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The Word For Today

Your joy will return

'Joy comes in the morning.' Psalm 30:5 NKJV

It's hard when you work all day then come home to an empty house and sleep with your arms wrapped around a pillow, wishing you had someone to hold. No matter how much you try to cover it up, nothing can hide that kind of loneliness. It's the pain of having so much to share and nobody to share it with. But God knows your plight, and he cares. It's why he made Eve for Adam, found Boaz for Ruth and Rebekah for Isaac. It's why his Word deals with real-life issues like sexual frustration, loneliness, failure and lack of self-worth.

Natural voids and thirsts exist within all of us, and how we fill them determines our ability to survive and find happiness. If you're struggling to face the challenges of life on your own, you need to know that you're not alone! 'The God of all comfort' is with you (2 Corinthians 1:3 NKJV). No one understands like Jesus. His family rejected him, his disciples abandoned him and the world crucified him. That's why the Bible says he's 'touched with the feeling of our infirmities' and was 'in all points tempted...as we are' (Hebrews 4:15 KJV). He knows when you feel like that nothing you do is ever good enough. He knows that as well as being a parent, you're a person. He knows, he understands and he invites you to come to him.

The season you're in right now won't last forever. A new one is coming, with new energy, new relationships, new experiences and new joy. Until then remember: 'Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning' (Psalm 30:5 NKJV). Your joy will return!

Soulfood: Lev 23:33-44 John 7:1-40 Zech 14:16-21 Heb 11:8-16,


The power of your testimony

'Go...tell them how much the Lord has done for you.' Mark 5:19 NIV

The most powerful testimony of all - is a life that can't be explained without including God! People may dispute your theology, but your testimony, that's something else! Six different times Paul stood before hostile audiences, and each time he gave his personal testimony. No arguing, no debating - just his story. Dr David Yonggi Cho built the world's largest church in South Korea (one million members). He was won to Christ by a lady he met only once. She shared her testimony, moved on, and Cho, a former Buddhist, never found her again.

Your testimony is an awesome thing, especially when it's backed by a consistent lifestyle. People who won't listen to others will listen to you, relate to you and respond to you if you'll share your story. And when you do, keep in mind four things: (1) Be interesting. Give them the short version and avoid clich?s. Jesus is exciting; He came to bring '[life] more abundantly' (John 10:10 NKJV). (2) Be specific. Talk about: (a) how it used to be; (b) how you met Jesus; (c) how it is now. (3) Be honest. Don't say, 'All your problems will disappear when you become a Christian.' The Christian life is a battlefield, not a playing field. Let people know you still have struggles but something important has changed - you're no longer alone: 'He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world' (1 John 4:4 NKJV). (4) Be warm. Don't try to arm-wrestle them into the Kingdom. Be gracious, sow the seed and leave the harvest to God.

Now, 'Go...tell them how much the Lord has done for you' (Mark 5:19 NIV).

Soulfood: Exo 34:29-35 Mark 9:2-27 2 Cor 3:7-18,


Take 'the people of war with you'

'Take all the people of war with you.' Joshua 8:1 NKJV

When you're under spiritual attack, you need to surround yourself with 'the people of war'. They are experienced in spiritual warfare and know how to deal with the enemy. They have proven strategies for victory and a tenacious faith that rises up and says, 'If God be for us, who can be against us' (Romans 8:31 NKJV)? The truth is, the people of war are the people of the Word. They know how to take the sword of the spirit, which is the Word of God, and use it to defeat the enemy (see Ephesians 6:17). They're not hesitant about marching into the enemy's camp and taking back everything he has stolen from them (see 1 Samuel 30:8).

Anybody can stand with you in the good times, but when you find somebody who can stand with you in the bad times, treasure them and build a relationship with them. The Bible says, 'A brother is born for adversity' (Proverbs 17:17 NKJV). Did you get that? They're born for battle! They're not just strong in faith, they're strong in fight. And you won't necessarily find these people in pulpits and choir lofts; they blow no trumpets, wave no banners and demand no applause. But they know how to boldly approach the throne of grace and claim the promises of God (see Hebrews 4:16). After Joshua conquered Jericho, God said to him, 'Take all the people of war with you, and arise, go up to Ai. See, I have given into your hand the king...his people...his city, and his land' (Joshua 8:1 NKJV).

So if you're in a battle today, take 'the people of war with you'.

Soulfood: 2 Sam 22:31-51 2 Sam 23 2 Sam 24:1-25 John 4:13-26 Ps 32 Pro 23:29-35,


How to experience God's peace

'Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything...Then you will experience God's peace.' Philippians 4:6-7 NLT

God's peace is a wonderful thing. And some of the people around you today are in need of it. It comes when you commit your life to Christ and live by the principles laid out in Scripture. When you 'commit' something to the Lord, you transfer every part of it from you to him (see Psalm 37:5). Peter writes, 'Casting...the whole of your...concerns, once and for all, on him, for he cares for you' (1 Peter 5:7 AMP). What a privilege. Have you been availing yourself of it lately?

