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Taking In And Giving Out

‘Go, and tell this people.’ Isaiah 6:9 NKJV

When you’re involved in God’s work, it’s easy to get out of balance and end up enjoying the work of the Lord more than the Lord of the work. First, Jesus called His disciples to Him; then, He sent them out from Him. The power you need to succeed in your God–given assignment comes from the time you spend with the Lord, not people.

One day Jesus took three of His disciples to the top of the Mount of Transfiguration. ‘His face shone like the sun… there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus.’ (Matthew 17:2–3 NIV) Peter was excited by the experience: ‘Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters.’ (Matthew 17:4 NIV) Peter wanted to stay, but God spoke from Heaven and said, ‘This is My beloved Son… Listen to Him!’ (Matthew 17:5 AMP)

Afterwards, Jesus took His disciples back down the mountain and they began to minister to needy people. It’s good to have periodic ‘mountaintop experiences’ with God, but you can’t stay there. There is work to be done at the foot of the mountain. There must be a balance between taking in and giving out.

One day a year, the high priest entered the Holy of Holies and had the privilege of seeing God’s glory. What an honour! But the rest of the year was spent outside, ministering to the people. After an encounter with God during which the building shook, Isaiah cried, ‘I am undone.’ (Isaiah 6:5 NKJV) Then God touched his mouth and said, ‘Go, and tell this people.’ (Isaiah 6:9 NKJV), and that’s what we’ve been called to do.

SoulFood: [bible passage=”Gen 17–19, Luke 7:1–10, Ps 107:17–22, Pro 3:21–24″ version=”esv” heading=”H3″]

The Word for Today is authored by Bob and Debby Gass and published under licence from UCB International Copyright ©

Speak Life To Their Spirit (2)

‘Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.’ Genesis 28:16 NKJV

We have all heard people say, ‘The Lord told me,’ and it turned out not to be so. As a result, we have become doubting and cynical. What a loss! God speaks through people, and your fear of someone ‘getting it wrong’ can rob you of vital input—in some cases, the very input you need.

One night, God appeared to Jacob in a dream, saying: ‘“I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and… bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have spoken to you.” Then Jacob awoke… and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.” And he was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of Heaven.”’ (Genesis 28:15–17 NKJV)

In order to hear from God, you must (1) desire it above all else, (2) eliminate mental clutter, slow down, and take time to understand what He is saying to you, (3) believe that God will actually speak to you.

If you don’t believe, you will be left to the mercy of your own best thinking—or be influenced by others who think just like you. In chapters 2 and 3 of Revelation, God repeated, ‘He who has an ear [a spiritually developed one], let him hear what the Spirit says.’ seven times. The question is this: how can you know what you’re hearing is actually from God? Because it will always agree with His Word, and your spirit will say, ‘Amen!’

SoulFood: [bible passage=”Gen 13–16, Luke 6:37–49, Ps 107:10–16, Pro 3:19–20″ version=”esv” heading=”H3″]

The Word for Today is authored by Bob and Debby Gass and published under licence from UCB International Copyright ©

Speak Life To Their Spirit (1)

‘We regard no one from a worldly point of view.’ 2 Corinthians 5:16 NIV

Paul writes, ‘We regard no one from a worldly point of view… if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!’ (2 Corinthians 5:16–17 NKJV) Here is an important spiritual principle. When you’re trying to help a believer who is fighting adversity, addiction, or physical affliction, speak life to their regenerated spirit. Speak to the part of them that’s capable of rising up in faith and responding to God’s Word: ‘Faith comes from hearing the message… through the word about Christ.’ (Romans 10:17NIV)

How does faith come? By hearing what God thinks, says, and can do. Until God has been heard, the last word hasn’t been spoken. God instructed Ezekiel to stand in a valley full of dead bones and say, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life.’ (Ezekiel 37:5 NIV) And guess what? It happened! Ezekiel said, ‘As I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together.’ (Ezekiel 37:7 NIV)

Now let’s be clear; you can’t hold on to a loved one when God in His sovereign wisdom decides it’s time to take them home to Heaven, which Paul describes as ‘far better.’ (Philippians 1:23 KJV) But until that happens, speak God’s Word to their regenerated spirit. Faith doesn’t deny the reality of the circumstances, but it refuses to be intimidated, limited, or ruled by them. ‘Only those who are spiritual can understand what the Spirit means.’ (1 Corinthians 2:14 NLT), so when someone is a redeemed child of God, don’t speak to their human intellect—speak life to their spirit.

