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Water for Your Soul

Verses to learn this month: Psalm 119 v 1-3
"Blessed are they whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the Law of the Lord. Blessed are they who keep his statutes and seek him with all their heart. They do nothing wrong; they walk in his ways."

1. Dealing with Fear

"For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship"
Romans 8 vs 15

God never designed you to live in fear. Fear hinders potential and it really upsets God when we fail to live the life we were meant to live. The only way you can get rid of fear in your life is to recognise the fact that you are God's child and to know the peace of the love of God in your life.

Do you know the peace of God in your life?

For it says in the Bible that "perfect love drives out all fear", it is so important that you realise that God loves you, if you know that love then you will not be hindered by fear. Fear holds you back from moving forward in your relationship with God, it damages your image of yourself and your image of God the Father. God never condemns you and He would never hold you back. To be released into all your Father has for you, then you need to leave fear behind.

Going Deeper: There are many teachings in the Bible on fear, many of David's Psalms were written about fear. Psalm 34 vs 4 and Psalm 23, read them and understand the love of God for you.

Prayer: Make a list of the fears in your life, pray over each one and ask God's perfect love to fill you and just rest in Him.

2. Accepting yourself.

"Let us make man in our image, in our likeness."
Proverbs 3 vs 7

When God created us He spoke to Himself, we are made in the image of God. When He created the fish He spoke to the waters, you should understand then that we are a special creation and that we are formed in the likeness of God. Many of us find it hard to accept ourselves, we believe the lie that we are ugly, or not wanted and we often wish we were made differently. But God created each of us with His own hands, He chose us even before we were conceived so what right have we to criticise the works of God.

We are fearfully and wonderfully made! There is no one exactly like you in all the history of creation. You are completely unique and God intended ffb you to be so. This is an exciting time to be living in, many people are going to come to know the Lord and we need to be there to love them. It's very hard to love and accept someone else if we can't even love and accept ourselves.

Going Deeper: In the Bible there are examples of people who struggled to accept themselves. Jeremiah is one of them. He was known as the "reluctant prophet" as he didn't really want to live the life God had chosen for him. If you read the first few chapters of Jeremiah you see that he realises that God chose him before he was even born and he learns to accept how God had created him and what hid purpose was. Read Psalm 139 and speak it over yourself, making it personal to you.

Prayer: Sit in a quiet place and allow yourself to accept who you are and meditate on Psalm 139.

3. God's standards.

"Don't depend on your own wisdom. Respect the Lord and refuse to do wrong."
Proverbs 3 vs 7

Read Exodus 20 vs 1-17. This is clearly a passage where God clearly sets some standards, the ten commandments may be right at the beginning of the old testament but they are still as relevant to us now as they were then.

God sets standards for our benefit; to guide and protect us. God is a loving Father who knows what is best. He does not want to bind us up but free us through them.

Now read 1 Corinthians 13 vs 4-7. In this description of what love is, we get a picture of what Jesus is like. Read it through replacing love with Jesus. As Christians we are living everyday to become more like Jesus. This passage really gives us something to work at.

Going Deeper: Read 1 Corinthians 13 and honestly try and put your name in love's place. Jot down the areas you fall short in.

Prayer: Bring the areas you wrote down before God, receive His grace and His spirit, ask Him to help you change.

4. Work

"Those who work their land will have plenty of food, but the one who chases empty dreams is not wise."
Proverbs 12 vs 11

Why work? God did. Read Genesis 1

For six days He worked on creation, then He rested. We are made in God's image, it was His intention that we work. In Genesis 2 vs 15 we read how God gave man a job as son as man was created; to work the garden. It's not always easy or pleasant but there will always come a satisfaction when we stop being idle.

Going Deeper: Consider work as worship; as an expression of love and obedience. Meditate on Colossians 3 vs 23.

Prayer: Take time to apologise to God for wrong attitudes towards work and allow Him to begin to meet you through it.

5. Perfect?

"So you must be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect"
Matthew 5 vs 48

How many times have you heard someone say, "it's alright, nobody's perfect"? Probably many. That's very true, but as Christians we have been called to be different, to strive for perfection. It doesn't mean we can't make mistakes, we are human and while we live on earth we will continue to struggle with sin.

