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The Word For Today

Your time has come

'You have come to the kingdom for such a time as this.' Esther 4:14 NKJV

Moses began his ministry when he was 80. Esther started hers as a teenage girl. When she heard the words of Mordecai - 'Who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this' (Esther 4:14 NKJV)? - she could easily have said, 'Give me time to grow up, get married, have children and fulfil my dreams before asking me to put my life on the line to save the Jewish people.' But she didn't. She said, 'I will go in to [see] the king, which is against the law; and if I perish, I perish' (Esther 4:16 AMP).

Often what God does in you while you're waiting is more important than the thing you're waiting for. Sometimes you think you're ready but God knows you're not, so he puts you into the school of faith. That's where you learn to listen to 'the teacher' (the Holy Spirit), study your lessons, pass the tests and graduate so that God can use you. It's not a comfortable place to be, but God is more interested in your character than your comfort.

Missionary Nancy Cockrell writes: 'It was God's plan all along to bring you here to serve him, by using your gifts to minister to others - for such a time as this. He has given you the grace to reflect the love and character of Christ, to be a light in a darkened world - for such a time as this. You have a unique place of service in God's Kingdom, touching lives as only you can do - for such a time as this.' So here's the question: is God telling you today - your time has come?

Soulfood: Col 3-4, Philemon 1, John 17:13-26, Ps 148:1-6, Pro 29:11-15


'Putting skin on Jesus'

'He who believes in me, the works that I do he will do also.' John 14:12 NKJV

It's good to read about what Jesus did when he walked among us. But when you see someone living the way he did, it's called 'putting skin on Jesus'. Instead of just being an historic figure, his lifestyle becomes a reality. And isn't that what people are looking for? Gandhi once said if he could meet Christians who were like Christ, he'd become one too. Unfortunately, the Christians he knew carried weapons and subjected him and his people to servitude. But it doesn't have to be that way. Jesus said, 'He who believes in me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do' (John 14:12 NKJV). Maybe you're wondering how we could possibly do greater works than Jesus. Here's how: he was one man confined to one place, whereas his redeemed family is capable of multiplying his works throughout the world.

So what was Jesus like? For starters, he was compassionate, not condemning. Remember the woman caught in the act of adultery? When the Pharisees wanted to stone her, he said, 'Let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone' (John 8:7 NLT)! Ouch! Who was Jesus talking about? The Pharisees or the religious hierarchy? No, he was talking about himself! He was the only one without sin and he had no stones to throw!

If you want to know what 'putting skin on Jesus' looks like, the Bible lists these nine 'fruits' (or Christlike qualities) that the Holy Spirit wants to produce in your life: 'love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control' (Galatians 5:22-23 NLT).

Soulfood: Col 1-2, John 17:1-12, Ps 147:12-20, Pro 29:6-10


Your divine security detail

'The angel of the Lord encamps all around those who fear him, and delivers them.' Psalm 34:7 NKJV

Just as a president and a prime minister are constantly surrounded by security guards, as a redeemed child of God you are surrounded by angels. You may not be able to see the president's or prime minister's security detail, but just let someone make a threatening move and trained guards instantly form a protective shield around them.

Dr James McConnell, founder of Whitewell Metropolitan Tabernacle in Belfast, was preaching one night during the Northern Ireland conflict, when a paramilitary leader with a gun came into the church to kill him. Why? Because the man's wife had become a Christian and her life was so radically changed that he hardly recognised her. The man only took a few steps up the aisle when he stopped dead in his tracks, turned and ran out of the church. What happened? The man, who later became a Christian, testified that he'd seen two big angels standing on either side of Pastor McConnell!

When Paul's ship encountered a storm and everyone thought they were going to perish, Paul announced: 'There stood by me this night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve, saying, "Do not be afraid"...take heart...for I believe God that it will be just as it was told me' (Acts 27:23-25 NKJV). Today, you have a divine security detail watching over you.

Soulfood: Josh 22-24, John 16:19-33, Ps 147:1-11, Pro 29:1-5


Discovering God's will 2

'That you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.' Romans 12:2 NKJV

For a redeemed child of God, nothing in life should be more important than discovering and doing his will.

