Friday, July 29, 2011

Words Work!

Hearing had become a rather serious problem for him as he aged. So, Grandpa decided to purchase a hearing aid. After completing the various tests and adjustments, he began to wear it with much enjoyment. Everyone was delighted that he was more responsive and involved during their conversations. However, no one saw the small, almost invisible device in his ear.

Delighted at how his life had improved, he went back to visit his doctor to thank him for his help. As he was about to leave the office the doctor said, “I’m sure that your family and friends are as happy as you are!”

“Are you kiddin’!” chuckled Grandpa. “They don’t know I have it and they sure don’t know that I can hear now. I’ve changed my will three times in two weeks.”

How would our words be different if all the world was listening to everything we said? How would our words be different, if when we went to say something about someone, that “one” was there, part of the conversation - listening and participating? Would the conversations ever begin and could we look them in the eye as we spoke?

“May my words…and thoughts…be pleasing, Oh, Lord.” A good way to begin each day is to dedicate our mouths to God asking that His love will guide our words.

Prayer: Help us, Father, to realize that our words are at work, helping or hurting, blessing or breaking, bringing life or death. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 19:14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my strength and my Redeemer.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Challenging The Unknown

It was the responsibility of Doc, our German shepherd, to be the protector of our home. He had been specially trained for this duty. Each evening he would travel from room to room making sure that “all was well.” After he completed his “tour” he would lie patiently between our chairs never leaving us for a moment.

One evening he heard thunder for the first time. Up went his ears. His eyebrows furrowed. Finally, he sat up ready to do something. His only problem was that he did not know what to do: they did not teach him “thunder” at the dog training school. So, he immediately began running from room to room, barking loudly and looking for an intruder who dared to challenge him.

Initially, it was rather humorous. But as the intensity of his search continued and his fear and frustration became more futile, I called him to my side. Then I ordered him to sit, placed his body next to my leg and petted him gently until the thunder and his fear was gone.

Thunderstorms are common in all of our lives. They often appear with no warning. One moment the sky is blue, the clouds are bright and the breeze gentle. The next moment we are facing driving rains and fierce winds. Said King David: “But when I am afraid, I put my trust in You!”

Prayer: Thank You, Lord, for the peace that comes with Your protection and the strength You give with Your grace. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Scripture: Psalm 56:3 Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

In And Out

IN AND OUT

A shopper had been in line at a “courtesy” counter for longer that she cared to remember. It seemed as though each person returning an item tried to outdo the one in front of them with cutting remarks and hateful comments. Often they blamed the associate for the defect in the item as if she were the manufacturer and wanted to cause problems for the customer.

One after one they complained unrelentingly. Yet, one after one she responded to the cutting comments with kindness and care. She had a smile for their sarcasm and sweetness for their bitterness. How was she able to do it?

Bewildered, the lady finally made it to the counter, not knowing what to say about the item she was returning. It was then that she saw the inscription on the lady's earrings: One said “IN” and the other “OUT.”

Paul said that “love is patient and kind.” Not, “You Christians have the right to choose those who deserve love and kindness.” Loving others is a behavior that is central to the new birth. It is not an option nor is the responsibility to love others open to debate or discussion. It simply comes with conversion. If there is no serving love, we need to ask ourselves whether or not we have truly experienced God’s saving grace and forgiveness.

We must overcome evil with grace - like Jesus.

Prayer: Help us, Lord, to live Your love, give Your grace, and speak words of care and compassion as You did. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Scripture for Today: Ephesians 4:31-32 Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Sure I Do!

Two men were having an intense discussion about the Bible. Said one, “So you think that you know a lot about the Bible. O.K. Here’s ten dollars that says you can’t repeat the Lord’s prayer without making a mistake.”

The other quickly replied, “Here’s twenty dollars that says I can.” With a brave smile and a voice filled with confidence he began: “Now, I lay me down to sleep…”

Interrupting him, his friend said, “You sure surprised me. I didn’t think you knew it. Here’s the money.”

What an insightful story. Over one hundred million Bibles are sold each year. How astounding! Dare we ask: What difference will they make in the lives of people who purchased them? Or, what difference has the Bible made in the lives of those of us who have owned one for years? With all of the Bibles in circulation, no one can estimate how many are opened, read, understood, believed and have brought about changes in the lives of the owners.

