Pastor's Corner

October 16, 2019

When You Worship, You’re Taking In God’s Word
 
‘Speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs.’ Ephesians 5:19 NKJV
 
The truths of God’s Word have been passed down from generation to generation through preaching, teaching, and publishing. But they have also been passed down through hymns of worship we sing in church. When you sing them, you’re proclaiming the truth of God’s Word and simultaneously ingesting it. You grow spiritually through the Word you hear, the Word you study, the Word you speak, and yes, the Word you sing.
 
Paul writes, ‘Be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.’ (Ephesians 5:18–19 NKJV)
 
Jesus didn’t just preach the Word, He sang it too: ‘And when they had sung a hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives.’ (Matthew 26:30 KJV) Why does the Bible place such emphasis on speaking God’s Word? Because when you read God’s Word aloud you ingest it in two ways—through the eye-gate and the ear-gate. And the same thing happens when you sing God’s Word. The readers of God’s Word shouldn’t look down on the singers of God’s Word, and the singers shouldn’t feel spiritually inferior to the readers. The important thing is to get into God’s Word and get God’s Word into you. Some of us do that best through a sermon, others through personal Bible study, and others through songs that proclaim the life-changing truths of His Word.
 
So, when you worship, you’re taking in God’s Word.
 
From The Word for Today.

October 15, 2019

Thank God For Your Job
 
‘Those who work hard will prosper.’ Proverbs 13:4 NLT
 
Author and motivational speaker Charlie ‘Tremendous’ Jones tells the story of a man who dreamed he’d inherited a million dollars. In the dream he tried to take a shower, but the shower wouldn’t work. He tried to shave, but his shaver wouldn’t shave. He tried to make breakfast, but the coffee wouldn’t perk and the toaster wouldn’t toast. He went to get a newspaper, but the newspaper box was empty. He went to catch the bus to work, but the bus didn’t come. Finally, after waiting an hour, he saw a few people. ‘What’s going on here?’ he asked. ‘Haven’t you heard?’ they replied. ‘Everybody has inherited a million dollars and nobody’s working anymore.’ Suddenly the man woke up, discovered that it was all a dream, and said, ‘Thank God!’
 
So he went and had a tremendous shower, a tremendous shave, a tremendous cup of coffee, and a tremendous piece of toast while he was reading a tremendous newspaper. Finally he caught a tremendous bus to a tremendous job! Thank God today for the job He has given you, and put your very best into it. Your position and salary would most likely have been a dream-come-true for some of your ancestors. You may not be called to ‘the ministry’ per se, but if your job affords you the privilege of being a solution to somebody’s problem and offers you the dignity of making a difference in life, be grateful. Imagine what your life would be like without it! ‘Lazy people want much but get little, but those who work hard will prosper.’
 
From The Word for Today.

October 14, 2019

Make It A Personal Growth Experience
 
‘Speaking the truth in love, we will grow.’ Ephesians 4:15 NIV
 
Before you confront someone over an issue, stop and examine your motives. Is your goal to help or humiliate them? Jesus was in the business of lifting and restoring people, and you should be in that business too. Ask yourself, would you approach things differently if you weren’t so personally involved? Are you confronting this person to make yourself look better? Cutting someone else down in order to lift yourself up is the lowest form of ego gratification.
 
Poet Kahlil Gibran said, ‘To belittle, you have to be little.’ Don’t do it! It’s a sign of insecurity. Remember Nehemiah’s response to those who tried to discourage him from rebuilding Jerusalem’s walls? ‘I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down: why should the work cease, whilst I leave it, and come down to you?’ (Nehemiah 6:3 KJV) Don’t allow your critics to break your stride. Don’t give more credence to the sentiments of a critic than you would to the encouragement of a friend. Before you put somebody else’s life under the microscope, stop and examine your own. Are you grappling with the same issue, or one just as bad? Have you succeeded where you’re accusing somebody else of failing? In other words, have you earned the right to be heard?
 
Paul writes, ‘Speaking the truth in love we will grow… in every respect.’ Could it be that the situation you’re dealing with right now is an opportunity to measure your own maturity and make it a spiritual growth experience?
 
From The Word for Today.

October 13, 2019

Your Joy Will Return
 
‘Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.’ Psalm 30:5 NLT
 
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 on your own to face the challenges of life, you need to know that you’re not alone! ‘The God of all comfort’ is with you. (2 Corinthians 1:3 KJV)
 
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 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 last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.’ Your joy will return!
 
From The Word for Today.

October 12, 2019

The Power Of Your Testimony
 
‘Go home to your people and report to them what great things the Lord has done for you.’ Mark 5:19 NASB
 
The most powerful testimony of all—is a life that can’t be explained without 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 clichés. 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: ‘Greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world.’ (1 John 4:4 KJV)
 
(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.’
 
From The Word for Today.

October 11, 2019

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 KJV) 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 KJV) 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.’ So if you’re in a battle today, take ‘the people of war with you.’
 
From The Word for Today.

October 10, 2019

How To Experience God’s Peace

‘Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything.’ Philippians 4:6 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 AMPC) 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, then you’ll be able to not ‘worry about anything; instead, pray about everything… You will experience God’s peace.’ (Philippians 4:7 NLT)

From The Word for Today.

October 9, 2019
Have Clearly Established Goals For Your Life
 
‘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 fifteen, his grandmother remarked, ‘If only I had done that when I was young.’ Determined not to make that statement at the end of his own 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 six), pursue a career in medicine, and serve as a missionary for his church. Sound impossible? At age forty-seven, 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.
 
From The Word for Today.

October 8, 2019

You Can Start Again
 
‘Though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again.’ Proverbs 24:16 NIV
 
On the night of 9 December 1914, Edison Industries was destroyed by fire. The loss exceeded a million dollars, along with the majority of Thomas Edison’s work. He was insured for far less because the buildings were constructed of concrete, which was thought to make a building fireproof. At sixty-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.’ 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.
 
From The Word for Today.

October 7, 2019

When You Worship, You’re 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 ESV) 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 a church setting, while others are more wired to be workers. While all of us are called to glorify God, some of us are more inclined to do it through works of devotion while others are more inclined to do it through lifting our voices in praise. Still others do it through study of His Word. And with God, all of them 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.
 
From The Word for Today.

October 6, 2019

Pray And Post A Guard
 
‘We prayed to our God 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.’ 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 KJV) 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)
 
From The Word for Today.

October 5,  2019

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). 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.’
 
From The Word for Today.

October 4, 2019

Friends ‘In The Woods’
 
‘Jonathan, Saul’s son, arose and went to David in the woods and strengthened his hand in God.’ 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. One day at his home stadium in Brooklyn, he made an error and the fans immediately turned on him. While they jeered, Robinson just stood there at second base, humiliated. At that point shortstop Pee Wee Reese ran over, stood beside him, put his arm around him, and together they faced the crowd. Within seconds the fans grew quiet.
 
Years later when Robinson was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, he said, ‘Reese’s arm around my shoulder that day saved my career.’ 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)
 
‘Jonathan…arose and went to David in the woods and strengthened his hand in God.’ 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!
 
From The Word for Today.

October 3, 2019

Responding To Gossip (2)
 
‘Those who consider themselves religious but do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves.’ James 1:26 NIV
 
When someone gossips about you, keep this in mind: people tend to accuse in others what they excuse in themselves. The story’s told about a husband who suspected his wife of losing her hearing. One night he positioned himself across the room from her as she sat in her favourite chair with her back to him. Very softly he said, ‘Can you hear me?’ When she didn’t answer he moved a little closer and repeated very softly, ‘Can you hear me?’ Still no answer. Then he moved closer and said, ‘Can you hear me?’ Still no answer. Finally he got up behind her chair and said right into her ear, ‘Can you hear me?’
 
She looked him in the eye and said, ‘For the fourth time, yes!’
 
Psychologists call this ‘projection’. We tend to project our fears, feelings, and problems onto others. But you must not let people do this to you. Lady Astor, a member of Parliament, was a constant thorn in the side of Winston Churchill, always criticising him. One day the two of them got into a heated conversation and she said, ‘Winston, I don’t like your politics, and I don’t like your moustache.’
 
He looked at her and said, ‘Madam, I see no earthly reason why you should ever come into contact with either one.’
 
Jesus’ critics accused Him of being demon-possessed. Paul’s critics called him a madman, a fool, and a babbler. And you must not expect different treatment at the hands of the same crowd. So the word for you today is: stay focused and don’t get distracted.
 
From The Word for Today.

October 2, 2019

Responding To Gossip (1)

‘It is reported among the nations—and Geshem says it is true.’ Nehemiah 6:6 NIV

The only way to avoid criticism is to say nothing, do nothing, and be nothing. When you attempt anything of value or significance, people are going to talk about you. Nehemiah’s enemies tried to stop him from rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem by using gossip and innuendo: ‘It is reported among the nations—and Geshem says it is true… Moreover, according to these reports you are about to become their king and have even appointed prophets to make this proclamation about you in Jerusalem: “There is a king in Judah!”’ (Nehemiah 6:6–7 NIV) Notice, no source was given of the accusations against Nehemiah. ‘It is reported.’ Always be prepared when someone comes to you and says something like this: ‘I heard…’ or ‘somebody said…’ or ‘the word on the street is…’

Never receive a criticism from someone who is bringing it on behalf of someone else, someone they won’t even name, someone who won’t say it to your face. Not even slander could keep Nehemiah from the work he was doing. Note how he responded: ‘I sent him this reply: “Nothing like what you are saying is happening; you are just making it up out of your head.”’ (Nehemiah 6:8 NIV) In other words: ‘I don’t care what you think, or say, or like. I’m going to keep building this wall until the job is done.’ And that must be your attitude too. Most of the time your friends don’t need an explanation, and your enemies wouldn’t believe one if you held them at gunpoint. So stay focused and get the job done.

