Thursday, June 30, 2011

Don't Doubt

Samuel Francis DuPont was a successful Admiral in the United States Navy. But on one occasion he suffered a humiliating defeat. Following this loss he went to his commanding officer and carefully explained why he lost the battle.

At the end of his explanation, his commanding officer said, “There’s one more reason you did not mention. You did not believe that you could win.”
Doubt leads many of us into defeat. It destroys our determination and undermines our vision. Whenever we doubt God’s power or ability, we place our trust in someone or something else. It is as though we are saying, “God, we don’t trust You so we are going to try to solve our problems without You.”

Jesus once said, “If you really believe, you can say to this mountain - May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea - and it will happen!” Jesus used this powerful illustration to emphasize the fact God can do the impossible. God answers our prayers when we pray in faith, have unselfish motives, know that what we ask for will bring glory to Him, will extend His kingdom on earth and is in keeping with His will for our lives.

Prayer: Lord, may we have enough confidence in Your Word to believe that all things are possible. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Mark 11:22 So Jesus answered and said to them, “Have faith in God.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

When Times Are Threatening

A young boy was sitting on the roof of his home watching his father repair a leak in the shingles. Not realizing the steep pitch of the roof, he began to inch his way upward and suddenly started to slide downward. Realizing the danger of his situation he shouted, “O God, help me I’m in trouble and I’m going to fall to my death!”

Suddenly his jeans became snagged on a nail and he stopped sliding. Looking upward he said, “Thanks God, I’m all right now!”

Who do you call upon when you are suddenly faced with a life threatening situation? We often have a loved one whom we can call upon in a moment’s notice. Most of us are blessed with a few faithful friends who respond immediately in times of disaster. But when we are suddenly and without warning faced with an imminent threat, what then?

Fortunately, our God has promised us that we will never face any adversity alone. Again and again His Word assures us that He is ready, willing and able to rescue us when we are in trouble. He is always alert, awaiting our call and anxious to respond.

Prayer: Father, we are grateful for Your promise that we can always “call upon You in the day of trouble.” In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 50:15 Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me.”

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Life Is Choice

Some politicians are notorious for the ability to explain away every issue without taking a stand on any of them. One was recognized as being as spineless as spaghetti. Once when asked a question he said, “Part of my friends favor one side of that issue and part of them favor the other side of that issue. I am in favor of my friends!”

No matter what is at stake, it is always possible to find people who will take opposing sides of any given issue. There are even times when the issue does not matter but people still take sides and argue for the sake of arguing. Sometimes the issue is fleeting or frivolous and not worth serious discussion or debate. Still, sides are chosen and positions staked out.

There is one issue that confronts everyone. It is the issue of who will be the Lord of our lives. Joshua once confronted the people of Israel and said, “Choose you this day whom you will serve.” The people had to make a choice between the God whom they knew they could trust, or the gods who had always failed them.

We, too, must make that choice. What we decide will determine our destiny.

Prayer: Father, give us courage to stand firm and to always be faithful in our commitment to You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Joshua 24:14-15

Monday, June 27, 2011

Overcoming Adversity

Enterprise, Alabama is known for having a monument to an agricultural pest – the boll weevil. In 1915, the “pest” invaded the area and destroyed their only crop – cotton. This disaster left the farmers destitute and nearly hopeless. However, in 1917 the county produced and harvested more peanuts than any other county in the nation.

The monument, erected in 1919, stands in the center of the downtown district as a symbol of their willingness and ability to adjust to and overcome adversity. The residents are quick and proud to remind visitors of the lessons they learned from the boll weevil.

One resident said, “There was a time when we had one crop – cotton; the boll weevil destroyed it. Then we were forced to diversify. Now we are doing better than ever. The boll weevil was a blessing in disguise.”

Paul said, “We can rejoice when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance.” Difficulties are not to be dreaded. We are to accept them as unique opportunities that God brings into our lives as challenges to help us “diversify.”

Prayer: Lord, help us to trust in Your goodness and grace, believing that all things are possible through You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Romans 5:3 And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance;

Friday, June 24, 2011

God's Will

Following the morning sermon, a young college student asked if the pastor could give him a few minutes of his time. Agreeing, the pastor asked the student to meet him in his study.

