Word For You Today

Don't settle for a 'B'

'I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.' Philippians 4:13 NLT

A professor stood before his class of senior biology students. It was the final exam. He said, 'I have been privileged to be your instructor this semester, and I know how hard you have worked to prepare for this test. Because I am confident that you know this material, I am prepared to offer an automatic 'B' to anyone who opts to skip taking the final exam.' A number of students jumped up, thanked the professor for the lifeline he had thrown them, and left. The teacher then handed out the final exam. It was just two sentences. It read: 'Congratulations, you have just received an 'A' in this class. Keep believing in yourself.'

The apostle Paul experienced more trouble in a month than most of us will see in a lifetime because of his persistence in spreading Jesus' salvation message. Yet he wrote, 'I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength' (Philippians 4:13 NLT).

Too many people are willing to settle for average. They have enough money to be comfortable, a job they can put up with, an easy church where they can just enjoy the service, chat with other comfortable friends and go home. The apostle Paul also said, 'I can't consider myself a winner yet. This is what I do: I don't look back, I lengthen my stride, and I run straight toward the goal to win the prize that God's heavenly call offers in Christ Jesus' (Philippians 3:13-14 GWT).

So what now? Refuse to settle for a 'B' - for God and for your life!

Soulfood: Acts 1:1-3:10 Mk 3:7-12 Ps 43 Pro 10:17-18,


Get on that boat

'Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him.' Matthew 8:23 NIV

One day Jesus invited two people to join his team, but they both had their reasons for putting it off. One had a funeral to attend, another wanted to go home to explain his decision. Matthew records, 'Then [Jesus] got into the boat and his disciples followed him' (Matthew 8:23 NIV). Those two people missed that boat - they could have part of Bible history!

In the 1870s two men worked really hard on the idea of transmitting sound down a wire. Amazingly, on exactly the same day both Alexander Graham Bell and Elisha Gray planned to go to the patent office to file their idea. Unfortunately for Elisha Gray, even though he had the idea first, he was busy and sent someone in his place, who got there an hour after Alexander Graham Bell. Alexander got the credit for the invention of the telephone, and got very rich; and Elisha Gray missed out.

If you get a God-given opportunity to do something, it will most probably feel daunting. If you are indecisive or can't be bothered, the opportunity may pass you by. Think carefully about your decision. Think about how you feel when you say 'No' to something you know would have been good to say 'Yes' to. Trust God to help you take the steps and risks you need to.

So what now? God is a gracious God of second (and third and fourth...) chances. He is not mad at you if you miss an opportunity. If you have missed one boat, there will be others.

Soulfood: Joel 1-3 Mk 3:1-6 Ps 56 Pro 10:14-16,


The spirit of Caleb

'My servant Caleb has a different spirit.' Numbers 14:24 NIV

Caleb wasn't into 'safe living.' As a young man, he came back from the Promised Land, stood with the minority and announced, 'Let's go and take the land. I know we can do it' (Numbers 13:30 NIV). At 85, he slayed giants and claimed mountains. He had 'a different spirit'. And God said of him, 'Because my servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly, I will bring him into the land he went to, and his descendants will inherit it' (Numbers 14:24 NIV). Wow!

Safe living is secure and straightforward but is it really living? Many 'safe-livers' will look back through the years and wish they'd taken more risks.

Life (including yourself) has a way of telling you that you 'can't' do a whole lot of things. You're not smart enough, talented enough, confident enough, etc. God asked Moses to free the Israelites from Egypt - talk about a massive mission! Moses told God that he was not the right man for the job. But, he stepped out anyway and God gave him Aaron to support him. If people (or you) say you probably won't be able to do something, check what God has to say. If God says 'Yes' he will help you achieve it in amazing ways.

So what now? Would you rather try and fail, or not try at all? The opposite of 'safe living' is not 'dangerous living'; it is called 'living'. Grab the spirit of Caleb and claim, 'God is on my side, so therefore I can [insert your mission here]!'

Soulfood: Gal 5:22 Lk 2:8-20 Pro 3:13-18 Ps 119:161-168,


Five don'ts that make a difference

'Get understanding.' Proverbs 4:7 NKJV

Here are five 'don'ts' that are very helpful to keep in mind as you go through life:

(1) Don't worry, when you know you're doing your best. God accepts no less, and he demands no more. 'Trust in the Lord, and do good ... and he shall give you the desires of your heart' (Psalm 37:3-4 NKJV). (2) Don't rush it, do it right. 'Good planning and hard work lead to prosperity, but hasty shortcuts lead to poverty' (Proverbs 21:5 NLT). (3) Don't believe something is impossible without trying it. When you are in God's will, doing things God's way, sensitive to his timing and willing to stick at it, your problems are just a platform for him to work on your behalf '... we must wait patiently and confidently' (Romans 8:25 NLT). (4) Don't waste your time. Put first things first and ask yourself, 'What is it that only I can do, or do best?' Only when you've answered that question will you know what you should do. Despite what you're thinking right now, it probably does not involve spending hours on Facebook or Instagram. (5) Don't just talk about it... do it. Many people have good intentions but those intentions should become actions to have any value. Get specific about your diet and your devotions, your finances and your family. 'If it's to be, it's up to me.'

