Breakfast with Cathy

The Word For Today

Living in God's love

'Live in my love.' John 15:9 GWT

When someone says, 'Make yourself at home,' it means you're welcome and accepted. And that's what Jesus means when he says, 'Live in my love' (John 15:9 GWT). You never have been and never will be loved by anyone as much as God loves you. The reason you have such a hard time grasping that concept is that you have nothing to compare his love to. Nothing could make God love you more than he does right now, and nothing could make him love you less.

The great irony is that we spend our lives trying to earn his love, when it can only be received by faith. John says: 'The Father has loved us so much that we are called children of God. And we really are his children. The reason the people in the world do not know us is that they have not known him' (1 John 3:1-2 NCV). You may have grown up with parents who withheld their love, or weren't capable of expressing it. God doesn't do that. Throughout Scripture he keeps saying, 'I love you. I love you. I love you!'

C. S. Lewis wrote: 'God created us to be the objects of his love! Sometimes our actions make us unlovely, but we're never unloved. And because God loves us - we have value. And nobody can take that value away. God's love revealed at Calvary fastens itself onto flawed creatures like us, and for reasons none of us can ever quite figure out, makes us precious and valued beyond calculation. This is love beyond reason. And this is the love with which God loves us.'

Soulfood: Josh 1-4, Mark 9:1-13, Ps 103:1-12, Prov 22:27-29


Stick with it

'We praise the ones who endured the most.' James 5:11 CEV

Observe these six things about persistence: (1) You don't have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great. (2) The first two letters in the word goal are 'go.' (3) Some people dream of doing great things; others wake up and actually do them. (4) Anybody who brags about what they're going to do tomorrow, probably did the same thing yesterday. (5) You'll never be what you ought to be, until you're doing what you ought to be doing. (6) If you're having trouble thinking outside the box, it's time to get out of the box.When Lester Wunderman was fired from his advertising job, he felt he still had a lot to learn from the head of the agency, Max Sackheim. So the next morning he went back to his office and continued working as he always had, talking to coworkers and clients, and sitting in on meetings - all without pay. Sackheim ignored him for a month. Finally he walked up to Wunderman and said, 'Okay, you win. I never saw a man who wanted a job more than he wanted money.' Well, guess what? Wunderman went on to be one of the most successful advertising men of the century. He's credited with having invented pre-printed newspaper inserts, plus subscription cards like those used by Time-Life Books and the Columbia Record Club - ideas that produced millions of dollars in profit.Now, advertising may not be your thing, but action must be. What are you willing to do to achieve your dream? Work without pay? Refuse to quit? Success belongs to those who trust God - and stick with it.

Soulfood: 3 Jn + Jude, Mark 8:27-38, Ps 84, Prov 22:24-26


Understanding God's will 3

'The Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me.' Acts 20:23 NIV

About 75 percent of believers now live in Third World countries, often in anti-Christian environments. Xu Yonghai is one of them. He worked to see the legalisation of house churches in China. The government responded by locking him up for two years in a2.4 metres square cell in a Beijing prison. There was no bathroom, only a pipe in a corner from which water flowed onto the concrete. 'My cell was the last stop for prisoners sentenced to die,' he said. 'At times there were as many as three other prisoners in the tiny damp room, awaiting their date with the executioner.' Yonghai survived through prayer, meditation and writing. Using a bar of soap to write on the walls of his cell, he outlined the major points of a book about God. When he was finished, he committed the thoughts to memory, and upon his release he turned his prison notes into a fifty-thousand-word book entitled God the Creator.

More often than not, your difficulties and hardships confirm you're in the will of God rather than out of it! Paul writes: 'I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me. However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me - the task of testifying to the Gospel of God's grace' (Acts 20:23-24 NIV).

Note the word grace. No matter how difficult the will of God may be, you can accomplish it by drawing each day on his limitless supply of grace.

Soulfood: 2 Chr 35-36 + 2 Jn, Mark 8:14-26, Ps 119:169-176, Prov 22:20-23


Understanding God's will 2

'Teach me to do your will.' Psalm 143:10 NIV

As you look back on your life, the thing that will bring you the greatest joy is knowing you've done the will of God. But in order for that to happen, you must really want to do God's will. Jesus said, 'If anyone is willing to do his will, he will know of the teaching, whether it is of God or whether I speak from myself' (John 7:17 NAS). Note the words 'willing to do his will.' More than completing your education, or getting married, or getting your house paid off, or anything else in life, you must want to do God's will.Chuck Swindoll writes: 'There have been times when I said I wanted to do his will but I really didn't. That's a tough thing to confess, but looking back with 20/20 hindsight, I realise that at times I resisted his will. And I've learned that serious consequences follow selfish resistance.' Paul writes: 'Doing the will of God from your heart. Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men, because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does' (Ephesians 6:6-8 NIV). Note the phrase about 'doing the will of God from your heart.' That's about as deep as it gets.More than pleasing people, more than acquiring creature comforts and status, more than staying safe, your greatest desire should be to please God. The Psalmist prayed, 'I desire to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart' (Psalm 40:8 NIV). Your prayer should be: 'In all I do this day, Lord, my desire is to please you and do your will.'