We are called to stand out. Actions do speak louder than words. As we strive to become perfect, people will notice and start desiring what it is that makes us that way.

Going Deeper: Read all of Matthew 5, special attention to verses 43-48.

Prayer: Ask God to highlight anything in your life that is hindering your walk with Him. Take time to ask forgiveness and thank God for His love and the fact the He will never give up on you.

6. Hang onto the promise

"Since we have these promises, dear friends let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God."
2 Corinthians 7 vs 1

The promises refer to 2 Corinthians 6 vs 17-18; "therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing and I will receive you. I will be a ffb Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty." What an awesome promise!

We should never be satisfied with being less than perfect and even when it seems an impossible goal, hang onto God's promises. God knows all our weaknesses and has given us the Holy Spirit as a helper for us.

Going Deeper: Read Hebrews 4, have a close look at verses 14-16

Prayer: Thank God for His promises to us and for the Holy Spirit who He has given to us as a helper.

7. Honesty

"An honest answer is as pleasing as a kiss on the lips."
Proverbs 24 vs 26

Read Psalm 15 and Zechariah 8 vs 16-19

Honesty is vital in any healthy relationship whether between you and God of you and others. Honesty is what builds trust between people. If you lie to someone then that trust can be shattered. Even in little things like telling someone when they have offended you, instead of giving them the cold shoulder, are important parts of an honest relationship.

So it is with God; He already knows our thoughts and what is in our hearts. Being honest with Him develops trust. If you keep things from God it hurts Him. It's not so much that He needs to know stuff, but it is in the telling that the relationship grows.

Going Deeper: Read Hosea 6 vs 6 and Proverbs 15 vs 8

Prayer: Spend some time being honest with God and pouring your heart out to Him again.

8. God is a shepherd

"Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our maker; for he is our God and we are the people of His pasture, the flock under His care."
Psalm 95 vs 6-7

We are God's creation, He made each of us and has had a plan for our lives in mind even before He'd made us. Sometimes it can feel like we are going totally of track but God is our shepherd and He is always close by to keep us from wandering too far.

Sometimes a sheep needs a good prod to make it go, sometimes it needs to hear the gentle, caring voice of it's master. The image of a shepherd is so often used because it demonstrates so many sides of God's character.

In God we have everything we need, whether it be discipline or a demonstration of love.

Going Deeper: Read Psalm 23

Prayer: As you read, thank God for His love and if you are feeling in need, ask God to meet them and fill you with Himself.

9. Hard Love

"My son, do not despise the Lord's discipline and do not resent His rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those He loves, as a father the son he delights in."
Proverbs 3 vs 11-12

We all fall short and make mistakes. God desires for us to become a holy people; His pure spotless bride. When we persistently make mistakes God steps in to help us sort it out. Sometimes this feels like the world is falling in around us but God wants us to grow and be whole.

Read Hebrews 12 vs 1-4. When we stop and think about it there is little need for explanation. God loves us and has given His only Son as payment for our sins and through Him we can become that holy people.

Going Deeper: Read Psalm 51.

Prayer: Ask God to reveal the love behind the discipline and thank Him for His mercy.

10. Temptation

"And lead us not into temptation."

Luke 11 vs 4

Everyday we are tempted to do things we shouldn't, whether it is something like shop-lifting or something as subtle like having a bad attitude towards someone. Sometimes it can feel like we have an impossible task if we are to keep ourselves from falling into temptation.

Jesus was tempted for forty days in the desert but without sinning. We can read about this in Luke 4 vs 1-13. Notice how He uses the Bible to keep Himself from giving into temptation. This is something we can apply to our lives. The more we feed ourselves with God's word, the less likely we are to fall.

God knows all our weaknesses and He will never allow us to ffb be tempted beyond what we can bear, as it says in 1 Corinthians 10 vs 12-13; "So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall! No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so you can stand up under it."

Going Deeper: Let us be encouraged that we have a God who understands how hard it can be. Read Hebrews 4 vs 14-16.

Prayer: Take time to say sorry to God now for times this week when you have fallen into temptation. Allow God's grace to minister to you now.

