Friday, December 30, 2011

Strength For The Journey

“Why are you sitting there just staring off into space?” one friend asked another.

“Well, this year has been awful. It’s the worst year that I can ever remember. Nothing’s gone right and it seems that everything’s gone wrong. So I’m trying to figure out what was the worst thing that happened. But there’s too much competition for first place.”

Call them what you will: Misfortunes or mishaps, troubles or trials, adversities or afflictions. They are part of all of our lives and no one is immune to them.

But some seem to get through them, over them or around them better than others. Does their strength come from a superior source? Do they have a resource to call upon that is unavailable to the rest of us?

There is a story of the men of Judah standing before the Lord with their little ones. Suddenly, the spirit of the Lord came on one of the men. The message that came to him to give to the others was simple: “Do not be afraid. Do not be discouraged. Go out there tomorrow, for the Lord is with you!”

All Christians have God’s Spirit in them Who can work through them. If we stand firm in our faith and ask for God’s help, He will fight the battle for us and triumph.

Prayer: Lord, when adversity tries to stare us down, may we look up to you to save and sustain us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: 2 Chronicles 20:13-17 Thus says the LORD to you: ‘Do not be afraid nor dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God’s. (Read more...)

Thursday, December 29, 2011

With God, All Things...

During a family conference, one small son was confused. He did not fully understand the discussion, so in his innocence he asked, “What’s going on here?”

Might that same question have been on Mary’s mind and in her heart as she looked at the Baby Jesus? Could she completely understand all that God had in His plan for her son, herself and Joseph? Perhaps as she looked in the face of her child, she was filled with questions. No doubt she knew the Scriptures of the Old Testament and was able to catch a glimpse of God at work. Surely she had a faith that would surpass that of most. Indeed her trust was larger than life. But for her to know what God was planning was something that would have been humanly impossible.

Certainly the question, “What’s going on here” would have surfaced. We can begin with the fact of a virgin giving birth to a child, let alone the Messiah, that had been promised and long awaited. But it happened when God was ready for it to happen, as He planned it.

As we come to the end of this year and look forward to the one that is fast approaching, let’s pause and review our “impossibilities” that are now miraculous events exposing God’s power and plan in our lives.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, give us the faith we lack to see Your presence and protection at work in our lives. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Luke 1:37 For with God nothing will be impossible.”

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

When Heaven Came Down

A little girl took her first elevator ride with her father. When they arrived at the top floor, he asked, “What did you think of that? Did you like it?”

“I don’t know, Daddy,” she replied. “It was kind of funny. We got into this little house, and then the upstairs came down.”

An amusing little story, isn’t it? But that’s exactly what happened when God sent His Son into the world. God sent His Son into the world to give us life and light, hope and healing, grace and goodness.

We are expected to do the same through Him. We are to take the message of salvation to others, light up the dark pathways of those who are still blinded by sin, give hope to those who are unable to see past their problems, show grace to those who are burdened beyond measure and demonstrate goodness to those who are in need by sharing our possessions with them.

It is not enough that we know God’s “Golden Rule.” He expects us to live it every day of our lives.

Prayer: Help me, Dear Jesus, to live as You lived and do as You did that I might give to others what You gave to me. May I take a little bit of heaven to others because You brought all of heaven to me. In Your Name. Amen.

Scripture for Today: John 10:9-18 I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. (Read more…)

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Receiving And Believing

God works in an unusual way. Before we can ever receive anything from Him, we must believe in His power and ability to do what He says He is capable of doing.

An excellent example of this is God speaking to Mary, the Mother of Jesus. Initially, when the angel spoke to her about a special assignment from God, Mary had a difficult time believing what was happening or in accepting the responsibility God had for her. But she finally said, “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as You have said.”

This is always the way God works in us and through us. We can never see everything that He has planned for us. It may appear to be too overpowering, too difficult, too threatening or too impossible. It may seem foolish, impractical, unwise or unrealistic. But God always works in unseen and unheard of ways.

Mary could never have imagined the angels that would protect her, the shepherds that would visit her, the Magi that would honor her, the gifts that were presented to her, the escape that was provided for her or the Voice that spoke to her, nor the Son that God gave to her to become our Savior.

Nor can we ever imagine all that God has for us.

Prayer: Father, give us a faith that exceeds our limited sight and a trust that believes the impossible. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Luke 1:46 And Mary said: “My soul magnifies the Lord, (Read more…)

Monday, December 26, 2011

A Gift Worth Receiving

“Mommy,” asked a small child, “how long did Baby Jesus stay in the manger?”

Puzzled, the mother answered. “Not too long, I would imagine.”

Unfortunately, there are far too many individuals who leave Jesus in the stable, seeing His birth as an end, not the beginning. Not everyone realizes that this day is the day that the journey to the cross actually began on earth. This One who was born on this day of days is often left wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. It seems that many have no understanding of the spiritual significance or importance of Christmas.

But for those of us who accept and acknowledge Christ as our Savior, we rejoice and say with the Apostle Paul, “Thank God for His Son – a gift too wonderful to describe!”

This Gift is the gift of God Himself: His only begotten Son. It is the source of His grace, the expression of His mercy, the revelation of His plan, the meaning of His purpose, the passion of His love, the assurance of His presence and the provision for our salvation. He knew what we needed then and what we need now. In Him we have faith to fight our fears and hope for a life in His presence. “Too wonderful” indeed.

Prayer: Thank You, Father, for this Gift we do not deserve, but could not live without. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: 2 Corinthians 9:15 Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Politics And Promises

A boy climbed into Santa’s lap and asked, “Sir, aren’t you really a politician?”

“No!” he protested. “Why do you ask?”

“Well,” he said, “you make more promises than you can deliver.”

Promises are a big part of everyone’s life. People give us their word that we can count on what they have said, that their promise “can be taken to the bank,” only to forget what they said or change their mind. Most people do intend to keep their word. But then again, intentions only last, for many, until something more convenient or better comes along.

That’s not the way it is with God. We have His record of faithfulness, of keeping His word throughout all of Scripture. What He declares, He does. What He promises, He delivers. What He says comes to pass.

In creation we see the absolute power of God. How reassuring for the Christian. Beginning at the beginning, from the initiation of time until today, God has never wavered on His word. God’s promises are anchored in His unchanging character and steadfast love. If this were not true what assurance would we have of our salvation or the hope we have for eternal life with our Lord?
There is nothing too big for Him to manage or too small to escape His attention. We have His Word that assures us of His promise: “I have said it, I will do it.”

Prayer: Father, we are grateful for Your Word that reveals Your record made and kept. How reassuring to know we have Someone we can trust with our lives. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Isaiah 46:11 What I have said, that I will bring about; what I have planned, that I will do. (Read more...)

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A Cheerful Giver

A lady said to a beggar, “Here’s a quarter. You don’t deserve it, but it will make me happy to give it to you!”

“Thanks, ma’am,” he said. “Why not make it few dollars and really enjoy yourself?”
Giving is an important theme in the Bible. It begins in the heart of God. We read about the abundant gifts He gave His people. It continues in the work of Jesus as He went about healing the sick and feeding the hungry. We see His supreme gift when He gave His life on the cross: the gift of love, life and eternity with Him. The gifts of God and His Son are priceless – life giving and life sustaining.

Paul reminds us that we are not to “give reluctantly or in response to pressure. For God loves a person who gives cheerfully. And God will generously provide all you need and plenty left over to share with others.”

The Lord has given us two hands: one for receiving and one for giving. The question is not “What can I spare?” but, “What can I share?”

Prayer: Father, without Your love, grace and mercy, we would have nothing. Often we focus on what we have rather than what You have given us. May we realize that we receive to give. When we give, we show Your love: in Christ’s Name. Amen.

Scripture for Today: 2 Corinthians 9:7-9 Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. (Read more…)

Monday, December 19, 2011

God's Love And Our Family

Speaking to a Sunday school class, a pastor asked, “Why do you love God?”

