How to win life’s battles (4)

Written by Bob & Debby Gass

  2020/02/20

How to win life’s battles (4)

2 Chronicles 20:15 NIV

Fourth, learn to relax in faith. Notice how God responded to Jehoshaphat’s prayer: “The battle is not yours, but God’s.” Many of us wear ourselves out trying to fight God’s battles in our own strength. In the initial flush of becoming Christians, we’re eager to win the world to Jesus, and want to go out and singlehandedly bring about His kingdom. That’s because we don’t realize what’s involved. Then after we’ve worked hard under our own steam, reality sets in. We end up crawling back on our hands and knees, disappointed, because we think we’ve let God down. But He reassures us, “You didn’t let Me down, because you weren’t holding Me up.” The truth is, we don’t hold God up – He holds us up! We don’t have Him in our hands, He has us in His hands! And He’s telling us to relax in faith and let Him do the work through us. Paul wrote, “As you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him” (Colossians 2:6 NIV). In other words, remember how you first became a believer – by simple faith in the finished work of Christ – and continue to live by simple faith. You didn’t become a Christian by striving for perfection and doing good works. Good works have nothing to do with it! Salvation is a free gift. God doesn’t need us to micromanage things; He has everything under control, and He wants us to relax and let Him live through us. Bottom line: Victory in life is a gift from God! “Thank God, who always leads us in victory because of Christ” (2 Corinthians 2:14 GWT).

Soul food: Ecc 1-4Matt 15:29-39Ps 33:1-12Prov 5:7-14

Advertisements

How to win life’s battles (2)

Written by Bob & Debby Gass

  2020/02/18

How to win life’s battles (2)

2 Chronicles 20:12 NIV

Second, admit your own inadequacy. The only people God can’t help are those who don’t think they need His help. King Jehoshaphat said, “We have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” Often our eyes are on everything and everyone – except God – the One who can solve our problems. Your circumstances are like a mattress: If you’re on top you can rest easy, but if you’re underneath you can suffocate. Keep your eyes on the Lord and you’ll win out over your circumstances. Remember, it’s “not by might no r by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord” (Zechariah 4:6 NIV). You can’t live the Christian life in your own strength because you have a power shortage. You need the power that comes from letting God’s Spirit live through you. Try to imagine a glove. On its own, it is limp and powerless. But once a hand fills that glove it becomes useful and effective. Jesus said, “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you” (Acts 1:8 NKJV). Jesus often spoke of the Holy Spirit as “the Helper,” so when you don’t know what to do, stand on His promise: “The Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name…will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you” (John 14:26 NKJV). If you fight in your own strength, you’ll lose. But when you draw on the power of God’s Spirit that’s within you, you’ll win.

Soul food: Rom 12-14Matt 15:1-14Ps 5Prov 5:1-2

Love, without strings attached

Written by Bob & Debby Gass

  2020/02/06

Love, without strings attached

Ephesians 5:2 NKJV

In America you will sometimes see cars with bumper stickers announcing that their child is an “honor student” at a particular school. And while we all feel good about the successes of our children, two potential problems can arise. First, there’s a natural irritation on the part of parents whose kids struggle or are less gifted. One mother put this bumper sticker on her car: “My kid can beat up your honor student.” A second problem arises when the pride of the family is riding on the shoulders of an immature child. Your child is not designed to handle that level of pressure! They need to know that they are loved and accepted because of their own unique worth. John McKay, the great football coach at the University of Southern California, had a son who was also a successful football player on the USC team. When an interviewer asked Coach McKay to comment on the pride he felt over his son’s accomplishments, this is what he said: “Yes, I’m pleased that John Jr. had a good season this year. He does a fine job, and I’m proud of him. But I would be just as proud if he had never played the game at all.” Great answer! His son would not lose his father’s respect if the next year brought failure and disappointment, because his place in his father’s heart was secure and independent of his performance. That’s the kind of love your children need from you. “Walk in love, as Christ also has loved us.” Christ’s love is not performance based; it’s unconditional, unbreakable, and unending. Yours must be too!

