Made righteous – by faith (1)

  Written by Bob & Debby Gass

  2020/03/23

Made righteous – by faith (1)

2 Corinthians 5:21 NKJV

Here’s an amazing and life-changing truth. The God who made His sinless Son to “be sin” takes unrighteous people like us and makes them “righteous.” How does it happen? By works? No, by faith! “People are counted as righteous, not because of their work, but because of their faith in God who forgives sinners” (Romans 4:5 NLT). This righteousness isn’t about behaving the right way – it’s about believing the right way. You can’t become righteous in God’s eyes through human effort or keeping the law. You become righteous only through faith in Christ, and trusting in His finished work on the cross. You say, “But I feel so guilty when I sin.” And you should; it’s a good deterrent! But Christ took away all your sins; therefore He took away all your guilt. So what are you feeling? Inner conflict! Your regenerated spirit lives in your unregenerated body, and it reacts the same way your natural body reacts to something harmful. Sin feels foreign to the new you, and when you indulge in it, the pleasure is brief and the aftermath is bad. In essence, your spiritual boundaries have been violated, and your regenerated spirit is telling you that you can’t indulge in sin anymore. That’s not who you are! The old you could have indulged in sin and enjoyed it, but the new you can’t, because you are “a new creation in Christ” (See 2 Corinthians 5:17). So rejoice! Today God sees you as “righteous,” therefore you can approach Him at any time with complete confidence (See Ephesians 3:12).

Soul food: Job 15-17Matt 24:36-51Ps 55:1-11Prov 8:17-18

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Perfect peace

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“Perfect peace”

Isaiah 26:3 NLT

The secret to “perfect peace” lies in this Scripture: “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!” It’s not your circumstances, but how you think about them that robs you of peace. Focusing on your circumstances just causes more anxiety, because circumstances constantly change and often spin out of your control. However, God never changes, and nothing ever spins out of His control. Peace and worry are mutually exclusive. Worry throttles your confidence, chokes your perspective, and suffocates your spirit. It robs you of the peace that come s from knowing the God who can handle anything, and through whom all things are possible. The reason we worry so much is because we engage in exactly the opposite behavior to that which brings peace. Worry is like a “no-confidence” vote in God. You may not intend it that way, but every time you give in to worry, in essence, you’re saying: “I don’t believe God can or will handle this for me. I’m not sure I can trust Him in this matter, so I’ll just have to carry this burden and take care of the problem myself.” God is either the object of your trust or just a part-time helper you call on when you can’t handle things on your own. It’s reminiscent of the elephant and the mouse that walked over a bridge. When they got to the other side, the mouse said, “Man, we really shook that bridge!” When you begin to see God as playing the major role and you the minor one, you’ll begin to find the peace which has eluded you for so long.

Soul food: Job 8-10Matt 24:15-25Ps 116:12-19Prov 8:10-13

You need a sabbatical

  Written by Bob & Debby Gass

  2020/03/17

You need a sabbatical

Luke 4:16 NLT

When someone takes a sabbatical, it’s because they need time to rest and recharge their batteries. God took a sabbatical: “On the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day” (Genesis 2:2). Now, the Bible says that God “neither slumbers nor sleeps” (See Psalm 121:4). So if He took a day off in the week, you need one too! Not long ago most families went to church on Sunday morning, came home and ate lunch together, and spent the afternoon resting and enjoying one another. Now we huff and puff seven days a week, hurtling down the road toward burnout or even an early demise. Scientists say that our bodies are genetically wired to require one day out of every seven for physical, emotional, and spiritual restoration in order to perform at our highest potential. When Truett Cathy opened his first restaurant in 1946, The Dwarf House, he established the tradition of closing on Sundays. Back then that was an accepted practice, but now it’s extremely unusual, especially for a restaurant chain with hundreds of outlets in malls. But Cathy, a committed Christian, never wavered. And rather than costing him, it paid huge dividends. He built one of the most popular and profitable food chains in the USA – Chick-fil-A. God knows that the fastest way to burn out is to try and burn the candle at both ends. That’s why the Bible says, “The seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work (Exodus 20:10 NKJV). Every week you need a one-day sabbatical, so take it!

