WORD 4U 2DAY
Posted 29 February 2012 - 03:26 AM
''I know the plans I have for you,' says the Lord. 'They are plans for good...'' Jeremiah 29:11
While everybody else was preparing to fight, she was preparing to surrender!. Rahab had heard about the things God had done for Israel; how He'd turned the Red Sea to a red carpet, converted rocks into drinking fountains, made breakfast for them every morning in the wilderness, and dried up the waters of the Jordan River. Where Rahab lived, no one believed in God, and for a long time Rahab just went with the flow, not stopping and thinking for herself, never questioning what was best - she just tried to fit in. But then she did one very courageous thing: she stood up for what was right and put her trust in God, completely. Rahab may not have been wise when it came to her body, but she was wiser than everybody else in town when it came to her soul. She wasn't about to fight God - she knew that was a fight you can't win! For her the path to victory was surrender! And that is the right path for you too. If only you'll stop trying to 'run the show' and turn your life over to Christ, He will take you to places of blessing you've always dreamed of, longed for, but didn't know how to get to. God had a great future for Rahab. He planned to make her the ancestor of King David and Jesus Himself! How's that for recycling? And God, who loves all people from prostitutes to kings and queens, will do the same for you no matter where you've been or what you've done. What now? Are you going with the flow, against God, or swimming against the crowd, with Him? Decide again who you are going to surrender to, today.
RAHAB'S STORY (3) 29 Feb 2012
''...God paid a ransom to save you ... It was the precious blood of Christ...'' 1 Peter 1:18
What she trusted in stood, when what everybody else trusted in fell. What did Rahab trust in? Her morality? No, the Bible says she was a prostitute and spent her nights on the streets. Her nationality? Nope, she was a Gentile, not part of God's people (yet). So what did she trust in? A scarlet cord! It's a picture of the blood Jesus spilt. She was a prostitute and was the last person people would've thought likely to be saved from an entire city. Maybe even she thought that herself - that she was worthless and hopeless. But she trusted only in the scarlet cord given to her as a gift, to save her. And we need to do that too. If we're worried about how worthless we are, know that just like Rahab, we have to trust only on what was given to us as a gift. Jesus' blood. If this is all starting to sound a bit Twilight, it simply means this: Jesus' blood-soaked, innocent death was a gift for us. A way out from shame. When Joshua's troops saw the scarlet cord flying from the window of Rahab's home it meant she was accepted by God. And Christ's blood does that for you. What now? Do you ever struggle with the idea that you're accepted by God? Read 1 John 1:8-9, John 3:16 and Romans 10:9 and see what it says about what God has accomplished for you.
Bible in a year: Titus 1-3; Matt 19:15-30; Ps 66:1-12; Pr 6:20-22;
Posted 05 March 2012 - 06:41 PM
'...Don't say, "I'm too young" .... go wherever I send you...' Jeremiah 1:7
God could have chosen to do His work any way He wanted, but He chose to use dirt-and-muck people. People like Moses, Isaiah and Jeremiah ... and you! God asked Moses, who to the world at the time was a 'nobody' - to go and give orders to the biggest 'somebody' of the day, the ruler of Egypt. God asked Isaiah, a polished city gent, to volunteer for an important mission which would include preaching naked for three years! And God asked Jeremiah, a young lad, to go speak to a bunch of rebels and risk getting his head kicked in. Moses said, 'I won't', Isaiah said, 'Woe is me' and Jeremiah said, 'I can't.' But when God chose to use people to share in His great work, He knew He would also supply, tailor made training courses to suit each individual's need. So old Mo, Isaiah, and Jeremiah received hands-on support, packed full of encouragement. God turned their 'I won'ts' into 'I wills', their 'I can'ts' into 'I cans' their 'Please choose someone else!' into 'Pick me! Pick me!' Will you let God do the same for you? What now? What stuff does God ask you to do that makes you say, 'I can't' or 'I won't'? Write a letter to God, asking Him to teach you to trust Him, even if that seems impossible.
