Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Misfortune

Some time ago, a man phoned me and said, “Misfortune just handed me a lemon!”

“What did you do?” I asked.

“I got with God and together we made lemonade,” came the reply.

Misfortune comes to us with a multitude of names. It can be called an accident or an affliction, a calamity or a catastrophe, a tragedy or a trial. Sometimes they come unexpectedly, when we are least prepared. Other times they come after repeated warnings that we do not heed. They may be temporary or permanent, life threatening or life taking. A misfortune may wound us permanently and require us to work diligently to triumph over it.

God’s Word tells us that there are times when God brings misfortune into our lives as a way to test and strengthen our character. Satan will bring misfortune into our lives to get us to turn against God.

When misfortune comes into our lives, God would have it to become a stepping stone to a fortune. Fanny Crosby was a great hymn writer, but she was blind. Paul was a great servant of the Lord, but he had a thorn in the flesh. Their tests became their triumphs.

Prayer: Father, I know that whatever You bring into my life is to make me into Your likeness. May I take what You give me and use it to glorify You. In Christ’s Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: 2 Corinthians 12:1-9

Monday, August 30, 2010

I'm Not That Bad

Little Jennifer refused to do what her mother asked her to do. In frustration her mother said, “Go to your room and tell God what a naughty girl you’ve been.”

She stomped off to her room but came back quickly. Looking her mother in the eye she said, “I just talked to God. He said that I should just forget about what I had done.”

Confession does not come easily. It is difficult to express our guilt and ask God to forgive us for what we have done wrong. No one wants to take the lid off of a mind that thinks evil thoughts. Nor does anyone want to open the windows of a heart that harbors hurtful intentions.

Often we attempt to rationalize our sins – trying to convince ourselves that what we have done is really not bad. If that does not work, we will resort to generalizations saying, “Everyone does it, so it really does not matter.”

Neither one is acceptable to God. Someday, everyone will have to bow before God and confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.

We must not wait. Now is the day of salvation.

Prayer: Jesus, give me the grace and courage to admit my sins and an understanding of Your mercy that assures me of Your forgiveness. I know that I have fallen short of Your demands. Save me, for Jesus’ sake, Amen.

Scripture for Today: 1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (NIV)

Friday, August 27, 2010

"I Want You!"

Alexander Graham Bell made his first telephone call using an old cigar box, two magnets, and two hundred feet of wire.

The message? “Mr. Watson, come here. I want you.”

That is God’s message to each of us. He says, “I want you.”

He wants us to come to Him for His salvation and the eternal life He has to give us through Christ, His Son. He begins by knocking at the door of our hearts and saying, “If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in.”

But what else does He offer? A hope that will encourage us. A light that will guide us. A peace that will calm us. A purpose that will empower us. A rest that will sustain us. A strength that will fill us. A love that will nourish us. A faith that will work for us. And finally, a home that will welcome us.

“Come unto me,” He says, “and I will give You.....”

Whatever we need is ours for the asking and His for the giving.

Prayer: We come to You, Father, knowing that every good and perfect thing comes from You alone. When we are weak, You can make us strong and when we lack anything, You can fill in the gaps. May we come to You, remembering that whatever concerns us concerned You first. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Matthew 11:28 (New International Version)

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

At the End Of My Rope!

Weeping loudly, a man cried out to me over the phone, “I’m at the end of my rope!”

“Great!” I replied. “Now you are coming to the beginning of the Lord’s!”

All of us must come to the end of our rope when we are looking for ways to be saved. The Bible clearly states, “There is no other name in heaven or on earth that will save you except My name.” We must come to the end of our rope before we find the Lord’s rope of salvation.

When we are feeling weak and paralyzed by the issues of life, we need to turn to the Lord. Paul reminds that we “can do all things through Christ Who gives us strength.”

Often in life God allows us to come to the end our “ropes” before we are willing to reach out or up to take hold of His. At times, we all want to be more than we are and do more than we can. That’s when He calls us and says, “Come unto me – I can and will help you!”

Prayer: Lord, I have trouble admitting that I can’t do everything by myself. Help me to always remember that my strength is made perfect in my weakness as I call upon You for my needs. In Your Name I pray, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Philippians 4:13

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Do Your Job!

The captain of a large ship and his chief engineer got into an argument as to which of them was more important in operating the vessel. Failing to come to an agreement, they decided to swap jobs.

The Chief went to the bridge and the Captain went to the engine room.

