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I stand corrected

New Year’s Day
I stand corrected
‘The Lord disciplines those He loves…’ Hebrews 12:6 NIV
Did you know God loves you? It’s a fact-God truly does love you! Not just when you’ve got your posh gear on or been extra specially wonderful-right now, every minute of every day, just as you are-God loves you! The Bible is totally clear: ‘Nothing can ever separate us from God’s love.’ (Romans 8:38 NLT)
But did you know that He also corrects you? ‘Now hang on a minute, how can He do both?’ you may ask. ‘How can God truly love me and then go correcting me? Aren’t I good enough for Him?’
Q(1) Why will God tell us when we’re ‘out of line’? It’s the child He loves that He disciplines. God is educating you: that’s why you must never drop out. This trouble you’re in isn’t punishment, it’s training. Why not embrace God’s training so we can truly live? God is doing what is best for us, training us to live God’s holy best.
Q(2) What’s in it for me? ‘God’s discipline is always right and good for us because it means we will share in his holiness. No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening-it is painful! But afterward there will be a quiet harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.’ (Hebrews 12:10-11 NLT)
Q(3) And how does God discipline us? ‘I correct and discipline everyone I love. So be diligent and turn from your indifference.’ (Revelation 3:19 NLT)
SoulFood: Rom 13:12-14:19, John 1:1-14

Question: “What sort of New Year’s Resolution should a Christian make?”

Answer: The practice of making New Year’s resolutions goes back over 3000 years to the ancient Babylonians. There is just something about the start of a New Year that gives us the feeling of a fresh start and a new beginning. In reality, there is no difference between December 31st and January 1st. Nothing mystical occurs at midnight on December 31st. The Bible does not speak for or against the concept of New Year’s resolutions. However, if a Christian determines to make a New Year’s resolution, what kind of resolution should he or she make?

Common New Year’s resolutions are: to quit smoking, to stop drinking, to manage money better, and spend more time with family. By far the most common New Year’s resolution is to lose weight, in conjunction with exercising more and eating healthier. These are all good goals to set. However, 1 Timothy 4:8 instructs us to keep exercise in perspective: “For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” The vast majority of New Year’s resolutions, even among Christians, are in relation to physical things. This should not be.

Many Christians make New Year’s resolutions to pray more, to read the Bible every day, and to attend church more regularly. These are fantastic goals. However, these New Year’s resolutions fail just as often as the non-spiritual resolutions, because there is no power in a New Year’s resolution. Resolving to start or stop doing a certain activity has no value unless you have the proper motivation for stopping or starting that activity. For example, why do you want to read the Bible every day? Is it to honor God and grow spiritually, or is it because you have just heard that it is a good thing to do? Why do you want to lose weight? Is it to honor God with your body, or is it for vanity, to honor yourself?

Philippians 4:13 tells us, “I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.” John 15:5 declares, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” If God is the center of your New Year’s resolution, it has chance for success, depending on your commitment to it. If it is God’s will for something to be fulfilled, He will enable you to fulfill it. If a resolution is not God honoring and/or is not in agreement in God’s Word, we will not receive God’s help in fulfilling the resolution.

So, what sort of New Year’s resolution should a Christian make? Here are some suggestions: (1) Pray to the Lord for wisdom (James 1:5) in regards to what resolutions, if any, He would have you make; (2) Pray for wisdom as to how to fulfill the goals God gives you; (3) Rely on God’s strength to help you; (4) Find an accountability partner who will help you and encourage you; (5) Don’t become discouraged with occasional failures; instead allow them to motivate you further; (6) Don’t become proud or vain, but give God the glory. Psalm 37:5-6, “Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.”

