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Days
Lizzie 10:00-3:00pm

The Word For Today

WALK IN FORGIVENESS

'The merciful...will be shown mercy.' Matthew 5:7 NIV

The German philosopher Schopenhauer compared the human race to porcupines huddled together on a winter night: 'The colder it gets outside, the more we huddle together for warmth. But the closer we get...the more we hurt one another with our sharp quills. And in the lonely night of earth's winter, eventually we begin to drift apart and wander out on our own and freeze to death in our loneliness.' What's the answer? 'Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us' (Matthew 6:12).
President Ronald Reagan understood this. After an attempt on his life in 1981, his daughter Patti Davis said, 'The following day my father said he knew his physical healing was directly dependent on his ability to forgive John Hinckley. By showing me that forgiveness is the key to everything, including physical health and healing, he gave me an example of Christ-like thinking.' Perhaps your wounds are old ones: an abusive parent, a cheating spouse, a business deal gone sour. Or maybe they're still fresh: an overlooked promotion, an unpaid debt, children who've forgotten you exist. Either way, you've a decision to make. Get over it, or get even. Let it heal, or turn to hate. Release it, or resent it. Resentment allows whatever's eating you to eat you up. It stokes the fire, fans the flames, and replays the pain.
Think about it: has your resentment brought you relief? If today you stood by the grave of the one who hurt you, would you be free? It's doubtful. 'The merciful...will be shown mercy,' because they've experienced an even greater grace - God's - and forgiveness is the key to understanding it.

SoulFood: Zech 5-8; Luke 23:1-12; Ps 39; Pro 24:26-28

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CHANGE YOUR RESPONSE!

'The...Lord is my strength...He enables me to [go on].' Habakkuk 3:19 NIV

Are things in your life falling apart? Your finances look uncertain, the career you worked to build is floundering, your health is failing, the people you trusted have let you down. Nobody enjoys such times, but if you live long enough you'll go through them. And they have a way of making you re-examine your responses.
When the things the prophet Habakkuk counted on started to crumble, he was forced to discern between what's truly important and what's merely temporal. It's a re-evaluation we all have to make at some point. Here's what Habakkuk said: 'Though the fig tree does not bud...there are no grapes on the vines...the olive crop fails...the fields produce no food...there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord...The Sovereign Lord is my strength...He enables me to [go on]' (Habakkuk 3:17-19 NIV). Habakkuk realised he had no control over certain things. So he chose to control his response by rejoicing in the Lord regardless of what happened, and drawing from God the strength to 'go on'.
What can you learn from this man? That you have a choice! That you can decide to praise God regardless of the hand life deals you. God doesn't promise to take you out of your situation; He promises to bring you through it. So change your response and begin to praise God for His faithfulness, for your salvation, for your health, for your friends and family, and all the other blessings He's given you. If you look for reasons to rejoice, you'll find them!

SoulFood: 2 Tim 1-4; Luke 22:54-62; Ps 19; Pro 24:19-22

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LISTEN MORE, SAY LESS

'Be...[a ready listener].' James 1:19 AMP

Talking instead of listening - will get you into trouble. Two geese were preparing to fly south when a frog asked if he could go along. They questioned how he could do it. 'Easy,' he said. 'You guys hold a stick between your beaks and I'll hang on with my mouth.' Off they went as people looked up, admiring their teamwork. The trio was making great progress until somebody below shouted, 'Great idea! Whose was it?' That's when the frog opened his mouth and yelled, 'Miiiiiiiine!' Every time you open your mouth there are consequences! So learn to listen.
Plutarch said, 'The talkative listen to no one, for they are ever speaking. And the first evil that attends those who know not how to be silent is that they hear nothing.' Listening without having to air your knowledge or interject your opinion is a quality of character that proves you're mature. Television host Larry King once said, 'I remind myself every morning: nothing I say this day will teach me anything. So if I'm going to learn, I must do it by listening.' Jesus was a great listener, and as a result He attracted people like a magnet. Doubtless there were times He was tired and didn't feel like it - but He listened anyway. When the disciples fussed among themselves, and the Pharisees grumbled and caused trouble, Jesus focused on the important things. He listened, He spoke, and people followed.
Listening is often more effective than talking. In fact, there's a point in every conversation where you need to say less and listen more. In those moments you not only hear what others are saying, but what God is saying to you!

