Thursday, March 31, 2011

Caring Means Sharing

A delivery boy was in a hurry to make his last stop before going home. In his haste he stumbled and fell, breaking the two dozen eggs he had been carefully carrying. He sat on the curb near the customer, crying.

A crowd gathered around him wanting to know if he had injured himself. Each of them was happy that he was not injured, but saddened that he broke the eggs. One gentleman reached into his pocket and gave him two quarters. Turning to the others he said, "I care fifty cents worth. How much do the rest of you care?"

John clearly confronts Christians when he says, "If you have enough money to live well and see someone in need and refuse to help – how can God's love be in that person?"

And Paul warns us that what we give and how we give is what we will one day receive. No matter what we say, it is always what we do. If we care, we will share. Works, not words, are the true proof of our love. We must walk our talk.

Prayer: Lord, may we realize that when we give to others in Your name we will never go without. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture: 2 Corinthians 9:6 But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

From Failure To Fortune

Harlan Sanders had just turned forty. No matter what he tried, he failed. Nothing he did worked. He was discouraged and disheartened.

Then, one day someone said to him, "Life begins at forty!" He decided to open a gas station. Shortly afterward, he added a luncheonette. People said that his chicken was tasteless. Rather than giving up on his tasteless chicken, he worked on new and different seasonings.

One day he finally combined the right seasoning in the right amount for his recipe and called it Harlan Sanders’ Fried Chicken. It soon brought him fame and fortune and the governor of Kentucky made him a Kentucky Colonel. It was the beginning of Kentucky Fried Chicken.

Through his faith in God, he turned failure into fortune and his tragedy into triumph and gave God the credit for his success.

Life began at forty for the Colonel because he trusted God. Hard work and trusting in God's grace makes all the difference.

Prayer: Father, help us to realize that failing does not make us a failure, but our lack of faith will. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Does Prayer Always Work?

An avid baseball fan was sitting next to a priest during a baseball game. Aware of the need to speak religiously, the fan did his best to speak of Godly things.

A player came to bat, and before stepping to the plate, bowed his head in prayer and made the sign of the cross. On the first pitch he hit the ball over the bleachers and out of the park. On his next trip to the plate, he followed the same routine: he bowed his head and made the sign of the cross. On the first pitch he hit another home run.

Amazed, the man turned to the priest and asked, "Does prayer always work out there?"

"It does," said the priest, "if you can hit!"

We can never assume that prayer is ever a substitute for hard work or intense practice. We must always be aware of the fact that God has given each of us skills, talents and abilities. However, we are also responsible for applying ourselves diligently to develop them to the best of our ability – then pray.

Prayer: May we always remember, Lord, that You will not do for us what we can do for ourselves. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture: James 2:17 Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

Monday, March 28, 2011

What Would He Think?

A mother lectured her daughter about how important it was to keep family secrets private. One day she got in trouble in school and the principle called her mother to give her the information. After scolding the girl, she said, "Now you must go to your room and ask God to forgive you."

Later, when the family sat down for dinner she asked, "Sara, did you ask God to forgive you?" "No, Mom, I didn't,” said Sara. "I knew that you wouldn't want Him to know about any family scandals!"

Job, on one occasion said, "He sees everything I do and every step I take." He had no doubt that all of our lives are lived before God and that He is aware of everything that we do – whether good or evil. Nothing that we ever do will escape His notice because nothing can be hidden from Him. As Job was speaking of the life He lived in the presence of God, he said that he had not committed any sin in his heart against his neighbor or against His God.

Prayer: Help us to realize, Lord, that we cannot hide anything from You and to live lives free of sin. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture: Job 31:3-4

Friday, March 25, 2011

Who Gets The Credit?

A Chinese farmer had only one son and one horse. Nothing else in life mattered much to him. One night his horse ran off. His neighbors came to console him and said, "What bad luck!"

Later the horse returned and brought twelve wild horses with him. The neighbors, hearing the news, gathered at his home and rejoiced with him saying, "What good luck!"

While taming one of the wild horses, the son fell and severely broke his leg. The neighbors gathered once again and with remorse said, "What bad luck!"