“Pastor,” the student began, “I did not completely understand what you meant by Christians being willing to do God’s will. What is God’s will for my life?”

Handing the student a sheet of paper with nothing on it, the pastor said, “It’s signing your name at the bottom of this blank sheet of paper and letting God fill it in as He wills.”

God has a special, specific plan for each of our lives. It is a good plan, a pleasing plan and a perfect plan that He designed for every day of our lives. One problem most of us have is that we go to Him with what we want to do and ask Him to agree with us. That is not what He wants or what He will bless.

We can only be what He wants us to be and do what He wants us to do if we go to Him with a blank sheet of paper and ask Him to “fill it in.” We must go to Him with open minds, willing hearts and uplifted hands.

Prayer: Help us, Father, to willingly give up everything for You, and not give You up for anything. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Romans 12:1-2

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Acorns And Watermelons

A father and his son were walking through a grove of oak trees. Suddenly the boy turned to his Dad and said, “You know, I think God really goofed. He put a watermelon on a small vine and an acorn on a big oak. I would have done it the exact opposite.”

As he was about to continue his speech, an acorn fell from a tree, landed on his head and bounced to the ground. Quickly the father said, “Aren’t you glad that wasn’t a watermelon?”

Often we are puzzled by what is occurring around us. We try to understand what is happening to us only to discover that we lack wisdom and insight. Try as we might, some things do not make sense. What do we do and where do we look for answers?

Wisdom and insight come from two sources: First, they are gifts that God wants to give us. Second, they come from studying God’s Word and seeking His knowledge about His will for us. They take time to get and discipline to use. But the wonderful fact for us to know is that they are available to us if we earnestly seek them, have hearts open to receive them, minds ready to apply them and lives willing to use them.

Prayer: Lord, may we hear and obey Your instructions and find direction and protection for our lives. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 3:5-7

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

How Busy Is Too Busy?

Julia Ward Howe once asked a senator to help a wounded soldier.

Came a quick reply, “I’ve become so busy with my responsibilities as a senator that I can’t concern myself with individuals.”

“That’s remarkable,” she replied. “Even God hasn’t achieved that level of importance yet.”

On one occasion Jesus was offering a word of encouragement to His disciples. They were going into unknown territory to do things they had never done before. Naturally they were afraid. To calm their fears and expand their faith and trust in God, He said, “Not one sparrow can fall to the ground without Your Father knowing it.” God’s concern includes everything.

We often interpret the word “fall” as “falling in death.” But the word “fall” in this verse refers to a bird that is in flight, lands, hops around and then takes off again. Jesus was teaching His disciples that every time a small sparrow hops from one place to another, God is aware of each little “hop” of each little bird.

Whenever we feel insignificant or unimportant, we need to remind ourselves of God watching birds hop.

Prayer: Lord, since You created us and Your Son died for us, how much You care for us is far beyond us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Matthew 10:28-31

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Why Worry?

A reporter once asked Henry Ford the question, “Do you ever worry?”

“No. I believe that God is managing my affairs. With God in charge, I believe that everything will work out for our best. So, what’s there to worry about?”

Worry is like going back and forth in a rocking chair: a lot of motion and no forward movement. It can disturb our thinking, disorganize our work, destroy our health and steal our life. It has never calmed a fear or brought peace to a troubled heart.

Worry is nothing more than anticipating some calamity or chaos that will probably never come our way. It normally has no substance or power except what we allow it to have as it invades our minds and controls our thoughts.

When we allow worry to muddle our minds, we need to call upon God immediately. We must ask Him to replace each worry with His promises and ask for an extra portion of faith and trust in His goodness and grace. He knows what is in our future and every need that we will ever have and is committed to caring for us.

Prayer: Help me, Father, to increase my faith in You as I learn to trust Your promises and accept Your will. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Matthew 6:31-32 “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Love Enough To Care

Day after day Amy Jo came home from school crying. Her classmates were unkind and hurtful. They made fun of her uncontrolled movements, her limping, twisting and drooling. She could hardly sit or stand still without jerking.

One day she wrote a letter to an editor. In it she wrote: “I have a problem in school. Kids laugh at me because of the way I walk and talk. I have cerebral palsy. I just want one day when no one laughs at me and makes fun of me.”

First one paper carried her story, and then another. Eventually it was carried by many newspapers and she received an astounding number of letters that brought her hope, comfort and encouragement.

