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Word For You Today

Relationships Love



'Love never gives up; and its faith, hope, and patience never fail.' 1 Corinthians 13:7 GNT

We throw the word 'love' around loosely, leaving it to be defined in many different ways. People say things like 'I love cake' or 'I love that TV show.' What they really mean is they 'like' and 'enjoy' these things.

The Bible gives us a pretty extensive definition of real love. 'Love is patient and kind; it is not jealous or conceited or proud; love is not ill-mannered or selfish or irritable; love does not keep a record of wrongs; love is not happy with evil, but is happy with the truth. Love never gives up; and its faith, hope, and patience never fail' (1 Corinthians 13:4-7 GNT). That kind of love may seem impossible. It can be a challenge to put someone else's interests above our own, make sacrifices for them, let go of past hurts, forgive and look for the best in someone else. But with God helping us we can show others this kind of love.

Sometimes we may struggle with loving others, because we don't love ourselves enough. We first need to know that we're loved by God, and that we're worthy of love just as we are. Once we're secure in that, we'll be in a great place to love others well. We'll be able to show them our love, and also point them to the God who loves them more than we ever could.

So what now? Read 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 every morning for the next week. Pray that you would be able to show this kind of love in all your relationships.

Soulfood: Gen 7-9 Luke 7:36-50 Ps 111 Pro 3:29-30,

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Relationships Commitment



'Two are better than one... if either of them falls down, one can help the other up.' Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 NIV

Sometimes we're not that good at committing: we get bored of our job, so we look for a new one; we struggle at church so we decide to leave; when relationships get deeper we run a mile rather than committing ourselves to others.

The Bible says: 'Two are better than one... if either of them falls down, one can help the other up' (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 NIV). When we're committed to someone, whether it be a romantic, friendship or family relationship: we say that we'll be there for them, even when times get tough; we try and work things out when we've disagreed; we make sacrifices when the other is struggling. Commitment requires intentionality and work. The Bible goes on to say: 'A cord of three strands is not quickly broken' (Ecclesiastes 4:12 NIV). In any relationship, we not only need to be committed to each other, but also to God. When both people in a relationship are individually committed to God, and as a couple committed to him too, then it strengthens the earthly relationship.

The Bible says: 'Come near to God and he will come near to you' (James 4:8 NIV). When we get closer to God, he gets closer to us, making our relationship with him, and therefore with others, even stronger. God is so good at helping us reach greater levels of commitment.

So what now? Invite God to be part of your close relationships - whether romantic, friendship or family. Ask him to create a cord of three strands in those relationships.

Soulfood: Gen 4-6 Luke 7:24-35 Ps 107:33-43 Pro 3:27-28,

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Jesus first



'When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.' Matthew 13:46 NIV

There's no question about how much God loves us. The Bible tells us that we need to 'grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ' (Ephesians 3:18 NIV). But if we want to measure the depth of our love for God, we can start by looking at our calendar and our bank account. Basically, the way we spend our time and our money shows how highly we value God.

When we love someone, we want to spend time with them. Are we committing our time to developing a relationship with God? Is he top priority in our calendar? And preoccupation with our finances, whether we're constantly saving because we worry about the future or whether we're spending frivolously and selfishly, is also a sign that we may be putting money before God.

When Jesus was talking about God's Kingdom, he used an analogy of a merchant who was looking for pearls. 'When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it' (Matthew 13:46 NIV). Jesus is the 'pearl of great value'. When we truly seek him and get to know him, we're prepared to sacrifice everything else just to have him in our lives. The way we handle our time and our money become centred on him. And we no longer desire anything but him. We live with Jesus first.

So what now? Make any practical changes to the way you spend your time or money in order to make more time for Jesus.

Soulfood: Gen 1-3 Luke 7:11-23 Ps 107:23-32 Pro 3:25-26,

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Persistent prayer



'Devote yourselves to prayer.' Colossians 4:2 NLT

Ever been praying for something or someone for a long time, and nothing seems to be happening? We may become discouraged. We may doubt whether God's going to answer us, or if he's even listening.

The Bible says: 'Devote yourselves to prayer' (Colossians 4:2 NLT). Devotion requires passion and persistence. We need to keep praying, and keep expecting an answer. Jesus told his disciples the story of the persistent widow to 'show them that they should always pray and not give up' (Luke 18:1 NIV). When this widow was asking the judge for justice against her enemy, she 'kept coming to him with the plea' (Luke 18:3 NIV). The unjust judge eventually listened and gave her the justice she was looking for. And God is just. He doesn't withhold things from us when we need them. He cares and he provides. We can keep coming to him.