Soon after this their warlord was engaged in a battle and took all of the able-bodied men to war – except the son. None of the men returned. But the son, left behind, led a long and productive life.

Was it the Lord or was it luck?

Every event that occurs in our lives is open to interpretation. The discerning mind sees God.

Prayer: Help us, Father, to realize Your presence and power in our lives and see Your hand at work. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture: Romans 8:26

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Now Or Never!

In 1874, Elisha Gray did something that no one else had ever done. He unveiled a machine that transmitted musical notes over a telegraph wire. The audience was fascinated with the sounds. Proudly he said, "If music, why not words?"

Immediately the New York Times predicted a "Talking Machine," and people expressed a great interest in wanting one.

Gray did nothing with his "machine" for two months. One day he decided to go to the patent office with a drawing. After presenting it to one of the officials, he learned that Graham Bell had presented an identical sketch two hours earlier.

Gray did not fail. He hesitated.

Salvation is God's free gift to everyone who accepts Christ. But like Gray, many put off making a decision about becoming a Christian until it is too late. Everyone seems to believe that there will always be another tomorrow because there was a yesterday.

"Now is the right time – the time to accept Christ."

Prayer: We pray, Father, for the ones we know who need to accept Christ as Savior today! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture: 2 Corinthians 6:1-2

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The "If Only" People

A psychiatrist was deeply troubled by the sadness of one of his dear friends. Curiously he asked, "What's troubling you?"

Came the response, "I've been reviewing the ‘If only's’ of my life. I've made so many mistakes."

Wanting to help he said, "Let's go to my office. I have some recordings I want you to hear."

Sitting quietly he played a tape containing the stories of three very depressed patients. After a moment he asked, "Did you notice that each one kept repeating, 'if only'?” The “if only's” bring about a sense of hopelessness and helplessness, depression and discouragement. All of us must learn to say, “Next time I'll do things differently. I'll seek God's will and ask for guidance before I make a decision."

James said, "If you need wisdom – if you want to know what God wants you to do – ask Him and He will gladly tell you!" Wisdom here means "practical discernment" that will lead the Christian to right living and eliminate the "if only's" of life.

Prayer: Father, may we look to You for guidance before we make decisions and trust Your directions. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture: 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.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Conquered Or Conqueror

George Mallory, a famous mountaineer and explorer from England, led two expeditions to conquer Mount Everest. Both times he failed to conquer the mountain. He was so intense that he enlisted another expedition to make a third attempt to get to the top.

He studied his past efforts thoroughly and made extensive preparations, carefully planning every detail. This time, however, before he reached the top, an avalanche struck, killing him and most of his men.

One of the survivors was determined to honor Mallory. Looking at a picture of Mount Everest, he cried with tears in his eyes, "We shall defeat you some day because you can't get any bigger and we can."

When we feel defeated or destroyed by the tragedies of life, the most important thing we can ever do is to take God at His word. With Paul we can proclaim, "I can do all things through Christ!"

Prayer: Lord, may we seek strength from You, to meet and overcome every challenge we face. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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

Monday, March 21, 2011

All That Is His?

It was the first Sunday for the new pastor in the little country church. His sermon was short, but his prayer was rather lengthy. After the service was over, two members got together to share their opinions.

"That preacher sure can pray," said one.

"Yes he can," agreed the other. "He prayed for things that the last preacher didn't know that the Lord had."

Prayer comes in two parts: our part and God's part. It involves asking and receiving. As for asking, Jesus said that we are to ask for everything and anything, whenever or wherever. That includes all of life all the time. If it concerns us, it concerned Him first. If He sees a little bird fall from a tree, He must surely be aware of our pains and problems, our wants and needs, our hopes and those times when we have feelings of helplessness and despair.

Our part is to ask; God's part is to answer. If we do our part, He will certainly do His part.

Prayer: Help us, Father, to rely completely upon You for everything we need, trusting in You always. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture: Jeremiah 33:3 ‘Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.'

Friday, March 18, 2011

Breakthrough

It was the first time she had competed in the Special Olympics. Winning the fifty-year dash was more than she could have ever expected. In her excitement, the young girl ran to her parents and shouted, "Look, Mom and Dad, I won. I won the race!"