CHOSEN (2) 05 Mar 2012
'If you're content to ... be yourself, your life will count' Matthew 23:12
'...Let me bring you this complaint: Why are the wicked so prosperous? Why are evil people so happy? ... Why do bad people have it so good? ... Why do con artists make it big? ... but ...You don't let me get by with a thing!"' (Jeremiah 12:1-4 TM). Jeremiah wasn't the first person to ask questions like this. Long before he was born, Job asked similar questions - and Habakkuk too. Perhaps you're asking the same sort of questions today? God's answer to Jeremiah, Job and Habakkuk and all who have asked questions like these is fundamentally the same: 'Think about where those people are headed; they may look good now, things may appear to be turning out right for them now, but how's it going to end? Their life may look attractive but it won't last forever! Do you honestly want to trade a forever lifetime with me for a bit of wealth or fame now? Do you think it a good idea to get away with whatever you want now and lose out on being in heaven with me? Those people are lost and they've chosen to ignore me, but you have all you need from me and everything you do for me I will use for your good.' God says, 'If you're content to ... be yourself, your life will count.' Don't look around at what everyone else is 'getting away with' - look to God and see all you're getting. What now? List five good things that you experience as a child of God, that those who don't belong to Jesus know nothing about.
Bible in a year: Heb 11:17 - 13:25 Matt 21:1-11 Ps 136:1-12???????????????? Pr 6:30-31;
Posted 08 March 2012 - 07:12 PM
'He will not crush the weakest reed or put out a flickering candle...' Matthew 12:20
Back in Jesus' day, kids would make musical pipes to play with from reeds growing by the river. They'd hollow them out, bore in holes and make tunes. But just like toys today, over time they get battered, bruised and thrown away. Have you ever felt like that? Life was once fresh and good, but then hurtful words or your own failure have left you battered and vulnerable. Remember candles on a birthday cake when you were a kid. Fun for a moment, but once blown out, useless and quickly discarded. Maybe you once felt on fire for God, but then the icy wind of unforgiveness or injustice quickly extinguished that. What do all these people have in common: A woman trembling before an angry mob threatening to stone her? A house surrounded by people and a paralysed man on a stretcher; his friends not giving up until they get him to Christ? A blind man crying out for his sight and disciples telling him to be quiet? They are all bruised reeds and smouldering wicks that Jesus refused to give up on. The world thinks it knows what to do with you-break you off and snuff you out! But not Jesus: 'He does not crush the weak, or quench the smallest hope' (TLB). No matter how spent or used you feel, God's still got you! Come, He will treat you gently and make you whole. He'll never chuck you out with the rubbish or snub you out. What now? If you can, light a candle. As you watch it flicker, talk to God about the things that have hurt and damaged you. When you feel ready, ask God to heal you.
Bible in a year: I Kings 8-9 Matt 22:1-14 Ps 112 Pr 7:6-9;
Posted 12 March 2012 - 09:30 AM
'Then David got up...' 2 Samuel 12:20
'I'm sorry, God! How could I have been so stupid, such an idiot? I mean it, I've never been so sorry in my whole life. What have I become? A liar, a cheat, a murderer! Well I'm not moving from this floor, God, I'm refusing to eat. I'm going to lie here slumped in a heap, until you help me! I realise now I'm nothing without you, nothing! How have I come to this? Where on earth did I get the idea that I was doing was okay?? I'm a wretch, rotten to the core, I stink of sin... Aagh! 'God, don't leave me to my pathetic ways. Please God, I beg you. I got it wrong God; horribly, tragically, pathetically wrong. I've messed up big time, and now I couldn't be sorrier. Put me straight again, take my soiled heart and clean it. God, do what I can't do. I want a heart that's fully, totally, chasing after you. ' David made earthshaking mistakes in his life: read the story in 2 Samuel 11 and 12. But God didn't leave him trapped in turmoil. The Bible tells us 'David got up...' When he did, God answered him, forgave him and led him on to greater things. God will do the same for you. What now? Write on a piece of paper all the things you want to say sorry to God for. Then destroy it.
