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The Word For Today

Thank God for the blood



'...you were redeemed...with the precious blood of Christ...' 1 Peter 1:18-19 NIV

The story of redemption begins in Eden with God shedding the blood of a lamb to cover Adam's and Eve's sin, and ends in Heaven with a multi-national choir singing, '...You...have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every...nation' (Revelation 5:9 NKJV).The blood of Jesus Christ represents two things: (1) The cost of your sin. Rolled on to Christ's shoulders was the weight of your every misdeed from the cradle to the grave. Next time you're tempted to violate God's Word and do your own thing, bear that in mind! (2) The cure for your sin. Your salvation wasn't a joint effort. You didn't contribute a cent because you were spiritually bankrupt: '...you were redeemed [bought out of slavery and set free]...with the precious blood of Christ...' (1 Peter 1:18-19 NIV). The preaching of the blood will offend those with sins to hide, a moralistic ego to protect, or a gospel that offers salvation through good works and social evolution. The blood of Jesus not only saves the repentant but also condemns the defiant, for '...without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness' (Hebrews 9:22 NIV). Plagues and apocalyptic hail could not release God's people from the iron grip of Pharaoh. What did?The blood. Nothing but the blood! And the blood has never lost its power. It can (a) heal your painful memories (b) cleanse and set you free from the sin you dare not speak of (c) put a canopy of protection over you, and (d) draw a line in the sand over which the enemy dare not step. Today, thank God for the blood!

Soulfood: 1 Sam 17:4-51, Eph 6:10-18

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Enjoy each season of your life



'Which yields its fruit in season.' Psalm 1:3 NIV

Your life is lived in seasons, and to be fruitful you must recognise the season you're in and maximise it. 'How can I tell when a season is ending?' you ask. Because the grace that accompanied that season will lift, and what was once rewarding will start to feel unrewarding. The Bible says a successful man or woman is like a tree planted by streams of water 'which yields its fruit in season' (Psalm 1:3 NIV). You can only be fruitful in your season! That's where blessing and success occur. You can't just do it whenever you want to; it has to be in your appointed time. When the right season comes, it's effortless for a tree to produce what's stored within. And there's fruit within you that will be produced when you understand what season you're in.But there are rules for each season; let's look at them. Spring - is for training and discipline. That's when you begin to see God's purpose for your life and prepare for it. Summer - is for maturing what spring started. The seeds you sowed and nurtured then will grow and multiply now. Autumn - is when you no longer have the passion of youth but the steady calm of the seasoned veteran. If you're wise, you're now working smarter instead of harder. It's time to transition and prepare for the upcoming winter. Winter - is when you assess your accomplishments, enjoy your rewards, pass on your counsel, and take your bows. You have fought the good fight, kept the faith, and finished the course (See 2 Timothy 4:7).If you do it right, each season can be the best season of your life!

Soulfood: Jer 7-9, Luke 20:1-8, Ps 38:13-22, Prov 8:24-26

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Teaching children patience 3



'For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise.' Hebrews 10:36 NKJV

Do these three things: (1) Don't be Mr. or Mrs. Quick-Fix-It. Your kids need to learn to respond the right way to difficult conditions. That means dealing with frustrations, not being rescued from them. Overprotecting produces a sense of inadequacy and powerlessness in them. By quick-fixing everything you'll rear children who cannot handle life. They'll expect to be rescued from all trouble and become overly dependent on others. The Bible says, 'Troubles make us more patient' (Romans 5:3 ERV). Allow your children to experience age-appropriate challenges, and they will thank you later for the strengths and coping skills they've developed.(2) Prepare them to wait. When you know in advance that your child will have to wait (for instance, in a doctor's office or an airport), help them prepare for it. 'Make the most of every opportunity' (Ephesians 5:16 NLT). Have them pack items they enjoy. Because they chose the items, they'll feel they invested in the process.(3) Keep a positive attitude. If you constantly complain while waiting in traffic, or for someone who's late, your children will do the same. Instead, try saying, 'This delay gives us time to tell each other about our day.' Or, 'Even when we feel frustrated about waiting, God's timing is always perfect!' Teach them God's perspective on patience: 'Brothers and sisters, be patient...A farmer patiently waits for his valuable crop to grow from the earth and for it to receive the autumn and spring rains' (James 5:7 NCV).

