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The Word For Today

Get better acquainted with God

'Acquaint yourself with him, and be at peace: thereby good will come to you.' Job 22:21 NKJV

Here are two things that happen when you recognise God's greatness: (1) You're not tempted to analyse him and reduce him to manageable terms. (2) You're less likely to try and manipulate him and his will, or explain him and his ways. Think carefully about that for a moment! How many times does God have to tell us, 'So are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts' (Isaiah 55:9 NKJV) before we actually get it? How often must he explain that he's the shepherd and we're the sheep; that he's the vine and we're branches, before we kneel down in surrender and say, 'Have your own way, Lord'?

If Jesus, the Son of God, found it necessary to pray, 'Not as I will, but as you will,' wouldn't it be wise for us to pray those words too - every day? (See Matthew 26:39) How long has it been since you took time just to sit silently in his presence; to catch a glimpse of the one who is truly awesome and incomprehensible?

Job 22:21 (NKJV) says, 'Now acquaint yourself with him, and be at peace: thereby good will come to you.' Do you know God? If so, how well do you know him? Would you like to know him better? If your answer is yes, it won't just happen. You must put it at the top of your priority list and pursue it each day. When you do, you won't be disappointed because his Word guarantees you: 'Draw near to God and he will draw near to you' (James 4:8 NKJV).

Soulfood: Exo 7-9 Luke 12:1-12 Ps 58 Pro 6:12-15,


The Holy Spirit the plus factor

'The Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name.' John 14:26 NIV

Why would we describe the Holy Spirit as the plus factor? Three reasons: (1) The Holy Spirit determines the gifts and skills you receive. 'It is the one and only [Holy] Spirit who distributes all these gifts. He alone decides which gift each person should have' (1 Corinthians 12:11 NLT). So if you feel like a square peg in a round hole, ask the Holy Spirit to show you what your gifts are. Then ask him to open the door and give you favour with the right people. He'll do it.

(2) The Holy Spirit knows where you belong. The Bible says, 'So, being sent out by the Holy Ghost, they went down to Seleucia' (Acts 13:4 NKJV). Where you are matters. For example, if you're a whale you were born to swim in the ocean. If you're a bird you were born to fly in the air. During a famine God sent Elijah to the brook Cherith, saying, 'I have commanded the ravens to feed you there' (1 Kings 17:4 NKJV). If Elijah had decided he'd rather stay where he was, he'd have missed his miracle. You don't have to do anything to experience God's love, but you must know his voice and follow his direction to experience his blessing.

(3) The Holy Spirit can be offended. 'Do not grieve the Holy Spirit' (Ephesians 4:30 NIV). When a dove (which represents the Holy Spirit in Scripture) returns to its nest, it won't land if the nest is out of order. So ask God to make you more conscious of the presence of his precious Holy Spirit, and make your heart a place where he always feels at home.

Soulfood: Exo 20:4 Isa 44:6-20 Rom 1:21-25,


Be secure in who you are

'We have different gifts, according to the grace given us.' Romans 12:6 NIV

Insecure people often say yes, when in reality they'd like to say no. But people who succeed at being themselves don't let others control them. They see themselves as God sees them; therefore they're led by his Word instead of the fear of rejection. You can invest so much effort into trying to keep everybody happy that you end up losing yourself. Question: Do you feel like you can't be everything everybody wants you to be? Do you want to say no, but the fear of displeasing others makes you keep complying? And in the meantime the pressure is building inside you and you're thinking, 'I can't do this anymore'?

Don't get angry with those who keep making more and more demands on you. You are responsible for ordering your own life. The buck stops with you! That requires a clear sense of your own worth, your calling, your direction, your goals and your priorities. One Christian author writes: 'For years I lived under the pressure of everybody's expectations. I thought, "What if I let them down?" I thought they were pressuring me, when in reality it was my own fears and insecurities weighing me down. "But," you say, "don't you care what others think?" What others think isn't my problem, unless I make it my problem. Pleasing God and being what he wants is my first concern. If I try to be anybody else I'll forfeit his blessing, because God can't bless an imitation.'

The solution is to work on becoming secure in who you are in Christ, and everything else will begin to fall into place.

Soulfood: Exo 4-6 Luke 11:45-54 Ps 53 Pro 6:9-11,


End the conflict now

'Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all sins.' Proverbs 10:12 NKJV

When you hold on to resentment it feels like there's a war going on inside you. You're in a battle with yourself, as well as others. And the more you fight, the more ground you lose. Arguing just drains you of energy and leaves you more hurt and angry. You're in a no-win situation. You struggle with who's right and who's wrong. You spend so much time trying to out-do, out-shout and out-manoeuvre others that you lose your peace and joy.

