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Word For You Today

Take God with you 1

'The Lord... goes before you and will be with you...' Deuteronomy 31:8 NIV

Surely God would only send those he could totally trust into enemy territory? Understand this: God knows where we are at. He has us in the right place, for this time. He has already, or is currently, equipping us, even though we think we're not ready. Our parents wouldn't send us off on a school trip without packing our bags with everything we'd need while we're away. And God won't either.

God understands us. He knows about our desire to stay in one place when things become so comfortable that we don't want to move! He knows it takes troubled waters for us to reach out to him and, as a result, tap into strength and success we never knew possible.

Sometimes nasty environments can be overwhelming; but by God's grace we can thrive in them! If you'll take God with you and keep your identity in one piece, the enemy will lose ground. Don't let him keep you focused on everything that's doing your head in: fear, shame, insecurity, gossip, peer pressure, nasty people. Don't focus so much on the discomfort of the moment that you miss the blessings that lie beyond it.

So what now? While you're praying for God to change your circumstances and take away your problems, he's saying, 'If only you knew what was waiting for you. Your purpose and destiny are only moments away and, though not wrapped in shiny paper, they contain all you'll ever need to reach your goal and bring me glory.' Take God with you!

Soulfood: Is 61:1-9, Luke 4:16-30


Given a second chance

'...The son of God [came] destroy the devil's work.' 1 John 3:8 NIV

How often do we look at somebody and think 'I'm not as bad as they are'? After all, we haven't cheated on a test or lied to our parents. Wrong! While we may not have done the same thing, we may have thought about it, or similar things. And if we haven't yet, chances are that, given certain circumstances, we could!

The Bible says, 'All have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God' (Romans 3:23 NKJV). Note that word 'all.' Without safeguards in place we all come up short. Until we confront our capacity for sin and admit our weakness in certain areas, we'll always be a target for the enemy. And we'll fall! Our issue may appear to be anger or lust or jealousy, but the underlying problem is plain old sin. In the hard-hitting introduction to his letter to the church in Rome, Paul talks about those who reject God's dealings. He describes how God '...gave them over to a depraved mind, [to] do what ought not to be done' (Romans 1:28 NIV). We need to be so thankful that God hasn't turned us over to ourselves!

The bottom line is, sin makes us want to go our own way instead of God's. But, the Bible says, 'The devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God [came] was to destroy the devil's work' (1 John 3:8 NIV).

So what now? Be quick to admit when you've sinned and receive God's forgiveness. Give thanks that he's given you another chance.

Soulfood: Is 4-7, John 5:1-15, Ps 126, Prov 27:17-19


Overcoming 2

'...My power works best in weakness.' 2 Corinthians 12:9 NLT

At 19 months, Helen Keller contracted an illness that eventually left her without hearing and sight. Back then those labeled 'deaf and dumb' were classified as idiots. But Helen's parents didn't agree. They hired a teacher and eventually she learned to read and write using Braille. Amazingly, in 1904 she graduated with honours, then devoted her life to helping others. A businessman called Andrew Carnegie paid her an annual wage, writers Mark Twain and Robert Louis Stevenson praised her and almost every President of her day invited her to the White House. Even though Helen died in 1968, her legacy of courage lives on. When asked if there was anything worse than being blind, Helen replied, 'Yes, having sight but no vision.'

At 12, Thomas Edison developed such severe hearing loss that his teachers recommended he be taken out of school. Instead Edison used his handicap to drown out distractions and focus on his work. As a result, the boy who was labeled 'a slow learner' gave the world over 1,000 inventions, including the light bulb, the phonograph and the motion camera.

Who gets to decide what's 'normal' anyway? God has given us all unique abilities to use. And, interestingly, the real handicaps don't belong to those who are born with physical and mental challenges, but to those who've accepted being lazy and 'can't be bothered' attitudes' as part of life.

So what now? God said, 'My power works best in weakness' (2 Corinthians 12:9 NLT), so you can let your difficulties stop or inspire you. Which will it be?

Soulfood: Is 1-3, John 4:39-54, Ps 5, Prov 27:13-16


Overcoming 1

'...Despite all these things...' Romans 8:37 NLT

Wilma Rudolph won three gold medals at the 1960 Olympics. What she accomplished isn't as impressive as what she overcame. As a child 'Willie' contracted polio and couldn't walk without braces. Then at age 13 she regained the use of her legs and went on to become the fastest woman alive. But her challenges weren't just physical. One of 22 children born to a poor black family, she inspired others by overcoming poverty and many racial problems. She said, '"I can't" has never been in my vocabulary.' At age two, Scott Hamilton, another famous Olympic skater, stopped growing because of a childhood illness that almost killed him. But his parents encouraged his rehabilitation by teaching him to skate - and the rest is history! In 1976 when Brad Parks was injured in an accident that left him in a wheelchair, he strengthened his arm by whacking tennis balls against his garage door. Three years later he formed the National Foundation of Wheelchair Tennis.

