The Word For Today

The Finger of God (3)

'...And He gave to Moses...tablets of stone, written by the finger of God.' Exodus 31:18 ESV

The finger of God in stone. Why do you think God wrote the Ten Commandments in stone? Because His principles are permanent and unchanging. You say, 'But what about all those people who have never heard God's Word? How will He judge them?' Paul answers: 'Even Gentiles, who do not have God's written law...show that they know His law when they instinctively obey it...They demonstrate that God's law is written in their hearts, for their own conscience and thoughts either accuse them or tell them they are doing right' (Romans 2:14-15 NLT).
Your conscience acts like a compass. If you let it, it'll guide you right. But when you reject its warnings, its voice gets quieter and quieter until you can no longer hear it. That's a dangerous condition to be in. Paul writes, 'Having faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected, concerning the faith, have suffered shipwreck' (1 Timothy 1:19 NKJV).
Picture yourself standing on a bridge, dropping pebbles into a pond and watching the ripples go out to the edge. It's just a little pebble, but look at the effect it has! Yet in winter, when that same pond freezes over, you can drive a truck across it. Your conscience is like that. When you keep disobeying God, your heart becomes calloused and hardened and you no longer hear Him speaking to you. Paul writes, '...I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man' (Acts 24:16 NIV). That's a good rule of thumb for you to live by!

SoulFood: Luke 24:50-53, Acts 1:1-11, Eph 4:7-10 (Ascension Day)


The Finger of God (1)

'When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers...' Psalms 8:3 NKJV

Let's look at the finger of God in Scripture: the finger of God in creation. The Psalmist David said, 'When I consider...the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained, what is man that You are mindful of him' (Psalms 8:3-4 NKJV)? The Bible opens by telling us, 'In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth' (Genesis 1:1 NIV). In a day when many challenge the inspiration and infallibility of the Bible, we need to teach our children Who made the universe, Who runs it, and to Whom each of us is ultimately accountable.
In 1961 Yuri Gagarin, the first Russian cosmonaut to go into space, is alleged to have boasted, 'I looked and looked but I didn't see God.' Guess what? One day he will see God and stand before Him and be judged (Romans 14:11-12). We all will! Faith and reason are not necessarily opposed. But when reason won't take you another step, faith keeps on going because it connects you to God. The stars convinced David of God's existence. They say if you counted stars at a rate of 125 a minute, it would take 2,000 years just to count the stars in our Milky Way. And that it would take ten billion human beings standing side by side to span the diameter of the average star. Awesome, isn't it?
Paul says: 'For since the creation of the world, God's invisible qualities - His eternal power and divine nature - have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse' (Romans 1:20 NIV). If you look you will see God at work everywhere - including your own life.

SoulFood: Gal 1-3, Mark 9:38-50, Ps 128, Pro 13:17-19


Holy Communion

'...This is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.' 1 Corinthians 11:24 NKJV

Here are three reasons you need to partake of Holy Communion: (1) To make you grace-minded. No one will ever stand in Heaven and say, 'Look what Jesus and I have accomplished.' If you had to pay one cent of your debt of sin, it would make you a co-redeemer with Christ. What an offence to the cross (Ephesians 2:8-9)! Hymnist Horatio Spafford wrote: 'My sin, oh the bliss of this glorious thought. My sin, not in part but the whole, is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more. Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!'
(2) To keep you sensitive to sin. '...Let a man examine himself and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself...' (1 Corinthians 11:28-29 NKJV). You say, 'If I sin and take communion, does that mean I'm drinking liquid damnation?' No, it's the 'manner' in which you approach God that counts. You don't have to avoid the communion cup; you need only confess your sin, then drink deeply with gratitude.
(3) To keep you focused on Christ's return. '...I will no longer drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the Kingdom of God' (Mark 14:25 NKJV). Every communion service brings you one step closer to the greatest communion service of all: the marriage supper of the Lamb in Heaven (Revelation 19:7). Are you planning on being there?

SoulFood: Judg 19:16 - 21:25, Mark 9:30-37, Ps 45, Pro 13:13-16


What Happened to Demas? (1)

'...Demas has forsaken me...' 2 Timothy 4:10 NKJV

Paul writes one of the saddest verses in Scripture: 'Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world.' The runner has stumbled. The lights have gone out in the life of a believer.
Why? (1) Did he resent his minority status as a Christian? It's been said that there wasn't just one, but two Martin Luthers in church history. And they both received the same revelation of justification by faith as the way to salvation. But the first wrote it down and hid it in a monastery wall because he feared the authorities. The second nailed it to the door of Wittenberg All Saints Church and started the Reformation. Christ promised that our message would be a powerful one, but not always a popular one: 'Do not fear, little flock...' (Luke 12:32 NKJV) Wear your minority status as a badge of honour! (2) Was he cut down by the doctrinal sword? We have the message people need to hear, but don't always want to listen to. Even some Christians don't want to hear it. 'Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this, said, "This is a hard saying; who can understand it?"...From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more' (John 6:60;66 NKJV). You say, 'But if we're too strict with people we'll lose them.' If we're legalistic we will, but if we're Scriptural, we'll build men and women of God, who shine like lights in a dark world.
Jesus said, 'You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free' (John 8:32 NKJV). Sometimes, before the truth sets people free, it puts them through the wringer! But we must preach it nonetheless.