'How do I cast all my cares on him?' you ask. Through prayer! As soon as you become aware that you're starting to worry and lose your sense of peace, take it to God immediately and leave it with him. Don't give the devil time to work you over. The longer you wait, the greater his hold over you becomes.

'But I can't help thinking about it,' you say. 'What can I do?' These two things: (1) Give it to God and then start to focus on other things. It's a learned response, one you'll have to practise daily. Paul writes, 'Whatever is true...honourable and worthy of respect...whatever is lovely and brings peace...think continually on these things' (Philippians 4:8 AMP). In other words, redirect your thoughts! (2) Find out what God says in his Word about your situation. Then line your thoughts, words and actions up with it. When you do this, 'You will experience God's peace' (Philippians 4:7 NLT).

Soulfood: 2 Sam 20 2 Sam 21 2 Sam 22:1-30 John 4:1-12 Ps 100 Pro 23:22-28,


Clearly established goals

'I press on towards the goal to win the prize for which God has called me.' Philippians 3:14 NIV

In 1972, Life magazine published a story about the amazing adventures of John Goddard. When he was 15, his grandmother said, 'If only I had done that when I was young.' Determined not to make that statement at the end of his life, John wrote out 127 goals. He named ten rivers he wanted to explore and seventeen mountains he wanted to climb. He set goals of becoming an Eagle Scout, a world traveller and a pilot. Also on his list was riding a horse in the Rose Bowl parade, diving in a submarine, retracing the travels of Marco Polo, reading the Bible from cover to cover, and reading the entire Encyclopedia Britannica. He also planned to read the entire works of Shakespeare, Plato, Dickens, Socrates, Aristotle and several other classic authors. He desired to learn to play the flute and violin, marry, have children (he had five), pursue a career in medicine and serve as a missionary for his church. Sound impossible? At age 47, he had accomplished 103 of his 127 goals!

Now, your list of goals may not be as extensive as his, but if you don't have some goals for your life you'll have little motivation to get up in the morning and little satisfaction when you put your head on your pillow each night. And unless you try something beyond what you've already mastered, you won't grow.

So set your goals in prayer, and with God's help work towards them each day.

Soulfood: 2 Sam 17:14-29 2 Sam 18 2 Sam 19:1-43 John 3:22-36 Ps 89:38-52 Pro 23:19-21,


You can start again

'Though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again.' Proverbs 24:16 NIV

On the night of December 9, 1914, Edison Industries was destroyed by fire. The loss exceeded two million dollars, along with the majority of Thomas Edison's work. He was insured only for $238 because the buildings were constructed of concrete, which was thought to make a building fireproof. At 67-seven years of age, the great inventor watched his life's work go up in flames. The next morning after firefighters had finally brought the inferno under control, he surveyed his charred dreams and crushed hopes. As he looked at the scene, he said, 'There is great value in disaster. All our mistakes are burned up. Thank God we can start anew.' Three weeks after the fire, Edison produced one of his greatest inventions: the first phonograph. Try to imagine the world of music and entertainment without it!

The Bible says, 'For though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again, but the wicked stumble when calamity strikes' (Proverbs 24:16 NIV). With God on your side you can begin again because the power to do it resides within you. It's the same power that raised Christ from the dead (see Romans 8:11). Paul prayed for believers at Ephesus: 'That out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being' (Ephesians 3:16 NIV). Where is your strength? 'In your inner being.' He continues: 'Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us' (Ephesians 3:20 NIV).

So the word for you today is - you can start again.

Soulfood: Lev 16 Lev 23:26-32 Heb 9:1-14 Heb 13:11-16,


Worship is serving God

'Bless the Lord, all you servants of the Lord.' Psalm 134:1 NKJV

The last verse of the last psalm in the Bible says, 'Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord' (Psalm 150:6 NKJV). That means as long as you are alive you are called to worship God. But some of us are more wired to be worshippers in the church, while others are more wired to be workers. While all of us are called to worship God, some of us are more inclined to do it through works while others are more inclined to do it through worship. And with God, both count as acts of service. The psalmist said, 'Bless the Lord, all you servants of the Lord, who by night stand in the house of the Lord! Lift up your hands in the sanctuary, and bless the Lord' (Psalm 134:1-2 NKJV). Note the words 'servants of the Lord'. How were they serving him? Through worship.

The Westminster Confession of Faith says, 'The chief end of man is that he might glorify God.' And there are many ways to do it: 'Whoever offers praise glorifies me' (Psalm 50:23 NKJV). Worship acts like a thermostat; it creates a climate in which God's presence can be experienced and enjoyed. David said: 'Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits' (Psalm 103:1-2 NKJV). What a benefits package! Forgiveness, healing, deliverance and protection. How do we receive these benefits? Through worship.

