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The Word For Today

Serving Requires Humility

Paul writes: 'You must have the same attitude that...Jesus had. Though He was God, He did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, He gave up His divine privileges...took the...position of a slave...humbled Himself in obedience to God and died a criminal's death on the cross. Therefore, God elevated Him to the place of highest honour and gave Him the name above all other names...' (Philippians 2:5-9 NLT).

The world teaches an expectation that others are to serve us, but being a Christ follower means we are called to serve others. There's a big difference, isn't there? Christ modelled servanthood before His disciples. On the social totem pole, the lowest servant in the house washed feet. Try to picture God washing the feet of common fishermen, then saying, 'As I have served you, now go and serve one another.' Download that picture the next time you view somebody as a burden, or beneath you or an obstacle to your success. You'll never serve as Christ served if your focus is on building your own image. 'Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands and that He had come from God and was going to God ...began to wash the disciples' feet' (John 13:3-5 NKJV).

Jesus had settled three big issues: (1) He knew Who sent Him. (2) He knew Who sustained Him. (3) He knew Who was going to reward Him. Therefore He was liberated from the fear of people, the fear of failure and the fear of rejection. JL Massed said it so well: 'Service can never become slavery to one who loves.'

Soulfood : Ezek 16:53-19:14, Mk 12:28-44, Ps 1, Prov 14:29-32

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The Importance of Praising God (2)

The book of Job speaks about the rain cycle: '...He draws up drops of water which distil as rain from the mist, which the clouds drop down and pour abundantly on man. Indeed, can anyone understand the spreading of cloud, the thunder from His canopy' (Job 36:27-29 NKJV)? There's a spiritual parallel in this Scripture that works like this: as our vapours of praise go up to God, the clouds of His presence form and the rains of His blessing begin to fall on us.

Sometimes we leave church saying, 'That was a dry service.' The problem isn't dry services; it's dry servants! In praise you are the initiator and God is the responder. '...They were joined by 120 priests who were playing trumpets. The trumpeters and singers performed together in unison to praise...the Lord...they raised their voices...At that moment a thick cloud filled the Temple of the Lord. The priests could not continue their service because of the cloud, for the glorious presence of the Lord filled the Temple of God' (2 Chronicles 5:12-14 NLT). Wouldn't you love to have been in church for that service!

There's a story about a wealthy man who dropped a dollar into the offering plate at church, then complained all the way home that he didn't get anything out of the service. His son, who observed the whole thing, said, 'I suppose that just proves if you don't put much into it, you don't get much out of it.' Here's a key to blessing you need to think about: worship isn't just for God's benefit, it's also for yours!

Soulfood : Lev 23:15-22, Acts 2:1-21

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The Importance of Praising God (2)

The book of Job speaks about the rain cycle: '...He draws up drops of water which distil as rain from the mist, which the clouds drop down and pour abundantly on man. Indeed, can anyone understand the spreading of cloud, the thunder from His canopy' (Job 36:27-29 NKJV)? There's a spiritual parallel in this Scripture that works like this: as our vapours of praise go up to God, the clouds of His presence form and the rains of His blessing begin to fall on us.

Sometimes we leave church saying, 'That was a dry service.' The problem isn't dry services; it's dry servants! In praise you are the initiator and God is the responder. '...They were joined by 120 priests who were playing trumpets. The trumpeters and singers performed together in unison to praise...the Lord...they raised their voices...At that moment a thick cloud filled the Temple of the Lord. The priests could not continue their service because of the cloud, for the glorious presence of the Lord filled the Temple of God' (2 Chronicles 5:12-14 NLT). Wouldn't you love to have been in church for that service!

There's a story about a wealthy man who dropped a dollar into the offering plate at church, then complained all the way home that he didn't get anything out of the service. His son, who observed the whole thing, said, 'I suppose that just proves if you don't put much into it, you don't get much out of it.' Here's a key to blessing you need to think about: worship isn't just for God's benefit, it's also for yours!

Soulfood : Lev 23:15-22, Acts 2:1-21

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The Importance of Praising God (1)

When scientists analyse the 'matter' that comprises our universe, the movement of molecules can be translated into music. When the Pharisees tried to silence those who were praising the Lord, perhaps that's why Jesus said, 'If they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.' The Bible speaks of trees clapping their hands in praise and oceans and the mountains exalting God. All of creation is designed to praise Him. And when you don't, there's no connection with God and, as a result, an emptiness forms within you that nothing else can fill.

