Monday, December 31, 2012

Looking For God In 2013

“You chart the path ahead of me and tell me when to stop and rest. Every moment you know where I am.” Psalm 139:3

“The Lord says, “‘I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you.’” Psalm 32:8

“Because of Christ, we have received an inheritance from God, for He chose us from the beginning and all things happen just as He decided years ago.” Ephesians 1:11

“The Lord will work out His plans for my life – for Your faithful love, O Lord, endures forever. Don’t abandon me, for You made me!” Psalm 138:8

“Seek His will in all you do and He will direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:6

Prayer: Grant us wisdom, give us faith, increase our trust and watch over us each day, Father, as we seek Your plan for our lives. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Why Parenting matters

There is limited information in Scripture that describes the home life of Jesus. Every now and then we get a glimpse of something. But there can be little doubt that God and His teachings were at the center.

We read that “Jesus kept increasing in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man.” No doubt His knowledge of and reverence for the Law and Prophets shaped His life and His reverence and relationship with His Heavenly Father and others.

Luke’s Gospel tells us about a family trip to the temple. On the way home, they noticed that He was not with them. When they returned to the temple they found Him listening to and answering questions of the learned teachers. At the tender age of twelve Jesus demonstrated to others the deep understanding of God’s Word that obviously came from His parents.

Mary and Joseph realized that they were obligated to God for the welfare of His only begotten Son. While He was waiting to begin His public ministry He listened to their teachings and followed their examples of Godly living.

Parents can never overlook or underestimate the influence and impact they have on their children.

Prayer: We pray, Father, that parents will realize how important the gift of a child is and the trust You place in them to raise them to know, love, trust and serve You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Luke 2:52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Why Fathers Matter

We rarely think of Joseph when we speak of Mary and her son, Jesus. But Joseph was a very special individual as well.

In describing him, Matthew says that he was a “just” or “righteous” man. And because of that, he was a “decent,” “fair” and “righteous” man. When he was faced with an incredibly difficult decision - whether or not he should abandon Mary - an angel appeared and advised him to “go ahead with your marriage to Mary.”

Initially, Scripture informs us, “that not wanting to disgrace her, he planned to send her away.” He was well aware of the fact that stoning was the legal prescription for what people would think of Mary’s being pregnant without being married. If he took Mary to be his wife he could be humiliated or ridiculed by those around him. But he chose to obey the command of the angel to marry her. As a “righteous” man he was also a “merciful” man, a man willing to listen to, hear and obey God. Joseph was a man of great character.

But there is more. Not only was he righteous, merciful and obedient to the voice of God, but he was a man who was sensitive and discrete. Joseph was open to the voice of God and responded immediately when God spoke to him and protected the reputation and honor of Mary - thereby revealing he was a man of integrity.

Prayer: Lord, we pray for fathers everywhere who will strive to be like the earthly father of Your Son. We ask that You will raise up men of integrity to honor You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Matthew 1:18-25 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Why Mothers Matter

One of the most beautiful passages in Scripture is found in Luke’s Gospel. It is called “The Magnificat.” It with Mary proclaiming, “My soul magnifies the Lord.” The word soul is a special word and in Hebrew is used to reveal or describe a person’s entire identity. It is the very essence – or being or character – of a person. In this one word, Mary reveals that all of her is committed to the Lord. The sum and substance of her life was to worship God in all of His Majesty!

If we want to study the smallest particle of God’s creation we put it under a microscope to magnify it. This enlarges, or expands, every detail of the particle so we can discover its intricacies, its subtleties and its structure. Mary was determined to put God under her “microscope” so she could understand Him personally, intimately and completely.

In her “song” she magnified her Lord – not her Son. Often we become overly concerned about the way our children look rather than what they look at. Not so Mary. She recognized her responsibility as a mother and knew that if God were first in her life, He would be first in her child’s life. She had her priorities right.

God entrusted Mary with the Messiah because He was at the center of her life and knew that her Son would be nurtured in what matters most in the life of a child: knowing, understanding and following His will.

Prayer: We ask, Lord, that all mothers everywhere will recognize the importance of being a mother and the trust You place in them to raise children to know You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Luke 1:46-55 And Mary said: “My soul magnifies the Lord, And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant; For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed.

Monday, December 24, 2012

The Birth Of Jesus

THE BIRTH OF JESUS And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. She gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them.

That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”

Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying, “Glory to God in highest heaven,
and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”

When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger.

Luke 2:6-16 New Living Translation

Friday, December 21, 2012

Christ's Day

On Mother’s Day we focus all of our attention on our Mothers, recalling and remembering how much they struggled to raise us. Lovingly we shower gifts on them, purchase cards that describe her many sacrifices for us and the unending care she gave to us. She deserves all of the attention and recognition we can give her.

On Father’s Day, we turn our thoughts to him - what he has done for us and expressing our gratitude for the time he spent with us. We recall his efforts to teach us to throw a ball, catch a pass, cast a fishing line or attend a special event. He, too, deserves all the attention and recognition we can give him.

