Thursday, September 30, 2010

Christ Died For Our Sins

Two soldiers had been serving together in Vietnam since their arrival. They had become inseparable. Whenever they went into combat, one would always cover the back of the other. In their many fire-fights, one would always lead and the other would follow. The next time, they would change places.

One day it was John’s turn to go first. But he hesitated for a moment, sensing the closeness of the enemy. Will became anxious and made the first move. He was killed instantly.

Returning home John was telling some of his friends about the experience. “It was my turn,” he said, “but Will took my place and died.”

There was a day in history when Jesus took our place. Peter said, “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that He might bring us to God...”

Jesus lived His entire life knowing the closeness of the enemy – Satan. He knew that if He did not take our place, the righteous for the unrighteous, that we would die. Christ’s death was the climax of God’s plan to make amends, “to atone,” for our sins.

Because Jesus died for our sins, the innocent for the guilty, we can come to God in faith believing that our sins are fully paid for and that His righteousness is now our righteousness and we are permanently secure in Christ.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, we thank You for Your grace and mercy that makes our salvation possible. Through Christ, we know that our sins are forgiven. Thank You for saving me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: 1 Peter 3:18 For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit, (NIV)

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Submitted

A reporter was sent to study the revivals of D.L. Moody, the great evangelist, while he conducted meetings in England. He listened to him night after night, talked with him, walked with him and even ate with him. He was determined to discover the secret to Moody’s success.

Following his observations, he concluded, “I can see nothing in Moody to account for his marvelous work.”

When Mr. Moody heard the story he laughed and said, “That’s the very secret. There’s nothing in me that can explain it. It is the power of God. The work is God’s, not mine.”

Early in his life, Mr. Moody heard a preacher say, “The world has yet to see what God can do through a man who is fully submitted to Him.” Said Moody, “I’ll be that man!”

The sum of the Christian life is submission to the Lordship of Christ. When Paul wrote to the Romans he begged them to “present their bodies,” meaning “their whole being,” everything about them. He then added that they should present their bodies “as a living sacrifice” – meaning that since they had been born again and were now alive in Christ they were to live fully and faithfully and forever honor Him in a life of service.

Moody said, “I’ll be that man.” We need men and women like that today – surrendered and serving, working and witnessing. Are we willing to do as Moody did?

Prayer: Heavenly Father, stir our hearts, trouble our minds and convict our souls until we surrender our entire life to You in selfless service. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Romans 12:1-2

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Unrecognized

Queen Elizabeth enjoyed walking among her subjects dressed “incognito.” One day she walked through the gates into town. A faithful servant followed her.

Walking along a road she came across a flock of sheep. Somehow she got in their way and the shepherd shouted, “Keep out of the way, stupid woman.” The queen smiled, but said nothing.

When the shepherd was told that she was the queen, he said bitterly, “Well, she should have dressed like one!”

This happened to Jesus. When he came into the world He created, He was not recognized. Even the people chosen by God to prepare the world for Him rejected Him. Although the Old Testament that they read and believed pointed to His coming, they refused to accept Him.

John said, “Even in His own land and among His own people He was not accepted.” How sad. John continues, “But to all who believed Him and accepted Him, He gave the right to become children of God.”

This belief in Christ changes us from the inside out. When we become children of God, we become new people with new habits and hopes, new beliefs and behaviors, new attitudes and actions.

We must ask ourselves: Does my life show the world that I am part of God’s family by what I do and where I go?

Prayer: Help me, Heavenly Father, to walk in the world in a way that proves that I am Your child by what I do, and where I go. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: John 1:11-13

Monday, September 27, 2010

"First, Get His Attention"

A farmer sold his mule to a neighbor. Looking his friend in the eye he said, “He’s a good mule. He’ll work hard all day and do anything you want him to do. But first you’ll have to hit him to get his attention.”

Some of us are like that mule. God has to allow us to get into difficulty before He can get our attention.

Remember the prodigal son? He must have had a good life. But he was not satisfied. He took what was his and left home. His wicked ways led him to a life of sorrow, sadness and separation. Finally he hit bottom. When there was nothing left and no place to go, he returned to his father.

Sometimes it takes great sorrow and tragedy before we turn to God. We try to live our own lives and go our own way and we end up in pitiful, painful places. We push aside our responsibilities to God and fail to be obedient to His directions. Then He does something to get our attention.

