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Lizzie 10:00-3:00pm

The Word For Today

'Leave me alone'

'The crowd began pleading with Jesus to...leave them alone.' Mark 5:17 NLT

The Bible says when 'those who had seen what happened told the others about the demon-possessed man and the pigs...the crowd began pleading with Jesus to...leave them alone' (Mark 5:16-17 NLT). They had just witnessed an astounding miracle, yet here they were 'pleading with Jesus to leave them alone'. Maybe they were afraid he'd interfere with their livelihood, like he did with the owner of the pigs. Or they thought he was so powerful and unpredictable they didn't want him messing with their lives. Either way, they wanted no part of what Jesus had to offer.

'Leave me alone, God!' Maybe you haven't used those exact words, but are there areas in your life you'd just as soon he didn't get involved in? Pastor Mark Roberts says: 'If we put into words our secret thoughts, mightn't they sound something like this: "You can have me when it comes to my family life, but leave me alone at work." Or, "You're welcome to touch my public actions, but don't mess with my daydreams." Or, "I'm willing to give you a tithe of my income, but leave the rest of my money alone." Or, "I'm happy to have you in my life, Jesus, but don't ask me to forgive my parents." Or, "I want you to be my Lord...but I want to hang on to certain areas of behaviour...to keep on sinning in certain ways and resist you when it comes to certain relationships."'

God wants all, not just a part of you. He wants to be Lord of every aspect of your life - including those areas where you'd prefer to be left to your own devices.

Soulfood: Rom 3:21-31 Rom 4-5 Rom 6:1-23 Luke 5:1-11 Ps 91 Pro 3:3-4,


'At home' in the Lord

'Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations.' Psalm 90:1 NKJV

David wrote: 'Some of you were lost in the scorching desert, far from a town. You were hungry and thirsty and about to give up. You were in serious trouble, but you prayed to the Lord, and he rescued you...he brought you to a town' (Psalm 107:4-7 CEV). Our souls need a place where we're at rest; a place where we can lay down our worries, weariness and frustrations. 'My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God' (Psalm 84:2 NIV).

Recognising that our souls need a place to call home, Jesus said, 'Live in me, and I will live in you' (John 15:4 GWT). Notice, he doesn't invite you as a visitor, but a family member enjoying all the benefits that go with it. 'How do I enter into this dwelling place?' you ask. If someone gave you a beautiful home, how would you take possession of it? You'd make sure the giver was serious, inspect the necessary paperwork, then move in and enjoy it.

Is the Lord serious when he says to us, 'Live in me'? Yes. Is your name on the required biblical 'paperwork'? Yes. Then by an act of your faith, pack up and move in today. Poet S.T. Coleridge wrote, 'Faith is an affirmation, and an act, that bids eternal truth be present fact.' Turn your faith into 'present fact' and declare, 'The Lord is now my permanent, secure dwelling place.' Repeat it as often as needed. Claim the promise: 'Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations' (Psalm 90:1 NKJV).

Soulfood: Rom 1:1 - 3:20 Luke 4:31-44 Ps 89:38-52 Pro 3:1-2,


The blessings of Jesus' blood

'The blood of Jesus Christ...cleanses us from all sin.' 1 John 1:7 NKJV

Blood is the one element that reaches every part of the body. Its precious cargo of oxygen and nutrients carries life, energy, nourishment and healing. The white cells function like paramedics, cleansing wounds and healing disease. They serve as a militia fighting off potential attackers.

There's a spiritual lesson here! We each need the life-giving blood of Jesus to cleanse us, protect us and sustain us. And we need it every day. The Bible says, 'If we walk in the light as he is in the light...the blood of Jesus Christ...cleanses us from all sin' (1 John 1:7 NKJV). That means as you continue to walk with Jesus, his blood continues to cleanse you from all your sin. Ask any doctor: blood determines who a child's real father is. And the blood of Jesus proves you are God's redeemed child; otherwise you're just a pseudo-heir trying to receive promises reserved for members of the family. Every one of our heavenly Father's blessings flows to his children through the blood. It's what enables each of us to stand before him, righteous and qualified to receive his blessings.

Thank God for the emphasis on the Holy Spirit. But unless we understand that God accepts us because he sees us through Jesus' blood, we'll be empowered but insecure, using our spiritual gifts but living under needless condemnation. Counsellor, tell your hurting clients that by the power of Jesus' blood they can tear down every stronghold in their family and break every chain that links them to the past. Take a moment today to thank God for the blessings of Jesus' blood.