Don’t eat junk

 Don’t eat junk

‘Your words were found, and I ate them…’ Jeremiah 15:16 NKJ A woman bought a parrot and then returned him to the pet shop the next day. ‘This bird doesn’t talk,’ she told the owner. ‘Does he have a mirror?’ asked the owner. ‘Parrots love mirrors. They see themselves and start up a conversation.’ So the woman bought the mirror. Next day she returned. The bird still wasn’t talking. ‘How about a ladder? Parrots love walking up and down a ladder. A happy parrot is more likely to talk.’ The woman bought a ladder. The third day, she was back again and the bird still wasn’t talking. ‘Does your parrot have a swing? If not, that’s the problem. He’ll relax and talk up a storm.’ The woman reluctantly bought a swing and left. When she walked into the shop the next day, she wasn’t impressed. ‘The parrot died,’ she said. The pet shop owner was shocked. ‘I’m so sorry. Tell me, did he ever say a word?’ he asked. ‘Yes, right before he died,’ the woman replied. ‘He said, “Don’t they sell any food at that pet shop?”‘ Do you get it? You can spend your whole life on mirrors, focusing on appearance; on ladders, focusing on being the best or the most popular; on swings, focusing on entertainment-but starve to death spiritually. Don’t fill up your life with so much junk that you forget about the most important thing: God’s Word. Fill yourself up with that every day, and you’ll thrive spiritually. SoulFood: 1 Chron 17:1-20, Heb 11:4-12:3, Ps 18:20-29, Pr 4:18

Hello-Jesus!
‘…but the third day, He shall rise again’ Matthew 20:19 NKJ
Halloween Night. That annual bit of so-called ‘fun’ when parents dress their children up as Satan’s little helpers and demand treats from neighbours ‘or else’!
It’s true to say that Christians are known for being a tad sensitive when it comes to the subject of ‘Halloween’, but everyone with a brain cell between their ears ought to see that there are better things to throw a party over! And anyway, if it’s out-of-this-world supernatural stuff you’re looking for then crack open the party-poppers for Jesus; He’s King of the supernatural:
(1) demons shrieked when He walked down the street-and ran from Him fearing His power to bind them in eternal chains with a single Word (2) the forces of nature obeyed His command, water turned to wine, crashing waves became gentle ripples and fish even coughed up coins! (3) He died, and then rose from the dead! This was no Shaun of the Dead situation, Jesus didn’t return from the grave as a moaning, groaning half-dead shadow of His former self; His resurrected body was now fit for eternity, like ours will be when we’re raised to reign with Him on the final day.
The most supernatural thing of all is that Jesus is here right now with you by His Holy Spirit. Say ‘Hello’ right now; ask Jesus to say, ‘Hello’ right back in your life. There’s a prayer on the next page to introduce you to Jesus and make today Hello-Jesus, not Halloween.
SoulFood Reading: Deut 18:9-18, Dan 2, Isa 47:5-15, Acts 16:16-34 (Avoid the Occult)

Question: “Who am I in Christ?” Answer: According to 2 Corinthians 5:17, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” There are two Greek words which are translated “new” in the Bible. The first, neos, refers to something that has just been made, but there are already many others in existence just like it. The word translated “new” in this verse is the word kainos, which means “something just made which is unlike anything else in existence.” In Christ, we are made an entirely new creation, just as God created the heavens and the earth originally—He made them out of nothing, and so He does with us. He does not merely clean up our old selves; He makes an entirely new self. When we are in Christ, we are “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4 KJV). God Himself, in the person of His Holy Spirit, takes up residence in our hearts. We are in Christ and He is in us. In Christ, we are regenerated, renewed, and born again, and this new creation is spiritually minded, whereas the old nature is carnally minded. The new nature fellowships with God, obeys His will, and is devoted to His service. These are actions the old nature is incapable of doing or even desiring to do. The old nature is dead to the things of the spirit and cannot revive itself. It is “dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1) and can only be made alive by a supernatural awakening, which happens when we come to Christ and are indwelt by Him. Christ gives us a completely new and holy nature and an incorruptible life. Our old life, previously dead to God because of sin, is buried, and we are raised “to walk in newness of life” with Him (Romans 6:4). If we belong to Christ, we are united to Him and no longer slaves to sin (Romans 6:5-6); we are made alive with Him (Ephesians 2:5); we are conformed to His image (Romans 8:29); we are free from condemnation and walking not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit (Romans 8:1); and we are part of the body of Christ with other believers (Romans 12:5). The believer now possesses a new heart (Ezekiel 11:19) and has been blessed “with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 1:3). We might wonder why we so often do not live in the manner described, even though we have given our lives to Christ and are sure of our salvation. This is because our new natures are residing in our old fleshly bodies, and these two are at war with one another. The old nature is dead, but the new nature still has to battle the old “tent” in which it dwells. Evil and sin are still present, but the believer now sees them in a new perspective and they no longer control him as they once did. In Christ, we can now choose to resist sin, whereas the old nature could not. Now we have the choice to either feed the new nature through the Word, prayer, and obedience, or to feed the flesh by neglecting those things. When we are in Christ, “we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us” (Romans 8:37) and can rejoice in our Savior, who makes all things possible (Philippians 4:13). In Christ we are loved, forgiven, and secure. In Christ we are adopted, justified, redeemed, reconciled, and chosen. In Christ we are victorious, filled with joy and peace, and granted true meaning in life. What a wonderful Savior is Christ!

