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The Word For Today

Be realistic about your abilities

'Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves.' Romans 12:3 NLT

God told Moses, 'I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring...the Israelites out of Egypt' (Exodus 3:10 NIV). But instead of thinking, 'What an honour,' Moses replied, 'Who am I to lead the people' (Exodus 3:11 NLT)? Moses' upbringing as Pharaoh's adopted grandson had prepared him for the job, but now he was in exile after killing an Egyptian.

It's easy to criticise Moses' hesitancy, but Mark Roberts observes: 'Wise leaders have a certain reluctance that comes from personal humility and taking seriously the responsibility of leadership...After all, God chose Moses knowing full well he'd be reluctant...God [could] have gone after someone with more self-confidence, but he didn't...Consider how this scene might have been different if Moses had responded, "No problem, God. I'm your man...I've had years of experience in Pharaoh's household!" Would someone with such abundant self-confidence have been right for the job? I doubt it. If our reluctance to lead comes from a realistic sense of our limitations and a genuine recognition of heavy responsibility...it positions us perfectly to have healthy confidence as a leader...Instead of listing Moses' abilities and accomplishments, God simply said, "I will be with you" (Exodus 3:12 NLT).' In other words, 'I know you can't do this alone, but I'll be with you and that's what matters.'

Paul writes, 'Think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you' (Romans 12:3 NIV). It doesn't matter how much you know or how many people follow you, the litmus test of leadership is operating in God's strength, not your own. 'The Kingdom of God is not just...talk; it is living by God's power' (1 Corinthians 4:20 NLT).

Soulfood: Jer 28-30 Matt 3:11 - 4:11 Ps 95 Pro 14:29-33,


Biblical rules for success 2

'Meditate on it day and night.' Joshua 1:8 NIV

Second, let it in. The word 'meditate' means 'to ponder, ruminate, or examine attentively'. So don't just read the Scriptures, thoroughly digest them. Pray, 'Open my eyes to see the wonderful truths in your instructions' (Psalm 119:18 NLT). You can read a Scripture dozens of times and suddenly see something you've never seen before. The idea is to train your mind to see things from God's viewpoint. Mark Twain said the two best days in a person's life are the day they're born, and the day they discover why they're born. And the only person who can tell you that, is your Creator.

Third, live it out. 'Be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful' (Joshua 1:8 NIV). Yes, study the Bible, meditate on the Bible, and even memorise the Bible. But if you want to find success in life you must obey the Bible. You must translate truth into action. No one can guarantee you success except God - and that guarantee is found in reading, meditating, and obeying his Word. Value and worth are directly related to purpose. A car that won't run is worthless. A pen that won't write is useless. Likewise, if you are going to be what you need to be, you need to find your purpose in life and fulfil it.

At death, your fame and fortune will not matter. The thing of eternal value will be your answer to this question: 'Did I live my life in the presence of God and for his purpose?' C.S. Lewis put it this way: 'He who has God and everything has no more than he who has God only.'

Soulfood: Jer 25-27 Matt 2:16 - 3:10 Ps 64 Pro 14:25-28,


Biblical rules for success 1

'Then you will be prosperous and successful.' Joshua 1:8 NIV

God told Joshua: 'This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and...have good success' (Joshua 1:8 NKJV). God views success as simple to achieve, and equally simple for him to measure. If we are going to succeed in things that really matter, we must follow the instructions for life found in Scripture.

So here are three biblical rules for success: First, look it up. 'This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth.' In other words, 'Don't leave home without it!' Success entails making the study of God's Word a constant part of your life. This may mean a radical change for you. But it's worth it because it will help you in every way: 'All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work' (2 Timothy 3:16-17 NIV). Imagine going to a doctor when you're sick and getting a prescription that can make you well. But you only take it once a week, or when you feel like it, or never at all. Would you blame the doctor for not getting well? Some of us do that with God: 'Lord, why has this happened to me? I don't understand it.' Would you say the medicine doesn't work? Not if you don't take it. 'My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge' (Hosea 4:6 NKJV).

So the word for you today is: get into God's Word and get it into you!

Soulfood: Jer 22-24 Matt 2:1-15 Ps 59:9-17 Pro 14:23-24,


Live a balanced life

'Let your moderation be known unto all men.' Philippians 4:5 KJV

To have a balanced life you must live by these two Scriptures: (1) 'God cares for you, so turn all your worries over to him' (1 Peter 5:7 CEV). (2) 'Be on your guard and stay awake. Your enemy, the devil, is like a roaring lion, sneaking around to find someone to attack' (1 Peter 5:8 CEV). When you fail to do either of these two things, you've opened the door for Satan to attack you. Too much of anything, even a good thing, is a problem. For example, work is good. But too much of it causes stress, which can result in sickness, resentment, depression and the breakdown of your relationships. Food is good. But too much of it can lead to serious health problems. It's good to be organised. But if you become a perfectionist you can drive yourself and everyone around you crazy.