Many people have broken hearts not because of mental or physical disabilities. Their hearts ache and their shoulders droop because they are left out, feel unwelcome or unacceptable - even in our churches.

Jesus said that loving one’s neighbor was the second most important commandment and Paul said it was more important than any spiritual gift. Love is not a word; it is a way of life - the Christ-filled life.

Prayer: Help us, Father, to seek out the lonely, the abandoned and the neglected and give them Your love. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Friday, June 17, 2011

"You Be Jesus"

It was a Saturday morning with many activities scheduled for the day. To make it special, the mother of Albert and George was preparing pancakes for them. Suddenly, they began to argue over which of them would get the first ones.

Dismayed over their arguing, the mother said, “If Jesus were sitting here, He’d say ‘Let my brother have the first pancakes.’”

“Great idea, Mom! George, you be Jesus and I’ll take the first pancakes,” said Albert.

Paul, writing about how to “live love,” said that “love does not demand its own way.” In other words, the love that we as Christians are to demonstrate in our lives is not a self-centered love. It is a love that focuses on the needs of others - the way God loves us.

God loves us relentlessly, completely, with no limitations or conditions. In spite of our shortcomings or failures, He is there for us, with us - loving us.

And what does He ask of us? First, that we love Him in return for His love. Then, He asks us to love others as He loves us. When we love others as He loves us, we prove to others what Christian love is all about.

Prayer: Help us, Lord, to love as You loved, to give as You gave, to care as You cared, and to do as You did. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: 1 Corinthians 13:5 Love does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil;

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Winning And Trying

It was his first attempt to win a trophy for swimming. He was successful and won first place. After receiving his prized possession, his mother said, “I’m so happy for you. I never won a trophy.”

“Mom,” he asked, “did you ever try?”

God created each of us to succeed. But we can never succeed at anything until we try something. And whenever we want to accomplish anything, we need a good place to begin. We find that “place” in the first words of the Bible: “In the beginning - GOD….”

Beginning with God means that before we try to do anything we seek His will. God promised Joshua great success. He told him that no one would be able to stand their ground against him, promising, “I will not fail you or abandon you” as long as you live. But He gave him a warning: “study the Book of the Law continually… obey it…and only then will you succeed.”

The promise that God gave to Joshua works for us, too. However, God places the same limits on our success: “Study My Word continually, obey it, and only then you will succeed.” If we begin with God’s Word, we will end with God’s blessings. Surely, that is success!

Prayer: Lord, help us to realize and remember that success is all about You and never about us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Joshua 1:1-9

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

I Certainly Hope So"

He had been dating JoAnn for nearly a year. One evening he decided that it was time he proposed to her and ask that she marry him. His plea was passionate and his voice sincere. After listening to his carefully chosen words she said, “I can’t become your wife!”

“Why?” he demanded. “Is there someone else?”

“I certainly hope so,” came the reply.

Hope is the confident optimism that comes to Christians knowing that God has good things in store for them. Those whose hope is outside of Christ may hope for things that fail them miserably or lead them into trouble. Some look expectantly for things to change and life to improve believing that it is possible to find joy and peace with what the world has to offer.

If we hope in the things of this world, we will find frustration and disappointment, confusion and doubt. The things of this world provide no reason for security or salvation. True hope comes only from God. Said the Psalmist, “My only hope is in You.”

The Lord Himself is the source of hope because His character is unchanging, His promises dependable, His love enduring and His care continuous.

Prayer: Father, we claim Your Word as the only true and reliable source for hope as the anchor for our lives. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 39:7 And now, Lord, what do I wait for? My hope is in You.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Stress And Distress

A man hurrying to meet a deadline was caught in a traffic jam. As his anger grew and his patience diminished, he noticed a bumper sticker that read, “Go ahead and honk. It’s your ulcer.” It added to his rage and he tried to strangle his steering wheel by squeezing it as tightly as he could.

Stress invades all of our lives and quickly causes distress. Whether it is a problem we are having difficulty solving, a goal we can’t achieve or a decision that eludes us, we all face events that seem to be more than we can bear or beyond our capabilities. What then?