Hungry heart

Hungry heart ‘…the world offers…a craving for everything we see…’ 1 John 2:16 NLT ‘Mum knows best.’ So what if your insides are rattling and you could eat a whole horse complete with cart? Mum still knows best. Half a block of chocolate is not going to satisfy that hunger in the same way as a healthy, nutritious dinner. In fact, when we pig out on ‘treat foods’ that aren’t good for us, we’re left feeling cheap, sick and curiously unfulfilled not long after. If that’s true of physical hunger, what of spiritual hunger? If we’re filling up our God ‘hunger spot’ with junk, we’ll also be left feeling cheap, sick and unfulfilled. It’s possible to excel in school, church, sports, music and still be left feeling unfulfilled. It’s common for people to desperately crave intimacy but end up being taken advantage of, and feeling cheap. It’s likely that some of the number one mirror-gazers, those we think have got it all together, are actually sick to the stomach of how they look. You see, all of us looking for something that will truly satisfy. Fame, money, approval and romance still leave us empty. They’re like chocolate before dinner. Jesus says He’s ‘the Bread of Life’. If you’re hungry right now fill that emptiness with the Bread of Life. Only God can fill that ‘God hole’ in your appetite. SoulFood Reading: 1 Sam 24-26, Luke 24:36-44, Ps 51, Pr 22:12-16

Question: “How were people saved before Jesus died for our sins?” Answer: Since the fall of man, the basis of salvation has always been the death of Christ. No one, either prior to the cross or since the cross, would ever be saved without that one pivotal event in the history of the world. Christ’s death paid the penalty for past sins of Old Testament saints and future sins of New Testament saints. The requirement for salvation has always been faith. The object of one’s faith for salvation has always been God. The psalmist wrote, “Blessed are all who take refuge in him” (Psalm 2:12). Genesis 15:6 tells us that Abraham believed God and that was enough for God to credit it to him for righteousness (see also Romans 4:3-8). The Old Testament sacrificial system did not take away sin, as Hebrews 10:1-10 clearly teaches. It did, however, point to the day when the Son of God would shed His blood for the sinful human race. What has changed through the ages is the content of a believer’s faith. God’s requirement of what must be believed is based on the amount of revelation He has given mankind up to that time. This is called progressive revelation. Adam believed the promise God gave in Genesis 3:15 that the Seed of the woman would conquer Satan. Adam believed Him, demonstrated by the name he gave Eve (v. 20) and the Lord indicated His acceptance immediately by covering them with coats of skin (v. 21). At that point that is all Adam knew, but he believed it. Abraham believed God according to the promises and new revelation God gave him in Genesis 12 and 15. Prior to Moses, no Scripture was written, but mankind was responsible for what God had revealed. Throughout the Old Testament, believers came to salvation because they believed that God would someday take care of their sin problem. Today, we look back, believing that He has already taken care of our sins on the cross (John 3:16; Hebrews 9:28). What about believers in Christ’s day, prior to the cross and resurrection? What did they believe? Did they understand the full picture of Christ dying on a cross for their sins? Late in His ministry, “Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life” (Matthew 16:21-22). What was the reaction of His disciples to this message? “Then Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. ‘Never, Lord!’ he said. ‘This shall never happen to you!’” Peter and the other disciples did not know the full truth, yet they were saved because they believed that God would take care of their sin problem. They didn’t exactly know how He would accomplish that, any more than Adam, Abraham, Moses, or David knew how, but they believed God. Today, we have more revelation than the people living before the resurrection of Christ; we know the full picture. “In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe” (Hebrews 1:1-2). Our salvation is still based on the death of Christ, our faith is still the requirement for salvation, and the object of our faith is still God. Today, for us, the content of our faith is that Jesus Christ died for our sins, He was buried, and He rose the third day (1 Corinthians 15:3-4).

Question: “Who created God? Where did God come from?”