Any area of your life that gets out of balance will rob you of the joy God wants you to have. Maintaining a life of balance is one of the biggest challenges you'll face. 'Let your moderation be known unto all men' (Philippians 4:5 KJV). If you're a highly driven personality, note the word 'moderation'. It means 'Don't go to extremes.' Pastor, excel in your ministry but don't neglect your family. Parent, don't just make a living, enjoy the people you're making it for. It is fine to care about your appearance, but don't be obsessed with your looks because they're not the true measure of your worth as a person.

Take a look at your life and ask, 'In what areas am I out of balance?' Then ask God to help you get back into balance.

Soulfood: Jer 18-21 Matt 1:1-25 Ps 59:1-8 Pro 14:21-22,


Ask 'Is there a better way'

'The Lord will command the blessing on...all to which you set your hand.' Deuteronomy 28:8 NKJV

Almost anybody can spot the problem, discuss the problem and complain about the problem. But a solution-oriented person looks for ways to solve the problem.

James Murray Spangler was such a person. As a department store cleaner, he decided that the only way to overcome the boredom of his job, which consisted of sweeping floors, was to find a more innovative way to do it. Plus, he had the added incentive of being allergic to the dust he was sweeping every day. Then a thought came to him: 'Instead of sweeping up the dust, maybe there is a way to suck it up.' Where do such creative thoughts come from? God, our Creator. And since you are his offspring, he will share his ideas with you. Spangler's questions led him to invent a crude but workable vacuum cleaner. He then sought out an old friend in the leather business to finance the manufacturing of his invention. The man's name was W.H. Hoover. Not only did Hoover vacuum cleaners become very popular, but 'hoovering' became for at least one generation synonymous with sweeping floors.

Built into every obstacle is an opportunity; every question, an answer; every problem, a solution. So don't be afraid to question methods, systems and equipment and ask, 'Is there a better way?' The world has been enriched by people who dared to ask that question. And you can be such a person, for God promises to bless 'all to which you set your hand' (Deuteronomy 28:8 NKJV).

Soulfood: Exo 20:17 Ps 10 Jam 4:1-3,


'Good success'

'Then you will have good success.' Joshua 1:8 NKJV

When Joshua became leader of Israel in place of Moses, God told him: 'This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success' (Joshua 1:8 NKJV).

There are two kinds of success: success that fulfils God's will for your life; and success that is temporal, can leave you feeling empty and dies when you die. Boris Becker, the world championship tennis player, reportedly contemplated suicide because of the sheer emptiness he experienced in life. Even though he appeared to be successful, he knew his life wasn't all that it was cracked up to be. 'I had won Wimbledon twice before, once as the youngest player,' he said. 'I was rich. I had all the material possessions I needed: money, cars, women, everything...I know this is a clich?. It is the old song of the movie and pop stars who commit suicide. They have everything and yet they are so unhappy...I had no inner peace. I was a puppet on a string.'

Someone once said, 'In whatever man does without God, he must fail miserably or succeed even more miserably.' Do you know why that statement is true? Because without God all success ends in failure [it doesn't satisfy]. Jesus' definition of a fool was this: 'Every man is a fool who gets rich on earth but not in Heaven' (Luke 12:21 TLB). 'Good success' is putting God in first place, and allowing him to put everything together for you.

Soulfood: Jer 14-17 Mark 16:1-20 Ps 21 Pro 14:17-20,


Check your attitude

'You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.' Philippians 2:5 NLT

A flying instructor will tell you that periodically your plane needs to be 'trimmed' or 'balanced in flight'. After flying through storms, it gets knocked out of alignment and needs to be adjusted. And the same thing happens on your spiritual journey. The storms of life can 'knock you out of alignment'. Unexpected 'weather conditions' like sickness, depression, unemployment, divorce, disappointment and death can force you to change direction and strategy. That's why your attitude needs to be regularly checked and adjusted.

So what are you dealing with that calls for an attitude check? Paul writes, 'You must have the same attitude...Jesus had' (Philippians 2:5 NLT). Is such a lifestyle possible? Yes, but you must make it a priority and pursue it each day. Joshua wanted to turn an army of complainers into an army that could conquer the Promised Land. So God gave him this formula for success: 'Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night...be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do' (Joshua 1:8 NLT).

