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Peter 10:00-3:00pm

The Word For Today

Protect God's presence

'How can the ark of the Lord come to me?' 2 Samuel 6:9 NKJV

In the Old Testament the most recognised symbol of God's presence was the ark of the covenant. Wherever the ark was, God's presence was there. But Israel allowed the Philistines to steal it. There's an important lesson here. Satan is out to rob you of your sense of God's presence!

Israel lost the ark for one reason - disobedience. You always lose your sense of God's presence at the point of disobedience. What is God telling you to do, or stop doing? He won't negotiate, compromise or overlook disobedience; you must deal with it before you can go forward. David asked, 'How can the ark of the Lord come to me?' (2 Samuel 6:9 NKJV), because all efforts to bring it back to Israel had failed. Somebody suggested putting it on a new cart. Somebody else suggested they get Uzzah (whose name signifies strength) and Ahio (whose name denotes brotherliness) to drive the cart (see 2 Samuel 6:3 NKJV). Most people thought this was a great plan, but God didn't. So much for people's opinions! David had the best of intentions, but they didn't line up with God's will. God had already told Israel that the ark must be carried on the shoulders of anointed priests. In other words, those who knew how to: (a) walk in balance; (b) walk in love and unity; (c) walk in obedience.

Are you getting the message? If you treasure God's presence in your life and want to protect it, apply these principles.

Soulfood: 1 Chr 19:1-23:20 Lk 13:1-17 Ps 119:49-56 Pro 21:4-6,


Believe God for 'good things'

'How much more will your Father in Heaven give good things to those who ask him?' Matthew 7:11 GWT

The cross proves how much God loves you. 'He who did not spare his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not...freely give us all things' (Romans 8:32 NKJV)? And 'all things' means all things! If it's promised in God's Word, it's God's will - so refuse to settle for less. But you must be single-minded in your approach or it won't work (see James 1:6-8). The psalmist said, 'One thing I have desired of the Lord, that will I seek' (Psalm 27:4 NKJV).

Tell God exactly what you want. And if you're walking in obedience and seeking to please him, be confident when you come before him. 'If our heart does not condemn us ...we have confidence toward God' (1 John 3:21 NKJV). But be careful; guilt undermines faith! When you permit sin into your life you become uncomfortable in God's presence, and it's hard to believe for the results you want. So deal with it immediately. Miracles happen to the believing - so get back into a position where you can confidently believe God for the thing you need. He hasn't changed his plans for your life. Circumstances and seasons change, but 'God's word of promise...is for ever settled in Heaven and is always fulfilled' (see Isaiah 40:8).

Jesus said, 'How much more will your Father...give good things to them who ask him' (Matthew 7:11 NKJV). Note the words 'good things'. That sounds like another Bible promise. 'No good thing will he withhold from those who walk uprightly' (Psalm 84:11 NKJV). And if God says no, it's because it wouldn't be 'good' for you. Trust him - he has something better in mind for you.

Soulfood: 1 Chr 16-18 Lk 12:49-59 Ps 119:41-48 Pro 21:1-3,


God is directing your steps

'The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord.' Psalm 37:23 NKJV

Elijah's destiny was to stand on Mount Carmel, call down fire from Heaven, and deliver Israel from idolatry. But he could only get there one step at a time. That's how God works.

First God sent Elijah to a brook at Cherith (which means 'covenant'). On your spiritual journey you will discover that God is a covenant-making, covenant-keeping God. He miraculously dried up the Jordan River, made an axe-head float, and caused fish to swim into an empty net - proving that when he makes a promise he keeps it. When God sent Elijah to Cherith, he told him, 'I have commanded the ravens to feed you there' (1 Kings 17:4 NKJV). Had Elijah gone elsewhere, God wouldn't have met his needs. Why? Because a covenant is two-sided; when you do your part, God does his. Next God sent Elijah to Zarephath, saying, 'I have commanded a widow...to provide for you' (1 Kings 17:9 NKJV). Think about it: God used a flesh-eating bird and a penniless widow to feed Elijah, so stop trying to second-guess him! The Bible says, 'The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord' (Psalm 37:23 NKJV).

So here's the question: if you truly believe that Scripture, why are you complaining, worrying, and trying to figure everything out instead of trusting him? Zarephath means 'a crucible', a place where metal is refined. If you're going through a fiery trial today, rejoice - God is separating the gold from the impurities in your character. When you've passed the test at Cherith and Zarephath, you'll be ready for the blessing of Mount Carmel!

Soulfood: 1 Chr 12:23-15:29 Lk 12:35-48 Ps 119:33-40 Pro 20:28-30,


The parental guilt trip

'My son [and daughter], if your heart is wise, my heart will rejoice.' Proverbs 23:15 NKJV

Since there are no perfect people, there can be no perfect parents. So though you love your children dearly, at times you'll get tired, frustrated, disappointed and irritable. The secret is to make such times the exception rather than the rule.

