Mornings
Gary 6:00-12:00pm

The Word For Today

HOW TO BUILD A GREAT MARRIAGE

If you want a great marriage, you've got to work at it every day.

The Bible gives us God's blueprint for one: 'You wives must learn to adapt yourselves to your husbands, as you submit yourselves to the Lord, for the husband is the "head" of the wife in the same way that Christ is head of the Church and saviour of the Body. The willing subjection of the Church to Christ should be reproduced in the submission of wives to their husbands. But, remember, this means that the husband must give his wife the same sort of love that Christ gave to the Church, when He sacrificed Himself for her... Men ought to give their wives the love they naturally have for their own bodies. The love a man gives his wife is the extending of his love for himself to enfold her. Nobody ever hates or neglects his own body; he feeds and looks after it. And that is what Christ does for His body, the Church. And we are all members of that body, we are His flesh and blood! "For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh." The marriage relationship is doubtless a great mystery, but I am speaking of something deeper still - the marriage of Christ and His Church. In practice what I have said amounts to this: let every one of you who is a husband love his wife as he loves himself; let the wife reverence her husband' (Ephesians 5:21-33 PHPS).

That's how to build a great marriage!

Soulfood : Ruth 1:8-18, Ruth 2:5-12, Ruth 3:1-6, Ruth 4:9-13

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BE TENACIOUS

Paul writes: 'The Holy Spirit testifies in every city, saying that chains and tribulations await me. But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy' (Acts 20:23-24 NKJV). Dr. John Maxwell says one day when he was discouraged and tempted to quit, he took out a dictionary and looked up the word 'quit'. After spending a few minutes considering that option, in a symbolic act of defiance he took out his scissors and cut the word right out of his dictionary. It didn't make his problems go away, but it sure did strengthen his resolve.

When every avenue looks like a dead end and you feel as if you've exhausted every possibility - you haven't. There are always other ways, other options, other opportunities. Even if you don't see them right now, they are there. So don't give up. Former heavyweight champion Jack Dempsey once said, 'A champion is one who gets back up when he can't.' People who reach their goal keep going when they think they can't. They're tenacious, and as a result they keep moving closer to their goal day by day. Some days they may be moving only a few centimetres at a time, but they're moving forward. They believe in their God-given destiny, they believe in themselves, and they say so.

Now, saying you believe in yourself won't guarantee your success, but saying you don't believe in yourself will guarantee your failure. The truth is you're not alone, God is with you. 'He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak' (Isaiah 40:29 NIV). So be tenacious!

Soulfood : Is 12-16, Jn 6:25-34, Ps 85, Prov 27:20-22

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THE WORD FROM THE TOP (8)

In the last of the Ten Commandments, God told His people: 'You shall not covet your neighbour's house...[nor] your neighbour's wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbour.' Coveting means grasping and craving for things that don't belong to you. Haddon Robinson said, 'Covetousness is simply craving more of what you have enough of already'. It's why Paul writes, 'Godliness with contentment is great gain' (1 Timothy 6:6 NKJV).

In his book of sermons, Feminine Faces, Dr. Clovis Chappell writes: 'When Pompeii was being excavated there was found a body that had been embalmed by the ashes of Vesuvius. It was that of a woman. Her feet were turned toward the city gate, but her face was turned backward toward something that lay just beyond her outstretched hands. The prize which those frozen fingers were reaching for was a bag of pearls. Maybe she herself had dropped them as she was fleeing for her life. Maybe she had found them where they had been dropped by another. But be that as it may, though death was hard at her heels and life was beckoning to her beyond the city gates, she could not shake off their spell. She turned to pick them up, and death was her reward. But it was not the eruption of Vesuvius that made her love pearls more than life. It only froze her in this attitude of greed.'

There's nothing wrong with wanting more in life, as long as you're enjoying the things God has already given you, and you're sharing them with others.

Soulfood : Is 8-11, Jn 6:1-24, Ps 126, Prov 27:17-19

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THE WORD FROM THE TOP (7)

The ninth commandment says, 'You shall not give false testimony against your neighbour.' Why do we lie? For lots of reasons: to escape the consequences of our actions; to avoid paying our dues; to create a false image; to convince others we're something we're not. But it doesn't work; time and truth force deception to surface - literally!

