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The Word For Today

You belong to God



'Fear not, for I have redeemed you...you are mine.' Isaiah 43:1 NKJV

When God redeems you, he owns you. And what he owns, he protects!

This is illustrated in the story of Belshazzar. The Bible says: 'Belshazzar the king made a great feast for a thousand of his lords... Belshazzar gave the command to bring the gold and silver vessels which his father Nebuchadnezzar had taken from the temple... in Jerusalem, that... his lords, his wives and his concubines might drink from them' (Daniel 5:1-2 NKJV). Now, if they'd just abused some worthless old cup it might not have mattered, but God valued these sacred vessels too much to let them be mishandled. So out of the invisible sleeve of the night, the finger of God wrote the fate of Belshazzar on his palace walls. 'That very night...Belshazzar was slain... And Darius the Mede received the kingdom' (Daniel 5:30-31 NKJV).

As a redeemed child of God, here's an unchanging principle you can stand on: 'He permitted no man to do them wrong...saying, "Do not touch my anointed ones"' (1 Chronicles 16:21-22 NKJV). You may have to fight on foreign soil, work at home in a difficult situation, or endure hardship for your faith. But you can be sure of one thing - God has too much invested in you to let you be destroyed. And any time Satan tries, God will interrupt his party and say, 'This vessel is off limits - it took me too long to teach this woman to pray...I've invested too many years training this man how to overcome...They've endured too much for my name's sake for me to let you harm them. Take your hands off them; they're mine!'

Soulfood: Lam 3:40 - 5:22, Matt 13:10-23, Ps 82, Prov 14:5-8

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Set goals for your life



'Write the vision and make it plain.' Habakkuk 2:2 NKJV

Only when you're clear about your personal goals, can you measure your personal growth. Here are eight proven principles that will help you to establish the right goals for your life: (1) Begin with prayer; otherwise the ladder you're climbing may be leaning against the wrong wall. 'Many are the plans in a man's heart, but...the Lord's purpose... prevails' (Proverbs 19:21 NIV). (2) Think on paper. God told Habakkuk, 'Write the vision and make it plain' (Habakkuk 2:2 NKJV). Writing your goals down gives them a sense of permanency, plus it energises you. (3) Set deadlines. 'The vision is yet for an appointed time' (Habakkuk 2:3 NKJV). Without a definite beginning and ending, it's easy to procrastinate and get nowhere.

(4) List the steps you need to take. Then keep the list before you at all times; it will show you the path to follow. (5) Prioritise the steps in order of importance. What do you need to do first? What can you do later? An organised plan is always better than trying to carry stuff around in your head. (6) Take action - now. 'Be very careful, then, how you live - not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity' (Ephesians 5:15-16 NIV). A mediocre plan that's implemented always beats a brilliant plan that isn't.

(7) Do something each day to move you forward. For example, read systematically through the Bible in a year...call a specific number of clients every week...engage in physical activity every day. (8) Have goals you're willing to devote your life to. The Psalmist said, 'Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom' (Psalm 90:12 NIV).

Soulfood: Lam 1:1 - 3:39, Matt 13:1-9, Ps 113, Prov 14:1-4

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Write it down then tear it up



'Forgetting those things which are behind...' Philippians 3:13 NKJV

There will always be people who speak ill of you. 'She'll never amount to anything... his parents were nothing, his grandparents were nothing, and he's going to be nothing too!' The question is: Who are you going to believe, God or your critics?

According to Scripture: 'Anyone...in Christ...is a new creation; old things have passed away...all things have become new' (2 Corinthians 5:17 NKJV). God says that by his grace you're going to prove your critics wrong, so stop listening to their negative predictions. Stop believing the family members, schoolteachers, employers, and so-called 'friends' who try to put you down. Turn a deaf ear to racism and sexism. Jesus said, 'You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free' (John 8:32 NIV). Renew your mind daily with the truth of God's Word (see Romans 12:1-2). You may have been abused, misused, rejected, and neglected, but it's time to forget those things that are behind and start reaching forward. When God speaks a word over your life, as far as He's concerned it has already been accomplished; it's 'a done deal!' Now it's your job to believe it, speak it, and walk in the reality of it each day.

When someone says something that leaves a scar on your heart and mind, do this: (1) Write it down on a piece of paper. (2) Ask God to help you forgive them and to erase the scar. (3) Tear up the paper, toss it into the garbage, and 'press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus' (Philippians 3:14 NKJV).

Soulfood: Gen 24:1-51, 2 Cor 6:14 - 7:1

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Get the mix right



'It was not mixed with faith.' Hebrews 4:2 AMP

In order for cement to become concrete, it must be mixed with sand and water. If you don't get the mix right, the cement will never become concrete. And just as your body needs good nutrition each day, your soul needs to be fed on God's Word.