Answer: A common argument from atheists and skeptics is that if all things need a cause, then God must also need a cause. The conclusion is that if God needed a cause, then God is not God (and if God is not God, then of course there is no God). This is a slightly more sophisticated form of the basic question “Who made God?” Everyone knows that something does not come from nothing. So, if God is a “something,” then He must have a cause, right? The question is tricky because it sneaks in the false assumption that God came from somewhere and then asks where that might be. The answer is that the question does not even make sense. It is like asking, “What does blue smell like?” Blue is not in the category of things that have a smell, so the question itself is flawed. In the same way, God is not in the category of things that are created or caused. God is uncaused and uncreated—He simply exists. How do we know this? We know that from nothing, nothing comes. So, if there were ever a time when there was absolutely nothing in existence, then nothing would have ever come into existence. But things do exist. Therefore, since there could never have been absolutely nothing, something had to have always been in existence. That ever-existing thing is what we call God. God is the uncaused Being that caused everything else to come into existence. God is the uncreated Creator who created the universe and everything in it.

God’s victory

 God’s victory ‘…These two forces are constantly fighting each other…’ Galatians 5:17 NLT Did you know your life is a war-zone? We’re not talking Afghanistan or Iraq, but the battle going on for your life between God and the devil. And you have the power to help God win. How? Well, in a battle, each side has strongholds-in other words, bits that belong to them. If you can identify where the devil has a stronghold in your life-the things you struggle with, the times you always mess up-you can ask the Holy Spirit to go into those areas and fight alongside you. He will, and God will get the victory there. No war is won overnight-it takes time to identify the strongholds, seek them out, move forward and bit-by-bit claim back the land. Don’t get fed up or give up if things don’t suddenly get all fine and dandy within minutes of you praying-it may well take a bit of time. Make sure you go to God each day, and ask for His help to fight it out in those tough areas. Remember that no battle is too big for God. Check out the story of David and Goliath. (1 Samuel 17) It was only by asking for God’s help that David won when it looked like an already-lost battle. Let God help you. Let Him claim back those areas in your life that He’s not ruling over any more. Then you can enjoy living in His victory. SoulFood Reading: Ezek 20-21, Luke 19:28-40, Ps 111, Pr 19:18-20

 

Stop complaining and start gaining (2)
‘Do everything without complaining…’ Philippians 2:14 NIV
God says: ‘Do everything without complaining …’ because complaining is toxic. It’s poisonous! It damages and contaminates! There is nothing good about it. It acts like a drug dealer, giving people a taste so before they know it, they’re hooked. The more you do it, the more you want to do it, and the harder it is to stop-it’s addictive. Inject ‘complaint poison’ into your life and eventually it will ‘toxify’ every bit of it. Subtly, it will pollute all your relationships, your church, your family, your neighbourhood.
Sometimes we think we have to moan and complain. We think there is only one option and that’s to sound off. But do the maths-nothing positive can come from a negative.
Complaining is a cop-out, it’s what we do to avoid facing a problem. It actually makes us part of the problem instead of the solution. And ultimately, your complaining affects you more than anyone else. The Psalmist said, ‘…I complained, and my spirit was overwhelmed…’ (Psalm 77:3 NKJ) Every time you act like a Moaning Minnie you reinforce the power of ‘complaint poison’ over you, making yourself the victim of your own lethal complaints. Before you say anything stop and think. Then ‘do all things without complaining…’
SoulFood Reading: Judges 1-3, Luke 12:49-59, Ps 119:49-56, Pr 17:18-21Stop complaining and start gaining (3)
‘Do everything without complaining …’ Philippians 2:14 NIV
Come on, be honest-did you read the verse for today and think: ‘They’re not still on about complaining, are they?’ And then did you have a quick look, see that we’re going to be reading the same verse for another three days and think, ‘You’ve got to be kidding! Do we really have to hear about it for a whole six days? Enough already! “Stop moaning”-I get it!’
Well, if that’s the case, you’ll know why we’re keeping at it! Because it’s so easy to moan about anything! Even word4U2day!
In order to start or stop doing anything, we need to know why. What’s the point? What’s in it for me? God never asks us to do something without it benefiting us. Listen: ‘Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe.’ (Philippians 2:14-15 NIV)
When the stars are out, it is impossible not to notice them. They look amazing, they stand out! You don’t just glance at them. You watch them because they are truly beautiful. When we pack in our moaning, sulky, argumentative behaviour, God says we will stand out. We’ll be noticed, we’ll be as impressive as the stars. Everyone will be able to see God in us. Now that’s worth doing, right?
SoulFood Reading: Judges 4-6, Luke 13:1-17, Ps 119:57-64, Pr 17:22

