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The Word For Today

A peaceful state of mind

'His peace will guard your hearts and minds.' Philippians 4:7 NLT

The word worry comes from a Greek word meaning 'to divide the mind'. Worry splits you right down the middle; instead of dwelling on God's promises, you dwell on your problems. Worry is like a rocking chair - it gives you something to do but it doesn't get you anywhere. Instead of relieving you of tomorrow's troubles, it robs you of today's strength - and you can't afford to lose your strength.

So how can you stop worrying? The Bible has a two-part answer: God's part, and our part. Our part includes prayer and gratitude: 'Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done' (Philippians 4: 6 NLT). In order to worry less you must pray more, and also remember to express your gratitude. You can go to God confidently for the next thing, when you've taken time to thank him for the last thing. And what's God's part? 'If you do this you will experience God's peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will keep your thoughts and your hearts quiet and at rest as you trust in Christ Jesus' (Philippians 4:7 TLB). Note the words 'You will experience God's peace'. Imagine having God's peaceful state of mind! Do you think he battles anxiety? Or wrings his hands and asks the angels for antacids?

Your problem is no more challenging to God than a twig is to an elephant. He enjoys perfect peace because he enjoys perfect power - and he offers his peace to you. When you do your part through prayer and thanksgiving, you'll have a peaceful state of mind.

Soulfood: Heb 11:7, Gen 6:9-22, Gen 8:18-22, Matt 24:36-44


Start seeing it differently

'I truly believe I will live to see the Lord's goodness.' Psalm 27:13 NCV

When you choose to see things from God's perspective, it changes how you feel. The only thing keeping your old negative feelings in place is your thinking. 'As he thinks in his heart, so is he' (Proverbs 23:7 NKJV). When you start thinking the right way, your life starts going the right way.

But remember, you didn't become negative overnight and you won't become positive overnight. So how do you start? (1) Replace your negative thinking with thoughts that are 'praiseworthy' (Philippians 4:8 NIV). Deal with destructive thoughts the way you'd deal with flies at a picnic - shoo them away. With practise and persistence you can do it. You have that choice! (2) Remember: before you take on the future, recall God's goodness to you in the past. Shakespeare said, 'Let never day nor night unhallow'd pass, but still remember what the Lord hath done.' David said: 'I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart' (Psalm 27:13-14 NKJV).

We don't have more problems than other people, we just think about them more often. Stop and reread that last sentence! What you think produces how you feel. If you don't believe that, try feeling angry without first having angry thoughts, or feeling sad without first having sad thoughts. To experience a feeling, you must first entertain the thought that produces it. That's life-changing information - and it will change your life as you act on it!

Soulfood: Jer 45-48, Luke 6:37-49, Ps 109:16-31, Pro 15:23-26


Today cry out to Jesus

'Many warned him to be quiet; but he cried out all the more.' Mark 10:48 NKJV

Try to imagine being blind all your life, then one day miraculously receiving your sight. And the first face you see - is the face of Jesus! That's what happened to Bartimaeus. Jesus was passing by the spot where he sat begging every day. Recognising this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, Bartimaeus cried out for help at the top of his lungs.

Sometimes dignified prayer won't get the job done. Desperate situations call for desperate measures. Sometimes you've got to cry out to God from the depths of your soul! 'Jesus stood still' (Mark 10:49 NKJV) when Bartimaeus shouted. Your cry will get God's attention. David said, 'I cried out to you, and you healed me' (Psalm 30:2 NKJV). Don't be reluctant, be confident. 'Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need' (Hebrews 4:16 NKJV).

The Bible says, 'Throwing his cloak aside, [Bartimaeus] jumped to his feet and came to Jesus' (Mark 10:50 NIV). He did that for two reasons: first, a long robe could have tripped him up; second, his clothes identified him as a beggar. To get to Jesus, you must be willing to throw aside everything that stands in your way. The shame and failure of your past, your lack and your limitations, the labels other people have put on you. When Jesus restores and makes you whole, you won't have to wear those old garments anymore. And here's another thought: when Bartimaeus regained his sight, he decided to follow Jesus (see Mark 10:52), and you must do that too.

Soulfood: Jer 41-44, Luke 6:27-36, Ps 109:1-15, Pro 15:22


You're in God's waiting room 2

'Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart.' Psalm 27:14 NKJV

God gave his people an interesting command: 'Three times a year all your men are to appear before the Sovereign Lord, the God of Israel. I will drive out nations before you and enlarge your territory, and no one will covet your land when you go up three times each year to appear before the Lord' (Exodus 34:23-24 NIV). Imagine that! Three times a year they were to stop working and spend time with the Lord worshipping him, seeking his guidance and getting direction for the future.

