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Rosemary 3:00-7:00pm

The Word For Today

Vengeance is God's job not yours

'"Vengeance is mine, I will repay," says the Lord.' Romans 12:19 NKJV

Vengeance is God's job, not yours. He will repay - whether on the Day of Judgment or in this life. He can discipline your abusive boss, soften your angry parent, bring your ex to his knees or her senses. Forgiveness doesn't diminish justice; it entrusts it to God. He guarantees the right amount of retribution. We give too much or too little, but he has the precise prescription. And unlike us, he never gives up on a person. (And you should be glad about that.) Long after we have moved on, God is still there probing the conscience, stirring conviction, orchestrating redemption.

Fix your enemies? That's God's job. Forgive your enemies? Ah, that's where you come in. 'Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honourable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone. Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to...God. For the Scriptures say, "I will take revenge; I will pay them back," says the Lord. Instead..."If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals of shame on their heads." Don't let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good' (Romans 12:17-21 NLT).

Author Max Lucado says: 'Revenge builds a lonely, narrow house. Space enough for one person. The lives of its tenants are reduced to one goal: Make someone miserable. They do - themselves. No wonder God insists we "Watch out that no bitterness takes root among you"' (Hebrews 12:15 TLB).

Soulfood: Job 40-42 Luke 19:37-44 Ps 69:1-18 Pro 8:27-29,


You are special

'I will praise you, for I am...wonderfully made.' Psalm 139:14 NKJV

Sarah Hupp writes: 'Did you know you started out as a single cell, and within that cell was enough DNA to hold the equivalent of 1,000 volumes of coded blueprints? Or that [the DNA in that one cell] determined the colour of your hair and eyes, the shape of your nose, and the size of your ring finger? Did you know nobody else has your fingerprints...the same sparkling eyes...the same laugh...or looks at things the way you do? You're an original, and it didn't happen by accident. God designed your DNA. He made you the way he wanted you to be. He gave you your voice, your smile, your freckles, your curly hair, all those things that make you who you are. And because God made you, you're special to him and to others...in fact, the world wouldn't be complete without you.'

No wonder the psalmist said, 'I will praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvellous are your works, and that my soul knows very well' (Psalm 139:14 NKJV).

Maybe you're thinking, 'Yes, but you don't know the limitations I live with. And when it comes to my self-image, I struggle every day to feel like I measure up.' Pastor Jim Penner says: 'I've talked with and prayed for many who are dealing with physical issues...disease, diabetes, cancers, struggles with weight, muscular and autoimmune disease. The limitations the human family deals with on a daily basis are endless. Yet Ephesians 2:10 says, "You are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus." God knew exactly what he was doing when he made you. You're unique in all the world. And that makes you special.'

Soulfood: Lev 27:30-33 Num 31:48-54 1 Cor 16:1-3 2 Cor 9:1-15,


Overcoming failure

'My flesh...may fail, but God is the strength of my heart.' Psalm 73:26 NIV

As you drive towards your destiny, you're sure to hit potholes along the way, or take some wrong turns, or forget to check your fuel gauge and run out of fuel. The truth is, the only way to avoid failure is not to leave your driveway! In the words of author William Saroyan: 'Good people are good because they've come to wisdom through failure.'

The real issue in life isn't whether or not you're going to fail, but whether you're going to learn from your experience and turn it into the wisdom needed to succeed. In a survey of successful people, not one of them viewed their mistakes as failures. They considered them 'learning experiences', or 'tuition paid', or 'opportunities for growth'. That's the winning attitude! Henry Ward Beecher said: 'It's defeat that turns bone to flint...gristle into muscle...and makes men invincible. Do not then be afraid of defeat. You are never so near victory as when you're defeated in a good cause.'

So the next time you fail at something, stop and ask yourself, 'What have I learned? Am I grateful for this experience? How can I turn it into success? Where do I go from here? Who else has failed like this, and how can they help me? How can my experience help others? Did I actually fail, or just fall short of an unrealistically high goal? Where did I succeed as well as fail?' Then go one step further, and ask God for greater insight. If you do, you'll grow stronger and wiser because of what you've been through (see James 1:5).

Soulfood: Job 38-39 Luke 19:28-36 Ps 38:13-22 Pro 8:24-26,


Stay in the chariot

'No one will be able to stand against you.' Joshua 1:5 NIV

Standing on the threshold of the Promised Land, Joshua realised there were seven nations and forty kings to be conquered before he could possess it. So God told him, 'No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life...I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you' (Joshua 1:5 NIV).