From The Word for Today.

October 1, 2019

Heartfelt Prayer
 
‘When you pray, don’t babble on and on.’ Matthew 6:7 NLT
 
Here’s what Jesus taught about prayer: ‘When you pray, don’t babble on and on as the Gentiles do. They think their prayers are answered merely by repeating their words again and again.’ Then He gave us two specific instructions.
 
First: ‘Shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private.’ (Matthew 6:6 NLT) Second: ‘Your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask Him.’ (Matthew 6:8 NLT) Heartfelt prayer isn’t meant for human ears.
 
In heartfelt prayer the Holy Spirit brings to the surface things you’ve carefully hidden from others, and even yourself. Like a mirror, He confronts you with the truth and demands that you confess ‘the hidden things of dishonesty.’ (2 Corinthians 4:2 KJV) Once you’ve done that you can leave God’s presence cleansed, corrected, confident, and clear as to His will. Nothing fuels heartfelt prayer like real need. It causes both the prominent and obscure to acknowledge, ‘Lord, without you I can do nothing. Indeed anything I could accomplish without you would mean nothing!’ This is the place of naked prayer.
 
Hannah was there when she cried to God for a child. She was so passionate that Eli the high priest thought she was drunk (see 1 Samuel 1:13). But God heard her cry. That day, Samuel was conceived in her heart, and shortly thereafter he was conceived in her womb. So don’t leave the place of prayer until you conceive, until the embryo of God’s purpose for your life starts to take form within you, and your vision is born.
 
From The Word for Today.

September 30, 2019

God Wants To Tell You Something
 
‘When the Lord saw Moses coming to take a closer look, God called to him from the middle of the bush.’ Exodus 3:4 NLT
 
Never judge a person’s potential by what they appear to be right now. Moses, one of history’s greatest leaders, was tending sheep when God called him. There’s not a corporate head-hunter who would have hired him. But don’t judge him yet—he’s just between jobs. God is about to talk to him and change his life. If you’re tired of listening to everybody else’s opinions, get alone with God. He will show you things that can change your future (see Jeremiah 33:3).
 
At age sixty-five, after running a restaurant for several years, Colonel Sanders found himself broke. All he had was a Social Security cheque of $105 a month, a recipe for fried chicken, and a vision he refused to give up on. As a result he eventually built the Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise, became a multimillionaire and a devoted Christian philanthropist. The point is: it’s not over until God says it’s over!
 
Moses nearly burned out trying to do things his own way. Then God showed up in a fire that Moses neither started nor maintained. In essence God said, ‘Look at this burning bush; it’s going to be you. In My strength you’ll stand before Pharaoh. The Red Sea will give way before My power at work in you. I’ll give you manna in the wilderness. I’ll strengthen and sustain you all the way to your destiny.’
 
Whatever you’re doing today, stop! Get alone with God and say, ‘I will now turn aside and listen to You’ (see Exodus 3:3). Once you’ve heard what He wants to tell you, your life will never be the same.
 
From The Word for Today.

September 29, 2019

Serving ‘Jesus-Style’
 
‘We serve God whether people honour us or despise us, whether they slander us or praise us.’ 2 Corinthians 6:8 NLT
 
Kelli B. Trujillo writes: ‘“I’m not your servant!” I half-grunted, half-spoke to one of my kids as I got on my hands and knees to pick up pasta he’d decided to deposit on the floor… Then a thought struck me: I sure hope Jesus didn’t hear me say that! Unfortunately, this attitude towards servanthood extends beyond cleaning the floor. Most of the time, serving others just rubs me the wrong way. If it’s some extra-meaningful project where you can practically hear the soundtrack of inspirational, feel-good music… and experience a rush about how great you are… it’s not difficult. But what about the service Jesus talked about… that involves getting no credit… and waging a battle against your selfish impulses?’
 
Harry E. Fosdick said, ‘No steam drives anything until it’s confined. No Niagara is turned into power until it’s tunnelled. No life grows great until it’s focused, dedicated and disciplined.’ Serving ‘Jesus-style’ means saying, ‘I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.’ (Galatians 2:20 NIV) Paul was jailed, whipped, stoned and robbed, yet he said: ‘We serve God whether people honour us or despise us, whether they slander us or praise us. We are honest, but they call us impostors. We are ignored, even though we are well known. We live close to death, but we are still alive… Our hearts ache, but we always have joy. We are poor, but we give spiritual riches to others.’ (2 Corinthians 6:8–10 NLT)
 
The Bible says Jesus ‘for the joy set before Him He endured the cross… and sat down at the right hand… of God.’ (Hebrews 12:2 NIV) And that same Spirit enables you to serve others by drawing on His strength.
 
From The Word for Today.

September 28, 2019

Protect The ‘New Shoots’
 
‘There is hope for a tree: if it is cut down, it will sprout again, and its new shoots will not fail.’ Job 14:7 NIV
 
It takes God’s wisdom to find a mate who can fit where you are and go where you’re going. If you choose using only your own wisdom, you might not make the best choice. And when a family shatters, the wounds can last a lifetime even though the war is over. Please hear this: never use your children as ammunition to hurt one another! Ammunition doesn’t just destroy the target, it also gets destroyed in the process. Your monologue of bitterness may be true, but it can destroy your child’s ability to build healthy relationships of their own. After all, if they can’t trust a parent, who can they trust? Even if you can’t save the relationship, save them.
 
Job says, ‘There is hope for a tree: if it is cut down, it will sprout again, and its new shoots will not fail.’ How wonderful—new shoots born out of a dead tree! That’s our message; there is life after death! He’s the God of second chances and new beginnings. Just because your dreams didn’t come true doesn’t mean your children’s dreams won’t. If the only thing that comes from your relationship is a healthy, well-adjusted child, you’re still a winner!
 
Solomon says without a vision we perish (see Proverbs 29:18). And your children are your vision. They speak of your future, so give them extra love and stability. Teach them what God says about life. Work at it for their sakes. If the ‘new shoots’ are lost along with the tree, all those years are wasted. So protect the ‘new shoots’.
 
From The Word for Today.

September 27, 2019

A Formula For Successful Living
 
‘Humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time He will lift you up in honour. Give all your worries and cares to God.’ 1 Peter 5:6–7 NLT
 
Somebody quipped, ‘The trouble with success is that the formula is the same as the one for a nervous breakdown.’ The Bible gives us the real formula for successful living. It encompasses three areas: authority, attitude, and assurance. ‘Accept the authority of the elders… humble yourselves under the mighty power of God… Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about you.’ (1 Peter 5:5–7 NLT) Let’s look at each of the three areas:
 
(1) Submit yourself to those who are wise. Listen to their counsel, become accountable, accept reproof, take suggestions, respect experience, and follow a worthy example. Only when you can take advice will you be qualified to give it. Only when you respect and submit to leadership will you be qualified to lead others.
 
(2) Humble yourself. In Scripture the ‘hand’ of God symbolises two things: His discipline and His deliverance. When you humble yourself before Him, you’re accepting His discipline as being for your good. You’re also acknowledging His willingness to answer your cry for help and deliver you by whatever means He chooses.
 
(3) Throw yourself on God’s mercy and care. Trouble and disappointment will surely come, and when they do you need to throw yourself on the Lord. The situation may be too big for you, but it’s never too big for Him. Does that mean there’s no place for planning, goal-setting, and hard work? No, it just means you’re willing to do things God’s way, which is always best.
 
From The Word for Today.

September 26, 2019

Pull Down That Stronghold!

‘The weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds.’ 2 Corinthians 10:4 NKJV

The story of Joseph the prisoner becoming Joseph the prime minister teaches us that we can rise above the circumstances, overcome the challenges, and live in the fullness of our God-given potential. His journey was a long one, and yours may be too. But if you don’t take the first step, you’ll remain stuck where you are.

Sometimes your ‘stronghold’ was established early in life. Family pain is the deepest pain, because it’s inflicted so early and involves people who should have been trustworthy. You were too young to process the mistreatment. You didn’t know how to defend yourself. Your dad, mum, uncle, big brother—they towered over you, usually in size, always in rank. When they judged you falsely, you believed them. All this time you were operating on faulty data: ‘You’re stupid… slow… dumb like your father… fat like your mother…’ Decades later those voices of defeat still echo in your subconscious. But they don’t have to!

‘For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds.’ Use the ‘reject and repeat’ strategy and you’ll win the victory in your thinking. When negative, fearful, guilt-ridden, inferior, condemning thoughts arise, reject them and begin to repeat what God says about you in His Word. As God’s Word comes to life within you, your old thoughts will begin to die and lose their control over you. Today pull down that stronghold and let your healing begin.

From The Word for Today.

