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Lizzie 10:00-3:00pm

The Word For Today

The real story of Christmas

'All who heard it were amazed.' Luke 2:18 NIV

To fully appreciate the story of Christmas, you must look at three things: (1) Who God called to tell the story. Shepherds! In first-century Palestine they were considered to be the lowest in society. Yet God picked them to tell the greatest story. Perhaps that's because some of us would have debated the story or even denied it. Not them: 'They spread the word' (Luke 2:17 NIV). This answers the question, 'Could God use someone like me?' Yes, you don't need to be a scholar. Just tell people what you've seen and heard, and about the change Jesus has made in your life.(2) The response of those who heard the story. 'All who heard it were amazed' (Luke 2:18 NIV). The grace of God is amazing: 'God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation' (2 Corinthians 5:19 NIV). The gospel is not good advice, it's good news! Your sin debt is cancelled; your books are reconciled, and now you can have a personal relationship with God by putting your trust in Christ. It doesn't get any better!(3) Mary's part in the story. 'Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart' (Luke 2:19 NIV). She wanted to understand what God was doing, and how it related to her. And you need to do that too. God doesn't change, but he moves, and you have to stay in step with him. There were many things Mary didn't understand about God's will, but she accepted and obeyed it. And that's what God is asking of you too.

Soulfood: Ps 103:8-18 John 3:16-18 Matt 18:21-35,


Becoming Christlike

'Christ lives in me.' Galatians 2:20 NKJV

If you could change through self-effort, you wouldn't need the Lord. Plus, any attempt on your part to earn or merit his grace disqualifies you. Why is that? Because you're striving to be the source of your own salvation, or your own significance, or your own strength. If you want to know what grieves God - that will do it every time!'So how can I become more Christlike?' you ask. Die to 'self' and allow Christ to live through you! Take a moment to ponder this Scripture: 'People who are ruled by their desires think only of themselves. Everyone who is ruled by the Holy Spirit thinks about spiritual things... if our minds are ruled by the Spirit, we will have life and peace. Our desires fight against God, because they do not and cannot obey God's laws. If we follow our desires, we cannot please God. You are no longer ruled by your desires, but by God's Spirit, who lives in you... Christ lives in you. So you are alive because God has accepted you, even though your bodies must die because of your sins. Yet God raised Jesus to life! God's Spirit now lives in you, and he will raise you to life by his Spirit' (Romans 8:5-11 CEV).How can you tell that Christ is alive and working in you? When others look at you they will see him. When they listen to you they will hear him. And when they walk with you they will be following him. 'How long does it take to become Christlike?' you ask. It happens a day at a time, over a lifetime.

Soulfood: Job 21-23 Luke 1:67-80 Ps 117,


God has given you everything you need

'My God turns my darkness into light.' Psalm 18:28 NIV

God not only redeemed you and called you to serve him, he also equipped you. Everything you need to fulfil your assignment is in your life right now, just waiting for you to recognise it. Anything that's unrecognised becomes unappreciated; and anything that's unappreciated becomes unrewarded; and anything that's unrewarded eventually leaves your life.During the days of the California gold rush, a young couple became obsessed with the quest for gold. They sold their farm and everything they owned and went out West to search for it. Failure after failure, they eventually ended up bankrupt and moved to Europe. Many years later they returned to America and decided to visit their old farm. But when they arrived they found it surrounded by security guards and a high wire fence. When they inquired, they discovered that under their old farm was the second-largest gold reserve in America - and it was now owned by the government.God has placed resources and people all around you that you're not seeing yet. Some of the biggest gifts in your life have yet to be recognised because they're in seed form. And your failure to recognise them could cost you dearly. Paul wrote to the Ephesian believers saying, 'I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened' (Ephesians 1:18 NIV). And David prayed, 'Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law' (Psalm 119:18 NIV). Sometimes you can't see the forest for the trees. There's treasure in you and around you that you won't see until God reveals it to you. And he will, if you seek him.