People, even Bible owners, seem to be losing their moral compass. There is a lack of direction, determination and diligence to live God-honoring lives. The Psalmist said that the only way a person can “stay pure” is to “obey Your Word and follow its rules.” No matter how corrupt our environment may be, or how strong the temptations, or how much the “evil one” may try us, we can “stay pure.”

Prayer: Help us, Father, to allow Your Word to make a difference in our lives as we accept and apply its truth. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 119:9-16 How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word. (Click to read more…)

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Worth Of A Wife

After a Sunday sermon on Solomon, James asked his Dad, “Why was he considered the wisest man in the world?”

“Because,” came an immediate response from his Mom, “he had so many wives to advise him.”

The Bible tells that the Lord formed man from the dust of the ground, breathed the breath of life into his nostrils and he then became a living person. However, He realized that it was not “good for the man to be alone” and said, “I will make him a companion.”

God’s creative work was not complete until He made woman. He could have made her from the dust of the ground as He did Adam. But He didn’t. God chose to make her from the man’s flesh and blood to illustrate that when a man and a woman marry they are symbolically united into one. This ultimately represents a mystical union of the couple’s hearts, bodies, minds and lives.

Proverbs ends with the characteristics of the woman that God intends for a man to marry. In addition to being virtuous, she is to be strong, wise, skilled, energetic, have great compassion and be an excellent wife and mother. Such characteristics seem far beyond reason. Not really, says the author. All that he describes as the qualities of this woman come from one source: Her reverence for God.

Prayer: Father, we pray for godly parents that provide godly homes so children will come to know You as Lord. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 31:10-31 Who can find a virtuous wife? For her worth is far above rubies. (Read more...)

Friday, July 22, 2011

Is It Luck Or Is It Labor?

Gary Player, the great golfer, was completing the final hole in the final round of an important tournament. His ball landed in the sand trap and it appeared as though he would not win. He walked into the bunker, looked at his ball and then the green, and then positioned himself for a make-or-break swing. Finally, he blasted the ball with all of his might, it went up into the air and rolled into the cup!

One of his spectators shouted, “You were sure lucky, Gary!”

“Yes,” he replied, “but the more I practice and the harder I work, the luckier I get!”

Luck waits for someone or something to turn up and bring good fortune. It spends countless hours looking into the future believing that there will be a turn of events, an unanticipated shower of good things falling from the clouds, an unexpected opportunity that comes in the mail or over the phone. It seems to suggest that if we wait long enough, patiently enough, quietly enough, good things will happen.

Some think that chance happenings, good or bad, are a result of one’s “luck.” Is there such a thing? Is there a reference to it in God’s Word? No. But He does say that we are to seek and trust His understanding of things, not ours.

Prayer: Help us, Lord, not to wait and wonder, but to work and watch for signs and signals that give us Your directions. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Last Appointment

“I’m not afraid to die,” begins an old fable. “I’ll gladly go with you, if you will only give me a warning. Let’s make that our agreement.”

“We will,” promised the visitor.

One night, years later, Death came for the old man. “You are here without warning!” shouted the frightened man. “Why didn’t you let me know you were coming?”

“I’ve sent you many messages,” answered Death. “Your hair is thin and white. Your hearing is very poor. You cannot see without thick glasses. You have difficulty in walking. Your closest friends have gone on. I’ve sent you many messages but you did not seem to be interested in any of them. But now your time has come to leave with me.”

It is not a topic we usually talk or think about very frequently, yet we all know our time on earth is limited. But Jesus, Who wants to be our Savior, died on our behalf so that we could live with Him in eternity forever. He has provided us an unbelievable opportunity if we only accept it. His saving grace does away with our past, present and even future sin if we accept what He has done for us on the cross. When we reach out to Him, in faith believing, He’ll be there with us at “the last appointment” waiting graciously to take us to be with Him for all of eternity.

Prayer: We rejoice, Father, in the goodness of Your love, the fact of Your salvation and the hope we have in You. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Scripture for Today: Hebrews 9:2

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Think, Then Talk

A witness had been called to testify. As he spoke, the judge listened very carefully. At one point he said, “I think, your Honor…”

The judge immediately stopped him and said, “We don’t care what you think. Simply tell us the facts!”

“But, your Honor,” he said “I can’t talk without thinking.”

What a difference a word makes. And what a different world this would be if our minds were filled with kind and gracious thoughts. It is a known fact that what we think about is what we say and what we do. Our words and actions betray our thoughts and feelings.