End the conflict now! Refuse to live this way another day. Don't allow someone's actions to determine your reactions. 'Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour' (1 Peter 5:8 NIV). Don't become Satan's next meal. Let the love and peace of God fill your mind so much that it overflows to others - including those who have upset you. Stop and think: do you really want to be like the person who hurt you? What would Jesus do? You know! He'd turn the other cheek (see Matthew 5:39). 'But,' you ask, 'what about the wrong done to me?' What about it? It's not for you to impose judgment. There's only one qualified judge; let him handle it (see James 4:12).

Ask God to help you to release your anger, turn the other cheek and forgive the one who has done you wrong. Pray this simple prayer: 'Lord, I'm angry. Help me to let it go. I choose to be merciful. Thank you for giving me the grace to forgive the person who hurt me and to follow you. In Jesus' name. Amen.'

Soulfood: Exo 1-3 Luke 11:29-44 Ps 40:9-17 Pro 6:6-8,


How to help people

'What I do have I give you.' Acts 3:6 NIV

The Bible says, 'Peter said, "Look at us...Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk." Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man's feet and ankles became strong' (Acts 3:4-7 NIV).

Peter did three things you must do if you want to help people: (1) Get their attention. Peter told this incapacitated man, 'Look at us' (Acts 3:4 NIV). Hurting people are often so distracted by their pain, their past experiences and their future fears that, in order to get through to them you must first get their attention. Why? Because faith must be focused if it's to be effective. (2) Introduce them to the name that's greater than their problem. That name is 'Jesus', and it's greater than every sickness and situation. Rehab centres confirm that a relatively small percentage of people stay free from their addiction. That's the bad news. Now here's the good news: the name of Jesus is stronger than every addiction! 'At the name of Jesus every knee should bow' (Philippians 2:10 NKJV). So introduce those who are hurting to Jesus! (3) Give them a hand up. As Peter pulled the man up, 'immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength' (Acts 3:7 NKJV). Because he'd been in the same condition for thirty-eight years, he needed help to get up. And there are people around you who need help to get up too. They need someone to pull them out of their despair and get them to Jesus, and God can use you to be that someone.

Soulfood: Gen 50 Hag 1-2 Luke 11:14-28 Ps 40:1-8 Pro 6:1-5,


Seeing yourself as God sees you

'We...saw giants...we felt like grasshoppers.' Numbers 13:33 NLT

Ten of Israel's twelve spies returned from the Promised Land saying, 'We...saw giants...we felt like grasshoppers' (Numbers 13:33 NLT). The other two, Joshua and Caleb, saw the same giants but believed that with God's help they could be conquered: 'Let us go up at once and possess it...for we are well able' (Numbers 13:30 TLB). That's the language of a winner!

Understand this: God has a plan for your life, but you'll never fulfil it until you come into agreement with his Word. 'But I have so many problems. How could God use someone like me?' you ask. Paul said, 'I don't mean to say that I have already...reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me' (Philippians 3:12 NLT). When God uses imperfect people, it makes us realise that he alone is our source, our strength, our strategy and the secret to our success. The Bible says, 'The foolish plan of God is wiser than the wisest of human plans, and God's weakness is stronger than the greatest of human strength' (1 Corinthians 1:25 NLT). You have a God-ordained destiny, and no excuse for not fulfilling it. You can't use weakness as a defence, for God says, 'My strength is made perfect in weakness' (2 Corinthians 12:9 NKJV). You can't use your past as an excuse, for God says, 'Old things have passed away...all things have become new' (2 Corinthians 5:17 NKJV).

How God sees you isn't the problem; it's how you see yourself that keeps you from succeeding! So ask God to give you a new understanding of how he sees you - loved, righteous, blessed and favoured!

Soulfood: Gen 47-49 Luke 11:1-13 Ps 36 Pro 5:21-23,


How to be made 'whole'

'Jesus... said, "Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine?"' Luke 17:17 NKJV

Let's read how Jesus healed ten lepers, and see what we can learn: (1) They seized the moment. 'They lifted up their voices and said, "Jesus, Master, have mercy on us"' (Luke 17:13 NKJV)! Desperate people pray desperate prayers. Who cares about propriety and outward appearances when you're dying? These men realised that Jesus was 'passing through' (see Luke 17:11), and the worst thing that could happen was for him to pass them by. So they seized the moment and cried out to him. And you can do that too, because nobody can hear you like God (see Psalm 118:5).

(2) They had to walk it out. Their healing wasn't immediate; it was a step-by-step process. 'And so it was that as they went, they were cleansed' (Luke 17:14 NKJV). Often that's the way it works. And it's not just one step, but a commitment to plough through the obstacles and fears until you get to your miracle. But it's worth the effort, and you appreciate your deliverance more when you have to walk it out day by day depending on God.