“Because,” answered a young boy, “loving God runs in our family.”

What a wonderful statement to make about his family. What an important goal for every family. But God only “runs” in and with families at the invitation of the family.

Each member of the family must first ask Jesus to be their Savior. Then His Word must be read and remembered, honored and obeyed, followed faithfully and carefully if He is to have His rightful place in the family. Reminders of His presence in the lives of the family will be on display. He will be present at every meal, part of every conversation and readily recognized in the way family members treat one another.

Children learn how they are to behave from their parents. Parents must show love and understanding, care and compassion, patience and thoughtfulness, respect and honor toward each other first and then to each child.

If we expect God’s love to run in our families, we must first “run” with God and become obedient to His Word.

Prayer: Help us, Father, to realize the importance of You always being present in our families. May we recognize our need to depend on You, to honor You and to follow the example of Jesus as we show love for each other: in His name. Amen.

Scripture for Today: Ephesians 6:1-4 Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. (Read more...)

Friday, December 16, 2011

Backache Or Heartache

It had been a particularly difficult day at work. But when Jim got home, he invited his son into the yard to play catch. Looking over the fence, a neighbor called out, “Jim, aren’t you tired from the day’s work?”

“Yes, I am,” he replied.

“Then why don’t you rest?” continued the neighbor.

“I’d rather have a backache tomorrow,” said the dad, “than heartache later on.”

As parents we focus on the present, forgetting that what we do today affects all of our children’s tomorrows. We are concerned with daily events and forget about eternity. We have homework on the refrigerator, photos on every table and clothes for every occasion. Yet what we do is far more important than how things look.

In The Message the words of Paul are translated this way: “Take them by the hand and lead them in the way of the Master.” (Ephesians 6:4)

If our children do not get attention from us, they will get it from someone else. If we are not available for them, someone else will be. If we are too busy, someone else will make time available for them.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, help me to be the kind of parent You want me to be. May I love my children as You love me, guard them as You guard me, protect them as You protect me and lead them into life everlasting. Amen.

Scripture for Today: Ephesians 6:1-10 Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. (Read more...)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

How To Start Each Day

What is the first thing you do each morning? The author of Pilgrim’s Progress said that “He who runs from God in the morning will scarcely find Him the rest of the day.” It is important that we go into the presence of God before we go into the presence of men.

A woman attended a concert and realized the next morning that she has lost a diamond earring the night before. She called the manager of the auditorium and asked if it had been found. He said, “If you stay on the line, I’ll check.” A search was made and the diamond found. When he returned to the phone, the woman had hung up. How like many of us when we pray. We do not expect anything to happen when we pray so we give up on God.

David said, “In the morning will I direct my prayer unto Thee and will look up.” He was saying, “I will pray and then I will wait for answers and directions.” If we begin every day with God, we will end up with His blessings!

Prayer: Lord, when I begin my day I know it is important to ask for Your guidance and grace and to seek wisdom from Your Word. May I look to You for Your wisdom in every decision I make and direction in every path I take. In Your Name. Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 5:3 In the morning, LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

I Have To Give It Up!

It was the worst game of golf he had ever played. As he missed his putt on the final green, he flew into a terrible tantrum, screaming and swearing and flailing his arms. Beating his putter on the grass, he cried, “I have to give it up!”

“Give up golf?” asked the caddy in disbelief.

“No,” snapped the golfer, “my ministry. The church is taking up too much of my time. Those people expect too much of me and always expect me to take care of them.”

Pure and simply, time is a special gift. It is a commodity that, once used in one way or another, can never be retrieved. Once gone, it is forever lost. One expert on time put it this way: “Time is life. It is irreversible and irreplaceable. To waste your time is to waste your life. To master your time is to master your life and make the most of it.”

We must always begin each day with God in a time of worship – prayer, Scripture reading, meditating on His Word and recognizing His role in leading us. If we make Him our first priority and focus on Him throughout the day, we can trust Him to direct our paths.

Prayer: Help me, Lord, to not only do things right, but to do the right things in the right way, at the right time. I surrender my time to You and ask that You help me to use it wisely, for Jesus’ sake, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Romans 8:37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

Monday, December 12, 2011

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 that 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 Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Stay Home And Keep Them

A man once said to Mark Twain, “It is my deepest desire to go to the mount where God gave Moses the Ten Commandments and recite them there!” Puzzled, Mark Twain asked, “Don’t you think it would be better to stay at home and try to keep them there?”

The Lord did not give us the Ten Commandments to review, but to reveal; not to look at but to live; not to admire but to acknowledge in the way we behave.

There are many who say one thing with their lips but show another thing with their lives. There are those who say the right things but live the wrong way. And there are some who speak the language of faith but give no evidence of it in their lives. The proof of our faith is not our words but in our works.

Some say, “I am a Christian” but if they are watched closely, there is no evidence of Christ in their lives. We are reminded by James that we are not only to be hearers of the Word, but doers of the Word. A good place to start “doing” is at home.

Prayer: Father, help me to follow the directions for living that I find in Your Word. Do not allow me to deceive myself into thinking that I am acting on Your behalf when my behavior does not reflect what Your Word tells me to do: in Your Name. Amen.

Scripture for Today: James 1:22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

My One And Only Love

A shopper once said to a sales associate, “I want the most beautiful gold heart that you have in your store on the finest gold chain available for my fiance.”

After considering many different choices, he made his decision, and said, “I’ll take that one.”

“Shall I inscribe her name on it?” asked the sales associate.

“Oh no!” came the instant reply. “If we break up, I would like to use it again.”

How different is God’s love. We hear it in the words of Jesus when He said, “I have loved you with an everlasting love.” How comforting it is to know that God’s love is permanent. How fortunate we are to know that God’s love is guaranteed by His Word. How wonderful it is to know that God’s love is for everyone. And finally, how grateful we are to know that His love makes our salvation through Jesus Christ possible.

Prayer: Help us, Father, to understand how much You love us. May those who read this “Seed” come to know You and accept Your Son as their Savior and love Him because He first loved us and gave Himself for us. Amen.

Scripture for Today: 1 John 4:11-12 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Not Good Enough!

His old bicycle was worn out. He begged his dad for a new one.

Finally it was his birthday. When he came home from school that afternoon, he discovered a beautiful new bicycle in the garage. With great excitement he rode down the street to show it to his best friend.

Soon he returned home and waited for his father. When his dad arrived, he began to cry, “George got a new bike, too. It has a light on the handlebar. It’s better than mine.”

Jealousy! It begins at birth, rages in most hearts, and for some, lasts a lifetime.

In the Bible “jealousy” is sometimes described as the opposite of love and thankfulness and the enemy of gratitude.

It is the “attitude of gratitude” that exposes our faith in God. Often we only feel secure in what we have, not Whom we have, Jesus Christ. When times are good, bank accounts secure, the economy flourishing, and jobs secure, we rarely notice what others have.

As Christians we need to look at our lives through God’s eyes. Looking at our lives through His eyes may enable us to find joy in the smallest event, happiness in the smile of a child, satisfaction in a job well done.

Embracing our lives just as they are and being thankful for what we have will enable us to give up the struggle to acquire what we want but do not need. Where we are and what we have is exactly the way things are to be. Rejoice and be thankful!

Prayer: Help me, Lord to accept all that I have as gifts of Your goodness, especially my salvation. Remove jealousy from my heart and envy from my mind. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Philippians 4:11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

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, and spend time alone meditating and reading their Bibles or labor on their farm. Curious about the nature of 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 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’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: 1 Peter 5:6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time

Monday, December 5, 2011

S-t-r-e-t-c-h!

Rubber bands appear worthless until they are stretched. They remain quiet but ready. They come in different sizes and shapes waiting for various types of assignments. Some are thick, some are thin, some are small and some are large. All are designed for specific uses. However, a rubber band is worthless until it is stretched to its limit. Then it will hold things together, keep things orderly and bring chaos under control.