It wasn’t long before the Captain called the Chief and said, “I can’t make her go any further.”

“Of course you can’t,” said the Chief. “I’ve run her aground!”

God has given each of us special skills. He wants me to do what He has equipped me for and called me to do. And He wants you to do what He has equipped and called you to do.

Your place is different from my place, but it is just as important. In God’s sight, it is not about prominence, but performance. There will always be someone who looks more important than we do. However, we usually measure ourselves and others by the world’s standards. The Christian must look to and wait upon the Lord for what He wants us to do.

Prayer: Father, let me be satisfied with being the person You want me to be and do the things that You chose for me to do. May I be content with who I am, but not satisfied until I am doing what You have chosen for me. In Your Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: 1 Corinthians 12

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Hidden Opportunities

Many years ago an unknown inventor built a racing car and called it “999”. He then went out, found a motor cyclist named Barney Oldfield and asked him to drive it in a race. He did and the car achieved the speed of a mile a minute. It launched both of their careers.

Years later the auto builder was talking with the driver of his car and said, “You made me, Barney, and I made you.”

“True, Mr. Ford,” he said. “But no one would have heard about either of us if we had not worked together.”

People all around us are waiting to be discovered. Many have talents that could be used to the glory of God. Some could do great things for God if only they were asked.

Andrew found Peter and brought him to Jesus and he became one of the world’s greatest preachers. Paul asked Timothy to become his apprentice and he became a “troubleshooter” who resolved many problems in the early churches. Barnabas befriended Paul and actually recruited him into the ministry and he became a missionary, theologian, evangelist and Apostle to the Gentiles.

We must constantly look around us and find someone we can bring to the Lord.

Prayer: Father, open my eyes to those around me. Let me see not only who they are, but who they can become through Your grace. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: John 1:40-43

Monday, August 23, 2010

Hope In God!

Mother Teresa of India was known for her compassionate heart. As she would travel through the streets of her home town, her heart would be overcome at the sight of those who were waiting to die. Wanting to do something for them, she would drag them into her home and care for them, waiting for them to die.

But something unusual happened. Many of those who had terminal illnesses and were expected to die, suddenly got better and lived. Why? They felt the love of Christ coming through her as she cared for them. Hope sprang up in their hearts and their health returned. Eventually they changed the name of the house from the Home of The Dying to the Home of the Living.

By placing our hope in God, we can turn our lives around. He can take our problems and turn them into His solutions. He can take our sorrows, wipe away our tears and bring us joy. He can take away our illnesses and bring us health. Whatever we need He can provide.

We need to follow the advice of the Psalmist and put our hope in God.

Prayer: Deliver us, heavenly Father from the doubts that would defeat us and the problems that would paralyze us. May we recognize Your strength and power and accept Your loving care that can make us complete. In Christ’s Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 41:1-5

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Goldilocks Burgler

It was a break-in along the lines of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. A burglar broke into the Thomas Schimmel home in Michigan, rounded up the valuables, and ate a bowl of cereal. Thomas discovered the theft when he came home. He called the police. They arrived, investigated and left. Then Schimmel decided to go to bed. But when he got to his bedroom, he found the burglar sleeping in his bed. He slept through the investigation. Isn’t that just like sin? It’s not only stupid, it stupefies.

Are you living your life like this burglar? Have you lost your senses and become unaware of the sin in your life? Paul tells us in today’s verse “stop sinning.” When we continue to allow sin to control our lives rather than the Holy Spirit, we will be like the foolish who deny the resurrection. Change your way of thinking. Ask God to show you your sins and confess them to Him. He is an all loving and forgiving God and ready to embrace you with His Grace.

Prayer: Father, I pray that I will not be like this burglar, completely unaware of the sin that is taking over my life. Help me to rid myself of sin, rather than letting it fester in my life. In Jesus Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: 1 Corinthians 15:34

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Sharing Our Faith

A man was asked to deliver three penguins to the zoo before closing time. But his truck broke down. He hailed a friend, expressed his need and gave him $25.00 to run his errand. Just when the truck was fixed, his friend came by with the penguins. He said, “I took them to the zoo. They liked it so much, now I am taking them to the park.”

Have you ever been misunderstood? Sharing your faith can be a frightening task for some Christians. They are fearful of being misunderstood or not being able to communicate effectively. Paul helps us with these fears. First, we must pray and pray diligently. God is faithful to help us when we share the gospel with others. Second, we are to keep our eyes open for opportunities to show Christ’s love to unbelievers through word and action. Are you willing to ask God for opportunities to share your faith?

