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Word For You Today

Buff on the inside 2

'The integrity of the upright guides them.' Proverbs 11:3 NIV

A writer called Margaret Mead once stated, 'What people say, what people do, and what people say they do, are entirely different things.' She's talking about the need to have integrity, and integrity is an essential part of being buff on the inside. The word integrity simply means 'to integrate, to become one with.' It requires having your values, thoughts and actions all lined up, not zig-zagging all over the place.

People of integrity always stand out. Author Pat Williams tells of Gandhi's trip to England to speak before Parliament. The British government had opposed India's independence and, as a result, Gandhi had often been threatened, arrested and jailed. Gandhi spoke passionately for two hours, after which the packed hall gave him a standing ovation. Afterwards, a reporter asked Gandhi's assistant how he'd been able to deliver such a speech without notes. 'You don't understand Gandhi,' he responded. 'What he thinks is what he feels. What he feels is what he says. What he says is what he does. What Gandhi feels, thinks, says and does, are all the same. So he doesn't need notes.' Now, that's integrity!

Some people just want to make a 'good impression' but impressions are like shadows; they disappear when a strong enough light is shone on them. Integrity is the genuine article - the more you shine the light on it, the more detail you can see.

So what now? Do your values, thoughts and actions line up? Be a person of integrity in all you do.

Soulfood: I Ki 3-5 Mt 16:13-28 Ps 33:13-22 Pro 5:15-20,


Buff on the inside 1

'[It is] better to have self-control than to conquer a city.' Proverbs 16:32 NLT

You've seen them on the TV, stretching their superbly toned legs on the edge of the track. They're the world's top athletes and they are buff! You don't get to that level in sport if you're carrying a pie-belly. But just like getting buff on the outside means the right diet and lots of training, so does getting buff on the inside - building a strong character. A wise Greek guy called Plato said, 'The first and best victory is to conquer self'.

Every day look for an opportunity to say 'no' to yourself in some small area. Try it; it'll be hard initially but the payoff will come when you need to say no to yourself in some big area of life. Like saving for a rainy day, you'll have strength to draw on when you need it. Over 100 years ago Henry Parry Liddon observed, 'What we do on some great occasion will probably depend on what we already are; and what we are will be the result of previous years of self-discipline'. That statement is as fresh today as it was then.

If you're serious about building strong character, set high standards for yourself and refuse to lower them. Need a role model? You won't find a better one than Jesus. He said, 'If any of you want to be my followers, you must forget about yourself (Matthew 16:24 CEV).

So what now? Step by step, work at getting buff on the inside. Remember, the Holy Spirit lives in you, so you have the best help available.

Soulfood: I Ki 1-2 Mt 16:1-12 Ps 33:1-12 Pro 5:7-14,



'Do not let sin control the way you live.' Romans 6:12 NLT

Self-control is listed in the Bible as proof God's Spirit lives in us (see Galatians 5:22-23). Without self-control your life is like a car without any brakes - it may be exciting for a while, but eventually you'll end up in a mangled mess! It's impossible to live a lifestyle of purity unless you keep in check those basic flesh-impulses. Every day your body will send you messages that are likely to lead you off in all sorts of random directions. It's not that your body is evil, it's just that your mind is wired to respond to the signals it gets from the surrounding world; a world that can be pretty messed up.

Pastor and author Charles 'Chuck' Swindoll writes: 'Life on earth is really nothing more than a string of moments, one after another. And I do not want my testimony for Jesus Christ to be shattered by a single moment of indulging my flesh. I don't want one moment of rage or pride or lust to cast a shadow over a lifetime of walking with my Lord. Frankly, I fear that possibility. And do you know what? I want to fear that possibility. When I stop fearing it, I'm in grave danger.'

The Bible says, 'Now you are free from your slavery to sin, and you have become slaves to righteous living' (Romans 6:18 NLT).

So what now? With God's love and help, you have self-control in every tempting situation or weak moment. Accept his help and be free!

Soulfood: Heb 11:17-13:25 Mt 15:29-39 Ps 28 Pro 5:3-6,



'Blessed is the one who perseveres.' James 1:12 NIV

On June 1, 1965, a 13-foot boat slipped quietly out of Falmouth, USA. Its destination? Falmouth, England. It would be the smallest craft ever to make the trans-Atlantic voyage. The sailor, Robert Manry, had been working for a local newspaper but felt 10 years at a desk was enough boredom for anyone. He was afraid; not of the ocean but of all the people who would try to talk him out of the trip. So he only shared it with his wife and some relatives. Out at sea he endured many sleepless nights trying to cross shipping lanes without getting run over by huge tankers. He had no radio and the loneliness led to hallucinations. His rudder broke three times. Storms swept him overboard. Finally, after 78 days alone at sea he sailed into Falmouth, England. Alone on the boat he'd dreamed about what he'd do once back on land. He expected to just check into a hotel, eat dinner, then maybe find out if a journalist might be interested in his story. Then came the surprise! While he was at sea word had spread. To his amazement nearly 50,000 people stood cheering him to the shore! Wow!

