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Lizzie 10:00-3:00pm

The Word For Today

Three Things We Owe Each Other

Paul talks about three things we owe each other.

Let's look at them: (1) 'Without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers' (Romans 1:9 NKJV). An unknown poet wrote, 'I was a poor soul in the depth of despair, who climbed to the heights in answer to prayer.' You can show no greater love and concern for someone than to say, 'I'm praying for you,' and do it! Prayer invites God into the situation and authorises the forces of Heaven to go to work and bring change. (2) 'I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift, so that you may be established' (Romans 1:11 NKJV). What did Paul long for? The chance to strengthen his fellow believers, and he was willing to travel a long way at great personal risk to do it. When two people decide to recognise and nurture the God-given gifts in each other, not only are they blessed personally, everybody around them benefits too. (3) 'That I may be encouraged together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me.' Notice the words 'encouraged' and 'mutual faith'.

There are powerful dynamics at work here! First, we pray for one another. Second, we recognise and nurture God's gifts in one another. Third, we unite our faith and focus on a shared goal. Jesus said: 'If two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in Heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them' (Matthew 18:19-20 NKJV).

Soulfood : Gen 1-3, Jn 12:12-19, Ps 102:1-11, Prov 30:18-20


Stressed Out About Money? (2)

'God has not given us a spirit of fear.' 2 Timothy 1:7 NKJV

To overcome financial anxiety, you must: (1) Understand where your anxiety comes from. Unless your name is Bill Gates, the chances are that you'll experience some degree of financial anxiety. But when fear becomes your fixed state of mind, something's wrong; it's time to unwrap the package. Fear can be hereditary, passed from generation to generation. And it can trap you in a cycle that's hard to break. But you can break it! Gideon tore down the altar where his family had worshipped idols for generations - and they were angry with him when he did it (Judges 6:25-30). But Gideon knew that in order to win in life, he must trust in nobody but God.

(2) Rise above your past failures. Have you made bad investments and now you're afraid to take a risk? Are you hoarding as a hedge against future failure? Here's the problem: nothing ventured, nothing gained! In football, the players who score the most goals are often the ones who miss the most chances. But they keep trying because if they don't aim for the goal they can't win. A barn filled with seed doesn't produce a harvest. Furthermore, when the farmer plants his seed, drought and frost and pests can wipe him out. Yet if he doesn't plant, failure is guaranteed. Getting the idea?

(3) Anticipate God's goodness. As you get older you become more risk-averse, more inclined to look for a safe harbour. That's understandable, but you can't let fear control your life. David wrote, 'Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life' (Psalm 23:6 NKJV). When God's goodness is what you're believing for - God's goodness is what you'll 'surely' get!

SoulFood: Ecc 9-12, John 12:1-11, Ps 76, Pro 30:15-17


Stressed Out About Money? (1)

The solution to financial worry isn't necessarily having more money. Indeed, the more money you have, the more you have to lose. And the thought of losing it can cause you to worry more, not less. It's a vicious circle. Trying to find security in money is like tying a boat to a dock; when a big enough storm comes along, the ropes will break and it'll be swept away. So since we all wonder when the next economic storm will hit, what's the answer? More rope? Stronger rope? Tighter knots? No - that just gives you knots in your stomach!

For the next few days let's look at some Bible answers to money worries: Tackle your fear head-on. The Psalmist said, 'Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You.' Now, since David was a king, he probably didn't worry a lot about money. But he did worry about his enemies stalking him, catching him off guard and killing him. We each have different areas of worry, and the ones that control us are called 'core fears'. Sometimes you can keep them at bay; other times they control and consume you and make you act in ways you're not proud of.

Christian financial advisor Ron Blue says that for years he was trapped by the fear of not having enough money, or losing what he had. The people around him didn't know it, but that's what drove him. Today he's a best-selling author and financial counsellor to multitudes. But to get there he had to confront his core fear, and trust more in God than he did in himself. And so will you.

Soulfood : Ecc 5-8, Jn 11:38-57, Ps 81, Prov 30:11-14


Are You Bearing Fruit?

Jesus said: 'A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. Then he said to the keeper of his vineyard, "Look, for three years I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree and find none. Cut it down; why does it use up the ground?" But he answered and said to him, "Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and fertilise it. And if it bears fruit, well. But if not, after that you can cut it down"' (Luke 13:6-9 NKJV).

