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#221 lilacday

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Posted 10 March 2014 - 06:34 AM

‘…Let us love one another, for love comes from God…’ 1 John 4:7 NIV

Oops. We said it. But relax; we’re not going to make you get married (especially if you’re already married) What we’re talking about is Godly commitment to everyone around you, and everything that you do. God commits to loving, growing and parenting you. And with Him doing that, you can’t help but share that love with others. The whole of 1 John 4:7 reads “Dear friends, we should love each other, because love comes from God. Everyone who loves has become God's child and knows God.” (NCV). Now, hands up… who speaks Greek? Not many of you? Meh, you’ll keep up. That second sentence, “Everyone who loves has become God's child and knows God” isn’t exactly straightforward. In the original Greek, there is one word that means “has become God’s child”, and it does some weird stuff with tenses. It’s past and present all at the same time; it means ‘has become God’s child right at that point, and will continue to become more and more God’s child as time goes on.’ Sooo… everyone who shows God’s love through their relationships and work gets adopted by God. But it doesn’t stop there. God promises to put work into fathering and teaching them, every day, for the rest of their lives (pretty good model for commitment). And under that sort of attention from God, our human commitment to sharing love with the world becomes way more do-able each day. WHAT NOW? Commit today to pray for and show God’s love to someone for the week. Plan it, what acts are you going to do to show His love, every day?

bible-in-a-year.png 1 Kings 10-11Matt 22:15-22Ps 27Pr 7:10-20


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#222 lilacday

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Posted 02 April 2014 - 04:53 AM

A man had two sons.....................................

Here’s a story you may have heard before. A father. Two sons. The younger brother wants out of the house. He leaves and messes up. On return, he is welcomed with open arms.
Is this about leaving for uni? Nope. It’s about walking out on what our ‘father’ God wants. He has an awful lot in store for His ‘children’, but sometimes we don’t want to live under His care.
Now, let’s look a bit closer: Both sons had their faults: one was miserable, but obedient. The other, younger one was the classic rule-breaker of the story. It’s hard to say who was really worse, deep down. See, both of them were self-centred. You might not be the problem child, but (and we know this is rough to consider) do you have any traits of the jealous older brother?
In the parable, the father says ‘…Everything I have is yours’ (Luke 15:31 NIV) to the tearaway. The older brother didn’t like the sound of that. He didn’t want the younger boy to get a share of what the father was undeservingly giving to them both. Sometimes, even though we’re right in front of the Father, we can be so focused on the faults of others that we forget to look at Him for guidance.
 
What Now?
Start with a pack of gum. Choose to point out the positives in others, rather than being jealous. And during those conversations, give them a piece of gum.


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#223 lilacday

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Posted 02 April 2014 - 04:54 AM

He came to his senses................

 

To fully understand exactly who God is, it might be that we have to reach a low point. Our own personal pig-sty can put the love of God that we’re missing on back into perspective, leading us to the first part of something called ‘repentance’ (turning back to your God). So, it took a lot for the younger son to finally come to ‘his senses’, after walking out on all He had for him.
However, the W4U curveball for today is another thought regarding the older brother in the story: was he guilty of something just as bad? In a house with his loving Father, completely cared for supplied with everything he needed, he still hadn’t come to his senses. Check this out: ‘…This son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’ (v. 30 NIV). Ouch. He didn’t think the younger son deserved it… true, but neither did he. Unlike the younger son, he wasn’t aware of his problem: judgmentalism. He built himself up by tearing his ‘unholy’ brother down.
As Christians, one of the first stumbling blocks we need to get past is simply accepting that God, our Father, loves us. Sounds simple, huh? But if we truly get our heads around it, that we simply can’t do anything to earn it, it makes accepting others a lot easier. That’s the kind of perspective on things that the younger brother had- he knew he wasn’t worthy.
 
What Now?
Think about what God gives us freely. Acceptance? Freedom? Now, show some of that to someone who needs it- invite them into your life/friendship group and get alongside them.

