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Dudley 6:00-12:00pm

The Word For Today

Look after your body

'Bodily exercise profits.' 1 Timothy 4:8 NKJV

As you move into your forties, fifties and sixties, you'll tend to become more sedentary. One woman made a lifelong commitment not to sweat. Another one joked that the only reason for jogging was to look better at her funeral. A driver put this bumper sticker on his car: 'I'm pushing 50, and that's enough exercise.'

The Bible says, 'Bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come' (1 Timothy 4:8 NKJV). Does that mean taking care of your body isn't important? No, it means you must stay in balance! What's the point of working to develop the virtues of a saint if you die before your time with blocked arteries? You say, 'But I don't like jogging or lifting weights.' Then here's some good news. A recent medical study found if you spend 45 minutes a day doing household chores such as mowing the lawn, you'll enjoy greater longevity than those who are inactive. It's even better if you do some push-ups and sit-ups, but it's not necessary. If you fail to maintain your car, you have no right to blame the manufacturer. And if you fail to maintain your body, which is the temple of the Holy Spirit, you have no right to blame God.

You say, 'But I believe in divine healing.' And God promises it to you in his Word (see James 5:14-15). But he expects you to use faith - and wisdom. So put down the TV remote control, get off the sofa and do a little home clean-up or repair. Not only will your house look better, but you're likely to live longer.

Soulfood: Rev 19:11-16, Acts 3:1-16, Phil 2:5-11


You have everything you need

'Everything we need.' 2 Peter 1:3 NIV

Peter writes, 'His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life' (2 Peter 1:3 NIV). Living life to the fullest requires three things: (1) A little extra. This is the extra-mile principle Jesus taught (see Matthew 5:41), and it calls for two things: a) Extra effort. Life coach and author Art Williams said, 'You beat 50 per cent of the people by working hard...the other 40 per cent by being a person of honesty and integrity and standing for something...the last 10 per cent is a dogfight.' If you want to win, make up your mind to always do 'a little extra'. b) Extra time. 'Though [your vision] linger, wait for it; it will certainly come [to pass]' (Habakkuk 2:3 NIV). Gutzon Borglum, the sculptor who created the Mount Rushmore memorial to America's presidents, was asked if he considered his work to be perfect. He replied, 'Not today. The nose of President Washington is an inch too long. It's better that way, though. It will erode and be exactly right in 10,000 years.'

(2) Your best effort. Andrew Carnegie said, 'There is no use whatever trying to help people who do not want to help themselves' and 'You cannot push anyone up a ladder unless he [or she] is willing to climb a little.'

(3) The right mentor. Paul writes, 'Pattern your lives after mine' (Philippians 3:17 NLT). Good mentors lead by example; they know that to be followed, they must first be respected. They know whether you learn visually or verbally. They know whether you need a pat on the back or a kick in the seat of the trousers. If you have such a mentor, you're blessed. If not, ask God to send one into your life today.

Soulfood: 2 Kings 4:18 - 6:33, Mark 16, Ps 80:12-19, Pro 13:13-16


Get your approval from God

'Our eyes look to the Lord our God.' Psalm 123:2 NKJV

It's always nice to be appreciated for the work you do, and when that doesn't happen, it can affect your sense of self-worth. That's why the Bible says, 'As the eyes of servants look to the hand of their masters...our eyes look to the Lord our God' (Psalm 123:2 NKJV).

Your true worth comes from God, not your boss, supervisor or pastor. And when you forget that, you set yourself up for frustration when you're doing work. Taken to the extreme, you become less effective on the job because you're not willing to make decisions and take risks in case it negatively affects what others think about you. In essence, you become a 'yes' man or woman who nods and agrees with everyone just to please them and have them like you. Consequently, your value to the company or church plummets because you're not utilising your God-given gifts to the fullest. Whatever your position, it's only a small part of who you are, a spoke radiating from the centre of your identity as a son or daughter of the King of kings. You're not the hub turning the wheel.

Knowing who you are, apart from what you do, is as essential to your success in a work environment as your credentials and your skill set. When others know that you constantly need approval, it empowers them to manipulate you, define you and influence your self-worth. That's too much power to give anybody! It doesn't matter what your job entails, remember: 'Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God' (1 Corinthians 10:31 NLT).

Soulfood: 2 Kings 1:1 - 4:17, Mark 15:33-47, Ps 80:1-11, Pro 13:11-12


Recall God's lovingkindness

'Your lovingkindness is before my eyes.' Psalm 26:3 NKJV

The story's told of a little boy who was asked, 'Do you say your prayers every night?' He replied, 'No, some nights I don't need anything!' We smile, but the point is painfully obvious. If the only time your husband or wife communicated with you was when they were in trouble or had a need they couldn't meet, how long do you think your relationship would last?

