Tuesday, November 30, 2010


During the Civil War a young officer went to his superior and said, “I can’t get my men to come to the line of battle and engage the enemy.”

“Never mind,” said the general, “let them stay where they are. The enemy will advance soon and engage them.”

Peter gives us a frightening picture of our adversary, the devil. He portrays him as “a roaring lion, prowling about, seeking for someone to devour.” The picture that Peter uses here suggests that the devil is looking for Christians who are young or abandoned, alone or asleep. He would have us to be very aware of dangers we face through the temptations of the devil.

There are always times in our lives when we are especially vulnerable to his attack. He knows when we are lonely and discouraged, frightened and isolated from friends and loved ones.

Again Peter advises us to “resist him!” God will give us the power to resist him if we stand firm in our faith.

When Jesus was tempted by the devil He did not argue or reason. He turned to the promises of His heavenly Father and used them to reject the power of the evil one. Trusting in His Word and using it to fight the temptations of Satan will assure our victory over him.

No matter how powerful the temptation may be we can overcome it. God will always provide us with a way out. When we are faced with temptation, we must turn our eyes to Jesus, our minds to Scripture and our hearts over to God.

Prayer: Father, comfort us with the assurance of Your faithfulness, fortify us with Your Word, and fill us with Your Spirit that we may overcome temptation. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture: 1 Peter 5:8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Scoring or Scrapping?

A professional hockey star was known not only for his ability to score goals but for his short fuse and hot temper. It seemed as though he got into a fight in every game.

One day his small daughter asked, “Daddy, how can you score goals when you are always in the penalty box?”

Good question, isn’t it. We all seem to place ourselves in a “penalty box” when we lose control of our tempers and harm others.

Self-control is an important part of everyone’s life. It is our ability to manage our behavior, especially when we are threatened and act from impulse or emotions.

We cannot blame others for those moments when rage rules. Each of us is responsible for our actions and behaviors, our choices and decisions.

However, it may be time to realize that there is something beyond self-control. God has given us the Holy Spirit to guide us and guard us. God has given us His Spirit to live a life under His control. No matter what others may say about us or do to us, we have the power through Him to do what is right, say what is right, live as Jesus did. God has given us all the tools that we need to avoid the “penalty box.”

The gift of “Spirit control” will always put us in the best possible light to reflect His glory and keep us from responding foolishly.

Prayer: Help us, Father, to wiling give up our self-control to become Spirit-controlled. We know that You can and will give us victory over ourselves if we but surrender to You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture: Psalm 56:3-4

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

"Show Me A Better Way!"

The editor of a newspaper was working furiously to meet a deadline. In his haste he knocked his faithful typewriter from his desk and it fell on his foot. The burst of pain caused him to begin swearing and take the Lord’s name in vain. In the middle of his cursing, his pastor walked in.

“John,” said the pastor, “you should not swear like that. It’s not right.”

“Reverend,” he asked, “if it’s not right, would you teach me a better way?”

God’s Word teaches us that we must never use His name “in vain,” meaning that it is wrong for anyone to ask God to damage or destroy someone on their behalf. When we use His name in vain we are calling on Him to use His power to harm someone we are resentful of. It is asking God to use His strength or might in a way that is inconsistent with His very nature and being.

Whenever we use God’s name, it should be for a particular purpose. In particular, we are to call upon Him when we worship Him and praise His name. When we go to Him in prayer and call on Him for help, healing, guidance, strength or encouragement, we must remember that we are speaking with the Creator.

Whenever we hear someone using God’s name in vain we would do well to pause and pray for them. How anyone uses His name let’s us know of their relationship with Him – even you and I.

Prayer: Lord, Your name is stamped on every cell of our body and whatever we see in Your creation. May I carefully and prayerfully use and respect Your name whenever it crosses my lips or enters my mind. In Christ’s Name, Amen.

Scripture: Exodus 20:7 You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

What's In A Name?