Soul food: 1 Thes 1-5Matt 23:13-22Ps 11Prov 8:4-5

Toxins in the workplace

 2020/03/14

Toxins in the workplace

2 Corinthians 6:17 NKJV

Stop and think about the products we once considered not only to be harmless, but actually beneficial: asbestos, lead, mercury, etc. A generation later we are still treating sick workers who installed asbestos and breathed in its toxic fibers. With that illustration in mind, beware of the toxins in your workplace and don’t get infected. The Bible says, “‘Come out from among them and be separate,’ says the Lord. ‘Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you.'” Now, God is not telling you to separate yourself from your co-workers. And He’s most certainly not telling you to adopt a spiritually superior attitude. He’s telling you to watch out for toxic attitudes, toxic behaviours, and toxic values. What are the toxins in your workplace? The obvious ones are complainers, gossipers, backbiters, and harassers. When these agents come your way, do whatever you can to distance yourself from them. Just being associated with them can be dangerous to your emotional health and spiritual health. And beware of the toxin of workaholism, whether it is the expectation from your boss or self-induced. Be willing to go the extra mile when it’s required, but maintain clear boundaries between your work life and your home life. Learn to separate business from pleasure. If you don’t allow yourself time for physical rejuvenation and spiritual restoration, you’ll burn out. As a result, Satan will be able to trip you up. The most effective antidote to toxins is good nutrition. And spiritually speaking, that calls for daily prayer, Bible reading, and fellowshipping wi th believers who strengthen and encourage you.

Soul food: Gen 47-49Matt 22:34-46Ps 26Prov 7:26-27

 

Your benefits package

Written by Bob & Debby Gass

  2020/03/07

Your “benefits package”

Malachi 3:14 NLT

In the last book in the Old Testament, Malachi, the Israelites asked, “What’s the use in serving God?” It’s a question nonbelievers and sometimes even believers ask, particularly when times are hard and our faith is sorely tested. The psalmist gives us the answer: “Praise the Lord! For all who fear God and trust in him are blessed beyond expression…happy is the man who delights in doing his commands. His children shall be honored everywhere, for good men’s sons have a special heritage. He himself shall be wealthy, and his good deeds will never be forgotten. When darkness overtakes him, light will come bursting in. He is kind and merciful – and all goes well for the generous man who conducts his business fairly. Such a man will not be overthrown by evil circumstances. God’s constant care of him will make a deep impression on all who see it. He does not fear bad news, nor live in dread of what may happen. For he is settled in his mind that Jehovah will take care of him. That is why he is not afraid, but can calmly face his foes. He gives generously to those in need. His deeds will never be forgotten. He shall have influence and honor” (Psalm 112:1-9 TLB). Notice that the benefits of serving God include happiness, children you can be proud of, success, influence, and honor. Note in particular the words: “He does not fear bad news, nor live in dread of what may happen. For he is settled in his mind that Jehovah will take care of him.” These blessings are all part of your “benefits package.”

Soul food: Gen 32-34Matt 21:12-17Ps 106:1-23Prov 7:1-2

Don’t pray yourself out of faith

 Written by Bob & Debby Gass

  2020/03/06

Don’t pray yourself out of faith

Mark 11:24 NIV

Charles Haddon Spurgeon, “The Prince of Preachers,” said: “Believe God until…you can thank Him for the answer. If the answer still tarries outwardly, do not pray in such a way that it’s evident you’re not believing for it. Such a prayer in place of being a help will be a hindrance; and when you are finished praying you’ll find that your faith has weakened, or has entirely gone. The urgency that you felt to offer this kind of prayer is clearly from self…It may not be wrong to mention the matter in question to the Lord again, if He is keeping you waiting, but be sure you do it in such a way that it implies faith. Do not pray yourself out of faith. You may tell Him that you’re waiting…still believing Him and therefore praise Him for the answer. There is nothing that so fully clinches faith, as to be so sure of the answer that you can thank God for it. Prayers that pray us out of faith deny both God’s promise in His Word, and His whisper ‘Yes,’ that He gave us in our hearts. Such prayers are but the expression of the unrest of one’s heart, and unrest implies unbelief…’For we which have believed do enter into rest’ (Hebrews 4:3). This prayer that prays ourselves out of faith frequently arises from centering our thoughts on the difficulty rather than on God’s promise. Abraham ‘considered not his own body…he staggered not at the promise of God’ (Romans 4:19, 20). May we watch and pray that we enter not into the temptation of praying ourselves out of faith.”

Soul food: Gen 30:25-31:55Matt 21:1-11Ps 136:13-26Prov 6:32-35

The path of pressure

 Written by Bob & Debby Gass

  2020/03/05

The path of pressure

Matthew 7:14 AMPC

If you’re at a crossroads in life today, you have two options: (1) Turn right or left. (2) Go forward or back. There’s no doubt what way God wants you to go – forward! If you have any doubts about that, read and meditate on these Scriptures: “Though your beginning was small, yet your latter end would increase abundantly” (Job 8:7 NKJV). “They go from strength to strength” (Psalm 84:7 NKJV). “The path of the just is like the shining sun, that shines ever brighter unto the perfect day” (Proverbs 4:18 NKJV). “Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all” (1 Timothy 4:15 NKJV). God will give you the grace and strength to go forward and pursue the path ahead, but understand this: It’s not always an easy path. Jesus said: “Enter through the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and spacious and broad is the way that leads away to destruction, and many are those who are entering through it. But the gate is narrow (contracted by pressure) and the way is straitened and compressed that leads away to life, and few are those who find it” (Matthew 7:13-14 AMPC). Here Jesus was preaching His famous Sermon on the Mount, where He outlined how you’re supposed to live as a citizen of His kingdom. It’s the difference between the “many” and the “few.” The first group chooses the path of ease, but the second chooses the path of “pressure,” realizing that tough as it may be, it forms the character of Christ in us.