The Psalmist said, “Before I was afflicted, I went astray; but now I keep Your Word.”

Troubles? Problems? Sickness? Broke? Worries? God will do whatever He must to get our attention, not to impair us but to improve us.

Prayer: Father, we thank You that You want us to be close to You and honor You in our lives. We pray that we will always hear Your voice and follow Your paths of righteousness. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 119:67-71

Friday, September 24, 2010

Stretching Our Souls

While cutting his grass, a man’s mower stopped running. He took it to be repaired. When he returned to get it, he asked the repairman for the bill. He was told, “Forget it. It was such a small thing to fix, that it’s free.”

But the man insisted on paying, taking some money from his pocket and presenting it to the man.

“Sir,” replied the mechanic, “I’m a Christian, and every now and then I do something to stretch my soul.”

John wrote about that when he said, “If anyone has enough money to live well and sees a brother in need and refuses to help – how can God’s love be in that person?”

When Christ comes in, His love goes out. All around us are people who have needs for the necessities of life. Everywhere we look people have burdens to bear, problems to solve, decisions to make, hearts to heal and sicknesses to survive.

When we see the needs of others and do something about them, we stretch our souls and show His love. We need to stretch our souls every day.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, open our eyes that we may see what Your eyes see, and then move in our hearts to help others even as You did. In Christ’s Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: 1 John 3:14-24

Thursday, September 23, 2010

What A Deal

A father was having a difficult time getting his son to study and make good grades after he left home and entered college. Said the father, “Son, if you shave your beard, cut your hair, read your Bible and make no lower than a ‘B’ in all of your classes, I’ll buy you a car.”

The deal was made, the car bought, the Bible read but the beard and long hair remained. When the son came home for a weekend visit, the father asked, “Why have you not kept our deal?”

Said the son, “Well, I can’t find anywhere in the Bible where it says you have to have short hair and no beard.”

“Well,” said the Dad, “I can’t find anywhere in the Bible where it says you have to have a car, either.”

Paul states that “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away. The new has come.” “In Christ” is one of Paul’s favorite phrases because of the change He made in his life.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, we look to You for salvation and You look to us for surrender and submission. Help us to live our lives in You and for You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture: 2 Corinthians 5:19 ...that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. (NIV)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

In God's Image

Wherever you went in the Roman Empire, you were reminded of the Roman Emperor. Everywhere you looked you saw his influence and image, his power and prestige. And when a Roman penny was made, the image of the emperor was stamped upon it. Those who used his coins were expected to obey his laws.

We are like those pennies. When God created man He stamped His image in and upon him – within his soul. As a result of that “stamping,” there is within all of us a desire to discover who we are. It is not by accident that there seems to be within every one of us a sense of being lost or the drive to discover or find ones self.

Most people – young or old – do not want to be different. No child wants to stand out. Teenagers all try to look the same. Young adults have a difficult time determining who to identify with and why. Adults want to have the same things as their peers. Each of us has the need to identify with someone or something.

But Christians solve this problem because they can identify with God. We have been created in His image and nothing is like us. Because of the fall, we have been damaged and distorted but not destroyed. If we choose, God can repair the damage and clear up the distortion. Then, one day He will restore us to our original condition. With God, all things are possible through salvation in Christ.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, We accept the promise that You can give us a pure heart, a sound mind, a right spirit and everlasting life with You. Through Christ, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Genesis 1:26-31

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Starting Over

When he was 67 years old, Thomas Edison experienced an event that would have caused most of us to give up. The building where he had conducted most of his scientific work burned to the ground.

Looking closely at his father observe the tragedy, his son said, “My heart ached for him as he stood watching his work go up in smoke.”

How did Edison respond? He said, “There’s a great value in disaster. All our mistakes are burned up. Thank God we can start anew!”

Paul said, “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed, perplexed, but not in despair, persecuted, but not abandoned, struck down, but not destroyed.”

Paul says we are pressured everywhere we look. He adds that we may be persecuted – but we will never be abandoned. He also says that when we are at our wit’s end we are never at hope’s end. And he concludes by saying that we may be knocked down, but never knocked out or destroyed.

Whatever we go through in life, we go through it with God. He will never leave us nor forsake us, and He will be with us and draw us closer to His Son, our Savior.

