escalating domestic violence in our own country. It all seems overwhelming and we can start to ask 'What can I do? How can I make a difference?' The problems seem so massive, and we can feel that we have no power to do anything about them.

But with God's help, we can make a difference - 'with God all things are possible' (Matthew 19:26 NIV). The first thing we can do is pray for the situations that touch our hearts and for those who are suffering. 'If we ask anything according to his will, he hears us' (1 John 5:14 NIV). Our prayers are powerful, because when they're in line with God's will, he'll act. We could also volunteer at a local charity or help out with a mission or organisation that champions the cause that God's placed on our heart, and donate to it if we can.

We can't solve the massive problems in the world by ourselves. We just need to do whatever we can, and trust God to make the big difference.

So what now? Commit to regularly spending a few minutes praying for whatever world or local problems or situations have pulled at your heart. Ask God to show you how you can help. It's what you're created to do.

Soulfood: Lev 13:38-59 Lev 14:1-57 Luke 21:1-7 Ps 25:1-7 Pro 9:17-18,


See through Jesus' eyes

'Do you see this woman?' Luke 7:44 NKJV

When a woman began anointing Jesus with oil and washing his feet with tears, Simon who had invited Jesus said: 'If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is - that she is a sinner' (Luke 7:39 NIV). Simon was more concerned about 'right and wrong' than he was loving people; he lacked compassion. Jesus confronted him and said: '"Do you see this woman"' (Luke 7:44 NKJV)? Simon saw her as just a sinner, but Jesus responded to the gift she brought and to the heart of love behind it. In determining her value in God's Kingdom, he didn't consult or refer to her bad past. He saw her tears, understood her need, and shocked the religious crowd that day by saying, 'Your sins are forgiven' (Luke 7:48 NKJV).

The same happened to the woman who had been bleeding for twelve years. To society she was considered unclean and unacceptable. But when she touched Jesus' robe, he said: 'Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace' (Luke 8:48 NIV). He didn't call her unclean; he called her daughter.

Sometimes we may judge and fail to show God's love to those who need it. We see them through the eyes of society or based on our own theology. But we should be seeing people through the eyes of Jesus.

So what now? Is there someone you struggle to get on with or do you know someone who other people exclude? Choose to see them through Jesus' eyes, and love them.

Soulfood: Lev 11:1-47 Lev 12 Lev 13:1-37 Luke 20:41-47 Ps 32 Pro 9:10-16,


The gift of grace

'God saved you by his grace when you is a gift from God.' Ephesians 2:8 NLT

Celebrations often involve gift-giving. We get presents on our birthday, maybe when we graduate, get married or start a new chapter. And when we make the decision to believe and accept salvation, God celebrates with us by giving us the gift of grace. In Ephesians 2:8, Paul wrote, 'God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can't take credit for this; it is a gift from God' (NLT). The word 'grace' comes from the Greek word charis, meaning 'pure joy.' God considers saving us to be a 'pure joy'.

In John's Gospel, the Pharisees caught a woman in the act of adultery. The law of Moses was clear; she had to be stoned. The Pharisees were ready to do it. She didn't have anyone to defend her or to be a character witness. The woman probably thought that Jesus, being righteous, would agree with the Pharisees. But instead Jesus stooped down and began to write in the sand. We don't know what he wrote, but when he looked up, the woman's accusers had gone. There was nobody left to condemn her. He said to her, 'Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more' (John 8:11 NKJV). That day Jesus lifted her from a position of undeniable guilt to one of unconditional pardon.

We've all done things that deserve punishment, but God's amazing gift of grace means that we're lifted up and we receive love and forgiveness instead.

So what now? Take a few minutes to thank God for his gift of grace.

Soulfood: Lev 8-10 Luke 20:34-40 Ps 72:12-20 Pro 9:7-9,


God knows

'The secret things belong to the Lord our God.' Deuteronomy 29:29 NIV

The Bible says: 'Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding' (Proverbs 3:5 NIV). That verse can be easy to quote but hard to live by, especially when tragedy and loss happen. We won't always understand why things happen. When we don't understand, the first thing to ask for is God's peace. 'Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus' (Philippians 4:6-7 NLT).

When it comes to understanding things - we have our territory and God has his. The Bible says: 'The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us' (Deuteronomy 29:29 NIV). Even Paul, who wrote half the New Testament by divine revelation, said 'we know in part' (1 Corinthians 13:9).

