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The Word For Today

BE FLEXIBLE

The Psalmist writes, 'The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and He delights in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; for the Lord upholds him with His hand' (Psalms 37:23-24 NKJV). Observe: (1) God delights in the fact that you're willing to step out in faith and try. (2) He doesn't guarantee that you won't stumble, but that ultimately He won't let you fail. (3) When you feel like you can't go on, He will uphold and strengthen you. What more could you ask for?

Now, God never changes, but life does. So you must be ready to adapt to unforeseen circumstances. Sam Walton, the founder of Walmart, is credited with having been a visionary leader. His dream was to provide value to customers in order to improve their lives. But he was notorious for changing plans and abandoning strategies that didn't work. Sam's son Jim Walton admitted, 'We all sniggered at some writers who viewed Dad as a grand strategist who intuitively developed complex plans and implemented them with precision. Dad thrived on change, and no decision was ever sacred.' What good is a well-planned strategy if it doesn't yield good results? To quote Winston Churchill: 'However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.'

God is more committed to the vision He's given you than you are. But when He leads you in a new direction, you must be ready to follow Him. Like Israel in the wilderness, when the guiding cloud moved they had to move with it. The same goes for you. So, be flexible.

Soulfood : Ex 25-27, Jn 3:22-36, Ps 89:15-37, Prov 26:20-22

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GROWING THROUGH DISCOURAGEMENT

Here are four suggestions to help you survive and grow through upheavals such as an unexpected job loss, the death of a loved one, a failed marriage or a serious health issue:

(1) Admit how you feel. That doesn't mean sitting around wallowing in negativity; it means trusting God enough to acknowledge how you really feel. Pretending things are fine when they're not makes it harder to get back up. We all have down times. The Psalmist asked God to help him cope with despondency (Psalms 42-43). And at one point Paul was under so much pressure he 'despaired even of life' (2 Corinthians 1:8 NKJV). (2) Identify the source. Discouragement often comes on the heels of a setback or disappointment. Did something you set your heart on fall apart? Were your hopes unrealistic to start with? Did somebody let you down? Or is your dejection coming from a generalised feeling of burnout?

(3) Talk with a trusted counsellor. Solomon said, '...there is safety in having many advisers' (Proverbs 11:14 NLT). Don't let pride prevent you from opening up to those who will listen empathetically and respond wisely. Talking to the right people can lessen your sense of isolation, and also pave the way for others who are hurting to do the same. (4) Be open before God. He, not fate or circumstances, gets to write the last chapter. Maybe He's trying to teach you something or redirect your energies. David said, 'Lord, where do I put my hope? My only hope is in You.' When your hope is in God, He replaces discouragement with confidence so that what you're going through can become a path to spiritual growth.

Soulfood : Ex 22-24, Jn 3:1-21, Ps 89:1-14, Prov 26:17-19

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WHEN PRAYER IS HARD WORK (2)

We all want what successful people have; we're just not willing to pay the price they paid to get it. When you see someone with sculpted abs and a well-toned body, they probably spend time sweating in a gym.

There's a reason Paul talks about 'labouring...in prayers' (Colossians 4:12 NKJV). When you pray, you must be passionate, persistent and positive, expecting good things from God. You've got to put your heart into it and believe God will do what He promised. It's not easy to fight off distractions and focus on Him. Don't expect your fleshly nature to co-operate; it comes to the place of prayer kicking and screaming. And don't expect your intellect to cheer you on; your self-sufficient nature will always choose prayer as a last resort. But God will urge you, and draw you into His presence. 'If you draw near to Me, I will draw near to you.' An unknown poet wrote: 'I got up early one morning, and rushed right into the day. I had so much to accomplish, I didn't have time to pray. Troubles tumbled about me, and heavier came each task; "Why doesn't God help me?" I wondered. He answered, "You didn't ask."...I woke up early this morning, and paused before entering the day. I had so much to accomplish that I had to take time to pray.'

Many problems can be resolved, or avoided altogether, when you take time to pray and include God in every part of your day. 'Oh what peace we often forfeit; oh what needless pain we bear; All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer' (Joseph M. Scriven: 1855).

Soulfood : Ex 19-21, Jn 2:12-25, Ps 110, Prov 26:13-16

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