Friday, April 29, 2011

A Good Reputation

Thomas Edison discovered that his factory had produced a battery that was faulty. As soon as the discovery was made, he immediately took action. He began a large advertising campaign informing people that he would give a refund to everyone who purchased a defective battery. Although the cost was one million dollars, it did not compare with the value he placed on his name.

It is critical for Christians to have an honorable name. Whatever we do, whatever we say, wherever we go we are representatives of the Lord Jesus Christ. If we fail to live lives of integrity our witness will be damaged, our message questioned and our testimony impaired. And when that occurs, God’s name is damaged and His message becomes worthless.

Being honest and forthright in everything will eliminate our need to worry about being exposed or not living up to what God expects of us. He calls us to live lives that are in harmony with His Word, to follow Him and His eternal directions carefully and to ask Him to place a guard over our speech so we will not say things that are untrue, hurtful and harmful.

Prayer: Father, we ask that You will be at work in us and through us that we may represent You faithfully. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture: Proverbs 22:1

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Put It Down!

A farmer was walking down a long, winding mountain road in Mexico carrying a heavy sack. Without realizing it, a man with a mule-drawn wagon was suddenly beside him and offered him a ride. He climbed on the back of the wagon and breathed a long sigh of relief.

After traveling for some time, the man driving the wagon turned around, and to his amazement, the man was still holding his sack. “Why don’t you drop it next to you?” asked the wagon driver.

“Oh no,” came the reply. “You are kind enough to carry me. You do not have to carry my load as well.”

Many of us are like that man. God pleads with us to give Him our burdens. Yet, we needlessly and continuously carry them rather than setting them down. We say that we trust Him and talk of turning to Him in times of need, but we refuse to “let go and let God” do what He wants to do: completely take the weight from our shoulders and place it in His loving, caring arms.

If we can trust Him for our salvation, surely we can trust Him with every care or concern we have. Most assuredly, His strength will sustain us, always.

Prayer: Lord, help us to be willing to believe that You are able to relieve us of life’s burdens if we truly trust You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture: Psalm 55:22 Cast your burden on the LORD, And He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

God's Good Gifts

It was that quiet time of the day just before the sun set. Sitting on his front porch, H.C. Booth was fascinated as columns of dust swirled past him and then suddenly disappeared from sight.

As he watched, he wondered and asked himself a question: “What if it was possible to reverse the wind and instead of it blowing the dust, pull it back?” After much thought and many experiments, he invented the vacuum cleaner in 1901.

Each day God brings many events into our lives. Often they seem routine and repetitive, troubling or trying, frustrating or frivolous. We are disturbed by them, become exasperated with them and wish they would go away. Our peace evaporates and our rage rises. But wait!

James has some good advice for us. He says, “If you need wisdom - if you want to know what God wants you to do - ask Him and he will gladly tell you.” This wisdom he speaks of is “practical discernment” - the ability to make wise decisions during difficult times. We have His promise that at all times and in every situation, if we only ask, He’ll give us insight and guide our choices.

Prayer: Lord, open our eyes to see that things do not need to remain as they are if we look to You for insight. 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, April 26, 2011

The Four "T's" Of LIfe

Writing in his diary, a young man predicted his future: “Someday I’m going to do something special with my life. I will become famous!”

Years later, an old man said to his family, “I could have done great things with my life, but I didn’t. I am so sorry. I wish I had. I am a failure.”

How tragic, because the old man and the young man were the same person.

God gives to each of us a limited number of days, a select number of skills and with them the ability to earn our livelihood. None of us know the length of our lives. Some of us never develop the skills God has given us. And many do not use the fruit of their labor wisely. We must be aware of how we use God’s gifts.

An important question to ask ourselves every day is this: “What am I going to do with the time, the talents and treasures God has given me today?”

We have no assurance of tomorrow, we may lose the skills that we have through a tragedy and our treasures may be taken from us. But when we attach our lives to God’s power and plan, we will have no regrets.

