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The Word For Today

A humble offering



'The Lord respected Abel and his offering: but he did not respect Cain.' Genesis 4:4-5 NKJV

Cain cultivated the ground, planted the seed, gathered the harvest and offered God the fruits of his labours. He thought God would be impressed, and that he would feel obligated to bless him. But that's not how it works! Abel, on the other hand, told God something like, 'I did nothing. You created the lamb I'm offering. I'm just giving you back what's yours, and asking you to bless it.' And God did!

You can tell a lot about somebody by how they approach God. Some of us act like God owes us something. Others among us are so impressed with our spiritual status and accomplishments that we feel the need to approach him with lofty phraseology and high-sounding 'thees' and 'thous'. But God isn't impressed, so let's get real! 'The Lord respected Abel and his offering' (Genesis 4:4 NKJV). That's because unlike his brother, Abel wasn't seeking credit for anything. He wanted God to have all the glory. That's the kind of offering that moves God's heart and invites his richest blessing upon our lives.

So what are you offering God today? Your achievements? Your denominational credentials? Your self-reliance? Your shallow emotion? If you are, don't bother! The only thing he asks is that you humbly open your heart and let him recreate you in the likeness of Jesus. When you do that, something wonderful happens. By downplaying your own self-interests and giving God an acceptable offering, not only will he receive and respect it, he will bless you and equip you to bless others too. That's how it works!

Soulfood: Luke 2:8-20, Pro 3:13-18, Ps 119:161-168

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How to raise a secure adult



'The children of your people will live in security.' Psalm 102:28 NLT

When you ask parents about their future hopes for their children, you'll hear words like happy, secure and self-confident. Those are nice sentiments, but not guarantees. But what makes that kind of adult? A childhood filled with trophies and good grades? A life in the country, far away from the crime-ridden city? Enriching pastimes like travel and music? The truth is, not one of these things predicts later happiness. That doesn't mean you shouldn't encourage children to study and excel; having parents who value knowledge makes a difference.

The important qualities, however, aren't external, they're internal. Psychologist Dr Edward Hallowell says to feel secure, your children need to develop two crucial skills: (1) The ability to overcome adversity. (2) The capacity to sustain joy. He says, 'Life is full of disappointments. Only by failing the first time and learning to try, try and try again will a person get the most out of their abilities.'

But how do you teach your kids to be joyful in the face of adversity? There's only one way to do it: introduce them to the source of joy. Isaiah said, 'My soul shall be joyful in my God; for he has clothed me with...salvation' (Isaiah 61:10 NKJV). David said, 'In your presence is fulness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore' (Psalm 16:11 NKJV). Jeremiah said, 'Your word was to me the joy...of my heart' (Jeremiah 15:16 NKJV). God never promised us a life without problems, but his Word says, 'The Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives...joy' (Galatians 5:22 NLT).

Soulfood: Exo 28-29, Matt 8:10-17, Ps 84, Pro 2:16-19

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The right mindfuel



'Be changed within by a new way of thinking.' Romans 12:2 NCV

What we consume determines our performance. That's why you need to be careful what you feed your body, your children, your pets and even your car.

But what you feed your mind is equally important, especially when you consider these two laws that operate in life: (1) The law of cognition. Your thoughts influence your emotions and your behaviour. The Bible says, 'For as he thinks in his heart, so is he' (Proverbs 23:7 NKJV). Jesus said a good tree can't produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can't produce good fruit (see Matthew 7:18). In other words, good thinking can't produce bad results, just as bad thinking can't produce good results. (2) The law of exposure. The Bible says, 'Do not...be shaped by this world; instead be changed within by a new way of thinking' (Romans 12:2 NCV). You'll always think about what you are exposed to the most. And given the violence, lust and greed portrayed by the media, it's not surprising that crime and immorality are on the rise. You can't just say, 'I'm going to read this magazine, watch this programme, listen to this music, but it won't affect me.' Social science now confirms what God said all along - it does affect you! Where you go, what you read (or don't read), what you watch and the dreams you entertain all shape your mind.

Paul writes, 'Remember what Christ taught, and let his words enrich your lives and make you wise' (Colossians 3:16 TLB). So when you need the right mind-fuel, remember: 'I entrust you to God and his care and to his wonderful words that are able to build your faith and give you all the inheritance' (Acts 20:32 TLB).

Soulfood: Exo 25-27, Matt 8:1-9, Ps 81, Pro 2:11-15

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