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The Word For Today

Dealing with our stuff



'Christ came to take away sins.' 1 John 3:5 NCV

When we refuse to confront our sins and deal with them, we become a well-marked target for the enemy. And by looking at someone else and saying, 'I would never do that,' we fail to build a safeguard against it. 'If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall' (1 Corinthians 10:12 NLT). We never thought we could get that angry, or have an affair, or lie to our boss, or cheat in our finances. And because we never thought we could, we did nothing to protect ourselves against it. As sure as fish swim and birds fly, our sinful nature will lead us astray unless we deal with it decisively and scripturally.

Paul wrote, 'As they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God ...[he] gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done' (Romans 1:28 NIV). The worst thing God could do is to give us over to our own carnal impulses and say, 'Have it your way!' It's amazing how we compare our sins with other people's sins, and conclude ours aren't as bad. The Bible says, 'All have sinned, and fall short' (Romans 3:23 NKJV). If we try to jump over a deep chasm, it doesn't matter if we miss the other side by one foot or one hundred feet, you fall just as far and land just as hard.

But there's good news: 'Christ came to take away our sins' (1 John 3:5 NCV). Today Jesus will forgive our sins, declare us righteous, and give us strength if we come to him with a repentant heart and receive his mercy and grace.

Soulfood: Job 1-4 Luke 16:1-18 Ps 24 Pro 7:24-25,

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Stop making excuses



'Let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.' Romans 12:2 NLT

Sometimes our culture markets misinformation and half-truths. And since our parents grew up in that culture, they handed us the same guide for interpreting life. As a result we may have arrived at these three mistaken conclusions: (1) There's a special person out there who will make me happy. Only God can do that! Hurting people only hurt other people. 'Out of the abundance of the heart [the] mouth speaks' (Luke 6:45 NKJV). (2) When I attain a certain position or accumulate a specific amount of money, I'll be happy. That's the old 'as-soon-as' myth, and it breeds a life of discontent (see Luke 12:15). (3) I can't help it; it's just the way I am. That's the 'I'm-not-responsible' lie, and it will stop you dead in your tracks.

If we want to be happy, we need to examine the excuses we come up with to justify our behaviour. Here are a few of them: 'I'm not the only one!' So what? If everybody does it, does that mean God doesn't take it seriously? Like a kind of group-sin? 'I don't see any harm in it.' And who gave us the authority to write the rules and play God? 'I'll just try it once.' So if we just try it once, does that mean there'll be no consequences? What are the lies behind our excuses? Examine them. They're keeping us in spiritual bondage, and they must be unearthed and removed! The Bible calls this 'renewing of your mind' (Romans 12:2 NKJV).

Jesus said once you know the truth, your old belief systems will be exposed and you'll be set free (see John 8:32). Imagine being free to become all God wants you to be! Isn't that worth pursuing?

Soulfood: Ps 51 Mark 8:34-38,

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Helping others 2



'They refused to pay attention...and would not listen.' Zechariah 7:11-12 NIV

Accept it - some people simply aren't ready to change! They'll demand our time and energy, but when we get right down to it, they won't pay the price for progress.

Who are they? (1) People who want to talk but not listen. James speaks about two kinds of people - hearers and doers. 'Be doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves' (James 1:22 NKJV). Instead of striving endlessly to meet other people's needs, try to connect them to the one who can. They should be dependent on the Lord, not us. (2) People who don't think we're qualified to help them. Jesus wasn't respected in his home town, yet he was the very person they needed (see John 1:11-12). Opportunity doesn't always knock; sometimes it stands by, waiting to be recognised! When people are unwilling to accept our help and advice, chances are they may not be ready to grow and deal with their problems. (3) People who want what we have, but not what we know. These people want to be rescued but not instructed; comforted but not corrected. And when we keep bailing them out instead of teaching them how to live, we're not really helping them.

David said, 'It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn your statutes' (Psalm 119:71 NKJV). Often people have to experience the pain of what's wrong before they appreciate the wisdom of what's right. So, when it comes to helping people - be discerning.

Soulfood: Exo 39-40 Luke 15:11-32 Ps 135 Pro 7:21-23,

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Helping others 1



'They would not listen or respond.' Jeremiah 32:33 NIV

There are people we can't help - at least not right now. Notice what God said about the Israelites: 'Though I taught them again and again, they would not listen or respond' (Jeremiah 32:33 NIV). Now, if God himself can't help them, what chance do we have?