We cannot accomplish God’s purpose without stretching. When we bear one another’s burden, help someone solve a problem that is beyond their capabilities, wipe away a tear from a saddened eye, give a cup of cold water to a thirsty traveler, we are showing the kindness and grace of God.

Each day we need to stretch our minds and learn something new about our Lord, His Word, His world and His ways. If we remain as we are, we fail to grow into His likeness and the future He has for us.

We also need to stretch our bodies and bring them under God’s control. The stronger we are physically, the more we can do spiritually. An out-of-control body reflects an out-of-control life. God expects us to do the best we can with what He gives us.

Prayer: Help us, Father, to take what You have given us and stretch it to the limits of our potential. May we never be satisfied with who we are until we become who You have intended us to become in worship and service. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: 2 Timothy 3:14-17 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God[a] may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (Read more...)

Friday, December 2, 2011

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’s 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.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Best Medicine Is Love

A country doctor said, “I’ve been practicing medicine for over 30 years. During all those years I have prescribed many different things. But in the long run, I’ve learned that for most of what ails the human condition, the best medicine is love!”

“But,” asked a student, “what if it does not work?”

“Double the dose,” came the quick reply.

Many have said that love is the greatest medicine in the world. It can do more to heal the sick than most medicines. It is holding someone’s hand, shedding a tear with a broken heart, sitting quietly beside someone who is grieving.

Love is not an emotion that is based on a passing feeling. It comes from a compassionate heart that has experienced the conversion that God has provided for us through His Son. Love is something that is born of God and given by God.

Love is a gift. Take it and let it grow.

Love is a sign. Wear it and let it show.

Love is an act. Do it and let it go.

Prayer: Fill our hearts, Father, with Your love. May we overcome selfishness by living lives of service as Your Son, our Savior did. In His name. Amen.

Scripture for Today: 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. (Read more…)

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

What Really Matters!

Andrew Bradford was an early American printer in colonial Philadelphia. In fact, he printed the first newspaper in Pennsylvania in 1729. He also had the contract for all of the public printing in the state.

One day the governor delivered an important speech and Bradford printed it in his newspaper. It contained several mistakes. A young printer saw the poor work and decided to reprint it with care and precision and make it an excellent presentation of his workmanship. He then mailed a copy of it to the governor and his co-workers.

The next year when it was time to issue a new contract for state printing, it was awarded to that young printer: Ben Franklin. He received the contract for all of the public printing for the state of Pennsylvania because he understood what really mattered: excellence.

Paul, in writing to the Corinthians, said this: “For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives.” He wanted them to know the difference between right and wrong, good and bad, what was important and what was unimportant, separating the vital from the trivial. He wanted them to have a desire for moral integrity and spiritual discernment. He wanted them to understand the importance of living their Christian values because what they did and how they behaved reflected the importance and meaning of salvation. Their lives were a reflection of what being a Christian was all about.

Paul also prayed that they would keep growing in knowledge and understanding which is the foundation for discernment. It is discernment to make the right choices.

Prayer: Lord, we pause and pray that we will be pure and blameless in all that we do so that our lives will be an excellent representation of You to those around us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Philippians 1:9-10 And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ,

Monday, November 28, 2011

Boomerang Buddies

Two friends in Australia enjoyed throwing boomerangs together. Over the years they devised various contests to see who was the best. One day, in an act of kindness, one of them gave the other a new boomerang.

When they got back together a short time later, the friend showed up with his old boomerang.

“What happened with the new boomerang I gave you?” he asked. “How does it perform?”

“I don’t know,” came the answer. “I’m still trying to throw this old one away but it keeps coming back!”

The Apostle John wrote, “If we confess our sins to Him, He is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us from every wrong.”

True confession not only involves repentance for our sins but a commitment to Christ not to continue in sin. If we are genuinely sincere when we confess our sins, we will also become conscious of how we live and what we can do to avoid repeating the sins we have committed in the past. The desire to sin can be very much like a boomerang – the temptation to go back to our sins of the past comes back again and again.

It may be that when we confess our sins, we lack a certain sense of sincerity or genuineness. Perhaps there is such an attractiveness or appeal to some sins that our desire to truly repent and give them up is only half-hearted and insincere.

God knows our minds and the desires of our hearts. If we truly want victory over sin and are anxious to flee every temptation that lead to sin, we must commit ourselves completely to Christ and pray for His strength to guide, guard, protect and empower us.

Prayer: Give us Your strength, Lord, to live close to You and draw upon Your power to defeat temptation the next time, and every time, we face it. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: 1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Give Thanks In All Things

When four-year-old Sammy awoke after surgery, the nurse explained that it would be necessary for him to be fed intravenously for the next few days.

After assuring him that everything would be fine, she began the process to administer the glucose. Always in the habit of giving thanks before each meal, Sammy asked in a brave and cheerful voice, “Aren’t you going to give thanks?”

It is not easy to give thanks in painful situations. Nor is it natural to see God’s goodness in all of life’s trials and troubles. But the Apostle Paul reminds us to “Be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

When we give thanks, we acknowledge our confidence in the Lord, knowing that He cares for us. When we give thanks, we express our closeness to God, realizing that He is with us in every situation. When we give thanks, we declare that we are willing to accept the counsel of God knowing that His will is being done.

Prayer: Dear Lord, may I learn the grace of giving thanks to You in all of life’s situations. Help me to realize that You are always with me, watching, protecting, providing and guiding me in every area of life. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Scripture for Today: 1 Thessalonians 5:16-23 Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (Read more…)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Where Are You Going?

A lady backed out of her parking place in a large mall during a blizzard and was having a difficult time seeing. A few feet from her car were the blinking lights of a snow plow. She decided to follow it, thinking it would take her safely to the exit.

After a few twists and turns the operator of the snow plow stopped, got out of his warm cab and went to the window of her car and asked, “Where are you going?”

“To the exit,” she answered.

“Well then,” he said, “don’t follow me. I’m only here to plow the parking lot.”

Everyone needs a leader to follow. As Christians, we are blessed to have a Leader who can lead us safely through life – One who knows what is best for us and believes in us and is a faithful encourager. The Christian’s Leader is one who knows our strength and weaknesses and will never call us to do what He knows is beyond our skills, abilities and potential to grow.

Jeremiah said, “For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” The Prophet here is assuring us that God has an individual plan for each of our lives and that it is a good plan and because of that, we can have faith in Him and be filled with hope for our future. Because God has planned our future, He knows what we will need to do what He will call us to do.

This does not mean that we will not have difficult days or trying times, that we will be spared hardships or heartaches. But it does mean that God will see us through pain and sorrow and lead us to victory. We have His promise that He will lead us through the valleys and shadows into His glorious presence.

Prayer: How thankful we are, Lord, that You have a plan that has been designed especially for each of us. May we be faithful to trust and follow You all the days of our lives. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Have A Good Time

Charles Darwin was known to be a chronic complainer. He seemed to enjoy life more when he could find things to gripe about.

One evening he and his wife attended a banquet. He found the food distasteful and the speech dull, the guests boring and the chairs uncomfortable. He could find nothing to enjoy and no one could meet his expectations.

As he and Mrs. Darwin were leaving the gathering, the hostess said apologetically, “I noticed that your husband was upset. We really wanted him to have a good time.”

“Oh my,” said Mrs. Darwin, “he had a wonderful time. He was able to find fault with everything.”

In his letter to the Philippians Paul wrote, “In everything you do, stay away from complaining and arguing.” Good advice!

Complaining and arguing are the behaviors of individuals who are self-centered and self-consumed. It is the exact opposite of how Christians are to live.

It is the responsibility of Christians to advance the Kingdom of God, not their personal goals and desires. Those who know and love Christ are always filled with a sense of their own inadequacy and willingly recognize their need for His mercy and grace.