Soulfood: Job 18-20 Luke 1:57-66 Ps 113 Ecc 10:5-9,


Personalise God's promises

'When I am afraid, I will put my trust in you.' Psalm 56:3 NLT

Underlying your deepest fears - are negative thoughts. They may be expressed publicly or entertained privately. Either way, you must arrest them and change them. If you don't, they will capture and control you.One of the most powerful weapons God has given you for conquering fear and worry is the ability to personalise his promises. Here are just a few: 'Don't be afraid...you are mine. When you go through deep waters and great trouble, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown! When you walk through the fire of oppression...the flames will not consume you. For I am the Lord your God' (Isaiah 43:1-3 TLB). And what should your response to God's promise be? 'I will be strong, vigorous, and very courageous. I will not be afraid, neither will I be dismayed, for the Lord my God is with me wherever I go' (see Joshua 1:9). 'The Lord's eye is upon me because I fear him [revere and worship him with awe] and because I trust in his mercy and loving kindness' (see Psalm 33:18 AMP). 'When I am tempted to have a fearful and hasty heart, I will say to myself, be strong, fear not! My God will come...and save me' (see Isaiah 35:4 AMP). 'The Lord is my light and my salvation...whom shall I fear?...when troubles come. He will hide me. He will set me on a high rock out of reach of all my enemies. Then I will...sing his praises with much joy' (Psalm 27:1, 5-6 TLB).Do you want to overcome your fears and worries? Personalise God's promises!

Soulfood: Job 15-17 Luke 1:39-56 Ps 128 Ecc 10:1-4,


You can break that stronghold

'The weapons of our warfare are...mighty in God for pulling down strongholds.' 2 Corinthians 10:4 NKJV

When a pattern of evil passes from one generation to the next, the Bible refers to it as a 'stronghold'. David had a problem with lust, which resulted in an affair with another man's wife. That same spirit passed on to David's son Amnon, who raped his sister (see 2 Samuel 13). When David heard about it he was angry, but he did nothing. What could he say? Abraham lied to a heathen king, saying his wife was his sister in order to save his own neck (see Genesis 20). Amazingly, his son Isaac did exactly the same a few chapters later (see Genesis 26).Experts report that children of alcoholic parents are more likely to become alcoholic, and a high percentage of child abusers were themselves abused children. Sometimes you can actually see the pattern coming at you from both sides of the family. But there's good news. God heals dysfunctional families - and the healing can begin with you! Just because your parents were emotionally frozen doesn't mean your children have to grow up without affection.God can teach you how to break that stronghold in your family so you can give your kids what you yourself never received. Gideon tore down the altar his idol-worshipping father built (see Judges 6:25) and by God's grace you can do the same in your family! Pray over your children. Declare that the past will not invade the present; that God's blessings will flow through you to them. Go ahead, do it and see what happens.

Soulfood: Job 11-14 Luke 1:26-38 Ps 47 Ecc 9:16-18,


Tips for travellers 2

'In [Christ] also we have received an inheritance.' Ephesians 1:11 AMP

God's will isn't simply for you to survive, but to thrive (see Psalm 35:27 NKJV). Satan will attack you, but he can't separate you from God's love or keep him from blessing you. Satan will lie and say he can, but he can't. Imagine his frustration over that!When you know God has promised you something, it gives you strength to overcome things others can't. All the water in the sea won't drown you as long as it doesn't get into the boat. It's what you allow in that hurts you! So guard your heart. Keep your vision alive and it will keep you alive. If you want the prize, be willing to pay the price. The reason many of us fail is because we trade what we want most for what we want now. No; the greater the challenge, the greater the reward that awaits you beyond it. Paul the apostle had his eye on the prize when he wrote, 'Stand firm and don't be shaken. Always keep busy working for the Lord. You know that everything you do for him is worthwhile' (1 Corinthians 15:58 CEV).The only thing life owes you is an opportunity to grow. Moses walked away from a palace, Elisha walked away from a farm, and Luke walked away from a medical practice in order to follow God. It's what you're willing to walk away from that determines what God can entrust you with. So keep turning the pages, keep pushing ahead, and tighten your grip on your God-given purpose. What you don't have now can be yours in the future if you keep growing, stay focused and remain faithful.