Pastor and best-selling author Rick Warren writes: 'Why does God use our weaknesses? Because when he does, he gets all the glory. If God only used your strengths, others would look at you and be jealous...or discouraged. But when God uses you in spite of your weaknesses...they realise "God could use me too!" The apostle Paul said, 'Despite all these things...victory is ours through Christ' (Romans 8:37 NLT).

So what now? Your weaknesses aren't an accident. God...allowed them for the purpose of demonstrating his power through you. Guess what: you can do it.

Soulfood: Ex 39-40, John 4:27-38, Ps 15, Prov 27:10-12


Speaking the truth in love

'Love should always make us tell the truth...' Ephesians 4:15 CEV

How do you think Paul would've handled the following inquiry: 'Dear Paul: We're thinking about hiring Alexander the coppersmith to manage our company, and because you know him well we'd appreciate your opinion?' Knowing the problems Alexander had caused him in the past (see 2 Timothy 4:14-15), how would Paul respond? Or how about this one: 'Dear Abraham: Lot has applied for a loan to expand his cattle ranch on the land he inherited from you. So we're writing to ask you for a character reference?' Would Abraham, who was well aware of his nephew's dodgy business practices (see Genesis 13:11-13), fudge the facts to keep peace in the family? It's doubtful. Or what about this one: 'Dear John: We need a mature Christian to fill a slot on our church board. Based on your dealings with Diotrephes, do you think he's the right person?' John knew this guy's need for power and control (see 3 John 1:9-10). But would he just give him a good account anyway? Probably not; knowing John he'd be honest and tell the truth.

The Bible says that 'love should always make us tell the truth' (Ephesians 4:15 CEV). Following Christ means being honest when it would be easier to avoid confrontation and not give all the facts. We need to be courageous to be straightforward - and gracious.

So what now? When being asked for your input on a person or situation, speak the truth, but be careful not to embarrass or degrade them. The Bible says, 'Let your conversation be always full of grace...' (Colossians 4:6 NLT).

Soulfood: Ex 36-38, John 4:13-26, Ps 41, Prov 27:7-9


Learn to be content 2

'...the rich seldom get a good night's sleep.' Ecclesiastes 5:12 NLT

A mega-rich American tycoon called Rockefeller was asked, 'How much does it take to satisfy a man?' Rockefeller very wisely replied 'a little more than he has now'. When our world revolves around 'stuff', we will never, ever have enough. No matter what mobile phone, games console, TV, iPod, clothes or hair straighteners you have, you will always want the one that comes out in a few weeks. These things will not bring you happiness or satisfaction, they will only every remind you that the upgrade is due out anytime now.

The message isn't new; Solomon said, 'The rich seldom get a good night's sleep' (Ecclesiastes 5:12 NLT). Your worries about what you're going to get may not keep you awake now but as you get older and your concerns turn to cars, houses or a new kitchen, it could begin to take its toll.

It's important that you understand where true happiness and contentment come from. So how do you get free from the need for more stuff? Well, it starts by being totally convinced that everything you have is a gift from God, and it's there to be shared with others. Contentment simply frees you to enjoy what he's provided.

So what now? Some tips... Don't be lured by the 'advertising'. Make a habit of giving stuff away. Learn to enjoy the things you have now. Above all, make God the number one priority in your life!

Soulfood: Ex 33-35, John 4:1-12, Ps 87, Prov 27:4-6


Learn to be content 1

'...I have learned to be content...' Philippians 4:11 NAS

A rich man decided to have all he owned converted into gold bars and gripped the sack of treasure tightly as he breathed his last breath. An angel informed him that he couldn't bring his sack with him but, after much begging from the man, the angel received permission from God to let him take in one piece of carry-on luggage. At the pearly gates, St. Peter opened the sack to inspect the worldly items that the man found too precious to leave behind and exclaimed, 'You brought pavement?' What a waste of effort as '... the great street of the city [in Heaven] was of gold' (Revelation 21:21 NIV).

The average person is bombarded with about 300 advertisements a day. It's a mega-billion-dollar industry designed to make us want what they're selling. But there's a subtle message being conveyed. In a word, it's dissatisfaction, and it eats away at us by creating a desire for bigger, better, more. The Bible says, 'We...brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything content' (1 Timothy 6:7-8 NAS).

So does satisfaction mean not setting goals or aiming higher? Does it mean not enjoying nice things? No, it just means not letting all those nice things 'own' you. Paul said, '...I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want' (Philippians 4:12 NIV).

So what now? Paul mastered the art of contentment by learning to say, 'That's not essential. I can live without it.' How content are you?

Soulfood: Ex 30-32, John 3:22-36, Ps 32, Prov 27:1-3

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