A known drug dealer in New York was arrested for selling heroin. His name was Archie Outlaw. While out on bail he decided to have his name changed, believing that it might make the judge give him a lighter sentence.

“I’d like to have my name changed,” he said to an attorney.

“What name would you prefer?” asked the attorney.

“Sir,” replied Archie Outlaw, “please change it to Archie Bylaw, Archie Lawman or Archie Inlaw. Maybe Archie D’Law!”

We cannot become a new person with a new identity simply by changing our name. It is more than a name, it is our nature, that controls what we do. And if we want a change of nature, it takes more than a change of our name - it takes the Lord.

When we accept Christ as our Savior, we become new persons with a change that starts on the inside and works its way outward. Only the Holy Spirit can give us a new life. When that happens, we are not the same “old persons” anymore. We are not persons who have been reformed, but as Paul puts it, we are persons who are transformed into a “new creation.” When we become a “new creation” we begin a new life in Christ, we live with His power within and have a living, vital relationship with Him.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, create in us a clear heart that leads to a godly life. May our new nature reveal a new way of living that pleases You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture: 2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

Monday, November 22, 2010

What Matters Most

A man lost control of his vehicle as he was going around a sharp turn. The car crashed through the guardrail and ended down a steep embankment. The car was damaged beyond repair and as they were removing him from the wreckage he sobbed, “Oh, my new Cadillac. It's destroyed!”

“Never mind the car,” said a member of the rescue team, “think of your arm. It’s gone!”

“Oh, no,” he cried loudly, “I’ve lost my Rolex, too!”

How quickly we can become deceived by what the world values. And what the world values, as someone has put it, has a “shelf-life” – an expected life span. Whatever we see before us or around us will someday be gone. So, the warning of Jesus is: “If you live for God and make the Kingdom of God your primary concern, Your Father – Who already knows what you need, will provide for everything you need.”

Too often we set our sights on the things of this world believing that they will bring us happiness or satisfaction. Every day we see people who seem to “have it all” yet are miserable and unfulfilled.

God wants to have the “primary” place in our lives. He wants our thoughts to be filled with His wisdom and insight so that our lives will reflect His will and way.

Prayer: We pray, Father, that we will have enough faith and trust in You that we will set our priorities in order with worshiping and serving You at the top. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.

Scripture: Matthew 6:31-34

Friday, November 19, 2010

"Two In One"

Walking through a cemetery late one evening, an intoxicated man fell across a tombstone. Lying there he saw the inscription that read: “Here lies a business man and a great Christian gentleman.”

“My word!” he exclaimed, “They’ve buried two guys in one grave.”

What a tragic opinion for someone to have about Christians. It is unfortunate that some who are followers of Christ do not live Christlike lives.

God expects us to be His light in His world – a light that reflects His goodness, grace and glory, a light that shines in darkness as a beacon in stormy weather, a lamp on a dimly lit street. We are to be a light that sends forth His brightness so the world can see a clear representation of Him.

As His light, we have a great responsibility that is not easy to fulfill. And being His light may be something we would rather not be. But like it or not that is what we are as people of His Kingdom. We must never be timid about being His light even though we may be criticized when our light in dimmed by worldly activities. Instead, we need to stop, thank Him for the warning and clean the lens so people can follow us to where He would have them to go.

Our faith in God must enhance and involve every area of life. When we sincerely worship Him it will be reflected in our work and our walk. As His light, we must demonstrate integrity and honesty, understanding and thoughtfulness, a willingness to share and a spirit to encourage.

Prayer: Lord, help us to realize that we are Your light in this world. May we realize that we are like a city on a hill that cannot be hidden. Help us to be faithful. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Scripture: Matthew 5:14 You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

What To Live Without

A young lady was bragging to her girlfriends about her good fortune. “I have two handsome men who want to marry me, and I can’t decide which one to choose. I can live with either of them!”