Soulfood: Jos 1:7-8, 2 Tim 3:14-17, Ps 119:1-16, Ps 119:1-16


Understanding God's will 1

'Understand what the Lord's will is.' Ephesians 5:17 NIV

When you know you're in the centre of God's will for your life, you have peace in spite of adverse circumstances. You have confidence to go to God at any time, knowing that he'll provide what you need.

You ask, 'But how can I tell if I'm in the will of God?' By knowing these two things, which are clearly laid out in the Bible: (1) You must be a Christian. Paul tells us, 'For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God' (Romans 8:14 NAS). Only as a believer do you have the Spirit's presence within you. And you must have this inside help if you're going to follow the will of God and enjoy the blessing it brings. (2) You must exercise wisdom. 'Be very careful, then, how you live - not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is' (Ephesians 5:15-17 NIV). The famous theologian and preacher Jonathan Edwards entered Yale University in 1716 at age 13, and at 17 he graduated at the head of his class. By age 20 he 'resolved never to lose one moment of time; but to improve it the most profitable way I can.' At 26 he pastored one of the largest Congregational churches in Massachusetts. And when God decided to visit New England in the 'Great Awakening,' he chose to use Jonathan Edwards because he was prepared and ready.

Doing the will of God calls for staying sensitive to the Holy Spirit and living in a state of perpetual readiness. So, how are you doing with that?

Soulfood: 2 Chr 32-34, Mark 8:1-13, Ps 119:161-168, Prov 22:17-19


Be wise and winsome

'He who wins souls is wise.' Proverbs 11:30 NIV

The Bible says, 'Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him' (1 John 2:15 NIV). But some of us act like loving the Lord more requires loving those around us less. We may feel awkward around them, or lose touch with them or not know how to communicate with them, or we give off signals that we are spiritually superior to them.

The Contemporary English Bible puts it this way: 'If you act wisely, others will follow' (Proverbs 11:30 CEV). You are called to bring joy to people, not judge them. God has already established a time and a place for judging, and you won't be on the throne when he does it! Jesus is called 'the Good Shepherd' (John 10:11), and the Greek word for good literally means 'engaging, attractive, fetching.' Christ was so magnetic that people were automatically drawn to him. Are they drawn to you? Jesus said we are called to be salt and light. Salt makes the taste of food more enjoyable, and light shed on their path shows people the right way to go. Because they were wise and winsome, the three Hebrew children changed the politics of Babylon, Isaiah the prophet spoke into the lives of kings, and Joseph the economist saved Egypt from famine.

Yes, Satan is at work taking Christ out of Christmas, prayer out of schools, and God out of government. But he won't win, and he knows it (see Revelation 12:12). His strategy, however, is to convince us that he can. So today endeavour to be wise and winsome so you can lead people to Christ.

Soulfood: 2 Chr 29-31, Mark 7:24-37, Ps 119:145-160, Prov 22:14-16


Build a solid foundation

'It had its foundation on the rock.' Matthew 7:25 NIV

Jesus said, 'Everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock...The winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock' (Matthew 7:24-25 NIV).

When the storms of life come - and they will - it's too late to lay a solid foundation. That's when you discover what kind of foundation your life is built on, so don't short-change yourself by using shoddy materials or taking shortcuts. Be willing to acknowledge your weaknesses and work on them. Some of the strongest people you know needed help overcoming weaknesses at one time. The pastor of a megachurch recalls his early days, when he prayed that God would increase the size of his ministry. He writes: 'After days of silence the Lord answered by saying, "You're concerned with building the ministry but I'm concerned with building the man. Woe to the man whose ministry becomes bigger than he is!" Since then I've concerned myself more with praying for the minister than the ministry. I'm still amazed at who I'm becoming as I put my life daily into his hands. He's changing me - and he's not finished yet. There's so much more that needs to be done. Every day I see more immaturity in me. But what a sharp contrast I am to what I was...and I trust God more than ever.'

