OVERCOMING (1)

Composer Gian Carlo Menotti said, “Hell begins the day God grants us a vision of … the gifts we’ve wasted, of all we might have done but we didn’t do.” Wilma Rudolph, who won 3 gold medals at the 1960 Olympics would agree. What she accomplished isn’t as impressive as what she overcame. As a child “Willie” contracted polio and couldn’t walk without braces. Then at age 13 she regained the use of her legs and went on to become the fastest woman alive. But her challenges weren’t just physical. One of 22 children born to a poor black family, she inspired us by transcending poverty and racial animosity. She said, ‘U/ can’t’ has never been in my vocabulary,” At age 2, Scott Hamilton, another famous olympian skater, stopped growing because of a childhood illness that almost killed him. But his parents encouraged his rehabilitation by teaching him to skate-and the rest is history! In 1976 when Brad Parks was injured in an accident that left him in a wheelchair, he strengthened his rum by whacking tennis balls against his garage door. Three years later he formed the National Foundation of Wheelchair Tennis. Paul said, “Despite all these things … victory is ours through Christ.” Rick Warren writes: “Why does God use our weaknesses? Because when he does, he gets all the glory. If God only used your strengths, others would look at you and be jealous … or discouraged. But when God uses you in spite of your weaknesses … they realize ‘God could use me too!’ Your weaknesses aren’t an accident. God … allowed them for the purpose of demonstrating his power through you.”

Taken from the Best of Word for Today, 2007



“SPINNING” THE TRUTH

Love should always make us tell the truth. Ephesians 4:15 CEV

How do you think Paul, “the apostle of grace,” would have handled the following inquiry: “Dear Paul: We’re thinking about hiring Alexander the coppersmith to manage our company, and because you know him well we’d appreciate your opinion?” Knowing the problems Alexander had caused him in the past (1 Ti 1:18-20; 2Ti 4:14-15), how would Paul respond? Or how about this one: “Dear Abraham: Lot has applied for a loan to expand his cattle ranch on the land he inherited from you in the Jordan Valley near Sodom. So we’re writing to ask you for a character reference?” Would Abraham, who was well aware of his nephew’s shady business practices (Ge 13: II-B), be evasive and “fudge” the facts to keep peace in the family? It’s doubtful. Or what about this one: “Dear John: We need a mature Christian to fill a slot on our church board. Based on your dealings with Diotrephes, do you think he’s the right person?” John knew the trouble Diotrephes had already caused and his need for power and control (See 3 Jn 9-10). But

would he hedge and take the path of least resistance? Probably not; knowing John he’d be honest and let the chips fall where they may.

So, what would you do? Remember, the Bible says that love should always make us tell the truth. following Christ means being honest when it would be easier to prevaricate and spin. Hopefully you’d find the courage to be straightforward and gracious. Yes, gracious! Why? Because being asked for your input doesn’t give you a right to resurrect another’s mistakes and publicly embarrass them. The Bible says, “Let your conversation be gracious and effective” (Co14:6 NLT).

Taken from the Best of Word for Today, 2007



LEARN TO BE CONTENT (2)

The abundance of a rich man permits him no sleep. Ecclesiastes 5:12 NIV

In  a recent magazine article Jane Hammerslough tells how her family moved into a sparsely furnished rental house while their home was being renovated. Instead of missing what they’d left behind, surprisingly, they were liberated! Upon returning home they were overwhelmed by the utter excess of stuff, and gave much of it away. She concludes, “When enough’s always just a little more … you don’t have room for the truly great things in life.” The message isn’t new; Solomon said, “The abundance of a rich man permits him no sleep.”

But freedom from anxiety is more than just uncluttered closets. It’s a firm conviction that what you do have is a gift from God (See Ecc 5:] 9), and that it’s meant to be shared with others. Contentment simply frees you to enjoy what He’s provided. So with that in mind keep the following principles before you: buy things for their usefulness, not their status. Beware of anything that produces an addiction in you. Make a habit of giving things away. Don’t be lured by advertising and glitz. Learn to enjoy things without having to own them, or be owned by them. Be wary of “Buy now, pay later” schemes. Steer clear of anything that prevents you from putting God first in your life. He says He’ll “give you all you need .. .if you live for him and make the Kingdom of God your primary concern” (Mt 6:33 NLT). When your contentment is based on status or possessions, it can be taken away in an instant. But when it’s based on your relationship with Jesus, nothing, absolutely nothing can rob you of it!

Taken from the Best of Word for Today, 2007



LEARN TO BE CONTENT (1)

I have learned to be content. Philippians 4: 11 NAS

The average person is bombarded with about 300 advertisements a day, promising everything from whiter teeth to faster cars. It’s a mega-billion-dollar industry designed to make us want what they’re selling. But there’s a subtle message being conveyed. In a word, it’s discontent, and it eats away at us by creating a desire for bigger, better, more. The Bible says, “We … brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out. . .If we have food and covering … be content” (ITi 6:7-8 NAS). Sounds simple enough: food to eat, clothes to wear, a place to sleep. But how we live doesn’t bear it out. When Rockefeller was asked, “How much does it take to satisfy a man?” with rare insight he replied, “A little more than he has now.”