We get some great advice from Paul. He said that we are to “fix our thoughts on what is true…honorable…right…pure…lovely…admirable…excellent…and worthy of praise.”

Whenever we speak harsh words about others or do unkind deeds toward others it comes from the thoughts we have stored up in our mind about them. It is so easy to program our thoughts with the opposite of what Paul was writing about. When we watch the news, read newspapers or magazines or even talk to friends, kind words on noble deeds are rarely the main topic of conversation.

Paul set the standard for how Christians are to think.

Prayer: Help us, Father, to fill our minds with things that are pleasing to You so that we reflect Your grace. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Scripture for Today: Philippians 4:8-9

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Trust

Seven mountain climbers successfully made it safely to the top of the Matterhorn. As they began their descent, one slipped and began to drag three others down with him. Their cries alerted the others and they braced themselves quickly to stand the pressure it would place on the rope that linked them all together.

When the pressure came, the rope broke. Their best friends perished.

The remaining three descended safely. When they checked the rope the others were using, they discovered that it was not a genuine Alpine Club rope.

Trust is an important part of life. When we apply the brakes in our car, we trust that it will stop. When we sit in a chair, we trust that it will hold us up. When we eat food, we trust that it is safe. When we follow the advice of our physician, we trust that it will make us well.

But we have all experienced the disappointment of placing our trust in someone who has betrayed us. It may have been a friend or a family member, an employer or the economy. The pain is always intense when one we trust lets us down.

We must not stop trusting, but realize that earthly things and people can fail. We must come to the place where we put our ultimate trust in God, knowing He honors His Word.

Prayer: Father, how thankful we are that “salvation is of the Lord” and that we can trust in You all the days of our life. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Scripture: Psalm 9:10 And those who know Your name will put their trust in You; For You, LORD, have not forsaken those who seek You.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

"Man Needs Challenges"

James Whitaker was the first American to conquer Mount Everest. A reporter asked him, “Why did you risk your life in such an endeavor?”

“Because,” he said, “of the challenge. I wanted to see if I could stand on the top. You don’t conquer the mountain. You conquer yourself. You overcome your sickness, your pains, your fears to reach the summit. Man needs challenges.”

Life is full of challenges. Some we create to develop our strength or potential. Others come at us as a complete surprise with no warning in advance or means of escape. Many are short term while others may last a lifetime. While we can overcome most of them, there are some that overcome us.

There are times when God uses certain negative situations in our lives to prepare us for tasks that are in our future. There are times when He knows that we need to increase our faith and trust in His grace and mercy. And there are times when we face hardships because of our poor choices or not following His will for our lives.

The Bible tells us that we will encounter many trials in this life. But it also promises us that God will be with us, and that His presence, love, comfort and strength are ours for the asking.

Prayer: Father, when we go through the difficulties of life we ask for Your hand and the assurance of Your presence. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Scripture for Today: Hebrews 12:1-2

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

I Want To Love You

Sally was sitting in her favorite rocking chair hugging and kissing her favorite doll. Every now and then she would glance up at her mother who was working at her desk.

As soon as her mother finished her work, Sally jumped from her rocker, ran to where her mother was sitting, climbed in her lap, gave her a hug and kiss and said, “I’m sure glad you are through working. I want to love you!”

“But,” said her mom, “I thought you were having a good time loving your doll.”

“I was, Mom,” she said, “but she never loves back.”

Our God loves us relentlessly and continuously. No matter our flaws or our faults, He loves us completely. Even though we have faltered and failed He has not abandoned us. His love is a love that is not conditional or complicated. It is a love that is available at all times, in all places and in all kinds of circumstances.

And one of God’s great desires is that we love others the same way He loves us. First of all He asks that we love Him in return for the love He has shown us in His Son. Then He asks us to love others the way He loves us. When we love others, it demonstrates that we are His children, who we are and what is important to us. Loving others pleases Him more than any great work that we might do on His behalf.

Prayer: Help us, Father, to love others as You love us - expecting nothing in return but the opportunity to serve You. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Scripture for Today: John 13:34-35

Monday, July 11, 2011

Seekers, Finders

Comedian Red Skelton was once asked to speak to a college student body on the subject of religion. At the end of his speech, during a question and answer session a student asked, “Why can’t I find God?”