Soulfood: Jer 4-6, Luke 19:41-48, Ps 38:1-12, Prov 8:22-23

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Teaching children patience 2



'Bear fruit with patience.' Luke 8:15 NKJV

Here are five more patience teaching tips: (1) Teach by experiment. Toddlers through 'tweens' can appreciate the time it takes a plant to grow, so involve them in planting a seed and watching it grow. Explain how everything in life takes time to change and develop. Teach the meaning of Ecclesiastes 3:1 NKJV: 'To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under Heaven.'(2) Make use of visuals. Younger children especially need visuals when waiting for an event to happen. If it's 4:30 and dinner is at 5:00, use a timer. If it's eighteen days until a family holiday, let them mark the days off on a calendar. Often their problem with waiting is not knowing when it will end. (3) Don't interrupt and don't tolerate interruptions. Toddlers to teens - children interrupt! Adults, too. Interruptions are usually a rude and frustrating display of impatience. Unless it's an emergency, be clear: children - and adults - are to wait their turn to speak. It's more than good manners - it's obeying God's Word. 'There is...a time to keep silence, and a time to speak' (Ecclesiastes 3:1, 7 NKJV).(4) Make use of board games. Most board games require taking turns, which means waiting. Your children will hardly realise they're practicing patience! Chess and checkers are good for tweens. Scrabble educates teenagers and teaches them patience. (5) Reward their patience. When your toddler waits for his sippy cup to be filled while you feed the baby, thank him for waiting so well. If your teen saves her money to buy an iPod, compliment her wisdom and reinforce it by perhaps donating the last few dollars to her purchase.

Soulfood: Jer 1-3, Luke 19:28-40, Ps 55:12-23, Prov 8:19-21

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Teaching children patience 1



'But if we look forward to something we don't yet have, we must wait patiently and confidently.' Romans 8:25 NLT

Waiting patiently is what life, God and success demand. Even when we've done the right things, God requires us to wait for the results. 'You have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise' (Hebrews 10:36 NKJV).How do we help our children develop this vitally important life skill? Writer Tammy Darling says: (1) Set clear boundaries. For instance, say, 'You may have that when I've seen you wait patiently.' Don't be moved by their demands! (2) Refocus their attention. Waiting in line at the store can be an occasion for impatience. So try a guessing game - like 'I Spy' - with younger kids, or get older kids talking about family holiday plans. (3) Teach by example. Do you pass other motorists on the highway just to get one car-length ahead? Impulsively charge something rather than wait until you have the money to buy it? Whether they're three or 13, your children learn by watching you. (4) Avoid constantly saying, 'Hurry up!' Toddlers typically dawdle. They've no idea how long getting ready takes. So instead of always telling them to hurry, help them learn the process and pace of getting ready. 'It's time to put your toys away...time to get your shoes and socks on...time to put your jacket on.' Instead of frustrating them with commands to hustle, involve them in actions they understand and can handle. This teaches them how to manage time practically.

Soulfood: Hos 11-14, Luke 19:11-27, Ps 55:1-11, Prov 8:17-18

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Be kind to the unkind



'Pray for those who mistreat you.' Luke 6:28 NIV

In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus taught, 'Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you' (Luke 6:27-28 NIV). Then he added, 'Your reward will be great' (Luke 6:35 NIV). God sees, he records, and he'll reward you for every kind act you do. It's easy to be kind to those who are kind to us, but you must grow in grace in order to be kind to the people who mistreat you.In the comic strip Nancy, Sluggo once told Nancy, 'That new kid in school is nothing but a big fathead!' Nancy replied, 'You shouldn't call people names like that. I never call people names.' Sluggo replied, 'Well, I just got mad when he said you were stupid looking.' Whereupon Nancy demanded, 'What else did that big fathead say?' It's easy to react to acts of kindness with kindness. The real challenge is responding with kindness to those who lack it. Os Guinness in The Case for Civility wrote about politicians as society's role models: 'Name-calling, insult, ridicule, guilt by association, caricature, innuendo, accusation, denunciation, negative ads, and deceptive and manipulative videos have replaced deliberation and debate. Neither side talks to the other side, only about them.' Civility - being respectful whether we agree with another person or not - is a good policy!Every one of us has a 'kindness kit' we carry with us everywhere we go. It's better known as our tongue. Never underestimate the power of one kind word.

Soulfood: Hos 6-10, Luke 19:1-10, Ps 13, Prov 8:14-16

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Judgment day will be a great day for you



'In this world we are like Jesus.' 1 John 4:17 NIV

Will you get into Heaven because you are worthy? No, you'll get there because Jesus, the one in whom you've placed your trust, is worthy! 'As we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the Day of Judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world. Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love' (1 John 4:17-18 NLT).On the Day of Judgment earthly wealth won't matter. Physical beauty won't be factored in. Fame will be forgotten. You might stand next to Napoleon or Julius Caesar, but you won't be asking them about Waterloo or Brutus. All eyes will be on Jesus. Those who ignored him will hear the words, 'Depart from me' (Matthew 25:41). But for those who accept him as their Lord and Saviour there need be no fear. 'We can face him with confidence because we live like Christ here in this world' (1 John 4:17 NLT). Think about that! God sees you the way he sees Christ - worthy and accepted. And since you're 'in Christ' you can view Judgment Day the way he does - with confidence.Does Christ fear judgment? No, a sinless soul needn't. Does Christ fear death? No, the giver of life wouldn't. So should we who are 'in Christ' fear judgment or death? Not at all: 'In this world we are like Jesus.' So Judgment Day will be a great day for you!

