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The Word For Today

IT'S TIME TO TAKE ACTION (3)

'They go from strength to strength.' Psalms 84:7 NKJV

The three essential steps to success are: (1) Do something; (2) Do something today; (3) Do something every day.
One personal growth expert says, 'We read about people who sail around the world in a thirty-foot sailboat or overcome handicaps to win a gold medal at the Olympics, and we later find their stories are all about persistence.' If you want to know your future, look at your daily routine. You don't determine your future, you determine your habits and your habits determine your future. The secret to success lies in doing the right things day after day. If you do that, you will eventually succeed.
But a word of caution: important priorities have a way of slipping out of place while you're focused on less important things. Some sacrifices are simply not worth it: (1) In your attempt to build a reputation, don't lose your character. Reputation is what people think you are; character is what God and those closest to you know you are. (2) Don't sacrifice your family for your career. If you do you'll end up winning the admiration of those who don't matter, while losing the love of those who do. (3) Don't sacrifice your relationship with God for material things. God told His people, 'You may say to yourself, "My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me." But remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you the ability to produce wealth...If you ever forget the Lord...you will surely be destroyed' (Deuteronomy 8:17-18 NIV).

SoulFood: Neh 11-13; Luke 22:14-23; Ps 78:56-64; Pro 24:5-10

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IT'S TIME TO TAKE ACTION (2)

'His heart is established; he will not be afraid.' Psalms 112:8 NKJV

Cartoonist Jonny Hawkins drew a sketch of five board members sitting around a table at the annual church business meeting. One says, 'I see our church's biggest problems as communication and procrastination.' To which a fellow board member replies, 'I vote that we postpone this discussion till next year.' We smile, but we know it's the truth, don't we? In yesterday's daily devotion we discovered that the first step to success is: Do something!
Now let's discuss the second step: (2) Do something today. Runner, author and cardiologist George Sheehan puts it this way: 'There are those of us who are always about to live. We are waiting until things change, until there is more time, until we are less tired, until we get a promotion, until we settle down - until, until, until. It always seems as if there is some major event that must occur in our lives before we begin living.' If you want to achieve your God-given dream, you can't allow yourself to be one of those people! 'How can I avoid it?' you ask. By doing something that will move you forward today! You can't fulfil your dream all at once. You have to get there in steps, and the only time you can actually take a step is - today. German philosopher Johann Wolfgang von Goethe said, 'Each indecision brings its own delays, and days are lost lamenting over lost days... What you can do, or think you can do, begin it. For boldness has power and genius in it.'
So before the sun sets today, do something that will move you further toward your dream.

SoulFood: Neh 8-10; Luke 22:1-13; Ps 78:40-55; Pro 24:1-4

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FLAWED, BUT VALUABLE TO GOD

The Bible says, 'We have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us' (2 Corinthians 4:7 NIV). Some people don't read the Bible because they think it's all about saintly people whose lives have no bearing on reality. If you feel that way, read the book of Genesis. The dysfunctional families there will make yours seem normal! Cain was jealous of his brother Abel so he murdered him. Lamech introduced the world to polygamy. Noah, the most righteous man of his time, got drunk and cursed his children. When the men of Sodom wanted the two angels who visited Lot, in order to save himself Lot offered them sex with his daughters instead. And the Bible still refers to him as 'godly'! (2 Peter 2:7). Abraham slept with his wife's maid, got her pregnant and then banished her and her son to the wilderness because his wife Sarah complained about 'the other woman'. Jacob's firstborn son Reuben slept with one of his father's wives. The list goes on ad infinitum.

The question is: why would God include this cast of characters in the Bible? To make the point that we're all flawed in some way! We like to think we're normal, but by God's definition we fall far short. We all have habits we struggle with, past mistakes we can't undo, and inherent tendencies we can't overcome without His help. God said, 'My power shows up best in weak people' (2 Corinthians 12:9 TLB).

You say, 'But shouldn't I strive to be better?' Yes, but if God only used perfect people, He would never call anyone to work with Him.

Soulfood : Neh 1-4, Lk 21:12-24, Ps 78:17-31, Prov 23:26-28

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EXERCISE DISCRETION

We've all said the wrong thing, at the wrong time, to the wrong person, and ended up regretting it. A pastor was being honoured at a retirement dinner, and a local politician had been asked to make a speech. The politician was running late so the pastor decided to say a few words: 'When I came here twenty-five years ago I thought this was a terrible church. The first man I talked to said he'd stolen, lied, embezzled, had an affair and done drugs. I was appalled. Then I realised everybody isn't like that; this church is filled with good people.' Just then the politician arrived and stood up to speak: 'I'll never forget the day the pastor arrived and I had the privilege of being the first church member to talk to him.'

