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The Word For Today

How to maintain your peace



'Search for peace, and work to maintain it.' Psalm 34:14 NLT

You can maintain a peaceful state of mind wherever you go and whatever you do. 'How is that possible?' you ask. The Bible says, 'Search for peace, and work to maintain it' (Psalm 34:14 NLT). To enjoy a life of peace, you must first recognise what's stealing your peace. Satan uses many of the same tactics on everyone, but we each have particular issues. For example, one person may be disturbed by having to do two or three things at a time, while another may be energised by fielding several projects at once. We're all different, and we must learn to know ourselves. Satan studies you carefully and knows which buttons to push.

One Bible teacher writes: 'I can endure things better when I'm not tired...so [Satan] waits to attack until I am worn out. I learned by pursuing peace, what Satan already knew about me; now I try not to get overly tired because I know I'm opening a door for him when I do. It will be virtually impossible to enjoy a life of peace if you don't study yourself, and know what your 'peace stealers' are. Keep a list of each time you get upset. Ask yourself what caused the problem, and write it down. Be honest with yourself or you'll never break free.'

In the middle of life's storms you can be anchored by God's peace. But he won't just drop it into your lap; you have a part to play. You must 'seek, inquire for... crave peace and pursue (go after) it' (Psalm 34:14 AMP)! So, if you've lost your peace today - go after it and get it back.

Soulfood: Ruth 1-4, Matt 10:1-10, Ps 88:1-9a, Prov 13:1-3

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Today share your faith with someone



'A woman of Samaria came to draw water.' John 4:7 NKJV

One day Jesus met a woman who'd come to draw water from a well. After five failed marriages, her trust in men was zero - and her self-esteem was minus zero! But after her encounter with Christ, she left the well radically changed.

When it comes to sharing our faith, we learn three important lessons from her story: (1) Jesus sees the best in everybody. 'The Pharisees...complained, saying, "This man receives sinners"' (Luke 15:2 NKJV). And when it came to the woman at the well, they were right. She'd been through five divorces and was the talk of the town because she was living with another man. Yet she was the first person to whom Jesus introduced himself as the Messiah. Why didn't he do that when he called his disciples? Or performed his first miracle? Or interviewed Nicodemus? Because Jesus doesn't measure you by your past or your pedigree - but by your potential. (2) Jesus changes you, then he uses you to change others. This woman was the first person to share the Gospel in Samaria, and 'many...Samaritans...believed in him because of the word of the woman' (John 4:39 NKJV). Out of your brokenness, God can use you to make others whole. (3) Jesus doesn't need you to explain him, just to introduce him. He speaks for himself. The Bible says: 'Many more believed because of his own word...They said to the woman, "Now we believe, not because of what you said, for we ourselves have heard him and we know that this is indeed the Christ"' (John 4:41-42 NKJV).

Today share your faith with someone.

Soulfood: Obad + Mal 1-4, Matt 9:27-38, Ps 18:30-50, Prov 12:25-28

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A praying mother



'Mary quietly treasured these things in her heart.' Luke 2:19 TLB

Max Lucado writes: 'Some things only a mum can do... like powdering a baby's bottom with one hand while holding the phone with the other... Spending the day wiping noses, laundering socks, balancing a cheque book, and still mean it when she thanks God for her kids. Some things only a mum can fix ... like the cabinet doors her husband couldn't, and his bruised ego when he found out she could! Broken shoelaces... broken hearts... breaking up with your sweetheart. Some things only a mum can know... like how long it takes to drive from piano lessons to football practice... how many pizzas you need for a sleepover... the number of days left in a term. The rest of us can only wonder... "Mum, what was it like when that infant's cry first filled the room? Or the day the school bus pulled to a stop, you placed a kiss on a five-year-old's cheek, waved goodbye and then saw the tricycle - silent and still? How did you feel? Did you cry? Did you smile?" Were you like Mary who "quietly treasured all these things in her heart"?'

A mother who loves and prays for her children is a force to be reckoned with. When a preacher stopped by a house and asked to speak to the mother, her little boy said, 'You can't see her right now, she's praying.' That's because Susanna Wesley spent one hour every day praying for each of her seventeen children. Eventually two of them, John and Charles, were used by God to bring a spiritual awakening to Britain and America and establish the Methodist Church. Such is the influence of a praying mother.

Soulfood: Jonah 1:10 - 2:10, Matt 12:38-42

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The truth about marriage 3



'The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.' Luke 6:38 NLT

The truth about the container: when the offering plate was passed in church, a lady didn't put anything in. When she complained all the way home about how poor the service was, her little boy said, 'Mum, that proves if you don't put anything in, you won't get anything out.'