Peter said, “Give all your cares and worries to God for He cares about what happens to you!” When we refuse to give our stressors and struggles to God, we reveal our lack of trust in His strength. Often this shows a lack of humility on our part because we are saying to Him: “I really don’t need You - I can do this all by myself!” It takes real humility to admit to God that we need His help and the help of others who care for us. We need to recognize our limitations and His love and willingness to do for us what we can’t do for ourselves.

Prayer: Father, give us grace for our grief, faith for our fears and peace and directions for every decision. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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

Monday, June 13, 2011

Keep At It!

Little Leslie looked out the window at a large snow bank that blocked the sidewalk to the front door. He decided to do something about it. Bundling up in his warmest clothes, he got a snow shovel, went outside and began to remove the snow.

His neighbor was walking by and said to him, “How can such a small child like you expect to remove so much snow?”

Looking the man in the eye he said, “My Dad said that if I don’t give up and keep at something, I can always get through it!”

The committed person is not the one who sees through something. The committed person is the one who sees something through!

Paul said that Christians are to “stay true to the Lord.” This is often difficult to do unless we remind ourselves continually to keep our eyes on Jesus and never forget that this world is not our home.

George Whitfield constantly prayed, “Lord keep a thorn in my nest so I won’t get too comfortable and forget that I am here on this earth to work for You every day of my life.”

Prayer: Lord, may everything about us show those around us that we are faithful and true to You, our Savior. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Philippians 4:1 Therefore, my beloved and longed-for brethren, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, beloved.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Decisions, Decisions

A farmer in rural Georgia employed a man to work for him. The first day he gave him a job digging post holes. He explained his task carefully, taught him how to operate the equipment wisely and left him to dig the holes. He completed this project in record time. He was given the remainder of the day off as a reward.

The next day he gave him a much easier job: sorting good potatoes from bad ones. Half way through the morning he went to the farmer and said, “I’ve got to lie down. I have developed a horrible headache from making all of those decisions.”

Some individuals leave life to chance - taking whatever comes their way. However, as Christians we must carefully consider the options and opportunities that God sends our way every day. We must carefully consider each choice we make and saturate our lives with God’s Word so we can discern God’s way for our lives. God’s will and way for our lives is to make choices that honor Him. We can do this if our decisions express the fruits of the Spirit: love, joy peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

Prayer: Lord, may everything we do and everything we say demonstrate the fruit of Your Spirit living in us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Practicing The Presence Of God

Lord Moynihan was a brilliant, skillful and world famous British surgeon. On one occasion after completing an operation before a gallery of doctors, a reporter asked, “How can you work so calmly with such a famous crowd of surgeons present?”

Thoughtfully he replied, “There are just three people in the operating room when I operate: the patient, myself and God.”

As he concluded his farewell speech, Moses said to Joshua that the Lord would be with him: “Do not be afraid or discouraged…I will go ahead of you and be with you and never abandon you.” We often forget that wherever we are, God is: He is the one Who created us, has a plan for us and will purposefully work through us.

The opposite of being “discouraged” is to be “encouraged.” “En” means “to give courage to!” And this is what God will do for us constantly and continually. He will give us courage to face every challenge in life because He will never forget us, forsake us nor fail us.

The question is not “Can we count on God to be faithful to us?” The question is “Can God count on us to be faithful and obedient to Him in all He asks of us?”

Prayer: Heavenly Father, may we sense Your presence and power wherever we are and whatever we do. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Deuteronomy 31:1-8

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Pretzels And Prayer

Years ago, there was a group of monks in the northern part of Italy who gathered a group of children together to teach them to pray. Each time the children learned a new prayer, they were given a gift as a reward.

One monk began to pray about the gifts he was giving the children. He wanted them to remind the children to pray. So, he decided to give the children a tasty item baked in his oven from unleavened bread. Rolling out a piece of dough, he carefully designed a pastry with three holes and a twist in the middle that represented two arms folded in prayer. He called it a “pretola” which means “little gift.” It was eventually called a “pretzel” and has been enjoyed all over the world for 1300 years.

All of us have many opportunities to remind people of the importance of prayer. One thing we can do is to share with others God’s answers to our prayers. Another thing we can do is to invite people to pray with us. We can also remind others of what God’s Word teaches about prayer. Perhaps one day when eating a pretzel with a friend, we can share the story of the pretzel and remind them to pray whenever they see a pretzel.