There must be a balance between your praises and your petitions. You say, 'If the Lord is big enough to create and run the universe, I doubt he's bothered when somebody as insignificant as me fails to say thanks.' Not so! When Jesus healed ten lepers and only one returned to give thanks, he asked, 'Where are the other nine' (Luke 17:17 NIV)? If God dealt with you solely on the basis of his righteousness and your tendency for unrighteousness, you'd be sunk! But he doesn't. He says, 'I have loved you...with an everlasting love. With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself' (Jeremiah 31:3 NLT). Realising this, the psalmist wrote, 'Because your lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise you. Thus I will bless you while I live' (Psalm 63:3-4 NKJV). Again he writes: 'I will...praise your name for your lovingkindness and your truth; for you have magnified your word above all your name. In the day when I cried out, you answered me, and made me bold with strength in my soul' (Psalm 138:2-3 NKJV).

Someone quipped, 'God doesn't mind getting invoiced as long as he gets thanked!' So, take a moment and recall God's lovingkindness to you.

Soulfood: Rev 19-22, Mark 15:21-32, Ps 143, Pro 13:9-10


Don't look back

'His wife looked back...and she became a pillar of salt.' Genesis 19:26 NKJV

Before destroying Sodom and Gomorrah, angels of the Lord rescued Lot and his family. 'When they had brought them outside...he said, "Escape for your life! Do not look behind you nor stay anywhere in the plain. Escape to the mountains, lest you be destroyed"' (Genesis 19:17 NKJV). But the record reads: 'His wife looked back... and she became a pillar of salt' (Genesis 19:26 NKJV).

There's an important lesson here for each of us: resist the temptation to linger in the quicksand of past mistakes - either your own or other people's. It can be hard to see ahead when horrendous things have happened to you in the past. But when you get bogged down in the past, you miss what God has for you in the present, and fail to see its connection to your future. The good news is that it's not too late to allow God to use you and move you forward on your journey. He can heal the wounds others have inflicted on you. He can make you wiser as a result of the poor decisions you made in the past.

It's not too late to become who you might have been. God delights in transforming our weakness into strength. He can create treasure from what you've discarded as rubbish. Even if you've backslidden and detoured from the path you know he wants you to follow, now is the time to return to his road. '"I know the plans that I have for you, declares the Lord. They are plans for peace and not disaster, plans to give you a future filled with hope"' (Jeremiah 29:11 GWT). So move forward - and don't look back.

Soulfood: Rev 15-18, Mark 15:1-20, Ps 132:11-18, Pro 13:7-8


Soak your mind in God's Word

'I have hidden your Word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.' Psalm 119:11 NLT

Are you discouraged because you keep committing the same sin over and over again? Here's your answer: soak your mind in God's Word! Just like you soak a sponge in water and it comes out dripping and filled to capacity, soak your mind in Scripture until it's filled to the brim with God's Word. That way, when you're tempted to do wrong, your first recourse will be a 'Spirit and Word' empowered response.

If you keep doing what you've always done, you'll keep getting the same results. So if you are sick and tired of living in defeat, here's a time-tested prescription from God's Word for making you whole: 'How can a young person [or an older one] stay pure? By obeying your word' (Psalm 119:9 NLT). 'You are already clean because of the Word...I have spoken to you' (John 15:3 NKJV). 'That he might sanctify and cleanse [you] with the washing of water by the Word' (Ephesians 5:26 NKJV). 'The Word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit...joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart' (Hebrews 4:12 NKJV). 'Your words were found, and I ate them, and your Word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart; for I am called by your name' (Jeremiah 15:16 NKJV).

These Scriptures all lead to one conclusion: if you're serious about wanting to walk in victory, you must get into God's Word and get God's Word into you. There is no other way.

Soulfood: Rev 10-14, Mark 14:66-72, Ps 132:1-10, Pro 13:4-6


God and your child's future

'Great shall be the peace of your children.' Isaiah 54:13 NKJV

Few things in life can break your heart like a child hanging out with the wrong crowd or being involved in activities you know can destroy their lives. As a parent, what can you do? First and foremost, pray for them and speak God's promises over them. You may not be able to change them, but God can. His Word says, 'All your children shall be taught by the Lord, and great shall be the peace of your children' (Isaiah 54:13 NKJV).

What if your child is out of control and living at home? Then you have a challenge that requires God's help. Your 'problem child' is a child of destiny with a great future, and Satan knows that. God has a calling on their life, and that's what the battle is all about! As a parent, you need God's wisdom when it comes to: (1) Setting clear boundaries with appropriate and consistent consequences. The Bible says, 'All children are foolish, but firm correction will make them change' (Proverbs 22:15 CEV). (2) Overcoming the fear that your child will reject you when you make an unpopular, but wise decision. Satan will try to convince you that you'll lose them if you discipline them. The truth is that you'll lose them if you don't! Remember: 'God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love and self-discipline' (2 Timothy 1:7 NLT).

