Don’t belittle your gift

‘Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think.’ Ephesians 3:20 NKJV

Next time you see a big tree, remind yourself that it began as a tiny seed. What you have to offer today may seem small, but when God blesses it, it can grow.

In 1912, Dr Russell Conwell, pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Philadelphia, USA, told the story of Hattie May Wiatt, a Sunday school student. Because of overcrowding, Dr Conwell had told little Hattie May he’d love to have buildings large enough for everyone to attend. When Hattie May became ill and died, Conwell was asked to preach at her funeral. The little girl’s mother told him Hattie May had been saving her money to help build a bigger church. Hattie’s purse contained coins amounting to 57 cents. Conwell exchanged them for 57 one-cent pieces, which he put on display and ‘sold’. With the proceeds, a nearby house was purchased for a children’s wing for the church.

Inspired by Hattie’s story, more money came in, and out of her 57 cents eventually came the buildings of Temple Baptist Church, Temple University, and Good Samaritan Hospital. Perhaps you feel your gifts, your time, your talents, and your efforts are too small to make a difference. But when you give them completely to God and ask Him to bless them, you discover that He’s both a great mathematician and a great multiplier. He can take your words, your endeavours, and your resources and multiply them beyond anything you can imagine. ‘Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us.’ (Ephesians 3:20 NKJV)

SoulFood: Heb 11:17–13:25, Mark 10:1–12, Ps 88:1–9a, Pr 11:24–26

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

Cast out your fears

‘Perfect love casts out fear.’ 1 John 4:18 NKJV

You would be surprised how many people, even successful ones, struggle each day with unexpressed fears. Maybe you’re one of them.

The Bible says, ‘God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.’ (2 Timothy 1:7 NKJV) Now if our fears don’t come from God, where do they come from? Different sources:

(1) The way you were programmed growing up in your family.

(2) Overdosing each day on the news, which is overwhelmingly negative.

(3) Satan. The point is, your fears don’t come from God. Recognising the true source of your fears is the first step to overcoming them. And God has given you a powerful weapon with which to defeat them: ‘Perfect love casts out fear.’

You say, ‘Yes, perhaps if I loved God more perfectly, I wouldn’t be so afraid.’ No, you’ve got it round the wrong way. Try as you might, you could never love God perfectly. There’s only one ‘perfect love’, and that’s His love for you. And it’s unconditional, bought and paid for by Jesus Christ when He died for you on the cross. Having a revelation of the unmerited, undeserved, unearned love, grace, and favour of God towards you will enable you to rise up and begin to ‘cast out’ fear, anxiety, doubt, guilt, condemnation, and worry.

God’s love for you is not based on your performance, but on Christ’s. When you trust in Christ’s performance instead of your own, you are ‘accepted in the Beloved.’ (Ephesians 1:6 KJV) And when you have the assurance of that, you know you also have the power to ‘cast out’ your fears.

SoulFood: Heb 9:1–11:16, Mark 9:38–50, Ps 75, Pr 11:23

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

Loving people you don’t like

‘His unchanging plan has always been to adopt us into His own family.’ Ephesians 1:5 TLB

In the Bible God commands us to love one another. Interestingly, He doesn’t command us to like one another. And that’s a good thing because you can love someone and not like certain things about them. Paul writes, ‘We are His workmanship.’ (Ephesians 2:10 KJV) The word ‘workmanship’ comes from the Greek word poiéma from which we get the word ‘poetry’. And poetry is a varied and creative thing; it comes in many forms. That’s why the Bible says God works through different people in different ways (see 1 Corinthians 12:6). He uses all kinds of people, including the ones we may not like or want to work with.

‘A spiritual gift is given to each of us’ (1 Corinthians 12:7 NLT), and it’s up to us to discover and develop it. ‘Christ gave those gifts to prepare God’s holy people for the work of serving.’ (Ephesians 4:12 NCV) The word ‘prepare’ is also interesting. It comes from a medical term in the original Greek. Doctors used it to describe the process of setting a broken bone.

Stop and look around you today. Have you ever seen so many broken hearts, broken homes, broken dreams, and broken lives? And if we who claim to be followers of Christ do our job right, they will find help and healing. God uses us to minister to one another, love one another, honour one another, and carry one another’s burdens. When you think about it, the church is God’s treatment centre for everything that causes us pain. And if you keep that in mind, it will help you to love and get along with people you don’t necessarily like.

SoulFood: Exod 17:1–7, John 4:1–42

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

Cultivate an awareness of God’s presence

‘Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.’ Genesis 28:16 NIV

Jacob lived life on the fast track doing business deals and making lots of money, unlike David who was on the slow track tending a flock of sheep in his pasture. But notice what each of them said about God. ‘When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.”’ On the other hand, David said: ‘I will praise the Lord, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me. I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With Him at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure.’ (Psalm 16:7–9 NIV)

Notice the difference? Jacob was so busy that he failed to recognise God’s voice or cultivate an awareness of His presence. But David said, ‘I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With Him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.’ Those words are perhaps the simplest and best definition of spiritual life.

