The Child That Needs You Most

‘When he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion.’ Luke 15:20 NKJV

Good parents try to love all their children equally. But it’s the child who needs us most, that becomes the special object of our love.

Author and humorist Erma Bombeck once wrote: ‘Every mother has a favourite child. She cannot help it. She is only human. I have mine—the child for whom I feel a special closeness, with whom I share a love that no one else could possibly understand. My favourite child was the one who was too sick to eat ice cream at his birthday party, who had measles at Christmas, who wore leg braces to bed because he toed in, who had a fever in the middle of the night, the asthma attack, the child in my arms at the emergency ward. My favourite child is the one who messed up the piano recital, misspelled committee in a spelling test, ran the wrong way with the football, and had his bike stolen because he was careless. My favourite child was selfish, immature, bad-tempered and self-centred. He was vulnerable, lonely, unsure of what he was doing in this world—and quite wonderful. All others have their favourite child. It is always the same one: the one who needs you at the moment. Who needs you for whatever reason—to cling to, to shout at, to hurt, to hug, to flatter… to unload on—but mostly just to be there.’

Or as Jesus said about the Prodigal Son: ‘When he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion.’

SoulFood: 1 Sam 27–31, Luke 24:45–53, Ps 63, Pr 22:17–23

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

Thoughts On Giving (3)

‘You must decide in your heart how much to give.’ 2 Corinthians 9:7 NLT

We each give for different reasons.

(1) Some people give out of guilt. They give to God’s work because they would feel bad if they didn’t.

(2) Some people give out of greed. They give only to get. They stand on Scriptures such as: ‘Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.’ (Luke 6:38 NIV) What’s wrong with this kind of thinking? It’s ‘me-centred’, rather than ‘us-centred’.

(3) Some people give to get glory. Jesus said, ‘Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in Heaven.’ (Matthew 6:1 NKJV) God is not just interested in what you give, but in why you give. He looks beyond the measure of your giving, to the motive behind it. If you give to God out of greed, guilt, or glory, He writes a big zero over your account—you’ve been already paid back. Jesus said: ‘When you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly.’ (Matthew 6:3–4 NKJV)

(4) Some people give out of gratitude. These are the people who ask, ‘What shall I render to the Lord for all His benefits towards me?’ (Psalm 116:12 NKJV), and they give out of gratitude. That’s the kind of giver you should be.

SoulFood: 1 Sam 24–26, Luke 24:36–44, Ps 51, Pr 22:12–16

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

Thoughts On Giving (2)

‘If it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously.’ Romans 12:8 NIV

The Bible says; ‘We have different gifts… If a man’s gift is… contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously.’ (Romans 12:6–8 NIV) Every believer receives grace for giving, but some of us have the gift of giving. Who are these people? They have a gift of making money. Everything they’re involved in turns out well. They have the golden touch. They know how to make wise investments and recognise a good deal. Indeed, good deals are drawn to them like iron to a magnet. They know how to get the best return on their money.

If you’re one of these people, you must realise that your ability to accumulate wealth is actually a gift from God: ‘And you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth.’ (Deuteronomy 8:18 NKJV) God also says, ‘I am the Lord your God, who teaches you to profit, who leads you by the way you should go.’ (Isaiah 48:17 NKJV) But don’t let prosperity lead you into pride. You’re not wealthy because of your ability to wheel and deal, but because God has blessed you. And He has done it for a reason; so that you can be a blessing to others.

God told Abraham, ‘I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing.’ (Genesis 12:2 NKJV) That means when God taps you on the shoulder and tells you to make a gift, don’t argue with Him. Just say, ‘How much?’ You say, ‘Why should I do that?’ Because you don’t want to value His gifts more than Him as the Giver.

SoulFood: Gen 1:1–2:3, John 1:1–18

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

Thoughts On Giving (1)

‘See that you abound in this grace also.’ 2 Corinthians 8:7 NKJV

Paul writes, ‘As you abound in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all diligence, and in your love for us—see that you abound in this grace also.’ What’s Paul talking about here? Giving! God has not called you to be a reservoir that stores up all His blessings for yourself, but a river that carries His blessing to others. Many Christians have learned how to get, but not give. If you get into a posture of being a getting Christian without being a giving Christian, your life of faith will dry up and die on the vine.