SoulFood: Micah 5-7; Luke 22:39-53; Ps 24; Pro 24:15-18

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HARD WORK

'Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men.' Ephesians 6:7 NIV

The story is told of a jockey who won more races than anybody else. When asked how he did it, he said before every race he went into the stables and read this poem to his horse: 'Roses are red, violets are blue; horses that lose are made into glue!'
Fortunately, God doesn't take that approach with us! But since He was the first employer in the universe, His Word has a lot to say about the responsibilities and rewards of hard work. 'Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. Obey them not only to win their favour when their eye is on you, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people... And masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Do not threaten them, since you know that He who is both their Master and yours is in Heaven, and there is no favouritism with Him' (Ephesians 6:5-9 NIV).
If you're the boss, Andrew Carnegie offers the following insights: (1) Organise. Always make sure you have the right person in the right slot. (2) Deputise. Don't micro-manage. Give a man or woman full authority to do the job you hired them to do, then give them the freedom to do it. (3) Supervise. You don't get what you expect; you get what you inspect. (4) Recognise. Good workers are hard to find. If you want to keep the ones you've got, recognise and reward their efforts.

SoulFood: Micah 1-4; Luke 22:24-38; Ps 78:65-72; Pro 24:11-14

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IT'S TIME TO TAKE ACTION (3)

'They go from strength to strength.' Psalms 84:7 NKJV

The three essential steps to success are: (1) Do something; (2) Do something today; (3) Do something every day.
One personal growth expert says, 'We read about people who sail around the world in a thirty-foot sailboat or overcome handicaps to win a gold medal at the Olympics, and we later find their stories are all about persistence.' If you want to know your future, look at your daily routine. You don't determine your future, you determine your habits and your habits determine your future. The secret to success lies in doing the right things day after day. If you do that, you will eventually succeed.
But a word of caution: important priorities have a way of slipping out of place while you're focused on less important things. Some sacrifices are simply not worth it: (1) In your attempt to build a reputation, don't lose your character. Reputation is what people think you are; character is what God and those closest to you know you are. (2) Don't sacrifice your family for your career. If you do you'll end up winning the admiration of those who don't matter, while losing the love of those who do. (3) Don't sacrifice your relationship with God for material things. God told His people, 'You may say to yourself, "My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me." But remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you the ability to produce wealth...If you ever forget the Lord...you will surely be destroyed' (Deuteronomy 8:17-18 NIV).

SoulFood: Neh 11-13; Luke 22:14-23; Ps 78:56-64; Pro 24:5-10

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IT'S TIME TO TAKE ACTION (2)

'His heart is established; he will not be afraid.' Psalms 112:8 NKJV

Cartoonist Jonny Hawkins drew a sketch of five board members sitting around a table at the annual church business meeting. One says, 'I see our church's biggest problems as communication and procrastination.' To which a fellow board member replies, 'I vote that we postpone this discussion till next year.' We smile, but we know it's the truth, don't we? In yesterday's daily devotion we discovered that the first step to success is: Do something!
Now let's discuss the second step: (2) Do something today. Runner, author and cardiologist George Sheehan puts it this way: 'There are those of us who are always about to live. We are waiting until things change, until there is more time, until we are less tired, until we get a promotion, until we settle down - until, until, until. It always seems as if there is some major event that must occur in our lives before we begin living.' If you want to achieve your God-given dream, you can't allow yourself to be one of those people! 'How can I avoid it?' you ask. By doing something that will move you forward today! You can't fulfil your dream all at once. You have to get there in steps, and the only time you can actually take a step is - today. German philosopher Johann Wolfgang von Goethe said, 'Each indecision brings its own delays, and days are lost lamenting over lost days... What you can do, or think you can do, begin it. For boldness has power and genius in it.'
So before the sun sets today, do something that will move you further toward your dream.

SoulFood: Neh 8-10; Luke 22:1-13; Ps 78:40-55; Pro 24:1-4

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FLAWED, BUT VALUABLE TO GOD

The Bible says, 'We have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us' (2 Corinthians 4:7 NIV). Some people don't read the Bible because they think it's all about saintly people whose lives have no bearing on reality. If you feel that way, read the book of Genesis. The dysfunctional families there will make yours seem normal! Cain was jealous of his brother Abel so he murdered him. Lamech introduced the world to polygamy. Noah, the most righteous man of his time, got drunk and cursed his children. When the men of Sodom wanted the two angels who visited Lot, in order to save himself Lot offered them sex with his daughters instead. And the Bible still refers to him as 'godly'! (2 Peter 2:7). Abraham slept with his wife's maid, got her pregnant and then banished her and her son to the wilderness because his wife Sarah complained about 'the other woman'. Jacob's firstborn son Reuben slept with one of his father's wives. The list goes on ad infinitum.