Let's look at these people who usually can't be helped: (1) People who keep making excuses. Excuses are a crutch for lack of commitment and a smoke-screen for self-justification. We can't help someone until they're willing to take responsibility for their life and apply the solutions of Scripture. Think:?if they won't listen to God, what difference will our opinion make? (2) People who move in the wrong circles. The Bible says, 'Bad company corrupts good character' (1 Corinthians 15:33 NLT). There are people who simply don't belong in our life, and we can't move forward until we break the link that connects us. The company we keep influences our conduct and character, and those two things decide our future. (3) People who blame God for their problems. When trouble comes, they ask, 'Why did God allow this to happen to me?' The fact is, we'll never see God as our solution until we stop seeing him as our problem.

God laid it on the line for his people: 'I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life' (Deuteronomy 30:19 NKJV). If you want to keep from getting discouraged, love people and pray for them, but spend your time with those who are willing to be helped.

Soulfood: Exo 36-38 Luke 15:1-10 Ps 27 Pro 7:10-20,

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Do you have this joy



'This is the fresh, new, life-giving way that Christ has opened up for us.' Hebrews 10:20 TLB

In the Old Testament there were more religious laws than anybody could possibly keep: over six hundred. And every time you failed, you had to offer an animal sacrifice as atonement. This resulted in people trying and failing; feeling guilty and trying harder; failing again and making more sacrifices. It was a never-ending cycle.

Then Jesus came and opened up 'the fresh, new, life-giving way...for us' (Hebrews 10:20 TLB) to have a relationship with God. His way included forgiveness for sin, and the replacement of sacrifices with faith in him. For many it was just too good to be true, so they kept working and trying to impress God with their goodness. Are you doing that?

One Christian author writes: 'I lived that way for years. It meant having to do everything perfectly; otherwise I was in trouble with God. Since this was an impossible standard to keep, it stole all my peace and joy. While I was trying to walk in love, I wasn't a very loving person. I couldn't give others what I didn't know how to receive myself! I wasn't receiving God's mercy for my failures; therefore I couldn't offer it to anybody else. I tried to follow all the rules, many that weren't even scriptural - just things to feel guilty about. But thank God I don't have to live that way anymore. Now I'm not working to be saved, I'm working because I am saved! My salvation isn't based on what I do, but solely on what Jesus has done for me.' When you understand this truth, your relationship with God is no longer a job - it's a joy.

Soulfood: Exo 33-35 Luke 14:25-35 Ps 112 Pro 7:6-9,

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What we'll do in Heaven



'To depart and be with Christ...is better by far.' Philippians 1:23 NIV

Imagine boarding a plane for your dream holiday when suddenly the pilot announces, 'Welcome aboard. After take-off we'll serve you a wonderful meal and do all we can to make your flight enjoyable. However, I need to tell you - we have no destination. That's right; we're just going to keep flying until we run out of fuel and drop into the ocean.' No matter how wonderful the journey is, what's the point if there's no destination?

God's Word says, 'If our hope in Christ is only for this life, we are more to be pitied than anyone in the world' (1 Corinthians 15:19 NLT). Thank God there's more! It's called Heaven. And it's 'better by far' than anything we've experienced in this life. If you're wondering what we'll do when we get there, the Bible says we'll serve the Lord (see Revelation 22:3). You won't be issued a halo, a long woolly robe and a harp, and be assigned to sit on a cloud and strum for all eternity. No, we'll each serve the Lord in different capacities. Think of it: no midlife crisis, no downsizing and no burnout.

On earth we fail, we get tired, we get frustrated, and our motives are mixed. But not there! Can you imagine serving the one you love most, doing the thing you enjoy most, and doing it in a body that's forever energised? That's Heaven! And the ultimate bliss will be seeing Jesus face to face. 'I will see your face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake in your likeness' (Psalm 17:15 NKJV).

Soulfood: Exo 30-32 Luke 14:15-24 Ps 106:24-48 Pro 7:3-5,

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The God factor on your job



'We are partners working together for God.' 1 Corinthians 3:9 GNT

The biggest plus factor you can have on your job is the God factor. Paul writes, 'We are partners working together for God' (1 Corinthians 3:9 GNT). Consider these three powerful words: 'together with God'.

A surgeon in a large city hospital had a habit of insisting on a few minutes alone before he performed an operation. He had an outstanding reputation, and one of the young doctors who worked with him wondered if there might be a correlation between this habit of spending time alone and the man's success. He asked the surgeon about it and he answered, 'Yes. Before each operation I ask the Great Physician to guide my hands in their work. There have been times when I didn't know what to do next in a surgery, and then came the power to go on - power I knew came from God. I would not think of performing an operation without asking his help.' The surgeon's words quickly spread through the hospital, then across the country. One day a father brought his daughter to the hospital, insisting that the only doctor he would allow to touch her was 'the one who worked with God'.

