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The Word For Today

Making a Difference

The story of Noah teaches us: (1) You can make a difference in your family. 'By faith Noah...built an ark to save his family.' Noah's decision didn't just benefit him personally, it saved his entire household. It took many years, but he did it. And by God's grace you can win your family to Christ too.

(2) You can make a difference for future generations. Noah not only survived the flood, but God used him to start the world all over again. What a calling! What an impact! What a legacy! 'The eyes of the Lord search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him...' (2 Chronicles 16:9 NLT). God is looking for people who will partner with Him in fulfilling His purposes on earth. But to qualify: (a) You must be willing to stand out from the crowd. Noah believed in his vision when nobody else did. Difference-makers are different. Don't let that bother you. (b) You must not be afraid to do something for the first time. Don't let the words, 'It's never been done before' keep you from obeying God. People probably told Noah, 'It's not raining. Who needs a boat?' But they were wrong and Noah was right. (c) You must endure the rain in order to see the rainbow. So take your stand and believe God, for what He's promised He will perform (Jeremiah 1:12).

(3) You can make a difference at any age. Stop putting yourself down because of your age. Noah was 500 years old when he started preaching and building the ark. It's not over til God says it's over!

Soulfood : Ps 23, Jn 10:7-18

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Thriving in the Combat Zone (3)

The third attack: the attack from Satan. We either trivialise or exaggerate Satan's power and both spell trouble! The first makes you feel vulnerable; the second creates in you an unfounded fear.

Understanding Satan's ways - and your weapons - equips you to handle his attacks and resist him. How can you do that? (1) By understanding that God effectively destroyed Satan's power through Christ's victory at the cross. 'He stripped the rulers and authorities of their power and made a public spectacle of them as He celebrated His victory in Christ' (Colossians 2:15 GWT). Satan's attempt to destroy Jesus backfired in a glorious defeat that allows you to celebrate your victory in Christ! (2) By understanding that '...God's Spirit, who is in you, is greater than the devil, who is in the world' (1 John 4:4 NCV). No power is greater than the Spirit of God who lives within you. If you abide in Christ, Satan can't control or conquer you. Why? Because he would have to overcome Jesus to do it! (3) By understanding that you can defeat Satan because Jesus has '...given you authority over all the power of the enemy...' (Luke 10:19 NLT). The criminal must submit to the police officer because the officer is vested with and backed up by the full authority of the government. So when you draw on the authority God has given you in Christ, Satan has no choice; he must observe the limits you enforce against him. He can do nothing to you without your co-operation, and you don't have to give it. And Satan hopes you never discover that!

Soulfood : I Ki 3-5, Luke 11:1-13, Ps 36, Prov 5:21-23

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Thriving in the Combat Zone (2)

The second attack: the attack from the flesh. Your most vulnerable point is your 'flesh', which drives you to do your own thing. Its motto is 'It's all about me!' From start to finish it 'looks out for number one', always wanting to be 'first in line'. That's the genetic make-up of our flesh. And it can't be saved, sanctified or spiritualised because 'That which is born of the flesh is flesh...' (John 3:6 NKJV) and nothing else. 'The Spirit and your desires are enemies of each other. They are always fighting each other and keeping you from doing what you feel you should' (Galatians 5:17 CEV).

So how do you control your 'flesh'? (1) Make a choice. '...Choose today whom you will serve...' (Joshua 24:15 GWT). During the American Civil War thousands of Yankee and Confederate soldiers were killed by 'friendly fire'. Why? Because they lacked uniforms that identified the side to which they belonged. Be clear about which side you're on and let those around you know it. (2) Cut the supply lines to the flesh. In war time, generals devote a lot of attention to blowing up bridges, highways and railroads to deprive the enemy of the vital supplies they need to win. Your flesh can't control you if you cut off its supply line. '...Don't let yourself think about ways to indulge your evil desires' (Romans 13:14 NLT). (3) Maintain regular communication with base command. Even well-trained soldiers with the finest equipment and best officers can't win when they're cut off from base command. So stay in touch: 'Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion...' (Ephesians 6:18 NLT).

Soulfood : I Ki 1-2, Luke 10:38-42, Ps 33:13-22, Prov 5:15-20

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Thriving in the Combat Zone (1)

Salvation enlists you into the service of Jesus, the King of Kings. His battles become your battles, and His strategies your strategies. There are no exemptions; you're 'in for the long haul'. Satan has declared war on you, and it's 'conquer or be conquered'.

