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The Word For Today

What God Has Invested in You

Paul prayed for the believers at Ephesus that they might know what God called them to do and understand the 'riches' He had invested in them.

Think about this: (1) God knows what He's invested in you. He doesn't redeem you one day and take you to Heaven the next. He calls and equips you to fulfil a certain purpose in this world. Christ taught that some of us are five-talent people, some are two-talent people and some are one-talent people (Matthew 25:15). That's why it's a mistake to draw comparisons. It's not what you have that determines your reward, but what you do with what you have. It's when you bury your talent because you're afraid to risk and fail, that you get into trouble with God. (2) God protects what He's invested in you. Do we sometimes disobey God? Yes. Does He discipline us? Yes. And your response to Him can either lengthen or shorten your season of discipline. But does God abandon us? Never! '...God's gifts and his call can never be withdrawn' (Romans 11:29 NLT). (3) God expects a return on what He's invested in you. When you get to the end of your life, what will you have to show for it? God gave you time, talent, and treasure. Are you using them selfishly or are you using them to serve Him and bless others? '...We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive...according to what he has done, whether good or bad' (2 Corinthians 5:10 NKJV).

The songwriter put it this way: 'Only one life, 'twill soon be past. Only what's done for Christ will last.'

Soulfood : Deut 22-24, Mk 5:21-30, Ps 44:1-8, Prov 12:7-9

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Gossip - Don't Indulge in It

'Keep your tongue from evil...' Psalms 34:13 NIV

Did you hear about the three women who decided to confess their weaknesses to each other? The first confessed to drinking too much. The second confessed to being jealous of a friend's good looks. The third said nothing, so the other two pressed her and asked, 'Ok, what's your weakness?' Finally she answered, 'It's gossip, and I can't wait to get out of here and talk about you two!'
Now let's get serious. The Bible has strong words when it comes to the subject of gossip: 'He who guards his lips guards his life, but he who speaks rashly will come to ruin' (Proverbs 13:3 NIV). 'If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless' (James 1:26 NIV). 'Whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil' (1 Peter 3:10 NIV). Gossip is like mud thrown against a wall - it may not stick, but it leaves a dirty mark. And that mark can last a lifetime! So before you take aim, check your target. Ask yourself how much damage you'll inflict and how you'll feel about it afterwards. Solomon said, 'The tongue has the power of life and death and those who love it will eat its fruit' (Proverbs 18:21 NIV). Did you get that? You will 'eat your words'. You'll reap the harvest you sow, good or bad.
Bottom line: if you're looking for faults, look in the mirror. When you work on your own shortcomings, you'll have no time left to gossip about anybody else's.

SoulFood: Deut 18-21, Mark 5:11-20, Ps 37:32-40, Pro 12:4-6

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What Is Your Conscience Telling You?

Fire alarms have an internal switch, triggered by a beam of light. As long as the light is received unbroken by the photosensitive receiver, the detector is quiet. But if smoke, moisture, or an insect obstructs the beam for even a split second, the alarm sounds. Paying attention to that alarm can make the difference between life and death.

And your conscience works on the same principle. When sin obstructs the connection between you and God, your conscience signals that something's wrong. At that moment you should thank God for helping you to feel good about feeling bad. Only a fool would turn off the alarm or develop the ability to sleep through it. While certain things aren't 'wrong' in themselves, they may be wrong for you because of the future God has in mind. That means there are things others can do that you can't. So instead of being stubborn, rejoice in the knowledge that God has great things in store for you. A French proverb says, 'There is no pillow so soft as a clear conscience.' Listening to your conscience will keep you from going the wrong way. And if you decide to plough on regardless, your conscience will keep you from being at ease with your decision.

Always ask yourself this question and you'll make the right decision: 'How will doing this affect my confidence towards God?' The Bible says, '...If our heart does not condemn us, then we have confidence towards God. And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we...do those things that are pleasing in His sight' (1 John 3:21-22 NKJV).