But you can't stop there. You must act on what you hear and read. Faith is acting like God is telling the truth! If you don't act on God's Word, it won't do you any good. 'The message they heard did not benefit them, because it was not mixed with faith (with the leaning of the entire personality on God in absolute trust and confidence in his power, wisdom, and goodness) by those who heard it' (Hebrews 4:2 AMP). To get the results God's Word promises, note what you must 'mix' in: 'Confidence in his power, wisdom, and goodness.' Why do you go to church and sit down in a pew? Because you are confident that the pew will hold you up. The reverse is also true. You may say you believe the pew can hold you up, but if you never sit down on it, you're not exercising faith - because you're not acting on what you say you believe.

What does it mean to 'act' in faith? (1) To agree with God's Word and refuse to say anything that contradicts it. (2) To wait patiently, allowing God to fulfil his Word in his own way and on his own schedule. 'Faith is the substance of things hoped for' (Hebrews 11:1). Note the word 'substance.' Your faith must be based on something substantial. And that 'something' is the tried, proven, unfailing truth of God's Word.

Soulfood: Gal 4-6, Matt 12:38-50, Ps 108, Prov 13:24-25

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Don't give place to envy



'Lord...you guard all that is mine.' Psalm 16:5 NLT

Have you allowed envy to form a 'stronghold' in your life? Do you find yourself avoiding or feeling resentful of certain people because of their success? The Bible says, 'Envy rots the bones' (Proverbs 14:30 NIV) and the New Living Translation paraphrases it this way: 'Jealousy is like cancer in the bones.'

If you find yourself constantly criticising someone and craving what they have, read these words and think about their implications for you and your family carefully and prayerfully: 'I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen' (Jeremiah 29:11-12 TLB). In essence, envy says to God, 'You made a mistake when you made me like I am. I want to be like that other person, and have what they have!' No, God has a unique calling and destiny for you. So instead of giving place to envy, let it motivate you to become the best possible 'you' - the person God intended you to be.

If you're fighting a losing battle with envy, here's a prescription from God's Word you need to take every day: 'Lord, you alone are my inheritance, my cup of blessing. You guard all that is mine. The land you have given me is a pleasant land. What a wonderful inheritance! I will bless the Lord who guides me; even at night my heart instructs me. I know the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me. No wonder my heart is glad, and I rejoice' (Psalm 16:5-9 NLT).

Soulfood: Gal 1-3, Matt 12:22-37, Ps 101, Prov 13:20-23

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Shout it from the housetops



'Let the redeemed of the Lord say so.' Psalm 107:2 NKJV

No matter how badly you have failed, God will give you another chance. After Jonah had disobeyed God, spent three days in the belly of a whale, and been regurgitated on the shore close to where he started, the Bible says, 'The Word of the Lord came unto Jonah the second time' (Jonah 3:1). King David's sins were front-page tabloid material. Yet God restored him, and he wrote: 'He...brought me up out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay...set my feet upon a rock, and established my steps. He has put a new song in my mouth - praise to our God; many will see it and fear, and will trust in the Lord' (Psalm 40:2-3 NKJV).

When God restores you, it doesn't matter who's fighting against you. When he raises you up, no one can keep you down. If God has redeemed you - 'say so.' Nobody else can tell your story. Nobody else knows what God has done for you. Nobody else knows how far you've come. Nobody else knows what you've been through. But you do - you know it was only by God's grace that you survived. So don't allow the devil to steal your testimony. It may have taken you longer than everybody else, but God has given you the victory. The devil would love to silence you. Why? Because when you tell people what God has done for you, someone else will be set free.

The Bible says, 'Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom he has redeemed from the hand of the enemy' (Psalm 107:2 NKJV). So the word for you today is: Shout it from the housetops!

Soulfood: Lk 24:50-53, Acts 1:1-11, Eph 4:7-10,

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How change happens 5



'And he was limping because of his hip.' Genesis 32:31 NIV

The Bible says, 'The sun rose above [Jacob] as he passed Peniel, and he was limping because of his hip' (Genesis 32:31 NIV). That's significant, because the thigh muscle is one of the most powerful muscles in the human body. In order to get Jacob's attention, God touched him at a point of strength. Once we start thinking, 'This is what I'm really good at; this is where I'm really strong,' God may have to touch that very thing to get our attention. Jacob's limp served as a lifelong reminder that he was no longer to trust in his own power, but in the power of God. He was no longer to live in his own strength, but in God's strength. And in so doing he became a much stronger person.