Bible in a year: 1 Kings 12-13 Matt 22:23-33 Ps 135
Posted 18 March 2012 - 04:41 PM
'...We have seen His glory...' John 1:14
Gospel Truth. We hear that phrase loads, but what does it mean? First up, let's look at Truth. Truth is not just the idea of fact over fiction; Truth is not just words or beliefs; and Truth is not just an individual viewpoint. Truth can be seen from many angles, but Truth, in essence, is one Man- Jesus. The four gospels - Matthew, Mark, Luke and John - can be read individually, but to get an accurate picture of Jesus we should read all four in relation to each other. The beauty of this is that each gospel looks at different aspects of Jesus, His works, His personality and His teachings. They all complement each other by looking at a different side of Truth. They do not argue against each other, but they build each other up. They do not fight against each other, but together they complete the story of God-in-the-form-of-man. The ones who wrote the gospels saw Jesus's Glory when He came to earth, and they have written so we can also see His Glory! What now? Have a think about reading through the gospels again. What different sides of Jesus do you see in each one?
Posted 27 March 2012 - 11:00 AM
'Abraham never doubted or questioned God's promise.' Romans 4:20
A car might have a new engine, great body work, smart looking interior... but with no fuel in the tank, no one's going to expect it to get very far. It's the fuel that allows it to reach its destination. If we want to get ahead in life, we need to spend less time on our outwardly appearance and be more concerned with what's going on inside, making sure the tank of our lives is constantly topped up with the right fuel. Life often doesn't turn out like we think it will; our plans sometimes fail, we don't always achieve or have the things we wanted. So how do we keep going through disappointment and confusion? Hebrews 11:1 tells us what makes 'life worth living' is having faith in God: 'Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.' There's a dude in the Bible called Abraham, who reached a point in life where the odds were incredibly stacked against him. But he never lost hope, never gave up, he kept going. Why? Because he was full of faith in God: 'Abraham never doubted or questioned God's promise. His faith made him strong, and he gave all the credit to God. Abraham was certain that God could do what he had promised.' We can be certain too. Don't worry about the odds, be fuelled by faith. What now? Have a scan of Abraham's life story in Genesis 15-21 and then see what the New Testament writers say about him in Romans 4 and Hebrews 11:8-10.
Bible in a year: 2 Kings 10-12; Matt 26:14-25; Ps 69:1-18; Pr 8:27-29;
Posted 09 April 2012 - 04:40 AM
''Their loyalty is divided between God and the world...'' James 1:8
'Freak! Freak, did you call me?' Well, the abuse of control is freakish behaviour and it's not what God's looking for. If you've got tendencies to try to control situations or people just to get your own way, there's something wrong. Ever noticed that the more you try to control, the more anxiety you feel? The Bible says that, 'the mind of the flesh [which is sense and reason without the Holy Spirit] is death. But the mind of the [Holy] Spirit is life and peace...' (Romans. 8:6 AMP) It can be tempting to trust your own understanding of things, and take things from there, but God sometimes has different plans. God says, '...The way you work isn't the way I work...' (Isaiah 55:8 TM). Let the Holy Spirit bring you in line. He may have other plans. While it's true that God wants us to engage our brains, He also wants us to 'live by faith and not by sight'. Want everything signed, sealed, delivered? Learn to be comfortable with the unknown and you can bathe in God's pools of peace. 'Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don't get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow...' (Matthew 6:34 TM). What now? Read Psalm 139 as a prayer focusing on verses 23 and 24, asking your heavenly Father to expose anything He's not happy with. Go to Him asking for His help to change.
Bible in a year: Jer 1-3; Matt 28:11-15; Ps 25:16-22; Pr 10:2;
Posted 12 April 2012 - 10:17 AM
''...Won't you revive us...'' Psalm 85:6
And there he was, in the middle of this huge wide plain as the sun beat down. He looked to the left and then to the right, but the dry stubbly ground was covered with the ivory hue of what seemed to be bones. Yeah, bones?! 'Speak to the bones.' He recognised that voice. It was God. 'Here goes...' And as he did, and spoke what God had told him to speak, and followed His instruction, he heard a sound sweeping across the wilderness. A strange kind of rattling, a shaking. Before his very eyes the bones started to attach themselves, then muscle and sinew started to form all around, then real actual flesh. But then God spoke again, 'Breathe life!' Then a howling, deafening wind came. And then he saw a huge number, a complete army in fact, rise up before his very eyes! Ezekiel's story (found in Ezekiel 37) might seem a bit weird, but it shows us today that without the life of God, we're just like those same dry bones. Do we need reviving? It's easy to create the right impression, but are we really just becoming religious while our inner life does whatever it wants? Do we have STIs (spiritually transmitted infections) that are slowly killing our relationship with God? Or maybe we've just settled for second best? God offers us life: 'I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of' (1 John 1:10 TM). What now? Is there a situation or relationship you could breathe life into, maybe just by encouraging someone or thanking them?