Matt 21:1-16 Ps 118:19-29


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#224 lilacday

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Posted 02 April 2014 - 04:57 AM

…He was lost and is found.’ Luke 15:32 NIV

The last couple of days we’ve focused on the older brother in the parable of the prodigal son. There’s a lot there for long-standing ‘got it together’ Christians. But today, we thought we’d address the main character in the parable, the younger brother.

Like his sibling, he didn’t fully grasp the nature of his Father, but for different reasons. When he walked away from his home, he left all the good he could have freely had; who in their right mind would do that? Everything he needed to live life to the fullest was right under his nose.

That definitely sunk in later. And like the prodigal son, when we look back in hindsight at a good thing we’ve left behind, it’s easy to admit that we’ve been stupid (think of the robes! think of the inheritance! think of the cake!). Finding yourself stuck in a rut with no strength left and nowhere else to turn is often when you realise you should have stayed in the house, where God’s got everything we need.

But, in practice, turning back to God takes some real humility - we can either stick it alone, or run back home with nothing to show for what we’ve done. Yet, that’s what matters.

Messing up is not the end of the story. Nope.

The younger brother got up, and chose to admit his mistakes. The Father was waiting for the son with open arms.

 

What Now?

Stand at a window and look out for while. Re-read the prodigal son story whilst stood there and watch what the Father does... what does this tell you about Father God? Need to come home today?

bible-in-a-year.png 2 Kings 24-25Matt 26:65-75Ps 72:12-20Pr 9:7-9


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#225 lilacday

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Posted 20 May 2014 - 04:40 PM

‘O Lord…give me success today.’ Genesis 24:12 NIV

Ever spent much time thinking about what God thinks about your work? Whether that’s education/part-time/full-time stuff, it probably fills up a reasonable amount of your headspace. In Colossians, Paul gives us a clear principle to live by: ‘work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord’ (Colossians 3:23). Today we’ll be looking at what to do when ‘work’ is difficult/ you don’t really want to do it ‘as if for the Lord’. Minor character time. Ever heard of Eliezer? Back in Genesis, Abraham commissioned him with the job of finding Isaac (his son) a wife. Bit of a strange-sounding task that, finding a spouse for your own boss’ son. And not an easy one either; he had to start from scratch. This is where we learn a big lesson from Eliezer: just because it’s your job to do something doesn’t mean you aren’t allowed to invite God right into the centre of it. The verse at the top is a quote: he prayed for success.

A quick aside- praying for God to be with you is never going to be a bad idea. We just need to make sure success doesn’t become our god. If being the best is your reason for getting up every morning, you’ll need to find a way to dethrone it.

 

What Now?

So, God wants to help you meet your potential. Don’t have a clue what that looks like? Under pressure? Read the whole of Eliezer’s success story.


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#226 lilacday

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Posted 26 May 2014 - 03:35 AM

A Holy Communion..............‘…This is my body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of me’ 1 Corinthians 11:24 NKJ
 

Whatever your church calls that bread ‘n’ wine bit, it is an amazing piece of what makes up following Jesus. Not only did Jesus say to do it in ‘remembrance’ of Him, but we’re somehow also meeting Jesus in that act of eating ‘bread’ (or wafers) & drinking ‘wine’ (or juice). We’re suddenly face to face with Jesus, and something happens. In fact, when Jesus started this bread and wine chat off with His disciples, He was echoing an ancient ‘Covenant’ ritual, where two people exchanged everything they had, even mingling blood, then shared bread & wine together. (Check out Genesis 14:17-20). When they did this, they were considered as if the same person. Deep stuff.

Flash forward to today: that bread and wine you take? That’s a moment to remember what Jesus has done for you, to remember who He is (not was), to remember that He came after you on a rescue mission of love whilst you were still far off. But it’s more than that too. It’s your half of the covenant ritual. In taking bread & wine (and asking the Holy Spirit to meet you in it), you’re becoming (over, and over) one with Jesus. Yep. You’re being considered as if the same person. Your mess actually becomes His. His righteousness actually becomes yours. Communion is amazing.

 

What Now?