September 25, 2019

Take Time To Rest

‘Then Jesus said, “Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest a while.”’ Mark 6:31 NLT

There’s an ancient legend that says the apostle John had a partridge he enjoyed feeding and tending. One day a hunter visited him and was astonished to see him playing with the bird. ‘I’m surprised to see you engaged in such amusement when there are great matters related to the Gospel with which you could be busy.’

John replied, ‘Do you always keep your bow bent?’

The hunter said, ‘No, that would render it useless. I loosen the string unless I am hunting.’

The apostle nodded and said, ‘Me too; I unbend my mind for the same reason.’

Guess who said, ‘Let’s get away from the crowds for a while and rest.’ Jesus, the most-in-demand person Who ever lived. Why did He say it? The Bible tells us, ‘There were so many people coming and going that Jesus and His apostles didn’t even have time to eat.’ And Jesus is our example.

One summer a pastor announced he wasn’t going to take a holiday, since the devil never goes on holiday. Some of his congregation laughed; others thought he was very ‘spiritual’. One man went home, however, to see if Jesus had the same attitude. He found that in His three years of active ministry Jesus had ten periods when He got away from the crowds, in addition to His nightly rest and Sabbath day rest. Next Sunday he asked his pastor, ‘Are you following the devil’s example or the Lord’s example?’ Recreation is just that: re-creation, a time to renew your energy and nurture your most valuable relationships. So, take time to rest.

From The Word for Today.

September 24, 2019

Handling The Pressures Of Leadership
 
‘I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches.’ 2 Corinthians 11:28 NIV
 
Preachers prepare sermons, teachers plan lessons, accountants crunch numbers, and mechanics fix engines. But there’s no institution of higher learning that can fully prepare you for the pressures of leadership. That only comes through on-the-job training. Paul lists the pressures of leadership along with being whipped, beaten, stoned, betrayed, and shipwrecked. It’s one of the reasons why more than 21 per cent of pastors say they wouldn’t go into ministry if they had their time over.
 
As author Zig Ziglar said, ‘It’s lonely at the top.’ If you’re a leader in any area of life—and most of us are whether we realise it or not—the buck not only stops at your door, but you can’t move it with a bulldozer. As a leader you will hear little when things go according to plan, but when they don’t go well, watch out. Leaders draw criticism as surely as a picnic draws ants.
 
Influencing others always comes at a price. A leader will pay the cost in time, thought, and trust. The instalments look like daily risk taking, visionary thinking, diligent working, and problem solving. But the biggest cost is dealing with people, especially those who may wear the same uniform but aren’t on the same team. Paul refers to it this way: ‘In danger from false brothers.’ (2 Corinthians 11:26 NIV)
 
If this is what you are experiencing today, here’s what God said to Moses: ‘Stand near Me on this rock. As My glorious presence passes by, I will hide you in the crevice of the rock and cover you with My hand.’ (Exodus 33:21–22 NLT)
 
What’s the answer to the pressures of leadership? A consciousness of God’s presence in your life.
 
From The Word for Today.

September 23, 2019

Sold Out To God

‘Nothing is as wonderful as knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. I have given up everything else and count it all as garbage. All I want is Christ.’ Philippians 3:8 CEV

Before you discover your God-given purpose in life, you’ll often experience a series of adversities that cause you to relinquish what’s temporal and to grasp what’s eternal. For Paul it meant the loss of every earthly possession. For others it can mean the heat of battle in a divorce court. When the person you thought was ‘everything’ walks away, suddenly you’re stripped down to what you had before. Look at Job; his home was a shambles, his marriage seemed a joke, and his children were dead. That’s when he discovered you can be stripped of the temporal, but not the eternal; stripped of your wealth, friends, and fame, but not of your character and your faith in God—those things survive the strippings of life.

The Bible says of Job after these disasters happened: ‘Then he fell to the ground in worship.’ (Job 1:20 NIV) True worship is born in the fire of sacrifice. When you can lay upon the altar something you thought you had to have because you realise it was God’s all along—that’s worship. Look at Abraham’s altar. God didn’t want the slain body of Isaac; He wanted to know if there was anything Abraham loved more than Him. That’s it—reaching the place where you can pray: ‘Lord, here are my grudges and unforgiveness, my need to impress, my time, talent and treasure, anything I’m wrapped up in that hinders me from being completely Yours. You’ll never have to take these things from me, for I gladly give You all it takes to be what You want me to be.’

Can you pray that prayer today? It’s not easy, but it’ll change your life.

From The Word for Today.

September 22, 2019

You Will Get Through This
 
‘He will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy.’ Job 8:21 NIV
 
Sometimes when your heart has been broken, the healing comes first and the answers come later. But when you think about it, wouldn’t you rather walk with God in the darkness than walk alone in the light? It’s doubtful Job ever fully comprehended all the losses he experienced in life or why. But there came a time when he was able to look back and say with confidence, ‘He will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy.’ And that’s God’s promise to you too!
 
Theologian E. Stanley Jones said, ‘Anything less than God will let you down.’ For every predicament you face in life, God has sufficient grace to carry you through. For every need, He has a supply. For every problem, He has an answer. For every hurt, He has a cure.
 
After recalling everything God had brought him through, Jeremiah concluded, ‘There is nothing too hard for You.’ (Jeremiah 32:17 NKJV) God looks for opportunities to show you what He can do on your behalf when you put your trust in Him. David said, ‘According to Your mercy remember me.’ (Psalm 25:7 NKJV) Aren’t you glad God’s goodness and mercy are based on His character and not yours?
 
Corrie ten Boom said, ‘If you want to be depressed, look within. If you want to be defeated, look back. If you want to be distracted, look around. But if you want to be delivered, look up.’ So the word for you today is: by God’s grace, you will get through this.
 
From The Word for Today.

September 21, 2019

Be One Of The 10 Percent
 
‘Didn’t I heal ten men? Where are the other nine?’ Luke 17:17 NLT
 
One day Jesus healed ten men of leprosy, which at the time was a death sentence because there was no known cure for it. Amazingly, only one of them remembered to come back and thank Him. What’s the story with the other nine?
 
Were they too busy to be thankful? Surely they felt grateful, yet they didn’t take time to express it. Did they just get caught up in other things and forget?
 
Were they too cautious to be thankful? Maybe they thought their healing wouldn’t last, so they wanted to give it time before announcing it. Or maybe they were concerned that Jesus wanted something in return that they were either unwilling or unable to give.
 
Were they too self-centred to be thankful? In some ways, the sick life was a simpler life. Now they had to get a job, take responsibility, and play a role in society.
 
Were they too arrogant to be thankful? Maybe they thought that given enough time, they would have recovered by themselves. Plus, to be grateful is to admit to being needy. Who wants to show weakness when you have an image to protect?
 
If this story is any indication, nine out of ten of us have a problem with gratitude—at least when it comes to expressing it. Don’t be like that. Be one of the 10 per cent! In three back-to-back psalms—105, 106, and 107—David repeats similar words: ‘Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.’ (Psalm 106:1 NKJV) Don’t let a day pass without remembering God’s goodness to you and thanking Him for it.
 
From The Word for Today.

September 20, 2019

Step Back And See The Bigger Picture
 
‘A great and effective door has opened to me, and there are many adversaries.’ 1 Corinthians 16:9 NKJV
 
One day the Chamber of Commerce in a small town invited a successful businessman to come and speak. The local economy was bad and they were discouraged, so his job was to motivate them. He took a large piece of white paper and made a red dot in the centre of it. ‘What do you see?’ he asked the audience.
 
One person replied, ‘I see a red dot.’
 
The speaker said, ‘Fine, but what else do you see?’
 
Others chimed in, ‘A red dot.’
 
The speaker asked, ‘Don’t you see anything else besides the dot?’
 
The audience responded with a resounding: ‘No!’
 
The speaker said, ‘You’ve overlooked the most important thing; you’ve missed seeing the sheet of paper!’ Then he went on to explain that in life we are often distracted by small, dot-like failures and experiences. They keep us from seeing the blessings and successes that are more important than the disappointments that try to monopolise our attention and drain our energy.
 
Paul wrote, ‘A great and effective door has opened to me, and there are many adversaries.’ Opportunity and obstacles—they go together like macaroni and cheese or fish and chips. Now, Paul didn’t deny the reality of the opposition he faced; he just chose to focus on the opportunity it presented. The poet wrote, ‘Two men looked through prison bars. One saw mud, the other stars.’
 
What are you looking at? Are you so preoccupied with what is that you’ve lost sight of what can be? If so, you need to step back and ask God to help you see the bigger picture.
 
From The Word for Today.

September 19, 2019

Establish Your Core Convictions
 
‘Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine.’ Daniel 1:8 NIV
 
What was Daniel’s problem? What was wrong with eating the best food in the country? Most people lived on a meagre diet. Daniel was going to have the opportunity to eat, literally, like a king. Why the hard line?
 
When you dig down into the cultural realities of the situation, more seems to be at stake. A Babylonian feast was always eaten in honour of the gods. So whenever you sat down to a meal, it wasn’t just dining that you participated in, but an act of worship. This food had previously been sacrificed to a pagan god. For a Jewish teenager who took his faith in God seriously, participation would mean compromising who he was called to be. By eating their meal, he would be worshipping their god.
 