The fact that we are in Christ should keep us humble and thankful as we recognize all that He has done for us. The more we recognize His greatness and our unworthiness, the less we will find to complain about in others and in things around us. We must be careful, at all times, to guard against being self-centered and self-consumed. It will not only destroy others but us as well.

Prayer: We pray, Lord, for eyes that can see the needs of others, minds that recognize ways we might help others and hearts that are filled with compassion to reach out to help them. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Philippians 2:14 Do all things without complaining and disputing,

Friday, November 18, 2011

It's Part Of The Gift

A new convert to Christianity wanted to show his love for his new found Lord. To do so, he brought a beautiful sea shell to the missionary, John Patton, who led him to Jesus.

“Where did you find such a beautiful prize?” he asked the native.

“I walked many miles,” he answered, “and I crossed a mountain to the bay on the other side of the island.”

“I’m so very sorry,” said the missionary, “that you had to walk so far to get it.”

“The long walk,” said the native, “is part of the gift.”

In Mark’s Gospel we read the heart-gripping story of the poor widow who put all that she had – two pennies – in the collection box in the Temple. Jesus had been watching the people as they presented their gifts. He saw the rich as they gave their large gifts as well as the widow. But it was the gift of the widow that touched the heart of Jesus.

So, He called His disciples together and said, “This poor widow has given more than all of the others. For they gave a tiny portion of their surplus, but she, as poor as she is, has given everything she has.” Her gift was the smallest, but in His eyes it was the largest of all.

The value of the gifts we give to the Lord does not depend on the amount; it depends on the spirit in which it is given. If we give grudgingly or to be recognized, it cancels the real value of our giving. God is always pleased when we give from a heart that is filled with gratitude for the many gifts He has given us. Much more than the size of our gift is the depth of appreciation that we have for His mercy and grace that He so willingly gives us.

Prayer: Lord, may we willingly give to You as You so graciously and mercifully give to us, all that we have or ever will have, because of Your unending love. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Mark 12:41-44 “Assuredly, I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all those who have given to the treasury; for they all put in out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all that she had, her whole livelihood.” (Read more...)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Is There Any Difference?

The citizens of Italy have a unique way of entering into a new year. Beginning with an extravagant display of fireworks, followed by noise making and dancing in the streets, they end up the celebration by getting rid of the old and embracing the new.

To get rid of the old “stuff” in their lives, they gather all of their worn out clothing, furniture, china, silverware and utensils and throw them out of their windows. It’s dangerous to be outside when the celebration begins!

Paul said that the Christian is to “throw off your old evil nature and your former way of life which is rotten through and through…(and replace it with)…a spiritual renewal of your thoughts and attitudes.”

Our behavior is an outward expression of the thoughts and attitudes that we allow to control our minds. And if people see no difference in our behavior after we say that we have become followers of Christ, there is a problem. When we are born again, we receive a new nature that enables us to become new people in Christ. We now live in and through the power of the Holy Spirit. And if we invest time in studying His Word, in meditating on His truth and talking with Him in prayer, we will be constantly changing and becoming more of who God wants to us be. Our lives will reflect the promise that in Him we can become a new creation.

God begins a process of change in our lives that flows from our heads to our hearts and from our hearts to our lives. But unless we plant new thoughts and ideas in our minds that come from His Word, we cannot expect others to see any difference in our lives. Our old way of life becomes a thing of the past.

Prayer: Convict us, Heavenly Father, of those areas in our lives that fail to reflect our new nature. And may Your Spirit work in us to be who You have called us to be in Christ. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Ephesians 4:20-24 and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness. (Read more…)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Threat Of Talking Too Much

Arthur Rubenstein began playing the piano at the age of three. Before he was five years old, he performed his first concert before a large audience. He went on to become one of the world’s most famous and celebrated pianists.

Once, during his career, he developed a difficult and persistent case of hoarseness, almost losing his voice. The press began to release reports that he had developed cancer. As a result of all that was being said, he decided to consult with a throat specialist.

After a thirty-minute consultation, the doctor shaking his head said, “Come back tomorrow, Mr. Rubenstein.” That frightened the pianist and he spent a sleepless night, tossing and turning.

The next day, after a much longer and more thorough examination, the pianist with a frightened look on his face, asked the doctor, “What’s wrong with me?”

“Nothing,” said the doctor, “except that you talk too much.”

Solomon wisely warned us saying, “Don’t talk too much, for it fosters sin. Be sensible and turn off the flow.”

Talking is natural and normal, but rarely neutral. We all have opinions about nearly everything and almost everyone we know. Even though most of our opinions and observations are accurate, there are times when they may be incorrect. And even though we think that we may be “speaking the truth in love,” our words may be harmful and hateful, bringing damage or destruction to the lives of others. Better not to speak at all than to speak words that can never be erased and bring pain and suffering to others.

Prayer: Lord, “May the words of our mouths and the meditations of our hearts, always be acceptable to You” and therefore helpful to others. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 10:19 In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, But he who restrains his lips is wise.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Indispensible?

Walter Damrosch became a world famous conductor before he was thirty years old. But with his fame came pride. And with his pride, arrogance.

As he rose to a place of prominence in the world of music, he became convinced that no one could take his place. One day while getting ready for a rehearsal, he could not find his baton. Walking to the podium in front of the orchestra, he asked, “Does anyone here have an extra baton?”

Immediately, three men in the orchestra reached into their instrument cases and produced a baton for his use. It was a sobering moment in his life and from that moment on, he never regarded himself as indispensable. He realized he needed help from others.

The Psalmist cried, “He reached down from heaven and rescued me; he drew me out of deep waters.”

David wrote this psalm when he was helpless and weak, tired and tried. He was well aware of the fact that only God could rescue him from the enemies that were about to overcome him. He was defenseless and vulnerable. But not without hope or God’s help.

There are those times in life when we feel that we are in deep waters that are swirling swiftly around us. We stretch out our arms and cry for help but no one seems to be available to take us by the hand and rescue us.

When this happens, we must believe that God can either deliver us in an instant or, perhaps, teach us to depend on Him to support or strengthen us during difficult times in our life. Either way we must learn to trust Him completely believing His way is best.

Prayer: Father, help us to understand that You only want what is best for us and that You will always protect us, hold us close to Your side, and never leave us alone. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 18:16 He sent from above, He took me; He drew me out of many waters.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Available And Helpful

General George Washington came upon a company of soldiers who were building a wall with logs. As they were lifting one of the larger logs, the platoon leader was trying to show his importance to the men and a few bystanders by standing to one side and shouting orders.

“Up with it!” he shouted. “Now push, push, push again,” he commanded. But the log was too heavy and it rolled from its perch.

“What’s wrong with you?” he growled. “Try again, and this time I want to see the log make it to the top!” he screamed.

Just as it was about to fall again, Washington leaped forward and helped them. And with his assistance, they succeeded.

“Why didn’t you help them?” asked Washington.

“I’m a corporal, their leader,” he replied.

“Oh, well I’m only the Commander in Chief,” said the General. “The next time you have a log too heavy for your men, call me.”

The Apostle Paul wrote to the Ephesians and advised them to “be kind to each other...tenderhearted” as was Christ. We see in Him the ultimate picture of what kindness is and what being tenderhearted is all about.

Whenever He saw the sick, He healed them. Whenever He was with the hungry, He fed them. Whenever there was grief, He consoled them. Whenever there was confusion, He pointed the way. Whenever there was doubt, He presented the truth. We see in Jesus the ultimate “help-giver”. Wherever He was, whatever the need, whoever was lacking, He made up the difference.

Prayer: Please, Lord, give us eyes to see, ears to hear and strength to use in meeting the needs of those who cry out for Your grace and mercy in times of distress and difficulty. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Ephesians 4:32 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Needed: Assistants Not Advisors

In a famous Peanuts cartoon, Lucy is shouting from the outfield to Charlie Brown who was pitching, “Let’s win this one for a change, Charlie Brown!”