Can you imagine what would happen if you did that? Note the words 'I will enlarge your territory'. Instead of losing - you'll gain, and instead of going backward - you'll go forward. Note also the words 'I will drive out the nations before you'. While you worship God and wait on him, he will fight your battles. And the difference between you and God is that you risk losing, but he's never lost a battle. Note also the words 'No one will covet your land'. You don't have to worry about the competition getting ahead of you. God used this three-times-a-year pilgrimage to teach his people this principle: 'If you wait on me in worship, I will work on your behalf.'

His Word says, 'Those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint' (Isaiah 40:31 NKJV). So here are your choices: keep stressing out, or draw the strength and strategy you need from God by spending time with him.

Soulfood: Jer 36:27 - 40:16, Luke 6:17-26, Ps 79, Pro 15:18-21


You're in God's waiting room 1

'Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him.' Psalm 37:7 NKJV

When you're in a doctor's waiting room there are things you shouldn't do - like try to treat other patients, or have them treat you. Or ask the receptionist for a stethoscope or a blood pressure cuff. And it wouldn't be wise to ask the person sitting next to you, 'What prescriptions are you taking? Perhaps I could try them.' It's called a waiting room because you're supposed to wait.

But we don't like to wait. We weave through traffic looking for a faster lane. We drum our fingers on the worktop while the microwave heats our coffee: 'Come on, come on.' We don't like to wait for anything, including God. Over and over in Scripture when it speaks about our relationship with God, the word 'wait' keeps showing up. And here's what we fail to understand: while we are waiting, God is working. Jesus said, 'My Father is always at his work' (John 5:17 NIV).

The sign on God's waiting room reads 'Be still, and know that I am God' (Psalm 46:10 NIV). You can be still because he is active, and you can rest because he is busy. To wait, biblically speaking, is not to assume the worst, or worry, or fret, or make demands, or take control. Waiting is not inactivity. Waiting is sustained effort to stay focused on God through prayer and faith. To wait is to 'rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him...not fret' (Psalm 37:7 NKJV). God is the Great Physician. You are in his waiting room. He knows what ails you better than you do, and he has a prescription to fix it. So trust him, and wait.

Soulfood: Jer 33:1 - 36:26, Luke 6:1-16, Ps 137, Pro 15:15-17


It's not too late 2

'Your old men will dream dreams.' Joel 2:28 NLT

World champion boxer George Foreman was raised in a Christian home, and eventually he came back to his roots - but not before he tried the world of gangs, drugs and violence. Recognising not only his physical prowess, but also his potential, a friend suggested he join a local gym to work out his aggression in a more constructive way. That led to his becoming a world heavyweight champion boxer, and making millions of dollars. But the career of a world champion boxer is relatively short, and eventually Foreman, aging and overweight, reached the place where the only fights he could get paid just a few thousand dollars. He desperately needed to lose weight and get back in shape. A friend introduced him to a healthy diet, and part of his new eating regimen involved using a little grill. One day Foreman's wife suggested that instead of simply using the grill for himself, he should put his name on it and others would buy it. And they did! Over 100 million George Foreman grills have been sold, and people are still buying them. Think about it. George Foreman made more money with his little grill than he made as a prizefighter.

The Bible says that when the Holy Spirit empowers them, 'your old men will dream dreams' (Joel 2:28 NLT). So regardless of your age, it's not too late for you. Just get down on your knees today and pray, 'Lord, all that I have and all that I am, I give fully to you. Use me as you see fit.' And when he answers, be prepared for him to take you in a whole new direction.

Soulfood: Jer 31-32, Luke 5:27-39, Ps 122, Pro 15:10-14


It's not too late 1

'Your God...gives you power to be successful.' Deuteronomy 8:18 NLT

The famous inventor Samuel Morse dreamed of one day becoming a great painter. He even travelled to Paris in the pursuit of his dream. Years before, his preacher father, Jedediah Morse, had counselled him, using the words of the Earl of Chesterfield: 'Attend to one thing at a time. The steady, undissipated attention to one object is the sure mark of a superior genius.' As a result, Morse threw himself into painting. But after a series of setbacks, he finally abandoned it. The crushing moment came when he lost the appointment to paint a historic mural at the capital in Washington, D.C., and he gave up painting entirely. Writing about Samuel Morse in his book The Greater Journey, historian David McCullough says: 'He must attend to one thing at a time, his father had preached. The "one thing" henceforth would be his telegraph...Had he not stopped painting when he did, no successful electromagnetic telegraph would have happened when it did, or at least not a Morse electromagnetic telegraph.' Relatively late in his career, Samuel Morse gave up painting to focus on inventing the telegraph, and, eventually, a language called Morse code that transformed how the world communicates.

