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Lee 12:00-6:00pm

The Word For Today

Being there 3

'He comforts us... so that we can share... comfort.' 2 Corinthians 1:4 CEV

One way to help a friend in crisis is to help them identify important resources - spiritual, personal, and interpersonal. (1) Spiritual resources. 'God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble' (Psalm 46:1 NKJV). God's Word illuminates the darkness and confusion. His Spirit is the source of all comfort - he gives 'peace...which surpasses all understanding' (Philippians 4:7 ESV). His presence addresses the loneliness, and his power enables the hurting heart to overcome feelings of helplessness. People in crisis are often disoriented, which causes them to forget what God has already given them.

(2) Personal resources. Remind them of their unique strengths and skills. Help them recall past triumphs when they successfully navigated through tough times. Encourage a positive attitude that looks to the future rather than being paralysed by present pain. Most importantly, strengthen their faith with prayer and truths from God's Word. And last but not least, remind them of your support.

(3) Interpersonal resources. Family members, friends, business associates and neighbours are likely to be supportive, and community resources are also available for medical, financial and material assistance. The local church is another network source. People in crisis are often too embarrassed to ask for help; they feel like they should be able to handle their own problems. Help them understand that you are blessed by giving, and that one day they too will have an opportunity to help someone else who is 'in trouble'.

Soulfood: Gal 5:23 Is 40:9-11 Isa 42:1-4 Ps 18:31-35,


Being there 2

'Offer each other a helping hand.' Galatians 6:2 CEV

When a friend or family member is in a crisis, your aim should be to help them cope with it and grow through it. Sometimes that's easier said than done! As their hurting hearts adjust to new and unfamiliar circumstances, they might be sceptical about whom to trust. But being there for them is what the Kingdom of God is all about! 'Carry each other's burdens' (Galatians 6:2 NIV).

Your commitment can play a significant role in someone's journey towards becoming emotionally healthy again. Here are three practical suggestions: (1) Don't expect them to initiate contact. It's common for people in crisis to withdraw rather than ask for help. Often they're too distraught to know what they need, so you'll probably have to make the first move. And please don't feel like you have to be a professional. Two simple steps can make the hurting one feel valued and understood: (a) Listen carefully to their concerns and perceptions. (b) Maintain eye contact and show genuine interest. (2) Help reduce their anxiety. Offer a calming presence by inviting them to share their feelings. And if their viewpoint seems distorted, say something like, 'May I suggest another way of looking at things?' (3) Help them focus on what's important. They're feeling overwhelmed, so help them sort out the issues that need their immediate attention. Instead of rehashing the past and worrying about the future, encourage them to concentrate on the present and 'live one day at a time' (Matthew 6:34 TLB).

Soulfood: Judg 16:1-19:15 Mk 11:12-26 Ps 47 Pro 13:11-12,


Being there 1

'If you have a gift for showing kindness... do it gladly.' Romans 12:8 NLT

We say, 'It's not my responsibility. I don't want to get involved!' Ever said those words? You may have thought you had a good reason - perhaps it was an inconvenient time - but the bottom line is you didn't offer to help someone in need. And you're not alone. Research confirms that the trend to avoid involvement is increasing worldwide. Nevertheless, 'being there' for others is a biblical mandate; it's the practical application of loving God and your neighbour (see Matthew 22:37-39).

Crises generally present themselves in three ways: (1) Situational crises include serious illnesses, the death of a loved one, or breakdowns in family relationships. The patriarch Job experienced all of these! (2) Developmental crises happen over the course of life - leaving home, going away to college, marriage adjustments, parenting, retirement, or declining health. Abraham and Sarah knew all about living through developmental crises. They left their home and family and endured years of childlessness. Then on top of that God asked them to sacrifice their one and only 'miracle' son. (3) Self-awareness crises are when you discover disturbing truths about yourself - you're told that, humanly speaking, your illness is incurable, or you see yourself as a failure because now you're too old to realise your life's goals. Or you face the reality of being divorced or widowed, or you feel rejected because of your background. People like Elijah and Jonah are examples of self-awareness crises.

Do any of these examples bring someone you know to mind? And if so, 'do it gladly'.

