Take It to the Lord

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…so the power of God could be seen in him.‘ John 9:3 NLT

When Jesus encountered a blind man, His disciples immediately began to discuss the man’s condition. They asked, ‘Was this man’s blindness the result of his own sins, or the sins of his parents?’ Jesus answered, ‘This happened so the power of God could be seen in him.’

Notice four things:

(1) The disciples were eager to attribute the man’s problem to sin. Satan will try to convince you that, because of your sin, you’re disqualified from God’s grace. You’re not! God doesn’t examine your past to decide your future.

(2) When Jesus healed him, the neighbours wanted to debate, not celebrate. They started asking, ‘”…Isn’t this the man who used to sit and beg?” Some said he was…others said, “No…”‘ (John 9:8-9 NLT).

(3) His healing failed the ‘religiosity test’ because the Pharisees said, “…This man Jesus is not from God for He is working on the Sabbath…“‘ (John 9:16 NLT).

(4) Even the man’s parents weren’t free to praise God, because ‘…anyone saying Jesus was the Messiah would be expelled from the synagogue‘ (John 9:22 NLT).

To the neighbours he was a misfit, to church leaders a topic of debate, to his parents a social stigma, so they ‘...threw him out‘ (John 9:34 NIV). End of story? Thank God – no! ‘ Jesus…found him… and said,…I have come into this world, so that the blind will see…“‘ (John 9:35,39 NIV).

So instead of rehashing your problem and listening to other people’s opinions, take it to the Lord in prayer. When you share it with others, the best you’ll get is sympathy, but when you share it with Jesus you’ll get a solution.

Soul Food: 1 Chr 16-18, Mark 5:21-30, Ps 119:49-56, Pro 21:4-6

Written by Bob & Debby Gass

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

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Ask God

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…in Him we live, and move, and have our being.‘ Acts 17:28 NKJV

George Washington Carver, an agricultural chemist who discovered 300 uses for peanuts, shared these observations about God:As a very small boy exploring the almost virgin woods of the old Carver place, I had the impression someone had just been there ahead of me. Things were so orderly, so clean, so harmoniously beautiful. A few years later in these same woods…I was practically overwhelmed with the sense of some great presence. Not only had someone been there, someone was there…Years later when I read in the Scriptures, “…in Him we live, and move, and have our being,” I knew what the writer meant.

Never since have I been without this consciousness of the Creator speaking to me…the outdoors has been to me more and more a great cathedral in which God could be continuously spoken to and heard from…Man, who needed a purpose, a mission to keep him alive, had one.

He could be…God’s co-worker…My purpose alone must be God’s purpose – to increase the welfare and happiness of His people…Why, then, should we, who believe in Christ, be so surprised at what God can do with a willing man in a laboratory?’

In 1921 Carver spoke before the United States House of Representatives.

 The chairman asked, ‘Dr. Carver, how did you learn all these things?’ He answered, ‘From an old book.’

 The chairman asked, ‘What book?’ Carver replied, ‘The Bible.’

 The chairman enquired, ‘Does the Bible talk about peanuts?’ Carver replied, ‘No sir, but it tells about the God who made the peanut.

 I asked Him to show me what to do with the peanut, and He did.’

Do you need a creative idea or solution today? Ask God!

Soul Food: 1 Chr 6:1 – 7:19, Mark 4:13-25, Ps 119:17-24, Pro 20:22-24

Written by Bob & Debby Gass

Friday, 7 August 2015

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It All Belongs to God (2)

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When I fed them, they were satisfied; when they were satisfied, they became proud; then they forgot Me.‘ Hosea 13:6 NIV

Paul writes: ‘Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, Who gives us richly all things to enjoy. Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share‘ (1 Timothy 6:17-18 NKJV).

Are you ‘rich in this present age’? Almost half the world – more than three billion people – lives on less than $4 a day.

So if your income is more than that, you’re rich by comparison. But prosperity comes with a warning: don’t be arrogant. ‘Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall‘ (Proverbs 16:18 NIV).

The Scottish historian Thomas Carlyle wrote, ‘Adversity is sometimes hard upon a man. But for one man who can stand prosperity, there are a hundred that will stand adversity.