Soulfood: Hos 1-5, Luke 18:31-43, Ps 116:12-19, Prov 8:10-13

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Battling bitterness



'I had great bitterness; but you...delivered my soul.' Isaiah 38:17 NKJV

At 92, Jenny never missed a chance to recall how her sister refused to buy her a pair of shoes fifty years ago! All those years marinating 'in the gall of bitterness' (Acts 8:23 AMP). Anne Peterson says: 'An offense burrows into our hearts. We replay it...creating ruts that'll be hard to rebuild later...we enlist support, which pushes us further into resentment. We decipher the offense as intentional, and our offender as full of spite. As we find reasons, real or imagined, to dislike them...we form another layer of bitterness... Then like a beach ball we try to submerge...it pops up...splashing everyone.' The Bible says, 'Watch out that no bitterness takes root among you... hurting many' (Hebrews 12:15 TLB).So remember: (1) Forgiveness isn't optional. 'If...possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone' (Romans 12:18 NIV). It may not be possible to live in harmony with everyone, but God still requires you to forgive those who've hurt you. (2) As you forgive, you're forgiven. The Bible says when you're 'full of bitterness' you're 'captive to sin' (Acts 8:23 NIV). Don't forget that Jesus didn't just die for you, he died for those who offend you. Do they deserve forgiveness? No. But then again, do you? (3) Pray for your enemies. Ask God to bring to mind the people you need to forgive, and melt the bitterness in your heart toward them. It's impossible to harbour resentment toward somebody you're praying for.Yes, sometimes it's hard to forgive; but you 'can do all things through Christ' (Philippians 4:13 NKJV).

Soulfood: Lev 24:17-22, Deut 15:7-11, Matt 5:38-48, Matt 5:38-48

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Good thinking



'We have the mind of Christ.' 1 Corinthians 2:16 NKJV

In his book Thinking for a Change, Dr. John Maxwell gives us eleven different types of thinking; to each we've added a Scripture:(1) Big picture thinking. The ability to think beyond yourself is required in order to process ideas from a 'faith' perspective (Ephesians 3:20). (2) Focused thinking. The ability to think with clarity on issues by removing distractions and mental clutter (Philippians 3:13-14). (3) Creative thinking. The ability to break out of the box and explore ideas and options in order to experience a breakthrough (Isaiah 54:2-3). (4) Realistic thinking. The ability to build a solid foundation on facts, to think with certainty (Luke 14:28). (5) Strategic thinking. The ability to implement plans that give direction for today, and increase your potential for tomorrow (Proverbs 19:21). (6) Possibility thinking. The ability to unleash your enthusiasm and hope, to find solutions for even seemingly impossible situations (Matthew 19:26). (7) Reflective thinking. The ability to revisit the past in order to think with understanding (Psalm 1:1-3). (8) Questioning popular thinking. The ability to reject common thinking and accomplish uncommon results (Isaiah 55:8-9). (9) Shared thinking. The ability to include others who can help you think 'over your head' and achieve greater results (Psalm 133:1-3). (10) Unselfish thinking. The ability to consider others and their journey, to think with collaboration (Romans 12:10). (11) Bottom-line thinking. The ability to focus on results, in order to reap the full potential of your thinking (Matthew 25:14-30).Let's add: (12) Spiritual thinking. 'We have the mind of Christ' (1 Corinthians 2:16 NKJV). One God-given thought can change your life!

Soulfood: 2 Ki 24-25, Luke 18:18-30, Ps 116:1-11, Prov 8:8-9

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Are you resisting rest



'Come away...and rest a while.' Mark 6:31 NRS

Following Jesus should energise you, not leave you feeling burned out. Jesus preached to farmers who used oxen to plough their fields. They also lived by religious rules that didn't permit you to relax and experience God's love and grace. So Jesus told them: 'Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you...and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light' (Matthew 11:28-29 NLT).Jesus had more to do than any of us, yet he never seemed to do it in a way that severed the life-giving connection with his Father, or interfered with his ability to show love when it was called for. He regularly withdrew from the rat race in order to pray. Even when his disciples returned, flushed with success from a busy time of ministry, he told them, 'Come away...and rest a while,' because as Mark records, 'Many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat' (Mark 6:31 NRS).Constant hurry is the mark of an un-prioritised life - a sure sign that second and third things have become first things. Not only did God command us to rest every seventh day, he told Jewish farmers to let their fields rest every seventh year so they'd produce better harvests. The problem is we want microwave maturity...to exchange wisdom for information and depth for breadth - but it doesn't work. Depth comes slowly. Following Jesus can't be done at a sprint; you can't go faster than the one who's leading.

Soulfood: 2 Ki 21-23, Luke 18:1-17, Ps 19, Prov 8:6-7

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