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The Word For Today

God will bring you through

'I would have lost heart, unless I had believed.' Psalm 27:13 NKJV

David was a giant killer, a psalm writer and Israel's most popular king. But when the stresses of life brought him to his breaking point, he wrote, 'I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living' (Psalm 27:13 NKJV).

Are you at your breaking point today? When you get to that place, one of two things happens: you either break down or break through! It all depends on what you do. David experienced a breakthrough because he knew the right formula: 'Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart' (Psalm 27:14 NKJV). There's an old saying - 'The same sun that melts the butter hardens the clay.' When trouble comes, you can turn against God because you've served him faithfully and don't understand why he's permitting you to go through such a hard time, or you can turn to him for the answer! Nothing catches him off guard, and nothing is too hard for him. He said, 'I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done, saying, "My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure"' (Isaiah 46:9-10 NKJV).

You may be in a state of shock right now - but God isn't. Your circumstances can actually become a platform for him to demonstrate his unfailing love and care for you. So don't lose heart; he's going to bring you through this storm and bring glory to his name in the process.

Soulfood: 1 Cor 4-6, Matt 1:12-16, Ps 117, Pro 31:18-21


Undercover work

'I...sat among them for seven days.' Ezekiel 3:15 NLT

There's a popular reality show on television called Undercover Boss. In it, the company owner goes undercover disguised as a regular staff member, and works alongside the other employees. He or she gets to experience their daily pressures and problems, becomes familiar with their strengths and weaknesses, and finds out what is and isn't working. Some of the discoveries are truly eye-opening, and lead to major changes that end up making the organisation a more efficient, more profitable and more enjoyable place for everyone to work.

A good definition of the word understand is 'to stand in another person's shoes'. That's what happened to the prophet Ezekiel. He writes: 'Then I came to the colony of Judean exiles...I was overwhelmed and sat among them for seven days. After seven days the Lord gave me a message. He said, "Son of man, I have appointed you as a watchman"' (Ezekiel 3:15-17 NLT). When did God give Ezekiel a message for others? After he'd spent seven days and nights sitting with people who had lost everything, people in deep despair and in need of answers. Referring to Jesus, the Bible tells us, 'This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do' (Hebrews 4:15 NLT).

Your most effective ministry to others can come out of some of the experiences you're going through right now, especially the painful ones you'd like to escape and don't even feel comfortable talking about. The truth is, your greatest mess can turn out to be your greatest message. So let God work on you until he gets you to where you need to be.

Soulfood: John 14:6-11, Acts 4:8-12, Acts 16:22-34, Matt 1:18-21


The law of location

'God... put him in the Garden of Eden to work it.' Genesis 2:15 NIV

God created the Garden of Eden, placed Adam in it, and told him to 'work it'. God said, 'Be fruitful and multiply' (Genesis 1:22 NKJV). In other words, 'Be successful.' But notice, there's a definite sequence. First: God prepares a place for you. Second: he puts you in it. Third: he tells you to 'work it'. Fourth: he says, 'I want you to succeed.' This is called 'the law of location'. You only flourish in the place where you belong, doing what God has called and equipped you to do. And you'll have to work at it, so don't expect it to be quick and easy.

The law of location is evident throughout the Scriptures. After his life-changing encounter with God, we read, 'Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, "It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared"' (Genesis 32:30 NIV). That's when God changed his name from Jacob, which means 'deceiver', to Israel, which means 'a prince with God'. God spoke to the prophet Elijah in the middle of a famine and said, 'Go at once to Zarephath...I have directed a widow there to supply you with food' (1 Kings 17:9 NIV). Eden was the place of fruitfulness. Peniel was the place of radical change. Zarephath was the place of divine supply.

Question: are you in the place God wants you to be? If you're not sure, talk to him today. 'I am the Lord your God, who teaches you to profit, who leads you by the way you should go' (Isaiah 48:17 NKJV).

Soulfood: 1 Cor 1-3, Matt 1:6b-11, Ps 113, Pro 31:14-17


Distributors of God's blessing

'I will...make your name great, and you will be a blessing.' Genesis 12:2 NIV

God promised to bless Abraham and make his name 'great' for one reason - so he would be a blessing to others. Jesus taught his disciples to be distributors of blessing and first responders to those in need. That's why he often involved them in the miracle process; he was training them. In feeding the five thousand, the miracle of multiplication took place after the bread and fish left the disciples' hands. Jesus was the source, they were the distributors (see Matthew 14:13-21).

