Mornings
Gary 6:00-12:00pm

The Word For Today

God Is at Work Within You (2)

The Bible says: '...It is God Who is all the while effectually at work in you [energising and creating in you the power and desire], both to will and to work for His good pleasure...satisfaction and delight' (Philippians 2:13 AMP).

We have a tendency to allow a hundred-and-one different things to crowd God out of our lives, so He creates within us the desire to do His will. When you desire to read your Bible, it's God urging you to do it. When you desire to pray, it's God moving you to do it. When you desire to give, it's God motivating you to do it. Jesus said: '...I am the Vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in Me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from Me you can do nothing...If you remain in Me and My words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted' (John 15:5,7 NLT)! Note the word 'abide'; it means to 'have one's abode; dwell; reside'. So as you live in close relationship with Christ, the desires conceived within you are desires He can fulfil.

When you sense that God has put certain desires in your heart, it's important to pray and ask for those things. If you're not sure whether or not they're from Him, pray: 'Lord, I believe You've put this desire in my heart so I am asking You to fulfil it. But I can be happy without it, because I am happy with You. Now it's up to You to do whatever You want.' Have you reached that place in your relationship with God yet?

Soulfood : 1 Ki 14-15, Luke 12:13-21, Ps 61, Prov 6:16-19

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God Is at Work Within You (1)

When Paul wrote to the Philippian believers, he told them God was at work in each of them. What an awesome truth! He wrote: 'I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding. For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ's return. May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation - the righteous character produced in your life by Jesus Christ - for this will bring much glory and praise to God' (Philippians 1:9-11 NLT).

You say, 'That's a tall order!' Yes, and you'll never accomplish it through willpower, good intentions or self-effort. You must seek God for direction, submit to Him in all things and draw strength from Him. Trying to do for yourself what only God can do is like trying to pick yourself up by your own bootstraps; it doesn't work. You must entrust to God the job of equipping you for the work He's called you to do. Yes, you need to do your part, but don't try to do God's part! '...We all...beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory [degree by degree]...by the Spirit of the Lord' (2 Corinthians 3:18 NKJV).

What is it that changes us? 'The Spirit of the Lord.' He takes the pressure off and relieves us of the stress and anxiety we so often feel when we try to 'change' ourselves.

Soulfood : 1 Ki 12-13, Luke 12:1-12, Ps 58, Prov 6:12-15

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Roll with the Punches!

There's a spiritual disease you need to be inoculated against - hardening of the attitudes. It's a disease that makes you think your opinion is the only right one. And as long as life cooperates with you, you're fine, but when it doesn't, you charge ahead from one brick wall into another, bruised and bloodied, until you quit in frustration. Then you start blaming others, life, the devil, or God. Your faith may be well-intentioned, but faith without flexibility is just setting yourself up for failure!

Experienced kayakers know how to perform the 'Eskimo roll'. It's a technique that enables you to roll 360 degrees under the water and up again without drowning. It's the strategy Paul used to overcome the challenges he faced in life. '...I have learned the secret of living in every situation...' (Philippians 4:12 NLT). He didn't acquire it naturally, or learn it at a 'flexibility seminar' or get it from an expert. He learned it in the rough-and-tumble school of patience, persistence, humility, self-denial, dedication and confidence in God. As a result he rolled with the punches of persecution, hunger, poverty, prison and execution, never abdicating, while demonstrating how to 'rejoice in the Lord always...' (Philippians 4:4 NIV).

When faith collides with reality, it flexes and holds on until victory emerges. It's like a tree that bends in the storm, then bounces back. 'I have learned...I am ready for anything through...the One who lives within me' (Philippians 4:12-14 PHPS)! So learn to roll with the punches!

Soulfood : 1 Ki 10-11, Luke 11:45-54, Ps 53, Prov 6:9-11

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Do It Now!

The Bible says: 'Do not withhold good from those who deserve it when it's in your power to help them. If you can help your neighbour now, don't say, "Come back tomorrow, and then I'll help you"' (Proverbs 3:27-28 NLT). Procrastination is deceptive. You don't think of it as disobedience because you intend to obey God. It's just that you're going to do it...when you have more money, when you're not so busy, when the holidays are over, when the kids go back to school, etc.