So does contentment mean not setting goals or aiming higher? Does it mean not enjoying nice things? No, it just means not letting all those nice things “own” you. Learning to be satisfied is a process. That’s why Paul said, “I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am … to get along with humble means … to live in prosperity .. .I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry … of having abundance and suffering need.” Paul mastered the art of enjoying whatever came along by learning to say, “That’s not essential. I can live without it.” Paul, who told Timothy to follow his example, was the kind of man who could enjoy hot dogs or filet mignon, a vacation on the Riviera or a bed under a bridge, a gold-covered, diamond-studded, velvet-cushioned chariot, or a dirty burro with a limp. His focus was right on target. He held every earthly ‘thing’ loosely. So should you!

Taken from the Best of Word for Today, 2007



SOWING AND REAPING

He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor. 2 Corinthians 9:9 NIV

It’s one thing to give because it puts God on your side financially, but there’s an even greater reason: “He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.” At first glance you may think, “What’s that got to do with anything?” A lot! God’s committed to healing the hurts of

our world; that’s why He speaks of “gifts to the poor.” When we get involved with God through this kind of giving, we’re taking our place in a plan that’s bigger than our own interests-or our tiny bag of seed. We’re participating in His plan to reach the world. God’s concerned about the poor, and about sharing with every person on earth the good news of the Gospel. Those are His objectives and He’s committed to them. And they’re going to cost money, A lot of it! Now the truth is, God will get the money from somewhere, but He’d like to partner with you to accomplish it.

You say, “But I’m afraid if I give more I won’t have enough to meet my own needs!” Think about what you just said. Why would God drain you of your resources, then not replenish them to accomplish through you what He’s committed to doing? That doesn’t make sense. If you’re a partner with God why would He hinder your ability to give toward the things that matter most to Him: the needy, and winning a lost world? The truth is, God’s going to do it with or without you. He’s just giving you an opportunity to get involved with Him. Don’t miss out on it!

Taken from the Best of Word for Today, 2007



TESTING . . . TESTING

Don’t be surprised .. .that you are going through testing.  1 Peter 4:12 CEV

Have you ever had a teacher tell you at the beginning of a school term that there would be tests without

any warning? Sometimes they’re called a “pop quiz.” Maybe you didn’t like it, but at least you knew to be prepared by doing your homework and completing your assignments on time. You understood the tests were coming so you couldn’t say you hadn’t been warned. God operates on the same principle. His Word says, “Don’t be surprised … that you are going through testing.” Now, God’s tests aren’t necessarily ones you’d have chosen for yourself because they never seem to come at the right time and always test you in your weakest areas. That’s because they’re not for the teacher’s benefit, they’re for yours! The tests of life are designed to sharpen us mentally and strengthen us spiritually. When tests come, and they will, you’ve got two choices. One: act like a victim and complain that you’ve been singled out and unfairly treated. Two: let them teach you more about yourself-and the God you serve. Have you ever worked out in a gym? You can use tests as resistance, the kind you push against to grow stronger. Or you can walk around feeling sorry for yourself-and stay spiritually unfit and flabby.

Here’s a comforting thought: God will never give you more than you can handle, or a test you can’t pass. His Word says He’ll “never let you down .. .let you be pushed past your limit; he’ll always be there to help you” (1 Co 10:13 TM). So the Word for Today is-be prepared! The test could come at anytime.

Taken from the Best of Word for Today, 2007



GETTING OUT OF DEBT

Pay … your debts. Romans 13:8 NLT

God promised to “supply all your needs” (Php 4:19). But sometimes our definition of needs differs from His!  Shelly Smith, whose family accumulated $40,000 in credit card debt, says, “We worried constantly … we just couldn’t live that way any more.” So they: Repaid high interest credit cards first. It’s encouraging to see your debt decreasing. Paul said, “Pay … your debts,” because when you can’t meet your financial obligations you “put yourself under [the lender’s] power” (PI’ 22:7 TM). Went cash-only. They averaged out their weekly expenses and set cash aside to cover them. When it was gone the spending stopped. They refused to write checks for unnecessary expenses. They also cut back elsewhere. This kept them on track and made them think twice about their spending habits. Got rid of “stuff” Unlike Paul who learned to be happy and get by on “much or little” (Php 4:11 NLT), the Smiths had lots of stuff. Impulse buys, unwanted gifts, things from relatives. So they sold it all, gave God a tithe and applied the rest towards their debt. Negotiated with creditors. It’s not easy, but by mustering the courage to call your creditors you can often work out terms. For example, Shelly says, “The months when we couldn’t send $100, they agreed to take $50.” The Bible says: (a) “Restrain yourself! Riches disappear in the blink of an eye” (Pr 23:4-5 TM). (b) “Honor God with everything … give him the first and best” (Pr 3:9 TM). (c) “Don’t be obsessed with getting more things” (Heb 13:5 TM). Becoming debt free

means changing the habits that got you into trouble. Is it easy? No, but with discipline and God’s help you can do it.