Write out Luke 22:14-20 somewhere. Then have a doodle: sketch bread and wine around what you’ve written, and whilst you’re sketching, think through what it means for you, today.

bible-in-a-year.png Deut 30:1 - 32:28Mark 12:13-27Ps 101Pr 12:12-13


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#227 lilacday

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Posted 28 August 2014 - 03:29 PM

You are protected ........psalm 91

 

As Christians, we have a God-given arsenal of tools for us to stand our ground. We can stand firm against satan’s schemes, ‘for God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline’ (2 Timothy 1:7 NLT). Thing is, we often forget how much Godreally has our backs. How much of our time is spent worrying about stuff that doesn’t matter? People in our lives, deadlines, balloons (no joke – it’s called globophobia), death...
What we’re doing there is giving a situation/person a certain reverence/high standing they don’t deserve. This leads to them being out of proportion, and occupying a bigger brain-space than they ought to.
Is this the kind of ‘fear’ that will leave you constantly trembling before an always-watching God? Nah. Passages like Psalm 91:10-11 remind us that God is absolutely working for our good - He places angels to guard us from evil: ‘…evil can’t get close to you…harm can’t get through the door. He [God] ordered His angels to guard you wherever you go’ (The Message Bible). Not a trace of dictatorship.
So what’s this kind of fear, then? If God provides for our every need (with angels thrown in, and all), what’s there to be afraid of?
The ‘fear of God’ is different. It’s about our need to recognise the place that God has in creation - He’s infinitely higher than us. To ‘fear’ Him means to accept Him as no less than that. Then, everything (including every other fear…) will find its place under Him.
What Now?
Construct an out-of-proportion photo (or even better: selfie). We want to see your best @W4U2D, with the hashtag #fearperspective.

Joel 2:12-32Mk 9:2-27


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#228 lilacday

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Posted 28 August 2014 - 03:31 PM

Protected................hide me under the shadow of your wings ................psalm 17:8

 

Ready? Take a look at Paul’s words to the Romans: ‘Don’t you realise that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey?...give yourselves to be slaves to righteous living so that you will become holy.’ (Romans 6:16, 19 NLT). This isn’t about making a new ticklist, or to constantly be checking that every single part of us is in perfect shape all the time. It’s about choosing to live with God in charge of our decisions: then He’ll work in us to become more like Him. Which means we have a choice to make: are we going to set our minds/efforts on living with God?
But there’s also the other side to it: Choosing to indulge in things that aren’t pleasing to God. Jesus was pretty hot-on with this kind of thing; in Matthew 5:28, He says that ‘anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.’ It doesn’t matter what level you’re operating on, any form of sexual indulgence/theft/gossip/stuffHedoesn’tlike is not only against God’s will, but dangerous. Yes, we’re at the heavy end of things here, but we all need to get this: including not-so-godly decisions in your lifestyle is the enemy’s way in to enslaving you to it.
So, 1) we need to choose God, and 2) ‘Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles’ (Hebrews 12:1). Here’s the good news: He’s already paid the price – all your mistakes are forgiven already.
What Now?
Galatians 5:19-21 is a great place for a spiritual check-up. It’s free. Do it.


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#229 lilacday

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Posted 28 August 2014 - 03:37 PM

‘…I have given you authority … over all the power of the enemy’ Luke 10:19 ESV

Spiritual warfare. There’s a spiritual dynamic to life - and some of it isn’t healthy. But God is definitely the boss; satan only has authority in your life when you give it to him; he has no power over you when your life is ‘hidden in Christ’ (Colossians 3:3). If you’ve compromised your cover in some way, by walking away from the God who is protecting you, there is still room for repentance. Essentially, this means changing your attitudes (which in turn, changes your actions). Repentance is the key to freedom from all oppression of the enemy. When we choose to get on board with what God wants, we gain access to Christ’s authority; ‘I have given you authority…to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you’ (Luke 10:19 NIV).

In Ephesians 6:10-17, Paul compares the kind of protection we get from God to a suit of armour. They’re well worth checking out, but for now we’ll stick to just one: the ‘Sword of the Spirit’. Which Paul writes is ‘the word of God’  (Ephesians 6:17). That’s the one offensive weapon we’ve got- and it’s all that we need. See, satan can only trick us if we don’t know the scriptures; it’s on God’s word that we will get a peaceful, solid knowledge of our love for Him. Not only is scripture *full* of that kind of chat, (Not sure where to start? Head to ucb.co.uk/goingdeeper) but it’s paralysing to the forces of evil..