God wants you to enjoy things without becoming obsessed with them. Accumulating possessions has a way of eclipsing God, no matter how meagre they may be. There’s a predictable progression from poverty to pride. The poor man prays and works; God hears and blesses. The humble man becomes rich and forgets God. The faithful poor man becomes the proud rich man. As God said through Hosea, ‘When I fed them, they were satisfied; when they were satisfied, they became proud; then they forgot Me.’

How can you avoid this trap?

Remember that everything you own comes from God, and He’s the source of everything you’ll need in the future.

So live with a grateful heart, and in total dependence on Him.

Soul Food: 1 Chr 1-2, Mark 3:7-19, Ps 78:65-72, Pro 20:11-14

Written by Bob & Debby Gass

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

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It All Belongs to God (1)

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These all wait for You, that You may give them their food in due season.‘ Psalm 104:27 NKJV

We fear losing our job, our health insurance and our retirement benefits, so we amass possessions, thinking the more we have the safer we are.

The same insecurity motivated the builders of the Tower of Babel: ‘…let us build…a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth‘ (Genesis 11:4 NKJV). Can’t you hear the fear in those words? Just like us stockpiling pensions, possessions and property, they accumulated and stacked until their tower of belongings grew so tall it reached ‘heaven’. Then they said, ‘We are safe!’ But God said, ‘No, you aren’t!’ The Bible says, ‘Command those who are rich…not to…trust in uncertain riches but in the living God…‘ (1 Timothy 6:17 NKJV).

Riches don’t bring security.

The more you have, the more you have to lose! It’s ironic; the more you accumulate the more protective you become, and the greater your concern that it could all be swept away by events you can’t control. That’s not how God intended you to live. He wants you to save and He wants you to sow. And when you’ve done all that wisdom demands, to trust in nothing but Him. The Psalmist said, ‘...Living things…small and great…all wait for You, that You may give them their food in due season‘ (Psalm 104:25-27 NKJV). And He does. God’s the great giver, absolutely generous and utterly dependable.

The resounding message of Scripture is clear: God owns it all. God shares it all. So place your trust in Him – not in belongings.

Soul Food: 1 John 3:11 – 5:21, Mark 2:23 – 3:6, Ps 78:56-64, Pro 20:7-10

Written by Bob & Debby Gass

Monday, 3 August 2015

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Are You Afraid of Losing Someone?

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You will be missed, because your seat will be empty.‘ 1 Samuel 20:18 NIV

Who’s the one person whose death you dread most? Is it causing you anxiety?

If so, begin to put these things into practice:

(1) Ask God for the grace to accept death as an inevitable part of life. Both you and your loved one will eventually die and no one but God knows who’s going to do so first. Therefore, worrying about something outside your control only robs you of your peace and joy.

(2) Maximise each moment. If you knew the exact date of your loved one’s departure, what would you wish you’d done? Or not done? Would you take that trip you’ve always talked about? Would you be less critical and more complimentary? Would you spend more time with them, and tell them more often that you love them?

(3) Don’t give another moment of your time to silly arguments and little irritations.

(4) Make every effort to be sure your loved one is in right standing with God. Then you can be assured they’re at peace, and that you’ll spend eternity together.

(5) Remember, your loved one is God’s loved one, too. And He loves them even more than you do. When the time comes, God will be right there with you. ‘Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for You are with me…’ (Psalm 23:4 NKJV).

(6) Try to picture your loved one in Heaven. Jesus said, ‘…I go to prepare a place for you…that where I am, there you may be also’ (John 14:2-3 NKJV). The parting will only be momentary, but the reunion will be forever.

Soul Food: 1 Tim 1-3; Matt 28:1-10; Ps 42:1-5; Pro 19:12-14

Written by Bob & Debby Gass

Friday, 24 July 2015

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On the Home Front

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I will raise up a faithful priest who will serve Me…‘ 1 Samuel 2:35 NLT

Being the high priest in Israel was a prestigious job, and Eli seemed suited to it. Yet he failed badly on the home front. ‘…His sons did not follow his ways. They turned aside after dishonest gain and accepted bribes and perverted justice‘ (1 Samuel 8:3 NIV). As a result, God told Eli He ‘…would judge his family forever because of the sin he knew about; his sons blasphemed against God, and he failed to restrain them‘ (1 Samuel 3:13 NIV).