11. Watch your mouth.

"He who guard's his lips, guards his life, but he who speaks roughly will come to ruin."
Proverbs 13 vs 3

Each one of us has been on the receiving end of someone's bad day or thoughtless remarks. We have all probably been the giver of them too. We all know too well what a harsh word can do to us.

The saying "sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never harm me" could not be further from the truth. A harsh word can be devastating. Surely then we should try to watch what comes from our mouths. God wants us to be living examples of Jesus, not breaking people down but building people up and encouraging with our words.

Going Deeper: Read James 3, especially concentrate on verses 1-12.

Prayer: Ask God to help you to watch what comes from your mouth. Pray that He would give you a desire to build people up with your words.

12. Anger

"When you are angry, do not sin, and be sure to stop being angry before the end of the day."
Ephesians 4 vs 26

Anger is an emotion that is sometimes frowned upon as Christians. We often see it as something that we shouldn't feel. We are supposed to "love everyone". That is true but anger is a healthy emotion if we deal with it properly. We need to learn to take our anger to God instead of taking it out on others.

We have to learn not to hold grudges against people. If someone does make you angry, you need to forgive them or talk to them if you feel you can't. Sharing your anger with someone may help but don't allow it to fester and become bitterness because that leads to your own hindered growth.

Sometimes God gives us anger about injustice and the way people are treated. This helps to stir us to intercede for others.

Going Deeper: Read Matthew 5, concentrate on verses 21-26.

Prayer: If there is any anger or unforgiveness in your heart, bring it before God now. If you find it hard to deal with your anger, ask God to help you.

13. Less than rich

"Happy are those who are spiritually poor, the kingdom of heaven belongs to them."
Matthew 5 vs 3

It's sometimes easy to find ourselves looking at people around us like cell leaders and church leaders and feeling very spiritually inadequate. Our worth is not measured by how much of the Bible we can quote; nothing we can do will ever make God love us more. He already loves us as much as possible.

It is important to read and soak ourselves in the Bible, not because we have something to live up to but because we love God and want to know more about Him. God can and will use us with what knowledge we have and we mustn't under-estimate the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives. God sees our hearts and when we thirst for Him, He will respond in love.

Going Deeper: Read Proverbs 2. Take a look at verses 3-5, you might like to meditate on those for a while.

Prayer: Ask God to give you understanding and wisdom if you feel you want more. Be honest with God as to where you are at.

14. Spiritual gifts

"The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though its parts are many, they form one body."
1 Corinthians 12 vs 12

We are all different and have different st ffb rengths. God has put treasure inside of each of us and He wants that to become visible to the people around us.

God has gifts for each of us, whether it be prophesy or a gift of healing or it could be that you are a great encourager or a good listener.

Read Romans 12 vs 6-8 to see some of the gifts Paul identifies. The gifts are given to us through the Spirit according to what God wants. (1 Corinthians 12 vs 8-11)

We need to move in the gifts that God has given us; that requires faith to trust in what God has put inside us. As we begin to step out in the area of our gifting, God will step in and use us.

It is important to use the gifts God has given us in order to grow in faith and so we do not become stagnant. It is like a runner, if he stops training, when he comes to run a race he will fall behind and not reach his full potential. The more we use the gifts we have been given, the more gifts God will trust us with.

Going Deeper: Read the parable of the talents; Matthew 25 vs 14-30. List the gifts that God has given you.

Prayer: Thank God for your gifts and ask Him for more opportunities to use them and step out in faith. If you don't know what your gifts are, ask God to reveal them to you.

15. He cares

"Cast your burdens on the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous fall."
Psalm 55 vs 22

Ever feel you have a problem that is just too big for anyone to understand, or feel like no-one has time to listen. We all do at sometime. God cares all the time, He is always there to listen. No problem is too big or small, nothing is insignificant to Him.

Isn't it amazing and uplifting to know that the God of the universe loves each of us so much and is concerned about us every minute of the day.

Going Deeper: Read Psalm 27 and Psalm 139. In times of difficulty or pain it is good to know the deep peace that God is always with you. We need to learn to run to God and not from Him when the going gets tough.