The Bible says, ‘We have the mind of Christ.’ (1 Corinthians 2:16 KJV) You say, ‘What does that mean to me?’ It means that the indwelling Christ can think His thoughts through you. Isn’t that wonderful? When you have a feeling of reassurance, or a sense of guidance, or you feel the conviction of sin, it means God is present with you. So pay attention and honour His presence by responding to Him. Perhaps you’ve always wondered what it means to ‘walk with God’. Now you know.

SoulFood: Heb 5–8, Mark 9:30–37, Ps 18:30–50, Pr 11:22

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

Let God use your business

‘He sat in the boat and taught the crowds from there.’ Luke 5:3 NLT

Do you want God to bless your business? Invite Him into it! Allow Him to use your business to do His business. Peter did that. He had a fishing boat, and one day he invited Jesus on board so He could use it to preach to the crowd on the shore. Jesus brought blessing with Him and, afterwards, worked a miracle that caused Peter’s boat to be so full of fish it almost sank.

Some people think that business isn’t a spiritual activity. (So they don’t consult God until a crisis occurs!) But that’s an artificial separation and, if you’re a business owner, you should consider it an honour to have the opportunity to invite Jesus into your business. What a privilege! Henry Giles, a nineteenth-century preacher, said, ‘There is no task so low that we may not elevate it; so dull that we may not enliven it if we understand that what we are doing is service to our Lord Jesus Christ.’

‘All glory to Him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by shedding His blood for us. He has made us a Kingdom of priests for God.’ (Revelation 1:5–6 NLT)

In Bible times priests worked in the church while the kings went out and did battle. And when they won, they brought back the spoils to finance the work of God. So if you’re in the business end of things, you’re a ‘king’, and one aspect of that calling is to be willing to help finance His plan for reaching the world with the Gospel (see Matthew 24:14)

So today, use your business to do God’s business.

SoulFood: Heb 1–4, Mark 9:14–29, Ps 18:1–29, Pr 11:19–21

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

Show some enthusiasm!

‘Make full use of the gift that God gave you.’ 2 Timothy 1:6 CEV

Unless you maintain your enthusiasm, life can wear you down. A job that once challenged you can become monotonous, a relationship that once excited you can grow stale, and a daily walk with God that once inspired you can feel like just going through the motions. The word enthusiasm comes from the Greek word which means ‘possessed by or inspired by God’.

But how do you stay inspired? Just as the Israelites gathered fresh manna every morning, you need a daily infusion of God’s Word and God’s Spirit. Paul challenged the Christians in Rome: ‘Serve the Lord enthusiastically.’ (Romans 12:11 NLT) And the believers in Galatia: ‘If someone is eager to do good things… that’s all right.’ (Galatians 4:18 NLT) So instead of complaining about all the things you don’t like, realise that the presence and power of God lives within you and put a smile on your face and a spring in your step. Remember whose Kingdom you’re a citizen of: God’s!

Author Sheldon Vanauken says: ‘The best argument for Christianity is Christians: their joy, their certainty, their completeness. But the strongest argument against Christianity is also Christians—when they are sombre… joyless… self-righteous… smug… narrow and repressive.’ The Christian life is not meant to be a journey to the grave with the goal of arriving safely in a well-preserved body, but a race to the finish line, used up, totally fulfilled, and loudly proclaiming, ‘Wow! What a ride!’

David tells us God lifted him out of a pit of despair, put his feet on solid ground, and gave him a new song (see Psalm 40:1–3). And hasn’t He done the same for you? So show some enthusiasm!

SoulFood: Titus 1–3, Mark 9:1–13, Ps 150, Pr 11:16–18

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

Our nation can be saved

‘I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.’ 2 Chronicles 7:14 NIV

Winston Churchill often repeated the famous saying, ‘Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.’ Take a look at society today; the conditions that preceded the fall of many great civilisations are in place. You ask, ‘Can our nation be saved?’ Yes! God told Abraham if he could find as few as ten righteous people in the city, He would spare Sodom and Gomorrah from judgment. And a righteous minority can still save our nation. How? Through prayer!

God said: ‘If My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from Heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.’ Notice four important conditions mentioned in this Scripture:

(1) ‘If My people, who are called by My name.’ The future of our nation doesn’t rest in the hands of bankers, talking heads on TV, or politicians; it rests squarely in the hands of God’s redeemed people.

(2) ‘Will humble themselves and pray and seek My face.’ God, who needs nobody’s authorisation or approval to act, promises to move when His people turn to Him and seek His face in prayer.