How long have you been serving the Lord? What are the tangible 'fruits' of your service to Him? We're not all capable of the same level of productivity. Jesus taught that some of us have thirtyfold potential, some sixtyfold, and some a hundredfold (Matthew 13:8). It's your faith and your gifting that determine your level of productivity. For example, God doesn't expect a 'thirtyfolder' to produce a sixtyfold harvest. He's not an unreasonable taskmaster. But if this parable teaches us anything, it's that God won't let you just sit on your hands and do nothing. The words, 'cut it down', are a sobering reminder of this.

God is patient. He will work with you year after year in an attempt to bring you to the place of spiritual maturity where you can fulfil the purpose for which He brought you into His Kingdom. But if after all His efforts you refuse to produce fruit, He will go elsewhere and find what He's looking for. The main thing is, in the end, God's purposes will be fulfilled!

Soulfood : Ecc 1-4, Jn 11:28-37, Ps 50, Prov 30:7-10


Let God Illuminate Your Mind

The Psalmist writes, 'The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes.' God can put an idea in your mind that changes the direction of your life. Marconi had an idea and the result was the radio. Bell had an idea and the result was the telephone. God, a creator, gives creative ideas to people all the time. But you must act on them; otherwise He will give them to somebody else. Isn't it time you asked Him for one of His ideas for your life?

The fact that you believe in God is wonderful. But here's something equally wonderful - God believes in you! Instead of looking at your present situation and thinking, 'I guess my life's as good as it's ever going to get,' start asking, 'Lord, what do You have in mind for me?' If you let it, life can beat you down and make you feel low, lost, lacking, and limited in ability and potential. And if you act on these feelings and thoughts instead of what God says about you in His Word, you'll never move forward and fulfil what He put you on this earth to do.

You say, 'God has never given me one of His great ideas.' Maybe that's because you have never asked Him for one! He gives them to seeking hearts, prepared hearts, faith-filled hearts and obedient hearts. Here's a profile of the kind of person God gives great ideas to: 'His delight is in the law of the Lord, and on His law he meditates day and night...Whatever he does shall prosper' (Psalm 1:2-3 NKJV).

Soulfood : Rom 15-16, Jn 11:17-27, Ps 8, Prov 30:5-6


Thoughts about Jacob

Jacob got off to a bad start in life. When it came to business practices, he had more angles than a pyramid! First he cheated his older brother, Esau, then his father-in-law, Laban. Then, one night, the Angel of the Lord showed up in his tent and Jacob wrestled with Him until daybreak. As the sun rose, the Angel said to him, 'Let me go, for it is daybreak.' But Jacob said, 'I will not let you go unless you bless me.' At that point the Angel told him he would no longer be called by his old name, Jacob, which means 'deceiver', but by his new name, Israel, which means 'a prince with God'.

Up until this time Jacob thought making money would make him happy, but it didn't; it almost cost him his family. Sound familiar? But after wrestling with God he received a new name, a new nature, a new walk and a new future. Isn't that what you want too? Well, the good news is - you can have it! The Bible says, 'If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new' (2 Corinthians 5:17 NKJV). Jacob was a self-made man. The problem was he wasn't enjoying the life he'd made for himself. He didn't know he'd been born for a purpose greater than merely acquiring 'stuff', and it was only in God's presence that he discovered this.

His story in a nutshell is this: Jacob was who he was. He wanted to be like Esau. But, Israel, a prince with God, was who God made him. And God can do the same for you if you let Him.

Soulfood : Dan 1:3-21, Dan 5:10-31, Dan 6, Dan 9:1-19


Release from Bitterness (2)

Releasing yourself from bitterness calls for: (1) Choosing to forgive. 'Be kind and loving to each other, and forgive each other just as God forgave you in Christ' (Ephesians 4:32 NCV). Whether or not the person who hurt you apologises, is dead or alive, or is still hurting you, your only option is forgiveness. By forgiving, you set yourself free to enjoy life. (2) Releasing the wrongdoer from all expectations. By changing your expectations, you reclaim your peace of mind. Whether or not the other person changes is his or her business - move on! Requiring a certain response keeps you bound to them. Paul says, 'We have freedom now, because Christ made us free. So stand strong. Do not change and go back into the slavery of the law' (Galatians 5:1 NCV).

(3) Transferring to God all expectations for your needs. His Word says, 'God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus' (Philippians 4:19 NAS). Note the word 'all'. God can supply the people, resources and opportunities you need to live a joyful life. (4) Asking God to bless your offender. Yes, it's difficult, but Jesus said, 'Love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you' (Matthew 5:44 NLT)! That kind of prayer puts you in the driver's seat of your life. (5) Doing something nice for your offender. Ask God how you can bless them. 'If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink. In doing this, you will...conquer evil by doing good' (Romans 12:20-21 NLT).