Loose lips sink ships! The Bible says: 'Discretion will preserve you.' Being discreet means having the ability to keep sensitive information private - including things you may have heard years ago! The writer of Proverbs said, 'He who is trustworthy conceals a matter' (Proverbs 11:13 NAS), and in the New Testament Paul cautions believers about discussing 'things not proper to mention' (1 Timothy 5:13 NAS). Divulging what you know about other people's problems and failures may make you feel good momentarily, but afterwards it has a predictably negative impact on the relationship. Plus, you get a reputation as a person who can't be trusted.

A wise man said, 'If your lips would keep from slips, five things observe with care: of whom you speak, to whom you speak, and how, and when, and where.' That's advice you would do well to pay attention to!

Soulfood : Josh 19:24-21:45, Lk 20:20-26, Ps 112, Prov 23:13-15

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ARE YOU GROWING SPIRITUALLY? (1)

'Every man shall bear his own burden.' Galatians 6:5 KJV

Here is the first of three Scriptures you can use to measure your spiritual growth: 'Every man shall bear his own burden.' The old saying, 'You're only young once', is true, but you can be immature for a lifetime. Paul writes: 'I couldn't talk to you as I would to spiritual people. I had to talk...as though you were infants in the Christian life. I had to feed you with milk, not with solid food, because you weren't ready for anything stronger. And you still aren't ready, for you are still controlled by your sinful nature' (1 Corinthians 3:1-3 NLT).
As a parent, you expect a higher level of responsibility and maturity from your teenager than you do from your toddler, right? And your heavenly Father requires the same of you. If you're still being defeated by the same habits and hang-ups you struggled with as a new believer, seek God's help. If you're to fulfil your God-given destiny you must grow into maturity. Instead of always having to be 'carried', you must get to the place where you can feed yourself spiritually, pray in faith over your own problems, and make Spirit-led decisions concerning your life.
God's growth plan for us is: 'We will no longer be immature like children. We won't be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like truth. Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ' (Ephesians 4:14-15 NLT). Spiritual growth must be your priority; otherwise it won't happen!

SoulFood: Josh 14-15; Luke 20:1-8; Ps 142; Pro 23:7-9

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START STRATEGISING

King David came up with a plan for building the temple, but his son Solomon actually built it. Question: Do you have a strategy for fulfilling your dream? Are you working on it? Or are you waiting for someone like a fairy godmother to come along and bail you out? The only thing worse than having no dream is having one without a plan to make it a reality. A strategy gives you energy, direction and focus.

A study was conducted on how infrequently people develop strategies for achieving their dreams. Here's what it revealed: 26% focus on specific, tangible targets for what they want in life; 19% set goals aligned with their purpose, mission, and passion; 15% write down their goals in specific measurable detail; 12% maintain a clearly defined goal for every major interest and life role; 12% identify related daily, weekly and long-term goals with deadlines. Only 7% take daily action toward the attainment of at least one goal. Here's a comment from the study's authors: 'Americans, once again, get an 'F' in this critical area of their performance. Simply put, they fail to consistently take the actions necessary to move their dreams and visions out of their hearts and heads and into their lives'. (The percentages may differ, but similar findings are probably true here too!)

Dreams don't come true because you 'wish upon a star'. They come true because you seek God for direction, put them down on paper with specific actions and timelines, become accountable to yourself - and if you're wise, to somebody else too. So the word for you today is, 'Stop stargazing and start strategising'.

Soulfood : Josh 11-13, Lk 19:41-48, Ps 111, Prov 23:4-6

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BECOME A MOTIVATOR!

'Encourage [motivate] one another.' Hebrews 3:13 CEV

Leslie was born with physical and mental challenges so severe that doctors had to remove his eyes. When he was six months old, a nurse named May Lemke, who was raising five children of her own, adopted him and asked God to give him some kind of talent. When Leslie was thirteen, May bought a used piano and played some simple songs, hoping he'd respond. No expression...nothing. She continued trying to motivate her adopted son to engage in life. Then when he was sixteen, he pulled himself up to the piano, and without ever having touched a keyboard before, played a Tchaikovsky piano concerto. It was flawless, and May soon discovered that Leslie could play anything he heard. Then out of the blue one day, he started singing, and that led to his playing and singing at concerts all over the country. All this came about because a mother facing incredible odds became a tireless motivator!
In the movie 'Seabiscuit' one of the main characters, Tom Smith, was asked why he kept a lame, ageing horse. He replied, 'You don't throw away a whole life just because he's banged up a little!' That old horse ended up leading a younger horse to a spectacular racing career. Thank God for motivators who make the difference between a trip to the glue factory and winning a blue ribbon!
Paul says, 'Encourage [motivate] one another.' Somebody said, 'Dreams always come a size too big so we can grow into them'. Motivators help you to dream big, then help you grow in order to fulfil your dream. People can run a long way on just a little encouragement. So become a motivator.