Soulfood: Judg 12-15 Mk 11:1-11 Ps 97 Pro 13:9-10,


A prayer for success at work

'Do you see a man skilled in his work? He will serve before kings.' Proverbs 22:29 NIV

Here's a prayer for success at work:

'Lord, I thank you for the way you've made me, for the many gifts and talents you've placed within me, and I trust that I'm the best person for this job. I am grateful for each and every one of the personalities I work with, even the ones I don't particularly like or understand. I ask that my focus would be on accomplishing the goals you have set forth for me to perform during my time in this position. Give me wisdom and discernment on the job, even in the midst of a hostile environment. Help me to learn what you want to teach me here, and give me patience as you prepare me for the future. Help me to do my best, and to always remain positive and hopeful. Please quiet the complaints and disappointments of my heart with your perfect peace, and allow me to trust you with my job. Dress me in the garments of praise and the righteousness of Christ that I may bring you glory where I work. Allow me to know my true identity, to walk in your favour, and to seek to please you more than those with whom I work. Where there is contention, let me be a peacemaker. Where there is deceit, let me speak truth. Where there is despair, let me bring hope. Where there is fear, let me bring faith. Where there is darkness, let me bring light. Where there is sadness, let me bring joy. These things I ask in Jesus' name. Amen.'

Soulfood: Judg 9:34-11:40 Mk 10:35-52 Pro 20:25 Ecc 5:4-6,


Pray for discernment

'Give your servant a discerning heart.' 1 Kings 3:9 NIV

Dr John Maxwell writes: 'Several years ago when I was speaking to a group of executives, someone asked me what principles I follow when hiring. "I have only one rule," I explained. "I never do the hiring." That got their attention. "And here's why: I'm terrible at it." I went on to explain my horrible track record..."Because I'm so optimistic and have a high belief in people, I'm unrealistic. It doesn't matter what red flags come up during an interview with a candidate, I always think, I can help this person to improve and succeed. That's not the right attitude for an interviewer. To be successful in this area you need people who are sceptical - the kind of individuals who wouldn't even hire their own mothers. When I quit hiring, it took my organisation to a whole new level." When I told this room full of executives that I didn't do any hiring anymore, I could see their first reaction was negative. But as I explained it, I could see they appreciated that I knew my own weaknesses, and they respected my honesty. Few things are worse than someone who doesn't know what he's talking about, making things up as he goes along, and pretending he has expertise when he really doesn't have a clue.'

If you have a poor track record in hiring people, delegate the job to those who are gifted at it. And if you must do it yourself, pray Solomon's prayer: 'Give your servant a discerning heart...to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours' (1 Kings 3:9 NIV)?

Soulfood: Judg 7:1-9:33 Mk 10:23-34 Ps 93 Pro 13:7-8,


Setting captives free 2

'He brought them out of their gloom... and broke their chains.' Psalm 107:14 NCV

God is in the business of setting people free - morally and spiritually. When the Israelites were in bondage, 'they cried to the Lord in their troubles, and he rescued them' (Psalm 107:13 TLB). Jesus still delivers day after day, and 'if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed' (John 8:36 NIV).

So follow these steps to freedom: (1) Cry out to the Lord. He said, 'You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart' (Jeremiah 29:13 NIV). The cry of the Israelites was a repeated heart-cry, and God still responds to cries from the heart. Deliverance starts by recognising your total dependence on him. Instead of trying to handle it all on your own, the Bible says, 'Cast all your [care] on him, because he cares for you' (1 Peter 5:7 NAS). (2) Feed your soul spiritually. Jesus said, 'I am the living bread...Whoever eats this bread will live forever' (John 6:51 NIV). As you feed on God's Word and share your feelings in prayer, he'll lighten your burden and nourish your soul. He came to declare 'freedom for the prisoners...to set the oppressed free' (Luke 4:18 NIV). Take time to meditate on God's Word. Reflect on it until you understand how to apply it to your life. Knowledge without application is useless. Freedom requires feeding daily on the Scriptures, and applying what you learn to your present circumstances. 'Happy are those who...love the Lord's teachings, and...think about those teachings day and night' (Psalm 1:1-2 NCV).

Do these things each and every day - and be set free!

Soulfood: Judg 4-6 Mk 10:13-22 Ps 88:9b-18 Pro 13:4-6,


Setting captives free 1

'I have come down...to bring them up.' Exodus 3:8 NIV

For four hundred years the Israelites were enslaved by Egyptian taskmasters who oppressed them and 'made their lives bitter' (Exodus 1:14 NIV). Many of us can relate to their feelings of helplessness when we think about areas in our own lives where we struggle with habits. Whether it's food, alcohol, drugs, sex, money or abusive relationships, we've all experienced a sense of powerlessness in our repeated attempts for freedom. Failure can produce chronic hopelessness, to the point where you give up trying.

Broken and crushed, Israel cried out to the Lord and he responded, 'I have...seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out...and I am concerned about their suffering' (Exodus 3:7 NIV). Notice how God extended compassion towards them: 'So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into...a land flowing with milk and honey' (Exodus 3:8 NIV). God came down to bring them up - and he can do the same for you today. Israel's deliverance called for the slaying of a spotless Passover lamb. They applied its blood to their doorposts and the death angel passed over them. The Bible says, 'Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed' (1 Corinthians 5:7 NIV). Jesus Christ, our sacrificial lamb, shed his blood to set you free from whatever it is that's enslaving you.