When you're in God's will the forces and resources of Heaven are behind you, and that means you'll ultimately win. It doesn't mean you won't have to fight, but it means you'll win! The movie Ben Hur won more Academy Awards than any other movie in history. Charlton Heston, who played the hero in this movie, had to drive a chariot for his role. He was supposed to win the climactic chariot race, but there was a problem: he was having trouble learning to drive the chariot. He walked over to his director, William Wyler, and said, 'Mr Wyler, I can barely stay on the chariot. I can't win this race.' Wyler looked at Heston and said, 'Son, your job is to stay on the chariot; my job is to make sure you win.'

Every time you head to the office, or walk into a pressure-packed meeting, or job interview, trust God. When you make that dreaded doctor's appointment, or confront a friend who has done you wrong, trust God. Stay on the chariot. Don't quit on God and don't stop trusting in him. Your job is to obey; his job is to make sure you win. And when you do your part, you can be sure that he will do his.

Soulfood: Job 35-37 Luke 19:20-27 Ps 38:1-12 Pro 8:22-23,


Focus on forgiveness

'Do not give the devil an opportunity.' Ephesians 4:27 NAS

The Bible says, 'Do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity' (Ephesians 4:26-27 NAS). The word translated 'opportunity' is the Greek word topos, the same term from which we get the English noun topography. It means territory or ground. And anger gives ground to the devil. Bitterness invites him to occupy a space in your heart. And when you do, he will move in and stink up the place with things like gossip, slander, temper - any time you see these, you have given ground to Satan.

What should you do? Evict him. Don't give him the time of day. In the name of Jesus tell him to pack his bags and hit the road. Begin the process of forgiveness. Keep no list of wrongs. Pray for your antagonists rather than plot against them. Hate the wrong without hating the wrongdoers. Turn your attention away from what they did to you and begin to dwell on what Jesus did for you. Outrageous as it may seem, he died for them too. And if he thinks they are worth forgiving, then they are.

Does that make forgiveness easy? No. It comes in fits and starts, has good days and bad. Some days when you think your old wound has healed and you're over it, someone will knock the scab off it and the pain will return. This is okay. When it comes to forgiveness all of us are beginners. As long as you are trying to forgive, you are forgiving. It's only when you no longer try that you give ground to the devil.

Soulfood: Job 32-34 Luke 19:11-19 Ps 55:12-23 Pro 8:19-21,


We're all on the same team

'The way you treat others is the way you will be treated.' Luke 6:38 CEV

Jesus said, 'Don't criticise, and then you won't be criticised. For others will treat you as you treat them' (Matthew 7:1-2 TLB). Think about it. Do you really want to live your life judging and being judged?

One Christian author puts it this way: 'We were created to be in community...[Not] treat each other with a spirit of judgment...There's something in us that permits us to vie for a better impression of ourselves by belittling someone else. It rages through the teenage years, and should end when we "grow up", but instead it mutates...We judge each other's relationships when our own are crumbling ...or their parenting skills when our own are hanging by a thread...Someone who never exercises is "lazy"...Someone who hides their feelings is "cold"...we judge who has what job, who's busier, who has more stress, who has it "rougher". Someone tells us bad news and we secretly rejoice that it's not us...someone shares good news and we call them arrogant. But no one wins because we're all on the same team.'

Instead of judging and criticising, Paul says, 'When we have the opportunity to help...we should do it' (Galatians 6:10 NCV). So: (a) Look for a way to bless somebody who is not in a position to reciprocate. (b) Identify someone you can encourage today. (c) Go out of your way to make someone feel special. Jesus said: 'If you give to others, you will be given a full amount in return...The way you treat others is the way you will be treated' (Luke 6:38 CEV).

Soulfood: Job 29-31 Luke 19:1-10 Ps 55:1-11 Pro 8:17-18,


Cry out to God

'In my distress I cried out to the Lord.' Psalm 18:6 NLT

There are times in life when the best thing you can do is cry out to God from the depths of your being. Don't worry about looking undignified, or having people think you have no faith. The psalmist said, 'In my distress I cried out to the Lord...[and] he heard me' (Psalm 18:6 NLT). Every parent knows that cry. It's different; it's not a temper tantrum or a whine for attention, it's a cry of distress. And though it comes in the dead of night, before you know it your feet hit the floor and you're at your child's side holding them, changing them, feeding them and comforting them.

That's how God feels about you. When you get so low that you're reaching up just to touch bottom, cry out to God! David said: 'He reached down...and drew me out of my great trials. He rescued me...On the day...I was weakest, they attacked. But the Lord held me steady. He led me to a place of safety, for he delights in me' (Psalm 18:16-19 TLB). David discovered that God was his 'high tower' (Proverbs 18:2 NKJV). In Bible times a high tower was a place of safety where the enemy couldn't get to you. Proverbs 18:10 says, 'The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe' (NKJV). It represents a place of security in God where you're lifted above the threat and the circumstances. It's where you regain your perspective; a place where you can look ahead and know this trial will soon be over.