And God is calling you to be a distributor too. Sometimes we don't recognise our blessing because it's in seed form, so we conclude we don't have what it takes. Not so. Jesus said: 'This is what the Kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces grain - first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come' (Mark 4:26-29 NIV). Note the words: 'The seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how.' Instead of saying, 'How could God possibly use me?' become aware and alert to people's needs.

You have something God can use, and when he blesses it, you'll be amazed at your potential. The miracle of the loaves and fishes began when someone said, 'These people need to be fed.' That's when the disciples discovered Jesus could use what they had, even though it seemed inadequate.

Soulfood: Mal 1-4, Matt 1:1-6a, Ps 128, Pro 31:10-13


Great doors/great challenges

'A great door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many who oppose me.' 1 Corinthians 16:9 NIV

Nothing becomes truly great until it overcomes something that looks insurmountable. Paul writes, 'I will stay on at Ephesus until Pentecost, because a great door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many who oppose me' (1 Corinthians 16:8-9 NIV). Great doors of opportunity always come with great challenges, and each challenge calls for greater faith and tenacity. Think about it: if outstanding success came easily, everyone would have it. And if everyone had it, it wouldn't be outstanding success.

How does a caterpillar become a butterfly? By overcoming the cocoon. And the cocoon is so essential to the process that the caterpillar actually creates it. Wouldn't it be easier just to stay in the warmth and comfort of the cocoon? On days when the caterpillar struggles to get out of it, he probably thinks so! But deep down, he knows the price of freedom. Flight and discovery require struggle, development and breakthrough. There is no other way! Why did Jesus send his disciples into a life-threatening storm? To teach them to trust him in all of life's situations. Soon he'd be leaving them, and he was using every experience to prepare them for their future.

So what are you struggling to overcome right now? Instead of complaining and asking God to take it away, see it for what it is - preparation. Remember, your level of preparation indicates the level of blessing that awaits you on the other side of it. So if God is opening doors of opportunity for you, be prepared for challenges, because you can't have one without the other.

Soulfood: Zech 12-14, John 21:15-25, Ps 47, Pro 31:6-9


Challenges for the church of today

'God's purpose in all this was to use the church to display his wisdom in its rich variety.' Ephesians 3:10 NLT

Here are three of the challenges the church faces today:

(1) We can't experience a new move of God if we insist on clinging to an old one. 'God's purpose in all this was to use the church to display his wisdom in its rich variety' (Ephesians 3:10 NLT). The word revival doesn't simply mean awakening something that's asleep. It also means resurrecting that which is dead or dying, and causing it to come to life again. (2) We fear excess, so we embrace mediocrity and call it balance. People aren't drawn to us because of our similarities, but because of the things that make us unique. When it comes to our faith and our testimony, we mustn't downplay, soft-pedal or sidestep the very things God has given us that make us distinctive. If we do, people will be disappointed and go elsewhere. The disciples didn't blend in with the crowd; their message and the demonstration of its power made them stand out. (3) We need to make room in the church for risk-takers and faith-walkers. In the first miracle Jesus worked, changing water into wine, Mary told the servants, 'Whatever he says to you, do it' (John 2:5 NKJV). Our need to be liked and to be popular can lead to a religious spirit that cripples risk-taking and faith-walking. Jesus promised: 'You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to me' (Acts 1:8 NKJV).

So when God tells us to 'do church' differently, let's not be afraid to step out and obey him.

Soulfood: Zech 9-11, John 21:1-14, Ps 12, Pro 31:1-5


How to set your goals 6

'Write down the revelation and make it plain.' Habakkuk 2:2 NIV

Put your goals in writing. God told the prophet Habakkuk, 'Write down the revelation and make it plain...so that a herald may run with it. For the revelation awaits an appointed time...Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay' (Habakkuk 2:2-3 NIV). Note the word 'delay', because it's not one we particularly like. God can give you a vision overnight, but usually it won't be fulfilled overnight. You'll face disappointments, discouragements and delays.

Because your vision always costs more than you estimated, and takes longer than you planned, it can become 'blurred' by your circumstances and emotions. That's why it's so important to write it down and keep it in front of you! Why did God tell Abraham that his children would be as numerous as the stars in Heaven? Because stars are something you can physically look at and count. 'Where there is no vision, the people perish [languish and waste away]' (Proverbs 29:18 KJV). The word 'perish' suggests something that's slowly decaying, and that's what happens when you don't keep your God-given vision in front of you.

If you've dreamed of losing weight, post a picture that inspires you on your refrigerator. If you dream of one day owning your own home, stick a picture of it on your message board. And if your goal is to give a certain amount to God's work, write a cheque for that amount and place it where you'll see it every day. With a clear-cut written goal, you'll always know where you are and remember what God has called you to do.

