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Word For You Today

Spiritual growth 2

'When we grew up, we quit our childish ways.' 1 Corinthians 13:11 CEV

We all know people who appear to have it all together spiritually, who are always prepared to serve, have all the right words, are super connected to God, and are willing to pray for anyone. If we compare ourselves to them, it can make us feel 'less than' or not good enough. Comparison is dangerous, and totally unhealthy.

The truth is that we're all maturing spiritually, just at different rates. There are lots of things that may affect the speed we're maturing at. God may be taking us at a slower pace, or we may have to face things that mean we mature quicker. Maybe there are areas we need time to work through before advancing. The Bible says: 'When we were children, we...reasoned as children...But when we grew up, we quit our childish ways' (1 Corinthians 13:11 CEV). We start as a spiritual infant, then we become a spiritual child, then a spiritual adolescent, and eventually a spiritual adult. But we actually never 'arrive.' It's a journey, and we won't be fully spiritually mature until we reach Heaven. But God promises that, 'he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus' (Philippians 1:6 NIV).

So, let's stop comparing ourselves to others. Our spiritual journey is unique to us. Let's focus on what God wants to do in and through us, not through everyone else.

So what now? Next time you're feeling inadequate spiritually compared to someone else, remember Philippians 1:6 and thank God that he's always working in you.

Soulfood: Gen 13-16 Jn 13:18-30 Ps 114 Pro 31:1-5,


Spiritual growth 1

'At the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.' Galatians 6:9 NIV

Sometimes spiritual growth can feel like two steps forward and three steps back. Sometimes we can feel that we're not growing at all. The apostle Paul encourages us not to give up (see Galatians 6:9). When we look in the mirror each day we can't see much change, but when we look at photos from when we were younger, we can see how we've grown and matured. It's the same for our spiritual lives: daily we can't see our progress, but when we look back we can see how far we've come.

The Bible says: 'And we all...are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord' (2 Corinthians 3:18 NIV). Transformation and growth aren't always easy. So when we get discouraged, we need to remind ourselves that we're on a spiritual journey, and that we're making progress even when we can't see it. The devil is always looking for ways to remind us how far we still have to go. But Jesus reminds us that the devil 'is a liar and the father of lies' (John 8:44 NIV). The Bible encourages us to 'take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ' (2 Corinthians 10:5 NIV).

So when we feel like giving up, that we're not getting anywhere and that we're not good enough, we need to take those thoughts captive, remember God's truth and carry on our journey of spiritual growth.

So what now? Go through an old photo album and see how much you've changed and grown. Then thank God for how much you've grown spiritually.

Soulfood: Gen 10-12 Jn 13:1-17 Ps 95 Pro 30:29-33,



'God has shown me that I should not call anyone impure or unclean.' Acts 10:28 NIV

God was about to show the world that the Gospel message wasn't just for Jews, but for everyone. And to do it, he used Peter, one of the most religiously-biased people you could find. He showed Peter a vision of a sheet being lowered from Heaven, containing all kinds of animals that the Jews were forbidden to eat, then commanded him to eat. Peter protested, saying 'I have never eaten anything impure or unclean' (Acts 10:14 NIV). God replied, 'Do not call anything impure that God has made clean' (Acts 10:15 NIV). Soon after this, Peter was invited to Cornelius' house to preach. When he arrived, he said to Cornelius, 'You are well aware that it against our law for a Jew to associate with or visit a Gentile. But God has shown me that I should not call anyone impure or unclean' (Acts 10:28 NIV).

So what can we learn from this today? (1) God's message of hope and salvation is for everyone, no matter who they are. (2) To spread the Gospel message, we might have to work with people who are different from us, or maybe even those we'd rather avoid. But instead of focusing on our differences, we need to remember what makes us similar - our shared love for God and his Word.

So what now? Think of someone you don't really get on with. Now write a list of your similarities. Next time you see them, try starting a conversation with them about something you're both interested in.

Soulfood: Luke 1:26-56 Lk 2 Luke 2:41-52 Luke 8:19-21,


Practice humility

'Clothe yourselves with humility.' 1 Peter 5:5 NAS

The Bible says: 'Clothe yourselves with humility...for God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble...humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you' (1 Peter 5:5-7 NAS).