There are two seas in Palestine, and both are fed by the Jordan River. One sea is fresh, brimming with life. Fish are in it, there are splashes of green along its banks and trees spread their branches over it, stretching out their thirsty roots to sip of its nourishing waters. But the other sea has no life at all. No fish can live in it. No one can drink of it for the water is harsh and salty. Yet both are fed by the Jordan River. What’s the difference? The Sea of Galilee receives water from the Jordan, but it also gives. For every drop that flows into it, another drop flows out. But the other sea hoards its water. Every drop it gets, it keeps. The Sea of Galilee gives and lives. The other sea gets and keeps, and it’s called the Dead Sea.

Don’t miss the point here! When you hoard and keep your blessings to yourself, you die spiritually. But when you give generously, you come to life spiritually.

SoulFood: 1 Sam 20:30–23:29, Luke 24:25–35, Ps 60, Pr 22:7–11

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

Think More About Others (3)

‘Not seeking my own profit, but the profit of many.’ 1 Corinthians 10:33 NKJV

Here’s a group you don’t want to be part of: ‘In the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money… lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.’ (2 Timothy 3:1–4 NKJV) There’s nothing wrong with making money. Indeed, if you honour the Lord He will help you to make more of it (see Deuteronomy 8:18, Isaiah 48:17, Luke 6:38, 2 Corinthians 9:8).

But here’s a Bible principle you must live by to walk in the blessing of God. When you have enough money to meet your own needs, you must be willing to say yes to God when He asks you to meet someone else’s need. If you’d like to conquer selfishness and become more generous, here are some steps:

(1) Give away something that you would prefer to keep. The goal is to break your emotional attachment to material things.

(2) Graduate to anonymous giving. Leave a needy person such as a elderly citizen, a student or a single parent a cash gift in an envelope. Don’t put your name on it, and don’t tell anyone you did it. And no, you can’t claim it as a tax deduction. But God promises to return it to you many times over, and in the areas where you need it most (see Galatians 6:7).

(3) Have someone you trust monitor your progress. Meet with them throughout the year and invite them to ask you not about how much money you made, but how much you’ve given away to help others. If you’re serious about not being selfish, these are steps you have to be willing to take.

SoulFood: 1 Sam 18:1–20:29, Luke 24:13–24, Ps 68:19–35, Pr 22:6

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

Think More About Others (2)

‘He who has pity on the poor lends to the Lord, and He will pay back what he has given.’ Proverbs 19:17 NKJV

Here are four ways in which you can express kindness and generosity towards others.

(1) Giving your time. Giving a few hours of your time to someone, especially if you’re a busy person, can mean the world to a person who’s hurting.

(2) Giving your talent. Organisations like Habitat For Humanity and Mercy Ships arrange for gifted people to use their skills to relieve suffering and provide shelter to the needy. That’s Scriptural! (See Matthew 25:34–46.)

(3) Giving your treasure. ‘He who has pity on the poor lends to the Lord, and He will pay back what he has given.’ Can you imagine the interest God pays?

(4) Giving your temperament. Everybody you meet, struggles with anxieties and fights battles they usually don’t talk about. So, your smile and word of encouragement can be like a lifeline that helps keep them afloat that day. Selfishness is so innate in each of us that it’s like breathing; we do it without thinking. So, in order to change we must rearrange our priorities and reprogramme our minds and decide, ‘I will not let this day pass until I have said or done something to help, bless, and encourage another human being.’

God told Abraham, ‘I will bless you… and you shall be a blessing.’ (Genesis 12:2 NKJV) Today pray: ‘Father, I thank You for every resource and advantage You have given me. Help me always to remember that these blessings are from You, and that they are to be shared with others for Your glory. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.’

SoulFood: 1 Sam 16–17, Luke 24:1–12, Ps 68:1–18, Pr 22:1–5

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

Think More About Others (1)

‘How can the love of God be in that person?’ 1 John 3:17 NKJV

On a scale of one to ten, how often do you think about the needs of others and try to meet them? Before you answer, read this: ‘If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?’

Selfishness is defined as ‘the state of being overly concerned with one’s self’. Now God is not asking you to sacrifice for others to the point where you jeopardise your own health and mental well-being, then end up resentful for doing so. Nor does He expect you to meet every need that comes your way. He’s challenging the ‘what’s in it for me?’ attitude of our age—where self-gratification, self-improvement, self-enlightenment, and self-indulgence are increasingly being promoted. Selfishness is a hard habit to break, but it’s a stronghold you must tear down in order to experience the peace and joy that give life meaning.

BC Forbes, founder of Forbes magazine, said: ‘I’ve never known any human being, high or humble, who regretted when nearing life’s end, having done kindly deeds. But I have known more than one who became haunted by the realisation that they had led selfish lives.’

James writes: ‘If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.’ (James 2:15–17 NKJV) So, think more about others.

