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The Word For Today

In Place, But Not Connected

'Mobile phones can be life-savers...but the batteries have a limited lifespan and need to be recharged. One weary weekend I was as drained as my phone battery. I went through my evening routine, dutifully placing my mobile phone on its charger. Unfortunately, I neglected to plug the charger into the socket. Next morning I woke refreshed - but my phone was no better than the night before. It was in the right place... but it wasn't connected to the power source! Sometimes the consequences of not "plugging in" can be more severe...many people dutifully march to church every week, but leave as drained as when they came. They're in the right place, but they're not plugged in to the power of God...and without that it doesn't matter if you sit in a pew or on a barstool... You can study the Scriptures for hours on end, "always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth"

(2 Timothy 3:7 NAS); you can even do great things for God but lack power in your life. If I'd left my mobile phone on the charger for days or weeks instead of overnight, it wouldn't have helped. Multiplication of effort isn't a substitute for true power... Guard against things that disconnect you from the power source...obviously sin will do that, but so will weariness. We can't remain connected if we're weighed down by busyness. We can spend so much time doing things for God that we neglect our relationship with Him.' Jesus said, 'You cannot be fruitful unless you remain in Me.'

That means reading the Bible, praying and resting in His presence.

Soulfood :

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Unity Without Uniformity (2)

In working for unity: (1) Consider your motives. Only God knows the motives of a person's heart, and only God is qualified to judge them. 'No one can know a person's thoughts except that person's own spirit' (1 Corinthians 2:11 NLT). We're externally-oriented creatures; we 'judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart' (1 Samuel 16:7 NLT). It's not necessarily what people do that causes us to judge them; it's what we tell ourselves about what they're doing. We're quick to attribute negative motives: 'He meant to hurt me. She's selfish. They never consider others.' The church in Rome was sabotaging its own unity over outward issues, so Paul reminded them that even though their behaviour was at odds, their motives were similar. 'He who eats meat, eats to the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who abstains, does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God' (Romans 14:6 NIV). Unity doesn't depend on outward conformity, but understanding hearts! (2) Consider your impact on others. We say, 'It's nobody's business but mine, as long as I don't violate Scripture.' Wrong! You can follow the letter of the Word but violate its Spirit.

Paul said, 'Everything is permissible - but not everything is beneficial' (1 Corinthians 10:23 NIV). Yes, you can do it, but somebody else may end up being hurt. God has a higher law than that of 'my rights'; it's the law of love! He cares if you 'by using your freedom...somehow make a believer who is weak in faith fall into sin' (1 Corinthians 8:9 GWT). What should you do? 'Do nothing from selfishness...regard one another as more important than yourselves' (Philippians 2:3 NAS).

Soulfood :

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Unity Without Uniformity (1)

The last prayer Jesus prayed before His crucifixion was that we would come together in unity. That's a tall order! We're a thoroughly diverse assortment, differing denominationally, doctrinally, politically, emotionally, intellectually, socially and materially, often to the point of enmity and division. So how can Christ's prayer be answered and His people united? We can start by acknowledging that unity is God's will and committing ourselves to work toward it. Next, we can learn as Paul teaches the principles of unity to the divided church at Rome: (1) Unity demands that we don't judge one another. 'Who are you to judge someone else's servant? To his own master he stands or falls' (Romans 14:4 NIV). God alone is authorised to hand out verdicts. Even when you're right, or you're the more knowledgeable party, you still have no right to judge. Your job is to 'make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit' (Ephesians 4:3 NLT). Discuss it with God, then trust His wisdom. (2) Unity requires us to respect each other's convictions. 'Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind' (Romans 14:5 NIV). Personal convictions, not the enforced opinions of others, are what Paul is referring to. The desire to make someone else over in your image is a form of idolatry and pride that destroys any possibility of unity. God reserves the right to bring up His own children without your interference! He'll mould and lead them where and when He decides, because He understands their needs and capacities. So trust Him with His job, and do yours by loving and respecting others.

Soulfood :

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