One of the Bible's great themes is perseverance - it's what Robert Manry had. No matter how great your calling, your talent or your cause, without perseverance you won't make it. 'Blessed is the one who perseveres' (James 1:12 NIV).

So what now? If you have a dream or a big goal to reach, keep going! When it gets rough, persevere!

Soulfood: Heb 9:1-11:16 Mt 15:15-28 Ps 5 Pro 5:1-2,


Money talk

'Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have.' Hebrews 13:5 NIV

The Bible mentions money a lot! You won't find reference to dollars, pounds or euros, but stories of both generosity and corruption weave in and out of its pages on a pretty regular basis. The message is loud and clear - God cares about what you do with what's in your wallet and he also cares about how it gets there. For example, in one part of the Bible we hear God giving wealthy people a telling off for making themselves richer by making other people poorer (see Amos 5:11-12). Sadly, by the time the church had been set up nearly a thousand years later it was still going on (see James 5). And today, the love of money still dominates many situations.

When you're choosing a career path for your life the temptation is to go for the kind of job that will earn you the most money. Which is great because money can make life a lot easier. But, you also need to think about how your money will be used.

Now God is not against earning money or making money - he encourages us to work to provide for ourselves, for our family and to be a contributing part of our community. It's the love of money or greed that he warns us against. He wants us to use our money for good.

So what now? Whether you are currently working or not, make it your goal to make God happy by earning a living the right way and using the money you earn well.

Soulfood: Ex 20:14 Prov 6:23-35 Matt 5:27-30 1 Cor 6:9-20,


A place to learn life's lessons

'The Lord has chosen Zion, he has desired it for his dwelling.' Psalm 132:13 NIV

Before David became king in Zion (Jerusalem), he lived in three other places. Each place was preparation ground for his role as king:

(1) At home in Bethlehem. David learned responsibility, to earn a living, to support his family, to develop his relationship with God, and to deal with the resentment of others because of God's favour on his life. At home you prepare to handle bigger tasks by being faithful in smaller ones. It's here that your character is developed and your trust is proven. (2) In the cave of Adullam. Living with the misfits and rejects of society David learned to give to other people without expecting anything in return; loving and serving even when his own life was under attack. Your 'Adullam' is where God deals with your selfish motives and teaches you to reach out to the greater community. (3) The fortress of Hebron. The word Hebron means covenant or promise. It was one of the highest mountains in Israel and there was no easy road to the fortress city at the top; it was uphill all the way. The thing about God's promises is that they don't come about accidentally; you have to push forward with determination to enter into them. In your 'Hebron' you'll learn perseverance to push through.

So what now? Which place are you in at the moment? Remember to learn the lessons at each stage. If any of the stages in your life have been hard for you, don't worry, God is gracious and kind to help you catch up.

Soulfood: Heb 5-8 Mt 15:1-14 Ps 149 Pro 4:25-27,


Be teachable 2

'Blessed is the man who finds wisdom.' Proverbs 3:13 NIV

It's estimated that only one-third of adults read an entire book after they leave school. Why? Because those who stop reading view education as a stage of life, not a way of life. Wow! Every stage of life presents valuable lessons to be learned. Everybody has the choice either to be teachable and continue to learn, or to be closed-minded and stop growing. The Roman statesman Cato started to study Greek when he was 80! When asked why he was tackling such a hard task at his age he replied, 'It's the earliest age I have left.' Unlike Cato, too many of us see learning as an event instead of a process.

Another reason that staying teachable is important is because the things that make you may not be the things that keep you. Knowledge is expanding all the time; cultures change; world perspectives change. You have to remain open to new ideas and new revelation.

Locked in a Roman dungeon and facing execution, Paul wrote to Timothy, asking him to bring his books. It's like he's saying, 'They've locked up my body but my mind's still active - I still have so much more to learn' (see 2 Timothy 4:13). If Paul, not knowing if he would live or die, was keen to keep on learning, what kind of example does that give to us?

So what now? Keep learning, especially when it comes to the things of God. His desire is for us to be 'changed into his image with ever-increasing glory' (2 Corinthians 3:18 GWT). Be teachable.

Soulfood: Heb 1-4 Mt 14:22-36 Ps 145:14-21 Pro 4:23-24,

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