The Bible says, 'The Lord your God... is the one who gives you power to be successful' (Deuteronomy 8:18 NLT). And here's the good news - there's no age limit with God! He can give you success at the beginning, in the middle, or at the very end of your life. But in order to grasp the thing at which you will succeed, you must be willing to let go of the thing at which you have failed.

Soulfood: Jer 28-30, Luke 5:12-26, Ps 110, Pro 15:8-9


Remember your God experiences

'Remember today what you have learned.' Deuteronomy 11:2 GNT

When you listen to people who have had near-death experiences, they'll tell you things worth remembering: 'Life is fragile and precious. I've decided to spend less time at work and more with my wife and family. I have a new compassion for people, more understanding and sympathy. I've come to know the Lord in a deeper and richer way than I ever thought possible.' Instead of asking, 'Why, Lord?' they asked, 'What do you want me to learn from this experience?'

It's not that we are slow learners, we're just quick forgetters. That's why God told his people, 'Remember today what you have learned about the Lord through your experiences with him' (Deuteronomy 11:2 GNT). So instead of asking God to improve your circumstances, ask him to use your circumstances to improve you. Life is a required course, so you might as well do your best to pass it. God is at work in your life, whether you know it or not. 'He does not willingly bring affliction or grief to anyone' (Lamentations 3:33 NIV). God does not delight in your sufferings, but he delights in your development. 'God began doing a good work in you, and I am sure he will continue it until it is finished' (Philippians 1:6 NCV).

God will not fail. Why? Because he cannot fail! He will 'work in us what is pleasing to him' (Hebrews 13:21 NIV). Every challenge, large or small, is equipping you for the future God has in mind for you.

Soulfood: Jam 5:16-18, 1 Kings 18, 2 Kings 2:1-12


You can win in the second half

'I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely.' Hosea 14:4 NKJV

Half-time in the game is for rest and assessment. It's a time to regroup - to evaluate how things have been going and decide what adjustments need to be made for the rest of the game. Sometimes a team may look like they're losing at half-time, but by the time the game ends they've turned things around and won. Until the final whistle sounds, the game is still up for grabs.

And the same is true in life. If you're still here, the game of life isn't over for you. Your clock is still ticking. You have a life yet to live. Not only that, but the first half doesn't have to determine the outcome of the game. Maybe you've made mistakes or experienced disappointments and failures. Maybe life has dealt you a harsh blow here or there. But you are still here - and as long as you are, the whistle hasn't blown and it's not too late for God to take you straight to the plan he has for you.

You see, God looks at your future while the enemy tries to keep you focused on your past. God says, 'You can, in spite of what's been done!' But the enemy says, 'You can't, because of what you've done.' God will never define you by your past, whereas the enemy will try to control and confine you by using it against you. Whether the good, the bad or the ugly dominated your first half, Satan's goal is to keep you chained there. God, on the other hand, wants you to learn from your past - not live in it.

Soulfood: Jer 25-27, Luke 5:1-11, Ps 102:18-28, Pro 15:4-7


Aspire to greatness

'Don't let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all.' 1 Timothy 4:12 NLT

By the time he was 18, Timothy was an apostle. And it seems some people in church thought his promotion to leadership at such an early age wasn't a good thing. But Paul did. He told Timothy: 'Teach these things and insist that everyone learn them. Don't let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity...focus on reading the Scriptures to the church, encouraging the believers, and teaching them. Do not neglect the spiritual gift you received...Throw yourself into your tasks so that everyone will see your progress' (1 Timothy 4:11-15 NLT).

Who says anyone is too young to make an impact? Not God. And not history. Victor Hugo wrote his first tragedy at age 15. Raphael painted his masterpieces before he died at age 37. Tennyson wrote his first volume of poetry at 18. Paschal wrote his great works between the ages of 16 and 37. Joan of Arc did all her work and was burned at the stake at 19. Romulus founded Rome at 20. Calvin joined the Reformation at age 21 and wrote his famous Institutes at age 27. Alexander the Great had conquered the known world by the time he was 23. Isaac Newton was 24 when he introduced the law of gravity.

Believe in yourself, whatever your age, because God does. Develop your gifts, and ask God to bless them. Maximise every opportunity to the fullest, and you will make the world a better place.

Soulfood: Jer 22-24, Luke 4:31-44, Ps 102:12-17, Pro 15:3

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