(3) ‘And turn from their wicked ways.’ Instead of complaining about what’s wrong with society, God commands His people to examine their own hearts to see what’s wrong and make it right. And when they do, He promises to:

(4) ‘Hear from Heaven… forgive their sin and… heal their land.’ The truth is, it’s up to us, not them! It’s not too late. Our nation can still be turned around if we’ll pray and seek God with all our hearts.

SoulFood: Jonah 1–4, Mark 8:27–38, Ps 62, Pr 11:15

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

Your family background doesn’t matter

‘Jesus is not ashamed to call [us] brothers and sisters.’ Hebrews 2:11 NIV

Every family has its secrets. A cousin with a prison record, or a dad who abandoned the family, or a grandparent who ran off with a co-worker. It may surprise you to know Jesus didn’t come from a perfect family either. The Bible records the details of Jesus’ ancestral lineage—and it includes some flawed characters! There’s Tamar, who tricked her father-in-law and seduced him, and there’s Jacob who pressured his brother and took advantage of his father-in-law in order to get rich. And how about King David? One day he was writing psalms, and the next he was taking the wife of one of his army officers to bed.

The list goes on, and Scripture records it to let you know two important truths:

(1) You are not unique. If your family tree has damaged fruit, Jesus wants you to know He’s been there! In the absence of any mention of Joseph’s involvement in Jesus’ adult life, some scholars believe Mary may have raised Him and his siblings alone. And Jesus wasn’t reluctant to call His ancestors ‘family’—which means He’s not ashamed of you either.

(2) Jesus doesn’t look at your past in order to decide your future. In His eyes, spiritual DNA trumps natural DNA! The Bible says: ‘If anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: the old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.’ (2 Corinthians 5:17–18 NIV) So don’t be afraid to tell others that what Jesus did for you, He will do for them when they put their trust in Him.

SoulFood: Num 34–36, Mark 8:14–26, Ps 57, Pr 11:14

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

Preparing for greater things

‘You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things.’ Matthew 25:23 NIV

To succeed in life you need thick skin when it comes to handling criticism. It’s what separates those who say they want success from those who are prepared to pay for it.

For example, if you’ve been praying for a wife or husband to share your life, ask yourself if you’re prepared for the sacrifice and responsibility that comes with marriage. Are you stable? Are you unselfish? Are you mature enough to provide for a family?

Or if you’re asking God to increase your business, are you providing outstanding service to your existing clients? Dolly Parton quipped: ‘A peacock that rests on its feathers is just another turkey!’ Sometimes we’re in love with the image of success, but we haven’t counted the actual cost of succeeding. It’s a good thing God doesn’t automatically give us everything we ask for. Often we want something because it looks good in someone else’s life. But God in His wisdom knows that right now it would hurt us because we’re not mature enough to handle it.

God tests us with what we have, in order to develop our consistency and strength. He watches how we handle the pressures that come with the blessings He’s already given us. He wants to bring us to the place where we’re unaffected by trials and opposition; where we’ve learned to appreciate the giver more than His gifts. When we reach that point, we’ll hear Him say, ‘You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’ (Matthew 25:23 NIV) Those words will make everything you’ve been through worthwhile.

SoulFood: Num 32:25–33:56, Mark 8:1–13, Ps 44:17–26, Pr 11:12–13

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

In praise of mums!

‘Her children rise up and call her blessed.’ Proverbs 31:28 ESV

Throughout history poets and writers have highly praised motherhood. George Washington said, ‘My mother was the most beautiful woman I ever saw. All I am, I owe to my mother. I attribute all my success in life to the moral, intellectual, and physical education I received from her.’

Abraham Lincoln wrote, ‘My mother’s prayers… have always followed me. They’ve clung to me all my life.’

And Charles Haddon Spurgeon said, ‘I cannot tell you how much I owe to the solemn word of my good mother.’

Centuries ago, when people worshipped at their local parish church, there was a day known as Refreshment Sunday when they were encouraged to visit their ‘mother church’—the place where they’d been baptised. Apprentices and those who were in service at large estates would be allowed to take the day off to pay a visit to their mothers and families—they’d ‘go mothering’.

Then in 1913, Constance Smith heard about Anna Jarvis’ crusade for giving public recognition to the mothers of America through an annual ‘Mother’s Day’. Inspired by this idea, Constance decided to revive Mothering Sunday, promoting it as a celebration of mothers as well as the mother church. As a result, Mothering Sunday, or Mother’s Day as we know it here in the Islands, is observed every year throughout many parts of the world. The Bible says, ‘An excellent woman [one who is spiritual, capable, intelligent, and virtuous]… is more precious than jewels and her worth is far above rubies or pearls. She comforts, encourages, and does… only good… all the days of her life.’ (Proverbs 31:10–12 AMP)

Could there be a more worthy tribute?

SoulFood: Deut 9:13–29, Luke 4:1–13

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