And for Daniel, that was a bridge too far. It was about compromising his character, and that he would not do. You don’t discover your convictions when the pressure is on; you decide them in advance. It’s during the good times that you determine what you will or won’t do during the hard times. The psalmist said: ‘How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to Your word. I seek You with all my heart; do not let me stray from Your commands. I have hidden Your word in my heart that I might not sin against You.’ (Psalm 119:9–11 NIV)
 
Victorious Christian living is encapsulated in these three statements:
 
(1) ‘By living according to Your word.’
 
(2) ‘I seek You with all my heart.’
 
(3) ‘I have hidden Your word in my heart.’
 
From The Word for Today.

September 18, 2019

Overcoming Stress (8)
 
‘I will give you rest.’ Matthew 11:28 CEV
 
If the load you’re carrying is too heavy for you to bear, Jesus didn’t give it to you. Others may have, or you may have taken it upon yourself, but Jesus had no part in it. ‘If you are tired from carrying heavy burdens, come to Me and I will give you rest. Take the yoke I give you. Put it on your shoulders and learn from Me. I am gentle and humble, and you will find rest. This yoke is easy to bear, and this burden is light.’ (Matthew 11:28–30 CEV)
 
The final stress management principle Jesus taught us is: give your stress to Him. You’ll never enjoy complete peace of mind until you develop a relationship with the Prince of Peace. Note, Jesus didn’t say, ‘Come to Me and I’ll give you more guilt, more burdens, more stress, and more worries,’ even though that’s what a lot of religious people seem to teach! Some churches create pressure instead of relieving it. But Jesus turned this on its head and basically said, ‘I want to give you rest. I’m the stress-reliever. When you get in harmony with Me I’ll give you inner strength.’ Only Jesus can transform your lifestyle from stressful to satisfied.
 
The greatest source of stress comes from trying to live our lives apart from the God who made us, trying to go our own way and be our own god. What do you need? If you’ve never committed your life to Christ you need a transformation. Give Him your life with all its stresses and say, ‘Lord, please give me a new life. Replace the pressure I feel with the peace You offer. Help me to follow Your principles of stress management.’
 
From The Word for Today.

September 17, 2019

Overcoming Stress (7)
 
‘Come with Me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.’ Mark 6:31 NIV
 
Take time out to enjoy life. Jesus did that. ‘Because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, He said to them, “Come with Me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”’
 
Jesus not only took time for relaxation and recreation, He essentially told those who’d been working hard without relief, ‘You deserve a break today. Let’s get some rest. Let’s take time off.’ So they got into a boat, rode to the other side of the lake, and went out into the desert. Jesus was able to handle stress because He knew when to relax.
 
Rest and recreation in life aren’t optional, and they’re definitely not ‘unspiritual’. Rest is so important that God included it in the Ten Commandments. The Sabbath was made for mankind because God knows our physical, emotional, and spiritual constitutions demand regular periodic breaks. Jesus survived stress because He enjoyed life. JB Phillips’ paraphrase puts it like this: ‘The Son of Man came, enjoying life.’ (Matthew 11:19 PHPS) And Paul tells us that God has richly provided ‘everything for our enjoyment.’ (1 Timothy 6:17 NIV)
 
Balance is the key to stress management. Today if you feel burned out, check two things:
 
(1) Are you drawing daily on God’s grace, or are you depending on yourself?
 
(2) Do you regularly set aside time for rest and recreation? The word ‘recreation’ means ‘restore, refresh, or create anew’. Are you getting the picture? If you burn out, what use will you be to God’s Kingdom, to your family, or to yourself?
 
From The Word for Today.

September 16, 2019

Overcoming Stress (6)
 
‘Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where He prayed.’ Mark 1:35 NIV
 
Make prayer your daily habit. Prayer is the great stress-reliever. Jesus began His day with prayer. He often stopped throughout the day to pray, and He ended each day with prayer. Now, if Jesus made time for prayer as busy as He was, how much more do you need to do it! Time alone with God can be a decompression chamber for life’s stresses. We talk to God in prayer, tell Him what’s on our minds, and let Him talk to us as we read the Bible. Then we look at our schedule, evaluate our priorities, and wait for instructions.
 
If we lived that way, the pharmaceutical industry would go broke because we wouldn’t need a fraction of the tranquillisers they market! Many of our problems come from our inability to sit still. We just don’t know how to be quiet. God says, ‘Be still, and know that I am God.’ (Psalm 46:10 KJV) And one reason we don’t know God more personally is because we can’t be still. We’re too busy to be quiet and just think.
 
Someone said, ‘It seems to be an ironic habit of man that when he loses his way he doubles his speed.’ The story’s told of a World War II Air Force pilot who flew over the Pacific. When he radioed the tower and the controller asked for his location, he replied, ‘I don’t know—but I’m making record time!’ A lot of us are like that, speeding through life without knowing where we’re headed. We need to start our morning with prayer like Jesus did, and stop throughout the day to pray again and recharge our spiritual batteries.
 
From The Word for Today.

September 15, 2019

Overcoming Stress (5)

‘He appointed twelve that they might be with Him and that He might send them out.’ Mark 3:14 NIV

Don’t try to do it all yourself. One of the reasons we get stressed out is because we think that everything depends on us. Not Jesus. He enlisted, trained, and empowered twelve others so they could share the load. He delegated His work. He got other people involved.

So why don’t we do that? Two reasons:

(1) Perfectionism. We think, ‘If I want a job well done, I’ll do it myself.’ That’s a nice idea, but often it doesn’t work well because there are just too many things to be done. We simply don’t have the time and talent to do everything ourselves. It’s really an egotistical attitude that says, ‘Nobody, but nobody, can do it the way I can!’ Do you think Jesus could’ve done a better job than His disciples? Of course, but even knowing that, He still let them do the work. Why? Because we need to let other people make some of the mistakes in order for them to learn, the same way the disciples learned. Don’t rob others of an education.

(2) Insecurity. ‘What if I turn this responsibility over to someone else and they do a better job than I do?’ That possibility is threatening to many of us. But you won’t feel threatened if you know who you are, who you’re trying to please, what you want to accomplish, and the one thing you need to focus on. In order to be effective you must get other people involved, because you can’t focus on more than one thing at a time and do it well.

From The Word for Today.

September 14, 2019

Overcoming Stress (4)

‘I must proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent.’ Luke 4:43 NIV

Focus on one thing at a time. Are you being pulled in different directions? People constantly tried to do this to Jesus and distract Him from His goal in life. The Bible says, ‘At daybreak, Jesus went out to a solitary place. The people were looking for Him and when they came to where He was, they tried to keep Him from leaving them.’ (Luke 4:42 NIV) Jesus was about to leave and they tried to make Him stay.

Here’s how He responded: ‘I must proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent.’ He refused to be distracted by less important matters. Indeed, He was a master at this. Everybody tried to interrupt Him. Everyone had a Plan B for His life. But in essence He responded, ‘No, I must keep moving towards My goal.’ And He kept right on doing what He knew God had told Him to do. He was determined. He was persistent. He was focused.

So when you have a dozen different things to do, pick the most important one and stick with it until it’s complete. Then pick the second most important and do the same thing, until you’ve completed the list. When we diffuse our efforts we’re ineffective; when we concentrate our efforts we’re more successful. Diffused light produces a hazy glow, whereas light that’s concentrated produces fire. Jesus didn’t let interruptions prevent Him from concentrating on His goal. He didn’t let others make Him tense or stressed or irritated. And He is your example!

From The Word for Today.

September 13, 2019

Overcoming Stress (3)
 
‘I know where I came from and where I am going.’ John 8:14 NIV
 
Know what you want to accomplish. Jesus said, ‘I know where I came from and where I am going.’ Can you say that too? Unless you plan your life and establish priorities, you’ll be pressured by other people to do what they think is important. Every day you either live by priorities or you live by pressures. There’s no other option. Either you decide what’s important in your life or you let other people decide for you. It’s easy to operate under the tyranny of the urgent, to come to the end of your day and wonder, ‘Have I accomplished anything at all? I used up a lot of energy and did a lot of things, but did I achieve anything important?’
 
Busyness is not necessarily productivity. You may be spinning in circles but not accomplishing anything of real value. Preparation causes you to be at ease. Or to put it another way, preparation prevents pressure, whereas procrastination produces pressure. Good organisation and good preparation reduce stress because you know who you are, who you’re trying to please, and what you want to accomplish. Having clearly defined goals simplifies life. So spend a few minutes at the beginning of every day talking with God in prayer. Then look at your schedule for the day and decide: ‘Is this really the way I want to spend a day of my life? Am I willing to exchange the next twenty-four valuable hours for these activities?’
 
The right answer to those two questions will lower your stress level by helping you prioritise.
 
From The Word for Today.

September 12, 2019

Overcoming Stress (2)

‘I seek not to please Myself but Him who sent Me.’ John 5:30 NIV

Know who you are trying to please. Jesus didn’t try to please everybody, so isn’t it foolish for you to try to do something even God doesn’t do? It was a settled issue with Jesus: ‘I’m going to please God, full stop!’

And God replied, ‘This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.’ (Matthew 3:17 KJV) When you lose sight of who you’re trying to please you’ll always cave in to three things:

(1) Criticism, because you’re overly concerned about what others think of you.

(2) Competition, because you’re afraid somebody will get ahead of you.