Taken from “The Best of Word for You Today” 2007



THE POWER OF THE BLOOD

His blood … makes our consciences clear. Hebrews 9: 14 CEV

God designed blood to deliver oxygen and nutrition to your cells; without it your limbs and organs die. Your white cells are uniquely qualified to act as a “militia” attacking harmful bacteria that could otherwise kill you. And your physical body illustrates the function of Jesus’ blood in the church, which is His body. Paul says, “A body is made up of many parts, and each … has its own use. That’s how it is with us … we are … part of the body of Christ, as well as … of one another” (Ro 12:4-5 CEV). Regardless of morality, maturity or rank, we all need the sin-cleansing, life-giving power of the blood. Without it we’ve no proof of our son-ship. Just as a doctor draws blood to verify who your earthly father is, the blood of

Jesus makes us “[sons and] heir’s], with complete access to [our spiritual] inheritance” (Ga14:7 TM). Strength and nourishment, plus every promise and blessing, flow to us today through the blood of Jesus. And Satan hates it because not only does it redeem us, it “makes our consciences clear. .. we can serve … God and no longer do things that lead to death” (Heb 9:14 CEV). One Christian teacher writes: “We’ve toned down our teaching of the blood … We’ve learned about the Spirit. .. but failed to teach about the blood. Consequently we’ve produced a generation of believers who are empowered by the Spirit but don’t feel forgiven … They’re exercising spiritual gifts, but living in guilt … The blood must be preached. Without it we’ve no life.” So let’s emphasize the power of the blood. Why? “Without the … blood, there is no forgiveness of sin” (Heb 9:22 NLT).

Taken from “The Best of Word for You Today” 2007



DO AS “UNTO THE LORD”

Whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men. Colossians 3:23 NKJV

When Nicholas Herman entered the Carmelite monastery in Paris in 1666, he expected to live a life of penance because of his wild and sinful past. But instead Helman, who was given the name Brother Lawrence, found God’s forgiveness and peace, plus a joy he could never have imagined. But his faith was sorely tried in the process. Clumsy by nature, he was very upset at being assigned to the monastery kitchen. Then something happened. There in his kitchen he found that even the humblest, most mundane tasks become significant- when they’re done out of love for God! In his classic little book, The Practice of the Presence of God, he wrote: “The time of business does not with me differ from the time of prayer. . .in the noise and clatter of my kitchen while several persons are at the same time calling for different things, I possess God in as great tranquility as if I were upon my knees … We ought not to be weary of doing little things, for God regards not the greatness of the work but the love with which it is performed,” Talk about adding dignity to your job!

So, what’s the job you hate most? Cutting the grass’? Doing laundry? Putting out the garbage? Walking the dog? Coming home from work tired and having to cook dinner? Care-giving? Paul said, “Whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men” (Co13:23 NKJV). The truth is, there’s no difference between the secular and the sacred when it’s done “as unto the Lord and not men.”

Taken from “The Best of Word for You Today” 2007



THE NEED FOR GOD-GIVEN GOALS

We should make plans-counting on God to direct us.  Proverbs 16:9 TLB

There are several reasons why we fail to set goals for our lives: (1) We haven’t been taught the blessing or joy of such an action. (2) We don’t know how to go about it. (3) We are afraid of failing. If we don’t have a goal there’s no guilt or embarrassment over not reaching it. (4) We feel intimidated by previous failures. Solomon wrote: “We should make plans- counting on God to direct us.” Jesus said: “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it?” (Lk 14:28 NIV). Goal setting takes time, discipline, courage and perseverance. Between you and your goal there’ll be roadblocks, enemy attacks and temptations designed to derail you. “So, what should I do?” (a) Talk to God. Get into agreement with His will for you. (b) Write your goals down. The shortest pencil is better than the longest memory. God told the prophet, “Write the vision, and make it plain” (Hab 2:2). Without written goals you have no compass and you can get swept off course. (c) Focus on your top goals. If you attempt everything you’ll accomplish nothing. Remember, a big success is simply several little successes strung together. (d) Be alert to those God sends into your life to help you fulfill His purposes. Draw on the wisdom of experienced people; stand on

their shoulders. Even your critics can sharpen you. God has a plan for your life-seek Him and He’ll reveal it to you!

Taken from “The Best of Word for You Today” 2007




 

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