Bible in a year: Jer 4-6; Matt 28:16-20; Ps 50:1-15; Pr 10:3;
THE REVIVAL WE NEED (2) 11 Apr 2012
''...Won't you revive us...'' Psalm 85:6
Yesterday, we started to look at the revival of life, and how that might look. We're going to stick with the letter 'L' and ask what a revival of light could look like. Flick on the news and you'll see that there's darkness everywhere. So what do you do? Sit looking glum? Jesus put the ball in our court when He said, 'You are the light of the world... so let your good deeds shine out for all to see so they may praise your Father in Heaven' (Matt. 10:14-16). There are loads of different ways you could make God famous, and good fashionable. Here's a few starters to get your imagination firing: 1) Why not do a litter pick with your mates? 2) Write a letter to a legend of your life to say thanks. 3) Hangout with a gran or grandad. 4) Forgive a foe. 5) Post on Facebook what Jesus has done for you. There are loads more things you could think of. Whatever good deed you do, make sure people know exactly why you're the best thing since sliced bread, and that you give God the credit. Jesus says, 'Now that I've put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand-shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you'll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven' (Matthew 5:16 TM). What now? Once you've decided what you could do to make your light shine, give yourself a deadline to make sure you do it. Put a reminder in your phone if you need to!
THE REVIVAL WE NEED (3) 12 Apr 2012
''...Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty'' 2 Corinthians 3:17
Bring it on! Your time has come! All those hours of cleaning the church toilets actually hasn't gone unnoticed! Your youth worker has approached you with the opportunity to do a talk in a couple of month's time to the rest of your youth group! Your chest puffs out, ever so slightly, but not enough for anyone to notice. You borrow concordances, start prepping notes and up the ante in prayer. You cannot wait for the big night! Then, with only a day to go, your pastor calls a meeting saying that God has told him there's a different plan for that night and you're not gonna get to do your talk! You are seething! 'What?!!' What a waste! You feel like walking out! But before you blow a gasket, what might God be teaching you through this? Well, the Bible says 'where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty'. But that liberty (there's the third 'L' which basically means freedom) happens under God-approved authority. Freedom doesn't mean doing whatever you want, whenever you want. Part of it means being open to God for a different plan, a different way of doing things. Liberty isn't feeling free enough to do what you want, it's about freeing you up to let God work through you. Take the humble choice, and allow God's Spirit to help you love the people around you. What now? Spend time praying for those who have authority over you, especially church leaders. Ask God to give them wisdom in the decisions they make.
Bible in a year: Jer 10-13; Mark 1:9-20; Ps 56; Pr 10:8-9;
Posted 13 April 2012 - 09:58 AM
''Love never fails'' 1 Corinthians 13:8
Golden oldies! Don't you just love 'em! You're at the park and there's a sweet little old couple walking hand in hand. He's as doddery as a toddler, and her hair's as grey as a ghost. You can tell they've had more games of Scrabble than you've had cooked dinners. Old couples who've stood the test of time are more than tired old clich?s. They're a testimony to the true nature of love. You might think love is that racing feeling when the hottie you've had your eye on walks through the door, but love is really about hanging in there when you want to walk out, forgiving each other and keeping on going. 1 Corinthians 13 might be the famous wedding passage, but we could all do with a reminder so that we can 'love our neighbour as ourselves'. There are 16 aspects of love that don't bear any resemblance to cotton wool platitudes of lurve, but are actually very practical. At the top of the list is patience. Could you imagine the difference it would make if you didn't just fly off the handle when your mum shows up late to pick you up. Then there's kindness, and we all love it when someone's done the washing up even when it's not their turn. The final aspect of love is that it never fails. It keeps going. A revival of love might only begin as a small deed, but it could bring on a revolution. What now? Read 1 Corinthians 13. What bits of the passage do you find really tough, and what comes more naturally?