When he threw the next pitch, the batter hit the ball toward Lucy. Standing there, she watched the ball bounce and made no attempt to catch it.

In desperation Charlie Brown shouted, “If you are interested in winning, Lucy, why didn’t you try to catch the ball?”

“My role is strictly advisory,” she replied.

In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul spoke sternly about roles. “My job was to plant the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but God gave the increase.”

Paul filled many roles in the early church. He was an evangelist, missionary, church-founder, author, educator and mentor to many of the leaders following Pentecost. What he did, he did well. But he knew that he could not do it all. He recognized the need for others to come alongside him and bring to completion the work that he started. It was the responsibility of Apollos to water the seed that Paul planted and to help the believers to grow stronger in their new found faith – to build on the foundation that Paul established.

We recognize the fact that God brings about the growth in Christians, but it involves many different individuals with a variety of gifts and talents to complete the process. Many Christians want to suggest to others what they should do. Few want to serve and share in expanding His Kingdom.

When we face our Lord we will not be asked, “Who have you directed?” but “What have you done?”

Prayer: Help us, Heavenly Father, to turn our saving faith into serving love by accepting our responsibilities to do what we are called to do whether planting, watering or weeding. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: 1 Corinthians 3:6-9 Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor. (Read more…)

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Seeing What Is Not Seen

When Michelangelo was a young boy and determined to become an artisan, he went to visit a sculptor. Knowing of his interest in bringing objects to life, the artist gave him a young man half chiseled out of marble. For years he kept the object by his side and looked forward to the day when he would be able to free figures from stone.

Jesus possessed the ability to see what men and women could become. In John’s Gospel the story of Andrew bringing Simon to Jesus reflects this ability. “When Andrew brought Simon to meet Jesus, looking intently at Simon, Jesus said ‘You are Simon, the son of John – but you will be called Cephas, which means Peter.’”

In this intriguing story, Jesus looked at Simon and saw his potential – who he could and who he would become. That is precisely why He gave him a new name which meant Peter – which in Greek meant “Rock.”

Throughout the Gospels, Peter is not portrayed as being one who is “rock-solid” – an immovable object that would make a foundation safe and secure. But over time, as he grew in His faith and did the work of his Lord, he did become a solid rock for the faith that was established in the early church. By giving him such a significant name, Jesus introduced him to the person he would become by the grace of God.

What Peter became through the grace of God is what each of us can become. Peter tried and failed but he did not give up. He denied Jesus and turned his back on Him but he did not leave Him. Though he faltered and failed, he was one who never failed to follow Jesus and eventually become who God wanted him to be.

Prayer: Lord, we admit that we often fail in being and doing what You have planned for us. But give us a heart-desire to never leave You nor forsake You as we struggle to please You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: John 1:40-42 Now when Jesus looked at him, He said, “You are Simon the son of Jonah. You shall be called Cephas” (which is translated, A Stone). (Read more...)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

A Life Long Decision

One Sunday morning, Stuart Henry, Director of Graduate Studies in Religion at Duke University, met one of his students who was walking on the sidewalk toward him.

Professor,” asked the student, “did you decide to go to church this morning?”

“No,” he answered, “I didn’t make the decision to go to church this morning. I made it fifty years ago when I first became a Christian. It is never a decision of whether or not I’ll go to church, but where I’ll go to church wherever I am.”

Paul, writing to the Christians in Rome said, “let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will know what God wants you to do!”

What a challenge to Christians! God wants to transform us into new persons by changing the way we think. He begins this process of renewal when we surrender our will completely to Him to do what He would have us to do. Certainly, if God has a plan for the universe, He must have a unique plan for each of us – for we are His children through the work of His Son on the cross.

If there is no change in our lives and if our behavior is no different from the worldly behavior of the unsaved, we have not allowed the Holy Spirit to renew our minds. We know that our minds have been renewed when Godly thoughts seep down into our hearts and we refuse to conform to the world’s values and standards. We become different by the choices we make and the choices we make reflect the goodness and grace of God. We are willing to lay aside our desires and follow Him. We gladly put all of our energy and gifts at His disposal and became willing to sacrifice our lives to His will and our ways to His way. This act of surrender arises from the gratitude we have for His salvation.

Prayer: We pray, Heavenly Father, that we will allow Your Holy Spirit to renew our minds and redirect our lives to reflect the transformation that You brought to our hearts. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Romans 12:1-2 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Light At The End

Not far from my home was a lengthy covered bridge. My first visit was a frightening experience. Before we drove through the bridge my uncle stopped just inside of the entrance. Looking behind me I saw the large opening and the glowing sunlight. But when I looked before me, I said, “Look out, Uncle Ed. You can drive in but you won’t be able to get out because the hole at the other end is too small for the car.”

I soon discovered that I was wrong. When we drove out of the bridge, the “hole” at the end of the bridge was bigger than I thought it was and the problem was solved.

Sometimes life is like that. The “little hole” we look through may seem small and insufficient for our passage. The darkness surrounds us and the light is not bright enough for us to see our way clear. Doubts and fears overwhelm us.

Yet as we face the fears and doubts, with the Lord’s help, we can get through them. As we read in Proverbs, “The way of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, which shines ever brighter until the full light of day.”

In the Bible, light stands for wisdom and righteousness. When we are surrounded by darkness and there is little light to give us a sense of where God is leading us, we must stand fast and trust in His wisdom and know that because of His righteousness we are safe. As we learn to trust in His Word, we will gain confidence in Him and the journey He has prepared for us. We will learn that where He is leading us and what He is doing with us and through us is in keeping with His will for us. Although it may be difficult for us to believe that the “full light of day” is coming, we have the promises in His Word that it will.

Prayer: Give us the faith, Father, to believe that we are safe and secure as long as we trust in You and follow the directions You have given us in Your Word to follow in our lives. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 4:18 But the path of the just is like the shining sun, That shines ever brighter unto the perfect day.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Look For The Weak Spot

A stonecutter said to his apprentice, “Watch as I break this large stone.” He then began to tap it gently in different places.

The apprentice said impatiently, “Give me the hammer and chisel. I can hit it harder.”

“Oh, I can, too,” came the reply, “but I’m looking for a weak spot.”

Suddenly the teacher found it. Hitting it with force, he broke the stone with one stroke.

That’s the way the devil works: he looks for our weak spot and then attacks us. We rarely realize that we are under constant and viscous attacks by the forces of evil to get us to give in to temptation and sin.

If we are to be successful and withstand his attacks, we must depend on God’s strength and use every piece of His armor.

Paul said that we are to “Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies and tricks of the devil.”

Paul reminds us that we are not fighting against “flesh and blood” but against demons over whom Satan has control. And these demons are not something that exist in our fantasies, but they are very real. As Christians we must realize that the goal of the demons is to defeat us and destroy the church. We must be ever vigilant and realize that they will do anything and everything to find our “weak spot” and lead us back to sin. We are assured that victory can be ours but we will be in this struggle until Christ returns.

To be victors in this battle, we need the supernatural power of Christ to defeat Satan. This power is available to us through the Holy Spirit who dwells within us and will protect us.

Prayer: We pray, Savior, that when we are tempted and tried that we will call upon You for Your strength knowing that “all the powers of hell will not conquer Your church.” In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Ephesians 6:10-18 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. (Read more…)

Friday, November 4, 2011

Defeating Denial

It was a hard-fought football game and a tough loss for the home team. Following the game a father asked his son, “Why did your team lose?”

“Well, Dad,” he answered, “the other team found a hole in our line and took advantage of it.”

“Why didn’t you close the hole?” asked the father.

“I tried, Dad,” he explained, “but I just couldn’t do it. I wasn’t strong enough.”