But you have four options: (1) You can remain ignorant of it. Chances are this isn't you, or you wouldn't be reading this daily devotional right now. Clearly you have a desire to know God's will for your life and he will help you find it (see Isaiah 30:21). (2) You can know it and choose to disobey it. Jonah knew God's will, but he ran from it and ended up in the biggest storm of his life. What was his problem? He didn't like the assignment God gave him. Is your problem that you know God's will but you just don't like it? (3) You can know it but settle for less. The truth is you can sing in the choir and serve on church committees, yet deep in your heart know you're settling for less than God's will. (4) You can settle for nothing less than God's will. There are moments when God's will seems too difficult, too prolonged and too unrewarding. Your own ideas seem easier, quicker and more enjoyable. In the end, you find that his plan was better than yours and there will never be an exception to this rule.

So you may as well decide from now on to yield to God's will, do things his way and believe him for his best. Today get down on your knees and say with the psalmist, 'I delight to do your will, O my God...your law is within my heart' (Psalm 40:8 NKJV).

Soulfood: Josh 19:24-51, Josh 20, Josh 21:1-45, John 16:12-18, Ps 2, Pro 28:25-28


Discovering God's will 1

'Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.' Romans 12:2 NKJV

The story is told of a man who lived on a beautiful farm. When he died, the property, which had been in the family for over 200 years, was sold to one of the neighbours. One day, the new owner was walking in a field when he noticed an odd-looking rock sticking out of the dirt. He took it home, washed it and took it to a jewellery store. The jeweller confirmed what the owner already suspected. The old stone, which had been in the field for thousands of years, was a large, uncut emerald, and proved to be worth several million dollars. This gemstone had been in the field all along, waiting for someone to come along and discover it. Over the years, people had walked past it thousands of times and overlooked it, because it looked like nothing more than a common or garden rock.

When we 'discover' something, in actuality we find something that already exists even though we were unaware of it. Here's the point: while many of us are seeking God's will for our lives, often what we're looking for is right under our nose, but we keep searching because we don't recognise it.

To recognise a precious stone, you need to be familiar with its characteristics and know what to look for. Likewise, to recognise God's will you must live by this Scripture: '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). That calls for quality time reading your Bible, and talking with and listening to the Author.

Soulfood: Josh 16, Josh 17, Josh 18, Josh 19:1-23, John 16:1-11, Ps 130, Pro 28:21-24


Keep praying and believing God

'Many are saying, "God will never rescue him!"' Psalm 3:2 NLT

Have you been praying for years that God will save your husband, your wife, your children or your friends? Does your heart long to see the people you love serving him? Are you getting discouraged? Has someone told you, 'You're wasting your time, they'll never change'? If so, read what the psalmist wrote: 'Many are they who say of me, "There is no help for him in God." But you, O Lord, are a shield for me, my glory and the One who lifts up my head. I cried to the Lord with my voice, and he heard me from his holy hill' (Psalm 3:2-4 NKJV).

Pay particular attention to the phrase, 'many are they who say'. Everybody has an opinion, but until God speaks on the matter, the jury is still out! As long as he's still on the throne and his promises are still true, keep praying and believing God for a miracle. 'But they're so far from God right now!' you say. They may be, but read this and rejoice: 'The Lord's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; nor his ear heavy, that it cannot hear' (Isaiah 59:1 NKJV).

Your loved one is not too far gone for God. They may be messed up on drugs and alcohol, having an affair or even be in prison. Wherever they are today, the long arm of God's grace can reach out and save them. Satan knows that and he wants you to get discouraged and give up. Don't do it! Just as power flows through electric wire, God's power flows through your prayers. So keep praying and believing God!

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


Responsibility and risks 3

'Each of you should use whatever gift you have received.' 1 Peter 4:10 NIV

Guess which big company felt like 'choking on its own chocolate' after it elected not to feature one of its products in the 1982 blockbuster film E.T.? If you said M&M's, you'd be right! How did it happen? Turns out the Mars chocolate bar company executives decided nothing could be gained from allowing their M&M's sweets to be used in what some of them considered 'a silly movie'. Consequently, the little boy Elliott ended up luring the loveable alien E.T. with Hershey's Reese's Pieces. That one scene drew millions of customers worldwide into sweet shops in quest of Reese's Pieces! Thanks to this movie mega-hit, Hershey's sales shot up 65 per cent! It's interesting that the Mars executives who said 'No' probably lived in big houses, drove big cars and earned big salaries! Yes, doubt and fear stalk the rich as well as the poor; you'll find naysayers at the top and bottom of the corporate ladder.

Ever heard these words from the famous poem by John Greenleaf Whittier: 'For of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these, "It might have been"'? Think of all the times opportunity knocked and nobody answered.

