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The Word For Today

Sitting or serving



'Who is greater, he who sits at the table, or he who serves?' Luke 22:27 NKJV

The world reveres wealth, power, talent and fame. And sometimes it regards service as demeaning. But Jesus used a different yardstick when he asked his disciples, 'Who is greater, he who sits at the table, or he who serves' (Luke 22:27 NKJV)? Then he answered the question by saying, 'I am among you as the one who serves.' Paul said that Jesus 'emptied himself by taking on the form of a servant' (Philippians 2:7 GWT).

To be a servant we must first be emptied of self-centredness, and that calls for dying to self. As Christians we like to call ourselves servants, but how do we react when we're treated like one? In the upper room the disciples all looked for a prominent place to sit, but Jesus looked for a place to serve! And as they waited to be served, he took a basin and washed their dirty, calloused feet. Can you imagine how they felt? The world bases importance on the number of people serving you, but God is much more interested in the number of people you are serving. He honours those who minister selflessly without complaining or seeking recognition. The truth is, it takes more character to serve others than to sit around waiting to be served.

So here's the question: are you doing more 'sitting' than 'serving' these days? If so, it's time to ask God for a selfless spirit and a servant's heart, and start looking for opportunities to serve wherever he places you. Why? Because Jesus lived to serve and his word to you is, 'A servant is not greater than his master' (John 15:20 NKJV).

Soulfood: Num 14-15 Mark 3:1-6 Ps 37:1-7 Pro 11:1-2,

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Your best days are ahead



'He heals the broken-hearted.' Psalm 147:3 NKJV

If you're trying to recover from a broken relationship, don't rush into another one. As you become healthy you begin to make healthy choices. Some hurts take a long time to heal, but don't be discouraged; 'He heals the broken-hearted and binds up their wounds' (Psalm 147:3 NKJV). Give God a chance. Take time to search his Word and find out how he feels about you, for that's the true basis of all self-worth. If God can love and accept you with full knowledge of your imperfections, then the message is: 'Lighten up on yourself!' You can love, and be loved again, but only with the same wholeness with which you love yourself (see Matthew 22:39)!

Next time make sure your choices are healthy ones, and not based solely on need, or the fear of being alone. And be careful; when you don't value yourself, you attract people who feel the same way about you, including those who seek to control you. You deserve better, so hold out for it. Remember, you train others how to treat you by how you treat yourself. As you become whole, you'll start to see how unwholesome some of your relationship choices have been. If some people walk away, 'so be it'. Sometimes you have to give up less so God can give you more.

God has new relationships in store for you, but he's waiting until your values, perceptions and self-worth line up with his Word. So take it step by step, one day at a time. And rejoice - your best days are ahead!

Soulfood: Exo 20:8-11 Exo 16:1-31 Mark 3:1-6 Luke 13:10-17,

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Take control of your mind



'Whatever things are true...noble...just...pure...lovely... of good report...meditate on these things.' Philippians 4:8 NKJV

The old saying goes: 'An idle mind is the devil's workshop.' The Bible says, 'Then Satan entered Judas...So he went his way and conferred with the chief priests and captains, how he might betray him to them' (Luke 22:3-4 NKJV). It seems Judas was constantly preoccupied with money, and Satan exploited it to his destruction. During the three years that Judas followed Jesus, he heard him repeatedly warn about the danger of loving money, but he failed to get the message.

Your mind never stops working and if you don't take control of it, it will take control of you. Paul writes: 'Whatsoever things are true...noble...just...pure...lovely...of good report...if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy - meditate on these things' (Philippians 4:8 NKJV). What you become is a direct result of what your mind dwells on. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, 'Life consists of what a man [or woman] is thinking about all day.' John Locke said, 'The actions of men [or women] are the greatest interpreters of their thoughts.' James Allen said, 'You are today where your thoughts have brought you. You will be tomorrow where your thoughts take you.'

This is why the apostle Peter warns us to 'prepare your minds for action and exercise self-control' (1 Peter 1:13 NLT). It's why the psalmist wrote: 'Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me...Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my strength and my redeemer' (Psalm 19:13-14 NKJV). Note the words 'meditation of my heart'. The word for you today is: take control of your mind.

Soulfood: Num 11-13 Mark 2:18-28 Ps 2 Pro 10:30-32,

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Spiritled thinking



'We have the mind of Christ.' 1 Corinthians 2:16 NKJV

The Bible says: 'Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love him. But God has revealed them to us through his Spirit' (1 Corinthians 2:9-10 NKJV). Do you 'love' God? If so, he will reveal his thoughts to you. What an advantage! Paul writes, 'These things we also speak, not in words which man's wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual' (1 Corinthians 2:13 NKJV).