(3) Conflict, because you’re threatened by anyone who disagrees with you.

Jesus said, ‘But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.’ (Matthew 6:33 NKJV) By focusing on God’s will you simplify your life! You’ll always be doing the right thing, the thing that pleases Him, regardless of what anybody else thinks. We love to blame stress on other people and on our obligations: ‘You made me do… I have to… I’ve got to.’

Actually, there are few things in life apart from our jobs that we must do. So what we’re really saying is, ‘I choose to [fill in the blank] because I don’t want to handle the consequences otherwise.’ Rarely does anybody make us do anything, so we can’t blame other people for our stress. When we feel pressured, we’re choosing to let others put us there. The fact is, we’re not victims unless we allow ourselves to be pressured by outside demands.

From The Word for Today.

September 11, 2019

Overcoming Stress (1)
 
‘“Who are you?” they demanded. Jesus replied, “The One I have always claimed to be.”’ John 8:25 NLT
 
Jesus was constantly under pressure. There were gruelling demands on His time. He rarely had personal privacy, and He was constantly interrupted. People repeatedly misunderstood, criticised, and ridiculed Him. He was under enormous stress, yet He remained at peace under pressure. How did he do it? He based His life on eight sound principles of stress management. So for the next week let’s look at them and see what we can learn.
 
Know who you are. ‘“Who are you?” they demanded. Jesus replied, “The One I have always claimed to be.”’ If you don’t know who you are, others might try to tell you who they think you are. If you don’t know who you are, you’ll subconsciously let other people pressure you into believing you’re somebody you’re not. A lot of stress comes from our hiding behind masks, living double lives, being unreal with others, and trying to be somebody we’re not. Insecurity always produces pressure in our lives; when we’re insecure we feel coerced into performing and conforming. We set unrealistic standards for ourselves, and even though we work, work, work, we still can’t meet them.
 
So what should you do? You must know who you are, and Whose you are! You’re a redeemed child of God, put on this earth not by accident but for a purpose. You are deeply loved and fully accepted by God. He has a plan for your life; therefore you are significant. To overcome stress you must know who you are, and until you deal decisively with this issue you’ll be plagued by it.
 
From The Word for Today.

September 10, 2019

Remember The Overlooked And Forgotten

‘Plead the case of the widow.’ Isaiah 1:17 NIV

In New Testament times society had no welfare system. That’s why the apostle James wrote, ‘Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows.’ (James 1:27 NIV) This could be the kind of ministry you’ve been looking for! The only qualification you need is the memory of how it feels to ‘be left out’ and the compassion to ‘do something about it’.

The following poignant letter, The Story of Widowhood, was written by a lady whose husband died. ‘First numbness, then busyness. A million things to settle. Endless death certificates and things to sign. Friends are so considerate; caring support from relatives. You keep busy. But at night you pound the empty side of the bed in grief. Finally you close your eyes, throw his toothbrush into the garbage, and toss out the old work shoes you brought home from the hospital in a plastic bag. You empty the closet and give all his things away. It’s heartache like you wouldn’t believe. Every suit in his closet reminds you of a special place or time you shared together. A year has passed; you’re still in one piece. Then the blow! Your friends celebrate a birthday—all couples. You’re not included because you’d be a “fifth wheel”. Some wives may even consider you a threat. Please remember us. Don’t treat us like excess baggage. We’ve been handed a rotten break, and we need friends. Signed, Forgotten.’

Think of the difference you could make today in somebody’s life by being willing to seek out those that society so often overlooks and forgets.

From The Word for Today.

9/9/2019 
You Can Overcome Your Past!
 
‘Jephthah the Gileadite was a mighty man of valour, but he was the son of a harlot.’ Judges 11:1 NKJV
 
Sociologists tell us that human behaviour is largely determined by two things: our parents and our environment. Judging by that, they’d have written Jephthah off as a lost cause! But not God. His Word says, ‘Do not remember the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing.’ (Isaiah 43:18–19 NKJV)
 
When Jesus becomes Lord of your life, neither genes nor environment can prevent you from becoming everything He intends you to be. Before his life was over, Jephthah became famous as Israel’s youngest governor, and is listed among the Bible heroes in Hebrews chapter 11. That’s because God is a turnaround specialist! Maybe you were born in less-than-ideal circumstances, and you’re wondering if you can ever overcome them. The answer is yes! So the next time someone tries to use your past to put you down, remind them about Jephthah. The truth is, our God is awesome! He can lift the disadvantaged higher than those who have had every possible advantage. His strength is revealed and released in our weakness (see 2 Corinthians 12:9).
 
He specialises in using those who have been rejected. He used Joseph, a man thrown into a pit by his brothers and written off by his father as dead. He used David, a shepherd boy alienated and ignored by his family. He used Jesus, ‘the stone the builders rejected’ (Psalm 118:22 NIV), who went on to become ‘the chief cornerstone.’ (Luke 20:17 NKJV) And He can do the same for you. So be encouraged; God has a plan for your life and as you spend time with Him He will show you what it is.
 
From The Word for Today.


Enjoy Your Life!

‘To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under Heaven.’ Ecclesiastes 3:1 NKJV

When did you last take time to laugh, to dance, and to love? Can you even remember? In the words of an unknown poet: ‘This is the age of the half-read page; the quick hash and the mad dash. The bright knight with the nerves tight; the plane hop and the brief stop. The lamp-tan in a brief span; the big shot in a good spot. The brain strain and the heart pain; the catnaps until the spring snaps… and the fun’s done!’

Sobering words, right? But does it have to be that way? No, if it’s that way in your life today, chances are it’s because you made it that way. And you’re the only one who can make it different! You say you’re busy? We’re all busy. Who says you can’t enjoy life even when the pace picks up? Certainly not God!

Chuck Swindoll writes: ‘I refuse to force hilarity into the back seat every time responsibility takes the wheel. If the fun’s gone, it’s because we didn’t want it around—not because it didn’t fit… I don’t care if your “to do” list is as long as the horizon, you need to get back in balance and take the time to laugh… to dance… and to love. Why? Because the Bible says so! Furthermore, your family and friends will enjoy you a lot more when you do.’

The psalmist said, ‘You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.’ (Psalm 16:11 NKJV) So go ahead and enjoy your life the way God intended—it will be over before you know it.

From The Word for Today.

Stop Putting It Off

‘Teach us to number our days.’ Psalm 90:12 NKJV

In a 1985 newspaper essay, Anne Wells wrote: ‘My brother-in-law opened my sister’s bureau and lifted out a tissue-wrapped package. It was an exquisite silk handmade slip; the price tag with an astronomical figure on it was still attached. “Jan bought this the first time we went to New York… eight or nine years ago… She never wore it; she was saving it for a special occasion. Well, I guess this is the occasion.” He put the slip on the bed with the other clothes we were taking—to the mortician. Then he turned to me, “Don’t ever save anything for a special occasion. Every day you’re alive is a special occasion!”’

Those words changed Anne Wells’ life. She continued: ‘I’m not saving anything anymore. Now we use our good china… for every special occasion—like losing a [kilo], getting the sink unstopped, the first camellia blossom. “Someday” and “one of these days” are fighting a losing battle to stay in my vocabulary. If it’s worth seeing, hearing, or doing, I want to see, hear, and do it now. I’m trying very hard not to put off, hold back, or save anything that would add laughter and lustre to our lives. And every morning when I open my eyes I tell myself this is a special occasion.’

Makes you think, doesn’t it? Makes you want to drain the last drop of joy out of every day and break free from the cement of procrastination that whispers, ‘You can do it later.’ Wise up! Forgive that offence, tell that person you love them, take that trip, go back to school. Decide today to do the thing you’ve been putting off.

From The Word for Today.

 
A Moveable Altar
 
‘Make the altar out of boards and leave the inside hollow.’ Exodus 27:8 NCV
 
The altar in the tabernacle was a place where sacrifices were offered in worship to God. And He had definite ideas about how it was to be built: ‘Make the altar out of boards and leave the inside hollow.’ A stone or metal structure would have been heavy to transport, whereas a hollow wooden altar could be carried on poles and travel along with the Israelites.
 
The image of a moveable altar is a reminder that while you should be part of a local church, you’re not restricted to worshipping God in a particular location. You can do it anywhere by ‘continually offering up a sacrifice of praise…the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name.’ (Hebrews 13:15 NASB) At home, on the job, in the supermarket, at the gym, in the classroom, your everyday activities can become a ‘spiritual sacrifice acceptable to God.’ (1 Peter 2:5 NASB) By sharing a word of encouragement, giving of your resources to help someone in need, or making a professional decision based on integrity instead of what’s popular, you’re honouring God.
 
Jesus said, ‘Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in Heaven.’ (Matthew 5:16 NIV) One author says: ‘The Lord is my boss. He gives me reviews, critiques, promotions, and demotions. He provides my benefit plan and my health insurance. He can transfer me… change my responsibilities… develop all my goals and objectives. I report to Him alone… While my tasks change, my essential job doesn’t. I’m instructed to do His work and be His hands and feet in whatever position He assigns me.’
 
From The Word for Today.
 