SoulFood: [bible passage=”Phil 2:1–13, Exo 14:5–31″ version=”esv” heading=”H3″]

The Word for Today is authored by Bob and Debby Gass and published under licence from UCB International Copyright ©

Speak Words Of Healing

‘I would strengthen you with my mouth.’ Job 16:5 NKJV

Even when a surgery is successful, the patient can carry within them scar tissue that causes lingering pain and discomfort. And it’s the same in life. Some people around you wear a mask of success, but within, they carry wounds they’re unable to talk about.

Comedian Jonathan Winters said in an interview that his life was scarred by cruel things his parents said to him as a child. ‘I’m no cry–baby, but I remember things with almost total recall—there’s a lot of pain there.’ His father said to him, ‘You’re the dumbest kid I know.’ And when he joined the Marines and travelled to the South Pacific during World War II, he received no support from his mother. When he returned home, he discovered she had given away his special, personal things he had stored in the attic. He was distressed, but her reaction was, ‘How did we know you were going to live?’ Winters went on to become one of the world’s most popular entertainers and comedians, but the emotional scar tissue remained.

Understand this—your words can wound or heal. They can inspire someone or reinforce their sense of failure and worthlessness. Job, who suffered greater loss than most of us will ever know, said, ‘But I would strengthen you with my mouth, and the comfort of my lips would relieve your grief.’ (Job 16:5 NKJV) How can you help someone who is hurting? By giving them your opinion? No, by giving them the only opinion that matters—God’s! And here is what God says, ‘I have loved you, O my people, with an everlasting love; with loving–kindness I have drawn you to me.’ (Jeremiah 31:3 TLB)

SoulFood: [bible passage=”Gen 10–12, Luke 6:27–36, Ps 107:1–9, Pro 3:13–18″ version=”esv” heading=”H3″]

The Word for Today is authored by Bob and Debby Gass and published under licence from UCB International Copyright ©

Remember What You Used To Be Like? (2)

‘I try to find common ground with everyone.’ 1 Corinthians 9:22 NLT

It’s easy to develop ‘spiritual amnesia’. You forget what you used to be like. And that attitude affects the people you deal with each day. Kelli Trujillo writes: ‘I’ve a workplace acquaintance who embodies all the negative stereotypes of evangelical Christians. She’s judgmental, her behaviour borders on bizarre, she’s completely (and purposefully) out of touch with culture. She considers any attempt to tone down her evangelism as persecution. None of us wants to be like that so we hop on the pendulum as it swings in the other direction and our efforts become so subtle, they’re imperceptible.’

How can we share our faith, while maintaining a high level of integrity?

(1) Ask sincere questions and listen with a caring spirit.

(2) When appropriate, tell others you’re praying for them—then do it!

(3) Pray driving to work and ask God to help you see your workplace as a mission field.

(4) Don’t downplay the importance of your faith. When it naturally fits a conversation, talk about church, prayer, Scripture, and Christian community. Let others see joy and purpose in your life.

(5) Demonstrate God’s love for all people by helping as a volunteer, not just church things but in your community too.

(6) Strive for excellence. Be the person that your manager and co–workers rely on to do a solid job.

(7) Invite co–workers to events with your Christian friends. Non–churchgoers are often open to going to church events, especially at Christmas or Easter.

(8) When you’re not sure about when to speak, check in with God and ‘say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit.’ (Mark 13:11 NIV)

(9) Above all—maintain a humble attitude!