Soulfood: Judg 16:23-31 2 Cor 12:3-10,


Dare to dream

'I focus on this one thing.' Philippians 3:13 NLT

In order to move forward with confidence on your life's journey, you need a reliable road map. In the Bible this is called a dream or a vision. For Moses, it was leading God's people out of slavery and into the Promised Land. For Florence Nightingale, it meant bringing healing and hope to wounded and dying soldiers in Crimea. For Thomas Edison, it was illuminating the world with incandescent light. The fact is, anyone who ever made a difference in life started with a dream, and eventually it became their life's passion. For the publishers of this devotional, it's putting God's Word into the hands of as many people as possible in every nation on earth!

How can you tell if your vision is from God? It will bless you and benefit others. Now, if your dream is only to live in a mansion and accumulate a fortune for yourself, don't count on God to underwrite it. Furthermore, your dream is worth only what you're willing to pay for it. Inspiration without perspiration is just a daydream.

Many of the people you meet have great ideas, but all they do is talk about them. Many work hard and would be willing to give their all for a great dream - but they don't have one. A small percentage have a dream and the faith to make it come true. And even if you're part of that group, there are no guarantees you'll succeed. But you have a good chance - better than the majority of those around you. So go ahead - dare to dream.

Soulfood: Isa 63-66 Luke 4:14-30 Ps 89:15-37 Pro 2:21-22,


God won't let you off the hook

'Your faith in God has become known everywhere...how you turned...from idols to serve...God.' 1 Thessalonians 1:8-9 NIV

Jack Eckerd, founder of the Eckerd chemist chain, which was the second-largest chemist chain in America at the time, became friends with Chuck Colson, founder of Prison Fellowship. He introduced Colson to various influential groups in Florida in an effort to bring about change in the state's prison system. During their travels together, Chuck had an opportunity to share with Jack his new-found faith in Jesus Christ. He gave some books to Jack, including his own, and eventually prayed with him to become a Christian. Shortly after, Jack happened to be walking down the magazine aisle in one of his stores when he noticed two pornographic magazines on the rack. The presence of the magazines had never bothered him before, but now it did! Jack called the president of his company and told him, 'Take those magazines out of my stores.' The president argued, 'But we make a profit of three million dollars a year on those magazines.' Jack insisted, 'Take 'em out.' And so it was that all such magazines were removed from his seventeen hundred stores in one day. When Chuck Colson asked Jack about his decision, he replied, 'Why else would I give away three million dollars? The Lord wouldn't let me off the hook.'

And when you are committed to following Christ and living by the principles of Scripture, God won't let you off the hook either. So let it be said of you, what Paul said of the believers in Thessalonica: 'Your faith...has become known everywhere...how you turned...from idols to serve...God' (1 Thessalonians 1:8-9 NIV).

Soulfood: Isa 58-62 Luke 4:1-13 Ps 89:1-14 Pro 2:20,


When someone attacks you

'Endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.' 2 Timothy 2:3 NKJV

There are two kinds of criticism: constructive criticism and destructive criticism. One builds you up and the other tears you down.

Be wise in how you respond to unfounded criticism and gossip. When your critic wants to remain anonymous, they're not worthy of your response. The story's told of a pastor who received a letter that contained only one word - Fool! Next Sunday he held it up and said to the congregation, 'I received the strangest letter this past week.' He read the one-word text and said, 'Somebody wrote it and forgot to sign it!' You say, 'But they are attempting to hurt my reputation.' D.L. Moody said, 'If I take care of my character, God will take care of my reputation' (see Isaiah 54:17). Any time you're involved in a worthy cause, people will not only try to beat you down, but keep you down. In training Timothy for ministry, Paul told him to 'endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ' (2 Timothy 2:3 NKJV).

Difficult people are placed in our path not to defeat us, but develop us. Leaders know this, so they stay and finish the job regardless of the cost. Just like the captain goes down with the ship, the true leader stays until the work is done. You say, 'Then how should I respond?' By praying for them! Jesus said, 'Bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you...and you will be sons of the Most High' (Luke 6:28, 35 NKJV).

Soulfood: Isa 53-57 Luke 3:21-38 Ps 84 Pro 2:16-19,


When someone irritates you

'Don't yell at one another or curse each other or ever be rude.' Ephesians 4:31 CEV

Some of us excel in our careers, but act like a bull in a china shop when it comes to our relationships. Then we rationalise it by saying, 'I didn't mean any harm,' or 'That's just my way.' Sorry, God doesn't let us off the hook that easily.

When someone irritates you, God requires you to do two things: (1) Be the first to reach out. You may be right, but if you're resentful, what good is it? Instead of nursing a grudge or waiting for the other person to apologise, be first to reach out. Someone else's response neither validates nor invalidates your decision to forgive. Think about it: if you had only a year to live, would you give such things another second of your time? No! The Bible says, 'Forgiving...as God...has forgiven you' (Ephesians 4:32 NLT). God made the first move in forgiving us so we'd know how to do it for others. (2) Be understanding. When some of us argue our point, we bulldoze everybody and everything in our way. Purpose-driven, time-conscious, goal-oriented people can be guilty of this. The Bible says, 'Don't yell at one another or curse each other or ever be rude... forgive others, just as God forgave you because of Christ' (Ephesians 4:31-32 CEV). Chances are the people who get under your skin aren't trying to complicate your life; they're struggling to cope with their own. Once you understand there's no ill will intended, you begin to feel compassion for them. That's how it is with God. 'He will not crush the weakest reed or put out a flickering candle' (Isaiah 42:3 NLT).