Prayer: Teach us Lord, to be faithful to You and to make the very most of all You have given us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture: Proverbs 3:5-6

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Pain Passes

Pierre Renoir, the famous French painter, was severely afflicted with arthritis. Over the years his hands became twisted and whenever he painted, the pain was intense. However, he would not quit.

One day a friend who was watching him paint asked, “How can you paint with the pain causing you so much torture?”

Thoughtfully he answered, “The pain passes, but the beauty remains.”

Job was a godly man, who was wealthy and influential. For most of his life he was prosperous and free from any serious problems. One day his life fell apart. Within a short time he lost nearly everything that he had and was severely criticized and condemned by his friends. But he never lost his faith in God.

Though he never learned the reason for his losses and suffering, he never questioned God’s judgment. He believed that an all-powerful God was acting in ways that were in his best interest. In the midst of his trials he said, “When he has tried me I shall come out as gold.”

Prayer: Lord, may we always believe that what You bring into our lives will ultimately work for our best. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture: Job 23:11-12

Friday, April 22, 2011

The King On His Cross

Pilate said to them, “What then shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?”

They all said to him, “Let Him be crucified!”

Then the governor said, “Why, what evil has He done?”

But they cried out all the more saying, “Let Him be crucified!”

When Pilate saw he could not prevail...he took water and washed his hands before the multitude saying, “I am innocent of the blood of this just Person. You see to it.”

And all the people answered and said, “His blood be on us and on our children.”

Then he released Barabbas to them; and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered Him to be crucified.

Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus...and stripped Him and put a scarlet robe on Him…twisted a crown of thorns and put it on His head...mocked Him…spit upon Him...struck Him on the head...and led Him away to be crucified. Then they put a sign over His head: THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS. In the end the soldiers said: Truly this was the Son of God.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, let these Words bring to our hearts an understanding of the cost of our salvation. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture: Matthew 27

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Don't Stop Now!

Sometime ago it was my privilege to be the commencement speaker at a high school graduation. At the end of the service, the students came forward and walked up to the headmaster to receive their diplomas. As he shook their hands, he looked into their eyes and said softly to each one of them, “Don’t stop now, keep moving forward!”

Great advice - not only for the graduates but for everyone, every day. Whatever we do, wherever we go, we must keep moving forward. We must keep forgiving! Keep growing! Keep helping! Keep loving! Keep witnessing! Keep serving! Keep worshipping! Keep working! Keep laughing! Keep moving forward!

If this is important for life in general, it is even more important for the life of a Christian. Paul said that “I keep working toward that day when I will finally be all that Christ Jesus saved me for and wants me to be.”

What great advice he offers us. Nothing should ever interfere with nor take our eyes off of knowing Christ. We must focus on Him the same way athletes focus on winning a race because nothing else matters.

Prayer: Help us, Heavenly Father, to keep moving forward as we strive to grow into Your likeness. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

Scripture: Philippians 3:8-14

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Storms Of Life

Joseph Turner was standing in front of one of his paintings of a raging sea. A friend beside him asked, “How did you paint such a realistic picture of a storm at sea. It is so real.”

He answered, “I was on a ship in the midst of that storm. Not only did I see it, I was there and felt it.”

Like that painter, Jesus felt the storms of life.

Whenever we lose a loved one, we must remember that He stood beside a grave and wept.

If ever we are a victim of poverty or lack a place of our own, let’s not forget that Jesus had no place to lay His head.

Whenever we feel alone, abandoned or even neglected, we need to recall the times when His followers forsook Him and His disciples deserted Him.

Every experience in our lives is an experience that He has encountered and endured successfully in His life. Whatever God brings into our lives is something that Jesus has endured and overcome. What a comfort to know that He is willing to share His victories with us.

Prayer: Father, You have been where we are or soon may be, so we know with certainty that we can survive. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture: Hebrews 2:18 For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Preparing For Temptation

It was a very hot summer day. All the boys in the neighborhood decided to go swimming but there was no adult to go with them. Recognizing the danger that might occur, Johnny’s mother forbade him to go with them. Later that day, he came home with wet hair.

“What happened?” asked his mother.