Bible in a year: Jer 14-17; Mark 1:21-34; Ps 4; ?Pr 10:10;
Posted 20 April 2012 - 08:46 AM
''...We are all formed by your hand'' Isaiah 64:8
Superman or Morph? Who would you rather be? The Man of Steel versus a lump of clay. Superman could do just about anything, everything bounced off him and he could stop anything in its tracks. Morph, on the other hand, kept getting remoulded and reshaped, and even splattered into a ball of clay again and again. It might seem like the answer's obviously Superman, but what if we were wrong? If you look at it from God's point of view, God wants to make, create and shape you in to a man or woman of God. So which is easier to work with, clay or steel? If you're a bit more like steel than play-doh, He'll still be patient with you to do what He has to do, but it might take more time and effort, and will probably be more painful for you. Once you're like clay, God can shape you and use you and work with you. When He's done, your desires will start to match up with His desires. If you look inside yourself (metaphorically, of course) what are those things you desperately want? If you only want recognition, popularity and progress, then you're probably falling short. Take Jesus: most people thought Jesus came to rule the Jews and sort out the Romans, and yet He ended up dying on a cross. What now? Get hold of a lump of play-doh or clay (or even blue tack!) and as you shape it, think about your current circumstances. Ask yourself how God might be shaping you through them.
Bible in a year: Jer 33:1 - 36:26; Mark 3:20-35; Ps 16; Pr 10:15;
Posted 21 April 2012 - 03:58 PM
''By my God I can leap over a wall'' 2 Samuel 22:30
Faith. It's a gift we ask for from God, but don't be fooled into thinking it's a gadget on a utility belt, only to be brought out for times of healing at church. It's about having a bold and true understanding of who God is and who you are in Him. Looking at your situation might fill you with a tsunami-sized sense of dread, but when you start looking to God, the waves won't come crashing over you. You might be facing a huge deadline and have no idea how you'll get there, when some polite chap utters, 'There's no such word as can't!' 'Thanks for that!' You probably want to punch their lights out, but they're just getting you to stop looking at the size of your problem and start actually doing something about the problem. Let's say you want to see your year become Christians: this will probably require getting other Christians onboard. Top four sensible questions: 1) Do you have a CU? 2) If you do, do you actually go to it? 3) Do you pray with other Christian friends? 4) Could you put on an event to make yourselves known? All these things could be part of scaling your wall. Bite the bullet and before you know it, you'll be free running for Jesus! What now? Read Matthew 17:19 and name your 'walls' to God. Then ask Him for the belief and power to overcome them. What practical things do you now need to do to make it a reality?
Bible in a year: Jer 36:27 - 40:16; Mark 4:1-12; Ps 7:1-9; Pr 10:16;
Posted 23 April 2012 - 03:37 PM
''...A wise person stays calm when insulted' ' Proverbs 12:16
Your heart's pounding, you can feel a trickle of sweat run down your back, you take a deep gulp. Your teacher turns to you, stern as stone, and calmly says, 'Can I have a word... In my office.' Your mind races. Your brain scans for what you've done wrong. You heart's like a drum in your ears. They sit you down, and so it begins... No one likes being criticised. It's like a red raw slap in the face. Especially if you don't feel it's deserved. But criticism is a very necessary process to go through if you want to get better. The Bible uses the language of pruning which is the trimming process trees go through so they can keep growing healthily and be produce fruit. Even Word 4U 2Day entries get pruned! We also need pruning. But here are a few safety tips as you head towards the pruning shears, so that when it happens, you don't think you're getting chopped down: 1) Cling on to rational thinking. Don't lose the plot! 2) Check your conscience. Has God been prodding you about the same issue? 3) Consider the critic. Do you trust them, and do they live a good life themselves? 4) Look for God's purposes in it, no matter what. '...There is healing in the words of the wise' (Proverbs 12:18 TM). What now? Have you been left reeling from something someone's said to you? Ask God to shine light and truth in to your heart so you can step forward and grow healthily.
