Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Wrong Wreath

A local business man opened a new office. His friend, wanting to share in his joy and enthusiasm, sent him a lovely floral arrangement.

Upon arriving at his office for the first time, he was greeted by a large wreath that read “Rest In Peace.”

Upset and angry, he rushed to the florist demanding to know who played such a mean trick on him. After admitting his mistake and apologizing profusely, the florist humbly said, “There is a man buried in the cemetery who has a wreath on his grave that reads ‘Good luck in your new location.’”

The Apostle Paul never needed “good luck” when he was in prison, on a ship, in a storm, being stoned or beaten. He said, “I have learned to be content wherever I am because this is exactly where God wants me.” He knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that he was where God wanted him to be and that God was with him.

True for Paul, true for us. God has a special place for us to be and a special work for us to do. And when we have finished what He wants us to do, we have the same assurance that Paul did: “When we die and leave these bodies – we will have worthwhile new homes made for us by God.”

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for the assurance of Your salvation and the hope of heaven. We are grateful that You will never leave us or forsake us no matter where we are or what is going on in our lives as long as we are faithful to You. In Your Name. Amen.

Scripture for Today: 2 Corinthians 5:1-5

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

A Blind Woman's Wish

Before she was two years old, a serious illness destroyed the sight and hearing of Helen Keller. As a result of the illness, she was unable to learn to speak.

But she would not be defeated. She overcame her blindness and deafness by learning to read and write in Braille. Eventually, she even learned to talk.

One night during an interview she was asked, “If you could have one wish, what would it be?”

Hearing? Sight? Eloquence?

Without hesitation she answered, “World peace.”

Jesus said, “Blessed are the peace makers!” The blessing is not on the “peace lovers” or the “peace talkers.” Jesus is talking about the peace that comes from the Prince of Peace Who reigns in hearts and rules in lives. Once we are at peace with God, we will then work on having peace with ourselves and others. Gone will be the greed, envy, jealousy and strife that separate us from them. In their places will be God’s love for them.

When we are at peace with the Lord, we will want others to have His peace in their lives and become real “peacemakers” as we lead others to Him.

Prayer: Father, we hear much about peace and calls for peace. But we, who know You, know that there can be no peace until the Prince of Peace dwells in hearts and dominates in lives. May we who know Your peace share it with others. In Your Name. Amen.

Scripture for Today: Matthew 5:9

Thursday, June 24, 2010

"This I Know" People

There were many years when China would not allow missionaries into the country to witness the Gospel to the lost. Even believers from foreign countries were not allowed in to teach or preach the Word of God. Those who had been there worried about the converts that they left behind because they knew that Christians were being persecuted. The Chinese Christians had to be careful about sending out messages about their well-being.

Finally, one believer wrote a letter and included the words: “This I know people are well.” That puzzled the Chinese leaders. They could not understand what it meant. But it pleased the ones who received the letter because they knew what it meant. It came from the song, “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.”

What a gracious thought: “This I know people” are well. We will never be without sadness and sorrow, problems and pains, trials and troubles, sickness and suffering. God will give us His grace to grow, His strength to survive, His peace to prevail and His power to persevere.

We have His promise that His people will be well!

Prayer: Father, when things are troubling and threatening, when we face trials and temptations, conflict and confusion, worries and weaknesses, may we feel Your presence and power. May our trust in You enable us to triumph. In Your Name. Amen.

Scripture for Today: Matthew 28:20

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

First Prize

His small son returned from kindergarten, ran to his arms and said, “Daddy, I won a prize today!”

“That’s wonderful,” said the dad. “What was the prize for?”

“We had to guess how many legs an elephant has,” said the boy, “and I said five!”

“Five?” exclaimed the father.

“Yeah,” was the response. “I came the closest. Someone else said six.”

There are some who believe that salvation is a result of how close they come to obeying the Ten Commandments. Others think that if they work hard at fulfilling the teaching of the Beatitudes they will earn their salvation. Many believe that they will inherit eternal life as a result of doing good deeds. There are those who trust in church membership to save them. Some are hoping that they will find themselves in heaven because of their family tree.

Unfortunately, none of those will result in the new birth – God’s salvation.

Scripture informs us that “God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.”

Salvation comes only by trusting in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. It is as the Apostle Paul said, “God saved you by His special favor, His grace, when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this since it is a gift from God.”

Prayer: Father, we confess that we have sinned and need to be saved if we want eternal life. Only in You is forgiveness and salvation. We ask You to become our Savior and free us from the grip of sin. Through Christ. Amen.

Scripture for Today: Romans 3:23

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Are You Married Now?

A little boy asked his Dad, “What did you and Mom say to each other when you got married?”

“I promise to love you every day of my life as long as I live,” he replied.

“Dad,” he questioned, “you’re not married to Mom now, are you?”

