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The Word For Today

Patience love and encouragement



'I came so close to the edge.' Psalm 73:2 TLB

If you'd met Asaph, who wrote some of the psalms, you'd probably have thought he hadn't a care in the world. But you'd have been wrong: 'I came so close to the edge of the cliff! My feet were slipping and I was almost gone' (Psalm 73:2 TLB). Then at the end of the psalm he does a 180 and writes, 'My health may fail, and my spirit grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever' (Psalm 73:26 NLT). Despite his problems, he chose to speak words of courage.When you have an opportunity to encourage someone, do it. You never know what a person is going through - that's true whether they live in a mansion or a mud hut. Here's an important principle to keep in mind: People tend to become what the most important people in their lives think of them! So think the best, believe the best, and express the best toward them. You say, 'But they need to stop making the same stupid mistakes!' Change happens by centimetres, not kilometres. Even when it seems simple, it's rarely easy. The only way we can break old habits is to form new ones, and that takes time and practice - lots of it. You can't tell people something once and expect them to get it; they need to hear it over and over before they can make the adjustment. And how you tell them can determine whether they freeze in fear or soar above the obstacles. Be persistent. Never give up trying to help them improve. Acknowledge every step of progress they make.The way to get lasting results is through patience, love and encouragement.

Soulfood: 2 Chr 22-24, Mark 7:1-13, Ps 119:129-136, Prov 22:8-10

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Your life's assignment



'My life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord.' Acts 20:24 NLT

To miss out on your assignment in life is to miss out on why God put you on earth. You're gifted and called by God, and you need to take it seriously. The question is not what are you running from, but what are you moving toward? To succeed you must know God's will and concentrate on fulfilling it. Having a powerful 'why' will provide you with the necessary 'how.' Purpose, not money and talent, is your greatest asset.

To help you discover your life's assignment, answer these questions: (1) What's your temperament and what's your talent? Passionate commitment to a significant mission will enable you to focus your talent and find a new level of ability to achieve. When you care deeply about your God-given mission and direct your energies and enthusiasm towards it, he'll direct you in the right paths. (2) Why do you do what you do? There's a big difference between doing something because you believe God's called you to do it, and doing what your parents, friends or ego want you to do. (3) What do you not do well? Knowing what you're called to do often starts with discovering what you're not called to do. When you can accept your limitations, you're on the road to understanding your life's assignment. When you pretend to be something you're not, you live with a chronic sense of inadequacy and set yourself up for frustration. Don't do that.

Be open to the truth about yourself. Discover your God-given assignment, then give yourself to it.

Soulfood: 2 Chr 19-21, Mark 6:45- 56, Ps 119:121-128, Prov 22: 4-7

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Stop beating yourself up



'We all stumble in many ways.' James 3:2 NIV

When you sin, God's Spirit will convict you of your need to repent and change your ways. But until you get your glorified body in Heaven, you're always going to deal with sin. The apostle James wrote, 'We all stumble in many ways' (James 3:2 NIV). But falling down isn't what makes you a failure - it's staying down! Get back up, dust yourself off, receive God's grace, learn from the experience and move on. The Bible says, 'There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus' (Romans 8:1 NIV). God is not condemning you, so stop condemning yourself. A few decades ago, people used to wear a little badge with the letters GNFWMY. It meant, 'God's not finished with me yet.' And he's not finished with you either.Sometimes we're guilty of doing the wrong thing with the right motive. For example, in 1957 Ford Motors described the new Edsel as 'the car of the decade.' Try telling that to all those drivers whose doors wouldn't close, whose horns stuck and whose transmissions failed! And remember the Leaning Tower of Pisa in Italy, where the architect designed a 3-metre-deep foundation for a 54-metre-tall building? How'd you like to have that on your r?sum?? The fact is, the most talented people often make the biggest mistakes. Solomon wrote, 'There is not a righteous man on earth who does what is right and never sins' (Ecclesiastes 7:20 NIV). And Paul added, 'I am not perfect. But Christ has taken hold of me. So I keep on running and struggling to take hold of the prize' (Philippians 3:12 CEV).So stop beating yourself up.