Try this technique for working on your attitude: each week identify a Scripture that relates to an area in which you want to grow, write it down on a piece of card and memorise it. In one year you'll have fifty-two Scriptures you can recall and stand on. Think how that will impact your life! Not only will wrong attitudes become right attitudes, but your life will begin to move in the right direction.

Soulfood: Jer 10-13 Mark 15:33-47 Ps 17 Pro 14:13-16,


How Satan tempts us

'He will show you how to escape from your temptations.' 1 Corinthians 10:13 CEV

Satan tried to get Jesus to succumb to three different kinds of temptation, and he'll try the same with you:

(1) Satisfaction without God. Knowing Christ was hungry, Satan told him to turn stones into bread. But Jesus said no because he knew God's plan was to feed and strengthen him supernaturally; he refused to settle for less - and you must too. (2) Success without God. Satan then took Jesus to the top of the temple and told him to jump off, saying God would send angels to protect him. But God's plan for Jesus was the cross, the resurrection, and the multitudes who would come to believe in him. Satan tried to get Jesus to settle for less, and he'll try the same with you. Don't take the bait! (3) Significance without God. Satan offered Jesus the kingdoms of this world if only he'd bow down and worship him. What an offer! Significance without God! But the fact is, the kingdoms of this world weren't Satan's to offer! So he lied to Jesus - and he will lie to you too. The way to lasting satisfaction is the way of the cross, which means sacrificing yourself. Jesus rebuked Satan with a reminder from Scripture that God alone is worthy to be glorified.

Understand this: Satan will take every legitimate desire you have and try to get you to fulfil it in an illegitimate way. But you can overcome him. How? By staying close to God and living in his Word, 'He will show you how to escape from your temptations' (1 Corinthians 10:13 CEV).

Soulfood: Jer 7-9 Mark 15:21-32 Ps 8 Pro 14:9-12,


Learn to be content

'Godliness with contentment is great gain.' 1 Timothy 6:6 NKJV

When you talk about contentment, some people think you're against progress. No. Paul is saying contentment never comes from externals! Every twelve minutes, radio and television advertisers try to convince us that contentment isn't possible without their particular brand of product. Don't go for it! The desire for more can be insatiable. As long as you believe more is better, you'll never be satisfied. Why? Because you'll never live long enough to have it all! Just think; when you get something or achieve something, do you even take the time to enjoy it, or do you gallop off to the next thing without stopping?

To avoid getting old too soon and wise too late, read this Scripture: (1) 'We brought nothing with us when we came into the world, and we can't take anything with us when we leave it' (1 Timothy 6:7 NLT). When you die and people ask, 'How much did they leave?' the answer will be 'everything' (including a legacy of good or bad). (2) 'Some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith' (1 Timothy 6:10 NLT). If your pursuit of material things is leaving no time for God, re-examine your priorities and start changing them while you still can. Stop thinking, 'If only I had a bigger house, a more understanding spouse, a particular job, a radical makeover, a higher IQ, or the acceptance of a particular person, I'd be happy.' It doesn't work that way.

The Bible says, 'This is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it' (Psalm 118:24 NKJV).

Soulfood: Jer 4-6 Mark 15:1-20 Ps 144:9-15 Pro 14:5-8,


How big is your God

'The battle is the Lord's...he will give you into our hands.' 1 Samuel 17:47 NKJV

How you handle life depends on how big you believe God is. If he's too small: (1) You'll live in constant anxiety thinking everything depends on you. (2) Your outlook will be dictated by your surroundings - or worse, your critics. (3) Without the acceptance of a loving God you'll be a slave to people's opinions. (4) You'll constantly crave recognition because you don't understand that 'your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you' (Matthew 6:4 NAS).

Author John Ortberg says that when we make the mistake of shrinking God, we 'offer prayer without faith, work without passion, service without joy and suffering without hope - which results in fear, retreat, loss of vision and failure to persevere.' When Goliath threatened the Israelites, 'they were dismayed and greatly afraid' (1 Samuel 17:11 ESV). They didn't think their God was big enough for the job. But not David! 'Let no one's heart fail...your servant will...fight...this Philistine... The Lord...who rescued me from...the lion and...bear, will rescue me' (1 Samuel 17:32, 37 ESV). You can face anything when you know what David knew - 'the battle is the Lord's'. And he's never lost one yet!

So, you don't have to depend on your own resources. David may have felt small, but he knew his God was big enough for the job. Do you know that? Eighteenth-century Anglican clergyman John Newton said, 'If the Lord be with us we have no cause for fear. His eye is upon us, his arm over us, his ear open to our prayer, his grace sufficient, [and] his promises unchangeable.' It all depends on how big your God is!

Soulfood: Jer 1-3 Mark 14:66-72 Ps 144:1-8 Pro 14:1-4,

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