The Bible says, “Husbands, love your wives!”

When a man accepts the responsibility of being married, there is no time limit placed on the depth or length of his love. There are no escape clauses for tough times or difficult days. There are no “gold stars” given for going a week without becoming irritable or raising one’s voice. There is no certificate given when husbands do not complain when dinner is late or the kitchen is messy, the bed unmade or the clothes not folded.

The love of a husband for his wife is to be continuous – even when interrupted by things that are little or large.

The love of a husband for his wife is to be consuming – never selfish, but always sacrificial.

The love of a husband for his wife is to be comforting – always available in tough or troubled times.

Prayer: Help me, Father, to be a helpful husband, a pleasant partner, a faithful friend and a gracious giver. May I be as loving to my wife as You are to me, as thoughtful about her needs as You are to mine and as patient to her as You are to me. Amen.

Scripture for Today: Ephesians 5:21-33

Monday, June 21, 2010

I'm Their Leader!

A teenager in a scout uniform came running down a country road. Seeing a farmer in a field, he shouted, “Have you seen a troop of scouts go by?”

“Yes,” answered the farmer, “about twenty minutes ago. Why do you ask?”

Starting to run he cried, “I’m supposed to be their leader.”

God has called each of us to be leaders in His Kingdom. We can teach a Sunday school class or help in a youth group. We can lead a study group or a senior tour. We can prepare food or clean the tables at a church dinner. We can sing in the choir or be an usher. We can provide clothes for those who are cold and shelter for those who are homeless. There are many things we can do for God if we do not get separated from God and others who love Him and are serving Him.

There is always the danger of being overwhelmed by worldly things and realize one day that we have been left behind in our walk with Christ. If we focus on fame or fortune, position or power, status or success, we will never be the leader God wants us to be.

The Apostle Paul said, “Yet, if I live, that means fruitful service for Christ.”

Prayer: Lord, I want to lead others to know You and to love You. But I cannot do this if I separate myself from Your Word and others who love You. Help me to follow You closely that I may always lead others to You. In Your Name. Amen.

Scripture for Today: Philippians 1:22

Thursday, June 17, 2010

What's In Your Name?

“What’s in a name?” asked Romeo in one of Shakespeare’s plays. He then answered his own question by saying, “A rose by any other name would be as sweet!”

But there is something interesting in a name.

A name sets people, places or things apart. A name designates or describes, it represents or restricts, it gives an identity to or information about people, places or things. When someone calls us by our name, we respond, wondering what they may want. When people speak of us, they have some ideas about us in their mind – perhaps an image that represents us to them.

There is a man in the New Testament who was given the name, “Joseph.” That name means “one more” or “he will add” or “may he add.” To his family he was “one more.” But the disciples saw that “he will add” to what they were doing.

And what did he add? Encouragement! So, they changed his name to “Barnabas,” which means “Son of Encouragement.” He encouraged everyone.

When people think of us, what comes to their mind? What does our name represent to others?

Prayer: Father, fill our lives with Your love, grace and beauty. When others call our names to mind, may we represent only those qualities that they see in Jesus Christ, our Savior, in Whose Name we pray. Amen.

Scripture for Today: Acts 4:36-37

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Are You Worth Saving?

A little boy was swimming in a lake. It was a beautiful day and he was enjoying the cool water and the blue sky. Suddenly he became sick and started to sink beneath the surface and called for help. He went under once…twice…and then felt the secure arms of a strong man surround him. The man carried him to safety.

When they arrived on shore, the little boy said to the man, “Thank you, sir. Thank you for saving my life.”

“You’re welcome, son,” said the man. “But see to it that you are worth saving!”

The Lord not only saves those who call upon Him, but He puts His strong arms around us and protects us as we face the dangers of life. There are times when doubt distracts us and fears threaten us. There are days when worries overwhelm us and cares cripple us. Yet, when we turn to the Lord and trust Him, His grace is sufficient and His mercy enduring. He is always ready to deliver us from the disasters that would destroy us.

It is not enough that we are grateful for our salvation. We must be worth it. And how do we show our worth? Through loving service to those in need.

Prayer: Christ Jesus, our Savior, we are thankful for the security of Your salvation and the knowledge that we are secure in Your arms. May we show You our gratitude by reaching out to others to bring them Your salvation. In Your Name. Amen.

Scripture for Today: Romans 5:1-11

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Do What God Has For You

William Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army, began his ministry as a pastor. God burdened his heart for the people of London who lived and worked in the poorest section of the city. He would go there day after day and night after night to preach the Gospel and witness to the lost. But leaders of his denomination did not like it and called him to appear before their council.

After they outlined their complaints against him as a pastor, he asked, “May I enter evangelistic work?”

“No!” they answered, and offered him a compromise.