Prayer: Father, help us to recognize that You are always with us as we face life. May we sense Your presence, peace and power and look to You for victory. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. (NIV)

Monday, September 20, 2010

Driven By Purpose

Two brothers were born in a farm house in rural Kansas. They attended a one-room school and were responsible to keep the fire going in the stove. One day the stove blew up.

Running from the building, Glen looked around to find his brother. He was no where to be found. He rushed back into the building, but it was too late to save his brother. He escaped with his life but suffered severe burns. Doctor after doctor told him he would never walk again. But he did.

Through all the pain and grief, suffering and struggles, he refused to be discouraged. Though there were times when he was disappointed with the progress he was making, he never gave up. He had a dream and was filled with the determination to make that dream come true. He dreamed that one day he would run faster than anyone in history, master the mile and set the world record. And he did just that – breaking the international record. The world remembers Glen Cunningham but not the fire.

We need to believe as Paul did, “...do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

Prayer: Help me, Lord, to overcome my handicaps and harmful habits, and plant deep in my heart and mind the purpose that You have for my life. May I only live to bring glory and honor to Your name, through Christ my Lord, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Daniel 1:9 Now God had caused the official to show favor and sympathy to Daniel... (NIV)

Friday, September 17, 2010

Prayin' For Rain

A motorist driving down a country road noticed a home that was on fire. Sitting calmly as though he was enjoying the fire was the farmer who owned the house.

Shouting loudly the motorist exclaimed, “Your house is on fire!”

“I know it,” came the reply.

“Then why don’t you do something about it?” he asked.

“I am doing something,” said the farmer. “I’m prayin’ for rain.”

We need to use common sense, not nonsense, when we pray. The Lord will not do for us what we can do for ourselves. But He will do for us what we can not do for ourselves if it is in keeping with His will for our lives.

But all of this depends on one thing: obedience. John said, “Whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight.” Someone said, “If we do not obey, we may as well not pray.”

When God does not answer our prayers, we need to examine our lives, look for our sins, ask His forgiveness and return to a life of obedience to Him.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, asking is certainly easier that admitting, confessing and forsaking our sins. Help us to obey Your teachings and keep Your commandments. In Christ’s Name we pray, Amen.

Scripture for Today: 1 John 3:22 And receive from him anything we ask, because we obey his commands and do what pleases him. (NIV)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Love Everlasting

Teenage years are difficult for both the teenager and the parent. But this one in particular became increasingly rebellious and belligerent. It seemed as though she delighted in causing her mother pain and embarrassment. Finally it reached a breaking point when she was arrested for drunk driving. Her mother was grief stricken.

After bringing her home from the police station, they sat facing one another. Finally, the mother presented her with a beautifully wrapped gift box. She opened it with a frown and saw a small rock. “Cute,” she said sarcastically. “What’s it for?”

Finally she saw a small card that was tucked away in the box. She read it slowly: “This rock is more than 200 million years old. That’s how long it will take before I give up on you.” Quietly she began to sob, tears running down her cheeks. She reached across the space that separated her from her mother and hugged her tightly. She apologized for all the pain and sorrow that she had caused and asked her mother to pray with her as she accepted Christ as her Savior.

Long ago Jeremiah the Prophet spoke about a message he received from the Lord. It was, “I have loved you with an everlasting love, therefore I have continued My faithfulness to you.”

Prayer: We thank You, Heavenly Father, that Your unending love and sufficient grace is ours to accept. May we be open to Your love and obedient to Your Word. For Jesus’ sake, Amen.

Scripture: Jeremiah 31:3 The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: "I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness. (NIV)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Rejects

A mother took her children to the beach. During a moment of relaxation, her young son suddenly interrupted her bliss, grabbed her by the hand and led her toward the shore where a sea gull lay dead.

“Mom,” he cried, “what happened to him?”

“He died and went to heaven,” was her answer.

Remaining quiet for a moment, he suddenly asked, “Why did God throw him back? Was he a reject?”

Jesus said, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” The “all” includes everyone and the promise is “rest” – eternal rest which is the salvation He offers to all of us.

There are times when we feel unworthy or unwelcome, discouraged or depressed, anxious or ambivalent, fearful or frightened. All are feelings of rejection. Because Jesus knows that and has experienced that, He says, “Come.”