SoulFood: [bible passage=”Gen 7–9, Luke 6:17–26, Ps 104:24–35, Pro 3:11–12″ version=”esv” heading=”H3″]

The Word for Today is authored by Bob and Debby Gass and published under licence from UCB International Copyright ©

Remember What You Used To Be Like? (1)

‘God had mercy on me.’ 1 Timothy 1:15 NLT

If you want to win people to Christ, you won’t do it with a holier–than–thou attitude. Sadly, this is how society sees many Christians; their hearts are in the right place, but their ability to relate with compassion to those outside their immediate group of friends does God no favours. If you want people to respond to the Gospel, take a leaf from Paul’s book. He said: ‘Though I am a free man with no master, I have become a slave to all people to bring many to Christ… When I was with the Jews, I lived like a Jew… When I am with the Gentiles who do not follow the Jewish law, I too live apart from that law… When I am with those who are weak, I share their weakness… I try to find common ground with everyone, doing everything I can to save some.’ (1 Corinthians 9:19–22NLT)

Now before you think Paul was soft on sin, he adds: ‘But I do not ignore the law of God; I obey the law of Christ. I do everything to spread the Good News.’ (1 Corinthians 9:21–22NLT)

Paul could relate to unbelievers without endorsing their lifestyle because he remembered what he himself was like before God transformed him on the Damascus road. Having received God’s grace himself meant Paul could write: ‘“Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”—and I am the worst of them all. But God had mercy on me so that Christ Jesus could use me as a prime example of his great patience with even the worst sinners.’ (1 Timothy 1:15–16NLT)

Today, remember what you used to be like.

SoulFood: [bible passage=”Gen 4–6, Luke 6:1–16, Ps 104:1–23, Pro 3:9–10″ version=”esv” heading=”H3″]

The Word for Today is authored by Bob and Debby Gass and published under licence from UCB International Copyright ©

Build On Your Strengths

‘Who makes you different from anyone else?’ 1 Corinthians 4:7 NIV

Your success isn’t found in your similarity to others but in your difference. Instead of comparing yourself with somebody else and competing with them, try to discover your point of God–given difference, for that’s where you will excel. Singer Pearl Bailey said, ‘There are two kinds of talent, man–made and God–given talent. With man–made talent you have to work very hard. With God–given talent, you just touch it up once in a while.’

Paul writes, ‘God has… given each of us different gifts.’ (Romans 12:6 CEV) Would you rather fight to develop skills where you have a small natural gift, or run with the talent God has given you to find out where it takes you? Dreams don’t come true because you do something well every once in a while. They’re fulfilled because you perform with excellence day after day. And that happens only if you work within an area of strength. You can’t be like the high school player who received an invitation to join the training squad of a national league rugby team. After the first week, he emailed home to say, ‘I’m the leading try scorer. These guys aren’t so tough.’ The second week he boasted, ‘Still the leading try scorer. Looks like I’ll make the starting line–up.’ The third week he wrote, ‘They’re starting playing ‘Tackle” footy today. Will be home tomorrow.’

You can’t achieve success without consistency, and you can’t achieve consistency working outside your God–given strengths. It will take all the talent you have to achieve your God–given dream. Following that talent will give you the best chance to be consistently good at what you do. So the word for today is—build on your strengths.

SoulFood: [bible passage=”Gen 1–3, Luke 5:27–39, Ps 100, Pro 3:7–8″ version=”esv” heading=”H3″]

The Word for Today is authored by Bob and Debby Gass and published under licence from UCB International Copyright ©

Relationships (3)

‘Don’t participate in the things these people do.’ Ephesians 5:7 NLT

Letting go of a person doesn’t mean you no longer love them; it just means the relationship is not right for you. How should you handle it?

(1) A gradual separation is sometimes the best solution. There are relationships you need to get out of for your own good. But because you have a cord to cut, doesn’t mean that it should be ripped. Dissolving a relationship is stressful, so try to end it graciously. If the cord that binds you is constant phone calls, emails, and visits, that’s a good place to start.