His wife Catherine was standing in the gallery. Upon hearing the decision of the council, she stood up, waved her handkerchief and shouted, “Never!”

Booth sprang to his feet, waved his hat “goodbye,” met his wife at the door and together they went out to launch the Salvation Army.

God has something significant for each of us to do. He has a place for us to be and a job for us to do. And He will give us the skills and talents to do what He has called us to do. But we must be willing to hear and ready to serve.

Prayer: Help each of us, Father, to be open to Your voice and available to Your call. May we listen carefully for Your call and follow Your instructions as we seek to do Your work. In Christ’s Name. Amen.

Scripture for Today: Matthew 28:18-29

Monday, June 14, 2010

Bloom Where You Are Planted

Recently I saw a sign that intrigued me. It read, “Bloom where you are planted!” What great advice!

God has a plan for every life. He wants to do through each of us what He cannot do through anyone else. He has made everyone of us unique, and therefore has a unique plan that is designed especially for each of us.

On one occasion He wanted a bloom in Bedford Prison. So, he planted John Bunyon there as a prisoner. From that imprisonment came the classic, thrilling book, Pilgrim’s Progress. On another occasion, he needed a bloom in Caesar’s palace. From that imprisonment came many of Paul’s prison epistles to the churches he started. He needed another bloom on the Isle of Patmos and He planted the apostle John there. From that bloom came the immortal book, The Revelation to John from Jesus Christ, which shares the vision God gave him of the last days of the world.

The Christian who blooms in the garden of God may be suffering heartaches or hardships, but nevertheless shares hope and help. We must always focus upon opportunities, not obstacles, if we are to bloom where we are planted.

Prayer: Grant us, heavenly Father, the insight to realize the importance of where we are planted and seize every moment to serve those around us. Open our eyes, our ears and our hearts to understand what You would have us to do as we serve You. In Your Name. Amen.

Scripture for Today: John 15:1-9

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Your Slightest Wish

General Robert E. Lee sent word to Stonewall Jackson that he wanted to talk with him at his convenience.

Upon receiving word of the request, Jackson rode to the headquarters of Lee through a blinding rain storm.

When Lee saw him, he exclaimed, “I’m surprised you came through such a storm!”

“Your slightest wish, Sir,” replied Jackson, “is a supreme command to me. I always take pleasure in prompt obedience.”

In His love, God has set standards for our good and to protect us from evil and harm. He wants us to obey Him because we love and trust Him. Obedience keeps us from becoming entangled in things that distract us from His will and destroy our usefulness to Him. Obedience will bring us closer to God and His blessings, joy and peace.

Our obedience to God is not only an expression of our love for Him but it is the best proof of our commitment to Him.

His Word tells us to “Do whatever He tells you.” Are you able to say, “I always take pleasure in prompt obedience”?

Prayer: Lord, being obedient to You is not easy. I am inclined to seek my will and my ways rather than Your will and Your ways. Please, I pray, give me the strength that comes from Christ my Savior to respond when You call. In Your Name. Amen.

Scripture for Today: John 2:5

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

When You Fall, Get Up!

During an interview, Paul Harvey, the great news commentator was asked, “What is the secret of your success?”

“I get up when I fall down,” he quickly replied.

Nearly everyone, even the greatest, fall down. Consider Peter. His name is mentioned more often than any other name, except our Lord’s. Jesus spoke more often to him than to any other disciple.

When he was called to be one of the twelve, he forsook all to follow Jesus. He even declared that he would even die for Him. What commitment!

We also read that when he was walking on water he took his eyes off of Jesus and began to sink. At the Last Supper, Jesus said that one of them would betray Him. Peter declared that under no circumstances could he ever deny Jesus. But before morning he denied his Lord three times.

When he took his eyes off of Jesus, he began to sink. When threatened, he denied his Lord. But when he fell, he confessed, repented, got up and the Lord transformed him. He became one of the most valuable of The Twelve.

When we fall, we need to get up, confess, repent and go on with God!

Prayer: Father, when we sin, convict us and forgive us when we repent. When we fall, lift us. Strengthen us, sustain us, and enable us to overcome in Your strength. We ask in Your Name. Amen.

Scripture for Today: John 21:15-19

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Starting New

My father came from Italy. Often he would fascinate me with stories of their celebrations and holidays. One event stands out – New Year. They would begin each year with fireworks and noise making, hugging and dancing, shouting and well-wishing.

But that was not all. Believing that they should get rid of the old and take on the new, they would go through their drawers and closets and look for worn-out clothing, old dishes and furniture – whatever needed to be replaced. They would only keep what had value to them.

Perhaps it would do us good to go through our lives and take an inventory. We may find that we are harboring hatred and hostilities, harmful habits and hurts. Perhaps we would find some shortcomings and sins, false pride and forgotten promises. We may discover that there have been some days without prayer and Scripture reading, worship and witnessing.