“I fell in the pond,” came his reply.

“Well, why aren’t your clothes wet?” she asked.

“I had a feeling I was going to fall in,” he explained, “so I took them off.”

The world has been and is full of temptations and pressures. So, Paul gave us a warning and an escape route. First, he said that we would all be tempted, and second, that God would always provide a way to be victorious. But we must do our part if we do not want to fall and fail. We must first prepare ourselves to recognize and avoid people, places and things that would lead us to sin. Then, if we are tempted, look to Him for strength to recognize and resist the temptation before we are overcome by sin.

Prayer: Grant us, Father, the desire to trust You for strength and power to turn from sin in our lives. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture: 1 Corinthians 10:13

Monday, April 18, 2011

Growing Up

One Sunday morning the pastor was visiting the first grade Sunday school class. With a bright smile he said to a small child, “Who made you, Jimmy?”

“Well,” he said thoughtfully, “God made part of me.”

“What do you mean that God made part of you?” asked the pastor.

“First, God made me real little, and I growed the rest all by myself.”

God begins a “good work in us” when we accept Christ as our Savior. We are, so to speak, “real little” like Jimmy. But He does not expect us to remain “little.” When God started the process of the new birth within us, He did so with the intention of bringing it to completion - our growing into the likeness of Christ. This is possible because the Holy Spirit lives with us and is willing and able, with our involvement, to let it happen through prayer, Bible study and worship. Come, grow with Him.

Prayer: Lord, may we work with You to grow into Christlikeness, anxiously waiting for Your return. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture: Philippians 1:6 being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;

Friday, April 15, 2011

Who's Bigger?

One Sunday morning after church as the family was driving home, Molly asked, “Mom, the preacher said that God was bigger than any of us. Is that really true?”

“Yes, He is!” answered her mother.

“Well, Mom,” she continued, “the preacher also said that God lives in us. Is that also true?”

“Yes,” admitted the mother.

“Well, then,” she asked rather confused, “why doesn’t He show through?”

How much of God is seen in our lives each day?

We speak of Him often, turn to Him quickly and rely on Him totally, but do we consult with Him continually?

When we make plans, we need to include Him. If we visit with a friend, we need to invite Him into the conversation. As we leave for a journey, we need to ask Him to travel with us. Throughout the day at work, we need to ask Him for His wisdom.

Perhaps if we consulted God for His advice in everything we do and were more conscious that His Spirit is actually within us, we would realize that He is bigger than we are and allow Him to “show through.”

Prayer: Our Father, we often talk of Your greatness but rarely show Your greatness. Help us to change! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture: Galatians 2:20

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Do What Is Needed

The bombing of the Federal Building in Oklahoma City was a tragedy that struck at the heart of America. The disaster prompted many individuals and teams from across the nation to put whatever they were doing aside and help meet the needs of the survivors.

One rescue team had been working for hours and finally stopped to rest at two in the morning. As they were sitting there, they heard a sound that they did not expect to hear. Turning around they saw a woman sweeping debris into a neat pile.

“Where are you from?” asked a member of the rescue team.

“Dallas,” came the reply. “I can’t do very much but when I offered to help they told me the most important thing I could do was to help clean things up. So I got a broom and started to sweep.”

Whenever we do what needs to be done, no matter how small or insignificant, and do the best we can as we are doing it, we honor God and bless His name. We never need to compare our work with the work of others if we are doing what God has called us to do. If our heart is right, our work is right and needed.

Prayer: Help us, Father, to honor You by helping others in their times of need, doing whatever we can. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture: Galatians 6:4 But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Say It Isn't So

A deacon phoned his pastor who was on vacation in a distant city. When he answered the call, the deacon blurted out, “Pastor, a cyclone just came through our county and destroyed my house and barn.”

“I’m not surprised,” he replied. And continued, “The punishment for sin is inevitable!”

“But Pastor,” continued the deacon, “it destroyed your house as well.”

“It did?” exclaimed the pastor. “The ways of the Lord are past human understanding.”