It is much easier to blame others for our failures than to admit that we may be the cause of a problem. That is called denial. But denial only keeps the problem going and the solution beyond our reach. Once we can admit “what is,” with God’s help we can deal with everything that He brings into our lives.

If we are able to admit that we have failed at anything or something large or small, whether it occurred yesterday or today, we can begin to learn from our experiences. And from our experiences comes insight; from insight comes wisdom; from wisdom comes learning; and from learning comes the lessons that we can apply to all of the opportunities that God brings into our lives.

Paul said that “I can do everything with the help of Christ who gives me the strength I need.” Whatever God brings into our lives is His will. And the strength we need to face and be victorious over anything and everything that He brings to us, will come from Him and our commitment to doing it. We cannot expect His strength to subdue things that do not concern Him or are not in His will for our lives. But if we are doing what He would have us to do, the victory will come from Him.

Prayer: Help us, Father, to look to You for the strength we need to do what You would have us to do and to be willing to give You the credit for our success. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Men Of God - Where Are You?

The president of a large corporation was so challenged and inspired after he read the book, Men Of God, that he called the local book store to order 375 copies for his key leaders. After explaining his request for the books, the sales associate said, “I’m sorry, but we don’t have 375 Men Of God in Chicago, why don’t you try Detroit.”

How do we recognize these so called Men Of God? Who are they and where can we find them? Paul wrote to Timothy that God gave us His inspired Word that “is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It straightens us out and teaches us to do what is right.” Because the whole Bible contains God’s specific directions to lead and guide those who would become “men of God,” it is to be read, studied and applied to one’s life everyday. It is the standard for our conduct and will provide us with the guidance and direction we need to show the world God’s love, salvation and hope. It is the only source of instruction for what God wants us to do.

In the Bible we will discover what is true, what is right, what is just and what is required of both men and women of God. In it we will find the strength to do what He wants us to do and the truth that will give us the courage and confidence we need to be His disciples and witness His love, grace, mercy and salvation to others. Through its teaching we will find light for our paths and guidance for decisions, insight for our problems and hope when we cannot see beyond our moments of despair.

If we choose to commit ourselves to become “men and women of God,” we will find everything we need to know about the journey in His Word. And when we begin, He will be with us!

Prayer: Lord, may we strive to become men and women of God through a life of surrender and service to You and those for whom You died. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: 2 Timothy 3:16-17 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Give To Receive

GIVE TO RECEIVE

It was Jayne’s turn to return thanks before the evening meal. With all heads bowed, eyes closed and hands joined for prayer, the inquisitive five-year old said, “Thank you Lord, for the potatoes!”

“Potatoes?” exclaimed her father. “We’re not having potatoes, we’re having pizza!”

“I know, Dad,” came the response. “I was just wondering if God was listening to me.”

Peter reminds us to “Give all our worries and cares to God, for He cares what happens to us.” We often, without thinking, become overwhelmed with the issues and problems of life, forgetting that God is always available whenever we call upon Him. When we labor under the stress and strain of life, neglecting to call upon the Lord, we are admitting that we do not trust God or perhaps even convince ourselves that God is not interested in our well-being. Or could it be that we are so proud that we think we can handle life by ourselves?

Going to God with the cares, small and large, begins with humility and is followed by honesty. To admit that we need God’s help in the everyday issues reveals our need for His guidance and our desire for Him to be a vital part of everything in our lives. Humility expresses our need for Him and honesty demonstrates that we choose not to try to hide anything from Him. Humility bows before Him and honesty opens our heart to Him and allows us to admit our faults and failures and our need for His grace.

Prayer: We know, Father, that what concerns us concerns You because we are Your children. May we open our hearts in love and with trust, knowing You are there to help us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Weather Master

A meteorologist and minister enjoyed playing golf each Saturday morning. One morning, just as they were about to begin their game, a fierce thunderstorm greeted them. They ran to the clubhouse through the cold rain and driving wind. As they sat looking at the dark clouds and soggy grass, they wondered if the sun would ever shine again.

With no relief in sight the preacher said to the weatherman, “You’d think that between the two of us we could do something. But we may as well give up. It’s here to stay.”

Once when Jesus was crossing the Sea of Galilee in a boat with His disciples, a fierce storm developed and threatened to destroy them. In fear, these experienced and expert fishermen awakened Jesus shouting, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!”

Calmly Jesus rebuked the wind and raging waves and calmed the sea. Then putting them to the test He asked, “Where is your faith?” Filled with awe they wanted to know, “Who this man was who could control the seas.”

Often when we are caught in the storms of life and overwhelmed by clouds of despair, we can easily fear that God has lost control of things and that we are at the mercy of fate. Not so! God is sovereign and we must remind ourselves of the question He asked His disciples: “Where is your faith?”

Prayer: Help us, Lord, to realize that Your strength and power, peace and healing is available to rescue and save us when we turn to You in faith. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Luke 8:22-25 Then He arose and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water. And they ceased, and there was a calm. But He said to them, “Where is your faith?” (Read more…)

Monday, October 31, 2011

Togetherness

=Lou Gehrig is remembered as the “Iron Man of Baseball.” At the height of his career he was stricken with a mysterious disease and realized that his days of playing baseball would soon be over.

Sharing the news with his wife, she courageously and comfortingly said, “Whatever it is, we’ll see it through together.”

Togetherness is the opposite of independence. It suggests one of the basic blessings of being a Christian: we are never alone and need not face life alone.

Jesus said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” What a comforting thought. The Creator and Sustainer of the universe is with us at all times. He did not create us and abandon us to struggle through life without Him. But there’s more.

No Christian should ever feel independent from other Christians and not in need of the help of others. Nor should Christians feel excused from the task of helping other brothers and sisters in their times of need. The body of Christ – the church – is only doing the work of Christ when it works together for the well being of other members of the body. Whatever the need – spiritual, physical, financial, emotional, educational, legal – if I know about it, I am obligated to Christ to do something about it.

Prayer: Father, let us humbly, in the Spirit of Christ, do His work in ministering to the needs of others in His name. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Galatians 6:2-3 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.

Friday, October 28, 2011

What's First In Life?

A young man just completed college and was having a difficult time adjusting to his new job. In his frustration he decided to speak with his pastor about the problem.

After a few moments of polite conversation he said, “I’m having a difficult time at work. My problem is learning to allow myself to be in second place.”

“No,” said his pastor, “the real problem is learning Who to put into first place.”

Jesus said, “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and He will give you everything you need.”

To “seek the kingdom of God above all else” means to put God first in our lives. To do this we must fill our minds with His Word, our hearts with His love and our time in serving Him. It is all too easy in life to allow our priorities, our hobbies, our work, our families – our “whatevers” to slip into first place.

We have all heard the phrase that “life is choice.” And it is. Unfortunately we often do not consider the consequences of our choices and allow God’s Kingdom to be dethroned by the things of this world.

Prayer: Our Father, help us to make every effort to not only seek Your Kingdom but to place it above everything else in our lives no matter what it costs us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Matthew 6:33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Saved By A Hug

Jackie Robinson was the first African-American baseball player to break into the major leagues. It was a very difficult struggle for him.

But before his first game, Branch Rickey, the owner of the Brooklyn Dodgers, had a frank conversation with him about what he would face. “You’re going to take abuse that you never dreamed of,” he said. “But if you are willing to take the abuse, I’m willing to back you all the way.”

It was a difficult time of transition for Robinson. There was one game that was particularly painful for him as the crowd constantly taunted him. But in view of everyone, Pee Wee Reese walked over to him and hugged him.

Later Robinson admitted, “That may have saved my career. Pee Wee made me feel that I belonged.”

All around us are people who are trying to “belong to the team.” They are different by design – God’s design and they want to feel accepted in our churches. And no matter who they are or how they look, educated or illiterate, rich or poor, God’s Word says that “we must love one another just as He commanded us” and welcome them to His team.