In 1996 the body of the former ambassador to Switzerland was buried in Arlington National Cemetery, America's resting place for war heroes. The granite tombstone read, 'S1C [Seaman First Class] U.S. Merchant Marine.' But according to investigative reporters, Don Van Natta Jr. and Elaine Sciolino, in a 1997 issue of 'The New York Times', cemetery workers hauled the tombstone away and exhumed the casket. The reason? The man lied. For years he told others he'd served on the Coast Guard ship Horace Bushnell during World War II. He said the Germans torpedoed the ship and he'd been thrown overboard, sustaining a head injury. But the record shows that at the time he said he was serving in the Merchant Marine, he was actually attending Wilbur Wright College in Chicago. The Coast Guard had no record of his having served in the Merchant Marine, or having earned the rank of Seaman First Class. Somehow the lie wasn't discovered when the State Department investigated his background and he was made an ambassador. As a result, his remains were buried in Arlington Cemetery, and his tombstone engraved with a lie. But the truth came out, as it always does, and posterity now knows the facts.

Think about that, the next time you're tempted to spin a story that's less than truthful.

Soulfood : Is 4-7, Jn 5:31-47, Ps 5, Prov 27:13-16

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THE WORD FROM THE TOP (6)

The eighth commandment says, 'You shall not steal.' Think how strange this commandment must have seemed to the Israelites. As a nomad society, thieving and looting had always been acceptable in their culture - even expected. But God said, 'That day is over. Stealing distorts your priorities. It makes things more important than people. It violates the rights of others by saying, "I'm more important than you." So from this day on I want you to be rigorously honest in all your dealings.'

But there's another kind of stealing, the kind some Christians think nothing of practising. The Bible says: 'Will a man rob God? Yet you rob Me. But you ask, "How do we rob You?" In tithes and offerings. You are under a curse - the whole nation of you - because you are robbing Me. Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house. "Test Me in this," says the Lord Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of Heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it. I will prevent pests from devouring your crops...the vines in your fields will not cast their fruit...Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land"' (Malachi 3:8-12 NIV).

When you rob God, you end up robbing yourself. 'Robbing myself of what?' you ask: (1) God's blessing in your life. (2) His protection when times get tough. (3) The privilege of sharing His goodness with the people around you. Is it really worth it? Think about it!

Soulfood : Is 1-3, Jn 5:16-30, Ps 15, Prov 27:10-12

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THE WORD FROM THE TOP (5)

The seventh commandment says, 'You shall not commit adultery.' But Jesus takes it one step further by saying, 'Anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery...in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better...to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell' (Matthew 5:28-29 NIV).

You're not responsible for what you see, but you are responsible for what you continue to look at. Paul told Timothy, 'Flee...youthful lusts' (2 Timothy 2:22 NKJV); and James writes, 'After desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death' (James 1:15 NIV). Immorality in practice or in thought can result in the death of your marriage, your self-respect, your influence, and your joy.

In The Door, theologian Mike Yaconelli writes: 'Author Susan Howatch made a fortune writing blockbuster novels...She had houses in several countries, drove a Porsche, and after divorcing had a number of "transient liaisons". But at age thirty, she said, "God seized me by the scruff of the neck and shook me until my teeth rattled." Now a Christian, she reflects: "I was promiscuous, but finally one morning I woke up and said, 'What am I trying to prove, and to whom?' I knew exactly what - that even though my marriage broke up I could still attract men. The fact that I could control men boosted my fractured ego." What was her conclusion? Promiscuity is a sign you're not aligned right with God or yourself.'

Soulfood : Ex 39-40, Jn 5:1-15, Ps 41, Prov 27:7-9

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THE WORD FROM THE TOP (4)

The sixth commandment says, 'You shall not murder.' Now, most of us don't need a lecture on murder, so let's address the real issue: the tongue, which kills by destroying a person's self-worth and future hopes. Paul writes: 'All the law is fulfilled in...this: "You shall love your neighbour as yourself." But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another!' (Galatians 5:14-15 NKJV).

Who can forget the 1994 tabloid headline, 'Killer bug ate my face'? The reporting was sensational, but the stories were based on factual cases of invasive streptococcal bacteria found in Gloucestershire. When invasive Strep A (which isn't the same as strep throat [Bacterial tonsillitis]) takes hold, necrotising fasciitis can begin, which causes the victim's flesh to die at the rate of several centimetres per hour. Meanwhile toxic shock sets in, shutting down organs and causing death. Dr Jeffrey Crowley describes what happens after the deadly microbes take hold: 'The bacteria multiply rapidly, producing toxins...For three days the patient may suffer swollen lymph nodes, rising fever, and excruciating pain at the site of infection. Penicillin can stop the attack at this stage, but by day four, infected tissues start dying. Bacteria saturate the bloodstream, destroying muscles and organs, sending the body into shock, and death can follow within hours... invasive streptococcus is rare, but unforgiving.'