SoulFood: Judg 12-15, Mark 9:1-13, Ps 97, Pro 13:9-10


How's Your Work Ethic? (2)

'Drink, and I'll water your camels too.' Genesis 24:46 NIV

When Abraham's servant arrived in the town of Nahor, a young woman named Rebekah offered to give him a drink of water. When he had finished drinking, Rebekah said, 'I'll water your camels, too.' We are told that she 'quickly' emptied her jar into the trough and ran back to the well. It all sounds fairly unremarkable, until you read between the lines: 4 litres of water weighs 4 kg. A thirsty camel can drink up to 120 litres of water and there were ten camels. Do the maths. Rebekah is drawing 1,200 litres - over a tonne! - of water for a stranger. She does all that could be reasonably expected of her - and then some. This was a pivotal moment in her life.
Because of her act of service, Rebekah became the wife of Isaac and went on to the adventure of a lifetime, becoming part of sacred history. To this day, her name is remembered and revered by people of faith. Rebekah did not know all that was at stake that day. She did not offer to draw 1,200 litres of water because she knew what the reward could be. It was simply an expression of her heart. Rebekah proved the truth of Scripture: 'Lazy people want much but get little, but those who work hard will prosper' (Proverbs 13:4 NLT).
Where did we get the idea that it is wrong to give, expecting a return, or serve, expecting a reward? Certainly not from the Bible! Some of our rewards will come in this lifetime, others in the next one. But, 'You know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does' (Ephesians 6:8 NIV).

SoulFood: Judg 7:1 - 9:33, Mark 8:14-26, Ps 93, Pro 13:7-8


How's Your Work Ethic? (1)

'O Lord...give me success today.' Genesis 24:12 NIV

We seldom know ahead of time the full significance of what we do or don't do in our work. The Bible simply says, 'Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might' (Ecclesiastes 9:10 NIV).
Judaism, Christianity and Islam all trace their roots to Abraham - who was a farmer. Abraham was '...now old and well advanced in years' (Genesis 24:1 NIV). So he realised the time had come to find a wife for his son Isaac. Since there were no internet dating services in those days, he assigned the task to his 'chief servant' Eliezer. The servant set out with a caravan of ten camels to the region Abraham had directed him. Finding a wife for the son of your boss was an important assignment that required considerable thought. Certainly, it isn't a job you'd want to fail. So the servant began his work with a prayer: 'O Lord, God of my master Abraham, give me success today.' Do you ever pray and ask God to make your work successful? People sometimes wonder if it's ok to pray for your work to be successful. Of course! Now, if 'Success' is becoming your God, you will have to find a way to dethrone it. But generally speaking, if you can't pray for the success of what you're doing, you should start doing something else!
Any good parent wants their child to succeed. Any wise employer wants their workers to succeed, because when they succeed the company succeeds. Here's what God told His people: 'Carefully follow the terms of this covenant, so that you may prosper in everything you do' (Deuteronomy 29:9 NIV).

SoulFood: Judg 4-6, Mark 8:1-13, Ps 88:9b-18, Pro 13:4-6


The Sin of Omission

'...To him who knows to do good and does not do it...it is sin.' James 4:17 NKJV

We tend to focus on sins of commission - the wrong we do. But what about sins of omission - the good we fail to do? In Christ's parables, when someone was condemned, it was often over a sin of omission. A man was put out of a wedding because he had no wedding garment (Matthew 22:12). Five virgins were excluded from the wedding party because they'd no oil in their lamps (Matthew 25:3-11). A servant who buried his talent in the ground instead of using it, forfeited it (Matthew 25:25-28). A rich man who failed to care for his neighbour was condemned for it (Luke 16:19-24). A barren fig tree that failed to produce fruit was cursed and died (Mark 11:20-24).
You say, 'But I'm interested in a deeper spiritual life.' Well, the deepest spiritual life is one spent doing good to others! And it's the basis on which you'll be judged and rewarded. 'Then the King will...say... "I was hungry, and you didn't feed me. I was thirsty, and you didn't give me a drink. I was a stranger, and you didn't invite me into your home. I was naked, and you didn't give me clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn't visit me." Then they will reply, "Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?" And He will answer, "I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me"' (Matthew 25:41-45 NLT).
So when you've a chance to do good - do it!