Bible in a year: Ruth 1:3-18; Acts 8:26-40;
HANDLING CRITICISM (2) 23 Apr 2012
''If you listen to correction, you grow in understanding' ' Proverbs 15:32
Yesterday we looked at receiving criticism and today we're going to look at healthy ways to pull other people up. Imagine there's a scale of justice and mercy, with justice at one end and mercy at the other. Jesus was obviously perfect, John describes Him as being 'full of truth and grace' (John 1:14). Jesus had justice and mercy meshed in perfect harmony. More often than not, we don't. Perhaps you've heard this illustrated with the quirky phrase, 'You can fall off a horse both ways.' So, let's consider the minefield of 'Improving situations through constructively criticising others!' Firstly, it's worth asking yourself whether you can handle criticism yourself. If you can't but you still go round telling everyone else what they should be doing, you're making yourself look like a hypocrite. Secondly, ask yourself what your motives are for dishing it out. To make yourself look wise, or for a bit of spiritual prestige? Then you may well be proud. Thirdly, are you fuelled by blame? Then you'll only come across as judgmental and you won't get taken seriously. Fourthly, have you got ideas of how to go forward? If not, is it helpful to even open your mouth? And finally, are you speaking the truth in love? Do they know you genuinely care about them? If you're not respecting them but just shovelling information down their throats, they'll see through it. What now? Which side of the horse do you fall off, harsh criticism or timid weakness? Read Matthew 18:15-17.
Bible in a year: Jer 41-44; Mark 4:13-25; Ps 7:10-17; Pr 10:17-18;
Edited by lilacday, 23 April 2012 - 03:38 PM.
Posted 04 May 2012 - 06:35 AM
'All these soldiers ... were both united and determined' 1 Chronicles 12:38
Joining the army is no ordinary career - it's more than just a job. Not everyone can join, there's a process to go through and requirements that must be met. And it's a way of life that's filled with great benefits, but also harsh uncertainty, which means that the life of a soldier is not easy. Being a Christian is no ordinary way to live either. It, too, is a life filled with benefits but it's not easy. It can be a struggle living life as a Christian, especially as we're not given a get-out-of-jail-free card from the same difficulties and doubts that others go through. But in much of the world, being a Christian can be, quite literally, as life-threatening as being a soldier. In over fifty countries Christians are persecuted: actively sought out and punished for standing up for Jesus. There must be a very strong temptation to go AWOL. Perhaps what made David's men stay strong as valiant warriors was that they were 'united and determined.' We need to be united with those suffering for being Christians: standing together, upholding one another in prayer and showing support for one another. And we need to be determined: never giving up on them. What now? Visit opendoorsuk.org or csw.org.uk and make an effort to find out more about our persecuted sisters and brothers. What can you do to show unity and determination on their behalf?
Bible in a year: Acts 12-13; Mark 7:1-13; Ps 37: 25-31; Pr 11: 5-6;
Posted 08 May 2012 - 12:40 PM
'Love one another the way I loved you' John 15:12
When Jesus says, 'Love one another', the word He uses means 'to nurture'. Think of a mother and her child. He's saying that we should love one another like that - treating each other gently, affectionately, and always seeking the best for each other. You might think of someone in your church or youth group and think the kind of love they need most is tough love. But beneath the mask, we all desperately need to be nurtured. God gives us the church, youth groups, and friends so we can nurture and be nurtured. The story is told of a little girl who came home from church one Sunday and announced, 'I want to be like the man who stood up in the pulpit today.' Delighted, her mum said, 'That's lovely. So you want to go into the ministry?' 'No,' she replied, 'I want to tell people what to do!' Some of us want to be authority figures so we can correct people and give them our so-called 'constructive criticism.' But most people don't need a critic, they need a cheerleader. When you nurture people they will welcome you to speak into their life-and they will listen. What now? Paul writes, 'Encourage each other and build each other up' (1 Thes. 5:11 NLT). Get on the phone, compose an email, or write a letter with nurturing words for someone today.
Bible in a year: Acts 18-19; Mark 8:1-13; Ps 44: 9-16; Pr 11:10-11;
Posted 06 June 2012 - 05:45 PM
'"Roll the stone aside," Jesus told them' John 11:39
Lazarus was dead. There was no hiding it. It had been three days. But nothing's impossible with God, right? A heavy stone stood between Lazarus and new life. Then Jesus gave the command, 'Remove the stone.' God knows how our hearts can become stone-hard. People hurt us. We hurt ourselves. We hurt other people. It's called sin, and it's more lethal than a terminal illness. Simply being a Christian doesn't make you immune. It subtly creeps in like cancer and causes us to die inside. All of this puts a solid wall between us and the fullness of life God wants for us. But He is God, He is good and He hasn't left us alone. 'I'll give you a new heart,' He says, 'put a new spirit in you. I'll remove the stone heart from your body and replace it with a heart that's God-willed, not self-willed. I'll put my Spirit in you and make it possible for you to do what I tell you and live by my commands' (Ez. 36:26 TM). That new Spirit is Jesus - His power is strong enough to shift any stony heart, and bring new life from certain death. What now? Is there something or someone you need to put things right with? It may be God, family or friend, or an enemy. Ask God for His courage as you look to be reconciled if it doesn't seem like it will be an easy task.