Prayer: Lord, I pray that the words that leave my lips will always be gracious, kind and Godly. I ask that You will speak through me when I have an opportunity to share my faith. In Christ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Colossians 4:1-6

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

See You In Church

A pastor in a resort area invited a family to come to church. The father said, “Thanks, preacher. We hike every Sunday, and we can worship God in the woods.”

Yes, it is true that we can worship God in the woods. We are able, through God’s grace, to enter into His presence anytime and anywhere. Yet, we are called to gather together as Christians and encourage one another and love one another. The church, the body of Christ, has the unique and intentional purpose of worshiping God the Father and serving the world in Christ’s name. The church is the tool that God uses to reach and equip all people for His Kingdom. Coming together as believers to study God’s Word and live in a relationship with one another is not a duty to be dreaded; it is God’s provision and blessing for us.

Prayer: Lord, I pray that I will make it a priority in my life to be involved in local church. I pray that I will take advantage of the opportunity to learn more about You and Your Word. I pray that I will get involved in ministry and use my gifts and talents to serve my community for You. In Jesus Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Hebrews 10:24-25

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Rose Angel Food Cake

It was my birthday, and friends surprised me with a party. When it came time for dessert, a rose angel food cake was placed on the table, and I was asked to cut it. Taking hold of the knife, I started to cut the cake, immediately it gave forth the fragrance of a rose. “What a picture of a true Christian,” I cried.

A Christian, like a fragrant cake, should be overflowing with the fragrance of Christ. What happens when our hearts are wounded, when another person’s words or deeds cut deep within our soul? Do we smell like the Rose of Sharon or do we smell rotten? It is very easy to respond rashly when we or a loved one is hurt. We can say things we regret and be even more destructive than we realize at the moment. If we are to love as Christ loved, our response to affliction should be rooted in patience and kindness. There is never a time for jealousy, rudeness or selfishness. When we understand that Christ has loved us despite our sinfulness, it is possible to show love to those who sin against us.

Prayer: Father, I pray that You will help me to always be like Christ when I am wounded or hurting. Help me to forgive and love everyone as Christ has loved me. In Thy Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Monday, August 16, 2010

Rejects

When Michelangelo was planning a statue, he went to the marble quarry for a stone. All he could find in the size he wanted was a reject. He took it and formed the body of David into a position would fit. That reject became the renowned David.

That is what God does with us. He takes rejects and turns them into magnificent tools of God. God transformed Mary Magdalene. She was known for her promiscuity but she became an influential follower of Christ. Matthew, the tax collector, was a thief but after he gave his life to Christ he was used to pen part of the Holy Scriptures. Jesus invited four fishermen to leave their jobs and be transformed into preachers and teachers. God can take you and mold you into His image so that you can be used for His kingdom. Are you willing to become a faithful worker for God? It does not matter what you believe about yourself, you can be used by God if you let Him.
Prayer: Lord, I so often feel like a reject, believing that I am of no use to You. I pray that You will take me and turn me into the work of art that only You can. Thank You for loving me and sending Christ to die for my sins. I pray my life will reflect my gratitude. In Jesus Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Matthew 4:18-22

Friday, August 13, 2010

I've Shot Myself

In Texas a man got tired of thieves breaking into his store. So he rigged a shotgun to shoot anyone who entered when it was closed. One morning he came to work and forgot to dismantle the trap. He opened the door and the gun went off. As he fell to the floor he cried, “I’ve shot myself.”

Sometimes our great ideas can get us “killed.” We are attracted by the things of this world and become influenced by its many “traps.” We begin to believe that our plans are better than what God has planned for us. Scripture teaches us that sin leads to death. We mindlessly walk in paths that lead to our destruction and death. Instead, we need to surrender our lives to God and to ask Him to make His way known to us as we read and trust His Word. We need to look to God for His purpose in our lives. As we accept His gracious gift of salvation and eternal life, we must realize that we are citizens of His kingdom and obligated to live lives that honor Him.

Prayer: Father, help me recognize the sin in my life that keeps me from growing into the likeness of Your Son. I pray that Your Holy Spirit will convict me and cleanse me and make me pleasing in Your sight. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Romans 6:23

Thursday, August 12, 2010

I'd Give My Right Arm

Haven’t you heard the expression, “I’d give my right arm for that!” A thief did. He broke the window of a store to steal a television. As he reached his arm through the broken glass, a falling section of glass severed it above the elbow.