Satan will attack you on three fronts. Let's look at each: Firstly the attack from the world. Do you ever feel like you don't 'fit in'? You're not supposed to! '...Don't you realise that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God? I say it again: If you want to be a friend of the world, you make yourself an enemy of God' (James 4:4 NLT). The line has been drawn; there's no peaceful coexistence in this war. What is 'worldliness'? It's not being in the world, but being like it. It's not mixing with the world, but blending in with its self-centred values, its 'relative' morality and its attitudes toward God, His cause, His Word, and His people. The world's hunger for power, popularity and self-promotion contradicts the principles of Scripture. '...Genuine religion in the sight of God [is]...refusing to let the world corrupt you' (James 1:27 NLT).

Jesus told us to avoid becoming swept up in the world's obsession with material things, or its fear of not having enough to meet our needs (Matthew 6:25-34). You are called to be 'salt' and 'light' (Matthew 5:13-14). You are to be the influencer, not the influenced. When the world can't tell you apart from them, your light has gone out and your salt has lost its flavour.

Soulfood : Heb 11:17 - 13:25, Luke 10:25-37, Ps 33:1-12, Prov 5:7-14

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Prepare Yourself

The Bible says, 'Wise people are rewarded.' So keep learning. Knowledge in most major fields is exploding, and if you don't stay up to date you'll be left behind. Repeating the same lessons over and over means you're not learning enough. Study those who've succeeded where you want to succeed, in order to know what to do and what not to do. U.S. Admiral Hyman Rickover said, 'Learn from the mistakes of others; you'll never live long enough to make them all yourself.'

So: (1) Respect those with experience and expertise greater than your own. Instead of shrinking away from them, reach for them. The Bible says, 'God has given each of you some special abilities...use them to help each other...' (1 Peter 4:10 TLB). We all struggle in certain areas; be careful lest your insecurity be misinterpreted as arrogance. (2) Become a good listener. Don't try to impress people by seeking to be their intellectual equal. If you find yourself in a discussion that intimidates you, ask questions, talk only about what you know, listen attentively, and the next time you meet you'll be that much further ahead. (3) The more you prepare yourself, the more opportunities you'll get. Don't go to a lesson unless you've done your homework. When God starts taking you higher, prepare your speech, your wardrobe and your mind. Consult a trusted friend who understands where you are, and where you need to go. If you can't find one, read up until you grasp the basics. 'A king rejoices in servants who know what they are doing...' (Proverbs 14:35 TLB). The more prepared you are, the more God will open doors of opportunity for you.

Soulfood : Num 6:1-21, Mt 4:1-17, Mk 2:18-22, Lk 9:23-26

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How to Accomplish Great Things (5)

Do you know how Nehemiah's team rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem? With a sword in one hand and a trowel in the other. Why is that significant? Because even though God gives you the plan, the chances are you'll have to fight for it. Not everyone wants you to succeed. In fact, some will do everything they can to stop you. That's when you must constantly remind yourself that God gave you the plan, that He's on your side, and that if you're willing to persevere, you'll win. God guarantees it!

Listen to what Nehemiah's enemies said about him: 'It is reported...you are about to become their king and have even appointed prophets to make this proclamation about you in Jerusalem: "There is a king in Judah!" Now this report will get back to the king...' (Nehemiah 6:6-7 NIV). Nehemiah had to overcome threats and intimidation. He wrote: '...They were scheming to harm me; so I sent messengers to them with this reply: "I am carrying on a great project and cannot go down. Why should the work stop while I leave it to go down to you''' (Nehemiah 6:2-3 NIV)?

Every minute devoted to your critics is time stolen from your God-given assignment. Don't step down to their level! It's not what your enemies say that matters; it's what you say to yourself when your enemies have finished talking. '[Nehemiah] answered them by saying, "The God of Heaven will give us success...but as for you, you will have no share in Jerusalem or any claim...to it''' (Nehemiah 2:20 NIV). Now that's the winning attitude.

Soulfood : Heb 5-8, Luke 10:1-12, Ps 5, Prov 5:1-2

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How to Accomplish Great Things (4)

You must ask God for the plan. Why? Because the only plan He will bless is the one He gives you. Every good idea isn't necessarily a God-idea. The Bible says, 'Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails' (Proverbs 19:21 NIV).

How will you know your plan lines up with God's plan, especially when you encounter obstacles and opposition? In two ways: (1) A fire will burn within you. Jeremiah said, '...His word is in my heart like a fire...shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot' (Jeremiah 20:9 NIV). When God places a burning desire within you, He will enable you to rise above the adverse circumstances that surround you. You'll find yourself drawn, driven, directed and dedicated. You may not always be able to explain it to others, but you'll know deep inside that you are in the will of God. (2) God will show you the right path to take. '...along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them' (Isaiah 42:16 NIV). Note the words 'unfamiliar paths...darkness...rough places', but don't be thrown or discouraged by them. Instead, expect them!