His word “come” cancels the word “reject.” The “come” is Jesus’ promise that He will accept us no matter what we have done or where we have been. There are no limits to His invitation. There is no end to his “rest.”

Prayer: We come to You, Heavenly Father, just as we are, knowing that You will not only accept us, but that You will never leave us nor forsake us. We thank You for the invitation and promise. Through Christ our Lord, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Matthew 11:25-30

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Patience And Perseverance

Great things are not always accomplished by talent and training. Often times they are accomplished by patience and perseverance.

It took Leonardo Da Vinci eight years to paint The Last Judgment. When he was finished with that painting, it took him ten years to complete The Last Supper.

It took Noah Webster twenty-six years to compile Webster’s Dictionary.

Adam Clark labored for forty years to write his Commentary on the Bible.

Everything worthwhile will take a while before it has worth. That’s why it is called perseverance! We persevere until we can present a product.

Perseverance is stretching our courage beyond our circumstances. When we read of perseverance in Scripture, we come to understand that it means much more than enduring. It means overcoming life’s difficulties with a “peace that passes all understanding” and knowing that the “God of all comfort” has His arms around us.

We read in the Bible that “we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God...we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance...and endurance character...and character hope.” It is through Christ that we become stable, secure and steadfast.

Prayer: Thank you, Heavenly Father, for all that we have in our Lord. It is by Him, through Him, with Him and for Him that we are able to persevere, knowing that all things work together for our good. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Romans 5:1-5

Monday, September 13, 2010

Aim Higher, Please

A young man lightly kissed his fiancĂ©e on the chin. Pointing politely to her lips, she said, “Aim higher, please.”

Whatever we aim at in life is usually what we get because we never rise higher than our ideals. The Apostle Paul said, “I keep working toward that day when I will be all that Christ saved me for and wants me to be!” Paul’s aim in life was to share the Gospel and win others to his Lord and Savior. There was a time before his conversion when his aim was to harm Christians. After His conversion his aim was to win others to Christ.

It is important to be content and satisfied with what we have, but not who we are or what we do. It is easy to confuse the two. Paul sorted it out and set a great example for us. There were times when he was in prison, shipwrecked, being beaten, going hungry, alone and deserted. That was O.K. with him. He said that he had learned to be content with whatever he had or wherever he was. His only aim was to become like His Lord, and “by all means, save some.”

Prayer: Help me, Father, to become more like You and to be a better Christian tomorrow than I am today. May my aim in life be to bring others to You for Your salvation. In Christ’s Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Colossians 3:1-5

Friday, September 10, 2010

When You Want Wisdom

One evening a mother was busily straining vegetables to feed her infant daughter. Stomping into the kitchen, her husband demanded, “Hurry up. I want to eat, too.”

Exasperated, she dumped a whole container of peas into a strainer, walked into the living room where he was sitting, placed them in his lap and asked, “How would you like to do this three times a day, seven days a week for who knows how long?”

The next day when he went to his cannery, Dan Gerber could not forget the experience from the night before. As he thought about what had happened and about his wife’s problem, he suddenly had an idea for something new to put into cans – strained baby food.

There are many times when life seems to place problems in our laps that require the wisdom that only comes from God. In fact, He gave us an entire book of the Bible that provides wonderful wisdom, Proverbs. It is ours for the taking.

God gives us His wisdom because it is greater than any of life’s problems, His strength can overcome every weakness and His power can get us through every difficulty.

Prayer: I am so thankful, Lord, that You specialize in solutions. May I constantly turn to Your Word for the wisdom I need for the problems I face. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: James 1:5-8

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Power of Persuasion

A man was walking along a dimly lit street. Suddenly a dark figure appeared out of an alley and demanded, “Stop right there.”

Frightened and nervous, the man asked, “What do you want?”

“I want you to help me,” came the response. “I’m poor and I’m hungry and I’m out of work. All I have is this...gun.”

When we need help we look for acceptance and understanding, comfort and compassion, direction and strength, hope and health for the journey called life. We look for someone who has been where we are and has succeeded where we may be failing.

The Christian has God, the power of Christ, the presence of the Holy Spirit and Scripture. When we are overcome with burdens that beat upon us, pain that paralyzes us, fear that frightens us, suffering that scares us, we have an ever present Help in times that terrify us. Jesus Christ “gives us everlasting comfort, good hope, and strength in everything.”