Stop complaining and start gaining (4)
‘Do everything without complaining…’ Philippians 2:14 NIV
What’s your attitude been like this week? Have you honestly been trying to ‘Do everything without complaining’? Has it been easy to do? Or are you thinking, ‘It’s impossible, I can’t do it! See-I’m even moaning about moaning now!’
Well, be encouraged today. You need to remember that God never asks us to do anything without helping us to do it. ‘You are tempted in the same way all other human beings are. God is faithful. He will not let you be tempted any more than you can take. But when you are tempted, God will give you a way out so that you can stand up under it.’ (1 Corinthians 10:13 NIV) So next time you’re about to get in a strop, simmer down and talk to God first. Ask Him to show you a better way, then take it.
But what if your complaint is legit? After all, injustice, abuse, betrayal, robbery, gossip, lies, prejudice, physical harm against you or your family are legitimate causes for complaint, right? So you can’t just sit back and do nothing, can you? Jesus says, ‘You are the light of the world…people do not light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead, they put it on its stand. Then it gives light to everyone… In the same way, let your light shine in front of others.’ (Matthew 5:14-16 NIV) We need to always do things God’s way. So, don’t ‘mouth off’ without first talking to God about the best thing to do in your situation.
SoulFood Reading: Judges 7:1-9:33, Luke 13:18-35, Ps 119:65-72, Pr 17:23-26

Stop complaining and start gaining (5)
‘Do everything without complaining…’ Philippians 2:14 NIV
When someone hurts you, your temptation will be to tell everybody and have a right good moan! It feels acceptable, justified, and even therapeutic. Well-meaning friends will encourage it and maybe even help you publicise it. ‘You’ll feel better when you’ve got it off your chest,’ they’ll say. But God says, ‘Do everything without complaining…’ Even when you’re cheesed off, had enough and just can’t take it anymore! When someone hurts you, God says we need to have some 1-2-1 time and wrap it in kindness:
(1) 1-2-1 time: In other words, no putting an ad in the paper ‘naming and shaming’. ‘If another believer sins against you, go privately and point out the offence. If the other person listens and confesses it, you have won that person back.’ (Matthew 18:15 NLT)
(2) Wrapped in kindness: So, no barging in like Mr Angry, shouting in their face, ready to head-butt them. ‘…speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ…’ (Ephesians 4:15 NLT)
Remember your goal is not to humiliate them or to get revenge, but rather to sort out the problem, resolve your differences, strengthen your relationship, and honour God.
Even when we do everything right and deliver the best 1-2-1 time wrapped in kindness ever, it will only resolve itself if the other person responds well. But this doesn’t mean you now have a right to get all stroppy. God always has the best next step, so listen to Him.
SoulFood Reading: Ezek 47:1-12, Rev 21:22-22:5 (Healing River)

Stop complaining and start gaining (6)
‘Do everything without complaining…’ Philippians 2:14 NIV
Here are three final thoughts on complaining:
SALSA: Stop Accusing Loudly, Start Asking. No one likes it when we go about shooting our mouths off. People either become aggressive towards us or completely ignore us. However legitimate your gripe, all people will hear and see is a complainer. This will greatly reduce the chance of a good outcome. Whatever the cause: ‘SALSA!’ You’re more likely to get what you ask for if you do it graciously, rather than beef on about it. Asking for help-or for understanding, or to share how you feel, or for someone to do things differently-avoids arguments, stops you wasting time raking over the past about things that can’t be changed and always brings a better result.
Back off: Once you’ve said it, now let God work. Changing people is God’s job, so back off, be patient and give Him a chance. Get out of God’s way and let Him do what you can’t. He has ways and means you’ve never dreamed of. When He’s allowed to take over the job, it gets done properly.
Do a Joey: No sitting around biting your tongue, seething when things don’t go to plan. Take a lesson from Joseph. He had every reason to complain about his family and to take revenge. Instead, he kept focused on God and looked to see how he could become part of the solution. It works! Joseph’s family was reunited, and God gave him some amazing things to do with his life.
SoulFood Reading: Jdg 9:34-11:40, Lk 14:1-14, Ps 119:73-80, Pr 17:27-2, Ecc 5:4-6