 

Soulfood : Deut 14-17, Mk 5:1-10, Ps 37:25-31, Prov 12:1-3

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Don't Embarrass Jesus

'The high priest then asked Jesus about His disciples and His doctrine.' John 18:19 NKJV

If Jesus 'can be touched with the feelings of our infirmities' (Hebrews 4:15 KJV), can He be embarrassed by our actions and attitudes?
How embarrassing when Mary and Joseph interrupted Him as a twelve-year-old boy, sitting in the temple confounding its best scholars. They took Him away, saying, 'Why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been terribly worried trying to find you' (Luke 2:48 GNT). How embarrassing to stand up in your home church and announce that you're the Messiah, then have people you grew up with march you out of town and try to throw you off a cliff (Luke 4:29). How embarrassing when He told Jairus that his dead daughter was merely sleeping and those in the house 'laughed him to scorn' (Matthew 9:24 KJV). Now think about this. When the high priest asked Jesus about His doctrine, He replied, 'Why do you ask Me? Ask those who have heard Me...' (John 18:21 NKJV). Whereupon one of the officers standing next to Jesus slapped Him in the face. How embarrassing! But the supreme embarrassment in the life of Jesus may well have been when the high priest asked Him not about His doctrine, but about His disciples. Where were they? Judas betrayed Him, Peter denied Him, and the rest ran for cover. What could He say?
So here's the question: Are your character, your conduct and your commitment to Christ a source of joy to Him, or an embarrassment? Gandhi said, 'If Christians would really live according to the teachings of Christ, all of India would be Christian today.' When it comes to doctrine, you may stand tall. But when it comes to discipleship, where do you stand?

SoulFood: Deut 11-13, Mark 4:26-41, Ps 37:16-24, Pro 11:30-31

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Put Your Heart into It! (2)

Solomon says there's '...a time to keep silence and a time to speak' (Ecclesiastes 3:7 NKJV). Now, you shouldn't interrupt the church service and draw attention to yourself, but when it's time to praise God you should give it 100 percent: 'I will praise You, O Lord, with my whole heart' (Psalms 9:1 NKJV).

The story's told of an old man named Joe, who'd been a drunk and a derelict most of his life and, as a result, he could barely make ends meet. During a Sunday morning service he gave his life to Christ and the transformation was so radical that everybody in the congregation noticed it. Joe had a problem, however; he was so thrilled with Jesus that he sang louder than everybody else. And when the pastor made a point that touched his heart, he'd jump up and shout, 'Hallelujah!' Concerned that the dignity and decorum of the church were at risk, the pastor said, 'Joe, you've got to be quiet. As a matter of fact, if you'll just sit in church next Sunday and say nothing, I'll buy you a new pair of boots.' Joe needed the boots, so he said he'd try. But after restraining himself through several high points in the sermon, he couldn't stand it anymore. He jumped up and shouted, 'Boots or no boots, I'm gonna praise the Lord!'

You say, 'But I'm the quiet, reserved type.' Sorry, there are no exceptions based on personality types. 'Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!' In other words, unless you're dead, you're supposed to praise the Lord!

Soulfood : Deut 8-10, Mk 4:13-25, Ps 37:8-15, Prov 11:27-29

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Put Your Heart into It! (1)

If you shout your lungs out at a ball game on Saturday, but sit silent and subdued when it's time to worship God on Sunday, maybe you're more excited about sports than spiritual matters. Ouch!

A great definition of worship is 'worth-ship'. What worth do you place on God and on your relationship with Him? You say, 'But sometimes I don't feel like praising God.' Feelings have little to do with it! A good relationship isn't based on emotion but on commitment. The Bible says, '...Let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name' (Hebrews 13:15 NKJV). Note the words 'continually' and 'sacrifice'. With God, the praise that costs is the praise that counts! Imagine someone with a good job, a good family and good health praising the Lord in church. Now imagine somebody living alone, shut in by sickness, who raises his or her feeble arms and lifts their voice in praise. Which of them is making the sacrifice?

The Psalmist said, 'From the rising of the sun unto its going down, the Lord's name is to be praised' (Psalms 113:3 NKJV). This Psalmist scheduled praisebreaks throughout his day: 'Seven times a day I praise You' (Psalms 119:164 NKJV). We have tea and coffee breaks; he had praisebreaks! If you want to change your environment and your attitude, start praising God throughout the day. Not only will you bless the Lord, He will bless you in a hundred and one different ways. Don't take anybody else's word for it - try it and see!

Soulfood : Gal 5:22, Lk 6:27-36, Ex 23:1-9, Rom 12:14-21

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Hooked on Urgency

Urgency is stressful. It's also addictive and, if you find yourself habitually reacting to outside demands, you may be 'hooked'. Like any addiction, urgency temporarily meets your need to feel needed. It creates a sense of 'getting things done', falsely enhances your self-esteem, yet tends to make problems worse because mostly 'haste makes waste'.