Know Your Life’s Purpose
 
‘For this cause I was born.’ John 18:37 NKJV
 
Standing before Pilate, Jesus said, ‘For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth.’ Jesus knew why He was born and what He was called to do, and He focused on it like a laser. And you are called to follow in His footsteps (see 1 Peter 2:21). There are three types of people:
 
(1) Those with no life purpose. They are drifters, aimlessly cruising through life. They go to school, get a job, switch jobs, find a spouse, switch spouses, move from house to house and place to place, retire, and eventually die. They don’t really live; they just exist.
 
(2) Those who have the wrong life purpose. They may be super achievers, people who have climbed the ladders of financial, political, and social success only to find their ladder was leaning against the wrong wall. They either discovered too late or never realised that they missed a purposeful life that positively influenced others.
 
(3) Those who have the right life purpose. They know why they were created. They know why God put them on this earth, and they are all about fulfilling that purpose. That is the life that brings a smile to the face of God. That is success that lasts. It has nothing to do with popularity, power or possessions. It has everything to do with purpose, because that is the only thing that brings a God-given assurance of success. So do you know your life’s purpose? If not, ask God and He will reveal it to you.
 
From The Word for Today.
 
‘Teach me to receive Your love’
 
‘We love Him, because He first loved us.’ 1 John 4:19 KJV
 
We know how frustrating it is to try to give a gift to somebody who keeps refusing it. Insecurity and feelings of unworthiness keep many of us from being good ‘receivers’. We think we must earn or deserve everything we get. We even go so far as to mistrust the giver and think: ‘Why would you want to do that for me? What’s your real motive?’
 
Now if we feel that way, imagine how God feels when He extends His love and we refuse it because we feel undeserving, or we’re harbouring a false sense of humility. Or worse, we question His motives. The truth is, none of us deserves God’s love. But when He reaches out to you in love, He’s attempting to establish a cycle that will bless you as well as others. His plan is simple. He wants you to:
 
(1) Receive His love.
 
(2) Learn to love yourself in a balanced and healthy way.
 
(3) Love Him in return.
 
(4) Extend His love to those He sends into your life. And learning to do those things takes time—in most cases, lots of it! And just as God did when the Israelites entered the Promised Land, He will help you to conquer your hang-ups ‘little by little.’ (Exodus 23:30 NKJV) Change happens gradually as you continue to pray, read His Word, and act on it (see 2 Corinthians 3:18).
 
He’s ‘the author and finisher of our faith.’ (Hebrews 12:2 KJV) The Bible says God initiated this ‘good work’ in your life and He will complete it (see Philippians 1:6). So today ask Him to help you receive and embrace His unconditional love for you.
 
From The Word for Today.
 
Doing Right By Your Children
 
‘Teach your children right from wrong, and when they are grown they will still do right.’ Proverbs 22:6 CEV
 
Parents who smoke can pass on some of the toxins to their children through the air they’re breathing. Unintentionally they can pollute their children with their own vices. And it’s the same when we pass on things like bitterness, guilt and insecurity to our kids. That’s why we need God’s help; only He can bring healing to the root of our problem and break the cycle.
 
No one else can teach faith to your children like you. The foundation must be laid by you and built on by them. And don’t just teach them your doctrine; expose them to your faith. Tell them Who brought you through the tough places. That way, when they encounter their own tough places they’ll be armed with more than a set of religious rules; they’ll have confidence in God for themselves. And stop beating yourself up over past mistakes; there are things all of us wish we’d done differently. The truth is that God can alter the effects of your past and prevent tragedy in your future. He’s the God of restoration who makes ‘all things new.’ (Revelation 21:5 NKJV) He can bring right out of wrong, good out of bad, and enable you to pour His wisdom and love into your children.
 
This is your chance of a lifetime—seize it! Let go of yesterday and take hold of tomorrow. Your children are your tomorrow; they’re being shaped by you. Give them a taste of the things of God when they’re little, and when they grow up the world will never satisfy them.
 
From The Word for Today.
 
When You Have A Vision
 
‘I was not disobedient to the vision.’ Acts 26:19 NIV
 
When God gives you a vision for your life, you need to know how to:
 
(1) Hold it. Your vision is governed by a time frame: ‘If it seems slow in coming, wait patiently, for it will surely take place.’ (Habakkuk 2:3 NLT) Some of us can conceive a vision, but we can’t carry it to full term because we’re not willing to endure the stretching and discomfort involved. We rush ahead of God and our vision is stillborn, or too weak to survive. Jesus said, ‘That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.’ (John 3:6 KJV) When your vision is born of the Spirit, it’ll be sustained by the Spirit. But when it’s born of the flesh, you’re on your own!
 
(2) Hide it. It’s a mistake to share your vision with those who can’t appreciate it. Joseph did that, and he landed in a pit. Not everybody will celebrate your success, especially if your light shines brighter than theirs. So ask God for discernment. Judas may seem like your friend right now, but inevitably he’ll betray you.
 
(3) Water it. Read these two Scriptures carefully and prayerfully: ‘David encouraged himself in the Lord’ (1 Samuel 30:6 KJV); ‘Building up yourselves on your most holy faith.’ (Jude 1:20 KJV) You must know how to encourage and build yourself up spiritually and how to water your vision. God told Habakkuk, ‘Write the vision, and make it plain.’ (Habakkuk 2:2 KJV) Write your vision on a card and carry it with you. And start acting like the person you expect to be when it becomes reality—and it will!
 
From The Word for Today.
 
A Father’s Prayer
 
‘Teach us what we should do for the boy who will be born to us.’ Judges 13:8 NCV
 
The following prayer was written by General Douglas MacArthur, a hero of World War II, on behalf of his son whom he loved dearly. If you’re a parent you may want to use it as the basis for your own prayers for your children:
 
‘Build me a son, O Lord, who will be strong enough to know when he is weak, and brave enough to face himself when he is afraid; one who will be proud and unbending in honest defeat, and humble and gentle in victory. Build me a son whose wishbone will not be where his backbone should be; a son who will know You… Lead him, I pray, not in the path of ease and comfort, but under the stress and spur of difficulties and challenge. Here let him learn to stand up in the storm; here let him learn compassion for those who fail. Build me a son whose heart will be clean, whose goal will be high; a son who will master himself before he seeks to master other men; one who will learn to laugh, yet never forget how to weep; one who will reach into the future, yet never forget the lessons of the past. And after all these things are his, add, I pray, enough of a sense of humour, so that he may always be serious, yet never take himself too seriously. Give him humility, so that he may always remember the simplicity of greatness, the open mind of true wisdom, the meekness of true strength. Then I, his father, will dare to whisper, “I have not lived in vain.”’
 
From The Word for Today.
 
A Statement Of Purpose To Live By
 
‘Always give yourselves fully.’ 1 Corinthians 15:58 NIV
 
Next time you pass a McDonald’s, think about this statement from the one of the founders: Ray Kroc. ‘Press on! Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not: unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.’
 
As you read about the heroes of faith listed in Hebrews chapter 11 you discover that they shut the mouths of lions, administered justice, fulfilled promises, and even raised the dead. It’s a spectacular list of accomplishments. But in the middle of the account you also find these words: ‘Whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle.’ (Hebrews 11:34 NIV) Notice, they started out weak and became strong. How? Through persistence and determination! The problem is we’re not always willing to fight for what we want. But without conflict there can be no conquest.
 
An Anglican bishop once quipped, ‘Why is it that everywhere the apostle Paul went they had a revolution, but everywhere I go they have a cup of tea?’ Paul didn’t blend in, he stood out! On his first missionary journey he was stoned and left for dead. On his second they threw him in prison. And how did he handle it? On one occasion he prayed and praised God until his prison doors opened. So the word for you today is: ‘Stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully.’ If you’re looking for a statement of purpose to live by, adopt this one.
 
From The Word for Today.
 
Live For What Matters Most
 
‘I came naked from my mother’s womb, and I will be naked when I leave.’ Job 1:21 NLT
 
Have you ever heard the saying, ‘Old too soon, wise too late’? Don’t let that be your story. Three of the titans who built America were Vanderbilt, Carnegie and Rockefeller. After attending Vanderbilt’s funeral, Carnegie and Rockefeller did a rethink and spent the rest of their lives seeing how much money they could give away to do good. Death has a way of showing us the brevity of life and changing our perspective.
 
Carnegie died in his eighties and Rockefeller in his nineties. But they both died! We all do. The question is will you merely make a living or will you make a difference? One businessman told his friend: ‘I don’t think I’m trapped on this treadmill forever, but I’m certainly involved with it right now… it’s the old merry-go-round of how much money is enough? And it’s never enough. Three years ago I thought: “Just a little more… now I make twice as much, and it’s still not enough.”’
 
Solomon writes, ‘He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves abundance with its income.’ (Ecclesiastes 5:10 NASB) Have you told yourself that when you get a certain amount of money you’ll be happy and secure? Maybe and maybe not. When you trust in anything other than God, you live fearfully because you’ll always be vulnerable to circumstances you cannot control. Jesus bottom-lined it this way: ‘Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and He will give you everything you need.’ (Matthew 6:33 NLT)
 
From The Word for Today.
 