David said, 'Let my prayer be set before You as incense, the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice' (Psalms 141:2 NKJV). Here the word 'prayer' in Hebrew means 'songs of praise' and the Bible uses it no less than 70 times in this context. So start singing praise to God! The Ark of the Covenant represented three things: victory, guidance and God's presence. No wonder Israel felt lost without it. But observe how they brought it back from the camp of their Philistine foes: 'Israel played before God with all their might, and with singing, and with harps, and with psalteries, and with timbrels...' (1 Chronicles 13:8 KJV). Notice the phrase, 'with all their might'. Away with pale, pathetic praise! Put your heart and soul into it!

Worship brings intimacy with God. When it came to rebuilding Jerusalem, the singers were as vital to the success of the operation as the soldiers and builders. In fact, their role was so important they were paid to do it (Nehemiah 11:23-24 KJV). So start praising God!

Soulfood : Ezek 14:1-16:52, Mk 12:13-27, Ps 129, Prov 14:25-28

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Hope

Some of the people around you today are living without hope. Look at them; they smile, but their eyes are dead. They talk, but the music has left their voice. They're like mannequins: all dressed up and going nowhere because they feel hopeless. But as a follower of Christ, you don't have to live that way. 'Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep His promise.'

Our hope isn't luck, like winning the lottery. No, it's confidence that God will do what He said. No one knew the truth of this better than David. He had every reason to lose hope. After Samuel anointed him to be Israel's next king, he had to wait for seven years while a paranoid ruler occupied the throne. He had to flee for his life and hide in caves, surrounded by enemies. He saw Israel devastated, his friends killed and his family taken captive. But he never wavered or threw in the towel. Faced with circumstances that would wipe many of us out, he sang, '...My hope is in You' (Psalms 39:7 NKJV). '...Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning' (Psalms 30:5 NKJV). In other words, 'It's going to get better!' You can't lose with an attitude like that. David became king because he never lost confidence in the promises of God. They kept him focused; they kept him on top of the circumstances; they kept him going!

What has God promised you? Stand on His Word and declare, 'If God promised it, I believe it, and that settles it!'

Soulfood : Ezek 10-13, Mk 12:1-12, Ps 124, Prov 14:21-24

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We Must Be Christ-Centred!

In the book of Revelation, Christ stands knocking on the door of the last of the seven churches, asking them to let Him in. Amazing! Did the people inside not miss Him? Here's a frightening thought: it's possible to build a large institution, call it a church, and yet for Jesus to be marginalised in its emphasis and activities.

The measure of a ministry is how it treats Christ. Even in emphasising the importance of Spirit-filled living, we can produce believers who are Spirit-filled but not Jesus-thrilled! We can reduce Christianity to principles that work as effectively in the secular marketplace as they do in the church. John the Revelator saw Christ sitting upon a throne. Next he heard the voices of a multitude singing, '...Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom, and strength and honour and glory and blessing' (Revelation 5:12 NKJV)! And it was a mixed multitude. 'Every creature which is in Heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I heard saying: "Blessing and honour and glory and power be to Him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb, forever and ever"' (Revelation 5:13 NKJV)!

London once had two great preachers. When a lady went to hear the first, Dr Joseph Parker, she left saying, 'What a preacher!' When she went to hear the second, Charles Spurgeon, she left saying 'What a Christ!' Do you love the Lord supremely? Is His name written on your heart?

Soulfood : Ezek 5-9, Mk 11:27-33, Ps 4, Prov 14:17-20

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What Has God Said About You? (4)

If your vision is simply to be a great parent, that doesn't mean your faith is inadequate. It just means you understand your calling. All Moses' mother did was give birth - but what a baby! God protected her son when she couldn't do a thing to help him. Then He arranged to have him raised in Pharaoh's royal courts. And when you discover God's purpose for your life, He will provide for you, too!

Some days your vision won't look like it's coming together. As a child, Joseph dreamed of being a great leader, but before he could get to the palace, he had to go through the prison. Pastor James Petrow says, 'You can't build a foundation in a storm, so God will prepare you in advance.' Sometimes your vision will seem to die before it springs to life. That happened to Abraham. 'Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations...he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead - since he was about a hundred years old - and that Sarah's womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what He had promised' (Romans 4:18-21 NIV).