Soul food: Isa 45-48Matt 12:38-50Ps 120Prov 3:33-35

Your forgiveness is guaranteed

Your forgiveness is guaranteed

1 John 1:9 AMPC

In spite of our best intentions and efforts, we all “fall short” of God’s requirements (Romans 3:23 NKJV). So what’s the answer? “If we say we have no sin [refusing to admit that we are sinners], we delude and lead ourselves astray, and the Truth [which the Gospel presents] is not in us [does not dwell in our hearts]. If we [freely] admit that we have sinned and confess our sins, He is faithful and just (true to His own nature and promises) and will forgive our sins [dismiss our lawlessness] and [continuously] cleanse us from all unrighteousness [everything not in conformi ty to His will in purpose, thought, and action]” (1 John 1:8-9 AMPC). When it comes to God’s forgiveness, knowing is better than feeling. Here’s how God’s forgiveness works: Consciousness of sin leads to conviction of sin, and conviction of sin leads to confession of sin, and confession of sin leads to cleansing of sin, and cleansing of sin leads to confidence before God (See 1 John 3:21-22). You say, “I don’t feel worthy of God’s forgiveness.” You will never be worthy of it! God’s forgiveness is not based on your worthiness, but on Christ’s! Furthermore, God is not like your parents; He doesn’t insist you squirm and be miserable for a few days so that you will “learn your lesson” before He forgives you. That would mean you play a part in earning His forgiveness. It’s by grace, and grace alone (See Ephesians 2:8-9)! “Grace” means “undeserved favour.” So when God forgives you, honor Him by forgiving yourself and moving on.

Soul food: Isa 26-29Matt 11:10-19Ps 107:17-22Prov 3:21-24

Challenge your own thinking

Written by Bob & Debby Gass

  2020/01/28

Challenge your own thinking

Proverbs 1:5 NIV

As you examine your mistakes, you realize it was your thinking at the time that caused them, and that’s why you need to keep challenging your own thinking. “Let the wise listen and add to their learning.” How do you do that? By learning to appreciate how others think and by continually exposing yourself to people who are different from you. You will think like the people you spend the most time with. When you spend time with people who think outside the box, you’re more likely to break new ground. Let’s face it, any time we find a way of thinking that works, our greatest temptation is to rely on it repeatedly – even if it doesn’t work in new situations. When your goal is to protect the success you already enjoy, you put the brakes on the process that can lead you to even greater success. Holding on to a good tradition is a good thing. But you need to remember that every tradition was originally a good idea, perhaps even a revolutionary idea, but every tradition may not be a good idea for the future. When you cling to what’s already in place, you resist change – even change for the better. That’s why it’s important to challenge your own thinking. If you’re too attached to how things are done now, nothing will change for the better. Dr. John Maxwell writes: “In your early years you won’t be as wrong as people think you are. In your later years you won’t be as right as people think you are. And all through the years you will be better than you thought you could be.”

Soul food: Isa 12-16Matt 10:21-31Ps 104:24-35Prov 3:11-12

 

Stand on God’s Word (1)

Stand on God’s Word (1)

Jeremiah 1:12 NKJV

When you are facing danger. David said: “This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety…my God and I trust him. For he will rescue you from every trap and protect you from deadly disease. He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection. Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night, nor the arrow that flies in the day. Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness, nor the disaster that strikes at midday. Though a thousand fall at your side, though ten thousand are dying around you, these evils will not touch you…If you make the Lord your refuge, if you make the Most High your shelter, no evil will conquer you; no plague will come near your home. For he will order his angels to protect you wherever you go. They will hold you up…so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone…The Lord says, ‘I will rescue those who love me. I will protect those who trust in my name. When they call on me, I will answer; I will be with them in trouble. I will rescue and honor them. I will reward them with a long life and give them my salvation'” (Psalm 91:2-16 NLT). Note the phrase, “This I declare about the Lord.” When you speak God’s Word over your life, you release the power contained in it. So stand firm today, and expect God to honor His Word!

Soul food: Exo 33-35Matt 8:28-34Ps 89:15-37Prov 2:21-22

Make your relationships a win-win

Make your relationships a win-win

Philippians 2:4 NKJV

If your only motive for giving to someone is to see what you can get back, you will be disappointed. The Bible says, “Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” When you give yourself to another person for that person’s development and well-being, you are truly giving and God will bless you for it. If you’re married or a parent, you know this from personal experience. What does your husband or wife value most highly? Money in the bank, or your time freely given? What would your children rather have? A toy, or y our undivided attention? The people who love you would rather have you than what you can give them. It’s wise to invest in yourself and your career, but never at the expense of those who matter most. If you succeed in your career but fail with your loved ones, your success will be hollow and your regrets real. Solomon was famous for his wealth and wisdom. Yet he wrote, “As I looked at everything I had worked so hard to accomplish, it was all so meaningless – like chasing the wind” (Ecclesiastes 2:11 NLT). Learn from his mistakes. Don’t invest in things, invest in relationships. Here is how most relationships often play out: “I win, you lose – I win only once. You win, I lose – you win only once. We both win – we win many times.” When you seek the good of others, God promises that good things will come to you (See Ephesians 6:8).