What Now?

Write what each bit of the Ephesians 6:10-17 armour represents. How much are each of those represented in your life?

bible-in-a-year.png 1 Chron 23:21 - 26:19


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#230 lilacday

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Posted 26 February 2015 - 06:33 AM

‘…God, who began the good work within you, will continue…until it is finally finished...’ Philippians 1:6 NLT

Ever watch those daytime TV shows where they try to decorate a house before the owners arrive back? They’re always the same, you get the stressful middle bit, the overly emotional ending, and at least two garish ‘feature walls’. And sometimes our lives are the same too, (minus the feature walls): that bit in the middle where everyone stresses out, followed by the emotional fallout.

When we’re so keen to see ourselves change (to quit that habit, to be more Christ-like, to pursue what’s holy - all good things) we can forget that it’s only possible with God’s Spirit. We try it alone, we stress and pressure ourselves to improve, which can send us crashing into all sorts of negative places. Just like the makeover shows, though, God wants to renovate you (weirdest W4U analogy yet? It’s in the running). Take a look at what’s on offer in Philippians 1:9-11: ‘…depth of insight’, ‘pure and blameless’, ‘filled with the fruit of righteousness’ (NIV)? Sounds kind of huge. But God’s a renovation pro. The Holy Spirit is the only one that can renovate and refresh you, and make you more like the Christian you desire to be. When we allow God’s Spirit to work on the stuff that we can’t, we begin to see change.


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#231 lilacday

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Posted 16 April 2015 - 05:42 AM

word4U2day                          Invest in Yourself

'Come to Me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.' Matthew 11:28 ESV

 

We’re going to do the overprotective helicopter–parent on you for a moment. Right: Are you eating well? Are you getting enough sleep? Have you exercised recently? Seriously! Taking care of ourselves is really important. When life gets less than wonderful, we can get so caught up in dealing with whatever it is (or burying whatever it is and not dealing with it) that we lose sight of what’s going on around us, or inside us. But how we take care of ourselves affects every other part of our lives. When we let things slip, it makes it harder to deal with other things in life. When Elijah was struggling with depression (check out 1 Kings 19:1–18), an angel appears with food way out in the desert (now that’s some delivery service…) and tells him to ‘get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.’ (1 Kings 19:7 NIV) That doesn’t just apply to us literally but also figuratively. We have the Word of God, which we can open to find comfort and hope for anything we’re dealing with. It’s been provided for us, but it’s up to us to ‘get up and eat’. The journey of life is just too much for us to not take the time to breathe, be in God’s presence, eat, sleep, get out of the house and go for a walk, etc. If we don’t stop, we’ll busy ourselves into flat–out exhaustion. Is it time for an early night? Spiritual and physical rest are related, you know. Take a ‘sabbath’ evening, with Bible, hot chocolate and duvet. You’ll thank us tomorrow. ‘Goodnight.’


SoulFood: Acts 3:11-5:42Matt 2:13-18Ps 75Pro 10:22-23 


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#232 lilacday

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Posted 16 January 2016 - 08:08 PM

‘You have taught me from my youth.’ Psalm 71:17 NKJV

 

Parents are great. Also foster parents, grandparents, and general-looking-after-figures. Any elder who gave their time, effort (and, usually, vast amounts of money) to help to give you the best start they could, is massively worthy of our love and attention. Actually, the latter there might be quite important. Sure we *love* our parental and grandparental figures… but… do they know that? Taking those loving provider-people for granted is, unfortunately, far too easy to do. That’s maybe why God is quite so keen on us making the effort to ‘honour’ them. It’s even one of God’s 10 commandments (Exodus 20:12)… 1 Peter 5:5 (NIV) says, ‘You who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but shows favour to the humble.”’ Always got a quick-mouth response for someone God says you should be honouring? Got an older family-member in hospital, a care home, or just living on their own? You may not realise just how much they treasure you taking an hour to see them. Or a parent who’s so busy providing for you that they’ve bags under their eyes? Asking what you can do to help might make their month. Truth is, most of us are really busy. Even those of us who use our ‘busy’-ness doing things for other people, can have a blind spot when it comes to our own elders. And yet, God thinks of it as *so* important. So, gulp, do they know that you appreciate them? What Now? It’s Sunday. You might just have an opportunity this afternoon to spend some time with a parent or grandparent. (Or call, if you’re actually too far away. We’ll allow that.)