David said, 'The Lord will work out His plans for my life - for Your faithful love, O Lord, endures forever...' (Psalm 138:8 NLT). And David's God is your God - He hasn't changed one tiny bit!

Soulfood : Isa 9:1-7, Luke 2:1-7, Matt 4:12-16, Matt 4:12-16

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How to Accomplish Great Things (3)

It's said that of all the people who have dreams, only one out of ten will fulfil theirs. Why? Because the other nine never started! To enter the Promised Land, the Israelites had to cross the Jordan River when it was in flood and they were afraid. But God told them that when the priests stepped into the water it would roll back (See Joshua 3). It did, and they reached their destiny.

So, what are you waiting for? (1) Perfect conditions? You'll never find them. 'Whoever watches the wind will not plant; whoever looks at the clouds will not reap' (Ecclesiastes 11:4 NIV). The New Living Translation says, 'If you wait for perfect conditions, you will never get anything done.' You say, 'I'm waiting for God to move.' Has it occurred to you that maybe He's waiting for you to move? (2) Everybody to agree with you? When David announced his intention to fight Goliath, his older brother Eliab, a general in King Saul's army, told him to go back home because he was embarrassing the family. But David refused to be put off or put down; instead, he went out and defeated the giant. And with God's help you can too! (3) Until you feel 'qualified'? God doesn't always call the qualified, but He always qualifies the called. Regardless of your education, nationality or gender, God can use you. Oliver Wendell Holmes started studying Greek at 80. When a friend asked him why, he replied, 'Frankly, it's now or never!'

Because Nehemiah was willing to start, God gave him a glorious finish. And He will do the same for you. So what are you waiting for? Get moving!

Soulfood : Heb 1-4, Luke 9:57-62, Ps 149, Prov 4:25-27

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How to Accomplish Great Things (2)

Pray for favour with the right people. When you study the lives of successful people, you'll find they had vision, patience, determination, character and talent. And you'll also find one more thing at work - favour. There are some closed doors that will open when you approach them in faith, and there are other doors that'll open only with help from the right people. That's when you need favour!

Alex Haley, the author of Roots, had a picture in his office. It was of a turtle sitting on top of a tall fencepost, and the caption read, 'You can be sure he didn't get up there by himself'! Nehemiah needed an army to protect him, and resources to enable him to build. So he prayed, then went to the one man who could provide what he needed: the king. He said, 'If it pleases the king and if your servant has found favour in his sight, let him send me to the city in Judah where my fathers are buried so that I can rebuild it.' And the king did.

There's an important lesson here: when your heart is set on promoting God's Kingdom, He will give you 'Kingdom connections'. But be careful; your help may not always come via the people you expect, agree with or even like. God used a heathen king to help Nehemiah, and He used a penniless widow to feed the prophet Elijah. Don't dictate to God who He can and cannot use. Just pray for favour, expect it and accept it with thanks in whatever form He sends it.

Soulfood : I Th 1-5, Luke 9:46-56, Ps 145:14-21, Prov 4:23-24

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How to Accomplish Great Things (1)

In spite of impossible odds and implacable enemies, Nehemiah rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem in just 52 days. It was an incredible accomplishment! And he wasn't even a builder; he was a waiter in the palace of Artaxerxes, a heathen king. Pioneer rocket scientist Robert Goddard says, 'It's difficult to say what is impossible, for the dream of yesterday is the hope of today and the reality of tomorrow.' So before you say, 'It can't be done,' or 'I don't have the qualifications,' let's examine Nehemiah's story for the next few days.

The first lesson we learn is: you must find a need that moves you. 'They said to me... "The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire." When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned...fasted and prayed before...God..."' (Nehemiah 1:3-4 NIV). And what did Nehemiah fast and pray for? '...Give your servant success...' (Nehemiah 1:11 NIV). When you find a need that moves you to tears and causes you to say, 'Something must be done about this!' the chances are that God's calling you to do something about it.

You may be a leader like Nehemiah, or you may simply be like one of the followers who helped him. Either way, when God stirs your heart about a need, He's calling you to get involved and take action. If you're willing to say 'Yes!', then He will place Heaven's resources at your disposal. When your heart says, 'This is what I was born to do,' you may have found your life's vision.

Soulfood : Tit 1-3, Luke 9:37-45, Ps 145:1-13, Prov 4:20-22

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