Soul food: Exo 30-32Matt 8:18-27Ps 89:1-14Prov 2:20

Wehn you cant make ends meet

When you can’t make ends meet

Psalm 34:10 NLT

Have you lost your job? Are you facing the possibility of losing your home or going bankrupt? Are you in the toughest place you’ve ever been? Paul “suffered the loss of all things” (Philippians 3:8 NAS), but he didn’t stay there. He went on to say, “My God shall supply all your need” (Philippians 4:19 NKJV). And God can do that for you – with or without a paycheck or some other anticipated source of income. The psalmist said, “Those who trust in the Lord will lack no good thing.” One of the things you have to watch out for is Satan’s worst-case-scenar io talk. If you allow him, he will paint mental images of you living in a cardboard box, under a bridge. Stand on God’s Word today and declare: “Lord, You said if I’m willing and obedient, I will enjoy the best You have to offer (See Isaiah 1:19). You promise to surround me with favour (See Psalm 5:12). Your Word says that You can do more than anything I could even ask or think, according to Your power that works within me (See Ephesians 3:20). Even though nothing seems to be going right for me just now, give me faith to believe You for good things and better days. Your Word tells me to be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let my requests be made known to You. That Your peace, which surpasses human understanding, will guard my heart and mind (See Philippians 4:6-7). Lord, honor Your Word today, in the name of Jesus, Amen.”

Soul food: Neh 8-10John 18:25-40Ps 105:1-7Prov 30:1-4

Hold on to the word you’ve received

Hold on to the word you’ve received

Mark 4:15 NIV

In the parable of the sower, Jesus said, “Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them.” Ever notice how you can sit at home and watch a two-hour, commercial-packed movie without feeling restless or bored, yet when the pastor’s sermon exceeds thirty or forty minutes, you keep glancing at your watch and can’t wait to get out of church? And if someone asked you the next day what he preached about, most times you couldn’t tell them. Jesus said, “Sat an comes and takes away the word.” So how can you retain it? (1) Write it down (See Exodus 17:14 NIV). When you make notes on what you read and hear, you’ll retain more, be more impacted, and get much more out of it. (2) Pray it through. Unless you pray over the Word you’re hearing, you’ll keep coming home from church moved but unchanged. Many of the great saints of old read through the Bible on their knees. You should try that too! (3) Discuss it with others. God’s Word is like a seed that multiplies and grows when it’s watered by conversation with others who share your faith. The Bible says, “Those who feared the Lord talked with each other, and the Lord listened and heard” (Malachi 3:16 NIV). (4) Practice it daily. John tells us, “The Word was made flesh” (John 1:14). The best way to retain God’s Word is to practice its principles, or “flesh it out!”

Soul food: Neh 1-4John 18:1-11Ps 148:7-14Prov 29:16-21

Your time has come

Your time has come

Esther 4:14 NKJV

Moses began his ministry when he was eighty. Esther started hers as a teenaged girl. When she heard the words of Mordecai – “Who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” – she could easily have said, “Give me time to grow up, get married, have children, and fulfill my dreams before asking me to put my life on the line to save the Jewish people.” But she didn’t. She said, “I will go to the king, though it is against the law; and if I perish, I perish” (v. 16 AMPC). Often what God does in you while you’re waiting is more important than the thing you’re waiting for. Sometimes you think you’re ready but God knows you’re not, so He puts you into the school of faith. That’s where you learn to listen to “the teacher” (the Holy Spirit), study your lessons, pass the tests, and graduate so that God can use you. It’s not a comfortable place to be, but God is more interested in your character than your comfort. Missionary Nancy Cockrell writes: “It was God’s plan all along to bring you here to serve Him, by using your gifts to minister to others – for such a time as this. He has given you the grace to reflect the love and character of Christ, to be a light in a darkened world – for such a time as this. You have a unique place of service in God’s kingdom, touching lives as only you can do – for such a time as this.” So here’s the question: Is God telling you today – your time has come?

Soul food: Col 3-4PhilemonJohn 17:13-26Ps 148:1-6Prov 29:11-15