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Lizzie 10:00-3:00pm

The Word For Today

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


Is There 'Junk' in Your Life?

'Lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares.' Hebrews 12:1 NKJV

Picture a big ship being worked on in dry dock. Beneath the waterline is all the 'junk' it has picked up during its voyages. Nobody can see it, but an experienced captain can feel it because his ship lacks the 'oomph' it once had. As a result, companies complain that it takes too long to get goods for their customers, and the ship's owners are unhappy because it hurts profit margin in a competitive market. The effort required to remove the 'junk' is back-breaking and time-consuming, but there's no other way to do it. Finally, after months of hard work the dry dock is flooded with water, the gates open, and the big vessel heads out to sea and back into the profit column.

Writing to the believers at Corinth, Paul says, 'Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves' (2 Corinthians 13:5 NKJV). Let's be honest; it's easier to examine your neighbour than to examine yourself, or to talk about what you once accomplished rather than what you're accomplishing now.

Are you slowing down? Are you losing spiritual momentum? Are you in the profit or loss column? You'll find the answer under the waterline where only God and you can see. Carelessness, a critical spirit, compromise, conformity to the world, and coldness of heart: that's the 'junk' that builds up and slows you down. These are the subtle sins you must deal with in order to be everything God called you to be and enjoy the blessings He has in store for you.

SoulFood: Rom 1:1 - 3:20, John 9:24-41, Ps 99, Pro 29:11-14


Recognising and Walking in God's Will (5)

'I seek not to please Myself but Him who sent Me.' John 5:30 NIV

When the light turns green, go! If you're in sales, it's crucial to know when to close the deal. Beginners often lose sales by 'overselling'. They present their product and demonstrate how it meets their client's needs. It's priced right and the customer is ready to purchase, but the novice keeps on 'selling' until the customer becomes suspicious of his pitch and he loses the sale. Knowing when to 'close' is essential. Accurate aim is important, but you must know when to pull the trigger. Trust the steps you've taken and move forward; otherwise you'll get stuck in a cycle of second-guessing.

At some point in your search for God's will, you must take that decisive and often intimidating next step. All your studying, praying, discussing, researching, checking and rechecking are fruitless if you don't act. All the faith in the world will fail you if you stop short of doing something (James 2:17-18). Here's a last-minute test: (1) Have you submitted your will to God? (2) Are you faithfully serving where He appointed you? (3) Are you willing to do what He reveals? (4) Have you received and believed the Spirit's promptings? (5) Are you trusting in His power to fulfil His directions? How did you do? Did you pass? Then it's time to move forward! Don't wait until you feel fearless. Take that first, fearful step. Act your way into boldness, and fear will lose its ability to control or paralyse you.

When the light turns green, God's resources are available for your assignment. Now's the time to move!

SoulFood: Isa 63-66, John 9:13-23, Ps 115, Pro 29:7-10


Recognising and Walking in God's Will (2)

'The mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace.' Romans 8:6 NIV

Choose a spiritual, not a carnal mindset. Carnality is at the core of our unregenerate nature, and it lives on in us even after we become Christians. Its gravitational pull is always away from God toward self-centred living. The Bible says, 'The carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can it be' (Romans 8:7 NKJV). The carnal mind makes us suspicious, sceptical, self-promoting, and spiritually blind to God's will. Being spiritually-minded means centring your choices around God's Word and the Spirit's prompting. And the good news is, 'You...are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit, if you have the Spirit of God living in you' (Romans 8:9 NLT).

Giving in to the flesh isn't inevitable. You get to decide whether the flesh or the Spirit guides you! Peter, in a spiritual mindset, received a revelation of Jesus' deity. 'You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.' Jesus replied 'This was not revealed to you by man [flesh], but by My Father' (Matthew 16:16-17 NIV). Shortly afterward, Jesus confided to His disciples the dreadful means of His death. And in a moment of well-meaning but misguided carnality, Peter refused to accept it. 'Never, Lord!' he said. 'This shall never happen to You' (Matthew 16:22 NIV)! A carnal mindset is an invitation to Satan. So Jesus told Peter, 'Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but...of men' (Matthew 16:23 NIV).

So keep your mind spiritually focused and ready to do God's will.

SoulFood: Isa 53-57, John 8:42-59, Ps 123, Pro 29:1-3

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