The Bible advises us to “Throw off your old nature…be a new and different person, holy and good.”

We do not have to wait for a new year to do this. We can do it now!

Prayer: Father, we confess with sorrow, shame and sadness our sins. We ask that You would cleanse and consecrate us for Your service. Help us to throw off our faults and failures and replace them with Your values and virtues. Give us victory through Your Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Scripture for Today: Ephesians 4:20-24

Monday, June 7, 2010

Keep Swinging

Babe Ruth hit seven hundred fourteen home runs in his major league career. Everyone who has the slightest interest in baseball knows that significant fact. However, not many know that he struck out one thousand three hundred thirty times. He is not remembered for the strikeouts, but for the home runs.

The will, or determination, to keep swinging when we don’t “connect” is very often the difference between failure and success. Often when we miss the “mark” the first time, we may want to give up. But we can’t if we want to succeed.

So, we must never stop swinging – whether the goal is great or small, near or distant, major or minor. The next “swing” may bring us the “home run” we have been seeking. A home run will never come with the bat on our shoulder or our eyes in the sky.

The Living Bible says, “Happy is the man who doesn’t give in and do wrong when he is tempted, for afterwards he will get as his reward the crown of life which God has promised to those who love Him.”

Prayer: Heavenly Father, give us patience, perseverance, diligence and determination to do Your will. Fill us with Your power to refuse to be disobedient or become defeated. Give us Your strength to serve You. Through Christ we pray. Amen.

Scripture for Today: James 1:12

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Just When You Need Him

It was a dark, windy and stormy night. A mother was cleaning her home and said to her son, “Tommy, please run outside and get me the mop. I want to finish cleaning.”
“But,” he cried, “I’m afraid to go outside in the dark!”

“Don’t be afraid, son,” she said. “Remember, Jesus is there.”

Cautiously he opened the door and shouted, “Jesus, if You’re out there, please hand me the mop.”

The Lord will never do for us what we can do for ourselves. He expects us to use every skill and talent, every bit of knowledge and understanding, all insight and wisdom that He has given us. And when we need more, He will be there to fill in the blanks.

When we are weak, He will give us His strength. When we are tempted, He will enable us to overcome. When we are worried, His Word will bring us wisdom. When we are afraid, His presence will bring us peace. And when we are lonely, He will be our Comforter.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, help us to walk in the courage that comes from trusting in You. Give us peace to know that we are walking where You would have us to walk. May we focus on Your faithfulness and trust in Your truth, knowing that You are ever present in our lives. In Your Name. Amen.

Scripture for Today: Philippians 4:9-13

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

One Day At A Time

During World War I, President Woodrow Wilson called an admiral into his office. He gave orders to the admiral to place mines all across the English Channel.

“But,” protested the admiral, “I can’t do that. It is too wide.”

“Well, then,” said the President, “can you lay just one mine?”

“Yes, sir,” he answered.

“Wonderful,” said the President. “Then you lay just one mine at a time until you get them all across the channel.”

It is important for us to always remember that God will give us the strength and the courage for one moment at a time. We never seem to be able to see as far as we would like to see. We rarely understand everything that may be happening at any given moment in life. And we always seem to want more information than is available to fill in the blanks.

No one can see around corners, through mountains or beyond the horizon. But when we go as far as we can see, God will meet us there and extend our vision and light our path. The Living Bible says, “Don’t be anxious… Live one day at a time.”

Prayer: We ask, heavenly Father, that we will learn to walk by faith when the path is blurred and the shadows dark. Give us a faith to face fear, and a determination to depend on Your deliverance. In Christ’s Name. Amen.

Scripture for Today: Matthew 6:34

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Unlimited Understanding

After working on his term paper for many weeks, a student submitted his carefully written product to his professor. When it was returned, there was a note on the front of it that read, “Your work should be written so carefully and thoroughly that even the most ignorant can understand it.”

Indignant, he went to his professor, pointed to the note and said, “I certainly agree with you. Which part can’t you understand?”

It is easy to be misunderstood by others. Sometimes it is difficult for us to make our thoughts and feelings clear. Sometimes the words just won’t come out right and the thoughts get jammed.

Even though there are times when it seems that others do not understand us, there is One whose understanding is unlimited – our heavenly Father.

When we have a problem He gives us His promise that He will never leave us nor forsake us.

When life seems overwhelming, we have the assurance that He will never leave us nor forsake us.

When faced with failure, we know that His grace is sufficient.

We have His Word that He not only understands, but that His understanding is beyond measure!

Prayer: Help us, Father, to trust in Your grace and goodness, Your power and presence, Your care and concern. Enable us to believe that You will bring victory from defeat, joy from sorrow and help when life seems hopeless. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 147:5