(2) Don’t keep going back. Some of us are just so ‘nice’ that we can’t end the relationship and move forward. We keep going back, second–guessing ourselves and re–evaluating our decision. Make it one time, make it right, and make it decisive. Often people will come back to entice you by suggesting you were wrong the first time. That’s why you must resolve any doubt before you make the decision in the first place.

If you find yourself in a pattern of going back to old, unhealthy relationships, you may be drinking from the wrong well. You may be trying to fill an emptiness in your heart that only God can fill. When Jesus met the woman at the well, she had been through five marriages and was living with man number six. He told her: ‘Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.’ (John 4:13–14 NKJV)

SoulFood: [bible passage=”Ecc 9–12, Luke 5:12–26, Ps 96, Pro 3:5–6″ version=”esv” heading=”H3″]

The Word for Today is authored by Bob and Debby Gass and published under licence from UCB International Copyright ©

Relationships (2)

‘He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will be destroyed.’ Proverbs 13:20 NKJV

Not everyone who starts out with you is capable of going where God wants to take you. Sometimes they don’t have the emotional capacity required. Other times their vision differs from yours. So how can you know when it’s time to exit a relationship?

Avoid relationships that leave you depleted. Establish clear boundaries for the relationship upfront. You don’t have time to spend your life straightening out misunderstandings, hurt feelings, and injured egos. How far are you willing to go? How much are you willing to invest? When you overspend your budget, you go broke. Bankrupting yourself emotionally and physically to make someone else feel needed might sound noble, but it’s not. Emotionally and physically bankrupt people end up with everything from nervous breakdowns to sinful affairs. And even when they don’t, they fail to reach their God–given destination in life because they’re dragging too much weight.

When you feel a relationship is not working, pause and take a look. Look at the situation objectively instead of emotionally, examining all the aspects of it. Sometimes certain aspects of a relationship should be ended, and other areas maintained. It’s possible to have relationships that work in one area but not in another. Compartmentalising will save many important relationships because it requires you to see them in sections. It’s possible to remove a section and still have a lot left to enjoy. Yes, it takes work and communication, but it is often worth it. There may be common interests that need to be maintained, while others need to be cancelled before all is lost.

SoulFood: [bible passage=”Ecc 5–8, Luke 5:1–11, Ps 91, Pro 3:3–4″ version=”esv” heading=”H3″]

The Word for Today is authored by Bob and Debby Gass and published under licence from UCB International Copyright ©

Relationships (1)

‘Can two people walk together without agreeing on the direction?’ Amos 3:3 NLT

Having the right relationships will help you to soar in life; they’re like the wind beneath your wings. But the wrong relationships will drag you down; they’re like a heavy weight around your feet. To know which relationships are good for you and which are not, here are three guidelines:

(1) When a relationship is not working, acknowledge it. Sometimes you must cut your losses. The old saying goes, ‘When you’re in a hole, stop digging!’ Accept the fact that sometimes your efforts are not enough and that you can’t help everyone. Releasing someone doesn’t mean they will never get better; it just means that God is more qualified to help them than you are.

(2) There is a difference between helping someone and carrying them. This is particularly so when you’re dealing with a person who always turns to you for help and tries to make you feel guilty when you’re ‘not there’ for them. Don’t try to be someone’s God. Your constant help may actually be a hindrance—you have become a crutch and an enabler. Step back and let them learn to walk on their own.

(3) Don’t allow your fear of criticism to restrain your common sense. Here is a fact of life that you must learn to live with: not everyone will be pleased with you! The truth can hurt and often alienate, but it’s still the truth. There are times when you must ‘tell it like it is’ and accept the consequences and disapproval. The only way to avoid criticism is to always say what everyone wants to hear, which is equal to living a lie in a relationship.

SoulFood: [bible passage=”Gal 5:13–26, 1 Sam 17:4–51″ version=”esv” heading=”H3″]

The Word for Today is authored by Bob and Debby Gass and published under licence from UCB International Copyright ©