Soulfood: 2 Chr 16-18, Mark 6:30- 44, Ps 119:113-120, Prov 22:1-3

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Practise humility



'They had been arguing about which of them was the greatest.' Mark 9:34 CEV

When Jesus asked his disciples, 'What were you arguing about along the way?' They had been arguing about which one of them was the greatest, and so they did not answer...he said, 'If you want the place of honour, you must...serve others!' (Mark 9:33-35 CEV). If, after living with Jesus day and night for three years, his own disciples struggled with the concept of humility, none of us is exempt. Then Jesus taught them a lesson they'd never forget. 'Jesus knew...he had come from God and would go back to God. He also knew that the Father had given him complete power. So during the meal Jesus got up, removed his outer garment, and wrapped a towel around his waist. He put some water into a large bowl. Then he began washing his disciples' feet and drying them with the towel he was wearing' (John 13:3-5 CEV). Then he blew their minds by saying, 'If your Lord and teacher has washed your feet, you should do the same for each other. I have set the example, and you should do for each other exactly what I have done for you' (John 13:14-15 CEV).Chuck Swindoll writes: 'Bending the knee to help others, or to admit weakness, is considered making yourself vulnerable to those who might take advantage of you. Too many leaders view themselves as being there to be served, except for short periods when it's advantageous to be seen serving others - but not for too long...Not so for the followers of Christ. For them humility isn't a religious concept, it's a way of life.'So today, practise humility!

Soulfood: Jer 31:31-37, Heb 8:1-13

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Understanding how God works



'Because you say so, I will.' Luke 5:5 NIV

The Bible says: 'When he [Jesus] had finished speaking, he said to Simon, "Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch." Simon answered, "Master, we've worked hard all night and haven't caught anything. But because you say so, I will"... When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break... When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus' knees... For he and all his companions were astonished...Then Jesus said..."Don't be afraid; from now on you will catch men." So they...left everything and followed him' (Luke 5:4-11 NIV).

The real test of your faith comes when nothing you've tried has worked, and God tells you to do something that stretches your faith to its limit. At that point you have the choice: give in to your doubts, or say with Peter, 'Because you say so, I will.'

This story teaches us God works in three ways: (1) He uses the common to do the uncommon. In their workplace where nothing special ever seemed to happen, Jesus showed up, called them, and changed their lives. So, look for God in your daily routine, and don't be surprised when he surprises you. (2) He moves you out from the security of the shallow to the risks of the deep. The great catches and the great storms are both in the same sea. If you want one, you have to contend with the other. No risk, no reward. (3) He involves you in one thing to teach you another. Christ's plan for these men was to involve them in an even greater miracle: fishing for souls. Today that's his plan for you too. And it begins when you say, 'Lord, because You say so, I will.'

Soulfood: 2 Chr 12-15, Mark 6:14- 29, Ps 119:105-112, Prov 21:28-31

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'Lord where are you' 2



'He will bring justice if you will only wait.' Job 35:14 NLT

Have you ever tried to sit and watch a seed sprout? You can't, can you? It stays in the ground until the time is right for it to emerge. There's a lesson here. God has planted certain things within you, and you must wait for them to take root and grow. And the unresolved issues of your past can undermine this process. Often it takes prayer and counselling to bring these issues to the surface so that you can effectively deal with them.

With God, a delay is not a denial. When speaking to Job, his friend Elihu said, 'It is wrong to say God doesn't listen, to say the Almighty isn't concerned. You say you can't see him, but he will bring justice if you will only wait' (Job 35:13-14 NLT). What great advice! Charles Trumbull said, 'God knows when to withhold or grant visible signs of encouragement. It's good when he sends confirmation, but we grow faster when we've trusted him without it. Those who do, always receive the greatest visible evidence of his love.'

God answers every prayer; it's just that across some he writes, 'The time is not right yet.' Job basically asks, 'How long will this trial last? Why doesn't God answer?' Because it takes as long as it takes and usually feels uncomfortable the whole time. But there's good news. Eventually your prayers become less about getting answers and more about connecting with God. By letting him work: (1) You begin to realise that he is with you. (2) You develop a deeper level of intimacy with him. (3) You discover you can trust him for the entire trip.

Soulfood: 2 Chr 8-11, Mark 6:1-13, Ps 119:97-104, Prov 21:24-27

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'Lord where are you' 1



'I cry out to you, O God, but you do not answer.' Job 30:20 NIV

Do you feel like God isn't answering your prayers? Job the patriarch felt the same way: 'I cry out to you, O God, but you do not answer; I stand up, but you merely look at me... When I hoped for good, evil came; when I looked for light, then came darkness' (Job 30:20; 26 NIV). All of us go through times when it feels like God has moved and left no forwarding address. What's he up to? Why doesn't he respond? There are some lessons you only learn when God is silent:

(1) Silence isn't absence. An old proverb says, 'Speech is silver, silence is gold!' Sometimes God says to you, 'Be still, and know that I am God' (Psalm 46:10 NIV). You have to be really secure with somebody to just sit quietly with them. Silence takes the emphasis off words and builds a level of intimacy where they're no longer necessary. If you want to be comfortable with God, learn to enter into meditation and silence with him.