Think about it: Every time Jacob got in a mess, his first response was to turn tail and run. Sound like a familiar pattern? Do you do that? So God finally said, 'I know how to take care of that - I'll put a limp in his walk!' And for the rest of his life Jacob would have to stand and face his problems head-on, not in his own strength but in God's strength.

How about you? What's the one thing you'd most like to change about your life? Do you want God to help you? He will - in his own way. He will use the process of crisis, commitment, confession and cooperation. And when God does the changing, it will be permanent. You won't have to worry about willpower and sticking with it because you'll be cooperating with God, relaxing, and trusting in him alone.

Soulfood: Judg 16:1 - 19:15, Matt 12:1-14, Ps 45, Prov 13:13-16

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How change happens 4



'Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, "It is because I saw God face to face."' Genesis 32:30 NIV

Change happens through cooperation. God started changing Jacob the moment he admitted who he was and began to cooperate with his plan. Jacob named the place where he wrestled with the angel 'Peniel,' meaning 'the face of God.' Each of us must eventually come face to face with God, and when we do he can change us. In essence God told Jacob, 'Now we can get down to business. Cooperate, and trust me. I'll make the changes you want, and I'll bless you.'

Notice: God didn't say, 'Try hard and use your willpower to become perfect.' That doesn't work, and God knows it. Willpower alone doesn't bring lasting change in our lives. It just deals with the outward circumstances. Internal motivation brings about lasting change, and that's what God works on. He told Jacob, 'Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel' (Genesis 32:28 NIV). Jacob would never be the same.

Once you have a personal encounter with the living God, he changes you. He changed Jacob from a 'cheater' to a 'prince.' God saw his potential. He looked beyond the tough exterior of a guy who portrayed himself as hardened and worldly-wise. God saw all Jacob's weaknesses, but he also saw beneath the surface: 'That's not the real you, Jacob, you're actually an Israel - a prince.' And the same goes for each of us: 'We are...heirs...and joint heirs with Christ...that we may...be glorified together' (Romans 8:16-17 NKJV). In the words of Paul: 'He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ' (Philippians 1:6 NIV).

Soulfood: Judg 12-15, Matt 11:20-30, Ps 47, Prov 13:11-12

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How change happens 3



'The man asked him, "What is your name?" "Jacob," he answered.' Genesis 32:27 NIV

Change happens through confession. When he identified himself as 'Jacob,' which means 'deceiver,' Jacob was acknowledging his character flaws. This is an important part of God's process for changing us, because we never change until we honestly face and admit our faults, sins, weaknesses and mistakes. We need to say, 'Lord, I have a problem, I'm in a mess and I admit I made it.' Then God can go to work.

Ever noticed how easy it is to make excuses? We become experts at blaming others and saying things like, 'It's not my fault, you know. It's the environment I was brought up in - my parents are to blame.' Or, 'The situation I'm in at work is because of my boss.' Why do we act and talk this way? Because it's hard to admit our personal faults and failings, and it can be scary to ask for help. Why do we need to confess our faults to God? To let him know what's going on? No: he already knows that! When we tell God we've sinned, it is no surprise to him; he knew our problems all along. We confess to him because he wants us to say, 'You're right, God; I have a problem. I've blown it.'

It is humbling to admit our mistakes, but once we do, God gives us access to his power to help change us for the better. And at that point we start to become the person we've always wanted to be. The truth is: God loves you just the way you are - but he loves you too much to leave you that way.

Soulfood: Gen 2:7-25, 1 Cor 15:39-55

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How change happens 2



'I will not let you go unless you bless me.' Genesis 32:26 NIV

Change happens through commitment. When Jacob realised he was wrestling with the angel of the Lord, he said, 'I will not let you go unless you bless me' (Genesis 32:26). That's what it takes - commitment. Jacob was committed and persistent; he stuck with it until he worked his way through it. He didn't like where he was any more than you do. It was frustrating and it was getting him down. But he was totally committed to sticking with it until God turned it around for his good.

When God gets our attention through a crisis, he doesn't always solve it immediately; sometimes he waits to see whether we really mean business. We're so conditioned to instant everything - instant food, instant internet access, instant success - that when we don't get an immediate answer to our prayer or an instant turnaround we say, 'Forget it, God.' The fact is you didn't get into this mess overnight, and you won't get out of it overnight. Sometimes God has to remove our weaknesses layer by layer. Experts tell us it takes six weeks of doing the same thing every day before it becomes a habit. Think of that in terms of developing the habit of praying and reading your Bible each day, or relearning to love your spouse. That's six weeks...forty-two days...over a thousand hours...and Satan will fight you at every turn.

So what should you do? Spend time with God. ''But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint' (Isaiah 40:31 NKJV).

Soulfood: Judg 9:34- 11:40, Matt 11:1-19, Ps 129, 25, Ecc 5:4-6

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