SoulFood: Judg 1-3, Mark 7:24-37, Ps 88:1-9a, Pro 13:1-3


Praying Jesus' Way (5)

'...He will show you a way out...' 1 Corinthians 10:13 NLT

'As we forgive our debtors' (Matthew 6:12 NKJV). Forgiving others isn't an option, it's an obligation. Being forgiven depends on forgiving others. Young Robert Louis Stevenson's family customarily prayed the Lord's Prayer before dinner. One evening he left the table before they reached the part, 'As we forgive our debtors.' Asked why, he replied, 'I'm not prepared to pray that prayer today.' Recognising his reluctance to forgive, he knew he couldn't receive God's forgiveness. 'If you forgive men...your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not...your Father will not forgive your sins' (Matthew 6:14-15 NIV). No matter how badly you've been wronged, God requires you to forgive.
'...Lead us not into temptation' (Matthew 6:13 NIV). This seems odd in the light of God's Word: 'When tempted, no one should ever say, "God is tempting me." For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone' (James 1:13 NIV). William Barclay says the Greek word used here for temptation means 'testing', as in the ordeals and trials of life. It refers to life's stressful experiences. An athlete might use these words with his trainer, 'Please don't push me beyond my endurance!' It calls for acknowledging three realities: (1) your human limits and vulnerabilities. (2) that God's in charge of your testing. (3) that He wants you to ask for help and not try to handle it alone. '...God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand...He will show you a way out so that you can endure' (1 Corinthians 10:13 NLT). He won't just intervene on your behalf; He will use the experience to strengthen you spiritually.

SoulFood: Obad, Mal 1-4, Mark 7:1-13, Ps 18:1-29, Pro 12:23-24


Praying Jesus' Way (4)

'Give us each day our daily bread.' Luke 11:3 NRS

The second part of the Lord's Prayer addresses our everyday concerns:
'Give us each day our daily bread.' Your Father is willing to meet your physical and financial needs. The word 'bread' Jesus used here meant literal 'food'. God is more concerned about the necessities of your everyday life than you are. He multiplied food for five thousand hungry people. '...He...healed all who were sick' (Matthew 8:16 NKJV). And He wants to meet your needs, too. '...Do not worry, saying, "What shall we eat?" or "What shall we drink?" or "What shall we wear"' (Matthew 6:31 NIV)? The 'bread man' delivers fresh bread daily! So trust Him for today's needs, and tomorrow morning get up and do the same.
'...Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors' (Matthew 6:12 NKJV). The moment you enter God's presence, you become aware of your sin. And Satan will try to bring condemnation on you. How does he do it? By making you feel unwelcome and uneasy in God's presence. But Satan is a liar. 'There is...no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus...' (Romans 8:1 NKJV). God's Spirit brings your sins to light not to condemn you, but to motivate you to confess them and receive His forgiveness. God's Word identifies several categories of sin that we need to recognise. There's falling short of what's required; the deliberate violation of a specific rule; unintentional and often passionately motivated slips; deliberate disobedience and rebellion; failure to fulfil your indebtedness; the sin of omission. Regardless of what your sin is, the moment you confess it and ask God for forgiveness, He restores you (1 John 1:9).

SoulFood: 1 Pet 1-5, Mark 6:45-56, Ps 49, Pro 12:20-22


Praying Jesus' Way (3)

'...Is anything too hard for Me?' Jeremiah 32:27 NIV

The words 'Our Father' remind us of God's unconditional love. Ever looked into the eyes of a suffering child and wanted to make them well, but found you lacked the power? '...who art in Heaven' reminds us of God's unlimited power to do what we can't. 'I am the Lord, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for Me?' The answer in the Hebrew language effectively comes back, 'No, nothing, absolutely nothing; everything with You will be extraordinary.' You can have total confidence that what God's love prompts Him to do, His power enables Him to do. 'Hallowed be Thy name' distinguishes His name and character from all others. 'Hallowed' in Greek indicates He's unlike others, different, special, the only One. In an age where respect for authority is disappearing, because it challenges our self-importance, Jesus teaches us to pray, 'Heavenly Father, enable us to give You the place Your Holy Name and character deserve.'
'Thy Kingdom come.' Jesus came preaching God's Kingdom; it was the heart of His Gospel. The kingdom incorporating Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and so on was past. The present kingdom includes all who acknowledge Jesus as Lord. And the future kingdom will encompass the whole earth at Christ's return. Each time you submit to God's will, His Kingdom is brought into operation. As a believer, you are in His Kingdom, and His power is available to you. 'Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven' (Matthew 6:10 KJV). In Heaven God's will is never questioned. Nor should it be in your life. And Jesus instructs us to pray and believe that what happens in Heaven will also happen through you here on earth.

SoulFood: Deut 32:29 - 34:12, Mark 6:30-44, Ps 62, Pro 12:18-19

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