Standing in front of the crowd, a medal for winning the race was placed around her neck. Her parents looked on with great pride, eyes filled with tears that ended streaming down their cheeks onto their swelled chests.

An official who was puzzled by their tears approached them and asked, "Is something wrong?" "No," said the mother. "We just heard our daughter speak for the first time."

It is easy for Christians to do good works and kind deeds in the name of the Lord without mentioning His name. And that is good. But we must also willingly and without hesitation boldly tell others of His redeeming grace and salvation.

Prayer: Give us courage, Father, to share Your message of love, hope and salvation with the lost. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture: Psalm 107:2 Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, Whom He has redeemed from the hand of the enemy...

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Whose Picture Is That?

An art teacher asked her students to draw a picture of someone famous. Looking over the shoulder of one of her students she asked, "And whose picture are you drawing?"

"God's," he answered confidently.

"God's?” asked the teacher. "No one knows what He looks like."

"They will when I get through!" he said.

Who is right: the teacher or the student?

Paul said that "Jesus is the visible image of the invisible God." The word Paul chose for image was a word his readers knew meant "a description" of a person. In other words, what we see in the life of Jesus is a portrait, or a description, of God. So, if we want to know Who God is and what He is like, it is possible through the life and teachings of Jesus.

In Jesus we see a Man filled with unending love that included the least, the last, the loneliest. A Man who healed, helped and hungered to reach and redeem the lost. And this He did on a cross.

Prayer: Thank You, Father, for the picture we have of You in Your Son, our Lord and Savior. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture: Colossians 1:15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Success At What Price?

A reporter was interviewing a farmer who was known for growing the best corn in his area. He was intrigued by the fact that the farmer was also known for sharing his seed corn with his neighbors.

"Why do you share your best seed corn with your neighbors?" asked the reporter.

Replied the farmer, "The wind picks up the pollen from the ripening corn and swirls it from field to field. If my neighbors grew inferior corn, cross-pollination would degrade mine. If I am to grow good corn, I must help my neighbors do the same."

Jesus said, "Give and it will be given unto you!" He was teaching us that if we want more, we must to give more. That is God's way and it is His promise. Whatever we share with others, whether it is our time, our talents or our treasures, will always be returned to us with "interest added." We will find more time to do more things, our talents will develop and our value to Him will increase as well.

Prayer: Help us, Lord, to give generously to others in the gracious way that You give to us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture: Luke 6:38

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Right Is Right

The games were played, the gifts opened, the food eaten. Turning to his uncle, Billy said, "Thank you for my birthday present."

"Oh, it was nothing," he said pleasantly.

"Mom and I agree," he replied, "but she said I should thank you anyway."

An attitude of gratitude is one of the most important possessions anyone can have. A mind that is alert to the kind acts of others, a heart that is thankful and the grace to express ones appreciation for the blessings of life are most important.

Often, as we make our way through life, we focus on our woes and worries that seem to always be present and overpowering. So we lose sight of God's gracious and generous gifts.

It is natural to bring our pains and problems to the Lord. We know that He expects us to do so. But He also invites us to offer Him thanksgiving for everything good that happens in our lives. We need to be aware of everything He brings into our lives.

Prayer: Father, we ask that You will open our eyes to gifts that You constantly lavish upon us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture: 1 Thessalonians 5:18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Recognizing Reality

For several weeks a radiologist had suffered with a painful stomachache. Noting his discomfort, his associate suggested that he have a series of x-rays to rule out any problems.

He agreed to this plan and was assigned a number by the clinic. The next day he was examining a nameless x-ray that he did not know was his. Suddenly he cried out, "Contract this person immediately. He has inoperable cancer."

Unfortunately, many of us have feelings of discomfort and disease. We are uncomfortable and troubled. We hear sermons, read Scripture and even pray but get no satisfaction or relief.

Peter wrote that it is important for us to keep our "conscience clear." It may mean that during those times in our lives when we feel no peace or comfort, joy or satisfaction in Christ, that His Holy Spirit is saying, "Take an x-ray! Look carefully for the sin that it causing you this pain." If we examine our lives carefully, God will help us find the sin.