We also give recognition and attention to our Grandparents, to brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles and friends and relatives on their special days.

But what will we do that is really special or unique for Christ on His day this year? Will there be an envelope under the tree with a special love-offering that recognizes His importance in our lives? Will it match the amount we gave others?

Will we sacrifice some of our time to show God’s love by being with those who would otherwise be alone and lonely on His day? Will we share a meal with someone who is hungry? Give some clothes to those who are cold and have little? Spend time reading His story to children?

“In as much as you have done it to the least...”

Prayer: Take Your peace from us Father, until and unless we show others Your love on Your day. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Matthew 25:40 And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Joy That Comes From Christmas

A young run-away girl collapsed on the streets of a large city at the beginning of the Christmas season. She was rushed to a hospital, placed in intensive care and finally made it to a room where she made slow progress in regaining her health.

One evening a group of carolers stopped by her room and sang the beautiful songs that describe the birth of Jesus. After they sang, a young lady approached her bed and asked if she knew the Baby that they sang about.

Quietly, barely above a whisper she said, “I heard about Him when I went to Sunday school. But don’t remember too much about Him.”

The young lady reminded her of the story and meaning of the birth of Jesus and the plan of salvation. She accepted the Lord as her Savior. Finally, it was time for her to leave and a nurse said, “Well, now that you’re better, it’s time for you to leave.”

Happily she said, “Yes, but I’m not leaving alone. I’m taking Jesus with me. Do you know Jesus?”

“Oh, yes,” replied the nurse, in a grumpy voice.

“Well, then,” she asked, “why aren’t you filled with joy like I am now? If you truly know Jesus, you’ll be happy all the time.”

David said, “Restore the joy of my salvation!”

Prayer: Lord, sometimes we surrender our joy to the stress and strains of life. Come now and return the joy we once had when we accepted Christ. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 51:12 Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, And uphold me by Your generous Spirit.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

No Mistake

Walter came home from Sunday school with a question all over his face. “Mom,” he asked, “did the shepherds have washing machines where they kept their sheep?”

“Shepherds? Washers?” After a moment she said, “No, darling, they did not have washing machines. Why do you ask?”

“Well, Mrs. Mathis was reading the story of the birth of Jesus and she said, ‘While shepherds washed their socks that night...’ and I didn’t understand what was going on.”

While we often think of the shepherds in the field that night, the glory that appeared with the angel and the fear that gripped them, we seldom connect the shepherds in that field with the Good Shepherd.

Jesus said, “I am the Good Shepherd” twice in John’s Gospel. In those statements he summarizes all of the prophetic images of His role as prophesier in the Old Testament. This declaration is a claim to His divinity as revealed in the Old Testament and focuses on His love, protection and guidance of us - His lambs.

But there is more. Not only is He our Shepherd but He chose to identify Himself as the good shepherd - and good is a term that carries with it nobility. It stands in sharp contrast to shepherds who were hired hands who worked and cared only for their own self-interests.

Prayer: We thank You, Lord, for loving us, for being our Good Shepherd and for laying down Your life for us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Luke 2:8 Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

No Room, But...

The annual church Christmas play was rapidly approaching and Mrs. Adams was assigning roles to the children in her Sunday school class. “Albert,” she said, “I’d like you to be the inn keeper this year.”

“No way, not me, absolutely not!” said Albert. “I’m not going to be the one who turned Mary and Joseph away from a good nights rest.”

“Oh, please,” she begged. “I really need you to do this. We won’t be able to have the play without you,” she pleaded. Finally he agreed.

On the night of the performance, Joseph went to the door and knocked. “Who’s there?” he asked.

“My name’s Joseph and Mary and I need a place to sleep,” was the reply.

“I’m sorry,” he said politely. “We have no rooms available.” And then added kindly, “But if you’d like you can rest awhile and I’ll get you some cookies and milk.”

There are many, like Albert, who would gladly give our Lord some “cookies and milk” but would never allow Him to come into their hearts and change their lives. It’s enjoyable to visit the manger, sing a few carols, read the story of His birth and then exchange gifts. But to make Him a permanent resident?

See Him now: Patiently standing. Gently knocking. Carefully listening. Waiting hopefully. Wanting desperately to save us and give us eternal life.

Prayer: We thank You, Father, for wanting to be our Savior and to fellowship with us. Come, dwell within us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Revelation 3:20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Never Quit!

“Don’t let this be you!” said a coach to his football team after a difficult loss. He was pointing to a picture of a player sitting in front of his locker. His helmet was between his feet. His elbows were on his knees and his head was between his hands with a look of sadness in his eyes. Under his helmet were the words, “I quit!”

As we look into the manger this Christmas we can rejoice together and say, “Thank You, God, that You never quit!”

Whenever we think of the eternal love that God has for us we often forget about the disappointments He must have endured. Imagine, if you can, what must have entered into His mind and heart when Adam and Eve rejected His path. Consider, if you will, the many agreements He made with people who promised to obey Him and then abandoned their word when they thought He was out of sight. We will never know the grief He suffered because of the hope He had that people would love Him and be obedient to Him.