Are you standing before a door of opportunity today? Are you afraid to walk through it? Don't be. God is with you. His Word says, 'Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God's grace in its various forms' (1 Peter 4:10 NIV). When God gives you a gift he gives you the grace and grit to use it. So step out in faith, 'commit your actions to the Lord, and your plans will succeed' (Proverbs 16:3 NLT).

Soulfood: Josh 14-15, John 15:18-27, Ps 65, Pro 28:17-20


Responsibility and risks 2

'Well done, good and faithful servant!' Matthew 25:23 NIV

In 1975 a low-level Hewlett Packard engineer called Steve Wozniak, whom nobody had ever heard of, shared a dream with his pal, Steve Jobs. It was about building and selling an easy-to-use personal computer to the masses around the world. The pair worked round the clock to create their compact PC. But when they offered it to Hewlett Packard, one of the world's great companies, the powers-that-be failed to see its incredible potential and gave it the thumbs down. So Wozniak and Jobs went off on their own and founded a little company called Apple Computers - and revolutionised the computer industry!

There's no shortage of people who will tell you, 'It can't be done' or 'It won't work.' There's a name for those people: 'dream killers' - and if you listen to them you'll give up before you even begin. Behind every major accomplishment you'll find ordinary people with dreams, who are willing to take responsibility and risks. They are the people who enjoy the rewards! Jesus wrapped up one of his parables with these words: 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness' (Matthew 25:23 NIV).

In spite of your failures, your struggles and your limitations, if you're willing to disregard the naysayers, step out in faith and use the gifts God has given you, he will see to it that you succeed.

Soulfood: Josh 11-13, John 15:5-17, Ps 14, Pro 28:13-16


Responsibility and risks 1

'The vision is yet for an appointed time...wait for it; because it will surely come.' Habakkuk 2:3 NKJV

One missionary evangelist writes: 'There are times and seasons in God's will. And we can easily become frustrated if we don't understand that just as there are times and seasons in nature, there are also times and seasons in the process of fulfilling God's will for our lives. Years ago a group of senior missionaries came together to discuss life principles they'd discovered...their purpose was to share this wealth of experience with succeeding generations...They'd all encountered common stages of transition in their ministries, and collectively they identified a five-step cyclical process God had taken them through.'

Bottom line: timing is all-important! When executives at Decca Records told the Beatles, 'Groups with guitars are on the way out,' they signed up with EMI - and the rest is history! Don't miss the lesson here. Each of us has been placed on earth as a caretaker of God's business. And that's true whether you are a judge or a cleaner. You've been given an allotment of life and charged with the responsibility of taking care of it, investing it, increasing it and presenting it back to God. Simply saying, 'I was afraid of failing,' or 'I was worried about being criticised,' or 'I didn't think I was good enough,' won't work. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, 'Excuses always replace progress.' God will accept your trials and errors, but he won't accept your excuses for not having tried.

So pray, accept responsibility and step out in faith. You may fail many times on your way to success, but if you keep trying and trusting God, you'll eventually succeed.

Soulfood: Josh 8:30-35, Josh 9, Josh 10:1-43, John 14:26 - 15:4, Ps 146, Pro 28:9-12


Struggle necessary in the process

'I will instruct you.' Psalm 32:8 NKJV

Why are you still here? When Jesus saved you, why didn't he simply take you to Heaven to be with him? Because he's not only interested in your final destination; he wants to do a work in you and through you on the way to it. We get impatient when it comes to God's will for our lives. We just want to get there! But a great deal of time usually elapses between when God calls us and when we've fulfilled his will for our lives. And until we accept that, we're not ready to go anywhere! We need to understand that the journey is an important process.

It matters to God what you become on the way to where you're going. And following him in obedience through unknowns, trials and difficulties is an integral and indispensable part of your preparation. God uses the journey to teach you faith, refine your character and equip you for greater challenges that lie ahead. In fact, if you're in the process of seeking God's will right now, you're already fulfilling part of it in your life. God said, 'I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go' (Psalm 32:8 NKJV). Don't make the mistake of thinking that because you don't know all you'd like to, you're not making progress. Something is happening right now. Your faith is being stretched, your patience is being developed, your doubts are being confronted and conquered, and your relationship with God is growing deeper.

He always prepares us in advance for what he has planned ahead for us. Yes, the struggle is uncomfortable - but it's a necessary part of the process.

Soulfood: Josh 5, Josh 6, Josh 7, Josh 8:1-29, John 14:15-25, Ps 118:19-29, Pro 28:5-8

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