There are times when it is difficult to offer love and kindness to those whom we feel do not deserve it. Our responses to another person’s trials and tragedies often come from a distorted view of God’s love. We are inclined to look at what happens to others from a normal, human response and believe that “they got what they deserved.”

When we realize the kindness of God to us, and truly realize how undeserving we are, perhaps we may see things differently. If God does not hold anything good from us, should He not treat others the same?

Prayer: Lord, may we look at others the same way You do - with love, kindness, care and compassion. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture: 1 Corinthians 16:14 Let all that you do be done with love.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Unexpected Rewards

He began playing the cello at an early age, and by the time he was eighteen he enjoyed playing in a small European orchestra. Unfortunately, he became nearsighted, and as a result he had to memorize his part and the parts of all of the other instruments if he was to play with the orchestra. Fortunately, he became very skilled at memorization.

One day the orchestra was to play before a large audience. Moments before the performance was to begin, the leader became ill. Arturo Toscanini, the cellist, was called upon to lead the orchestra because he was the only person who knew the music. His performance was flawless and the critics praised his skills. Other opportunities became available and he went on to become a world famous conductor. What may have defeated others became a successful career for him.

God has great plans for each of us. He sees and knows every obstacle we might ever encounter from the beginning to the end. His part is to bring all “things” together; our part is to work with Him to achieve the “good” that He has in store for us.

Prayer: Help us, Lord, to believe that You have a great plan for each of us and never surrender in defeat. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture: Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Love And Respect

One evening a husband returned from work and found his home cluttered and unkempt. Calling to his wife he asked, “What on earth happened today?”

“Well,” she responded, “every evening when you arrive home you ask, ‘What did you do all day?’ Well, now you know.”

When a man and women become husband and wife, a unique relationship is formed: the two become one. And when the two are merged into one, a unique union is formed. From then on, whatever effects one certainly affects the other. It is as if there is no seam.

Paul said that “each man must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.” We know that a man loves himself if he takes care of himself as one who was created in God’s image for God’s glory. If he takes this responsibility seriously, he will strive to develop his spiritual, physical and emotional gifts. As he cares for himself, he must also care for his wife the same way. That is the way God demands that a man love his wife and the only way a wife will know that her husband truly loves her. When this occurs, respect follows naturally.

Prayer: Lord, we pray that in our homes and in our lives we will live this love that comes from You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture: Ephesians 5:33 Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Money Matters!

One day Winston Churchill was informed that he was to address the United Kingdom in one hour. He called a taxi and said to the driver, “Drive me to the British Broadcasting Corporation just as fast as you can.”

“Sorry, sir,” he responded, “I can’t. Sir Winston is to broadcast at six o’clock. I want to get home to hear him.”

The answer thrilled Churchill and he reached in his pocket and gave him a large sum of money.

“The devil with Churchill,” said the driver. “Hop in!” and off they rode.

There is nothing wrong with having money. But there is something wrong if money masters us.

Jesus said that if power or possessions, position or priorities overwhelm us they will ultimately become worthless. What we have in this world will not go with us into the next. Everything here is temporary and cannot be exchanged for salvation or eternity with Him. We Christians are obligated to make the pursuit of God the most important goal of our lives.

Prayer: Help us, Heavenly Father, to live lives that demonstrate to others that You matter most. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture: Mark 6:36-37

Thursday, April 7, 2011

What Do You Do?

An employee was suddenly taken very ill at work and was rushed to the hospital. He was well liked by everyone for his constant humor and great disposition. The first one to visit him at the hospital was his boss.

Standing by the side of his bed and holding his hand, his boss encouraged him by saying, “John, please don’t worry about a thing. Just get well. We’ll all get together and do your work - as soon as we can figure out what you’ve been doing.”

It seems as though every organization has an employee named “John.” He’s over here, over there, everywhere but where he is supposed to be doing what he has been hired to do. He’s busy but doing nothing while others take up the slack.

Paul said to “Work with enthusiasm, as though you were working for the Lord rather than people.” We are encouraged to work responsibly as if Jesus were our supervisor. Even when we find our work unsatisfying or unfulfilling at times, we must always remember that God will reward us for what we do and how we do it, for we do it for His glory.