One of her friends wisely said, “Your job is to determine which one of them you can’t live without.”

Everyone has a decision to make: Will we accept or reject Christ as our Savior.

When we choose to accept Him and the life He has to offer, we settle our eternal destiny. Once we have accepted Him as our Savior our life will be different. When we turn from our sin to the Savior, we are given the power to live an abundant life that is satisfying and fulfilling and one that pleases and honors God.

Sin is not a defect in our personality but a disease that destroys us. Sin is not an attitude or an accident, but a decision to turn against God. Sin is not a mistake but a willing rebellion against God laws. God’s Word says that “the wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life.”

Prayer: Heavenly Father, we are eternally grateful to You for giving us the opportunity to choose life through Your Son, Jesus Christ. We ask that You will become the Master in our lives and keep us from sin. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Make Someone Happy

The famous comedian, Jimmy Durante, was doing his best to meet the deadlines in a tight schedule. While traveling from one location to another, someone asked him to visit a Veteran’s Hospital. He agreed to do so, however, he emphasized that he would only be able to spare a few minutes.

He began his visit with a short monologue. The vets were thrilled and applauded loudly. The more he entertained, the louder the applause. He was thoroughly enjoying himself and forgot about the time. He stayed much longer than he had intended. Finally, he took his last bow.

Knowing of his schedule, someone asked, “What happened?”

“I was supposed to leave much sooner,” he said. “But look at those two vets in the front row. I couldn’t let them down.”

One of the men had lost his right arm and the other his left. Left to themselves, they were incomplete. But together they were able to clap. And this they did wildly and happily. It was a moment of great happiness for the comedian and the vets. Unfortunately, it did not last.

For the Christian, however, it can be a permanent condition if our hearts are right with God.

Real happiness is ours when we have a right relationship with God. Regardless of what we may be facing, we can be happy in the Lord knowing that He will never leave us nor forsake us, and that one day we will be with Him. Forever.

Prayer: Father, give us Your peace that passes all understanding and brings joy and happiness to our lives. Through Christ our Lord, Amen.

Scripture: Psalm 68:3 But let the righteous be glad; Let them rejoice before God; Yes, let them rejoice exceedingly.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Proud To Be Humble

A tourist visiting a monastery was impressed with the daily routine of the monks. Awakening at dawn, they would pray for hours, eat little food, spend time alone meditating and reading their Bibles or labor on their farm. Curious about the nature their mission, he asked one of the monks to explain how they were different from the other monastic orders.

“Well,” said the monk, “when it comes to learning, we don’t compare with the Jesuits. When it comes to good works, we’re no match for the Franciscans. But when it comes to humility, we’re at the top!”

It is inappropriate for Christians to attempt to appear humble and downplay the gifts that God has given them. God has endowed each of us with certain gifts that are unique to us. We must accept them graciously, develop them to their fullest, and use them to the glory of God.

If we want to grasp the meaning of humility we must look to our Lord and Savior. Here is one Who was with God and equal to God, but willingly laid it aside. He lived a selfless life of service to others and then suffered a horrible death on the cross for our salvation. In humility He accomplished His Father’s plan doing whatever He could to reflect in word and deed His love.

Pride comes naturally, but not humility. When we do difficult things in a gracious, loving and caring manner – as Jesus did – we are living godly humility.

Prayer: Father, we often pray to be humble not wanting to accept our responsibility to be humble. Grant us a willing heart to set ourselves aside. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.

Scripture: 1 Peter 5:6 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Wishful Thinking

During her bedtime prayers, little Lisa was thanking Jesus for all of the good things that happened to her that day. Then she prayed for each member of the family. Just before her “Amen” she said, “And please, dear Jesus, make six plus seven equal eleven.”

“Why?” her mother asked.

“Because,” she said, “if it’s not, I’m going to fail my math test.”