Marriage is like an empty container - you get out what you put in. This truth frees you to make your relationship rich and rewarding by becoming a giver rather than a taker. Some people think the container comes filled with romance, sexual fulfilment and being served in the style to which they've become accustomed. They think they can take whatever they want from a never-ending supply - instant, low maintenance, satisfaction guaranteed! Then one day they dip in and come up empty. Shocked, disappointed, angry, despairing and hopeless, they conclude that their partner failed, fooled or forsook them. Why else would the container be empty? Then they go looking for a new container. The truth is, it's your responsibility to make enough deposits every day to guarantee sufficient withdrawals for a rich relationship. Jesus said, 'The amount you give will determine the amount you get back' (Luke 6:38 NLT). Ask yourself what you'd like to have in the container, and how much. Then start depositing towards it.

J. Allan Petersen said: 'There's no love in marriage; love is in people, and people put it into marriage. There's no romance in marriage; people have to infuse it into their marriages. A couple must form the habit of giving, loving, serving, praising - keeping the box full.'

Soulfood: 1 Pet 1-5, Matt 9:14-26, Ps 18:1-29, Prov 12:23-24

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The truth about marriage 2



'Love... cannot be bought...' Song of Solomon 8:7 CEV

The truth about Mr. and Mrs. Right: many who excel in their careers struggle when it comes to meeting people in a social setting. This has given rise to the twenty-first century phenomenon of finding a mate through the internet. Today, in the western world, two out of five marriages begin that way. Generally speaking, dating services profile people based on their age, looks, values, tastes, ambitions and preferences, and help them get together for a date. Well, guess what? The divorce rate is just as high among couples who met via the internet as those who did it the old-fashioned way. How come? Because 'love... cannot be bought, no matter what is offered' (Song of Solomon 8:7 CEV).

And when the bubble bursts, three things happen: (1) We cry, manipulate, or pressure our mate. And when that doesn't work we blame them for changing and making us miserable. 'He's not the man I thought he was.' Maybe not, but he's the one you married - and, with some exceptions, the problem isn't all his. (2) We conclude that Mr. and Mrs. Right are Mr. and Mrs. Wrong. So we start searching for the right one, or give up on the opposite sex as being false, faithless and fickle. (3) We realise that lasting happiness can only be found in one Person - God. So instead of trying to find the right person, we decide to become the right person; the one God created us to be...giving generously, allowing others to be real, limited, changeable human beings, and looking to God for our joy.

Soulfood: Deut 32:29 - 34:12, Matt 9:1-13, Ps 49, Prov 12:20-22

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The truth about marriage 1



'You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.' John 8:32 NLT

The idea of 'the perfect marriage' misleads and disillusions us, preparing us to walk away when fantasy clashes with reality. And it always does! Only when you accept the truth about frail, faltering, frustrating people - and you yourself are one - can you find lasting happiness in marriage. So for the next few days let's look at some of the most common misconceptions about marriage.

The love bug: We think if we're in the right place, at the right time, with the right person, love will 'bite' us and we'll embark on a lifetime of bliss. The trouble is, when we are worn out from taking care of children, jobs and mortgages, the love bug flies off. In the daily grind of dishes, diapers, and drudgery, something has to give. So romance vacates centre stage and reality takes over. And because we confuse romance with true love, we mistakenly think love has moved out and we need to follow it. The truth is, love doesn't die because romance bows to reality. If two people who fall in love are willing to stand together in love through the challenges of life, romance can blossom again stronger and more resilient than ever. Romance may bring us together, but unselfish love keeps us together.

The Bible says: 'Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It... rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance' (1 Corinthians 13:4-7 NLT).

Soulfood: Deut 30:1 - 32:28, Matt 8:18-34, Ps 62, Prov 12:18-19

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Put away the measuring stick



'If you...Lord, kept a record of sins...who could stand?' Psalm 130:3 NIV

We live in a results-oriented society where we're rewarded for our performance in school, in sports, and on the job. But God doesn't think like that. His thoughts and ways are far above ours (see Isaiah 55:8-9). He's not impressed by empty duty. 'Obedience is far better than sacrifice. He is much more interested in your listening to him' (1 Samuel 15:22 TLB).

Feelings and emotions are powerful, but they're seldom objective. And when you base your worth as a Christian on your performance as a flawed human being, the Enemy has a field day. Satan is called 'the accuser of our brethren' (Revelation 12:10); he wants you to run a checklist of your failures and mistakes. That way he can torment you by reminding you of all the times you lose your temper, criticise, fail to speak up for what's right, or let a misconception go unchecked to make yourself look better. David said if the 'Lord, kept a record of sin...who could stand?' Even the most disciplined believer has areas where he or she struggles and fails. It's why we need God's grace and forgiveness 24/7. 'He knows how weak we are' (Psalm 103:14 NLT), and He's never surprised when despite our best intentions, we fall short.