You say, 'That's gruesome!' Yes, and so is gossip, and slander! They're deadly. They make people feel worthless by destroying their self-esteem and undermining them to the point where life doesn't seem worth living. Learn to guard your tongue and speak words that bring life, not death.

Soulfood : Ex 36-38, Jn 4:39-54, Ps 87, Prov 27:4-6

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THE WORD FROM THE TOP (3)

In the fifth commandment, God says, 'Honour your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.' That means children must respect their parents, and parents must prove worthy of respect.

Abraham and Lot were from the same family, but there was a big difference in their parenting styles. And it showed up dramatically at the destruction of Sodom. Concerning Abraham, God said, 'I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just, so that the Lord will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him' (Genesis 18:19 NIV). Before God destroyed Sodom, we read: 'The two men (angels) said to Lot, "Do you have anyone else here...Get them out ...because we are going to destroy this place"...So Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law...He said, "Hurry and get out of this place, because the Lord is about to destroy the city!" But his sons-in-law thought he was joking' (Genesis 19:12-14 NIV).

Do you have credibility with your children? Do they take you seriously? Here are two quotes from history every parent needs to think long and hard about. The first is from evangelist Billy Sunday: 'The tragedy of my life is that although I've led thousands of people to Jesus Christ, my own sons are not saved.' The second is from Lord Houghton: 'The Christian home is the Master's workshop where the processes of character moulding are silently, lovingly, faithfully and successfully carried on.'

Soulfood : Acts 13:21-22, 1 Sam 16, 1 Sam 17:32-51, 1 Sam 24:1-17

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THE WORD FROM THE TOP (2)

The fourth commandment says, 'Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.'

This commandment wasn't meant to be interpreted in: (a) A legalistic way. In Jesus' day there were over fifteen hundred things the Law of Moses said you couldn't do on the Sabbath, such as bathing, walking too far, or scratching a flea bite. (b) A loose way. The flip side of legalism is licence. We go everywhere on Sunday except to church, then excuse ourselves by saying, 'I'll be there in spirit,' or 'I feel closer to God on the golf course or the beach.' That doesn't wash with God! (c) A limited way. You can't attend church on Sunday and ignore God the rest of the week. He's not just Lord of the Sabbath, He's Lord of your life.

Here's what the Sabbath was designed to be: (1) A day of rest. Restoration begins with rest. Somebody said, 'When you love what you do, it's not work.' That may be true, but that philosophy can lead to burnout and breakdown. David said, 'He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul' (Psalms 23:2-3 NKJV). Note the word 'still'. Every seventh day God calls 'time out'. (2) A day of restoration. Toward the end of his life, Bible commentator William Barclay said, 'I'm old, and I've learned that there are very few things in life that really matter - but those few things matter intensely.' Worshiping with other believers matters because it highlights those things which are important to God, like His Word, His will, His worship, His call, His grace and His family.

Soulfood : Ex 33-35, Jn 4:27-38, Ps 32, Prov 27:1-3

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THE WORD FROM THE TOP (1)

When God gave the Ten Commandments to His people, He said, 'I have talked with you from Heaven.' In other words, you have 'the Word from the top'. End of discussion. Just do it! That being said, let's spend the next few days looking at how the Ten Commandments apply to you. (1) 'You shall have no other gods before Me' (Exodus 20:3 NIV). Have you seen the new all-purpose greeting card? The front says, 'Generic card' and the inside reads, 'Happy whatever!' The first commandment was designed to stop us from going through life doing whatever we feel like. It grabs us by the collar and says, 'Hold on, Jesus is supposed to be Lord of your life, so put Him first!'

(2) 'You shall not make for yourself an idol' (Exodus 20:4 NLT). Now, most of us wouldn't dream of worshiping an idol. But how about your loyalty to things that have no eternal value, like pleasure, power, position and possessions? Isn't that idolatry too? Anything that comes before God is an idol.

(3) 'You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God' (Exodus 20:7 NIV). But just because you don't use profanity doesn't mean you honour the name of the Lord. As a believer you must honour God in your speech, your conduct and your attitude. The truth is, you are the only Bible many people will ever read. Paul writes, 'Clearly, you are a letter from Christ showing the result of our ministry among you. This "letter" is written not with pen and ink, but with the Spirit of the living God' (2 Corinthians 3:3 NLT).

Soulfood : Ex 30-32, Jn 4:13-26, Ps 100, Prov 26:27-28

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