There are many different ideas and opinions on the subject of prayer. But what the Bible says about prayer is very simple. We can pray when standing, sitting, kneeling, walking, running or waiting in traffic. Whether in carefully chosen words or short stubby sentences, deep sounding tones or shrill cries, God hears us. Where, when and how does not matter. Who and why does.

We must always remember that God does indeed hear each one of us. We must also remember that He will respond in a way that is designed specifically for every prayer that we offer to Him. If the answer does not come quickly, remember how precious it is to have the opportunity to speak directly with the Creator.

When the answer does not meet our expectations, it may mean that we need to align our prayers with His will. Often we may have to wait awhile for something that is far better than we ever imagined. When He is silent, it may be that He wants us to keep on praying and learn the art of trusting in His wisdom.

Prayer: Lord, Your Word assures us that You will listen to us whenever we call upon You. We thank You for this precious privilege, In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture: 1 John 5:14 Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.

Friday, November 12, 2010

How Thoughtful!

It was a perfect day to go ice skating.

Donald and his sister Kate decided that they would go to the local lake and spend a few hours skating with their friends. However, the family only had one pair of skates. Upon their arrival, Donald insisted that his sister go first while he watched.

A stranger noting this seeming act of kindness said, “You were gracious, son, to let your sister skate before you did. Not many young men would do that.”

“Thanks very much,” he answered, “but I just wanted to make sure the ice was thick enough to skate on.”

Most of us would consider Donald as being “self-centered.” But for the Christian, it is more than being self-centered – it is being “off-centered.”

Paul reminds us that the Christian is to be “other-centered.” To do this we must become sensitive to the needs of others. We must seize every opportunity to help support those who are struggling in their walk with the Lord. We must always behave in a way that encourages others and share the strength that God has given us.

We must always remember that our salvation is not earned by doing good deeds. However, we must never forget that our salvation is inseparably connected to Christian responsibility and therefore strive to set a good example for others.

Prayer: Lord, help me to consider what I might do to when I see others who may be having a difficult time with life. Open my eyes to see, my hands to serve and my prayers to support those for whom You died. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture: 1 Corinthians 10:24 Let no one seek his own, but each one the other’s well-being.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Is It Knowing Or Is It Doing?

A young salesman saw a farmer sitting on his porch. He sat down next to him and began to talk excitedly.

“This book,” said the salesman, “will tell you everything you need to know about farming. It tells you when to plant and when to harvest.”

“Young man,” interrupted the farmer, “those aren’t my problems. I know all there is to know about farming. My problem is in the doing.”

Most of us know more than is necessary to begin serving our Lord with enthusiasm. We sit comfortably and quietly Sunday after Sunday listening and learning. But when it comes to doing, we begin to wonder if we can do what God wants us to do.

Whatever God calls us to do comes with the resources to do it. When we trust in Him, believe in His power and understand His presence within us, all that remains for us is “the doing.”

As in farming, so in living a Christ-exalting life. God’s Guidebook, the Bible, tells us what to believe and how to behave, when to reach out and when to reach up.

If there are times when we feel unable or unworthy, inadequate or incomplete it may be His Spirit suggesting that we have gone beyond what He would have us to do. He does not expect us to do everything. But He does expect us to do something!

God has a purpose and plan for each of us. Jesus said, “If you know what to do, blessed and happy are you if you practice them!”

Prayer: Lord, all around me are people who are hurting and hopeless, in danger and distress. Open my eyes to see them and my ears to hear their cry. Amen.

Scripture: John 13:17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Tested To Triumph

When I was a boy, my mother arranged for me to take violin lessons.

Each year my teacher would schedule concerts for his students. He saw it as an opportunity to encourage and challenge them to do their best.

On one occasion my teacher said, “Please hand me your violin. I want to teach you how to make it beautiful.” I watched as he brought a shine to the fine wood. Then he said, “If you leave it overnight, I will put new strings on it so it will sound as beautiful as it looks. You will be proud to play before the crowd.”