Bible in a year: Judges 12-15; Mark 14:53-65; Ps 1; Pr 13:1;
Posted 10 June 2012 - 02:07 PM
'Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.' John 13:8
Feet are generally a bit rank. (Please write to us if you disagree, with a full and detailed explanation.) And in the first Century AD, they were most certainly minging. Imagine living in a town without slabs of concrete pavement to keep your feet from the dirt and grime beneath. Then imagine wearing only sandals, all day, every day. On the last night of His life, Jesus did a job that was normally done by the lowest rank of servants and would have definitely been seen as one of the worst jobs in the house. After His last dinner with the disciples, Jesus got down on His knees and washed their donkey-dung-caked feet. 'Why?' you might ask. 'Maybe He knew what Judas was about to do and thought "If you're going to betray me, at least have clean toes and make it a dignified betrayal!"' No. To His disciples, Jesus said, 'Do you understand what I have done to you? You address me as "Teacher" and "Master," and rightly so. That is what I am. So if I, the Master and Teacher, washed your feet, you must now wash each other's feet. I've laid down a pattern for you. What I've done, you do' (vv. 14). In other words, in order to serve God in a Jesus-like manner, we need to serve each other. Jesus made himself the lowest by washing feet, so nothing should be seen as being beneath us when it comes to serving others. What now? Read through Luke 22:24-27, where the disciples argue about who should be seen as the greatest among them. See how Jesus answers them!
Bible in a year: Ezek 47:1-12; Rev 21: 22 - 22:5;
Posted 10 June 2012 - 02:09 PM
'Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.' Philippians 2:5
'It's all about meeee, (my name), and all this is for meeee, for my glory and my fame!'* Wouldn't sing that on a Sunday, would you? No doubt there'd be a tut-tut from old Doris if you did, and a quick escorting out of church for your blaspheming tongue. It's fair to say we'd never sing that. But it's scary how easily we can live that way. Even when we're serving God, our hearts can be pumping with the motivation of wanting to be noticed and admired. It's the heart behind what we do that's important to God. Paul says this: 'Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus, who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant' (vv. 5-7 NIV). In other words, serving God is about serving others rather than yourself. What if you feel treated like a servant, bossed around and belittled? Jesus said: 'If someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life...' (Matt. 5:41 TM). What now? Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal times when you have acted or thought like you were better than others. (Maybe there's a recurring issue in your life that is preventing you from putting others first.) Pray through those times with Him. * With apologies to Paul Oakley
Bible in a year: Gal 4-6; Mark 15:33-47; Ps 143; Pr 13:9-10;
Posted 10 June 2012 - 02:12 PM
'Serve the Lord with gladness...' Psalm 100:2
Mother said I practically came out of the womb doing a grand jete so it was really of no surprise that I was accepted into the Royal Ballet School at aged six. I was the youngest student ever to be enrolled but apparently my pas de chat was just to die for, so they just had to have me! It can make you feel sick listening to people speak of themselves like that can't it? Especially when all you've said to encourage it is 'hello'! Paul writes 'You may brag about yourself, but the only approval that counts is the Lord's approval' (2 Cor. 10:18 CEV). If your self-worth is based on anything other than God's approval, you won't serve with the right motives. Insecure people worry about how they'll be perceived by others: they hide their weaknesses beneath layers of protective pride. The more insecure you are, the more you need people to serve you, and the more you work for their acceptance. The thing is, if we hold other people's opinions of us above God's, we can stop being obedient to Him because we're too worried and stifled by what other people think. No wonder Paul writes, 'let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles' (Heb. 12:1). Free yourself from being trapped by the thoughts and opinions of others. Make it easier on yourself and let your heart be glad from seeking to please and serve the Lord instead. What now? Whatever your mood today, take the time to worship God and pray for His grace to serve Him with gladness by serving others!