Paul wrote, 'We are fools for Christ...' (1 Corinthians 4:10 NIV). God uses radical people who don't care how they look: people who've survived difficult pasts, defied the odds, held onto their vision, and declared, 'My God is able!' And you can be one of those people!

Soulfood : Ezek 1-4, Mk 11:12-26, Ps 121, Prov 14:13-16

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What Has God Said About You? (3)

When God tells you to give of your finances in order to fulfil someone else's vision, you must realise:

(1) He's testing your faith and your willingness to obey in difficult circumstances. When Elijah the prophet asked a widow to share her last meal with him, the timing seemed strange. There was a famine in the land and people were dying. Who would have blamed her for saying 'no'? But by putting God's interests before her own, she connected herself to a divine, unending source of supply. The Bible says: 'Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly and whoever sows generously will also reap generously ...God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work' (2 Corinthians 9:6-8 NIV).

(2) He's giving you an opportunity to sow into another's life and reap in your own. We love to quote, 'My God will meet all your needs...' (Philippians 4:19 NIV), but do you remember who this promise was made to? It was written to those who supported Paul's ministry. 'When I set out from Macedonia, not one church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you only; for even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me aid again and again, when I was in need' (Philippians 4:15-16 NIV). Then Paul added these words: 'My God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.' When you give, you invest in an account you can draw on when you have a need yourself.

 

Soulfood : Amos 5:18-9:15, Mk 11:1-11, Ps 117, Prov 14:9-12

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What Has God Said About You? (2)

Don't waste your life trying to do things that God has neither called nor equipped you to do. Your parents may think you'd make a wonderful doctor or lawyer, but what does God think? What has He said about you? God told Jeremiah, '...I am watching to see that My Word is fulfilled.' If God said it - He will back it up. If He didn't - you're on your own!

Too many people waste their lives trying to do things that God never called and equipped them to do. Identify the source of your vision! Look deep within yourself; who are you trying to impress? Are you trying to prove to your ex-husband or ex-wife that you can make it successfully without them? Or show your parents that you're as talented as your brother or sister? Or demonstrate to the world how you overcame your roots and pulled yourself up by your bootstraps? Your vision cannot be born out of unresolved issues; that just breeds a need for control and recognition and dooms you to failure. What's more, if your vision is from God, you can't afford to be impatient like Abraham and try to accomplish it in your own strength and ingenuity. God's promises can never be fulfilled through fleshly effort. If only Abraham had waited, he could have avoided a lot of heartache with Hagar and Ishmael.

The Bible says, 'The blessing of the Lord makes one rich, and He adds no sorrow with it' (Proverbs 10:22 NKJV). No matter how long it takes, seek God's will, wait on His timing, prepare yourself thoroughly and move only when He says go!

Soulfood : Amos 1:1-5:17, Mk 10:35-52, Ps 82, Prov 14:5-8

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What Has God Said About You? (1)

Paul writes, 'What's the advantage of being a Jew?...Yes, there are great benefits! First of all, the Jews were entrusted with the whole revelation of God. True, some of them were unfaithful; but just because they were unfaithful, does that mean God will be unfaithful? Of course not!...[He] will be proved right in what [He] says' (Romans 3:1-3 NLT).

God has spoken specific things concerning you. Those things are His will for your life. You must believe them, carry them within you and speak them over your life. Don't be held back by the notion that everybody has to accept what God has said about you. Your vision should be independent of outside support. That's a difficult concept to grasp, especially in a democracy, where others vote and the majority rules. God's Kingdom is a theocracy: only one voice and one vote counts - His! Refuse to put your vision on hold, waiting for everybody to come into agreement with you. Not only do they not have to support you, they don't even have to believe what God has told you! You can't afford to wait for them to get comfortable with your vision before you pursue it. When people misunderstand you or refuse to help you, you can still get there without them.

God is a covenant-making, covenant-keeping God and what He has spoken over your life will surely come to pass. If you doubt that, read this: '...My Word...will not return to Me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it' (Isaiah 55:11 NIV). That's all the validation you need!

Soulfood : Mt 5:3, Lk 18:9-14, Is 57:14-21, 2 Sam 7:18-29

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