Reimar Schultze says: 'God doesn't measure us by our performance, but by our love for Jesus. Indeed, in the Kingdom of God our love for Jesus is our performance. Everything else is secondary. Desire to be with him, to abide in him, to keep in fellowship with him, to please him, is what our Master longs for.' So put away your measuring stick and be glad God's not grading you based on your performance, but on Christ's performance.

Soulfood: Deut 28-29, Matt 8:1-17, Ps 57, Prov 12:15-17

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Humble yourself



'I...lifted my eyes to Heaven, and my understanding returned to me.' Daniel 4:34 NKJV

God always responds in love to a humble heart, and he always rejects a proud one. One moment King Nebuchadnezzar was boasting about having built the world's most advanced civilisation. The next moment he'd lost his mind and was crawling on all fours, eating grass like an animal. But when he repented, God restored him to his throne. He said: 'I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to Heaven, and my understanding returned to me... Now I...praise...the King of Heaven, all of whose works are truth, and his ways justice. And those who walk in pride he is able to put down' (Daniel 4:34, 37 NKJV).

To fall is bad enough; but to fall and not cry out for help, or refuse to repent of your sin, is worse than the fall itself. Maybe you're ashamed to let anyone know you've fallen. Is your public image so important that you're willing to continue on in your pitiful state? Are you so deceived that you refuse to acknowledge you need God? Stop being so proud! Isn't that what caused you to fall in the first place? Pride is dangerous because it forces you to languish needlessly in a helpless state for days - sometimes years.

The truth is, if you'd asked for help sooner you could have gotten up and gone on with your life. But the good news is - it's not too late to repent and acknowledge your need of God. When Nebuchadnezzar did that, his reason and understanding returned, and he was restored to his kingdom. And the same can happen for you.

Soulfood: Deut 25-27, Matt 7:15-29, Ps 44:17-26, Prov 12:12-14

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Change your thinking change your life



'...be transformed by the renewing of your mind.' Romans 12:2 NKJV

Sometimes we try to excuse our negativity by saying, 'It was just a thought, it didn't mean anything.' But it does! A wrong thought left to roam around in your mind can take root and grow into what the Bible calls a 'stronghold' (see 2 Corinthians 10:4). And when a thought becomes that strong it begins to control your outlook, your attitude and your actions. That's why the Bible says, 'Be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind [by its new ideals and its new attitude]' (Romans 12:2 AMP). Remember, where the mind goes, the man follows!

We all face challenges and difficulties in life. You might allow yourself to think thoughts such as 'I just can't take any more,' or 'If one more thing happens I'm going to go over the edge!' or 'If things don't change soon - I'm giving up!' That kind of thinking prepares you to be defeated before you even encounter a problem. There is nothing strong, powerful, enabling or victorious in thinking you will 'go over the edge' or in deciding to quit. Those are losing attitudes, not winning attitudes. Instead you should think, 'If the attack is this great, then the blessing that lies beyond it is greater.' Or, 'If Satan is attacking me this hard, God must have something good in store for me!'

Become a person who is spiritually, emotionally, and mentally prepared for any challenge that crosses your path, and don't allow yourself to be easily discouraged or defeated. And you do that by 'the renewing of your mind' with God's Word.

Soulfood: Deut 22-24, Matt 7:1-14, Ps 44: 9-16, Prov 12:10-11

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Comfortable with uncomfortable



'He comforts us in all our troubles.' 2 Corinthians 1:4 NLT

God can make you comfortable in some of life's most uncomfortable places. He can bring you through situations you think you won't survive, or feel like you'll be stuck in forever. He can give you peace when you're under pressure.

Before your life is over, you'll experience loss. Indeed, losing some things will actually help you to appreciate the things you have. It's the taste of failure that makes success so sweet. You'll live not knowing what tomorrow holds, but knowing that God has all your tomorrows planned out. Your future isn't in the hands of your boss, your banker, your spouse, or anybody else. Nor is it in your own hands to control. All your tomorrows are in God's hands. And just because you don't understand the path you're on, doesn't mean he isn't leading you. He promises: 'I will lead them in paths they have not known. I will make darkness light before them, and crooked places straight. These things I will do for them, and not forsake them' (Isaiah 42:16 NKJV).

So get to know God, because you'll need him. And he will be there when everybody else has failed you. He will be there for you in the dark places. The Psalmist writes, 'Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning' (Psalm 30:5 NKJV). However long the night, morning will come - and with it his joy. Looking back, you'll realise that his grace has protected you, provided for you, calmed you, comforted you, and brought you through. Times and seasons change, but not the Lord. He's 'the same yesterday, today, and forever' (Hebrews 13:8 NKJV).

Soulfood: 2 Kings 4:42-44, Mark 6:30-44

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