Prayer: Help us, Lord, to realize the importance of prayer, to set an example in prayers and to teach others to pray. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Luke 18:1 Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Just Ask

During a lull in the Spanish-American War of 1898, Colonel Teddy Roosevelt went to a nurse named Clara Barton. Politely he said, “I have men who are sick and wounded in my regiment. They need the delicacies that you of the Red Cross have. I’m ready to pay for them out of my own pocket.”

“Not for a million dollars,” came the reply. “All you have to do is to ask.”

Salvation is like that. We cannot buy it or earn it, work to attain it nor expect to inherit it from a parent or relative. We must ask for it with sincerity and the simple faith of a small child.

When offered a gift we must accept it to receive it. God’s salvation, through Jesus Christ, is offered to us as His gift. Even the faith to accept His salvation is a gift. But we must ask for and accept it to receive it.

Perhaps the most concise definition of how a person is saved is contained in the words: “By grace are you saved through faith which is a gift from God.” Our salvation comes from God’s grace and our trust in what He did for us through His Son. As Christians we live and die depending on God’s gifts of grace and faith.

Prayer: Father, we are grateful for Your love, grace and mercy and reach out to You in faith accepting Your salvation. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Scripture for Today: Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Trusting The Plan

Years ago I would watch my mother embroider beautiful napkins, pillowcases and tablecloths. She would spend hours working within a small “hoop” that stretched the fabric tight so she could follow the pattern. She would work with one color of thread at a time until she finished that part of the pattern.

If I looked underneath the “hoop,” I would see many knots and dangling threads that made no sense at all. It looked like a real mess. Looking carefully on the top side of the “hoop,” however, I would eventually see a pattern emerge that followed the plan of an artist. And when the product was finished, it was beautiful.

There are times when it seems as though life is made up of “many knots and dangling threads.” No matter where we look, nothing makes any sense at all. We feel forced to cry out, “Lord, what are You doing?” or “Where are you taking me?” or “What’s happening?”
or “I want to give up!” or “Is there no plan, God?”

When times are tough, we must turn to and trust in His Word: “I know the plans I have for you…Plans for good and not for evil…to give you a future and a hope!” Look for the pattern. It’s there!

Prayer: Lord, when days are dark and the path is perilous, let us sense Your presence and trust Your plan. 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.

Friday, June 3, 2011

The Goal

Florence Chadwick swam across the English Channel from England to France in 13 hours and 20 minutes in 1950. The following year she swam from France to England becoming the first woman to swim the channel in both directions.

Two years later she decided to swim from the Catalina Islands to Palos Verdes, California, a distance of 26 miles. She was surrounded by people in small boats who were concerned for her well-being. They were prepared to help if she became tired or came into any danger from sharks. After 15 hours, a thick fog settled in and she began to doubt her ability to complete her journey. An hour later she was pulled from the water, unable to see the shore. After getting into the boat, she learned that she had stopped one mile short of the shore.

Two months later she tried again - this time successfully. Even though a thick fog settled over her journey once again, she accomplished her goal because she kept a mental image of the coastline in her mind.

Paul said, “Fix your minds on what is true, right, honorable, lovely and admirable.” To achieve our goal to live “Christ like,” we must not let the “fog settle in!”

Prayer: Help us, Lord, to keep our eyes focused on You, and trust in Your strength to sustain and protect us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Philippians 4:8-10

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Kepp On Keeping On!

Once, during a performance before a large audience by the great violinist Itzahk Perlman, a string suddenly broke. The loud snap stunned the orchestra and the conductor silenced them. The audience, too, waited silently, expecting him to pause and replace the string.

Quickly he motioned to the conductor and requested that they continue playing the concerto at the precise point where they had stopped. Perlman then joined them using only three strings.

At the conclusion of the concert the audience gave him a long, standing ovation for his brilliant performance. Finally, when they paused he said, “Sometimes it is the artist’s responsibility to find out how much music he can make with what he has left.”

Often we are tempted to focus on how little we may have rather than on how much God has given us. We emphasize our fears and failures rather than God’s grace and goodness. We look into the mirror and say, “If I had one more string, I could play brilliantly.”

God will give us the skills and talents, strength and power to do whatever He calls us to do.

Prayer: Lord, may we always serve You faithfully and sincerely with each of the gifts You have given us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Romans 12:1 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.