As a parent and leader you need to answer this question:

If God applied the same standard to you as He did to Eli, how well would you do? Eli ended up losing his credibility, his children, his career and eventually his life.

He missed the mark because he made some critical errors. Let’s look at them and see what we can learn:

(1) He had the wrong emphasis.
He emphasised the Word of God to the people in his congregation, but not to his own children.

(2) He had the wrong expectations.
He thought his children would ‘get it’ because they lived under his roof and worked in the church. But it doesn’t work that way.

(3) He set the wrong example.
Eli failed to live at home what he taught at work. He had 20/20 vision when it came to his profession, but where his family was concerned he was blind to his own weakness. Leadership on the home front isn’t about power and control; it’s about ‘giving yourself’ to the people who should matter most (Ephesians 5:25).

So, how are you doing on the home front?

Soul Food: 2 Cor 11:16 – 13:14; Matt 22:1-14; Ps 17; Pro 16:12-15

Written by Bob & Debby Gass

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

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HANDLING YOUR FAILURES (2)

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Return…I will heal your backslidings…‘ Jeremiah 3:22 NKJV

WHAT’S THE ROOT OF OUR FAILURES?

Failure doesn’t lie in the strength of the enemy, or our own weakness, or God’s reluctance to help us overcome. Israel was defeated by a small town after having conquered mighty Jericho. Their failure, like ours, was the result of unconfessed sin (Joshua 7).

But once their sin was brought to light and dealt with, God spoke encouragement to them. ‘…Do not be afraid… Take all the people of war with you… I have given into your hand the king of Ai, his people, his city, and his land’ (Joshua 8:1 NKJV). Sin unacknowledged will keep you defeated, but sin confessed will bring you forgiveness and restoration that leads to victory.

Author Hannah Whitall Smith tells of moving into a new home.

She noticed in the cellar a very clean-looking cider cask sealed at both ends. She debated whether to open it and see what was inside, but decided to leave it undisturbed.

Each spring and autumn when the cleaning was being done, she’d remember the cask but put off opening it. Unaccountably, moths began to fill the house.

She used every means she knew to get rid of them, without success. At last, remembering the cask, she opened it and thousands of moths poured out!

The lesson here is simple: anything we cling to that’s contrary to God’s Word will cause us to fall before our enemies.

Always keep before you David’s prayer: ‘Search me, O God, and know my heart… see if there be any wicked way in me…‘ (Psalm 139:23-24 NKJV).

Whatever God shows you, confess it immediately and by faith receive His forgiveness and cleansing. Then you’ll be able to stand victorious before your enemies.

Soul Food: 2 Cor 9:1 – 11:15; Matt 21:33-46; Ps 8; Pro 16:8-11

Written by Bob & Debby Gass

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

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HANDLING YOUR FAILURES (1)

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‘the hearts of the people melted, and became like water.‘ Joshua 7:5 NKJV

Even the most seasoned believers experience failure and the big question at such times isn’t, ‘How could I have let that happen?’ but, ‘What’s the right way to deal with it?’

Indulging in self-condemning thoughts comes naturally to us, but it does no good. It just produces discouragement and adds failure upon failure.

As a result of Achan’s sin, Israel was defeated at Ai and fled before its enemies.

Like us, in response to their defeat, ‘…the hearts of the people melted, and became like water.’ Their faith forsook them, and they ‘lost their courage’ (Joshua 7:5 NCV).

Even their leader Joshua ‘…fell facedown to the ground …’ (Joshua 7:6 NIV), despairing that things could only get worse!

Have you been there? Do you recognise the pattern?

Defeat, discouragement, despair and more defeat. What was God’s response? ‘Get up! Why do you lie thus…? Israel has sinned… Get up, sanctify the people…’ (Joshua 7:10-13 NKJV). He’s a God of repentance – not wallowing in remorse; a God of getting up – not lying down in failure!