(3) Only one out of the ten returned to give thanks. That's why Jesus asked, 'Where are the nine?' Were they too busy? Or too self-absorbed? Or just forgetful? Notice what Jesus said to the one who came back: 'Your faith has made you well' (Luke 17:19 NKJV). Physical healing is often accomplished through medicine, but you become 'whole' in body, mind, and soul by spending time worshipping the Lord and getting to know him.

Soulfood: Gen 44-46 Luke 10:38-42 Ps 33:13-22 Pro 5:15-20,


Visited by an angel

'Some...have...entertained angels without realising it.' Hebrews 13:2 NLT

One day Debby Gass was driving through Nevada when her sports car ran out of fuel. A young woman, alone in a small car, on a desert highway with no one around - it had all the elements that cause us to be afraid. Soon a big tractor-trailer pulled up and a six-foot-tall driver got out and asked, 'Can I help you, lady?' When she explained her predicament, he told her to lock her car and come with him to a service station a few miles up the interstate. What to do! The voice of God within Debby, a voice she'd learned to trust, whispered, 'It's okay. Go with him.' As they drove together the man told her he'd been in prison, met Christ, and his life had been radically changed. He showed her pictures of his wife and family. When they returned to her car he poured a can of fuel into her tank, said goodbye, and left. Then it happened! Just as Debby turned her car around to leave - on a highway with a clear view for miles in either direction - the truck was nowhere to be seen. Just like that, a forty-ton tractor-trailer and its driver disappeared!

The Bible says, 'Don't forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realising it' (Hebrews 13:2 NLT)! Debby is convinced God sent an angel to help her that day.

What do you think? Many of us have similar stories, yet we don't share them. Maybe it's fear of criticism. Or maybe it's not until later that we realise we had, in fact, been visited by an angel!

Soulfood: Gen 42-43 Luke 10:25-37 Ps 33:1-12 Pro 5:7-14,


Getting through your 'nighttime experiences'

'Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.' Psalm 30:5 NKJV

God is with us during our 'night-time experiences'. Think about it; you've been knocked down, but by God's grace you've got back up. No matter how dark the night, you've lived to see the morning. Times change and relationships change, but God is always the same. He's the one who brought you through every difficulty in the past, and he promises to be with you every day of the future.

Note the words 'joy comes'. That means you will rise again and rejoice again. Your drive to survive comes from a well that's already within you, and the Lord is the one who fills that well. Let it flow! You don't have to make it flow, just let it flow. Sixteenth-century English clergyman and historian Dr Thomas Fuller said, 'If it were not for hope, the heart would break.' No matter what you're going through right now, don't give up until you see the morning. It's at the end of every dark night and every broken promise - and it always comes. After every setback, betrayal and denial - morning will surely break. Let nothing keep you from believing that! God will dry your tears and you'll awake with a new song.

One of the greatest promises in Scripture is this: 'His compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is your faithfulness. The Lord is my portion...therefore I hope in him. The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him' (Lamentations 3:22-25 NKJV). Yesterday ended last night. It's a new day, so make up your mind to enjoy it!

Soulfood: Exo 20:3 Acts 14:1-18 1 Sam 5:1-5,


Radical commitment 2

'Take up your cross daily, and follow me.' Luke 9:23 NLT

Let's consider: (1) Commitment at work. In the past, employers valued their workers and workers valued their employers. But today's workplace has become increasingly adversarial, with workers resenting their bosses and doing the bare minimum, while bosses are often demanding and take their employees for granted. God's way calls for mutual commitment. 'Don't work hard only when your master is watching and then shirk when he isn't looking; work hard and with gladness all the time, as though working for Christ' (Ephesians 6:6-7 TLB). If you are an employer, take note who you represent - God. (2) Commitment at church. Many folks have a casual, cafeteria-style approach to church: they pick what they like and leave what they don't. Jesus said, 'I will build my church' (Matthew 16:18 NIV). And membership in it calls for a covenant relationship between believers: one in which we agree to encourage, nurture, protect, cherish, pray for each other and fulfil our mission together (see 1 Corinthians 12:12-31). (3) Commitment to Christ. Jesus made a radical commitment to us through his birth, life, suffering, crucifixion and death, and he asks us to commit radically to him. 'Then he said to the crowd, "If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow me"' (Luke 9:23 NLT). That means you no longer follow your own wishes or will, but follow the Lord, his wishes and his will.

That's radical commitment, and it's what God expects from you.

Soulfood: Gen 40-41 Luke 10:13-24 Ps 28 Pro 5:3-6,

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