Prayer: Help us, Father, to live the love that Your Son lived and be accepting of others just as You are accepting of each of us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: 1 John 3:23 And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Act Like You Believe It

Bud Grant was the legendary head football coach of the Minnesota Vikings and a member of the pro-football Hall of Fame. He was once referred to as the “toughest person on the field.”

The first event at the first practice session of every Viking camp was the same. He personally showed his players how to line up for the playing of our National Anthem. He would remind them that if the other teams slouched or looked disinterested during the playing of the anthem, he was not responsible for their behavior.

However, he said to his men, “You're special. You're winners. Look and act like winners every second you are part of this team!”

We Christians need to realize that we are “special.” We need to look and act like Christians all of the time – no matter where we are or what we are doing. The Apostle John said, “Those who say they live in God should live as Jesus did.”

This does not mean that God expects us to have disciples or perform miracles. It means that we are to walk as He walked, talk as He talked, live as He lived, obey God as He obeyed God and follow His example of loving and serving others as He did.

Prayer: Our Father, may we as Your children be and act like Jesus, Your Son, and demonstrate to others that we are members of Your family. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: 1 John 2:6 He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Wanted: Happiness Makers!

The "Peanuts" comic strip created as many questions as it did smiles. On one occasion Lucy and Charlie Brown were having a serious conversation about the meaning of life.

With a furrow on her brow Lucy asked Charlie, “Why were we put on earth?”

In his own simple way, Charlie responded, “To make others happy!”

“I don’t think I’m making anyone very happy,” confessed Lucy, “and nobody is making me very happy, either!”

After a moment she shouted, “Somebody’s not doing their job!”

Making others happy is not a primary responsibility of the Christian. But Peter does give us some good advice about our responsibilities and what we are to do to help others.

First we are to show sympathy – by being attentive to and meeting their needs. Secondly, we are to show love – treating others with the same kindness that we would show a brother or sister. Thirdly, we are to show tenderheartedness – to be sensitive and caring. Finally – we are to be humble – to put others first and be a source of encouragement.

Prayer: We pray, Lord, that we will willingly accept our responsibilities to others and do our very best to minister to their needs. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: 1 Peter 3:8-9 Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; (Read more…)

Monday, October 24, 2011

Education Or Learning?

A reporter was visiting a number of farmers who had been identified as “successful.” He had been traveling from state to state and farm to farm. He saved his last interviewee to be the farmer who was known for being more successful than the others.

“Tell, me, Sir,” began the reporter, “how much education have you had?”

Reflecting for a moment, the farmer answered, “Six years of schooling, but fifty years of learning.”

From His birth to His baptism, we only have one glimpse into the life of Jesus. It was when His parents took Him to celebrate the Passover in Jerusalem. He was so overwhelmed and impressed by the events that took place that He lingered a little longer than they did and became separated from them. Luke says that they found Jesus listening to the religious teachers and asking questions and adds that they were “amazed at his understanding and answers.” Imagine, if you can, the Son of God eagerly searching for knowledge to grow in “wisdom and stature and favor with God and all the people.”

In every area of His life, Jesus set examples for us to follow. But none more important than this.

Prayer: Father, if we would serve You fully and faithfully, we can only do so if we come to know You through understanding Your Word. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Luke 2:47, 52 47 And all who heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers. 52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Sun Will Shine Again

It was a cold, windy, rainy day. A poorly clothed newsboy stood in the doorway of an apartment building trying to escape the elements. Each time a bus stopped at the corner and the people got out he shouted, “Morning paper! Get your morning paper here!”

A warmly-dressed man purchased one of his papers and noticed how poorly he was dressed. Attempting to offer him some comfort he said, “This certainly is bad weather for you, son. I'm sorry for you.”

“I don't mind it much,” he replied. “The sun will shine again.”

The Psalmist had good advice when things seem to be unbearable. “Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart sad? I will put my hope in God!”

Discouragement is said to be one of the most common occurrences in everyone's life nearly every day. We make careful plans and then something blocks them or someone gets in our way. We become distracted and give up “what might have been” because we forget about God. If we focus on God's ability rather than our limitations, the “sun will shine again.” Take courage. Hope in God and believe.

Prayer: We look to You, Lord, in faith knowing that Your strength can sustain us in the difficult times if we truly trust in You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 42:5 Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him For the help of His countenance.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Help When We Need It

There is an interesting carving over a door in a hotel at the bottom of a well-climbed mountain in the Alps. It reads: “If you get into trouble, ask God to help you; when you are not in trouble, cultivate His acquaintance; after He has helped you, don't fail to thank Him.”

Often when difficulties arise and we find ourselves in life-threatening situations we are quick to shout, “God help me!” It is the normal, natural thing to do. When tempted and troubled, when there is no time to plan and prepare, it comes automatically. We rejoice when He responds and most times express our gratitude for His being willing to rescue us. We are quick to follow the first bit of advice and often follow the last words of advice and express our gratefulness and gratitude.

It is the statement in the middle of the advice, however, that we must also practice: “when not in trouble, cultivate His acquaintance.” The act and art of cultivation takes time and patience and must follow certain rules if the “seed” is to grow and bear fruit. This cultivation involves reading God's Word, taking time to pray, meditate and worship Him each day and being alert to opportunities to serve Him.

Prayer: We thank You, Lord, for Your availability in our times of need. But trouble us deeply until we take the time to cultivate a relationship with You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Philippians 4:19 And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Danger Of Hesitation

A world famous aerial acrobat was making his way carefully across a wire high above the crowd below. Suddenly, he lost his footing and fell from his high wire to the earth below. Sitting at his bedside in the hospital, a reporter wondered what he was going to do when he recovered from his injuries.

Assuming that he would never return to his previous occupation he said, “I'm sure that you will no longer do what you did before this horrible accident. You must be afraid of falling again.”

“You don't understand,” came the response. “I did not fall because I was afraid. I fell because I hesitated. Hesitation is the number one killer in our business.”

And it is the number one reason why people do not accept Christ. No one plans to perish. Many perish because they think there will be a better time or another opportunity or need. So, they hesitate.

But there is also another “hesitation” we Christians must always keep in mind. Some whom we know and love may perish, not because they hesitated, but because we “hesitated” to witness to them and extend God's love and plan of salvation.

As Christ's messengers we must seize the moment.

Prayer: Help us, Father, to seize every moment as though it were the last moment we have to reach out and bring others to Christ. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: 2 Corinthians 6:1-2 Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation. (Read more...)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Get Down On Your Knees!

A group of expert mountain climbers was attempting to get to the top of the Matterhorn. As they entered one passage, the guide noticed that there were clouds of billowing snow rapidly approaching them as they began to go around a curve.

Quickly he shouted as loud as he could, “Get down on your knees! That's where you will be safe.”

What good advice!

Once David said, “In my desperation I prayed, and the Lord listened; He saved me from all my troubles.”

What we believe about God determines what we include in our prayers. Paul said, “He is not far from any one of us.” If we believe that God is close by and available to us, it becomes natural to turn to Him at any time no matter where we are or what is happening.

Then we need to believe that He is powerful and can make a difference in our lives. Again, hear Paul: “God is able through His mighty power...to accomplish more than we might ask or think.”

Finally, we need to believe we can influence Him. “You don't have because you don't ask,” said James. There are no limits on what we might ask.

Prayer: Lord, we pray with one of Your disciples the simple prayer: Lord I believe. Help my unbelief. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 34:6 This poor man cried out, and the LORD heard him, And saved him out of all his troubles.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Obstacles And Opportunities

Sewing was very important to Mrs. Lofting. Whenever she had a moment to spare, she would go to her sewing room and take out her needle and thread and the sewing project she was working on.

But she had a problem. Whenever she was working with a piece of thick, heavy material, the needle she was pushing with her thumb would often pierce it.