God Has Promised To Be With You
 
‘As I was with Moses, so I will be with you.’ Joshua 1:5 NIV
 
The Bible says, ‘After the death of Moses… the Lord said to Joshua… “Moses My servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them.”’ (Joshua 1:1–2 NIV) Joshua knew Moses was dead, and the Israelites knew it too. So why did God remind him? Because Joshua wasn’t just following a leader, he was following a legend. Moses had been Israel’s security blanket for forty years. He was the definitive go-to guy. He’d led an entire generation out of 400 years of captivity in a single night. He’d parted a sea with the wave of a walking stick. He’d prayed and God rained down bread from Heaven each day. When the nation was about to die of thirst, he’d struck a rock and water filled canteens.
 
By any measurement, Moses was a massive success. But why? Was it his ingenuity? His creativity? His genius? No, it was the presence of God in his life. But now Moses was gone. For Joshua, that was bad news. But the good news was that God remained. ‘No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.’
 
You say, ‘But that’s an Old Testament promise.’ Then read this: ‘For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through Him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.’ (2 Corinthians 1:20 NIV) Today God has promised to be with you. Believe Him!
 
From The Word for Today.
 
Spiritual Yet Still Carnal
 
‘Until Christ is formed in you.’ Galatians 4:19 NIV
 
When you become a Christian you discover that part of you wants to walk ‘in newness of life’ (Romans 6:4 KJV), while another part wants to walk ‘after the flesh.’ (Romans 8:5 KJV) And you would, if it weren’t for God’s Spirit who lives in your divided house and ‘convicts’ you when you do certain things, challenging you with God’s Word (see John 16:7–14). The truth is, your new heart is still living in your old body.
 
Some people expect that, when they first come to Christ, an instant and radical makeover will transform them. It’ll be like a grub-to-butterfly metamorphosis, so massive that a radiant holy self will fly up effortlessly, after struggling out of the cocoon of fleshly desires. So they try to punch the cocoon out of existence, believing that when it’s gone, they’ll be the kind of dazzling person God could really love.
 
But God’s love isn’t dispensed like that. God doesn’t want do-it-yourself righteousness. The Bible says, ‘He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.’ (Philippians 1:6 ESV)
 
Paul writes, ‘My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you.’ God alone knows the process it will take for the Christ who saved you to be formed in you! We each travel our own paths at our own pace, but our goal is the same: to bear a greater resemblance to our heavenly Father. And getting us there is God’s job—so let Him do it. Your job is to keep walking with Him day by day as He does it.
 
From The Word for Today.

Have You Discovered Your Life’s Purpose?

‘Called according to His purpose.’ Romans 8:28 NLT

If you want things to work out right for you in life, you need to discover your God-ordained purpose and give yourself fully to it. The Bible says, ‘We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.’ (Romans 8:28 NIV) The focal point of your life should be discovering and doing God’s will. What you believe about that will determine the direction you take and what you accomplish.

There’s a big difference between talent and purpose. You’re called according to God’s purpose, not your talent. When you are talented but not called, you can be comfortable anywhere. That’s because talent, like justice, is blind; it sees all opportunities the same. But when you are aware of your God-given purpose and it governs your life, there are things you simply won’t do because you know they’ll derail, dilute, or defeat God’s purpose for you. Being ‘called according to His purpose’ enables you to focus on the development of your talent only as it relates to God’s will for you. So instead of asking God to bless what you’re doing, ask Him to reveal His purpose for your life. Once you discover and fulfil that, you’ll beblessed, because His plan is already blessed!

Let’s read it again: ‘And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them.’ (Romans 8:28 NLT) So have you discovered God’s purpose for your life yet? If not, get into His presence and stay there until He reveals it to you. It’s the only way you’ll ever be totally fulfilled.

 

Do You Really Want God’s Blessing?

‘Jacob wrestled with an angel.’ Hosea 12:4 CEV

Some of your toughest battles in life will be with God. That’s because there’s a ‘Jacob nature’ in each of us that resists the will of God, and wants to wrestle with Him. That nature has to be dealt with. The same God who asked Jacob, ‘What is your name?’ will ask you to identify yourself too. And until you’re willing to do an honest evaluation and answer truthfully, your life can’t change for the better. God had to break Jacob by dislocating his hip, the thing he depended on. Jacob got his blessing at the same time he got his limp. Ask yourself, ‘Do I really want the blessing of God on my life?’ Before you answer, stop and ask yourself these questions:

(1) Am I willing to let go of what I want if it’s not God’s will for me?

(2) Do I long for what others have instead of waiting for God’s provision for me?

(3) Do I keep talking about my rights because I haven’t fully surrendered to the Lord?

(4) Do I truly love others and think of them first?

(5) Am I practising the daily disciplines of prayer and Bible reading?

(6) Am I allowing God to handle my public relations instead of promoting myself?

(7) Am I expressing joy in the midst of adversity and trusting God to reproduce the character of Jesus in me?

(8) Am I taking risks in obedience to Christ instead of giving in to fear and playing it safe? Not only will your answers to these questions determine your discipleship, your direction, and your destiny—they will also determine your level of blessing.

From The Word for Today.

You’ll Be Rewarded
 
‘Your labour is not in vain.’ 1 Corinthians 15:58 NKJV
 
It’s easy to forget that this world isn’t your home, that you’re going to spend eternity with Christ in a home specially prepared for you, and that when you get to Heaven you’ll be rewarded for how well you fulfilled your God-given assignment here on earth. The Bible not only teaches this, it spells out the specifics. Here are three you need to keep in mind.
 
(1) Your greatest reward will be in Heaven, not on earth. Yes, there are earthly rewards (see Mark 10:30), but God reserves His greatest blessings for the day when ‘each man’s work will become evident’ and ‘he will receive a reward.’ (1 Corinthians 3:13–14 NASB) It’s your service now that determines your status then, so always give God your best.
 
(2) Your reward will be based on quality, not quantity. We are impressed with size and status, but God is moved by sincerity. When He rewards you it will be based on what you did with what you had, and the ‘heart’ you put into it. That means we all have equal opportunity when it comes to rewards.
 
(3) Your reward may be delayed, but it will never be denied. Think about that. When you’ve done what was needed yet you were ignored and misunderstood, remember, ‘Your labour is not in vain.’ When you’ve done the right thing but received neither credit nor acknowledgment, remember, ‘‘Your labour is not in vain.’ When you’ve served, given, and sacrificed, then willingly stepped aside so God would get all the glory, remember, ‘Your labour is not in vain.’
 
In the words of Jesus: ‘Your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.’ (Matthew 6:4 NLT)
 
From The Word for Today.
 
The ‘Weight’ Keeps You Going
 
‘I live by faith in the Son of God.’ Galatians 2:20 NKJV
 
A man who inherited an antique grandfather clock with a brass pendulum watched it push the big heavy weight back and forth. ‘What a burden for a 100-year-old clock to bear,’ he thought. So he opened the glass case and unhooked the pendulum.
 
‘Why did you remove my weight?’ the clock asked.
 
The man replied, ‘It was heavy and I wanted to lighten your load.’
 
The old clock exclaimed, ‘What you don’t understand is, it’s the weight that keeps me going!’
 
Paul said, ‘I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.’ God allows us to experience frustrations and burdens in order to develop our patience and humility and make us more dependent on Him. Unlike us, He knows ‘it’s the weight that keeps us going’.
 
That’s why: ‘The Lord disciplines those He loves… As you endure this divine discipline, remember that God is treating you as His own children… our earthly fathers disciplined us for a few years, doing the best they knew how. But God’s discipline is always good for us, so that we might share in His holiness.’ (Hebrews 12:6–11 NLT)
 
What ‘weight’ is God using to produce the nature of Christ in you? Paul goes on to say, ‘Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth.’ (Colossians 3:5 KJV) The word ‘mortify’ is related to mortuary—a place where there’s nothing but dead bodies. In other words, instead of letting your earthly nature rule, ask the Holy Spirit to bring forth new life in you.
 
From The Word for Today.

Success On God’s Terms

‘Carefully follow the terms of this covenant, so that you may prosper in everything you do.’ Deuteronomy 29:9 NIV

Two men were talking and one said, ‘Do you know the secret of success?’ The other replied, ‘No, what is it?’ The first man said, ‘I can’t tell you.’ His friend asked, ‘Why not?’ The first guy said, ‘Because it’s a secret!’

Success, as God defines it, is not a secret. He repeatedly says in His Word that He wants us to be successful in life. But as our faces differ, so does God’s plan of success for each of us differ. Success is simply discovering God’s will for your life and doing it. Consider high definition television (HDTV). This technology makes possible an additional hundred lines of resolution on a screen so that the picture is virtually lifelike. The industry calls it ‘super clarity’. Whether you stand five metres away or half a metre, the picture looks perfectly clear—no fuzzy lines, no distortions, no shadows.

What would a successful life look like in high definition? In order to find that level of clarity, you need to dig into God’s Word and find out what He thinks about success. ‘Carefully follow the terms of this covenant, so that you may prosper in everything you do.’ When God created man, one of the first things He told him to do was ‘be fruitful, and multiply.’ (Genesis 1:22 KJV) In the book of Job we read the words, ‘Though your beginning was small, yet your latter end would increase abundantly.’ (Job 8:7 NKJV) But God-ordained success comes with a caveat, and it’s non-negotiable: God will bless you—in order to make you a blessing to others.

From The Word for Today.

How To Solve Problems (5)

‘A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.’ Proverbs 16:9 NKJV

Fifth, don’t just see the problem, look for the opportunity. When President John F. Kennedy was asked how he became a war hero, he smiled and quipped, ‘It was easy. Somebody sunk my boat!’ While it’s true that certain individuals have a vision and pursue it, many times adversity paves the way to success.