Let's break this Scripture down into four parts: (1) 'Clothe yourselves with humility.' In this context the word clothe refers to a white scarf or apron that was typically worn by servants. It doesn't mean we've got to become people-pleasers. We just need to be who God's called us to be, and be willing to serve others when we get the opportunity. (2) 'God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.' Humility isn't thinking less of ourselves; it's thinking of ourselves less and looking around to see, and help with, the needs of others. (3) 'Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you at the proper time.' As we submit everything we are to God, he'll use us and shape us into a more Christlike character. (4) 'Casting all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you.' We can worry that if we don't look out for ourselves, nobody else will. But God cares for us, so we don't need to worry about ourselves. And that frees us up to think about the needs of other people.

So what now? As you're getting dressed this morning, pray that you'd also be clothed in humility for your day.

Soulfood: Gen 7-9 Jn 12:37-50 Ps 102:18-28 Pro 30:24-28,


Small things matter

'Who has despised the day of small things?' Zechariah 4:10 NKJV

Let's admit it, sometimes we do think that bigger and brighter is better. But throughout the Bible we see God using small things, and those who seem to have little to offer, to bring about his plan and advance his Kingdom. When God gave Gideon victory over the Midianites, he used an army of just three hundred to defeat an enemy of hundreds of thousands (see Judges 7) - not because there weren't enough soldiers, but because God wanted to demonstrate his power in 'the day of small things.' Jesus could have chosen any number of followers, but he handpicked twelve to reach the world with the Gospel. One day he fed five thousand people with five bread rolls and two small fish from a child's lunchbox. He mentioned that we need only the faith of a mustard seed - the smallest seed there is, yet it grows into a massive tree - to make a difference. And he said: 'Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much' (Luke 16:10 NIV).

It's easy to despise the small beginnings, or the little we feel we have to offer. We want to do more or be more and for God to work in us quicker. But the small beginnings are so valuable. Let's not despise them, but instead rejoice in them, confidently knowing that God's got bigger and better things in mind for us.

So what now? Buy some seeds and plant one. As you wait for it to grow, remember that beautiful and great things can come from something small.

Soulfood: Gen 4-6 Jn 12:20-36 Ps 102:12-17 Pro 30:21-23,


Wisdom when working

'Happy is the person who finds wisdom, the one who gets understanding.' Proverbs 3:13 NCV

The Bible often encourages us to gain or use wisdom. One important place to exercise wisdom is when we're working. We might think it's honourable to be constantly occupied, but that isn't using good judgment.

Here are a few things to bear in mind: (1) Know what to say yes to. We might be tempted to do many things in our day-to-day lives. And we say yes, because it's considered being helpful. But we can end up getting burned out. So, it's a good idea to ask God which tasks we should prioritise our energy on. (2) Take time to stop and recharge. In Genesis 2:2, God took time to rest. In Luke 5:16, we're told that 'Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed' (NIV). We should follow these examples and make sure we take time to refresh ourselves and be alone with God. (3) Reflect on accomplishments. When God finished Creation, he 'saw all that he had made, and it was very good' (Genesis 1:31 NIV). When we've completed a task, it's good to take stock: to see what we've done well, what we could have done better, and how much we've learned in the process. It's a time to thank God for giving us the strength and resources to complete the task. God thought it was worthwhile to look back on what he'd done, and so should we.

So what now? Learning to say yes to the important things? Taking time to rest? Reflecting on what you've accomplished? What changes can you make to show wisdom in the way you work?

Soulfood: Gen 1-3 Jn 12:12-19 Ps 102:1-11 Pro 30:18-20,


Confess and be free 5

'The Lord looks at the heart.' 1 Samuel 16:7 NLT

Why do we hide our sins? We might feel ashamed, afraid of the consequences, afraid to reveal that we're not as perfect as we appear. Much of the time, it's about the fear of revealing the difference between our public image and our private one.

We can also be uneasy about revealing our sins to God. We might avoid spending time with him because we know we're hiding things. But, actually, those are the times when we should be running to him and clinging more closely to him. The Bible tells us that 'the Lord searches every heart and understands every desire and every thought' (1 Chronicles 28:9 NIV). God knows our best and our worst. And he knows the motives behind our words and actions. For many of us, that's a very scary thought, but we need to remember this: God knows the worst about us, yet he still wants a relationship with us. 1 John 4:10 says 'This is real love - not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins' (NLT).

There's no need to hide our sins from God. He already knows about them, and has already paid the ultimate price to release us from them. He wouldn't do that and then turn away from us.

So what now? Next time you feel ashamed about the way you've behaved or reacted, use those feelings as your personal reminder to draw close to God. Thank him for his love and salvation, confess what you need to and ask for forgiveness.

Soulfood: Ecc 9-12 Jn 12:1-11 Ps 76 Pro 30:15-17,

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