Soulfood: Zech 5-8, John 20:19-31, Ps 67, Pro 30:29-33


How to set your goals 5

'My relatives stand afar off.' Psalm 38:11 NKJV

Discern who belongs in your life and who doesn't. One of the toughest parts about reaching your goal is discovering that some of the people closest to you don't share it or want to be part of it. You can spend years trying to convince them. You may even be able to buy their short-term loyalty, but eventually they'll leave you, often breaking your heart in the process. Paul wrote, 'All those in Asia have turned away from me' (2 Timothy 1:15 NKJV). 'Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world' (2 Timothy 4:10 NKJV). Can't you hear the heartache and disappointment in his words? And when God gives you a great goal, you may experience the same thing.

Somebody said, 'In prosperity our friends know us; in adversity we know our friends.' How true! When disaster blindsided Job, he said, 'All my close friends abhor me, and those whom I love have turned against me' (Job 19:19 NKJV). David's experience caused him to say, 'My relatives stand afar off' (Psalm 38:11 NKJV). Solomon in his wisdom sums it all up: 'Confidence in an unfaithful man in time of trouble is like a bad tooth' (Proverbs 25:19 NKJV). The truth is that people who don't respect your goal will detract from it. You can minister to them and try to encourage them with words that strengthen and bless, but if you insist on holding on to them, like an infected tooth, they will end up hurting you.

Jesus told his disciples, 'If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet' (Matthew 10:14 NIV). In order to reach your God-given goal, sometimes you have to do that.

Soulfood: Zech 1-4, John 20:10-18, Ps 57, Pro 30:24-28


How to set your goals 4

'I will give men for you, and people for your life.' Isaiah 43:4 NKJV

Depend on God more than on others. That doesn't mean you don't need other people. You do. When God calls someone to do a job, he calls others to stand alongside them. God's promise is: 'I will give men for you, and people for your life' (Isaiah 43:4 NKJV).

So ask him who belongs in your life. In Exodus chapter 17, as long as Moses held his hands up, Israel's armies prevailed in battle, but when his hands grew tired the battle went the other way. So Aaron and Hur stood by Moses and held up his hands until victory over the Amalekites was complete. You need people who know how to hold up your hands and strengthen you. Paul wrote, 'I have no one else like Timothy, who genuinely cares about your welfare. All the others care only for themselves...But...Timothy has proved himself' (Philippians 2:20-22 NLT). In fact, Paul took an entire chapter of the Bible to acknowledge and thank all those who made it possible for him to succeed in his calling. He writes about people 'who risked their own necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches' (Romans 16:4 NKJV).

Some of us are stubborn and self-centred; we subscribe to the philosophy, 'It's my way or the highway.' We burn through people, leaving wreckage in our wake. Don't do it! When God sends gifted people into your life, acknowledge them, respect them, train them, motivate them and reward them. When you do that, not only will you fulfil your goal, you will create a win/win for everybody.

Soulfood: Gen 11:1-9, Phil 2:1-11


How to set your goals 3

'Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.' Proverbs 3:5 NIV

Trust in God more than in yourself. That doesn't mean you should go through life doubting and second-guessing yourself, or being afraid to move in case you make a mistake. When you recognise and embrace God's plan for your life, you tap into the power you need to fulfil it. False humility will handicap you spiritually, mentally and emotionally, and keep you from moving forward.

When God called Jeremiah to be a prophet, he protested, 'I am only a boy' (Jeremiah 1:6 NCV). But listen to what God told him: 'Don't say "I'm too young"' (Jeremiah 1:7 NCV)). As surely as 'the tongue can bring death or life' (Proverbs 18:21 NLT), you must learn to speak God's Word over the vision he has given you. Yes, it's a mistake to think you can play God's role or that he will play yours. But once you understand your personal assignment and tap into his power, you can start believing for success, regardless of what obstacles may stand in your way.

When you know you're in the will of God, doing what he told you to do, you can stand confidently on these Scriptures: '"Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit," says the Lord of hosts' (Zechariah 4:6 NKJV). 'One man...shall chase a thousand, for the Lord your God is he who fights for you, as he promised' (Joshua 23:10 NKJV). 'In the day when I cried out, you answered me, and made me bold with strength in my soul' (Psalm 138:3 NKJV). You're not alone today - God is with you!

Soulfood: 2 Tim 1-4, John 20:1-9, Ps 105:37-45, Pro 30:20-23

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