Don't make the mistake of limiting 'spiritual things' to prayer, Bible reading and church activities. This promise applies to every area of your life including your family, your finances, your career, etc. The Bible says, 'We have the mind of Christ' (1 Corinthians 2:16 NKJV). That means when you face a problem, you can pray, 'Lord, help me to see this the way you do.' When you need to make an important decision you can pray, 'Lord, reveal to me what I don't know and teach me what I need to learn so that my decision is in line with your will and what's best for everyone concerned.' Instead of confining God to church and so-called 'spiritual activities', ask for his help in every area of your life.

Psalm 46:10 says, 'Be still and know that I am God' (NKJV). That means you must be still long enough for him to put his thoughts into your mind. When it happens - and it will - you'll never want to think any other way.

Soulfood: Num 8-10 Mark 2:1-17 Ps 35 Pro 10:28-29,

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God is at work in your life



'He knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.' Job 23:10 NIV

It's a mistake to compare yourself to other people, because God has a plan for you that's unique and personal. His methods may sometimes seem strange and his training laborious, but his results are always worth waiting for. Without scams and games he accomplishes his purpose in our lives, and all he asks us to do is trust and obey. It's that simple.

In the midst of unspeakable heartache and trouble, notice three things Job said about God: (1) 'He knows the way that I take.' The path you are on today is the one God chose for you, and he never makes mistakes. And even when you don't know where he is, God knows where you are because he never takes his eye off of you. (2) 'When he has tested me.' The word 'when' means God has established a set time for testing you, and a set time for bringing you out of the test. Aren't you glad he's the one who's testing you, and not people? Would you trust anyone other than him to take you through this learning curve? Of course you wouldn't. (3) 'I will come forth as gold.' When God gets through refining you and removing the impurities from your life, you will shine like pure and precious gold. The process always precedes the promise. When the dross has been discarded and the fear removed, some people may wonder how such a vessel could have been made from such poor material. They may even ask if you're the same person. When they do, just say 'No!'

Soulfood: Num 7 Mark 1:21-45 Ps 94:12-23 Pro 10:27,

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Take time to reflect 3



'Oh...that they would consider their latter end!' Deuteronomy 32:29 NKJV

If your goal is personal growth, then you must make time for reflective thinking. So: (1) Remove yourself from distractions. Reflection and distraction don't mix. Reflection requires solitude. It's not the kind of thing you can do well near a television, while the phone's ringing, or with children in the same room. You say, 'But I don't have time to spend in reflection.' We all have 168 hours each week. If you spend just one of them reflecting, you'll be amazed how your life will be enriched.

(2) Regularly review your calendar or diary. Most people use their calendar as a planning tool, which it is. But few use it as a reflective thinking tool. What could be better, however, for helping you to review where you have been and what you have done - except maybe a diary? Those two things remind you of how you've spent your time. They show whether your activities match your priorities. They help you to see whether you are making progress. They also offer you an opportunity to recall activities you might not have had time to reflect on previously. Some of your most valuable thoughts may have been lost because you didn't give yourself the reflection time you needed.

(3) Ask the right questions. The Bible says, 'Oh, that they were wise...that they would consider their latter end' (Deuteronomy 32:29 NKJV). Ask yourself, 'Am I growing personally and in my walk with God? Am I strengthening my relationships with the people who matter in my life? Am I using the gifts and sharpening the skills God has given me?' Reflecting on such questions can change your life for the better.

Soulfood: Num 4:34-49 Num 5 Num 6:1-27 Mark 1:14-20 Ps 94:1-11 Pro 10:24-26,

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Take time to reflect 2



'In the day of adversity consider.' Ecclesiastes 7:14 NKJV

The digital age has great advantages. Through emails, texts and tweets we can communicate quickly. The disadvantage is that it doesn't cultivate in us a desire to think about things deeply. You can't microwave personal growth; it requires a slow cooker. The Bible says, 'In the day of prosperity be joyful, but in the day of adversity consider: surely God has appointed the one as well as the other' (Ecclesiastes 7:14 NKJV).

By taking time to reflect: (1) You gain confidence in decision making. Ever made a snap decision and later wondered if you did the right thing? Reflective thinking can help to defuse that doubt. It also gives you confidence for the next decision. Once you've reflected on an issue, you don't have to repeat every step of the thinking process when you're faced with it again. You've got mental road markers from having been there before. (2) You clarify the big picture. Reflective thinking encourages us to go back and spend time pondering what we have done and what we have seen. To keep from making the same mistake over and over, you must stop and examine the process that led to it. In other words, reflection helps you to see the big picture. (3) You take a good experience and make it a valuable experience. They say we learn by experience. No, we learn from evaluated experience. An experience becomes valuable when it informs and equips us. That's why daily prayer and Bible reading are so essential. You'll understand things in God's presence that you won't understand any other way.