Soulfood: Job 8-10 Luke 1:11-25 Ps 12 Ecc 9:10-12,


Tips for travellers 1

'It is God who works in you...to act according to his good purpose.' Philippians 2:13 NIV

As you travel through life on your spiritual journey, here are two important tips to remember:(1) With God no experience is ever wasted. That includes the painful and difficult ones. We may impress people with our strengths, but we often connect with them best through our struggles. If you want to motivate someone, don't just tell them about all you've accomplished, talk about the tests and trials you went through to get there. If you don't, you may seem beyond their reach. Indeed, some of the experiences you're reluctant to share may be the very things that will cause them to think, 'If God could do that for you, then he can do it for me too.' In other words, you'll give them hope. (2) To succeed in God's Kingdom, you must serve others. Look at Joseph. He used his talent, fame and fortune to feed the world during a time of famine; his reward came afterwards. When your goal is to meet other people's needs you'll always be rewarded, and you'll always have a future. Jesus didn't tell Peter to go out and gather a crowd together just so he'd have someone to preach to. No. He simply said, 'Feed my sheep' (John 21:16 KJV). Pastor, if too many church pews are empty on Sunday morning, do more than blame the people. Ask yourself, 'How's the food? How's the service?' As long as there's a spiritual hunger that nobody else is satisfying, you have a future and a ministry.As you consider these two tips for travellers, pray and ask God to make them part of your life.

Soulfood: Job 5-7 Luke 1:1-10 Ps 67 Ecc 7:19-22,


Develop a grateful heart

'My mouth shall show forth your praise.' Psalm 51:15 NKJV

A grateful heart sees each day as a gift. It's like a magnet sweeping over your day, collecting reasons to be grateful. It thanks God for the miracle of muscles that enable your eyes to read these words and your brain to process them. It thanks God for lungs that can inhale and exhale eleven thousand litres of air every day. It thanks God for a heart that will beat about three billion times in your lifetime, and for a brain that's a veritable electric generator and supercomputer of power. It thanks God for jam on your toast and milk on your cereal. For the blanket that warms you and the joke that delights you. For the thousands of planes that didn't crash today. For the men who didn't cheat on their wives, and the wives who didn't turn on their men. And the kids who in spite of unspeakable pressure to dishonour their parents, decided not to do so.Rejoicing over the good stuff is what gets you through the hard stuff. 'A cheerful heart is good medicine' (Proverbs 17:22 NLT). Gratitude is an attitude you choose, not a reaction to your circumstances. 'On the night when he was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took some bread and gave thanks to God...he broke it' (1 Corinthians 11:23-24 NLT). Note, the words betrayed and thanks are in the same sentence, and in the same heart.On the night Jesus was betrayed, he gave thanks. And you can do that when you know God is in control, directing your steps, and working everything out for your good.

Soulfood: Lev 27:30-33 Num 31:48-54 1 Cor 16:1-3,


Soulfood: 2 Th 1-3 Mt 4:1-11 Ps 90:7-17 Pro 1:5-9,


Change your attitude

'Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!' Philippians 4:4 NKJV

Cheryl continually complained that she didn't make enough money, couldn't afford the things she wanted, and therefore wasn't going to amount to anything. Her counsellor said, 'You're wasting your energy complaining, instead of using it to get ahead.' Cheryl countered, 'You don't understand. The job is the problem, not me.' The counsellor said, 'Your low-paying job may be a problem and your boss may demand too much, but when you're continually upset you're causing yourself more harm than either your boss or your job.' Cheryl asked, 'What can I do?' The counsellor said, 'You can't control your boss or the job, but you can control how you feel about them. Change your attitude.' Cheryl took her advice. When she stopped whining about her life, people noticed. She got a promotion, and with her new job status she was more marketable. Within several months she was transferred to a position with higher pay and a more supportive boss.Good things happen for people with a good attitude. And your attitude is something you can choose, regardless of circumstances. Paul wrote, 'Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice' (Philippians 4:4 NKJV)! Where was Paul? In prison! Who was Paul writing to? People outside the prison! Why did he repeat himself and say, 'Again I will say, rejoice?' Because we forget and lapse back into negativity so quickly.True joy is an inside job that's not subject to people or outside situations. Jesus said, 'These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full' (John 15:11 NKJV).

Soulfood: Est 5-10 Jn 21:1-25 Ps 18:1-29 Pro 26:24-27,

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