Prayer: Spend time allowing God's Spirit to minister peace and love to you. If there are specific fears or worries you have, tell God about them and allow Him to take the weight of them from you.

16. Someone to trust in.

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight."
Proverbs 3 vs 5-6

We all need someone to put our trust in, it's part of the nature God gave us. People will sometimes let you down. Not always deliberately, but because of our selfish human ways, we often put our own needs before the needs of others.

God, however is eternally faithful and will never let you down. "If we are not faithful, He will still be faithful, because He cannot be false to Himself." 2 Timothy 2 vs 13. Because of this we can always trust Him with our futures, our hopes, our dreams. our failures and our emotions. There is nothing we cannot trust God with.

God has plans for us, He wants us to be whole in Him, He wants to know us (Hosea 6 vs 6). We need to trust Him with ourselves, He won't let us down.

Going Deeper: Read Psalm 62

Prayer: Ask God to help you now to put you trust in Him. Be honest with Him now and tell Him the areas you find it hard to do that in.

17. Don't worry about a thing

"Do not worry about anything, but pray and ask God for everything you need, always giving thanks"
Philippians 4 v 6

We live in a society that is fast moving and quite often full of stress. Whether we are at school or college or work we are often in situations that have the potential to become very worrying, such as exams.

As Christians we can always bring things before God and leave them there. We find it difficult to do that sometimes and God's peace does not always seem easy to receive. God cares about everything we do and He doesn't want u ffb s to be stressed out about things. When we are worried we need to learn to trust God and know that once we have asked Him to take control of a situation, He will.

Going Deeper: Read matthew 6 v 19-34. Make a list of things that are worrying you and what needs to happen to sort them out. Give the list to God.

Prayer: Ask God to give you peace and help to let Him have the worries.

18. Giving

"A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will be refreshed."
Proverbs 11 v 25

We all enjoy receiving, but when it comes to giving do we find it quite so easy? Maybe we'd like to think so but when we examine our motives are they all as self-less as we'd like. Giving is not just about giving things to people but developing a lifestyle of giving of yourself to others in time, services, encouraging, listening etc. the list is endless.

All these things can be summed up in the commandments Jesus gives us in Matthew 22 v 37-39; "Jesus replied: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your mind. this is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbour as yourself." When we start putting other's needs before ourselves, giving is easier. As we give we are blessed.

Going Deeper: Read 2 Corinthians 9 v 6-15. Think of ways you can bless someone this week in different ways of giving.

Prayer: Ask God to give you a generous spirit and a chance to bless others.

19. Pride

"For the Lord takes delight in His people; He crowns the humble with salvation."
Psalm 149 v 4

Pride is something we all have a lot of the time. All sin can be traced back to pride. After all pride is the reason Satan was kicked out of heaven; He wasn't satisfied wioth what God had given him, he thought he deserved more. We often find ourselves saying "It's not fair." By whose standards?

In the light of our salvation everything we are and have is by the grace of God. Pride is thinking more highly of ourselves than of God. Pride stops us being obedient to God because we are afraid of how silly we look.

Going deeper: Isaiah 53 talks about Jesus, the ultimate example of humility. Take a minute to think about what God has done for us through Jesus. Let the reality of it sink in again.

Prayer: Spend some time thanking God for all that He's done in sending Jesus. If you feel that pride is a problem in your life, spend some time before God and allow him to be your central focus again.

20. We need to be together

"Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work; if one falls down, the other can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!"
Ecclesiastes 4 vs 9-10

Living and working with others has always been God's intention for us. It is very important as Christians to reflect God in what we do. We must love and support one another and always put others before ourselves.

Read Galatians 4 vs 13-15. We must act in love towards one another and build each other up. We are all parts of the same body and should learn to serve each other more. It is also important to be accountable to one another in case we make mistakes and need help. In the world we live in, people will know we are Christians by our love.

Going Deeper: Read Psalm 133 through a few times. Oil and dew are symbols of blessing. Unity is a powerful thing because without it Satan will try and cause barriers between people and God's Spirit is hindered. If you know that barriers have grown between you and other people resolve now to sort them out.

Prayer: Pray for unity within the church leadership in your own church and between denominations.

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