What are you struggling with today? you can be released from captivity - not by your own futile efforts - but by trusting in the God who answers the cries of his people.

Soulfood: Judg 1-3 Mk 10:1-12 Ps 88:1-9a Pro 13:1-3,


Helpful hints for a happy marriage

'The heart of her husband safely trusts her.' Proverbs 31:11 NKJV

If you want a happy marriage, here are two things you must always keep in mind:

(1) Never demean your mate in public. When you do, you demean yourself. Solomon writes, 'Who can find a virtuous wife? For her worth is far above rubies. The heart of her husband safely trusts her...She does him good...all the days of her life' (Proverbs 31:10-12 NKJV). Somebody said, 'Before you criticise your mate's taste, stop and remember they picked you!' The fact is we all have habits, struggles, weaknesses, fantasies, childhood memories, unspoken needs and longings hidden deep inside. Our yearning for someone to trust is profound and unchanging. That's why God designed marriage to be a safe haven in a dangerous world. If you can't trust your mate - who can you trust? (2) Always have shared dreams and goals. Today, couples are divorcing at an alarmingly high rate between the seventeenth and twenty-fifth year of marriage. Do you know why? That's usually when the last child graduates from college or university and leaves home. Now there's just the two of you. And when you've spent all your time focusing on your children and neglecting one another, you can wake up one day and feel like you're living with a stranger. So how do you avoid that? By having lifetime goals and dreams you're both working towards.

Remember, you're more than just parents - you're people - and God has a plan for your lives as a couple. If you haven't discovered it yet, talk about it, then pray together and ask God to reveal it to you. That's a prayer he'll answer!

Soulfood: Lev 23:15-22 Acts 2:1-18,


What is God saying to you

'In all things God works for the good of those who love him.' Romans 8:28 NIV

Novelist A.J. Cronin had been practising as a physician for almost ten years when he developed a gastric ulcer that required complete rest. So he went to a farm in the Scottish Highlands to recuperate. He says, 'The first few days of leisure were pleasant enough, but soon the enforced idleness of Fyne Farm became insufferable...I'd often, in the back of my mind, nursed the vague illusion that I might write. I had actually thought out the theme of a novel - the tragic record of a man's egotism and bitter pride...Upstairs in my cold, clean bedroom was a scrubbed deal table and a very hard chair. Next morning I found myself in this chair facing a new exercise book open on the table, slowly becoming aware that, short of Latin prescriptions, I'd never composed a significant phrase in my entire life. It was a discouraging thought, as I picked up my pen. Never mind, I began.'

Even though Cronin struggled to write five hundred words a day and ended up throwing his first draft on the farm's rubbish heap, he finished Hatter's Castle. The book was dramatised, translated into twenty-two languages, and sold some five million copies. The world had lost a physician, but gained a novelist.

When God gives you a dream, sometimes the circumstances required to fulfil it won't be to your liking. In Joseph's case it involved betrayal and false imprisonment. But that's what it took to get him to the throne of Egypt. So ask God today, 'What are you saying, or trying to show me, in the middle of this situation?'

Soulfood: Ruth 1-4 Mk 9:38-50 Ps 18:30-50 Pro 12:25-28,


Welcome the test 3

'Because you have done this thing...I will bless you.' Genesis 22:16-17 NKJV

God said to Abraham, 'Because you...have not withheld...your only son...I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the Heaven' (Genesis 22:16-17 NKJV). Isaac was the lifelong dream of a barren woman named Sarah and an impotent man named Abraham. But the more God blesses you, the harder it is to keep that blessing from becoming an idol in your life. Money may be the best example. The more money you make, the harder it is to trust Almighty God and the easier it is to trust the almighty dollar. Isn't it ironic that in the United States 'In God we trust' is printed on the dollar notes - when money is the thing we often find most difficult to trust God with? If you're financially blessed, it is a gift from God (see Deuteronomy 8:18). But God doesn't financially bless us so that we can use it selfishly. He blesses us more, so that we can be more of a blessing to others (see Genesis 12:2).

The truth is, what you're willing to walk away from determines what God is willing to entrust to you. He wants you to come to the place where you find your identity in whose you are, rather than in who you are. You can base your identity on a thousand things - the degrees you've earned, the positions you hold, the salary you make, etc. But if you base your identity on anything temporal, your identity is in a house of cards.

There's only one solid foundation: Jesus Christ. So, what's getting between you and God? What feeds your ego? Where do you find your security outside of Christ? That's what you need to put on the altar today.

Soulfood: Obad Mal 1-4 Mk 9:30-37 Ps 18:1-29 Pro 12:23-24,

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