Prayer and standing firmly on his Word are two of the greatest weapons God has provided when it comes to engaging Satan over your child's future. And if you stay true to God - you'll win.

Soulfood: Rev 5-9, Mark 14:53-65, Ps 48, Pro 13:2-3


Overcoming arrested development 4

'Wise friends make you wise, but you hurt yourself by going around with fools.' Proverbs 13:20 CEV

Let's look at arrested relational development. God's plan for your life requires connecting with the right people - and disconnecting from the wrong ones. Sitting beside Jesus at the Last Supper were John, who loved him, and Judas, who betrayed him. It's imperative to know who is sitting at your table!

So to that end pray: 'Lord, I pray for the people you've brought into my life and placed on my heart. Bless the healthy relationships, and give me wisdom to handle the difficult ones in a way that pleases you. If there are friendships I need to walk away from, ones that will be harmful no matter what I do, show me what to do and give me the grace and courage to do it. If there are relationships that are draining and distracting me from your plan and purpose, I trust you to bring them to an end or change them for the better. And when I'm the one who needs to change, show me, and work in my life by your amazing power. I need your wisdom to recognise the friends and acquaintances I should choose. Help me to steer clear of relationships that lead me away from the path you've laid out for me. Send people into my life who are godly and wise, and help us to bless, encourage and contribute to the quality of each other's lives. Show me the friendships that are worth fighting for, and I'll gladly do it. Be Lord of all my relationships so that they will be what you want them to be. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.'

Soulfood: Rev 7:13-17, Ps 23, Luke 15:1-7


Overcoming arrested development 3

'Instruct the wise, and they will be even wiser.' Proverbs 9:9 NLT

Let's look at arrested intellectual development. Sometimes we use verses like 'God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise' (1 Corinthians 1:27 NKJV) as excuses for not developing our minds and growing intellectually.

God said, 'My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge' (Hosea 4:6 NKJV). A sense of fulfilment accompanies intellectual growth - one that doesn't come any other way. When you know you're growing in knowledge and understanding, you become less vulnerable to criticism, neglect and slights. Your sense of worth is no longer tied to other people's approval because you measure yourself by a different yardstick - personal growth! The writer of Proverbs says, 'An intelligent heart acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge' (Proverbs 18:15 ESV). 'The hearing ear and the seeing eye, the Lord has made them both' (Proverbs 20:12 NKJV). Notice, you learn by listening and observing! And we're not talking about hours spent watching television that dulls your brain and stunts your powers of conversation. The Bible says, 'Just as iron sharpens iron, friends sharpen the minds of each other' (Proverbs 27:17 CEV). To grow and become sharp, you need people in your life who sharpen you.

Three key activities in determining your future are: the time you spend with God; b) the relationships you form; and the books you read. And the book you should spend the most time reading is your Bible. Just one more thought: any time you're reading and get a good thought, or experience an 'aha' moment, write it down - otherwise you'll lose it.

Soulfood: Rev 1-4, Mark 14:43-52, Ps 1, Pro 13:1


Overcoming arrested development 2

'You will forget your misery; it will be like water flowing away.' Job 11:16 NLT

Let's talk about arrested emotional development. When you don't get help for your past emotional hurts, you'll find yourself 'acting out', treating others like you were treated or repeating your past in your present. Indeed, you may end up hurting the most important people in your life, maybe even destroying those relationships without knowing why. You may blame the failure of the relationship on your partner's habits, looks, attitudes or way of going about things. And in so doing, you will remain emotionally stuck, trapped by the unhealed, unrecognised sources of your dysfunction.

What you're dealing with here is 'emotional baggage': regrets over past mistakes, grudges over being wronged and other hurts you hide under clouds of anger, cynicism or reclusiveness.

You will never know what you have, or what you truly need, until you get rid of your emotional baggage. How do you do that? The answer can be found in God's Word and God's presence: 'Prepare your heart and lift up your hands to him in prayer! Get rid of your sins, and leave all iniquity behind you. Then your face will brighten with innocence. You will be strong and free of fear. You will forget your misery; it will be like water flowing away. Your life will be brighter than the noonday. Even darkness will be as bright as morning. Having hope will give you courage. You will be protected and will rest in safety...and many will look to you for help' (Job 11:13-19 NLT).

Soulfood: 1 Kings 21-22, Mark 14:27-42, Ps 129, Pro 12:27-28

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