So what now? Write these five 'Don'ts' down and refer to them regularly. They are practical reminders to keep you motivated, and on track, to reach for the best.

Soulfood: Jer 51-52 Mk 2:23-28 Ps 50:16-23 Pro 10:11-13,


Taking responsibility 5

'I have a great sense of obligation.' Romans 1:14 NLT

Taking responsibility means giving back what has been given to you. Reading this you may think of all the things you have; a great family, a nice home, plenty to eat. On the other hand, you may think of things you're missing; a parent, enough money or a supportive church. The truth is, if you're reading this as a Christian today, you have everything you need in Jesus. You've been saved from death, you're loved and you have a great hope and a future ahead of you. Everything you have comes from God.

When we try to keep what we have for ourselves, that's called being self-serving. Self-serving people don't use their talents and resources to help others. Serving people, on the other hand, understand that all they have comes from God and that they have a responsibility to use it in the best way possible. The apostle Paul, who was incredibly serving, realised this and was passionate about giving it back to others: 'I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong' (Romans 1:11 NIV).

If someone handed you a $1,000 note, within seconds you would think about what you could buy. Everything you have comes from God so, as with the $1,000 gift, carefully consider what you can do with what he has given you!

So what now? Make a list of all you have been given; resources, skills, abilities, people. Ask God today, 'How can I use these gifts wisely and give back to you what I have been given?'

Soulfood: Jer 49-50 Mk 2:18-22 Ps 50:1-15 Pro 10:8-10,


Taking responsibility 4

'Each of us will give an account of himself to God.' Romans 14:12 TLB

The newspaper editor sent a reporter to cover a sports game. He returned to the paper with no report. 'What's the story?' asked the editor. 'There is none,' replied the reporter. 'What? And why not?' 'Because there was no game,' replied the reporter. 'No game? What happened?' quizzed the editor. 'The stadium collapsed.' Unable to believe what he was hearing the editor asked, 'Then where's the report on its collapse?' After an awkward silence the reporter replied, 'That wasn't my assignment, sir.' Needless to say, that was the end of his job at that paper.

The Bible says, 'Each of us will give an account of himself to God' (Romans 14:12 TLB). What does that mean? It means that God is going to ask us how we got on with the jobs he gave us to do and, let's face it, any excuses we come up with that day will sound pretty lame!

God has given us each great assignments, important roles in his plan for saving the world he loves so much. Will we be like the reporter who was in the middle of a massive story but did not use his reporting gifts? Or are we going to use our gifts well so that when we give our accounts, we can be proud that we did our best?

So what now? Each day God gives you important assignments: to love others, to work, to plan for the future, to help around the house. Are you doing those well? Are you taking responsibility for what you've been given?

Soulfood: Jer 45-48 Mk 2:13-17 Ps 25:16-22 Pro 10:4-7,


Taking responsibility 3

'Now, a person who is put in charge as a manager must be faithful.' 1 Corinthians 4:2 NLT

If you want to be successful you have to take responsibility for achieving that success. Whether your dream is to run or own a business, become a doctor or lawyer, write great music, go on to the mission field or something else wonderful, you are the major player to get you there.

Everyone has dreams; but unless they plan how to reach them and put the plan into action, dreams stay just that; dreams! You can think about them, write about them and even talk about them with everyone you meet, but nothing beats taking action. If your dream is to be a famous author, get writing; if you want to be an athlete, get training!

Your dreams won't just happen when you reach a certain age. If you want to be at a certain place by the time you are 25, you had better start down that path now. Get some focus, be disciplined and understand the need to take responsibility. If you keep God right at the centre of all you want to do and don't get distracted with other things along the way then your dreams can become a reality.

So what now? Do you have a big dream, or are you wanting to take quite a big step in the near future? Ask God to help you, and to help you take responsibility for that future. Then plan each step. Don't wait for things to come to you. Write down what you need to do to keep it moving. God will be there working alongside you.

Soulfood: Jer 41-44 Mk 2:1-12 Ps 25:8-15 Pro 10:1-3,

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