(2) Silence tests your faith. How much faith is actually involved when somebody's coaching your every step? It's like a parent running alongside a child who's learning to ride a bike. Right now, the child lacks confidence, but they're going to look strange at age twenty if that parent is still trotting along beside them! At some point God takes his hands off the wheel to see how far you've progressed. And for a while it can be a wobbly ride. That's when you demonstrate how far you've come, and where you're placing your trust.

Soulfood: 2 Chr 5-7, Mark 5:31-43, Ps 119:89-96, Prov 21:20-23

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Relationship and fellowship



'If we say that we have fellowship with him.' 1 John 1:6 NKJV

God is responsible for your relationship with him. The moment you put your trust in Jesus Christ his Son, you are a fully accepted family member. But you are responsible for your fellowship with God. The Bible says, 'If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth' (1 John 1:6 NKJV).Stop and think about the last time you experienced tension with one of your family members. You were still members of the same family, but your conversation became superficial and you found that you were more comfortable apart than together. When something happens between two people who are normally close, the first thing to vanish is the evidence of fellowship. And it's the same in our walk with God. Suddenly our prayers become surface and shallow: 'Lord, please bless this food.' And we begin to avoid spending time with that Person: 'I just don't have time for devotions.' The main prerequisite for experiencing fellowship with Jesus is following him each day and obeying his commands. When Peter and the disciples were fishing, the Lord told them to cast their nets on the right side of the boat. When they obeyed him, they caught a boatload of fish. But something even greater happened that day. As Jesus drew closer, John said, 'It is the Lord' (John 21:7). What followed was an intimate meal and a sweet time of fellowship with Jesus.So if you are feeling out of fellowship with Jesus today, the chances are that you've either stopped fellowshipping with him or started disobeying him. If that's so, do something about it.

Soulfood: 2 Chr 1-4, Mark 5:21-30, Ps 119:81-88, Prov 21:17-19

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The three T's



'Do good to each other.' 1 Thessalonians 5:15 NLT

It's said that when the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.

Let's face it, because of our strong personalities some of us are inclined to use a hammer when a gentler approach would do the job better. If that's your problem, remember the three T's:

(1) Temper. When you're upset you're more likely to make a big deal out of a little one. So when it comes to your response and decibel level, use this rule of thumb: when the reaction is worse than the action, the problem generally increases. But when the reaction is less than the action, the problem usually decreases. (2) Timing. If you don't get an injured person to the hospital quickly enough, their life can be lost. And if you don't apologise when you've wronged someone, the relationship can be lost. Knowing when to act - and when not to - is every bit as important as taking the right action. Lady Dorothy Nevill said, 'The real art of conversation is not only to say the right thing at the right place, but to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment.' (3) Total picture. A man walked into a restaurant and asked the waiter, 'Do you have anything to cure hiccups?' The waiter slapped him across the face. 'Hey! What's the big idea?' the man exclaimed. The waiter smiled: 'Well, you don't have hiccups anymore, do you?' The man said, 'I never did. I wanted something to cure my wife. She's out in the car!' Are you inclined to jump to conclusions? Slow yourself down and you'll be more likely to respond appropriately.

Soulfood: 1 Chr 26:20 - 29:30, Mark 5:11-20, Ps 119:73-80, Prov 21:14-16

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Start praying for God's favour



'I entreated your favour.' Psalm 119:58 NKJV

One moment of God's favour will do more for you than a lifetime of striving. Through the favour of God, Ruth went from being a penniless widow to becoming the wife of Boaz, a wealthy man. It's what made Esther a queen and positioned her to save the Jewish nation. As you begin to walk in God's favour, doors of opportunity open, the right people are drawn to you and you discover ideas, strategies and resources in the most unexpected places.

Does that mean you won't experience opposition? No; when you're doing anything worthwhile you must expect flak from those who aren't privy to God's plan for your life. It goes with the turf. But the Bible says even 'the king's heart is like a stream of water directed by the Lord; he guides it wherever he pleases' (Proverbs 21:1 NLT). Like changing the direction of a moving stream, God can change people's hearts and give you favour with those who might otherwise reject or overlook you. Solomon writes, 'When we please the Lord, even our enemies make friends with us' (Proverbs 16:7 CEV). So when people oppose or disagree with you, just concentrate on pleasing God and let him deal with the fallout.

Remember, God takes up where you leave off. He can give you blessings that, humanly speaking, you don't deserve and qualify for. Just as the Holy Spirit enabled Jesus to fulfill his life's mission, he will equip and enable you to fulfill his plan for your life (see Luke 4:18-19). So stop trying so hard to make things happen on your own terms, and start praying for God's favour. He has promised it to you and he keeps his promises.

Soulfood: 1 Chr 23:21 - 26:19, Mark 5:1-10, Ps 119:65-72, Prov 21:10-13

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