Soul food: Gen 28:1-30:24Matt 20:29-34Ps 136:1-12Prov 6:30-31

It’s yours – if you fight for it

Written by Bob & Debby Gass

  2020/03/04

It’s yours – if you fight for it

Joshua 1:11 NIV

God told Joshua, “You will cross the Jordan here to go in and take possession of the land the Lord your God is giving you.” As far as God was concerned, the promised land already belonged to His people. But when He told them to “take possession,” that meant they would have to fight for it. There were thirty-one kings living there – warlords, each with their own tribal armies. There were seven major cities to conquer, and giants to overcome. So here are the questions: (1) Do you believe God has given you the gifting, resources, and strength to fulfill your destiny? (2) Are you willing to fight for it? You won’t win in your own strength, but the good news is, you don’t have to. God said, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you” (v. 9 NIV). Whatever God calls you to do, He will give you the ability to do, but you must work to develop that ability. Sometimes He will answer your prayer immediately and give you what you’re asking for. Other times, the onus is on you to pursue what He promised – and that calls for passion, patience, and persistence. Has it occurred to you that you may be waiting for God to bring you something, and He’s waiting for you to go and get it? He doesn’t respond to our wishes, or even to our pleading; He responds to faith-in-action! So the word for you today is – it’s yours, if you’re willing to fight for it!

Soul food: Gen 25:19-27:46Matt 20:17-28Ps 77Prov 6:29

Lessons from God’s creatures (2)

 Written by Bob & Debby Gass

  2020/03/03

Lessons from God’s creatures (2)

1 Peter 1:8 NIV

In his book, Talking Dogs, Sam Mason continues: “During the last couple of years of his life, Tigger, one of our dearly loved Italian greyhounds, gradually lost his sight. He’d developed cataracts. They robbed him of his vision, but they couldn’t steal his precious relationship with his masters. My wife Carol often referred to Tigger as her ‘lovey-dovey boy.’ He would stand (not sit!) on our laps, putting his paws on either side of our necks, then affectionately tuck his head under our chins. It was adorable. Blind though he was, Tigger’s desire for the ones he could no longer see was unaffected. In spite of the cataracts that blurred our features, somehow he still managed to look us in the face. His diminished capacities may have hampered his movements, but his love and trust toward his masters remained rock solid. All of us who have placed our trust in the Lord possess handicaps…even spiritual ones. Do we use them as excuses for not pursuing God as intensely as we ought? Do we allow these hindrances to ration our love for Him? Or do we, with God’s help, find the strength to reach past our limitations to experience the unbounded joy of His presence, and fulfill the calling He’s placed on our lives? Yes, we may sometimes grope about in darkness every now and then, even stumbling and falling. But we can trust the One who understands our seasons of blindness. We can open our hearts to His love and love Him back…sight unseen!”

Soul food: Gen 24:1-25:18Matt 20:1-16Ps 70Prov 6:26-28

Lessons from Gods creatures

  Written by Bob & Debby Gass

  2020/03/02

Lessons from God’s creatures (1)

Psalm 27:8 NIV

In his book, Talking Dogs, Sam Mason discusses how God can use our pets to speak to us. Looking back on some dogs he has owned and the lessons he learned from them, he writes: “One such occasion was when Ranger, our eleven-pound Italian greyhound, was sitting on my lap as I relaxed in the recliner. I noticed that familiar, endearing little tilt of the head, as he looked me directly in the face. I found myself wondering what his purpose was. A second later, I warmed to the pleasure of divine inspiration, as the explanation flowed into my stream of thought. Ranger was see king my face! You see, dogs become students of their owners. Their comprehension of spoken human language is limited to a handful of words. Their capacity to understand a creature of far greater intellect is restricted. So they study our movements: facial expressions, hand gestures, and other body language. Likewise, we have limited understanding of our Master. So how do we ‘seek the face’ of Someone who is so far our superior? The Lord reveals Himself through His Word. That’s where our pursuit begins. How sad that so few professing Christians read and study the Bible on any regular basis. But beyond the Scriptures, there are other ways to seek God’s face. Pay attention to the ways of God as the Holy Spirit moves upon your heart during church services. Learn from His interventions in your life and those of your fellow believers. Behind His works are His ways! Determine to become a student of the Master at every opportunity.”

Soul food: Gen 20-23Matt 19:15-30Ps 66:13-20Prov 6:23-25