The next day I went to his studio, picked up the violin and began to play it. What a difference the new strings made. Over time, the old strings had lost their strength and could not bring to life the music that was in the instrument.

Years later while going through a difficult time in my life, my mother said to me, “Do you remember the time when your violin teacher tested the strings and decided that they needed to be replaced? This difficult time is the Lord testing you so that you will become a more beautiful and useful Christian.”

Peter said that we will have to suffer all kinds of trials if our faith is to become genuine and result in our praising and honoring God.

Prayer: We thank You, Father, that You love us enough to test us to bring out the best in us. Increase our trust in You, knowing that someday we will become complete in You. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Scripture: 1 Peter 5:7 casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

"That's Jesus Knocking!"

There was a nurse on the children’s ward who enjoyed letting the children listen to their hearts through a stethoscope.

On one occasion she put the ends of a stethoscope into the ears of a small boy and placed the disc over his heart and asked, “What do you hear?”

“It’s Jesus knocking!” he said.

One cannot help but wonder if a faithful Sunday school teacher taught him about Jesus standing at the door of our hearts and asking to be admitted into our lives. And what a staggering thought that is: the creator of the universe and all that man has or ever will discover is knocking gently, hoping earnestly that we will willingly enter into a loving relationship with Him that will last through eternity.

Often we do not hear Him “knocking” on our heart’s door. We become insensitive and indifferent to the many ways He tries to enter our lives. It is easy to go days without reading His Word. Without realizing what is happening we can fill the hours of the day without stopping to worship or praise Him. We might even forget to pray unless there is an emergency.

But it does not matter to Him. He stands there as though ours was the only heart in the world and He will stand there as long as He can, waiting for us to invite Him in.

Prayer: Thank You, Father, for Your patience and persistence, Your longing to come into our hearts and control our lives. Help us to recognize Your presence and open the door to Your salvation. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture: Revelation 3:20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Is It Money Or Is It The Man?

A famous violinist was scheduled for a concert in Houston, Texas. It was announced that he would perform using a violin crafted by Stradivarius that cost thousands of dollars.

At the end of the concert, he took the violin and smashed it to pieces. The crowd was stunned.

Calmly he said, “This is not the Stradivarius. I purchased it last night for $98.00. It was not the quality of the instrument that made the beautiful music, but the quality of the musician.”

When writing to the Christians in Rome, Paul urged them to “present” their entire beings as a living and holy sacrifice to God. To Paul it was completely reasonable because of Christ’s sacrifice for them!

There are times when all of us think that God cannot use us because the tasks we face are so large and we seem so small. That is true. Unless we willingly give all that we are and have to God, we cannot be the person He desires us to be or do the things that He has planned for us.

God wants us to be like the clay in the hands of a potter – clay that He can shape as He sees best for His use. God wants us to be holy and wholly surrender to Him for His service. Peter says it best, “Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He way exalt you at the proper time.”

Prayer: Father, I ask that Your Holy Spirit will reveal to me the parts of my life that I choose to keep for myself, and through Him, convict me to do whatever it takes to surrender my life completely to You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture: Romans 12:1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. (NIV)

Friday, November 5, 2010

A Name Or A Number?

A census worker was asking a mother some routine questions. Eventually came the question, “How many children do you have?”

“Well,” she began, “there’s Mary, Kenneth, Martha and...”

“Never mind the names,” interrupted the worker, “just the number.”

She protested quickly, “They’ve got names, they’re more than just numbers.”

In the time in which Jesus lived, it was common for families to keep their flocks of sheep in a common sheepfold. Each morning the shepherd would call his sheep to “come follow me.” Each shepherd had a peculiar tone, range of notes or sounds that alerted his sheep to follow him. The sheep knew their master’s voice and the master knew which sheep were his. Each flock had a personal relationship with their shepherd and responded to his call. It may have been a call for a feast of good grass and cool water or a time to gather close because of a dangerous situation. He cared so much for them that he would lay down his life to protect them.