Go ahead, cry out to God and he will answer you.

Soulfood: Job 24-28 Luke 18:31-43 Ps 13 Pro 8:14-16,


Surrender to God 5

'Not what I will, but what you will.' Mark 14:36 NIV

Because surrender is so closely connected to our wills, often a price is attached. You can feel devoted to God, yet when it comes time to act you discover that your surrender is only skin-deep.

Anticipating this, Jesus often identified the particular area where surrender was needed in a person's life. To the woman caught in adultery he said, 'Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more' (John 8:11 NKJV). That means you must surrender your sexual drives and desires to God. Many times surrender will involve money, because money is all about trust and control. To a rich businessman who wanted to follow him, Jesus said, 'Go and sell all you have and give the money to the poor' (Mark 10:21 TLB). But the man was unwilling to do it. Often surrender will involve an act of self-disclosure about a grudge, attitude, habit or sin. When you're with a trusted friend, God may prompt you to talk about a matter in which you have struggled or even failed. Don't be surprised when your immediate response is 'No way!' Other times you may be with someone and feel the need to confront them about something, and it makes you uncomfortable.

So here's the question: will you surrender, when surrender means doing something uncomfortable? If it were comfortable, it wouldn't be surrender! The supreme example of surrender is Christ in Gethsemane, praying, 'Not my will, but yours be done' (Luke 22:42 NIV). It was the hardest prayer he ever prayed, and the one that launched him into his destiny. Amazingly, the prayer that brings God's power - is the prayer of surrender.

Soulfood: Job 21-23 Luke 18:18-30 Ps 116:12-19 Pro 8:10-13,


Surrender to God 4

'Offer your bodies as a living sacrifice...to God.' Romans 12:1 NIV

Paul writes, 'Offer your bodies as a living sacrifice...pleasing to God' (Romans 12:1 NIV). During a Jewish sacrifice, an animal would be killed and then its body placed on the altar to be consumed by fire. So what happens if you put a live creature on the altar and say, 'Stay there until you're consumed,' then light the fire? The creature will jump off!

But Paul encourages us to crawl back onto the altar, to surrender day by day, moment by moment. In the moment it feels like death, but it is really the only way to live. For example, suppose somebody does something that angers you. The situation is complicated, so you are not even sure of the right way to respond. Without even trying, your mind fills with all kinds of bad thoughts. In that moment you do not know what you should do. But God knows, and if you surrender to him, he will show you how to respond with grace. The options that look attractive to you - avoiding, evading, gossiping, blasting - you relinquish to God. If your hurt runs deep, it will be about five minutes before the revenge fantasies start raging back. You will have to surrender all over again. But you can recognise those fantasies a little quicker now, and yield a little longer.

As you learn to surrender to God in each given situation, you no longer have to surrender to your own impulses. You lose a life, but you gain a life - a life much better than the one you lost. In the end, it turns out that nothing you lost was really worth keeping anyway.

Soulfood: Est 4:13-17 Est 5:1-3 Matt 6:16-18 Mark 2:18-22,


Surrender to God 3

'Teach me to do your will...my God.' Psalm 143:10 NIV

You receive power through the act of surrender that you cannot receive any other way. You receive freedom through submission that you will otherwise never know. The 12-Step Programme for recovery offers a path to freedom for addicts. But at the core of the twelve steps lies a great paradox: in which of the twelve steps does it say, 'Now try really hard not to drink'? In which of the twelve steps does it even say, 'Now decide not to drink'? Amazingly, this powerful tool against our most powerful addictions never asks people to decide to stop doing what is destroying their lives. Instead of mobilising the will, its followers surrender their will to God.

If you try to overcome the problem by your will, it will beat you. But if you surrender your will to God, deliverance becomes possible. Surrender, which we think means defeat, actually turns out to be the only way to victory. This is not just the case with alcohol and drugs, but with sin in general. Why does our will fail? The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous says that when it comes to drinking, we say and feel 'never again'. But we do it again. Why? 'We are unable, at certain times, to bring into our consciousness with sufficient force the memory of the suffering and humiliation of even a week ago...the certain consequences that follow taking a drink do not crowd into the mind to deter us. If these thoughts occur, they are hazy and readily replaced by the old threadbare idea that this time we can handle it ourselves.'

So the word for you today is: surrender to God.

Soulfood: Job 18-20 Luke 18:1-17 Ps 116:1-11 Pro 8:8-9,

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