Before God gives you an increase, He observes you with what you've already got. For example, there's no point asking Him to give you more money so you can bless others, if you're not blessing people with what He's already given you. You say, 'But I don't have much at the moment.' It's not just about money. Are you capable of speaking a word of encouragement, or giving an hour of your time, or going out of your way to help someone in need? When God tells you to do something, He wants you to do it on His schedule, not yours. 'To another he said, "Follow Me." But he said, "Lord, let me first go and bury my father." And Jesus said to him, "Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the Kingdom of God." Yet another said, "I will follow You, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home." Jesus said to him, "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the Kingdom of God"' (Luke 9:59-62 ESV).

The result of delayed obedience is lost opportunity. So do it now!

Soulfood : I Ki 6-7, Luke 11:14-28, Ps 40:1-8, Prov 6:1-5

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Making a Difference

The story of Noah teaches us: (1) You can make a difference in your family. 'By faith Noah...built an ark to save his family.' Noah's decision didn't just benefit him personally, it saved his entire household. It took many years, but he did it. And by God's grace you can win your family to Christ too.

(2) You can make a difference for future generations. Noah not only survived the flood, but God used him to start the world all over again. What a calling! What an impact! What a legacy! 'The eyes of the Lord search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him...' (2 Chronicles 16:9 NLT). God is looking for people who will partner with Him in fulfilling His purposes on earth. But to qualify: (a) You must be willing to stand out from the crowd. Noah believed in his vision when nobody else did. Difference-makers are different. Don't let that bother you. (b) You must not be afraid to do something for the first time. Don't let the words, 'It's never been done before' keep you from obeying God. People probably told Noah, 'It's not raining. Who needs a boat?' But they were wrong and Noah was right. (c) You must endure the rain in order to see the rainbow. So take your stand and believe God, for what He's promised He will perform (Jeremiah 1:12).

(3) You can make a difference at any age. Stop putting yourself down because of your age. Noah was 500 years old when he started preaching and building the ark. It's not over til God says it's over!

Soulfood : Ps 23, Jn 10:7-18

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Thriving in the Combat Zone (3)

The third attack: the attack from Satan. We either trivialise or exaggerate Satan's power and both spell trouble! The first makes you feel vulnerable; the second creates in you an unfounded fear.

Understanding Satan's ways - and your weapons - equips you to handle his attacks and resist him. How can you do that? (1) By understanding that God effectively destroyed Satan's power through Christ's victory at the cross. 'He stripped the rulers and authorities of their power and made a public spectacle of them as He celebrated His victory in Christ' (Colossians 2:15 GWT). Satan's attempt to destroy Jesus backfired in a glorious defeat that allows you to celebrate your victory in Christ! (2) By understanding that '...God's Spirit, who is in you, is greater than the devil, who is in the world' (1 John 4:4 NCV). No power is greater than the Spirit of God who lives within you. If you abide in Christ, Satan can't control or conquer you. Why? Because he would have to overcome Jesus to do it! (3) By understanding that you can defeat Satan because Jesus has '...given you authority over all the power of the enemy...' (Luke 10:19 NLT). The criminal must submit to the police officer because the officer is vested with and backed up by the full authority of the government. So when you draw on the authority God has given you in Christ, Satan has no choice; he must observe the limits you enforce against him. He can do nothing to you without your co-operation, and you don't have to give it. And Satan hopes you never discover that!

Soulfood : I Ki 3-5, Luke 11:1-13, Ps 36, Prov 5:21-23

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Thriving in the Combat Zone (2)

The second attack: the attack from the flesh. Your most vulnerable point is your 'flesh', which drives you to do your own thing. Its motto is 'It's all about me!' From start to finish it 'looks out for number one', always wanting to be 'first in line'. That's the genetic make-up of our flesh. And it can't be saved, sanctified or spiritualised because 'That which is born of the flesh is flesh...' (John 3:6 NKJV) and nothing else. 'The Spirit and your desires are enemies of each other. They are always fighting each other and keeping you from doing what you feel you should' (Galatians 5:17 CEV).

So how do you control your 'flesh'? (1) Make a choice. '...Choose today whom you will serve...' (Joshua 24:15 GWT). During the American Civil War thousands of Yankee and Confederate soldiers were killed by 'friendly fire'. Why? Because they lacked uniforms that identified the side to which they belonged. Be clear about which side you're on and let those around you know it. (2) Cut the supply lines to the flesh. In war time, generals devote a lot of attention to blowing up bridges, highways and railroads to deprive the enemy of the vital supplies they need to win. Your flesh can't control you if you cut off its supply line. '...Don't let yourself think about ways to indulge your evil desires' (Romans 13:14 NLT). (3) Maintain regular communication with base command. Even well-trained soldiers with the finest equipment and best officers can't win when they're cut off from base command. So stay in touch: 'Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion...' (Ephesians 6:18 NLT).