Soulfood: Matt 27:62-66 Mark 1:9-13 Ps 6 Deut 21:22-23,

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Take time to reflect 1



'In it he saw...honey.' Judges 14:8 NIV

One day Samson encountered a lion and slew it. The Bible says, 'Some time later, when he went back...he turned aside to look at the lion's carcass and in it he saw...some honey. He scooped out the honey with his hands and ate as he went along' (Judges 14:8-9 NIV). There's a lesson here for you. When you take time to stop and reflect, you discover 'honey' in your experiences that you can eat and grow stronger and wiser. When you reflect, you are able to put things into perspective; you gain new appreciation for things you didn't notice before.

Few of us have clear perspective in the heat of the moment. Most of us who have survived a traumatic experience usually avoid similar situations at all costs. This can leave us with unresolved issues that leave us tied up in knots. Reflective thinking enables you to distance yourself from the intense emotions of an experience and see it with fresh eyes. Indeed, this process is one of the first steps to getting rid of our emotional baggage. President George Washington observed, 'We ought not to look back unless it is to derive useful lessons from past errors, and for the purpose of profiting by dearly bought experience.'

Each of us has been shaped by the experiences, good and bad, that we've had in life. What we refuse to deal with deals with us, and often in harmful ways. We 'act out' of our unresolved issues. But when we bring them into the light and ask God for the grace to face them squarely, they lose their power over us.

Soulfood: Num 3:1-51 Num 4:1-33 Mark 1:1-8 Ps 144:9-15 Pro 10:22-23,

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The unique resurrection of Jesus 2



'Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection, and the life."' John 11:25 NKJV

Why is Christ's resurrection unique? (1) He's the only one who didn't die again. In Scripture all others who rose from the dead, died again. Jesus was the glorious exception. Consequently, 'He was made a priest...through the power of a life which has no end' (Hebrews 7:16 GNT). His testimony stands: 'I was dead...I am alive for ever' (Revelation 1:18 NIV).

(2) He alone ascended into Heaven to represent us before God. Other priests died and ceased to serve. But Jesus was 'declared...a priest forever' (Hebrews 7:17 NIV). And he's not sitting around awaiting the second coming; he's representing us before God. 'He entered Heaven itself...to appear for us in God's presence' (Hebrews 9:24 NIV). That means no accusation against us can stand. 'Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died...is at the right hand of God...interceding for us' (Romans 8:34 NIV).

(3) He has the power to resurrect you when you die. Jesus comforted his disciples with this awesome promise: 'Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live' (John 14:19 NIV). And that promise applies to you too! 'For the Lord himself will come down from Heaven...the dead in Christ will rise first...we who are still alive...will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever' (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 NIV). What a day that will be!

Soulfood: 1 Cor 15 Luke 24:1-53,

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The unique resurrection of Jesus 1



'I died, but look - I am alive forever and ever!' Revelation 1:18 NLT

The fact that Jesus arose from the dead isn't what makes him unique. The Bible records seven other resurrections. Jesus was number eight (the biblical number for new beginnings).

In two amazing ways his resurrection was unlike any other. Let's look at them: (1) His was the only resurrection foretold in advance. David prophesied of Jesus: 'For you will not leave my soul among the dead or allow your holy one to rot in the grave' (Psalm 16:10 NLT). And Isaiah foretold life for him beyond his crucifixion. 'When you make his soul an offering for sin...He shall prolong his days' (Isaiah 53:10 NKJV). Jesus actually forecast his resurrection from death. 'Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem...be killed and on the third day be raised to life' (Matthew 16:21 NIV).

(2) Only Jesus raised himself from the dead! His enemies deemed him a helpless victim of their determined efforts to eradicate him and his mission. But they were wrong on all counts! He said, 'No one can take my life from me. I sacrifice it voluntarily. For I have the authority to lay it down when I want to and also to take it up again' (John 10:18 NLT). All of Rome's might and the hatred of his Jewish persecutors couldn't eliminate Jesus or nullify his cause. He needed no help. In his death and in his resurrection, he was always at the helm. 'Destroy this temple [my body], and in three days I will raise it up' (John 2:19 NLT). And he did! He's alive forevermore!

Soulfood: Num 1-2 Luke 23:50-56 Ps 144:1-8 Pro 10:19-21,

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