You defeat anger and bitterness by believing and acting on God's Word.

Soulfood : Rom 12-14, Jn 11:1-16, Ps 4, Prov 30:1-4


Release from Bitterness (1)

Anger is often the product of frustrated expectations. We expect something, and when we don't get it we end up disappointed and angry. And our anger leads to a dysfunctional personal, spiritual and relational lifestyle. Frustrated expectations are often rooted in early experiences with our parents, siblings and authority figures. Perhaps our needs for love, acceptance, security and significance were never met; then later we experienced broken commitments in marriage, business and friendships. Ultimately, smouldering anger becomes a weapon in our arsenal, threatening to hurt everything and everybody we care about. We become bitter people - avoided, excluded and lonely. God instructs us to 'get rid of all bitterness', so that 'no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many' (Hebrews 12:15 NIV).

How do we obey His command? (1) By accepting and acting on His Word. Without a Scriptural foundation, old emotions will repeatedly undermine your efforts to overcome them. 'Get rid of all bitterness' is an order that implies the promise of success when you obey it. (2) By choosing to be released from bitterness. Choice isn't an emotion, and it doesn't require an emotional response. God won't control your emotions, but neither will He let them influence Him. Believing God's Word and making the choice to obey it always results in success.

So start strengthening your will and your faith. How? By choosing to obey God in spite of your feelings! Practise this every day until it becomes a lifestyle. Then instead of being mastered by your moods, you'll find yourself 'reigning in life' (Romans 5:17), no longer controlled by your negative emotions.

Soulfood : Rom 9:17-11:36, Jn 10:22-42, Ps 83:9-18, Prov 29:23-27


When the Answer Isn't What You Want

'A thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me.' 2 Corinthians 12:7 NKJV

Paul isn't referring to the kind of 'thorn' you find on rosebushes, but a sharp, pointed stake that inflicts pain. And the word 'buffet' means 'to render blow after blow after blow'. This makes his next statement all the more amazing: 'I begged the Lord three times to take this problem away from me. But He said to me, "My grace is enough for you. When you are weak, My power is made perfect in you." So I am very happy to brag about my weaknesses. Then Christ's power can live in me' (2 Corinthians 12:7-9 NCV).

Paul responded to his thorny situations by doing six things: (1) Admitting he needed God's strength. (2) Asking, even begging, for God's help. (3) Accepting the answer when God said, 'No.' (4) Appreciating it as a gift of grace. (5) Acting with confidence and continuing to fulfil his mission. (6) Acknowledging that the problem allowed God to work through him. When the driving force within Paul had been redirected by God, he wrote: 'I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me' (Galatians 2:20 NIV).

Paul's will had been taken to the cross and crucified. Now he operated in the will of God and no longer questioned the path or the price. That's the place God wants to bring you to!

SoulFood: Rom 7:1 - 9:16, John 10:11-21, Ps 83:1-8, Pro 29:19-22


Your Answer Is - God!

'Oh, that I knew where I might find Him.' Job 23:3 NKJV

Job's troubles lasted almost a year. In that year he lost his children, his money, and his health. That's when he prayed, 'Oh, that I knew where I might find Him.' Notice, Job didn't pray, 'Oh, that I knew how to get back my children, my money, and my health.' He focused on none of those things. He realised that when you are in right standing with God, all the rest will fall into place.

Here's a truth you learn when you lose what you love: when you've nothing left but God, you discover that God is enough! Much of the book of Job is about him arguing with God and complaining about his lot in life. Are you doing that? If you are, don't worry. God can handle it. As long as your eyes are on Him, He can correct you, teach you, help you, and cause you to grow stronger in faith. Job wasn't privy to what had gone on behind the scenes. He didn't know that a discussion had taken place between God and Satan in which Satan said that if God stripped Job of all he had, he would curse Him (Job 1:11). But God knew differently, so He allowed Satan to attack Job for a season. When it was over, God hadn't changed His mind about Job and Job hadn't changed his mind about God. The only one who had changed his mind was Satan!

If you're wondering how the story ends: 'The Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning' (Job 42:12 NKJV). So if you're in trouble today, your answer is - God. Keep trusting Him and He will bring you through victorious!

SoulFood: Rom 3:21 - 6:23, John 10:1-10, Ps 133, Pro 29:15-18

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