If we had the chance to ask this thief if he would really give up his arm for a television, I would assume he would not. Yet, each day we trade what is eternally valuable for the temporary pleasures. We work and give our time, energy and money to so many things that have no meaning in life. We do all these things in place of turning to God and using our talents and gifts to serve Him. We make sacrifices in life for what we deem important. What sacrifices are you making for Christ? He has called us to take up our cross and follow Him. What are you willing to give up in order to be a follower of Christ? He wants us to give up everything for Him.

Prayer: Lord, help me to see my life the way that You see it. I am sure that there are some things I need to be doing that I am not doing and some things I need to stop doing. Give me insight and courage to make the necessary corrections for Your sake. In Your name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Luke 9:23

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

I Used The Wind

During a major golf tournament the players were having a difficult time with their game because of strong winds. As they attempted to line up their putts, the wind kept blowing them off balance. Most of them played a terrible game. But one, Tony Jacklin, shot a remarkable seventy-one. At the end of his round a reporter asked him his secret. “I used the wind,” he said. “I let the wind work to my advantage.”

As in golf, so it is in life. If we Christians let the winds of adversity work to our advantage, we can accomplish great things.

James tells us that as we face trials and our faith is tested, we develop perseverance. The character trait of perseverance in a person is a mark of maturity. When we are able to persevere in trials, we will become more complete and not lack for anything. God will use our life experiences to change us into godly men and women. We will be able to comfort others as Christ has comforted us. Jesus has called us to use our adversities to further His kingdom and serve others. When we do this, we are glorifying God with our whole lives.

Prayer: Lord, continue to teach me how to use the trials in my life to become more like You. Give me the joy that only You can give me. In Jesus Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: James 1:2-4

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

I Can Do All Things

A new prison was built in British Columbia, and the prisoners tore down the old one. While the cells had heavy doors and the windows steel bars, the walls had been made of paper and clay. A big push could have knocked them out. But the prisoners thought escape was impossible.

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you feel as though you cannot escape? Maybe it is the grief over a lost loved one or maybe you are dealing with the consequences of sinful activities. You might be dealing with addictions, whether to alcohol, pornography or spending money you do not have. Whatever it is you are battling, if you allow God’s grace to transform your heart and change you, you will have the strength to combat any sin or temptation. Through Christ’s power, the same power that raised Christ from the dead, you can break the chains that are keeping you from having the life that God wants for you. Through Christ you can do all things.

Prayer: Lord, I give to You all my addictions and burdens that are holding me back. I pray that I will embrace You and Your everlasting love to help me change the habits in my life. Thank You for walking with me through every step of this process. In Your Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Philippians 4:13

Monday, August 9, 2010

Gravel In The Mouth

One day a friend baked me a cherry pie. While enjoying the second piece, my teeth came down on a cherry stone. When I reached for it, I also found a broken tooth. While nursing the pain, I thought on Proverbs 20:17.

“Food gained by fraud tastes sweet to a man, but he ends up with a mouth full of gravel.” Cheating or being fraudulent in any way may get a person ahead, but only temporarily. Dishonest gains are not only found in big corporations with million dollar transactions. God is also aware of the small things. What do you do when you are given too much money back at the cash register? Are you ever tempted to be dishonest at work with your time sheet? Even if dishonesty helps one to succeed in the eyes of the world or increases ones wealth, it is really worth nothing at all. Only the things of God have real worth and are valuable and everlasting. It is also important to know that even if we succeed in fooling the people around us, God still knows our actions and our hearts.

Prayer: Lord, help me to be honest in everything I do, whether in my work day, my personal finances or in my relationships. Forgive me where I have failed and help me to make right what ever offense I have committed. In Your Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 20:17

Friday, August 6, 2010

Don't Step On That Branch

Two girls were picking apples. One stayed on the ground, while the other climbed the tree. “Don’t step on that branch, it’s weak,” cried the farmer. “If you break it, it will not bear fruit.”