Today, ask him to help you show his love towards those who irritate you.

Soulfood: Isa 49-52 Luke 3:11-20 Ps 81 Pro 2:11-15,


Turn it over to God

'Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you.' Psalm 55:22 NIV

Sometimes the best thing to do is - turn the situation over to God. 'Yes, but what about all those go-getters who rise with the sun, skip breakfast, and break records while I'm just "giving it to God"?' you ask. Good question. Look at Jesus; he didn't get started until he was 30. What about all those 'wasted' years? He left them to God. And how did he react to those who heard his message, shrugged, and walked away? He left them to God. And what about those nitpicking Pharisees who gave him so much grief? He left them to God as well.In The Finishing Touch, Charles Swindoll describes a time in his ministry when he felt driven and drained by never-ending demands. He writes: 'If folks weren't changing, I felt responsible. If some drifted, somehow I was at fault. If there wasn't continual growth, I acted as if I needed to make it happen. If a sermon failed to ring with clarity and power, I struggled all of Monday and half of Tuesday. Talk about wasted energy! Time has helped; so has age. Virtually all of the things that once stole my joy and assaulted my motivation - I just leave to God. Don't I care? Of course I care. But those cares are now placed in the hands of One who can handle them. What once bothered me, I've learned to give over to him who doesn't mind being bothered. Whereas criticism used to cripple me for days, I now do my best to sift, shift, and sail. I learn what I can - and turn the rest over to God.'

Soulfood: Isa 42-44 Luke 2:41-52 Ps 74:12-23 Pro 2:7-8,


Be patient

'The testing of your faith produces patience!' James 1:2-4 NKJV

You're closer than you know to becoming the person God wants you to be. By his enabling grace, you'll make it through this trial and come out stronger and wiser. Paul says, 'If God is for us, who can be against us' (Romans 8:31 NKJV)?God is for you! That means you can do the thing you are afraid you can't do. The prison bars you're beating against are in your mind. And since you put them up, with God's help you can take them down. God wants to set you free from the fearful attitudes that have held you back for so long; to release you to live up to your full potential. The right attitude can overcome almost any barrier. For example, the Bible says, 'Love never fails' (1 Corinthians 13:8 NIV). Why? Because love isn't dependent on your emotions or circumstances, it's a servant of your will. Love is a decision! Jesus said, 'This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you' (John 15:12 NKJV). And if Jesus commands it, he will enable you to do it!Beginning is usually the hard part. The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step; after that it gets easier. But look out; old attitudes will try to resurface and come back stronger than ever. Don't let them. Radio commentator Paul Harvey says, 'You can always tell when you're on the road to success; it's uphill all the way.' So be patient; it will take time to get there. But anything worthwhile is worth working for!

Soulfood: 1 Sam 3:1-11 Acts 9:1-9,


Don't meddle

'We hear...some...among you...are busybodies.' 2 Thessalonians 3:11 NKJV

One day Peter looked at John and said to Jesus, 'What about him, Lord?' Jesus immediately rebuked Peter and said, 'What is that to you? Just follow me' (see John 21:21-22). Now, if the apostle Peter could get into trouble for meddling, any of us can. The issue here isn't about helping others; it's about knowing when to stay out of the middle and mind your own business. Sometimes we jump in and try to solve problems without being asked. And not only are our efforts fruitless, they're resented. As you become spiritually mature and get over your need to 'fix' everybody, life becomes simpler. Now that you're not 'butting in' where you're not invited, you're more available to help where you're really needed.Not meddling, however, goes beyond avoiding the temptation to police, enlighten or rescue others. It means not eavesdropping, gossiping, talking behind people's backs and needing to figure everybody out. Recognise any of these traits in yourself? If so, deal with the problem before it costs you the respect of others. Do you know why we focus so much on other people's shortcomings? You've guessed it - to keep from having to look closely at ourselves. The only thing you can change about others - is your attitude towards them. Paul writes, 'Some...among you...are busybodies. Now those who are such we command and exhort...that they work in quietness' (2 Thessalonians 3:11-12 NKJV).One counsellor says: 'Being a peacemaker doesn't mean we get in the middle. We are bearers of peace by staying peaceful ourselves...not harbouring turmoil...not causing the extra chaos created when we get in the middle of other people's affairs and relationships.'

Soulfood: Isa 38-41 Luke 2:34-40 Ps 74:1-11 Pro 2:6,

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