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The Word For Today

When God Feels Distant

Does God feel distant? Floyd McClung writes: 'You wake up one morning and all your "spiritual feelings" are gone. You pray, but nothing happens. You rebuke the devil, but it doesn't change anything. You go through spiritual exercises, have your friends pray for you, confess every sin you can imagine, then go around asking forgiveness of everyone you know. You fast; still nothing. You begin to wonder how long this spiritual gloom will last. It feels like your prayers bounce off the ceiling. In utter frustration you cry out: "What's the matter with me?" This is a normal part of the testing and maturing of your friendship with God. We all go through it. It's painful, but it's absolutely vital to developing your faith. You see, God is always present, even when you are unaware of Him. His presence is too profound to be measured by intellect or emotion. He's more concerned that you trust Him than that you feel Him. Faith, not feelings, is what pleases God (Hebrews 11:6). You ask, "So what can I do?" Isaiah answers, "The Lord has hidden Himself...but I trust Him." Focus on God's unchanging love and faithfulness. Cling to His promises. During times of spiritual dryness, rest on His Word, not your feelings. Realise that He's taking you to a deeper level of maturity. Any friendship based strictly on emotion is shallow indeed. So don't be troubled by trouble - God's grace is still in full force! He's with you even when you don't feel Him.'

His word to you today is, 'Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you' (Hebrews 13:5 NIV).

Soulfood : Gen 28:1-30:24, Jn 15:5-17, Ps 14, Prov 31:22-24

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Christ-like-ness

God's number-one goal for you isn't comfort, it's Christ-like-ness! And to reach it you'll have to undergo some of the same experiences that Jesus went through - like being misunderstood by your family, ridiculed by church members, rejected by the world, and disappointed by the people who say they love you. The Bible says we've been called to 'share in His sufferings...that we may also share in His glory.'

So how do we do this? In three ways: (1) Stay focused on God's plan, not your pain. 'Let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith' (Hebrews 12:1-2 NLT). Corrie ten Boom said, 'If you look within, you'll feel depressed, if you look without, you'll be distressed, but if you look to Christ, you'll be at rest.' (2) Don't give in to short-term thinking. Look at Jesus, 'Because of the joy awaiting Him, He endured the cross' (Hebrews 12:2 NLT). Keep your eye on the finish line. You don't get the trophy until the race is over, so make up your mind to 'stay the course' and finish strong. (3) Start praying the right way. When you understand that God's objective is to make you more like Christ, you'll start praying fewer 'comfort me' prayers and more 'conform me' ones. Instead of asking, 'Why me, Lord?' you'll ask, 'What do You want me to learn, Lord?'

James writes, 'Let the process go on until...you have become men [and women] of mature character' (James 1:4 PHPS). That's how you become more Christ-like.

Soulfood : Gen 25:19-27:46, Jn 14:26 - 15:4, Ps 146, Prov 31:18-21

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Inner Beauty

A lady flew across the country to tell a talk show host how her husband had left her for another woman. The lady, who was young, vibrant and beautiful, pulled out a photograph and said, 'Just look at her. He left me for that!' The host concluded, 'Sadly, we've been conditioned to think that "looks" are all-important, when, in fact, they're not.' Nevertheless we keep measuring, comparing, and beating ourselves up because we fall short.

If you can't enjoy who you are because of what you're not, you'll never be happy. Advertisers spend billions getting us to decorate a shell that's in a losing battle with Mother Nature and Father Time - all in an effort to create what we think will attract others. And when it doesn't work, we get depressed and wonder what went wrong. Of course, it's important to look your best but, when you're obsessed with your appearance, you become superficial. And others lose respect for you because they discover that although the box is beautifully wrapped, it's empty.

If you want to know what ultimately wins hearts and attracts the right people, read these words: 'I pray that from His glorious, unlimited resources He will empower you with inner strength through His Spirit. Then Christ will make His home in your hearts as you trust in Him. Your roots will grow down into God's love...And may you have the power to understand...how long, how high, and how deep His love [for you] is...Then you will be made complete' (Ephesians 3:16-19 NLT). That's the secret to inner beauty!

Soulfood : Lk 10:38-42, Jn 11:1-44, Jn 12:1-3

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