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The Word For Today

It's Time To Move On

'You will forget your trouble...as water gone by.' Job 11:16 NCV

No matter how bad things look, always remember the words, 'it came to pass', not 'to stay'. Life doesn't stand still; there will always be challenges. Don't let them destroy your confidence; instead, use them as opportunities to grow. Once you've grown in the areas where God thinks you need additional maturity, the season you're in will pass. Nothing lasts forever. Although it's hard to believe at the time, 'You will forget your trouble and remember it...as water gone by.'

Forgetting doesn't mean losing a block of memory. It means reaching the point where the memory is free of pain, just as poison is pulled from a snake bite. As healing begins, the mind's continual replay of the event reduces and the memory becomes like 'water gone by'.

Kristin Armstrong says: 'When someone died in Old Testament times, those who were in mourning marked their faces with ashes. They allotted a specified season, after which they scrubbed up and moved on. How much healthier is that than our society? We put on make-up, or a happy or stoic face, and prohibit people from having compassion and respecting the limits of where we are. We're so busy hiding, we're buried under ashes on the inside. God will call us to arise and shine when our light has come (Isaiah 60:1). Ask Him to set your time limit, and be ready to wash your face.' Then move on.


SoulFood: Lev 5-7, Luke 1:26-38, Ps 10:12-18, Pro 1:17-19

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You Must Exercise Faith

God answers prayer in a manner directly related to our level of faith. 'According to your faith, let it be to you' (Matthew 9:29 NKJV). Yet sometimes in spite of our doubts and human reasoning, He comes through for us anyway. The believers praying for Peter's release from prison were amazed when he suddenly appeared on their doorstep (Acts 12). When Jesus returned to His home town and began to teach in the local synagogue, the people were amazed by His wisdom. Because He lacked formal education and credentials they wrote Him off as 'just a carpenter' (Mark 6:3 NLT). And the result? 'Because of their unbelief, He couldn't do any miracles among them except to place His hands on a few sick people and heal them.'

Question: How often does your unbelief tie God's hands? The truth is: (a) sometimes our faith is so weak that we don't expect Him to answer at all; (b) we fail to pray with confidence; (c) we don't prepare ourselves for what He wants to do for us. You can't ask God for forgiveness, then continue to live under condemnation over sins He has put under the blood. Or pray about your financial situation, then worry yourself sick about how He's going to meet your needs.

You can choose to live by your feelings, or in a way that reflects total trust in God. The Bible says, 'Without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He...is a rewarder' (Hebrews 11:6 NKJV). So you must exercise faith.

Soulfood :

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Get to Know God

God says: 'Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows Me' (Jeremiah 9:23-24 NIV). The truth is, if you don't know God it doesn't matter how much money you have in your bank account, or what diplomas hang on your wall, or what position you hold in the company.

Until you have a relationship with God, you haven't really begun to live! And part of getting to know Him is learning the truth about yourself. After witnessing the miracle-working power of Christ, Peter acknowledged, 'I am a sinful man' (Luke 5:8 NIV)! When the prophet Isaiah saw the Lord sitting upon His throne, he cried, 'Woe is me' (Isaiah 6:5 NKJV)! But God doesn't tell you the truth about yourself and then leave you that way. No, like a good doctor, He tells you you're sick so that you can get the proper treatment. And the proper treatment for sin is salvation through the blood of Jesus.

You will never know God until you are related to Him through Jesus Christ. So if you've never accepted Him as your Saviour, start this New Year by praying: 'Lord, I repent and turn from my sin. I place my life in Your hands, trusting You as my Lord and Saviour. By faith I receive the gift of eternal life. Starting today, I ask You to lead and guide me and fulfil Your will through me. In Jesus' name I pray: Amen.' Happy New Year!

Soulfood :

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God Has Something Better for You

When God knows something is good for you He says 'Yes', and when it's not He says 'No'. Why would God say 'no' to you? Maybe the timing is wrong, or He has something better in mind. Gratitude comes when you realise what could have happened, but didn't because God intervened. Stop trying to break loose from the loving grip of the One who holds you for your own protection. The Bible says: 'Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you your heart's desires. Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust Him, and He will help you... Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for Him to act' (Psalm 37:4-7 NLT).