Bible in a year: Lam 1:1 - 3:39; Mark 16:1-20; Ps 80:1-11; Pr 13:11-12;
Posted 15 June 2012 - 06:33 AM
'I chose you ... to go and bear fruit - fruit that will last' John 15:16
Jesus told His disciples that they were branches - remember the reading way back on May 8th? Jesus was saying that we are the branches and He is the vine. If a branch isn't attached to anything it can't produce any fruit (in fact, Jesus goes as far as to say, 'apart from me you can do nothing' in verse 5). Wondering about what fruit your life will bear? It's only through your relationship with Jesus that you can find out who you really are, whether you're a Galatians 5:19-21 or 5:22-24 kind of guy or gal, and the extent of how you can use your God-given gifts. Your strength and success is in Jesus. That's not the end of it though. We all know that not all of the "fruit" we produce would get the Man from Del Monte's all important "yes". Some branches need to be cut down - pruned. God even can take away things in your life that you've had security or self-esteem in. This can feel like God's hacking away at you rather than looking after you. But God is preparing and shaping you for greater things to come. What now? Re-read John 15:1-17, and compare your own relationship with God to the one Jesus is talking about. (Also, ever wondered where it says that "Jesus loves you" in the Bible? Spot the verse here!)
Bible in a year: Amos 5:18 - 9:15; Luke 1:26-38; Ps 73:17-28; Pr 13:20;
Posted 21 June 2012 - 10:39 AM
HEALTH CHECK (1) 18 Jun 2012
'Are you in health, my brother?' 2 Samuel 20:9
Once upon a time, as the famous parable tells, there was a contest between Wind and Sun. They fought to see who could remove the coat of a man walking down a street. Wind had no doubt about its ability, so it simply blew great gusts of air down with all its strength. But it hadn't thought ahead - the man felt Wind billowing around him, and pulled his coat closer around himself. Sun looked down and took its turn. It shone warm, lovely, rays down onto the man, and shone, and shone. Eventually, the man became too warm, and he gladly removed his coat to enjoy the sunshine! Where Wind had tried to use brute strength to force what it wanted, Sun worked persuasively, drawing the man towards what it wanted. God is like that with us. He won't force His will on us, but will work with us. He loves us as we are right now - every part of us - but He wants to grow us, and develop us into healthy children of His. Ever wondered what people mean when they talk about being in a 'relationship with God'? Well, that's it! What's your response to that sort of love? Don't just rely on Word 4U 2Day for your 'daily God intake'. Let God's Holy Spirit in on the action too. When we allow ourselves to be led by His Spirit, we enter a real conversation with God. 'Draw near to God and He will draw near to you' (James 4:8 ESV). The more we give Him time and the more we draw near to hear His voice, the more we'll come to realise there's no friend closer. What now? This next series of readings is going to focus on the basics of our faith. Ask yourself, 'am I in health?' It's helpful to see if we're still functioning right on this basic level - the foundation of your relationship with God.
Bible in a year: Ezek 5-9; Luke 1:57-66; Ps 139:7-12; Pr 13:24;
'Are you in health, my brother?' 2 Samuel 20:9
Here's a healthy bite of truth to chew on: 'For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord' (Rom. 8:38-39 NIV). Salvation doesn't stop at the cross. Jesus came back to life and will always intercede for us; will always, in effect, be 'saving' us. The Love of God to man shown through Jesus is always trustworthy, total and never unsteady. These are amazing verses. It's so important to let the goodness of this good news cancel out any shame and guilt that may stop us from running back to our heavenly Dad to repent when we've messed up. The enemy will try and keep you away from God by telling you that you are no longer fit to be in His presence: 'You're not good enough. You're not worthy.' The truth is, we never were. It's only by Jesus' blood that we are made holy enough in the first place. We pray to God in Jesus' name and it's by His name that God answers. That's why we can come boldly. We need to keep coming back to this truth - it's where our faith starts and ends. What now? Return to the start of this reading, or find this passage in your Bible. Run your mind over the verses. Go back over them and think: what does this mean about the character of God?
Bible in a year: Ezek 10-13 Luke 1:67-80; Ps 139:13-24; Pr 13:25;
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