SoulFood: Josh 8:30 - 10:43; Luke 19:28-40; Ps 103:13-22; Pro 23:1-3

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WHO HAVE YOU WON TO CHRIST?

One day a pastor told the manager of a big department store, 'I've talked about carpets and bedding and appliances with you many times, but I've never talked about my business. Will you give me a few minutes?' After being led to a private office, the pastor took out his New Testament and urged the manager to become a Christian. Finally, tears began to roll down the man's cheeks and he said, 'I'm seventy years old. I was born in this city, and more than a hundred ministers and five hundred officers of various churches have known me in a business capacity. But you're the only man who has ever talked to me about my soul.' That day he knelt down and gave his life to Christ.

We've got the cart before the horse! We keep thinking if we can just bring visitors to church they'll get saved. And thank God that happens. But when those in the New Testament church met together to celebrate, usually they'd already been won to Christ by someone before they got there! Christ's last act before He died was winning a soul. His last command was for us to win souls. And His last prayer on the cross was for the forgiveness of a soul.

You don't have to be theologically articulate; you just have to be in love with Jesus. When you're in love, it shows on your face and expresses itself in your words. Jesus said, 'I, if I am lifted up...will draw all peoples to Myself' (John 12:32 NKJV). Don't worry about drawing people to Christ; just introduce Him and He will do the drawing.

Soulfood : Josh 5:1-8:29, Lk 19:11-27, Ps 103:1-12, Prov 22:27-29

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THE TIME IS NEAR

Almost three thousand years ago, God said through the prophet Amos that just before the coming of the Lord, the Jews would return from the four corners of the earth and rebuild the nation of Israel. 'I will bring back my exiled people Israel; they will rebuild the ruined cities and live in them. They will plant vineyards and drink their wine; they will make gardens and eat their fruit. I will plant Israel in their own land, never again to be uprooted from the land I have given them, says the Lord your God' (Amos 9:14-15 NIV).

In 1948 the nation of Israel was born. In 1949 they elected their first president, hoisted their own flag, instituted their own constitution and started minting their own money. It's an amazing fulfilment of prophecy. Now read what Jesus said: 'Learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near - at the doors' (Matthew 24:32-33 NKJV)! In Scripture the fig tree represents the nation of Israel. Surrounded and threatened by hostile neighbours, she stands today as a testimony to the accuracy and reliability of God's prophetic Word.

And the same Christ who announced the rebirth of Israel made an even greater promise to those of us living in the end of the age. 'Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown' (Revelation 3:11 NKJV). Are you ready? Are you living your life in the light of His soon return?

Soulfood : Josh 1-4, Lk 19:1-10, Ps 84, Prov 22:24-26

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TOO BIG FOR YOUR BOOTS

When King Saul disobeyed God, the prophet Samuel told him, 'When you were little in your own eyes...did not the Lord anoint you King over Israel?...Why then did you not obey the voice of the Lord' (1 Samuel 15:17-19 NKJV)? There's a sobering lesson here. The most dangerous moment in your life is when you think you can succeed without God. When you get a few wins under your belt, it's easy to forget Who's responsible for your success. Where once you would have consulted God, you now launch out on your own and ask Him to add His blessing to your decisions.

You say, 'But things are going pretty well for me these days.' Then remember Who made your success possible, and live with gratitude and dependence on God! Looking back on how God blessed Israel, the Psalmist records, 'Then they believed His words; they sang His praise. [But] they soon forgot His works; they did not wait for His counsel' (Psalms 106:12-13 NKJV). Our capacity for forgetfulness is staggering. The old-timers used to tie a string around their finger to remind them of something they might easily forget. Maybe you need to wear a string on your finger to remind you that God is the secret, the source of all your blessings. Frustrated by how long he had to wait in line to renew his driver's licence, the CEO of a big plumbing company asked his wife, 'Don't they know who I am?' She responded, 'Yes, you're a plumber's son who got lucky.'

The word for today is: stay humble, and don't get too big for your boots!

Soulfood : Phil 2:5-11, Rev 19:11-16, Acts 3:1-16, Mt 1:18-21

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