A Christian psychologist writes: 'A few years ago I asked one thousand mothers and fathers to describe their greatest frustrations in raising kids. I heard many humorous stories about sticky telephones and wet toilet seats and knotted shoestrings. One mother actually wanted to know why toddlers never throw up in the bathroom...But in our poll parents didn't merely laugh about their frustrations - they tended to blame themselves. They said they were overwhelmed and were losing confidence in their ability to do the job. Many were having trouble just coping from day to day. How sad it is that this ancient responsibility of raising children has become so burdensome and laden with guilt. Actually, the facts won't support that self-condemnation in the majority of cases. Most mums and dads are doing a creditable job at home - and it's time someone patted them on the back for their commitment and sacrifice. Some day when the frustrations of toddlerhood and the turmoil of adolescence have passed, they'll enjoy the sweet benefits of being very good and loving parents. Hang in there, Mum and Dad; you're more skilled than you think you are.'

Solomon spells out the parent's true reward: 'My son [and daughter], if your heart is wise, my heart will rejoice' (Proverbs 23:15 NKJV).

Soulfood: Ex 16:1-18 Jn 6:1-15 John 6:25-40 1 Cor 11:23-24,


Halftruths and false impressions

'Deliver my soul...from lying lips, and...a deceitful tongue.' Psalm 120:2 NKJV

When you deliberately create a false impression, the Bible calls it dealing in 'falsehood...error, deception, cheating' (Revelation 22:15 AMP). That may sound harsh, especially if all you had in mind was making an extra dollar, sparing someone's feelings, or trying to make yourself look better. No human being would set such a standard, but God does. And he's serious about it. Case in point: Ananias and Sapphira. When this couple tried to create a false impression about their giving, they dropped dead in the presence of the apostles. As a result, 'No one else dared join them' (Acts 5:13 NIV). How long would you have lasted in that church? Peter said, 'You have not lied to men but to God' (Acts 5:4 NKJV). That puts a whole new slant on it, doesn't it?

The story's told of a guy who went fishing and caught nothing. So he stopped by the market on his way home and bought three fish. Then he told the shop assistant, 'Throw them to me - that way when I get home I can tell my wife I caught them.' Solomon said, 'My mouth speaks what is true...All the words of my mouth are just; none of them is crooked or perverse' (Proverbs 8:7-8 NIV).

Some of the worst lies are the ones we tell ourselves, and end up believing. And another thought: a liar's biggest problem is they can't believe anybody else, because how you live your life is how you judge your neighbour. So if you have a problem telling the truth, pray, 'Deliver my soul...Lord, from lying lips, and...a deceitful tongue' (Psalm 120:2 NKJV).

Soulfood: 1 Chr 10:1-12:22 Lk 12:22-34 Ps 119:25-32 Pro 20:25-27,


Let it go

'Cast out this bondwoman and her son.' Genesis 21:10 NKJV

When Abraham tried to hurry the plan of God and fulfil it through well-intentioned but misguided human effort, Ishmael was born. Perhaps you have tried something similar yourself. We all have our 'Ishmaels' - a good idea that wasn't a God idea. And it can complicate your life. So God told Abraham, 'Cast out this bondwoman and her son' (Genesis 21:10 NKJV). In other words: 'It's time to deal with your past and clean out your cupboard. This thing is holding you back, and until you deal with it you can't move forward to your destiny. Get it out of your life and don't look back!'

Sometimes your miracle (Isaac) and your mistake (Ishmael) can live together for a while under the same roof. Things can be so good in one area of your life, yet so bad in another. But there comes a time when God says, 'Because of the plans I have for you, you must put this thing out of your life.' And that's not easy. It's painful letting go of what your flesh craves or cherishes. But you have only two options: be led by your emotions and miss out on God's best, or say, 'As much as I love this person or thing, I love the Lord more.'

When you're willing to walk away from something you thought you had to have because you love God more, that's called 'the sacrifice of praise' (Hebrews 13:15). And when you offer it up to God, you position yourself to experience a new level of his blessing. Is God speaking to you today about something similar in your life? If so, let it go!

Soulfood: 1 Chr 7:20-9:44 Lk 12:13-21 Ps 119:17-24 Pro 20:22-24,


How to overcome fear 5

'Faith comes by hearing...the word of God.' Romans 10:17 NKJV

Every day fear and faith will arise inside you, and you get to decide which one will prevail. Somebody wrote, 'Two natures beat within my breast; the one is foul, the other blessed. The one I love, the other I hate; the one I feed will dominate.' Fear and faith will always be present in your life, and the one you feed will come out on top. You can't expect fear to simply disappear. If you focus on your fears, entertain them, and give in to them, they'll increase. The way to overcome them is to starve them. Don't give them your time or energy. Don't feed them with gossip, negative news reports, or frightening films.