SoulFood: 1 Sam 14–15, Luke 23:44–56, Ps 91, Pr 21:28–31

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

Recognise When It’s Wise To Compromise

‘That I might by all means save some.’ 1 Corinthians 9:22 NKJV

Paul wouldn’t budge on Bible truth, but when it came to customs, traditions, and people’s preferences, he refused to fight about them. For example, some of the Corinthian Christians thought because certain meats were offered in worship to idols it was sinful to eat them. So did Paul handle it by standing up and declaring, ‘I’m not going to allow you to impose your unscriptural convictions on me’?

No.

He wrote: ‘Some are accustomed to thinking of idols as… real, so when they eat food that has been offered to idols, they think of it as the worship of real gods, and their weak consciences are violated. It’s true that we can’t win God’s approval by what we eat. We don’t lose anything if we don’t eat it, and we don’t gain anything if we do. But you must be careful so that your freedom does not cause others with a weaker conscience to stumble.’ (1 Corinthians 8:7–9 NLT) Then he bottom-lines it by saying, ‘I try to find common ground with everyone, doing everything I can to save some.’ (1 Corinthians 9:22 NLT)

God didn’t call us to win theological arguments; He called us to win people to Christ. So be gracious towards those who don’t think like you, dress like you, or care about some of the things you care about. Be gracious towards those whose worship style and fine points of theology differ from yours. ‘Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace.’ (Ephesians 4:2–3 NLT)

SoulFood: 1 Sam 11–13, Luke 23:35–43, Ps 13, Pr 21:22–27

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

How To Protect Yourself When You’re Alone

‘Turn to me and have mercy, for I am alone and in deep distress.’ Psalm 25:16 NLT

David, who committed adultery with another man’s wife, prayed: ‘Turn to me and have mercy, for I am alone and in deep distress. My problems go from bad to worse. Oh, save me from them all!… See how many enemies I have and how viciously they hate me! Protect me! Rescue my life from them! Do not let me be disgraced, for in You I take refuge. May integrity and honesty protect me, for I put my hope in You.’ (Psalm 25:16–21 NLT)

How can you protect yourself in areas where you’re vulnerable?

(1) By staying close to God. When you’re lonely, distancing from God doesn’t make sense. It just increases your exposure to things like unfaithfulness, pornography, drugs, and alcohol.

(2) By coming out of hiding. Get involved in some aspect of ministry. Be willing to be more transparent by getting to know others and letting them get to know you. Shakespeare said, ‘Fire that is closest kept burns most of all.’ When you spend time around people who truly care about you, loneliness stops being such an issue.

(3) By taking the focus off yourself. Winston Churchill said, ‘We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.’ Victory comes by reaching out to those in need; by giving of yourself, praying for them, loving and serving them.

(4) By forgiving those who’ve hurt you. Isolating yourself when you’ve been hurt just leads to bitterness. Forgive, turn it over to God, let Him deal with your offender—and get on with your life.

SoulFood: Num 29:1–6, Matt 24, Rev 11:15–19, 1 Cor 15:50–58

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

Get To The Root Of Your Problem

‘Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong.’ Ephesians 3:17 NLT

Did your parents fail to make you feel loved? Did your partner leave you? Were you physically, sexually, mentally or emotionally abused? These are painful experiences. And recognising their source is crucial, especially when it’s a root of rejection. You can resort to all kinds of tactics from people-pleasing to hiding in your work to make yourself feel better, but without a root system of healthy self-esteem, nothing works.

Flawed roots produce flawed fruit: feelings of inferiority, worthlessness, anger, inability to trust, and fear of intimacy. How do you change those fruit? By addressing the root of the problem. How do you do that? ‘He will empower you with inner strength through His Spirit. Then Christ will make His home in your hearts as you trust in Him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong.’ (Ephesians 3:16–17 NLT) The assurance of God’s love can bring healing to your emotions—and He doesn’t just ‘replant’ you, He ‘re-parents’ you. That means you no longer have to draw your security and self-worth from your family of origin, for: ‘Now we are children of God.’ (1 John 3:2 NKJV)

But remember, it’s a process. Strong roots require three things:

(1) Time to grow. Becoming confident in your identity as God’s child is like breaking in new shoes. You must walk in them till they become comfortable.

(2) Protection from things that can kill. Surround yourself with people who build you up instead of tearing you down; people ‘who share the same precious faith’ (see 2 Peter 1:1).

(3) Spiritual nourishment. Learn to pray and feed yourself regularly from God’s Word (see Job 23:12).

SoulFood: Gen 24:1–51, 2 Cor 6:14–7:1

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