When we bless the Lord, he blesses us. So when you worship, you're serving God.

Soulfood: 2 Sam 14:21-33 2 Sam 15 2 Sam 16 2 Sam 17:1-13 John 3:1-21 Ps 89:15-37 Pro 23:15-18,


Pray and post a guard

'We prayed...and posted a guard.' Nehemiah 4:9 NIV

God's sovereignty doesn't negate our responsibility. Just the opposite. It empowers it. When we trust God, we think more clearly and react more decisively. Like Nehemiah, who said, 'We prayed to our God and posted a guard day and night to meet this threat' (Nehemiah 4:9 NIV). Note the words: 'We prayed...and posted a guard.' Nehemiah did two things. He trusted God for success, and acted on what God had told him to do.

Prayer invites God to do what you cannot do. Paul wrote, 'Pray without ceasing' (1 Thessalonians 5:17 NKJV). Why? Because God comes by invitation. Until you've sought God's guidance you're at the mercy of your own thoughts, and everybody else's. When you don't know what you don't know, you're in a dangerous place. Why settle for human knowledge when you can have divine input? God says, 'Call to me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know' (Jeremiah 33:3 NKJV). And when God reveals his will to you, don't delay and don't debate - do it!

Before God gives you his next set of instructions, he wants to know that you have obeyed his last set of instructions. Why? Because he cannot bless you beyond your last act of disobedience. So stop and take an inventory. If you've done the wrong thing, repent, make a course correction, and get back on the right path as quickly as possible. 'But this is what I commanded them, saying, "Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be my people. And walk in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well with you"' (Jeremiah 7:23 NKJV).

Soulfood: 2 Sam 12 2 Sam 13 2 Sam 14:1-20 John 2:12-25 Ps 89: 1-14 Pro 23:10-14,


Are you a 'me first' person

'In humility value others above yourselves.' Philippians 2:3 NIV

If you're a 'me first' person, here are some verses of Scripture designed to keep you on your toes, and your knees! 'Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but...to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus' (Philippians 2:3-5 NIV). That's how Jesus treated people, and you have been called to do likewise. Is doing this easy or convenient? No, it runs contrary to everything in our self-centred natures. And because you were gracious yesterday is no guarantee you'll treat people the same way today.

Grace is like a garment; you have to put it on each morning and wear it all day. 'How can I live like that?' you ask. By drawing daily on God's grace, and deciding to put others first. By looking for ways to support and encourage them. Everybody you meet is fighting a battle of some kind, and you may be the one person that crosses their path who is able to speak a word of encouragement to them (see Proverbs 16:24 NLT). Don't let them down.

Humility is an attitude that determines ahead of time: 'I care about the people around me. I don't always have to be first. I'm going to help somebody else win for a change.' Humility prays, 'Lord, teach me to curb my competitive nature and turn that energy into loving and lifting others. Show me how you did it, and help me to do it too.'

Soulfood: Est 4:9-17 Est 5:1-3 Heb 4:7-16,


Friends 'in the woods'

'Jonathan...went to David in the woods.' 1 Samuel 23:16 NKJV

The first African American to play major league baseball in the USA was Jackie Robinson. While trying to break through baseball's colour barrier, he faced insults and abuse in just about every stadium. He told journalist Ed Reid this story: during one game, fellow team mate Pee Wee Reese was being verbally abused for playing with Robinson. He says, 'Pee Wee kind of sensed the hopeless, dead feeling in me and came over and stood beside me for a while. He didn't say a word but he looked over at the chaps who were yelling at me through him and just stared. He was standing by me... Slowly the jibes died down like... and then there was nothing but quiet from them. It was wonderful the way this little guy did it. I will never forget it.'

Jesus knew Peter would 'strike out' and deny him, yet he extended grace to Peter even before it happened. Here's what he told him: 'When you have come back to me, help the others' (Luke 22:32 CEV). When God restores you, you'll want to reach out to others with his love. It will be as natural to you as breathing. You'll live by the Scripture: 'Strengthen those who have tired hands, and encourage those who have weak knees. Say to those with fearful hearts, "Be strong...for your God...is coming to save you"' (Isaiah 35:3-4 NLT).

In Scripture, 'Jonathan...went to David in the woods and strengthened his hand in God' (1 Samuel 23:16 NKJV). When you feel lost 'in the woods' you need a Jonathan. That's when you prove the truth of the old adage: 'In prosperity our friends know us, but in adversity we know our friends.' They're the people we turn to in times of trouble. So if you think you'll ever need such a friend, be one!

Soulfood: 2 Sam 7:18-29 2 Sam 8 2 Sam 9 2 Sam 10 2 Sam 11:1-27 John 2:1-11 Ps 110 Pro 23:6-9,

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