Prayer: Thank You, Lord, for all the warning signs You give us to let us know when we need to repent. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture: 1 Peter 3:16 having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed.

Friday, March 11, 2011

What's In Your Name?

Arthur Rubinstein was one of the world's most celebrated pianists. He often wondered what the critics and his audience would say if someone else appeared to play in his place in a concert.

One night, with an assumed name and made up to look different with a disguise, he performed a concert before a large audience. After the concert, the critics agreed, "The gentleman who played this evening wasn't in a class with the great Rubinstein."

We are reminded in Proverbs that "A good name is more desirable than great riches; and to be esteemed is better than silver or gold."

God has called each of us to a life of service.

He has given us gifts and talents that He expects us to develop and refine. As we work with what He has given us, we develop a reputation for our accomplishments – whatever they may be. We become known to others not only by what we do but how well we do it. Our reputation, or our "name,” is a result of what we do with what God has given us.

Prayer: Help us, Father, to "earn" a good name, and bring great honor to Your name in doing so. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture: Proverbs 22:1 A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, Loving favor rather than silver and gold.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Best Advice Ever

Derek Jeter, of the New York Yankees, is acknowledged by some to be one of the greatest shortstops who ever played baseball. One day a reporter asked him, "What's the best advice your father ever gave you?"

Came the quick reply, "Don't let anyone ever outwork you!"

It was hard, relentless work over many years that led Jeter to the pinnacle of his profession. And it is that same hard work that keeps him there and a model that many seek to follow. His efforts have rewarded him lavishly and brought him fame and fortune.

There are some of us, however, who work just as hard but get relatively little recognition. No one sees us and no one knows how hard we labor. We may even wonder if what we do really matters to anyone.

But it does, at least to God. One day He will reward us in front of everyone for our efforts.

Prayer: Help us, Father, to realize that You will reward each one of us for all that we have ever done. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture: Ephesians 6:7-8 with goodwill doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men, knowing that whatever good anyone does, he will receive the same from the Lord, whether he is a slave or free.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Warm Words And A Sincere Smile

Years ago at a missionary conference in London, a gracious man with an inviting smile noticed a young boy standing alone looking puzzled. Softly he asked, "Would you like to be a missionary?"

"Oh yes," he answered, "yes, I would!"

And he did. He became one of the world's most famous missionaries as well as an explorer in Africa. Years later, David Livingstone said, "It was that smile, gentle question and expression of kindness that led me to become a missionary."

It is easy to overlook those who appear to be unimportant or seem to have no significance. We often consider them the "least in the Kingdom of God" assuming that they have little worth in serving the Lord.

Jesus picked men to be His disciples who were considered ordinary men. But those men preached sermons, wrote books, established the Church, grew the Kingdom and reached the world because Someone said, "Follow me!"

Prayer: Father, open our eyes to those around us who we may invite to work with us to reach the lost. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture: Matthew 28:19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

No Mistake

He had been playing football in a muddy field. Tired and covered with fresh mud, little James returned home for dinner. His mother was horrified with his appearance and wanting to shame him said, "Who's this? I don't know of anyone who lives here who could ever get so dirty and come to the table to eat!"

"It's me, Mom," he shouted. "It's your son James who's underneath the dirt."

Jesus told the story of a son who returned home covered with dirt and filth. He demanded the fortune that his father had saved for him and then left home and wasted his inheritance and dignity. But when he "came to himself" he returned home and was met by a Dad filled with compassion and care who had been waiting and looking for him. Then with outstretched arms he wrapped him with a father’s love and welcomed and forgave him

What a picture of Jesus! Eyes searching, arms open, and heart pounding waiting to receive us.

Prayer: Thank You, Jesus, for a love that exceeds our sinfulness and grace and mercy that accepts us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture: Luke 15:11-32

Monday, March 7, 2011

Me, My Mop And The Doctor

Early one morning Jim Belasco, a noted writer, went to the Methodist Hospital in Houston, to interview the world famous heart surgeon, Dr. Michael DeBakey. As he made his way toward the operating room, he met a custodian with a smile as large as life and singing happily with all his heart, mopping the floor.