So work on your relationship with God. Build the truths of his Word into your life's foundation, and when the storms come you'll be able to stand.

Soulfood: 2 Chr 25-28, Mark 7:14-23, Ps 119:137-144, Prov 22:11-13


Patience love and encouragement

'I came so close to the edge.' Psalm 73:2 TLB

If you'd met Asaph, who wrote some of the psalms, you'd probably have thought he hadn't a care in the world. But you'd have been wrong: 'I came so close to the edge of the cliff! My feet were slipping and I was almost gone' (Psalm 73:2 TLB). Then at the end of the psalm he does a 180 and writes, 'My health may fail, and my spirit grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever' (Psalm 73:26 NLT). Despite his problems, he chose to speak words of courage.When you have an opportunity to encourage someone, do it. You never know what a person is going through - that's true whether they live in a mansion or a mud hut. Here's an important principle to keep in mind: People tend to become what the most important people in their lives think of them! So think the best, believe the best, and express the best toward them. You say, 'But they need to stop making the same stupid mistakes!' Change happens by centimetres, not kilometres. Even when it seems simple, it's rarely easy. The only way we can break old habits is to form new ones, and that takes time and practice - lots of it. You can't tell people something once and expect them to get it; they need to hear it over and over before they can make the adjustment. And how you tell them can determine whether they freeze in fear or soar above the obstacles. Be persistent. Never give up trying to help them improve. Acknowledge every step of progress they make.The way to get lasting results is through patience, love and encouragement.

Soulfood: 2 Chr 22-24, Mark 7:1-13, Ps 119:129-136, Prov 22:8-10


Your life's assignment

'My life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord.' Acts 20:24 NLT

To miss out on your assignment in life is to miss out on why God put you on earth. You're gifted and called by God, and you need to take it seriously. The question is not what are you running from, but what are you moving toward? To succeed you must know God's will and concentrate on fulfilling it. Having a powerful 'why' will provide you with the necessary 'how.' Purpose, not money and talent, is your greatest asset.

To help you discover your life's assignment, answer these questions: (1) What's your temperament and what's your talent? Passionate commitment to a significant mission will enable you to focus your talent and find a new level of ability to achieve. When you care deeply about your God-given mission and direct your energies and enthusiasm towards it, he'll direct you in the right paths. (2) Why do you do what you do? There's a big difference between doing something because you believe God's called you to do it, and doing what your parents, friends or ego want you to do. (3) What do you not do well? Knowing what you're called to do often starts with discovering what you're not called to do. When you can accept your limitations, you're on the road to understanding your life's assignment. When you pretend to be something you're not, you live with a chronic sense of inadequacy and set yourself up for frustration. Don't do that.

Be open to the truth about yourself. Discover your God-given assignment, then give yourself to it.

Soulfood: 2 Chr 19-21, Mark 6:45- 56, Ps 119:121-128, Prov 22: 4-7


Stop beating yourself up

'We all stumble in many ways.' James 3:2 NIV

When you sin, God's Spirit will convict you of your need to repent and change your ways. But until you get your glorified body in Heaven, you're always going to deal with sin. The apostle James wrote, 'We all stumble in many ways' (James 3:2 NIV). But falling down isn't what makes you a failure - it's staying down! Get back up, dust yourself off, receive God's grace, learn from the experience and move on. The Bible says, 'There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus' (Romans 8:1 NIV). God is not condemning you, so stop condemning yourself. A few decades ago, people used to wear a little badge with the letters GNFWMY. It meant, 'God's not finished with me yet.' And he's not finished with you either.Sometimes we're guilty of doing the wrong thing with the right motive. For example, in 1957 Ford Motors described the new Edsel as 'the car of the decade.' Try telling that to all those drivers whose doors wouldn't close, whose horns stuck and whose transmissions failed! And remember the Leaning Tower of Pisa in Italy, where the architect designed a 3-metre-deep foundation for a 54-metre-tall building? How'd you like to have that on your r?sum?? The fact is, the most talented people often make the biggest mistakes. Solomon wrote, 'There is not a righteous man on earth who does what is right and never sins' (Ecclesiastes 7:20 NIV). And Paul added, 'I am not perfect. But Christ has taken hold of me. So I keep on running and struggling to take hold of the prize' (Philippians 3:12 CEV).So stop beating yourself up.

Soulfood: 2 Chr 16-18, Mark 6:30- 44, Ps 119:113-120, Prov 22:1-3

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