Soulfood : I Ki 1-2, Luke 10:38-42, Ps 33:13-22, Prov 5:15-20

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Thriving in the Combat Zone (1)

Salvation enlists you into the service of Jesus, the King of Kings. His battles become your battles, and His strategies your strategies. There are no exemptions; you're 'in for the long haul'. Satan has declared war on you, and it's 'conquer or be conquered'.

Satan will attack you on three fronts. Let's look at each: Firstly the attack from the world. Do you ever feel like you don't 'fit in'? You're not supposed to! '...Don't you realise that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God? I say it again: If you want to be a friend of the world, you make yourself an enemy of God' (James 4:4 NLT). The line has been drawn; there's no peaceful coexistence in this war. What is 'worldliness'? It's not being in the world, but being like it. It's not mixing with the world, but blending in with its self-centred values, its 'relative' morality and its attitudes toward God, His cause, His Word, and His people. The world's hunger for power, popularity and self-promotion contradicts the principles of Scripture. '...Genuine religion in the sight of God [is]...refusing to let the world corrupt you' (James 1:27 NLT).

Jesus told us to avoid becoming swept up in the world's obsession with material things, or its fear of not having enough to meet our needs (Matthew 6:25-34). You are called to be 'salt' and 'light' (Matthew 5:13-14). You are to be the influencer, not the influenced. When the world can't tell you apart from them, your light has gone out and your salt has lost its flavour.

Soulfood : Heb 11:17 - 13:25, Luke 10:25-37, Ps 33:1-12, Prov 5:7-14

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Prepare Yourself

The Bible says, 'Wise people are rewarded.' So keep learning. Knowledge in most major fields is exploding, and if you don't stay up to date you'll be left behind. Repeating the same lessons over and over means you're not learning enough. Study those who've succeeded where you want to succeed, in order to know what to do and what not to do. U.S. Admiral Hyman Rickover said, 'Learn from the mistakes of others; you'll never live long enough to make them all yourself.'

So: (1) Respect those with experience and expertise greater than your own. Instead of shrinking away from them, reach for them. The Bible says, 'God has given each of you some special abilities...use them to help each other...' (1 Peter 4:10 TLB). We all struggle in certain areas; be careful lest your insecurity be misinterpreted as arrogance. (2) Become a good listener. Don't try to impress people by seeking to be their intellectual equal. If you find yourself in a discussion that intimidates you, ask questions, talk only about what you know, listen attentively, and the next time you meet you'll be that much further ahead. (3) The more you prepare yourself, the more opportunities you'll get. Don't go to a lesson unless you've done your homework. When God starts taking you higher, prepare your speech, your wardrobe and your mind. Consult a trusted friend who understands where you are, and where you need to go. If you can't find one, read up until you grasp the basics. 'A king rejoices in servants who know what they are doing...' (Proverbs 14:35 TLB). The more prepared you are, the more God will open doors of opportunity for you.

Soulfood : Num 6:1-21, Mt 4:1-17, Mk 2:18-22, Lk 9:23-26

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How to Accomplish Great Things (5)

Do you know how Nehemiah's team rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem? With a sword in one hand and a trowel in the other. Why is that significant? Because even though God gives you the plan, the chances are you'll have to fight for it. Not everyone wants you to succeed. In fact, some will do everything they can to stop you. That's when you must constantly remind yourself that God gave you the plan, that He's on your side, and that if you're willing to persevere, you'll win. God guarantees it!

Listen to what Nehemiah's enemies said about him: 'It is reported...you are about to become their king and have even appointed prophets to make this proclamation about you in Jerusalem: "There is a king in Judah!" Now this report will get back to the king...' (Nehemiah 6:6-7 NIV). Nehemiah had to overcome threats and intimidation. He wrote: '...They were scheming to harm me; so I sent messengers to them with this reply: "I am carrying on a great project and cannot go down. Why should the work stop while I leave it to go down to you''' (Nehemiah 6:2-3 NIV)?

Every minute devoted to your critics is time stolen from your God-given assignment. Don't step down to their level! It's not what your enemies say that matters; it's what you say to yourself when your enemies have finished talking. '[Nehemiah] answered them by saying, "The God of Heaven will give us success...but as for you, you will have no share in Jerusalem or any claim...to it''' (Nehemiah 2:20 NIV). Now that's the winning attitude.

Soulfood : Heb 5-8, Luke 10:1-12, Ps 5, Prov 5:1-2

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