The question is: why would God include this cast of characters in the Bible? To make the point that we're all flawed in some way! We like to think we're normal, but by God's definition we fall far short. We all have habits we struggle with, past mistakes we can't undo, and inherent tendencies we can't overcome without His help. God said, 'My power shows up best in weak people' (2 Corinthians 12:9 TLB).

You say, 'But shouldn't I strive to be better?' Yes, but if God only used perfect people, He would never call anyone to work with Him.

Soulfood : Neh 1-4, Lk 21:12-24, Ps 78:17-31, Prov 23:26-28

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EXERCISE DISCRETION

We've all said the wrong thing, at the wrong time, to the wrong person, and ended up regretting it. A pastor was being honoured at a retirement dinner, and a local politician had been asked to make a speech. The politician was running late so the pastor decided to say a few words: 'When I came here twenty-five years ago I thought this was a terrible church. The first man I talked to said he'd stolen, lied, embezzled, had an affair and done drugs. I was appalled. Then I realised everybody isn't like that; this church is filled with good people.' Just then the politician arrived and stood up to speak: 'I'll never forget the day the pastor arrived and I had the privilege of being the first church member to talk to him.'

Loose lips sink ships! The Bible says: 'Discretion will preserve you.' Being discreet means having the ability to keep sensitive information private - including things you may have heard years ago! The writer of Proverbs said, 'He who is trustworthy conceals a matter' (Proverbs 11:13 NAS), and in the New Testament Paul cautions believers about discussing 'things not proper to mention' (1 Timothy 5:13 NAS). Divulging what you know about other people's problems and failures may make you feel good momentarily, but afterwards it has a predictably negative impact on the relationship. Plus, you get a reputation as a person who can't be trusted.

A wise man said, 'If your lips would keep from slips, five things observe with care: of whom you speak, to whom you speak, and how, and when, and where.' That's advice you would do well to pay attention to!

Soulfood : Josh 19:24-21:45, Lk 20:20-26, Ps 112, Prov 23:13-15

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ARE YOU GROWING SPIRITUALLY? (1)

'Every man shall bear his own burden.' Galatians 6:5 KJV

Here is the first of three Scriptures you can use to measure your spiritual growth: 'Every man shall bear his own burden.' The old saying, 'You're only young once', is true, but you can be immature for a lifetime. Paul writes: 'I couldn't talk to you as I would to spiritual people. I had to talk...as though you were infants in the Christian life. I had to feed you with milk, not with solid food, because you weren't ready for anything stronger. And you still aren't ready, for you are still controlled by your sinful nature' (1 Corinthians 3:1-3 NLT).
As a parent, you expect a higher level of responsibility and maturity from your teenager than you do from your toddler, right? And your heavenly Father requires the same of you. If you're still being defeated by the same habits and hang-ups you struggled with as a new believer, seek God's help. If you're to fulfil your God-given destiny you must grow into maturity. Instead of always having to be 'carried', you must get to the place where you can feed yourself spiritually, pray in faith over your own problems, and make Spirit-led decisions concerning your life.
God's growth plan for us is: 'We will no longer be immature like children. We won't be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like truth. Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ' (Ephesians 4:14-15 NLT). Spiritual growth must be your priority; otherwise it won't happen!

SoulFood: Josh 14-15; Luke 20:1-8; Ps 142; Pro 23:7-9

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START STRATEGISING

King David came up with a plan for building the temple, but his son Solomon actually built it. Question: Do you have a strategy for fulfilling your dream? Are you working on it? Or are you waiting for someone like a fairy godmother to come along and bail you out? The only thing worse than having no dream is having one without a plan to make it a reality. A strategy gives you energy, direction and focus.

A study was conducted on how infrequently people develop strategies for achieving their dreams. Here's what it revealed: 26% focus on specific, tangible targets for what they want in life; 19% set goals aligned with their purpose, mission, and passion; 15% write down their goals in specific measurable detail; 12% maintain a clearly defined goal for every major interest and life role; 12% identify related daily, weekly and long-term goals with deadlines. Only 7% take daily action toward the attainment of at least one goal. Here's a comment from the study's authors: 'Americans, once again, get an 'F' in this critical area of their performance. Simply put, they fail to consistently take the actions necessary to move their dreams and visions out of their hearts and heads and into their lives'. (The percentages may differ, but similar findings are probably true here too!)

Dreams don't come true because you 'wish upon a star'. They come true because you seek God for direction, put them down on paper with specific actions and timelines, become accountable to yourself - and if you're wise, to somebody else too. So the word for you today is, 'Stop stargazing and start strategising'.

Soulfood : Josh 11-13, Lk 19:41-48, Ps 111, Prov 23:4-6

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