HOLINESS IS A PATH, NOT A PLACE.

When you’re off the path, God’s plan is simple – get back on it immediately. Confess your sin (1 John 1:9). By faith accept God’s mercy and forgiveness. And refuse Satan’s condemnation (Romans 8:1). ‘… Forgetting those things which are behind…press toward the goal…‘ (Philippians 3:13-14 NKJV).

Like a child learning to walk, when you fall don’t lie down and give up. Minimise your down-time – get back up and walk again. Remember this: the moment that brings the awareness of sin should also bring the confession of sin and the assurance of forgiveness!

Soul Food: 2 Cor 5-8; Matt 21:18-32; Ps 144:9-15; Pro 16:4-7

Written by Bob & Debby Gass

Monday, 22 June 2015

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Understanding Your Temptations (3)

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count it all joy when ye fall into…temptations.‘ James 1:2 KJV

Satan knows that when you recognise him as the source of your temptation, he loses his advantage. He knows that when you understand he initiated the temptation, you’ll recoil from it faster than if you think you yourself are the source of it.

If Satan approached you and said, ‘I’ve come to make you sin and feel condemned,’ your vulnerability to his temptations would evaporate!

He won’t tell you that – but if you remember it you’ll have the advantage over him.

As Paul puts it, ‘…we are not ignorant about Satan’s scheming‘ (2 Corinthians 2:11 GWT).

Another misperception is that temptation is time lost and effort wasted. In long periods of temptation we feel like we’ve lost ground rather than gained it.

No!

Withstanding temptation is ‘[fighting] the good fight of faith…‘ (1 Timothy 6:12 NKJV), and that’s when God develops your character.

When all kinds of…temptations crowd into your lives…Realise that they come to…produce in you the quality of endurance…‘ and when that happens, ‘…you will find you have become men [and women] of mature character…‘ (James 1:2-4 PHPS).

Indeed, your compensation goes far beyond your present development to the reaping of eternal rewards. ‘…though now for a season…ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith…might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ‘ (1 Peter 1:6-7 KJV).

Add to this God’s glorious guarantee: ‘Blessed is the man that endureth temptation…he shall receive the crown of life…‘ (James 1:12 KJV).

Soul Food: Ezek 20-21; Matt 17:1-13; Ps 132:1-10; Pro 15:1-4

Written by Bob & Debby Gass

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

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Understanding Your Temptations (2)

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Blessed is the man who endures temptation…‘ James 1:12 NKJV

The second misperception is: temptation is sin. The devil wants you to blame yourself for the temptations you experience. Why? Because when you believe that you are the source of it, you feel condemned and discouraged. As you indulge in feelings of discouragement, you become an easy prey and Satan convinces you to go ahead and yield to the temptation. Ironically, you yield to sin through the fear of having already fallen. No, the temptation itself isn’t sin; the sin only occurs when you yield to it!

Many of us feel like we’re spiritually deficient or distant from God, because we think we initiated the temptation ourselves. Imagine a burglar in your house, and when you detect him he accuses you of being the burglar! Would you believe him? Of course not! Yet that’s Satan’s approach. After he tempts us, he accuses with thoughts like, ‘A real Christian would never have such thoughts!’ Knowing our own weakness, his accusations sound plausible and we believe him. Then we feel condemned, spiral into discouragement and yield to the temptation.

Understand this: condemnation comes from Satan (1 Tim 3:6 NKJV).

The Bible says, ‘Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus‘ (Rom 8:1 NIV). When Satan sends temptation, the Holy Spirit goes to work in us, helping us to reject his suggestions and reminding us of Jesus’ availability to help us triumph. ‘Because He Himself suffered when He was tempted…He is able to help those who are being tempted‘ (Heb 2:18 NIV).

So when you’re tempted, reject Satan’s condemnation and reach for Christ’s overcoming assistance.

Soul Food: Ezek 16:53 – 19:14; Matt 16:13-28; Ps 48; Pro 14:33-35

Written by Bob & Debby Gass

Monday, 8 June 2015

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