Friday, December 30, 2011

Strength For The Journey

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, December 29, 2011

With God, All Things...

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

When Heaven Came Down

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Receiving And Believing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, December 26, 2011

A Gift Worth Receiving

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Politics And Promises

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

“No!” he protested. “Why do you ask?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A Cheerful Giver

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, December 19, 2011

God's Love And Our Family

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, December 16, 2011

Backache Or Heartache

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

“Yes, I am,” he replied.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

How To Start Each Day

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

I Have To Give It Up!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, December 12, 2011

I'd Give My Right Arm

Haven’t you heard the expression, “I’d give my right arm for that?” A thief did. He broke the window of a store to steal a television. As he reached his arm through the broken glass, a falling section of glass severed it above the elbow.

If we had the chance to ask this thief if he would really give up his arm for a television, I would assume he would not. Yet, each day we trade what is eternally valuable for the temporary pleasures. We work and give our time, energy and money to so many things that have no meaning in life. We do all these things in place of turning to God and using our talents and gifts to serve Him. We make sacrifices in life for what we deem important. What sacrifices are you making for Christ? He has called us to take up our cross and follow Him. What are you willing to give up in order to be a follower of Christ? He wants us to give up everything for Him.

Prayer: Lord, help me to see my life the way that You see it. I am sure that there are some things I need to be doing that I am not doing and some things that I need to stop doing. Give me insight and courage to make the necessary corrections for Your sake. In Your Name. Amen.

Scripture for Today: Luke 9:23 Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Stay Home And Keep Them

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, December 8, 2011

My One And Only Love

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Not Good Enough!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Proud To Be Humble

A tourist visiting a monastery was impressed with the daily routine of the monks. Awakening at dawn, they would pray for hours, eat little food, and spend time alone meditating and reading their Bibles or labor on their farm. Curious about the nature of their mission, he asked one of the monks to explain how they were different from the other monastic orders.

“Well,” said the monk, “when it comes to learning, we don’t compare with the Jesuits. When it comes to good works, we’re no match for the Franciscans. But when it comes to humility, we’re at the top!”

It is inappropriate for Christians to attempt to appear humble and downplay the gifts that God has given them. God has endowed each of us with certain gifts that are unique to us. We must accept them graciously, develop them to their fullest, and use them to the glory of God.

If we want to grasp the meaning of humility we must look to our Lord and Savior. Here is one Who was with God and equal to God, but willingly laid it aside. He lived a selfless life of service to others and then suffered a horrible death on the cross for our salvation. In humility He accomplished His Father’s plan doing whatever He could to reflect in word and deed His love.
Pride comes naturally, but not humility. When we do difficult things in a loving and caring manner – as Jesus did – we are living godly humility.

Prayer: Father, we often pray to be humble not wanting to accept our responsibility to be humble. Grant us a willing heart to set ourselves aside. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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

Monday, December 5, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, December 2, 2011

What To Live Without

A young lady was bragging to her girlfriends about her good fortune. “I have two handsome men who want to marry me, and I can’t decide which one to choose. I can live with either of them!”

One of her friends wisely said, “Your job is to determine which one of them you can’t live without.”

Everyone has a decision to make: Will we accept or reject Christ as our Savior.

When we choose to accept Him and the life He has to offer, we settle our eternal destiny. Once we have accepted Him as our Savior our life will be different. When we turn from our sin to the Savior, we are given the power to live an abundant life that is satisfying and fulfilling and one that pleases and honors God.

Sin is not a defect in our personality but a disease that destroys us. Sin is not an attitude or an accident, but a decision to turn against God. Sin is not a mistake but a willing rebellion against God’s laws. God’s Word says that “the wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life.”

Prayer: Heavenly Father, we are eternally grateful to You for giving us the opportunity to choose life through Your Son, Jesus Christ. We ask that You will become the Master in our lives and keep us from sin. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Best Medicine Is Love

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

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

“Double the dose,” came the quick reply.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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