Skelton quickly responded, “For the same reason you can’t find a cop. You’re not looking for one.”

King David had something to say to those who say that they can’t find God: “The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display His craftsmanship. Day after day they continue to speak and night after night they make Him known.”

What is so obvious about God is that He is so obvious to those who are looking for Him. In this one psalm David writes that God can be found in the heavens (v.1-4), in nature (v.4-6), in the instructions He has given in His Word (v.7-11), and the story of redemption that can be witnessed in the life of the Psalmist himself (v.12-14).

What a wonderful summary of the story of salvation! We have been surrounded by unimaginable displays of God’s craftsmanship that display His power. Yet His power is not an end in itself. It is revealed ultimately and finally in the work of His Son’s life, death and resurrection. David spoke of that when he asked God to deliver him from sin so that he could be free of guilt and innocent of great sin.

Prayer: We thank You, Lord, for loving us so much that You did everything possible to reach and redeem us through Christ. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 19

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Who Is The Enemy?

In 1959 the English and French were at war in colonial Canada. Admiral Phipps was in charge of the British fleet. He was ordered to anchor outside of the city of Quebec on the Saint Lawrence River. He was to await the arrival of the British infantry and then assist the land forces in the attack.

The admiral was known to be a nonconformist and became annoyed at all of the statues of the saints that adorned the roof and towers of the Catholic church. To pass the time he began shooting at the saints with the guns that were aboard his ship. Finally, when the infantry arrived and the signal was given for the attack, Admiral Phipps was out of ammunition and he could not participate in the battle. He used all of his ammunition shooting out the saints.

Peter wrote about “shooting out the saints” when he said, “Finally…live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult.”

So often we church members waste our time and energy fighting among ourselves over the insignificant and trivial. We would rather destroy those who differ with us than to build up and encourage each other to become Christlike. We must focus on fighting the enemy – Satan.

Prayer: Help us, Lord, to recognize who the real enemy is and direct our attack at him and his forces who would destroy us. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Scripture for Today: 1 Peter 3:8-9

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Making Choices

Sitting on a steel girder high above the ground, Joe opened up his lunch container, looked at his sandwich and said, “Peanut butter and jelly. Three days in a row I’ve had peanut butter and jelly.”

“Why are you complaining to me? Complain to your wife. Tell her you don’t want peanut butter and jelly,” said his friend, John.

“Don’t blame my wife,” said Joe. “She didn’t make them. It’s my lunch so I make my own sandwiches.”

In one way or another, we all “make our own sandwiches.” What goes in between the slices of bread is, in the final analysis, up to us. We can eat the same old thing, experiment with new tastes or stick with what we enjoy.

When we receive Christ, we are regenerated spiritually and emotionally and God wants to give us a new way of thinking. The Spirit of God comes to make His home in us and wants us to have the mind of Christ in us to guide us.

Even so, we chose what we put into our lives. We still have our own nature and will, but we do have a new source of insight and wisdom available to us. We can, with the Lord’s guidance, fill our minds and lives with only the best that God has to offer if we allow Him to instruct us.

Prayer: We ask, Father, that we will allow Your Spirit to guide our choices so that we may live worthy of You. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Scripture for Today: 1 Corinthians 2:16 For “who has known the mind of the LORD that he may instruct Him?” But we have the mind of Christ.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Ready, Aim...

D. L. Moody, the founder of Moody Bible Institute, was known to be a man of action. One day he was talking to a church leader about an idea. He described it in great detail and wanted to know if it had any merit. So he asked, “What do you think?”

After a moment’s thought, the man replied, “We’ve been aiming to do that for two years.”

“Well,” said Mr. Moody, “don’t you think it’s time to fire?”

God speaks to us in various ways. Sometimes it is when we read His Word or during a sermon. His Spirit may give us a nudge while we are meditating. He often speaks through a friend who tells us of one who needs a word of encouragement. We may learn of someone who is suffering or doing without the necessities of life.

Although it is important to hear God speak to us, it is more important to obey His voice by doing what His Spirit prompts us to do. Our love for God is measured by obeying His commandments and serving others in need.

God “readies” us with the skills, talents and abilities He has given us. When we see an opportunity to serve Him, we need to take “aim.” And then at the right time, “fire.”

Prayer: Help us, Father, to do more than see the needs of others. May we be anxious to reach out and make a difference. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Scripture for Today: James 1:21 Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.