One day her sympathetic husband seeing her happiness interrupted with pain became concerned. He went to his shop, found a piece of soft metal and turned it into a bell-shaped covering for her thumb. Jokingly he called it a “thumb-bell.” Soon, other seamstresses became aware of the “thumb-bell” and wanted one for their sewing. Now they are called “thimbles” and are found in nearly every home.

What we do when faced with a problem often is a result of our dependence upon God. James wrote, “If you need wisdom, ask our generous God and He will give it to you.” This “wisdom” he is talking about not only means knowledge, but the ability to make wise decisions, gain insight and get us through difficult times. This promise of God is ours to accept and act upon whenever life seems to be beyond us.

Prayer: How gracious of You, Father, to provide Your wisdom to guide us, guard us and grant us answers in all that we do. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: James 1:5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Thanks For What?

It was a devastating shipwreck. Only one man survived by clinging to a piece of the ship that floated to the shore of a desolate island. In order to survive, he built a hut with the leaves of palm trees and wood he was able to find.

One morning he went out searching for food when he saw clouds of smoke arising from the location of his hut. Hurriedly he ran to his dwelling only to find that it had been consumed by fire.

That night he slept little. When he awakened the following morning, he was amazed to find a ship anchored off shore. As he stood looking in disbelief, he noticed that the ship was lowering a small life boat. As it came to shore one of the sailors said, “We saw your smoke signal and wondered if everything was OK.” After he told them what happened, they took him back to the ship and eventually he returned to his family.

Scripture tells us to “Always be joyful. Never stop praying.” Situations may change but our God does not. While it is normal and natural for our emotions to change when our circumstances change, we must always turn to the Lord, believing that He will rescue us from the difficulties and dangers of life.

Prayer: We know, Lord, that You will never leave us or forsake us no matter how desperate we may be. Give us the faith to trust You completely. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Making Our Memories

It was the first day of the new school year and Albert was boarding the bus. As he was walking to his seat, he brushed up against a book bag and cut his cheek. When he got to school, the nurse cleaned if carefully and placed a bandage on it.

Later, during recess, he collided with a classmate and loosened two of his front teeth. Then at noon as he was walking to the cafeteria, he tripped and fell and broke his wrist.

His father came to the school and finally “rescued” him and took him to the hospital. While waiting for the doctor, his dad noticed that his little fist was clenched as tightly as possible, holding a crumpled up dollar bill. His dad asked him where he got it and he replied, “I found it when I fell and broke my wrist. This is my lucky day!”

“Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise,” said Paul. What we put into our minds determines what comes out in words and deeds. If we have problems with thoughts that are harmful and impure, unwholesome and unkind, we need to take an inventory of what we are reading, watching on television and viewing on the internet.

Minds are like bank accounts: What goes in comes out.

Prayer: Help us, Father, to take Paul’s advice and fill our minds with thoughts that come from reading Your Word and meditating on it constantly. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Philippians 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

"And Then Some"

A famous entrepreneur was once asked, “What’s the secret of your success?”

After a moments thought he replied, “And then some.”

Curious, the interviewer asked, “What does that mean?”

He replied, “I discovered at an early age that the extraordinary people did what was expected of them – and then some.”

Christians must do more than believe – they must behave. True, deep down belief in our heart will lead us to live and love as Jesus did.

Christians must do more than care, they must share. If we know of someone who is without and needs something we can do without, we must share.

Christians must do more than forgive, they must accept. If someone has wronged us, we must reach out to them in love and let them know by words and deeds that we hold nothing against them.

Christians must do more than promise, they must perform. When we give our word, we must honor our word. If we “say it,” we must do it if we possibly can. And when we can’t, we must admit we made a promise we can’t keep – no matter the reason.

Prayer: Help us, Lord, to practice what we preach, to walk our talk, to do it if we say it, to go the second mile and to behave what we say we believe. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Matthew 5:41 And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Honored By Being Humble

Booker T. Washington was a famous African-American who was president of Tuskegee Institute. Once while walking down a street near the school, a white woman, not knowing him, asked if he would like to earn a few dollars by chopping some wood.

Smiling graciously, he chopped the wood as directed, carried it into her house and carefully stacked it near the fireplace. When her daughter recognized who had been chopping and stacking the wood, she went to her mother and informed her. She was shocked when she learned this and went to Mr. Washington, apologizing profusely.

“It’s alright, Madam,” he said politely, “it is a delight to help a friend.” Not long after that incident the lady donated thousands of dollars to the school.

Peter warned, “God opposes the proud, but favors the humble.” Pride is a dangerous thing. It can strip us of our willingness to help others whom God loves and cares for. It is far better to receive the favor of God than any recognition that may come from others. God is always willing, ready and able to bless us for what we do for others.

We must always be available to reach out to others when we see their need. Jesus did.

Prayer: We pray, Father, that whenever anyone anywhere needs our help, we will willingly respond with Your love, kindness and grace. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: 1 Peter 5:5 Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.”

Monday, October 10, 2011

Going Up?

The late Bishop Sheen was shopping in a New York department store going from one floor to the next. After he finished looking at all of the items on the fifth floor, he got on the elevator and pushed the button for the sixth.

As the door was closing, a lady rushed on to the elevator and smiled at him. When the elevator stopped and he made his way to the door, she looked at him with a frown and said, “I did not want to go up, I wanted to go down!”

“Madam,” he said with a grin, “I only take people up, not down!”

Often we are not aware of how our behavior is affecting others. We do what we do because it brings us pleasure, happiness or satisfaction. We may not realize that others may be watching what we do and then imitating our behavior – whether right or wrong. They may be looking for another Christian to follow.

Paul said, “So if what I eat causes another believer to sin, I will never eat meat again as long as I live – for I don't want to cause another believer to stumble.” He was ever conscious of the example he set knowing others were watching. We must do the same.

Prayer: Father, may we never forget that we are a living example of what it means to be a Christian and always represent You well. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: 1 Corinthians 8:13 Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never again eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Never Give Up!

Winston Churchill is recognized as one of the most outstanding leaders in the history of the world. He held England together during World War II and brought encouragement and hope to the entire nation and the world.

He attended a preparatory school that was recognized for having high academic standards and making students study and earn their grades by spending hours at their desks and in the library. He is known to have excelled in all of his studies.

Toward the end of his life he was invited to return to the school to address the students. When he was being introduced to the students, the Headmaster said, “Our Prime Minister is one of the greatest orators in the world. Listen carefully and take notes.”

Churchill stood to his feet, gazed intently at the young people who gathered to hear him and said, “Never give up. NEVER GIVE UP! NEVER!” And sat down.

Paul put this another way for Christians: “So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.”

Often we work hard for the Lord yet see no rewards. However, we must “Never Give Up!”

Prayer: Encourage our hearts, Lord, to know that we may not receive rewards in this world, but surely in the one to come with You in heaven. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Scripture for Today: 1 Corinthians 15:58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Bald Heads And Bold Love

Ten-year-old Charles was undergoing chemotherapy following surgery for brain cancer. When his hair began to fall out in large clumps, he decided to shave his head. His friends at school noticed this and in a way to support and encourage him, they also shaved their heads.

Once when Jesus was teaching His disciples the difference between self-centeredness and greatness, He used a child to get His point across. He knew that they had been arguing among themselves as to who would be the greatest in His Kingdom. He knew that they were confusing His earthly and heavenly kingdoms. To help them understand the importance of humility and sincerity He said, “unless you turn from your sins and become like little children you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven.” His disciples had become so preoccupied with the idea of an earthly kingdom that they lost sight of His divine purpose. It was time for a lesson.

Children have wonderful characteristics. They are loving and loyal, they forgive and forget, they try and trust, they sympathize and share, they accept and respect others. No wonder Jesus used a child as an example. Could we be such an example?

Prayer: Lord, give us a faith that is as humble and trusting as a child’s and let us be as willing as they are to reach out to others in need. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Matthew 18:1-3 At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” 2 Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, 3 and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.