Prayer: Lord, when I am threatened with the uncertainties of life, may I turn to You, knowing that as my Advocate, You will be my protector and provider. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Somebody's Hitting Me!

A boxer was taking an awful beating from his opponent. He was having a hard time standing up so he grabbed the ropes to support himself. When his manager saw this, he cried out, “Stand up and fight. He’s not even hitting you!”

“Then watch the referee,” shouted the boxer. “Somebody’s hitting me.”

Every Christian is in a constant fight with the devil. He is constantly placing evil desires in our minds and in our hearts. We are continually tempted with the desire for more – more money, more possessions, and more recognition, more of everything except a desire for more of our Savior.

When I hear people say that there is no devil, I want to respond by saying, “But somebody is hitting me.” The one hitting me is the devil himself. He constantly hits me with evil desires – desires that make me want more of the things of this world that will separate me from God.

If we want to “get off the ropes” and triumph over sin, we can.

The Bible says, “Submit yourselves to God, resist the devil and he will flee from you.” A true formula for success!

Prayer: Heavenly Father, right now, I surrender my heart, mind and soul to You and ask that You will enable me to resist the devil. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: James 4:1-8

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

All Dressed Up And No Place To Go

Two men went to pay their last respects to a friend. As they approached the casket, one said to the other, “Would you look at him now!”

“Wow,” came the response. “What a shame. Pat didn’t believe in heaven or hell. And now he’s all dressed up and has no place to go.”

But he did have a place to go.

All of us have a place to go when we die. But before that day, all of us have a choice to make. We must all choose to accept Christ as our Savior and spend eternity with Him, or reject His salvation and spend eternity in hell. Simple choice. Major decision.

Heaven and hell are as certain as life and death. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one can come to the Father except through Me.” We may want to do it “our way” by working, giving or doing good deeds, but Jesus Christ is the only way in.

The consequence of sin is death – eternal separation from God – and that means eternity in hell. “I assure you,” Jesus said, “those who listen to My message and believe in God Who sent Me have eternal life.” He also said, “He who has the Son has life.”

Clear message. Clear choice. Do you have the life that comes from Him?

Prayer: Heavenly Father, I realize my need for salvation and understand that it only comes through Jesus Christ. I confess that He alone can save me and I accept Him now. In His Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Revelation 21:1-5

Thursday, September 2, 2010

He's A Pullback

A mother did not know anything about football but she did know and love her son and was proud of everything he did. She was thrilled when he made the college football team.

When telling her neighbor about his accomplishment she was asked, “What position does he play?”

“I think he said he was a pullback,” she answered.

Many times we Christians become “pullbacks.” Instead of witnessing, we remain silent. Rather than giving, we focus on getting. When we can offer help we sometimes let people hurt. There are times when we bring others down when we could build them up. We frequently ignore others when we could become involved in assisting them in difficult times.

Scripture reminds us of several who, at one time or another, became “pullbacks.” One was named Mark. But when he realized that God had something special for him to do, he changed his ways and began serving his Lord. Paul recognized the difference and called him “profitable.” The choice is ours. We can “pullback” or push forward in our service to the Lord and be “profitable” for God.

Prayer: Help me Lord, to seize every opportunity You send my way to be of service in reaching others with Your message. May I always be ready to seek and to serve those who need Your love. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: 2 Timothy 4:11 Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry. (NIV)

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

What Can You Change?

A young boy had cerebral palsy. He used a wheelchair to get from one place to another using only one leg. When he learned of the Special Olympics in California he decided to enter the competition. But he had a major problem: Although he could move his chair from left to right with his good leg, he was unable to move it forward. By accident he discovered that if he turned his wheelchair around and pushed it backwards, he could actually make progress towards a goal. And that is what he did. He pushed his wheelchair backwards and won the race!

Often when a goal seems impossible it is normal and natural to give up. We see obstacles not opportunities. We see blocks and barriers and not options and opportunities.

When faced with dilemmas and doubts, we must ask the Lord to open our eyes to the possibilities around us and the potential He has given us.

Paul was right. He said, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!”

If Christ is for us, who or what can stop us?

Prayer: Help me Lord, to find in You, solutions for my problems, strength for my weaknesses, direction for my journey and joy in my salvation. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Philippians 4:13 I can do everything through him who gives me strength. (NIV)