Looking back on her life, Billy Graham's wife, Ruth, said, 'If the Lord had said "Yes" to all my prayer requests I'd have married the wrong man - several times.' What you're so upset about now, you may be thanking God for later. The more spiritually mature you become, the more you begin to see how wise your heavenly Father is, and the more you learn to trust Him. The Psalmist wrote, 'The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want' (Psalm 23:1 NKJV). What a picture: God leading you, God feeding you, God protecting you, God watching over you. Like a lifeguard at a beach, in order to save you, God will sometimes interrupt your life, risk embarrassing you in front of your friends, and maybe even bruise a rib or two. That's because He loves you too much to let you drown in the thing you thought was so good for you.

The main thing is: God has something better for you!

Soulfood : Job 40-42, Mt 3:1-12, Ps 116, Ecc 12:13-14

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Accepting Others

Sometimes people don't make it easy to accept them. They can be bad-tempered, selfish, critical, irritating, dismissive, aggressive and pompous. Sometimes you want to give them a piece of your mind; give them what they deserve - anything but acceptance. The command, 'accept one another', is inconvenient. And if Paul had stopped there we might dodge the directive by saying he obviously meant good, reasonable, acceptable people. Alas, he goes on, 'just as Christ accepted you'. Were you good, reasonable and acceptable? No, but He accepted you - flaws and all - and He still does! You say, 'Somebody has to straighten these people out and require them to act right!' You mean like Jesus required before He accepted you?

Roman Christians had difficulty accepting their less experienced brothers, and Paul corrected them: 'Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment... for God has accepted him' (Roman 14:1-3 NIV). Straightening people out isn't our department; accepting them is. God calls us to accept messed-up, unspiritual, carnal, obnoxious, doctrinally misled, 'just plain wrong' people. You don't have to approve of, like, or agree with them, but accepting them isn't optional. There's no elite, privileged, insider class. We occupy level ground because of two realities: our sin and the cross! Jews and Gentiles despised each other, even after salvation. Each wanted the other to change and become like them. But Paul took the axe to the root of that tree: 'For Christ Himself...reconciled both groups...by means of His death on the cross, and our hostility toward each other was put to death' (Ephesians 2:14-16 NLT).

Our job is to accept people - and let God adjust them.

Soulfood : Job 38-39, Mt 2:16-23, Ps 139:13-24, Ecc 11:7-10

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God Can Lift You Up (2)

In order to access power, you have to go to the outlet and plug in to the source of it. That's what happens when you pray in faith; you plug in to God's power. Picture a boat trapped in mud and stuck on the bottom. If you can get it to the dock, you can repair it and send it back out to sea. The trouble is you can't move it. So what's the answer? Bring in high-powered tugboats, connect steel cables to the sunken craft and wait for the tide to rise. Are you getting the idea? When you feel so low that you can't lift yourself up, tap into God's power and let Him lift you up to the place where He can repair, restore and re-commission you.

If you keep that picture in mind, you'll never think about prayer the same way again. Instead of seeing it as an obligation, you'll start seeing it as an awesome power that works for you in all circumstances of life. And you'll see reading the Bible in a different light as well. Paul says, 'So now, brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up' (Acts 20:32 NKJV). Your problems may be great, but the tide of God's Spirit is greater, and if you let it, it'll lift you out of your troubles. Will they suddenly vanish overnight? No, but you'll be above them looking down instead of underneath them looking up. At that point you'll be operating from a position of faith instead of a position of fear.

It can happen for you. God can lift you up: 'All things are possible to him who believes.'

Soulfood : Job 35-37, Mt 2:9-15, Ps 139:1-12, Ecc 11:4-6

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God Can Lift You Up (1)

The Bible says, 'Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.' It works this way: when you try to exalt yourself, God brings you down, but when you humble yourself in His sight, He lifts you up. He does it because you're His child and He loves you. You may feel like a nobody right now, but in God's eyes you're a somebody.

Who but God could reach behind a hedge, find a Rodney 'Gipsy' Smith and use him to win multitudes to Christ? Who but God could go to Old Comiskey Park in Chicago, find a baseball player called Billy Sunday and use him to impact the world? Who but God could look in a Galilean fishing boat and find Peter, call him, transform him and use him to build the church? God loves to do things like that. And since He 'does not show favouritism' (Romans 2:11 NIV) you've every right to believe He will do it for you too. The Bible says, 'the kind of person...always thinking about the cost...but his heart is not with you' (Proverbs 23:7 NIV). When that little voice inside you whispers, 'You've no talent and you'll never amount to anything in life,' that's not God. It's Satan - and the Bible says he's a liar (John 8:44)! That's why you need to tell him, 'I don't believe a word you're saying. You can't put me down because God is raising me up.'