Focus on your faith, and each day feed it through God's Word (see Romans 10:17). The more energy and time you devote to your faith, the stronger it will become. Anytime you feel afraid of something but do it anyway, you reprogramme your attitude. In other words, when you feel afraid, it means 'go' instead of 'stop'; it means 'fight harder' instead of 'give up'.

The most important step you can take to overcome fear is trusting God to do the thing you think you can't do. No matter how strong a hold fear may have on you, it can be overcome. That's because fear is in your mind, and your mind can be renewed by the Word of God. Here's the key: 'Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God' (Romans 12:2 NKJV).

Soulfood: 1 Chr 6:1-7:19 Lk 12:1-12 Ps 119:9-16 Pro 20:19-21,


How to overcome fear 4

'Don't worry about tomorrow.' Matthew 6:34 NLT

Yesterday and tomorrow both clamour for our attention. Yesterday wants us to second-guess our decisions and worry if we did the right thing. That's wasted energy. As President Harry Truman said, 'If you've done the best you can - if you've done what you have to do - there's no use worrying about it because nothing can change it.' And tomorrow can also cause you to miss opportunities. Let's face it, most people arrive at a different destination in life than what they expected - some better, some worse, but all different. So focusing on the destination isn't necessarily a good idea. Besides, tomorrow may come, or it may not. There are no guarantees.

Jesus said, 'Don't worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today's trouble is enough for today.' Jesus was talking to people who were worried about having the basic necessities in life, like food and clothes. And he said to them, 'Don't worry about these things...your heavenly Father already knows all your needs' (Matthew 6:31-32 NLT). The only place you really have any power - is in the present. Do what you can in the here and now despite your fear, and you'll have the satisfaction of knowing you're doing everything within your power to reach your potential. If you project too far into the future, you'll suffer from the 'what ifs?' and your fears will run wild. American author Mark Twain quipped, 'I've been through some horrible things in my life - a few of which actually happened!'

Give your past and your future to God and live your life one day at a time, trusting him. That's how you overcome fear.

Soulfood: 1 Chr 4:24-5:26 Lk 11:45-54 Ps 119:1-8 Pro 20:15-18,


How to overcome fear 3

'We shall reap if we do not lose heart.' Galatians 6:9 NKJV

Don't allow what you can't do to interfere with what you can do. Boxing manager Cus D'Amato said, 'The hero and the coward both feel the same fear, but the hero uses his fear and projects it onto his opponent, while the coward runs. It's the same fear; it's what you do with it that matters.'

Most negative emotions can be converted into something positive to help us get further in life. Are you afraid of poverty? Convert it into a work ethic. Are you afraid of greediness? Convert it into generosity. Are you afraid of rejection? Convert it into the ability to connect with people. Are you afraid of insignificance? Convert it to the service of others. As economist Roger Babson remarked, 'If things go wrong, don't go with them.' Instead, seek a new way to do it. You can turn your life around by taking the thing that once created fear, and using that energy to do something worthwhile. There are many things in life you can't control, and there's no good reason to worry about those things.

Writer Harold Stephens said, 'There's a great difference between worry and concern. A worried person sees a problem; a concerned person solves a problem.' How can you become a problem-solver? By focusing on the things you can control. And the first one is your attitude. Remember, what happens to you isn't nearly as important as what happens in you. The second is your calendar. You may not be able to control today's circumstances, but you can do your best to plan the time you have. Most of us fear the future because we don't prepare for it.

Soulfood: 1 Chr 3:1-4:23 Lk 11:29-44 Ps 78:65-72 Pro 20:11-14,


How to overcome fear 2

'His compassions fail not. They are new every morning.' Lamentations 3:22-23 NKJV

Cardinal J.H. Newman said, 'Fear not that thy life shall come to an end, but that it shall never have a beginning.' If you let fear take over your life, you'll never fully live. The truth is that many of our fears are totally unfounded. Haven't you found that to be so? Studies show that 95 per cent of what we fear is baseless, and the rest are things we must learn to live with. Perhaps the best approach is to adopt the attitude of the poet Gertrude Stein, who said, 'Considering how dangerous everything is, nothing is really frightening.'

Humanly speaking, there are no guarantees in life. We look to many things to protect us: insurance policies, burglar alarms, travellers' cheques, aspirin, umbrellas, GPS systems and airbags. But the truth is that life is dangerous, damaging to your health, and will eventually kill you. So you might as well live to the fullest. Shakespeare said, 'He is not worthy of the honeycomb who shuns the hive because the bees have stings.' Don't let fear keep you from taking small steps in your development. You never know where they may lead.

There are two things that are ever-present with us in life: fear and faith. And every day you live, you choose one or the other. Jeremiah chose faith. He wrote: 'Through the Lord's mercies we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. "The Lord is my portion...therefore I hope in him!" The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him' (Lamentations 3:22-25 NKJV).

Soulfood: 1 Chr 1-2 Lk 11:14-28 Ps 78:56-64 Pro 20:7-10,

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