This was the case for a man whose small business was failing: ‘I was paying a sheriff five dollars a day to postpone a judgement on my small factory. Then came the gas man, and because I couldn’t pay his bill he promptly cut off my gas. I was in the midst of certain very important experiments, and to have the gas people plunge me into darkness made me so mad I at once began to read up on gas technique and economics, and resolved I would try to see if electricity couldn’t be made to replace gas and give those gas people a run for their money.’ That man was Thomas Edison, founder of General Electric.

Problems are wake-up calls for creativity. If you choose to wake up, and get up, problems will prompt you to use your God-given abilities, rally your resources, and move forward. The truth is, without certain problems we would end up in the wrong place, with the wrong people, doing the wrong thing. ‘A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.’ Out of pain comes purpose, and out of devastation comes direction. So talk to God about your problem; let Him show you the potential it holds and what He has in mind for you.

How To Solve Problems (6)

‘These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace.’ John 16:33 NKJV

Sixth, you must try to keep your problems in perspective. You’ve probably heard the saying: ‘I grumbled because I had no shoes, then I met a man who had no feet.’

In a Peanuts cartoon, Snoopy looks in and sees the family sitting around the table enjoying Thanksgiving dinner while he’s outside eating dog food. ‘How about that?’ he thinks. ‘Everybody’s eating turkey today, but because I’m just a dog I get dog food.’ Then he suddenly regains his perspective. ‘Of course, things could be worse—I could have been born a turkey!’

How big or how difficult our problem appears to be is often a matter of perspective. Most difficulties we face are pretty insignificant in the larger scheme of things. When a friend gets cancer or loses a loved one, we’re reminded of just how petty our issues are. Author James Agee recalled how he once struck up a conversation with an impoverished elderly woman in the heart of Appalachia during the Great Depression. She lived in a tiny shack with dirt floors, no heat, and no indoor plumbing. ‘What would you do,’ he asked, ‘if someone gave you some money to help you out?’ The woman thought for a moment and answered, ‘I guess I’d give it to the poor.’

Realising there are people around you who have much bigger problems than yours brings gratitude and perspective. Jesus told His disciples, ‘These things have I spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.’ 

How To Solve Problems (7)

‘His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known.’ Ephesians 3:10 NIV

Seventh, try to see the problem from different angles. Paul talks about ‘the manifold wisdom of God.’ To understand the word ‘manifold’, think of a diamond. Each time you turn it, the light exposes a different facet of its beauty. God’s wisdom contained in the Bible is like that; it exposes different aspects and approaches to the problem.

There’s a joke about a woman on trial for killing her third husband. The trial lawyer asked, ‘What happened to your first husband?’ She replied, ‘He died of mushroom poisoning.’ He then asked, ‘How about your second husband?’ The woman replied, ‘He died of mushroom poisoning too.’ Finally the lawyer inquired about her third husband. She replied, ‘He died of a brain concussion.’ The lawyer asked, ‘How come?’ She replied, ‘Because he wouldn’t eat the mushrooms!’

Seriously, most problems have many solutions, and no problem can long withstand the assault of sustained thinking. So fire up your God-given creativity, apply sustained thinking, and pull together your resources. Included in those resources are people. Who else has solved this problem? How did they do it? Often the problems that surround you aren’t nearly as crucial as the people around you. When Joseph came up with a plan that saved Egypt from famine, Pharaoh said, ‘Since God has revealed the meaning of the dreams to you, clearly no one else is as intelligent or wise as you are. You will be in charge of my court, and all my people will take orders from you. Only I, sitting on my throne, will have a rank higher than yours.’ (Genesis 41:39–40 NLT)

Bottom line: with God’s help, you can generally devise more than one way to solve the problem.

From The Word for Today.

The Word for Today
How To Solve Problems (1)

‘The people became very discouraged on the way.’ Numbers 21:4 NKJV

To reach the Promised Land the Israelites had to ‘go around the land of Edom.’ (Numbers 21:4 NKJV) This made their journey much longer, and ‘the people became very discouraged on the way.’ There’s a lesson here.

The best way to escape a problem is to solve it. Between you and your ‘promised land’ you’ll face issues that have to be resolved. Recognising obstacles for what they are—temporary tests of your resolve, ability, and faith in God—won’t do you much good if you don’t know how to handle them. So let’s discuss problem solving.

First, recognise that you’ll always have problems. A university student sent this email to his mum at the end of term: ‘Dropped out of uni, coming home tomorrow. Prepare Dad.’ The email he got back said, ‘Dad prepared. Prepare yourself!’

Al Davis, who owned the Oakland Raiders American football team, said: ‘A great leader doesn’t treat problems as special. He treats them as normal. If you’re working, expect problems. If you’re dealing with family, expect problems. If you’re just minding your own business and trying to relax, expect problems. If everything goes according to plan, then be pleasantly surprised. If it doesn’t, and you’ve planned accordingly, you won’t get so frustrated. A problem not anticipated is a problem. A problem anticipated is an opportunity.’

Paul said, ‘To Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory… forever.’ (Ephesians 3:20–21 NKJV) The problem you’re facing today is just an opportunity for God to do for you or through you what you can’t do by yourself.

From The Word for Today.

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How To Solve Problems (2)

‘The Lord is my strength and my shield.’ Psalm 28:7 NKJV

Second, you must identify the real problem. Sometimes doctors can cure you, other times they prescribe medication enabling you to live more comfortably with your problem. But first they have to diagnose what’s wrong.

Philosopher Abraham Kaplan makes this distinction between problems and predicaments: ‘A problem is something you can do something about. If you can’t do something about it, then it’s not a problem, it’s a predicament. That means it’s something that must be coped with; something that must be endured. When you treat a predicament as a problem you can become frustrated, angry, and depressed. You waste energy and make bad decisions. Then when all your attempts fail, you give up and see yourself as a victim.’

Here’s an example: if you’re married, perhaps you are a ‘morning person’ and your spouse is a ‘night person’, or vice versa. That’s a predicament. You can’t change it. You can’t change the way people are wired internally. And if you try, you and your spouse will experience lots of conflict and there’ll be no resolution. However, your difficulty in finding ways to spend time together because of your different bents is a problem, and that can be solved.

And here’s another thought: sometimes God will deliver you from a bad situation and other times He will use it to develop your character and make you more like Christ. Yes, He can turn your sigh into a song! David said, ‘The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in Him, and I am helped; therefore my heart greatly rejoices, and with my song I will praise Him.’ (Psalm 28:7 NKJV)

From The Word for Today.

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How To Solve Problems (3)

‘Should someone like me have to run and hide in the temple to save my life? I won’t go!’ Nehemiah 6:11 CEV

Third, you must face the problem. When Nehemiah was threatened by his enemies, some of his friends told him to hide in the temple. But he replied, ‘Should a man like me run away? Or should someone like me go into the temple to save his life? I will not go!’ (Nehemiah 6:11 NIV) As a result Nehemiah rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem in under two months—an amazing feat.

Years ago a popular American television commercial about addiction and abuse showed a typical family at home. The children were playing, the mother was vacuuming, and the father was reading the newspaper. They could have been a conventional family anywhere, except for one problem: there was a huge elephant in the room with them. Even though they could see it was making life difficult and they had to work around it, they seemed to be ignoring it and pretending it didn’t exist. That ad gave rise to the slogan: ‘The elephant in the room.’ It applies to problems we don’t want to address, so we pretend that everything is fine.

We typically react to a problem in four ways:

(1) Flee it: we try to escape, but the problem always follows us.

(2) Forget it: we hope it will go away if we don’t think about it. But left alone, problems tend to get worse.

(3) Fight it: what we resist persists. And problems are no exception.

(4) Face it: we look at the issue realistically and deal with it. If we’re wise we reach for God’s assistance and ‘boldly say: “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear.”’ (Hebrews 13:6 NKJV)

From The Word for Today.

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‘The prudent give thought to their steps.’ Proverbs 14:15 NIV

Fourth, evaluate the problem carefully and prayerfully. Here’s what King Solomon said about reacting impulsively instead of taking time to get all the facts. ‘The simple believe anything, but the prudent give thought to their steps.’ (Proverbs 14:15 NIV) .‘To answer before listening—that is folly and shame.’ (Proverbs 18:13 NIV)

When patients are in pain they want quick relief. But the doctor knows that the pain must be diagnosed correctly in order to prescribe the right medication and make the patient whole. For you that means asking yourself, ‘Who or what caused this problem? Am I making a mountain out of a molehill? Has it the potential to do real damage, or will I have forgotten about it this time next week?’ If you don’t diagnose the problem correctly you’ll have to go back and start over again, at which point the solution will probably be more painful and costly.

Mike Leavitt, former United States Secretary of Health and Human Services, said, ‘There is a time in the life of every problem when it is big enough to see, yet small enough to solve.’ The key is to find the right time and be patient when implementing the solution. Inexperienced people expect problems to be settled instantly. But experienced people are like the master sculptor who keeps striking the marble block with steady blows of the hammer. Unlike the rookie who expects to split the stone with one blow, he knows if he just keeps working at it he will eventually succeed.

From The Word for Today.