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The Word For Today

God knows where you are

'He lifted me out of the pit of despair.' Psalm 40:2 NLT

When an earthquake struck Haiti, an aid worker trapped under a collapsed hotel prayed, 'Lord, I haven't been in touch with you lately. Now I need you more than ever.'

He writes: 'I heard a sound. "Who's there?" I shouted. "Jim," a man replied. He and five others were trapped too. "Would you like to pray with me?" I asked. "Yes," he answered. So I said, "Lord, we're asking you for a miracle. Please rescue us." I was drifting off to sleep when rhythmic thumping woke me. Helicopters! We waited, but nobody came. I felt drained. No food and water for twenty-four hours and I needed a doctor...I closed my eyes, sure I'd never open them again...A voice shouted and I jolted awake...a survivor had contacted a rescue team through a small hole...An hour passed, then two...I banged on the wall. No response. "I'm going to die here, and there's nothing I can do." Then this thought came to my mind: Worship me. I began singing: "Great is thy faithfulness; morning by morning new mercies I see." I sang: "Be still my soul." Praise the one who knew exactly where I was. I felt God's presence...and heard him whisper, "Trust me with everything"...and I let it all go. "Your will be done, Lord"...Hours later a team of rescuers came down the elevator shaft, hoisted me to safety, and took me to the hospital. My wife was waiting. "I thought you were dead," she said. "Me too," I whispered. And I would have been if it hadn't been for what I had with me in that dark place - like my faith that's more alive than ever.'

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


Retrain your brain

'Be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him.' Colossians 3:10 NLT

Lasting change happens gradually on the inside, often before there's any outward evidence of it.

Pastor Jim Penner says: 'A friend of mine recently went through hip-replacement surgery...the joint had worn to the point where he walked with a limp and had to use a crutch. Thanks to the skill of a modern-day surgeon he was quickly up and around again. Yet for months after the surgery his limp remained...I ran into him this morning and the limp was gone. Where did it go? It had been there the day before. Had it vanished in the night? "You're walking great," I said. "What happened?" His response was priceless. "My physical therapist told me I had to retrain my brain." His brain had been trained to expect pain so he limped in anticipation. Even when he didn't feel the pain his brain said, "Hang on. It's coming!" The Bible says in Christ you become "a new creation: old things have passed away...all things have become new" (2 Corinthians 5:17 NKJV). But you have to change your thinking by believing, accepting, and acting on it. Christ has already done the restoration "surgery". Just like my friend was given a new hip, God has given you a new life. The old one is gone along with all the bad things you've done, thought, or said. You're a brand-new creation. But you have to retrain your brain to accept God's forgiveness and the restorative work Jesus has done in your life.'

So: retrain your brain.

Soulfood: Zech 1-4 Lk 22:63-71 Ps 3 Pro 24:23-25,


Friends in disguise

'I take the insults...I suffer for Christ.' 2 Corinthians 12:10 NLT

When you're insulted, you can retaliate with a stinging comeback or see it as a growth opportunity. David said, 'It is good...that I have been afflicted, that I might learn your statutes' (Psalm 119:71 NKJV).

Psychologist Dr Brenda Shoshanna says: 'The person who insults us is a teacher...come to help us reduce our ego, develop patience and compassion, practise unconditional forgiveness, and teach us about life and relationships. If you don't perceive an insult as an insult, but as a teaching or a gift, it loses its power to hurt you. On a practical level, if you're insulted, say nothing. Give yourself time. Much harm is created by lashing back, escalating the situation, and saying things you may not mean. Recognise it's your ego - that false sense of pride acting up - and don't go along with it.'

Paul reached a place where he actually took 'pleasure in...insults' (2 Corinthians 12:10 NLT). Most of us aren't quite there yet, but with time and practise it can happen. Speaking of Judas, one author writes: 'God sometimes manipulates the actions of our enemies to make them work as friends in order to accomplish his will in our lives. He can bless you through the worst relationships, ones that are painful or negative. The time, effort, and pain we invest in them aren't wasted because God knows how to make adversity feed destiny into your life. I can't stop hurts from coming, or promise that everyone who sits at your table will be loyal. But the sufferings of success give us direction, build character, and in the end you find grace to re-evaluate your enemies and realise that like Judas, they are friends in disguise.'

Soulfood: 1 Ki 17:1-6 1 Ki 18:16-39 1 Kings 19:9-18 2 Kings 2:1-12,

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