If we're not hearing anything, ask God to show us his view on the request. Is what we're praying for what God wants? Do we need to fully trust that God is working? Are there other people or situations we could pray for in the meantime? God tells us to 'always keep on praying for all the Lord's people' (Ephesians 6:18 NIV). So let's be persistent in our prayers, not only for ourselves but for others too.

So what now? That one thing you're praying persistently about: keep praying, but trust that God is just and good, and that he's working on your behalf. And thank him that he's at work in the situation.

Soulfood: Ecc 9-12 Luke 7:1-10 Ps 107:17-22 Pro 3:21-24,

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Praise God every day



'You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory.' Revelation 4:11 NIV

Praising God isn't a religious activity that belongs only in church on Sunday mornings. The Bible says: 'From the rising of the sun to its going down the Lord's name is to be praised' (Psalm 113:3 NKJV). That means our first words in the morning and our last words at night should be praise to God.

It's much easier to praise God when times are great, when we have loads to thank him for and when we are overwhelmed by his goodness and faithfulness. Continual praise is so much harder - difficult situations arise and it can be hard to see God's goodness in the middle of what we're going through. But God asks us to keep praising and keep being thankful, even in those hard times. The Bible says: 'Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus' (1 Thessalonians 5:18 NIV). Whatever we're going through, God is still God. He doesn't change. His goodness, faithfulness and love remain.

No matter what's going on in our lives, God is worthy of our praise. 'You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honour and power' (Revelation 4:11 NIV). The psalmist wrote: 'I will extol the Lord at all times; his praise will always be on my lips' (Psalm 34:1 NIV). Let's have this same attitude and commit to spending more time praising God.

So what now? Every day this week, listen to your favourite worship song. Thank God as you sing out the lyrics and see how it changes how you view your circumstances.

Soulfood: Ecc 5-8 Luke 6:37-49 Ps 107:10-16 Pro 3:19-20,

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Take that first step



'The people should not think that small beginnings are unimportant.' Zechariah 4:10 NCV

The temple was lying in ruins. Zechariah shared his vision of the temple being rebuilt with the people of Israel. Some thought it couldn't be done, others thought that their particular contribution would make no difference. So Zechariah challenged them: 'The people should not think that small beginnings are unimportant. They will be happy when they see Zerubbabel with tools, building the temple' (Zechariah 4:10 NCV).

Sometimes we realise that certain areas of our lives need to be rebuilt. This realisation can feel pretty overwhelming. Maybe we don't know where to start, or think it's too huge a task. Making changes to our lives is a process. Rebuilding takes time and patience, and generally happens step by step. Even the smallest change we make is important. God celebrates the small steps in the process. He takes us on a journey, gently rebuilding at a pace we can handle. The Bible tells us that 'he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion' (Philippians 1:6 NIV). God doesn't start working with us and in us, and then leave us because we're taking too long to change.

So when we find ourselves in a place where we need to start to rebuild, let's remember Zechariah's words and 'not think that small beginnings are unimportant.'

So what now? Is there an area in your life that needs to be rebuilt, or even just renovated? Work out the steps of the process (ask someone you trust to help you), and take that first step. And then celebrate that you took it!

Soulfood: Ecc 1-4 Luke 6:27-36 Ps 107:1-9 Pro 3:13-18,

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Look for the good things



'God...has blessed us with every spiritual blessing.' Ephesians 1:3 NKJV

When we're going through challenging times, it can be difficult to see the blessings. Our mind can become so focused on the darkness that we struggle to see the light. The Bible says God 'has blessed us with every spiritual blessing' (Ephesians 1:3 NKJV). That's the truth, no matter how the situation may appear.

During tough times, we have the blessing of God's presence with us. 'When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the river, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze' (Isaiah 43:2 NIV). When we come out the other side of the trial, we are brought to a place of blessing. 'We went through fire and water, but you brought us to a place of abundance' (Psalm 66:12 NIV). But when we're brought into blessing, we must remember that the blessing comes from God, and thank him for it. The Bible says: 'When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you' (Deuteronomy 8:10 NIV).

Let's remember this promise to the Israelites. 'For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land' (Deuteronomy 8:7 NIV). There are blessings during and after the trial. We have to choose to look expectantly for them.

So what now? When you're going through a tough time, remember: 'We went through fire and flood, but you brought us to a place with good things' (Psalm 66:12 NCV).

Soulfood: Ezek 47:1-12 Rev 21:22 - 22:5,

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