No wonder Jesus referred to Himself as the Good Shepherd. Wherever we look we see numbers that represent something. But whenever Jesus looks for us or at us, He knows us by our name and calls us by that name – the name He has written in the Book of Life!

Prayer: Father, it is so comforting to know that no matter how insignificant I may feel, You know who I am, where I am and what I need. May I always be listening for Your voice and respond when You call. Amen.

Scripture: John 10:3 The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. (NIV)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

What Are Your Orders, Sir?

Sir Henry Shackelton was a world famous explorer of the Antarctic. As he was completing the plans for his last expedition, he began to advertise his final journey around the world.

Asked a friend, “Why so much publicity?”

“My friend and colleague, Mr. Wild, has traveled to the deepest, darkest part of Africa,” came the reply. “He left no address, no contact. I wanted the news to reach him. If he knows that I am going, he’ll come with me.”

Shortly after making that statement, his secretary announced, “Wild is here!”

Wild said, “News of your trip reached me in the heart of Africa. Here I am. What are your orders?”

Many years ago there was a great need for people to hear God’s message. It was a time of great moral and spiritual decay. There was one individual who was well established in a respectable career. One day he heard a voice speaking clearly and with compassion. He realized his sinfulness and felt his inadequacy. But he said, “I have seen the King, the Lord almighty.” And after God cleansed him, he heard God’s call and responded by saying, “Lord, I’ll go, send me.”

God is calling on each of us to join Him in a journey to reach those whom He loves and died for – if we will.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, cleanse our hearts, open our ears, and put within us an attitude of willingness to hear Your voice and to willingly follow You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture: Isaiah 6:8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!” (NIV)

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Why Not Surprise Me?

A New Yorker bought a burial plot near his home in New York. Tired of the cold, stormy winters, he moved to Florida to retire. Not long after his move, he bought another burial plot.

He became very ill and was told he would not live much longer. His friends, knowing of the two plots asked, “Where do you want to be buried – here or New York?”

In his anguish, he smiled and said, “Surprise me!”

Life is full of surprises – but death is not one of them. Each time we learn of a friend’s death, read the obituaries, attend a funeral, pass a cemetery or watch the news, we are reminded of the uncertainties of life and the reality of death.

God’s Word states that “man is appointed once to die, then comes judgment.” We can be sure of two things: death and judgment. And we can prepare for both. How? By making arrangements with Him in advance.

The Bible says, “Now is the acceptable time, now is the day of salvation!”

We must first make sure of our salvation and then reach out to those around us – our family and friends – and bring them to Christ. No surprise is the best surprise!

Prayer: Heavenly Father, we thank You for the assurance of salvation and the promise of eternity with You. Convict us to bring others to You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture: Hebrews 9:27 "Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment." (NIV)

Monday, November 1, 2010

Setting Men Free

A homeless man was arrested in Holland for sleeping in a cemetery. He dug a hole underneath a tombstone and began to live there. When discovered, he was jailed.

The Bible tells of a man who lived among the tombs in Gadara. Day and night he roamed the graves screaming and slashing himself with sharp stones. Fearing the man, the citizens sought to solve the problem by binding him in chains. All attempts failed.

When Jesus saw the man He wanted to free him from the control of the demons. It was the goal of the demons to control the man. It was the goal of Jesus to free the man from sin and Satan’s control. The demons had power over the man but not over Jesus.

It was true then, it is true today. Jesus wants to set us free from the control of Satan and the destruction that he brings into our lives. After the man was set free, the people noticed the change in his life. We are told that he was “fully clothed and completely sane.”

When Christ comes into our lives there will be changes, too. Our lives will reflect the grace and glory of God as we worship, witness and win others to Him.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, we ask that You change our minds and our hearts and bring salvation to our lives through Christ Who can save us from Satan. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Scripture: Mark 5:1-15