If you're hooked on urgency, here are two things to consider: (1) In today's society, busyness equals status. People expect you to be in demand. But while constantly abandoning your goals to help others accomplish theirs may make you feel appreciated, it can sidetrack you from your real purpose and create in you a false sense of importance. The Bible says, 'God gives ability to all for their particular service' (1 Corinthians 12:6 GNT). The lion's share of your time should be spent doing what God called you to do, not fulfilling the demands and expectations of others. (2) Identifying your response pattern can help set you free. Sometimes it's hard to say 'no' because as a Christian you feel obligated. But not every 'need' is a directive from God to jump in and meet it! Try to be discerning. Your decision to get involved should come from God, so before you react, pray for wisdom and guidance. The Bible says, 'In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths' (Proverbs 3:6 NKJV). If you're a 'fixer' you probably enjoy solving problems, meeting needs, and influencing behaviour as well as outcomes. That's not necessarily a bad thing. You just need to recognise you're vulnerable to the urgent, and become more priority-minded.

Soulfood : Deut 5-7, Mk 4:1-12, Ps 37:1-7, Prov 11:24-26

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Principles for Living

Observe: (1) You can have more, as long as you don't want it all for yourself. In a generation whose motto is 'Look out for number one,' we need to be reminded that 'Christ did not please himself' (Romans 15:3 NIV). He didn't live to enrich Himself, but to enrich others. You won't find a speck of selfishness in Him. He's worthy to be called 'Master', because He first mastered Himself by denying Himself and living for others.

(2) You can get almost anything done, as long as you don't care who gets the credit. 'Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus.' Pride brought Satan down and it will bring you down, too. Ivan O Miller quoted, 'Humility is such a frail and delicate thing that he who dares to think that he has it, proves by that single thought that he has it not.' When you succeed and the accolades start coming your way, enjoy them briefly. Then pass them on to the true source of all your accomplishments - God.

(3) You can hasten the answer, as long as you don't despise the source. Naaman the leper discovered that you can have what God offers, but on God's terms, not yours (2 Kings 5:1-14). And God's terms are 'faith' and 'obedience'. Faith is like electricity: you don't have to analyse or understand it to enjoy its benefits. All you have to do is plug in! What has God told you to do? Obey Him! Stop wavering, stop procrastinating, stop arguing with Him and do what He tells you. You'll love the results.

Soulfood : Deut 3-4, Mk 3:23-35, Ps 2, Prov 11:22-23

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Principles for Living

Observe: (1) You can have more, as long as you don't want it all for yourself. In a generation whose motto is 'Look out for number one,' we need to be reminded that 'Christ did not please himself' (Romans 15:3 NIV). He didn't live to enrich Himself, but to enrich others. You won't find a speck of selfishness in Him. He's worthy to be called 'Master', because He first mastered Himself by denying Himself and living for others.

(2) You can get almost anything done, as long as you don't care who gets the credit. 'Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus.' Pride brought Satan down and it will bring you down, too. Ivan O Miller quoted, 'Humility is such a frail and delicate thing that he who dares to think that he has it, proves by that single thought that he has it not.' When you succeed and the accolades start coming your way, enjoy them briefly. Then pass them on to the true source of all your accomplishments - God.

(3) You can hasten the answer, as long as you don't despise the source. Naaman the leper discovered that you can have what God offers, but on God's terms, not yours (2 Kings 5:1-14). And God's terms are 'faith' and 'obedience'. Faith is like electricity: you don't have to analyse or understand it to enjoy its benefits. All you have to do is plug in! What has God told you to do? Obey Him! Stop wavering, stop procrastinating, stop arguing with Him and do what He tells you. You'll love the results.

Soulfood : Deut 3-4, Mk 3:23-35, Ps 2, Prov 11:22-23

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Looking in the Right Mirror!

 

The world's best fashion designers are concerned with the total look of the models they send down the catwalk. They must have perfect accessories and the right hairstyle, make-up, etc. And it's the same with God. He created you as a whole person with specific features, personality traits, and emotional strengths. He designed you to be a vibrant, thinking, feeling and fully-functioning human being with your own unique attractiveness. But He endowed you with more than just physical appearance. He gave you talents and spiritual gifts - inner qualities He wants you to develop and use for His purposes.

What you are on the inside should determine how you see yourself on the outside. When your looks determine your worth, a few extra kilograms can wipe you out; so can magazine covers that trumpet beauty without character. You're looking in the wrong mirror! The Bible says, 'Don't be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewellery, or beautiful clothes. You should clothe yourself instead with the beauty that comes from within...' (1 Peter 3:3-4 NLT). When your self-worth comes from God instead of people, you can wear a $10 outfit from a charity shop or a $1000 one from an up-market boutique. You are fine either way, because you recognise that your outer appearance doesn't define who you are, or determine your worth in God's eyes.

Inner beauty can't be bought, taken off a rack, applied like make-up or put on like a new suit. It's an 'inside job'. So look at yourself today in God's mirror and try to see what He values most: inner beauty.

 

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