Prayer: Lord, when our work becomes difficult and we want to quit, encourage us to go on for You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture: Ephesians 6:7-8

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Knowing And Doing

In 1927 many businesses had difficulties that forced them to close. One was an insurance company in Savannah, Georgia. There were more than 500 stockholders who lost hundreds of thousands of dollars. The owner, a man named Mercer, and his son, promised to repay each one of them.

Twenty eight years later the final debt was paid. Even though the father had died, the son paid each debt in full.

The son had become a song writer and it was one of the songs he wrote that enabled him to pay the debts. The songwriter was Johnny Mercer and the song was “Accentuate the Positive.”

Choosing to do the right thing is often difficult, even painful. There are times when it means the loss of money, even doing without things that we may want or need. We may have to give up a friendship or confront something that is wrong in ourselves or another whom we love. Whatever it takes to keep and maintain our integrity is choosing to do what God would have us to do. Knowing what is right is never as important as doing what is right.

Prayer: Lord, may we always honor You by honoring our word and living open and honest lives. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture: 1 Chronicles 29:17

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Don't Leave Shore Without Him

A young naval ensign was completing his first cruise aboard a large destroyer. He performed so admirably in executing all of his duties that he was given the honor of getting the ship “underway.”

In his excitement and enthusiasm for being given such an honor, he went through every procedure carefully, wanting to further impress his superiors. However, in setting a new record, he broke an old rule. As he was steering the ship out of the harbor, the First Officer quietly said to him, “Ensign, you have overlooked one of the unwritten rules of the sea. Make sure the Captain is on board before you get underway.”

There are times in all of our lives when we are so anxious to get underway that we leave our “Captain” standing on the shore. We look at all we are expected to do, the obligations we must fulfill and the tasks that are before us. So we rush to begin the journey. We soon discover that we are in a sea with winds swirling around us and we lose our direction or become surrounded with waves that would overwhelm and destroy us. We are only safe with Him.

Prayer: Lord, may we realize that we will not be safe without Your presence as we travel life’s seas. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture: Psalm 139:10 Even there Your hand shall lead me, And Your right hand shall hold me.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Worthy Words

It has been estimated that the average person speaks about 34,000 words a day. Multiply that by 365 and that amounts to about 12,000,000 words a year. That ought to make our jaws hurt!

When he wrote Psalm 19, David said that he wanted the words coming from his mouth and the thoughts stored in his heart to be pleasing to God. David was so concerned about his words that he wondered if there was any way for him to know the sins that were already lurking in his heart. Then Jesus speaking of the importance of our words said that “...out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.” These “words” should get our attention.

What are we to do about the words that come from our mouths? David asked God to “Set a guard over my mouth and to keep a watch over my lips.” What a great place to begin - to ask God to watch our lips and guard our mouths at all times.

Realizing that God knows every thought we think and every word we speak should cause us to ask Him to make our hearts and minds pure. Then with His power and presence our words will please Him.

Prayer: Father, may our hearts be so full of Your love that the words we speak will help others. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture: Psalm 19:12-14

Friday, April 1, 2011

Start Immediately!

The great American novelist, Sinclair Lewis, was invited to give a lecture to a group of college students who wanted to become writers. As they sat quietly and waited expectantly, he opened his remarks by asking, “How many of you intend to become successful writers?”

Immediately, everyone in the audience held up a hand to declare their intentions.

“In that case,” said Lewis, “my advice to you is to go home and write.”

Shortly after creating Adam, God directed him to care for and tend to the Garden that He had created for him. And ever since then man has been responsible for working with God to take care of His creation. Each day we are to take every task and do it as “though we are working for the Lord.” Why?

“Remember,” said Paul, “the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward” because we “work for Him, rather than people.” We are also told to “work hard and cheerfully” because our tasks are acts of worship as we serve Christ each day.

Prayer: Father, may we remember that whatever we do in word or deed, we do to the glory of God. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture: Colossians 3:23-24 And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.