Always, God is a good God. 'And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to his purpose' (Romans 8:28 NKJV). So when we're tempted to lose hope and become discouraged because things are happening that we don't understand, we need to remind ourselves that God is working things out for our good and his glory.

So what now? Next time something happens in your life that you don't understand, don't ask God, 'Why? Instead, ask him for peace and to help you see the good he'll bring from it.

Soulfood: 1 Cor 9:24-27 Num 6:1-8 Pro 25:28,


Experiencing fear and faith

'Be strong and of good courage.' Deuteronomy 31:6 NKJV

Any time we attempt something for the first time, we may experience both fear and faith. One will usually win out over the other, but they never go away. Because Israel had no idea what challenges awaited them or what life would be like in the Promised Land, God told them, 'Be strong and of good courage...for the Lord your God, he is the one who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you' (Deuteronomy 31:6 NKJV). And that's his promise to us too.

Just like the Israelites, we can be unsure and fearful of what's ahead. But it's best to put our trust in God. He goes before us, and goes with us. We never have to face anything alone. 'The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged' (Deuteronomy 31:8 NIV). But it's not just the fear of the unknown; we can also be stopped by a fear of failing. The idea of failing can make us too afraid to step out in faith and try. Yet when we look back, we realise that most times failure didn't do permanent damage; we actually grew through it. And, like Paul, we can say: 'I can do all this through him who gives me strength' (Philippians 4:13 NIV).

So, let's confront our fears, step out in faith, and believe God for success.

So what now? Read Deuteronomy 31:8 out loud. But every time it says 'you', replace it with 'me'.

Soulfood: Lev 5-7 Luke 20:27- 33 Ps 72:1-11 Pro 9:1-6,


Role model

'By the grace of God I am what I am.' 1 Corinthians 15:10 NIV

Role models can shape you and make you, or break you. It's important to choose them well. But remember, if you model your life on someone else's - even if they're amazing - you risk becoming something God doesn't want you to be. Your 'heroes' wrestle with blind spots and character flaws too. Paul said, 'I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God' (1 Corinthians 15:9 NIV). The same thing with Peter; we're told that as he 'entered the house, Cornelius met him and fell at his feet in reverence. But Peter made him get up. "Stand up," he said, 'I am only a man myself"' (Acts 10:25-26 NIV).

Say a friend starts a business and makes money, but when you quit your job and follow in his footsteps you go broke. Or say a co-worker wears something that looks great on her, but on you the same outfit looks like a sack tied in the middle. The danger in hero worship is that you miss the unique path God has mapped out for you personally. Another person's gifts, purpose, journey and time-frame will be different from yours.

God is 'jealous' about you (see Deuteronomy 4:24). He wants to protect you from anything that diminishes your uniqueness, or threatens your relationship with him. To be safe, make Jesus your first-and-last role model.

So what now? Think about who your role models are, and why. And, make a list of what makes you unique to forge your own path.

Soulfood: Lev 1-4 Luke 20:20-26 Ps 31 Pro 8:34-36,


Love your church 3

'We have this treasure in jars of clay.' 2 Corinthians 4:7 NIV

Being Christian doesn't mean we're perfect. Here's why: (1) We're human. But even with full knowledge of our highest potential and our lowest sins, God loves us unconditionally. The Bible says, 'We have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us' (2 Corinthians 4:7 NIV). God looks beyond our humanness and our outward behaviour and sees the potential inside us.

(2) We get distracted. In the Old Testament, a soldier was commanded to take a prisoner to a certain destination. His orders were clear: 'Lose the prisoner and you'll lose your life.' So what happened? The soldier said, 'While I was busy doing something else, the prisoner disappeared' (1 Kings 20:40 NLT). The soldier lost his prisoner and paid with his life. The same can happen to us if we get distracted by worldly things and take our focus off God. So we need to pay attention to our spiritual life and refuse to let other things take over.

(3) We're asleep spiritually. Whilst Samson slept Delilah cut his hair and handed him over to his enemies (see Judges 16:19-21). And it was while the servants slept that an enemy sowed weeds among the wheat and the harvest was lost (see Matthew 13:25). 'Think carefully about what is right, and stop sinning' (1 Corinthians 15:34 NLT). We need to stay alert to living our lives attuned to Jesus.

So what now? Love the people of your church, in all their humanness. Jesus does.

Soulfood: 2 Thes 1-3 Luke 20:9-19 Ps 18:30-50 Pro 8:32-33,

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