bible-in-a-year.png Gen 36-38Matt 10:17-42


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#233 lilacday

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Posted 31 January 2016 - 04:42 PM

 

‘Who am I … that you have brought me this far?’ 2 Samuel 7:18 NIV

In 2 Samuel 7, David was upset that his own wooden house was fancier than God’s tent-based abode at the time. So he spoke to his in-touch-with-God buddy, Nathan. David pitched him the idea of building a permanent home for God, out of fancier materials. At first, seeing that David really wanted to serve and honour God by building something a bit more enduring than the tabernacle, Nathan said ‘good idea’. But… Ready for the plot twist? God woke Nathan up with news that He didn’t want that right now. That it wasn’t quite time. Through Nathan, God lovingly told David that He didn’t want a new shiny house, but that, in fact, He was going to give David a house (as in, a huge line of descendants… eventually including Jesus. Wow). Humbling, right? It inspired David to say, ‘Who am I, O Lord God? And what is my house, that You have brought me this far?’ (v. 18 NKJV), because he was totally floored by God’s response. We feel kinda the same. Really, though, who are we-humans that God would choose us? It’s amazing that God sees our hearts, loves our love, and then blesses us whether we’re ‘building’ for Him or not. He’s not a God of transactions, of ‘you do good, you get the perks’. Nope. He’s a God of outrageous generosity. And even when we miss the mark, when our good intentions lead us astray, He’s still patiently, lovingly pulling us back on track. He’s still making us a part of His plan. What Now? Give someone something that they don’t deserve. Help out the last person that really annoyed you. Then spend 30 minutes before bed praying for them.

bible-in-a-year.png Exodus 16-18Matt 18:1-20


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#234 lilacday

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Posted 19 June 2016 - 04:24 PM

19 June 2016

Day Of The Dad

‘Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.’
Ephesians 6:4 ESV

Today is Father's Day. Maybe you've not seen what fatherhood looks like. Maybe you've got a pretty good example in your own dad. Maybe you've never made the connection between dads on earth and your Dad in heaven before. There are many verses in the Bible that give you an idea of what dads should look like. A good one to start with is today's verse, Ephesians 6:4. It shows you that fathers are meant to act a certain way. Not to snap, or act harshly towards their kids. No, the way fathers are to act is patiently, and nurturingly. The idea that fathers are to 'nurture' might sound a bit feminine by today's standards. But it's how the Bible describes fatherhood. It's a deliberate choice of words: not 'dominate', or 'control', but 'nurture'. And all correction, all discipline, should only come about against a backdrop of warm and always-present care. There's a design in fatherhood that reflects your Heavenly Father. This isn't an accident. So your experience of earthly dads, those who reflect this verse, points you to what God Himself looks like. And if you've only had spiritual dads on earth - this applies to them too. Check out 2 Kings 2:12 for Elisha's final words to his spiritual dad, Elijah. One of the beautiful things about that verse is that it's impossible to say who Elisha is talking about when he says ‘father’ - is it Elijah, or God? Maybe it doesn’t matter. In that moment, what you see is how even spiritual dads can point you to God.
What Now?