Children are very much like that branch. If we break their spirit and permit them to sin, they will not bear spiritual fruit in their lives. The young had a very important role in Jesus’ earthly ministry. He spoke often that we are to be humble like children and welcome them the way we would welcome Christ. To lead the young into sin is a grave offense. Jesus said death is better than leading a child into sin. Are we aware of the ways we are leading our children into sin? Do we monitor what they see and hear on the television, internet or in the movies? Are we cautious of who they spend time with and what they are doing when with other people? The most important question we can ask ourselves is, “Am I leading by example or am I teaching them evil?” We must examine our lives to be sure that we are showing our children a life patterned after Christ.

Prayer: Lord, thank You for the children and youth You have placed in my life. I pray that I will do everything possible to lead them towards Jesus and not away. In Jesus Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Matthew 18:1-7

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Don't Squint!

Once, while filming, I tried to look at the camera and the cue card at the same time. “Don’t squint!” I was told. It’s obvious that when I tried to look in two directions I lost my focus.

The Gospel of Matthew tells the story of Peter walking to meet Jesus. Things were going well. He started strong. He defied the laws of man and nature. It was as though he was walking on a paved highway. But suddenly he began to sink. He took his eyes off of Jesus and became concerned about the high winds and angry waves. When we take our eyes off Christ, we stop trusting in Him and His ability to care for our every need. It is then that we begin to sink as well. We fall into our own miry pits and unless we reach for God, we will drown. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus and walk towards Him in the midst of our storms.

Prayer: Lord, I pray that I will always keep focused on You and Your grace. Help me not to be distracted by things around me, but be able to boldly grow in my faith. In Your Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Matthew 14:23-36

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Choices

A couple was selling a farm. In a meeting with their attorney, the wife was asked, “Did you sign this deed of your own free will? Did your husband in any way coerce you to sign these papers?”

“Him?” she asked. “I’d like to see him try to coerce me.”

Life is full of choices. We choose our spouses, our careers, our friends, our hobbies and where we live. But above all of those choices is choosing who we will serve with our lives. The supreme choice we all must make is whether or not we will serve God. Throughout Scripture God has challenged everyone to walk with Him and become one of His children by faith and His grace. However, He has never dragged an unwilling heart into His kingdom. He may bring unwelcome events into our lives to get our attention, but in the final analysis, we must decide for Him or against Him. Though we may have turned away from Him in the past, He is waiting for us to come to Him right now. The choice is ours!

Prayer: Lord, of all the decisions I make in life, choosing You to become my Lord and Savior is the most important. May I this day surrender my life completely to You, have an open heart and willingly dedicate all that I am and have to You. In Christ’s Name. Amen.

Scripture for Today: Joshua 24:15

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

An Easy Road

Dr. David Livingstone went to Africa to become a missionary. The need was great. He wrote home to England asking for more workers.

The leaders wrote, “We would like to send more workers to you, but they want to know if there is a good road into your outpost.”

“If you are offering to send workers who will come only if the road is easy, I can’t use them,” answered Livingstone. “I need workers who are ready to pick up their crosses and follow Christ. The road to Calvary was far from easy.”

Jesus preached to the crowds that if they wanted to follow Him they must be willing to give up everything for Him. Jesus asked His disciples to leave their homes and to be content even if they had no place to lay their heads. We may be asked to give sacrificially of our time, or our money. Perhaps God is calling you to go on a mission trip that will stretch you financially. God may even be calling you to share Christ with someone that has hurt you. To take up our cross means we are willing to follow Christ anywhere He calls.

Prayer: Lord, I pray that I will not look for the easy road, but will embrace Your call on my life no matter how challenging it may be. In Jesus Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Mark 8:34-38

Monday, August 2, 2010

A Paint Job

Count Basie, the bandleader, said to a night club owner, “I’m not returning until you have your piano tuned.”

Later the owner called Basie and said, “Everything is ready for you to return!”

After sitting at the piano and playing a few notes, Basie shouted, “It’s still out of tune!”

“But, I had it painted,” protested the owner.

There are many people who claim to be “Christians” but do not understand what that really means. They go to church, are honest and responsible, help the needy and even support good causes. But until they accept Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, they are not Christians.
Becoming a Christian means I have been saved by God’s grace not by my good works. We can do everything right on the outside, but God cares about what is on inside. John said that we must know the Son of God personally and believe sincerely that we can only be saved through the grace of God. Only then will we have the new life that comes through Christ. We can deceive ourselves and those around us, but not God. He knows what is in our hearts.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, I want that new life in Christ that John talks about. May I find salvation through Your Son, my Savior, and willingly share Him, Who is life eternal, with others. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: 1 John 5:12