Curious to see such enthusiasm at such an early hour, the writer asked, "Why are you so happy?"

Came the quick reply, "Me and the Doc are going to save some lives today."

We all form partnerships for many different reasons. There are occasions when partnerships are formed for leisure activities or social events and other times for work or special projects. But imagine, a partnership that included a mop and a scalpel, a doctor and a janitor. Unbelievable! But that is what Paul had in mind when he said, "We work together as partners who belong to (and bring glory to)God!"

Prayer: Father, may all of our "partnerships" be formed with the simple purpose of pleasing You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture: 1 Corinthians 3:9 For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you are God’s building.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Anything For You, God?

As he was saying his morning prayers, little Ben surprised his parents by praying, “Good morning, God. What can I do for you today?"

Often our prayers are focused on what we want God to do for us rather than us asking God what we can do for Him.

Could it be that we have shaped God into the image of a bellhop that we would find in a hotel? We dial a number, place an order and then wait at the door for someone to appear with our requests on a tray. Do we see prayer as the ultimate in heavenly room service?

One day Paul heard a voice saying, "Get up and go…and you will be told what to do!"

Our Lord sees a world full of people who need His love and salvation, grace and hope. And He has given us, His children, the responsibility to bring those who need Him, to Him. When we pray we must first be willing to "get up and go" to serve Him before we "dial and wait " for what we want.

Prayer: Lord, when we pray, let us first hear what You want from us and then make our requests. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture: Acts 9:6

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Potential Of Praise

He had a burning desire to be a writer even though everything seemed to be against him. As a young man in London, he was only able to attend school for four years. His father was jailed for bad debts and he had no one offer to help him.

Finally he got a job pasting labels on bottles. The owner of the business was kind enough to allow him to sleep in the warehouse where he worked. Every spare moment he had was invested in writing stories. For years every editor returned every one of them. But he refused to give up.

Finally, one day, an editor wrote him and said that one of his stories had been accepted for publication. He went on and complimented him for his work. A word of praise and the publication of one story was all that he needed. He continued to write and eventually perfected his passion. Today, libraries and book stores around the world contain many books written by Charles Dickens.

Let's encourage and not discourage others!

Prayer: Lord, keep our eyes open and our minds alert to find and help all who need encouraging. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture: Hebrews 10:24 And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works...

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

"Goodbye. We're Moving!"

The discussion at dinner centered on the family’s move to New York. That evening as she was saying her bed time prayers with her mother, little Suzanne concluded them by saying, “Goodbye, Jesus. I guess we won't be talking anymore. We are moving to New York and I'm not sure you can hear me from there."

Our Heavenly Father is not confined to any city or church. He has no set hours or days off. We do not need an appointment and He has no secretary to screen His calls. He's always there when we need Him for anything and everything. In fact, it is almost beyond belief that we have direct and immediate access to the Creator of the universe.

When He encourages us to "call upon me" He concludes this invitation by saying that He will personally "answer us." What a gracious and generous guarantee from a loving and faithful Father. Wherever we are and whenever any need arises, He's there waiting and listening for our call.

Prayer: Thank You, Father, for the promise that You listen, hear and answer when we call for help. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture: Jeremiah 33:3 ‘Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.’

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Go On Or Give Up?

During the Olympics in Mexico City some year ago, a runner received a standing ovation – not for winning – but, of all things, for finishing last.

In the heat of the race, he tripped, fell and severely damaged one of his knees. He was in great pain and bleeding profusely when he stumbled across the finish line.

"Why didn't you quit?" asked a reporter.

"My country did not send me 7,000 miles to start the race," he answered. "They sent me 7,000 miles to finish the race!"

What courage he displayed. Had he quit, everyone would have understood his problem and pain. Everyone except the runner. He had a quality of character and a state of mind that enabled him to endure great suffering for the joy that would be his by completing the race.

When we face trying times if we turn to and trust in the Lord we can complete the race He has set before us."Be courageous. Be strong," said Paul.

Prayer: Help us, Lord, to keep our eyes on You, our faith in You and find courage through You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture: 1 Corinthians 16:13 Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong.