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The Word For Today

How 'hungry' are you



'He satisfies the...hungry with good things.' Psalm 107:9 NIV

Successful people are often just people who were a little hungrier and thirstier for success than the rest of us. What we desired, they pursued. Napoleon was born in poverty. His classmates made fun of him in school. But he devoted himself to his books, excelled in his studies and became the brightest student in class. Before his life was over, he conquered much of the world! If a seedling tree has to fight its way up through rocks to get to sunlight and air, then wrestle with storms and frost to survive, you can be sure of one thing: its root system will be strong and its timber resilient. Nature itself teaches us that it's impossible to succeed without going through adversity.

If you're successful and haven't experienced hardship, you can be sure someone else has experienced it for you. And if you're experiencing adversity without succeeding, there's a good chance somebody else will succeed because of the price you paid. Either way, there's no achievement without adversity. The acid test of character is determined by what it takes to discourage you and make you quit. Dr G. Campbell Morgan tells of a man whose shop burned to the ground in the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. Next morning he arrived at work carrying a table which he set up amid the charred ruins. On it he placed a sign that read, 'Everything lost except wife, children and hope. Business as usual tomorrow morning.'

Solomon said, 'Do you see a man who excels in his work? He will stand before kings' (Proverbs 22:29 NKJV). You say you want to succeed? The question is - how 'hungry' are you?

Soulfood: Acts 18-19 Matt 10:11-20 Ps 146 Pro 16:4-5,

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Choose your battles wisely



'If you follow this advice...then you will be able to endure the pressures.' Exodus 18:23 NLT

A good general knows it's a mistake to try and fight on too many fronts at once; that when you're 'spread out too thin' you're vulnerable! And the same is true in life. To avoid undue stress, you must refuse to let every little thing upset you. In other words, choose your battles wisely. Don't make mountains out of molehills. Before you devote time, energy and emotion to an issue, ask yourself how important it is, and how much of your time, effort and energy is appropriate. Try to discern what really matters and focus on those things. Learn the difference between major matters and minor matters.

Moses was becoming exhausted because he personally handled every problem, dispute and crisis that arose among the Israelites. Perhaps he thought he had to do so, since he was the leader of the nation. But his father-in-law said to him, in essence, 'You take care of the big things and leave the small stuff to someone else.' He went on to say, '"If you follow this advice...you will be able to endure the pressures"...Moses listened to his father-in-law's advice and followed his suggestions' (Exodus 18:23-24 NLT).

Stop and think about it: your life already has plenty of stress and strain, so why add more if you can avoid it? When you're tempted to take on a 'battle', step back and decide if it's worth it and what it will require from you. Don't go to war when there are no spoils.

Soulfood: Acts 16-17 Matt 10:1-10 Ps 140 Pro 16:3,

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Approach God as a child



'Unless you... become as little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven.' Matthew 18:3 TLB

Matthew writes: 'The disciples came to Jesus and asked, "Who is greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?" Jesus called a little child to him...He said..."Unless you... become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven. So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven"' (Matthew 18:1-4 NLT). To do great things for God, you must approach him with a childlike attitude.

You can learn a lot from watching little children. Wherever they are, they find a way to enjoy whatever they're doing. They're quick to forgive an offence. One moment they're fighting over something, the next moment they're playing happily together. And trusting comes easily to them. Your children don't worry about mortgage payments, meals or making ends meet because they implicitly trust that you will provide what they need.

What was Jesus teaching us? (a) To have simple faith. (b) To pray simple prayers. (c) To be quick to repent. (d) To reach regularly for God's help. (e) To believe that your heavenly Father is good and that 'no good thing will he withhold from those who walk uprightly' (Psalm 84:11 NKJV). Plus, when you forgive children, they don't run around feeling guilty and condemned. With this kind of simplicity in your relationship with God, you'll find yourself growing spiritually and enjoying him more than ever. And that should be your goal.

Soulfood: Acts 14-15 Matt 9:27-38 Ps 133 Pro 16:2,

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Ask God for a strategic plan



'Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, "This is the way, walk in it."' Isaiah 30:21 NKJV

Jesus understood God's strategic plan for his life - the redemption of humankind - and lived each day of his life in the light of it. At the end of his life he could pray, 'I have glorified you on the earth. I have finished the work which you have given me to do' (John 17:4 NKJV).

Strategic planning is critical to success in any undertaking. And as a redeemed child of God, your strategy should come from God, otherwise pressures and people can take you in the wrong direction. Jesus could easily have been sidetracked by the demands of the crowd and the misguided thinking of his disciples. How did he avoid that? By nights spent in prayer, and predawn meetings with his Father seeking guidance. Jesus lived by this principle: 'The Son can do nothing by himself. He does only what he sees the Father doing. Whatever the Father does, the Son also does...I judge as God tells me. Therefore, my judgment is just, because I carry out the will of the one who sent me, not my own will' (John 5:19, 30 NLT).

When seeking a plan for your life, the first book you should read is the Bible. Don't adopt someone else's plan unless God told you to do the same thing, or you'll end up frustrated. You ask, 'You mean God has a strategy and a plan for my life and that he will reveal it to me?' Yes. 'Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, "This is the way, walk in it"' (Isaiah 30:21 NKJV).

Soulfood: 1 Sam 21:1-6 Hosea 6:4-6 Matt 12:1-14,

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Keep your eyes on Jesus not people



'Peter asked Jesus, "What about him, Lord?"' John 21:21 NLT

The Bible says, 'Peter turned around and saw behind them the disciple Jesus loved - the one who had leaned over to Jesus during supper and asked, "Lord, who will betray you?" Peter asked Jesus, "What about him, Lord?" Jesus replied, "If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? As for you, follow me." So the rumour spread among the community of believers that this disciple wouldn't die. But that isn't what Jesus said at all. He only said, "If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you"' (John 21:20-23 NLT)? When Peter asked Jesus, 'What about him, Lord?' he was referring to the apostle John, who enjoyed an especially close relationship with Christ. And Jesus said, 'Get your eyes off John and keep them on me. Follow me and you can have a close relationship with me too.'

People will disappoint you, just as you will disappoint them. But Jesus will never disappoint you if you keep your eyes on him and follow him. Even with the best of intentions people will give you poor advice, and you will give them poor advice. But Jesus won't. He doesn't merely know the way, he says, 'I am the way' (John 14:6 NKJV). He says, 'He who follows me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life' (John 8:12 NKJV).

So the word for you today is about one of the most fundamental principles in Christian living: get your eyes off people and keep them on Jesus.

Soulfood: Acts 12-13 Matt 9:14-26 Ps 123 Pro 16:1,

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Deal with the stress in your life



'My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.' Exodus 33:14 NKJV

Is life overwhelming you? You're not alone. Moses, one of the greatest leaders in history, got so stressed out with the responsibilities he was carrying that he wanted to die. You say, 'Surely that wasn't God's will for him.' You're right. But it's not enough to know God's will, you've got to do things God's way.

Moses was working from early morning until late at night, six days a week, with no holidays and no time off. He was eating on the run, planning appointments, meeting deadlines, and seeing everybody who wanted to see him. And the people close to Moses were either too busy to notice, or too needy themselves to care that he was suffering from exhaustion. But his father-in-law Jethro noticed it and said, 'What you are doing is not good. You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone' (Exodus 18:17-18 NIV).

Fortunately, Moses found the answer. And it was in two parts: (1) Delegate the work to qualified people and trust them to do it. The essence of good leadership is not about trying to do everything yourself, but getting it done through others. Or as nineteenth-century evangelist D.L. Moody said, 'Instead of trying to do the work of ten people, get ten people to do the work.' (2) Draw on God's strength rather than your own. God told Moses, 'My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest' (Exodus 33:14 NKJV). The word 'rest' means 'inner peace, well-being, security and confidence'. And God's will is for you to live that way.

Soulfood: Acts 10-11 Matt 9:1-13 Ps 118:19-29 Pro 15:33,

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Be wise; don't compare



'But they, measuring themselves by themselves...' 2 Corinthians 10:12 NKJV

Jesus said: 'Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, "God, I thank you that I am not like other men - extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess." And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to Heaven, but beat his breast, saying, "God, be merciful to me a sinner!" I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other' (Luke 18:10-14 NKJV). Whereas the Pharisee thought of himself as the best-dressed man in town, God saw his garments of self-righteousness as 'filthy rags' and rejected him (see Isaiah 64:6).

An unknown poet wrote: 'I dreamed death came the other night and Heaven's gates swung wide. With kindly grace an angel ushered me inside. And there to my astonishment stood folks I'd known on earth; some I'd judged and labelled as "unfit" or of little worth. Indignant words rose to my lips but never were set free; for every face showed stunned surprise - no one expected me!' We are all saved by grace, not works (see Titus 3:5).

We don't get into Heaven based on our performance, but on Christ's performance on the cross. That being true, don't try to lift yourself up by putting someone else down. Don't assume that you have the right to judge their character, heart motives or spirituality. When you do that, the Bible says you are 'not wise'.

Soulfood: Acts 8-9 Matt 8:28-34 Ps 118:10-18 Pro 15:31-32,

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Keep looking to Jesus



'Let us run...keeping our eyes on Jesus.' Hebrews 12:1-2 NLT

Glenn Cunningham was born on a Kansas farm and educated in a one-room schoolhouse. He and his brother were responsible for keeping the school's fire going. One morning as the boys poured kerosene on the live coals to get the fire started before school, the stove blew sky-high. Glenn rushed towards the door, then realised his brother had fallen and wasn't moving. He went back to help, suffering terrible burns in the process. In the end his brother died and Glenn was hospitalised with severe burns on his legs. The tragedy seemed to mark an end to his dream of running track. Still, he was determined to walk again - which the doctors said wouldn't happen, but he did. Then he began to run. Through many periods of discouragement and disappointment he kept running and getting faster. He mastered the mile. Eventually he set his sights on the international record for his distance and broke it! Then he went on to set a new world record. What kept him running? He said it was thinking about his brother.

When you feel discouraged and want to quit, think about Jesus: 'Let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honour beside God's throne. Think of all...he endured...then you won't become weary and give up' (Hebrews 12:1-3 NLT).

Soulfood: Acts 6-7 Matt 8:18-27 Ps 118:1-9 Pro 15:27-30,

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Understanding your desires 4



'Take up [your] cross and follow me.' Mark 8:34 NIV

God is a desire-creating, desire-satisfying God. Birds want to fly because God created them to do it. Dolphins want to swim because God created them with an instinct to swim. God doesn't plant wrong desires in us. When Adam first saw Eve, he discovered he had a strong desire for her. Where did that desire come from? God. God actually delights in fulfilling your desires.

Now, some of your desires get distorted by sin and need to be cleansed, purified, and retrained. This is what Jesus refers to when he says, 'Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me' (Mark 8:34 NIV). We must say no to desires that would keep us from living in the flow of God's Spirit. We must always be ready to sacrifice a lesser desire for the sake of living a greater life. On the other hand, nothing makes a human being more vulnerable to temptation than a joyless life. If God removed all your desires you wouldn't be human. A slab of cement doesn't have to worry about weeds growing on it, but it will also never be a garden.

God's plan is that every time we experience an authentic desire - a God-implanted desire - we come to understand more deeply what a good God he is. We learn how he has wired us and what he wants us to do in life, and as a result we find ourselves loving him more and more. That's why the Bible says, 'Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who trusts in him' (Psalm 34:8 NKJV)!

Soulfood: Acts 3:11-25 Acts 4 Acts 5:1-42 Matt 8:10-17 Ps 109:16-31 Pro 15:23-26,

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Understanding your desires 3



'Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good.' Psalm 34:8 NKJV

When the Bible tells you what you ought to do, you can take it in two different ways: the ought of obligation or the ought of opportunity. The first kind refers to your duty: you ought to pay your taxes; you ought to keep your dog on a lead; you ought to take your driver's test. The second kind gives you life: you ought to take a break; you ought to see the world; you ought to taste this cake.

The 'oughts' of Jesus' message are mainly the oughts of opportunity. And as you become more aware of this, you may start feeling guilty because your desire for God doesn't run deep enough. The problem is, you can't make yourself desire God more by simply telling yourself you should. But he is so gracious and patient in wanting you to want him, that he is willing to work with this kind of honesty. That's why his Word says, 'Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good' (Psalm 34:8 NKJV). The word 'taste' is an invitation from a confident chef. You don't have to commit to eating the whole enchilada; just try a taste and if you don't like it you can skip the rest. The chef is convinced if he can just get you to take that first bite, you're going to want the whole thing.

The truth is that the more you read God's Word and pray, the more rewarding it becomes and the more you are drawn to it. Yes, it begins as a discipline. But when you stick with it, it becomes a delight.

Soulfood: Acts 1:1 - 3:10 Matt 8:1-9 Ps 109:1-15 Pro 15:22,

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