God's plan for you was established long before you were born, and He hasn't changed His mind. So you need to discover His plan, then make sure your feelings, thoughts, actions and words line up with it.

Soulfood : Mt 6:5-15, Mt 26:36-46, Jas 5:13-18, 1 Th 5:16-18

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Accepting Yourself

Studies show that many of us don't like ourselves. A poll of college students confirmed that over 50 per cent suffered from low self-acceptance, with the majority citing their looks as the source of their unhappiness. 'My nose is too long. My eyes are too small. I'm too fat here - too thin there. I'm too short - too tall. I've got freckles.' And the beauty industry is more than willing to darken it, lighten it, accentuate it, lift it, tuck it and cover it up in an attempt to sell us a self-image we can accept. A little improvement might indeed be beneficial, but not as a basis for self-worth.

Here's how God sees the issue: 'Does the clay dispute with the one who shapes it, saying, "Stop, you're doing it wrong!" Does the pot exclaim, "How clumsy can you be"' (Isaiah 45:9 NLT)? You are God's personal creation. And He makes no mistakes, overlooks no details and leaves nothing unfinished. You need to accept yourself because He created, redeemed and accepts you. In an age of media overload, we're bombarded by images of perfect-looking people, with the inference that we need to look like them if we hope to amount to anything. But Paul says: 'We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise' (2 Corinthians 10:12 NIV)?

The God Who made you who you are has a plan for perfecting you. You're perfectly acceptable, if not yet acceptably perfect. You're 'predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son.' So you're a work in progress!

Soulfood : Job 32-34, Mt 2:1-8, Ps 97, Ecc 10:20 - 11:3

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Accepted by God!

There's no pain worse than rejection and no pleasure greater than acceptance, which helps explain the length some people go to in order to avoid rejection and earn acceptance. But the good news is, with God you're already accepted. J.B. Phillips translates Ephesians 1:6 like this: 'He...has made us welcome in the everlasting love He bears towards the Son.' And that's not limited to those who appear worthy because of their good deeds and a flawless moral record; it's for every believing child of God!

Cromwell once commissioned a self-portrait. The artist, courting Cromwell's favour, portrayed him without his obvious imperfections. Cromwell was livid. 'I said paint me, man - me, warts and all!' You're accepted by God, 'warts and all'.

But note: (1) God's acceptance doesn't equal His approval. He accepts sinners, but He can never accept our sin. Indeed, His free gift of acceptance is our greatest motivator to renounce our sin and live to please Him (Titus 2:11-12). (2) God's acceptance is unconditional. He doesn't say, 'You're accepted if you clean up your act.' In the words of Jeremiah, 'Can a leopard take away its spots? Neither can you start doing good, for you have always done evil' (Jeremiah 13:23 NLT). God's acceptance has to be unconditional, because it's impossible for us to merit it. (3) God's acceptance is because of Jesus. You're 'accepted in the Beloved'. The doomed Mephibosheth was accepted because of David's relationship to his beloved friend Jonathan (2 Samuel 9). And as long as God accepts Jesus, and you trust in Jesus, you're accepted as well.

Soulfood : Job 29-31, Lk 2:8-20, Ps 117, Ecc 10:15-19

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Seeking God (2)

Notice two more things about the wise men: (1) How God guided them. 'The star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was...And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshipped Him' (Matthew 2:9-11 NKJV). Never limit God. And don't lock Him into a personal experience you had in the past where He guided you in a certain way. If God can move a star, He can rearrange any circumstance in your favour. How did the wise men know about the birth of Christ? Maybe because of an alignment of the planets, or because they were students of Old Testament prophecy. We don't know. But one thing is certain: they were seeking God - and that's the point at which we must all begin.

(2) How God protected them. Herod wasn't happy about the news these men brought. Indeed, he was downright enraged. Think: if he was willing to kill every Jewish baby boy under the age of two in order to get at Jesus, what were the chances that these men would get out of town alive? Not great - until God stepped in! 'Then, being divinely warned in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed for their own country another way' (Matthew 2:12 NKJV). The devil is real, but you don't have to be afraid, because Jesus has already defeated him.

The main thing is: when your heart is set on seeking God, He will guide you, protect you and reward you.

Soulfood : Is 7:14, Mt 1:18-25, Mic 5:2-5, Is 9:6-7

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