That's a huge privilege and weight for dads to carry, so today - give them a nod to say thanks.
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#235 lilacday

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Posted 03 November 2016 - 03:11 PM

ITODAY'S WORD 4U 2DAY

Heed the warnings

’Whoever is stubborn after being corrected many times will suddenly be hurt beyond cure.’ Proverbs 29:1 NCV

 
 
 

Sticking to what you believe in and not letting others talk you out of it can be great. But when someone gives you a warning of what could happen if you stay on the path you’re on, and you choose to ignore it... well, that’s not so great. Especially if that warning is coming directly from God. So what might that warning look like? It’s usually not an audible voice from God advising you to change the direction you’re going in. Sometimes it’s subtle signs like relationships starting to fall apart, health issues or high stress levels. God can bring things in our lives to mind when He wants us to make a change. Often we change those things straight away, but at other times it’s not quite that simple. We know we’re on the wrong path, we’re just not quite ready to move off it because there’s a part of us that doesn’t want to give things up. But God knows best. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts’ (Isaiah 55:9 NIV). So when He tells us to change paths, we should take notice rather than putting it off. If we’re struggling with it, He knows. He’s gentle enough to guide us and change us a bit at a time. But He can’t do that if we’re resisting Him. So when we feel prompted to make a change and go in a new direction, let’s allow Him to gently work in us, remembering that He knows what’s best.

What now?
Write down any areas of your life where things seem to be going wrong or that make you feel unusually stressed out. Notice any patterns? Ask God if these feelings are actually a nudge towards making changes in those areas.

Ezek 5-7Heb 7

 

TODAY'S WORD 4U 2DAY

Heed the warnings ’Whoever is stubborn after being corrected many times will suddenly be hurt beyond cure.’ Proverbs 29:1 NCV

Sticking to what you believe in and not letting others talk you out of it can be great. But when someone gives you a warning of what could happen if you stay on the path you’re on, and you choose to ignore it... well, that’s not so great. Especially if that warning is coming directly from God. So what might that warning look like? It’s usually not an audible voice from God advising you to change the direction you’re going in. Sometimes it’s subtle signs like relationships starting to fall apart, health issues or high stress levels. God can bring things in our lives to mind when He wants us to make a change. Often we change those things straight away, but at other times it’s not quite that simple. We know we’re on the wrong path, we’re just not quite ready to move off it because there’s a part of us that doesn’t want to give things up. But God knows best. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts’ (Isaiah 55:9 NIV). So when He tells us to change paths, we should take notice rather than putting it off. If we’re struggling with it, He knows. He’s gentle enough to guide us and change us a bit at a time. But He can’t do that if we’re resisting Him. So when we feel prompted to make a change and go in a new direction, let’s allow Him to gently work in us, remembering that He knows what’s best.

What now?
Write down any areas of your life where things seem to be going wrong or that make you feel unusually stressed out. Notice any patterns? Ask God if these feelings are actually a nudge towards making changes in those areas.

Ezek 5-7Heb 7

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#236 lilacday

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Posted 20 April 2017 - 04:16 PM

What are you waiting for?

‘How long will you wait before you begin to take possession of the land that the Lord…has given you?’ 
Joshua 18:3 NIV

When God’s got a new chapter of life for us to move into, we don’t always move into it straightaway. Sometimes that’s because we’re pretty comfortable where we are and we don’t want to take the risk of moving into something new. We begin to question whether God’s really calling us so we often decide to wait a bit longer before taking that step. And at other times we avoid what God’s calling us to because we’re feeling burnt out. We’ve been doing so much that we don’t feel we can take on something new just yet. Or we might try to wait until we think things are ‘just right’ before taking that next step. The Israelites were feeling a lot of these things too. God had given them land to take, and they weren’t taking it. The people of Joseph complained that the land they’d been assigned was going to be too small and that they’d have to fight the Canaanites who were strong and had chariots of iron (have a read of Joshua 17:14-18). Joshua ended up asking: ‘How long will you wait before you begin to take possession of the land…?’ God knows when we’re ready for something new. The Israelites experienced that when God told them: ‘You have stayed long enough at this mountain. Turn and take your journey’ (Deuteronomy 1:6-7 ESV). If God’s telling us that we’ve stayed too long in a place or situation, then we need to listen to His guidance and not be slow to move into that new chapter. Let’s be proactive and go and ‘take possession’ of that new chapter He has for us.

What Now?

Get a notebook and write down all the things you feel are stopping you doing what God’s calling you to do. Then turn over the page and resolve to start a clean, new chapter of your life.
 

Bible In A Year: Ruth 1-4John 8:28-59


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