The Bible says, 'Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct your paths' (Proverbs 3:5-6 NKJV). Note, it doesn't say don't 'use' your understanding - it says don't 'lean' on it. Instead, lean on God. 'Acknowledge him, and he shall direct your paths.' If you want success on the job, this is a proven formula for achieving it.

Soulfood: Exo 28-29 Luke 14:1-14 Ps 106:1-23 Pro 7:1-2,

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Act on your spiritual intuition



'Your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, "This is the way; walk in it."' Isaiah 30:21 NIV

How many times has something inside urged you to do a certain thing, but instead you allowed the voice in your head to overrule the voice in your spirit? That inner voice is your spiritual intuition, the part of you God speaks to. The Bible says, 'Your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, "This is the way; walk in it."'

John the apostle put it this way: 'You have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things' (1 John 2:20 NKJV). Learn to trust that 'anointing' because it will tell you: (a) what you need to do; (b) when you need to act; (c) what direction to take; (d) what changes you need to make. What a gift - yet we seldom use it! Somebody said, 'Too much analysis leads to paralysis.' We're afraid we couldn't possibly know something without thinking it through, or because it seems too obvious. We think, 'That can't be right. I couldn't possibly do that.' We argue for our limitations, and as a result they become our limitations!

Learn to recognise and trust your spiritual intuition. It's your connection to the greatest source of wisdom in the universe - God. And don't be surprised when what you hear in your spirit sounds like what you've thought many times but paid no attention to. The Bible says, 'It is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose' (Philippians 2:13 NIV). So next time your spiritual intuition tells you something and it lines up with Scripture, don't be afraid to act on it!

Soulfood: Exo 25-27 Luke 13:18-35 Ps 136 Pro 6:30-35,

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Celebrate your progress



'Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.' Romans 12:2 NKJV

Lasting change doesn't come through human effort, frustration, self-hatred, guilt or beating yourself up over your failures. It comes from having your mind renewed daily by the Word of God. If you're a consistent Bible reader, you'll grow spiritually. As you agree with God and believe what he says in his Word, you gradually begin to change. It just happens. You start to think differently, talk differently and act differently.

But you must be patient because it's a process that develops in stages. And you must learn to enjoy life while you're going through the transformation process. Many of us look like we're walking a tightrope rather than a pathway of peace. No, enjoy where you are on your way to where you're going! Don't waste all your 'now time' trying to rush into the future. Jesus said that tomorrow will have challenges of its own (see Matthew 6:34). Perhaps you're thinking, 'If only I didn't have this problem, I'd be happy.' What are you wrestling with? An out-of-control appetite? Resentment? Fearfulness? Maybe you're saying, 'If I could get this habit under control I'd be fine.' Just like Israel conquered the Promised Land one city at a time, you conquer your weaknesses one day at a time.

Paul said, 'So that I might finish my race with joy' (Acts 20:24 NKJV). Paul wanted to be all that God called him to be - but he wanted to enjoy the process. So instead of getting discouraged about how far you still have to go, learn to celebrate your progress along the way.

Soulfood: Exo 20:7 Lev 24:10-16 Phil 2:5-11,

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Show some 'class'



'Demetrius is well spoken of by everyone - and even by the truth itself.' 3 John v12 NIV

When people speak well of you, it means you have acceptance. But when the truth speaks well of you, it means you have class! Demetrius had it. Do you? Paul told Timothy, 'Set an example...in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity...give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress' (1 Timothy 4:12-15 NIV).

Here are some timeless words on 'class' by columnist Ann Landers: 'Class is just confidence dressed in humility. It keeps its word, its temper, and its friends. It has a steady eye, a steady nerve, a steady tongue, and steady habits. It's silent when it has nothing to say, thoughtful when it judges, and is always first to make amends when it's wrong. Class doesn't run scared. It's surefooted, committed, and handles whatever comes along. Class has a sense of humour. It knows that a good laugh is often the best lubricant for oiling the machinery of human relations. Class never makes excuses. It takes its lumps, learns from its mistakes, and becomes wiser. Class knows that courtesy and good manners are nothing more than a series of small sacrifices. It bespeaks an aristocracy that is not dependent on ancestors or money. A blue-blood can be totally without it, while the son of a Welsh coal miner may ooze it out of every pore. Class can walk with kings, yet still keep its virtue; talk with crowds, yet still maintain the common touch. Everyone is comfortable with a person who has class - because they are comfortable with themselves.'

Today, show some 'class'!

Soulfood: Exo 22-24 Luke 13:1-17 Ps 77 Pro 6:29,

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