But, He never gave up. He never quit. Finally, John wrote, “We have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world!”

All of us have suffered many losses in life. None, however, can ever be compared to God’s losses. But He refused to give up even though it cost the life of His Son.

Prayer: We thank You, Father, for Your unfailing love and determination to rescue us. We are overwhelmed when we think that You would sacrifice Your Son for us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: 1 John 4:11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Where's Jesus' Present?

It was Christmas Eve. The tree was brightly decorated, the presents were wrapped with beautiful paper and bows, the meal was over and the family gathered together to read the Story of the Birth of Jesus.

“Now,” said Dad, “let each one of us say a prayer and I will end our prayer time before we go to bed.”

After praying, Susie went to the tree and began to look at each present. She looked at the name on each of them very carefully. The family was curious but quiet.

Finally, Susie, looked at each member of the family and asked, “Where’s the present for Jesus? What are we giving Him this year?”

Stunned, the family sat in silence. No one had thought about a gift for Him.

Paul has a suggestion for the best gift we could give Christ this Christmas. Writing to the Romans he said, “And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies – your entire self – to God…be a living and holy sacrifice to Him – the kind He will accept.”

When we think of giving gifts this Christmas each of us would do well to think first of the gift we will give God. We need to take Paul’s words seriously, and give the most valuable gift – the gift of ourselves – to God!

Prayer: Heavenly Father, trouble our hearts with the words of Paul this season, and carefully and prayerfully consider, first and foremost, the gift we will give You. 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.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Whose Party?

Competent! Outstanding! Careful! Friendly! Supportive! Bright! Cheerful! Caring! Gracious! And the list of words to describe Beth, the secretary to the president of the company, could go on and on. She was loved by everyone in the company.

When it came time for her birthday one year, her co-workers decided to honor her with a lavish party. They rented a beautiful ballroom, hired the best caterer, designed a special cake, had special napkins with her name on them and collected money to buy a gift.

All went well. The tables were beautifully set, the caterer was on time, the guests arrived and there was excitement in the room. Everyone kept looking at the entrance awaiting the arrival of Beth. After waiting for fifteen minutes the co-worker who organized the event said to Beth’s best friend, “Where is she?”

“I’m not sure,” she replied. “I’ll phone her.”

She did - and discovered that she was at her favorite sandwich shop enjoying her lunch alone. No one thought to invited Beth to her celebration!

There will be many parties this Christmas. And as usual, the Guest will not be invited. Tables will be set, lights will blink, guests will arrive, laughter will ring out, gifts will be exchanged, everyone will have fun - but Jesus will not be present. No one will think to invite Him - the One who should be the main attraction.

Prayer: Lord of the season, may we place Your Son, our Savior, at the center of everything we do this Christmas. May we never forget, “It’s all about Him.” In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Matthew 2:11 And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

A Gift For Eternity

Timothy had done very well in his first semester at college. Excitement was building in the family as the day approached when he would be home for Christmas. His mother wanted to make it a special event, one he would remember for years to come.

“Let’s give Timothy a wristwatch for Christmas,” she said. “He’s done so well and I want him to know how much we appreciate all of his hard work.”

“But,” protested his father, “what happened to that crush proof, waterproof, shock proof, scratch proof watch we gave him when he left for college?”

“He can’t find it,” said his mother.

In giving us the gift of His Son, God gave us Someone Who will be with us forever. A Gift that will be with us until the end of our lives and throughout eternity. An indestructible, ever-present Presence.

Jesus promised us to “be sure of this – I am with you always and everywhere, even to the end of the age.”

Some would ask, “What does it mean that He will be with us? Did he not leave His disciples when He ascended into heaven?” No, He didn’t.

When He left them physically He sent the Holy Spirit to be Jesus’ presence with them personally. We know He was called “Immanuel – God with us” when He was born. We know He is with us now through the Holy Spirit.

Prayer: It’s easy, Father, for us to lose sight of You and Your messages at this time of the year. But help us to pause, pray frequently and sense Your presence within us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Matthew 28:20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.

Monday, December 3, 2012

What Gift?

Joyce fell behind in her Christmas shopping and suddenly realized that she had neglected to purchase cards for her friends. Hurriedly, she ran to the card section of a large greeting card store and purchased 100 cards with a beautiful scene of a family gathered in front of a glowing fireplace enjoying its warmth.

Returning home she hastily signed each of the cards without reading the message. Several days later she was sitting with her husband reviewing the guest list for a family dinner. She decided to show him the card she had sent to their friends.

After looking at the picture, she opened the card and read the verse to Jason, her husband:

“This card is sent to you to say,
A lovely gift is on the way!”

God sent us a “card” to inform us that He would and did send us a “lovely gift” - His son. All of the books of the Bible tell us of the Gift that He was going to send, tell us the reason He sent us this gift and what we can enjoy now and in the life to come because of this gift.

But as with every gift, there are two parts: one is giving and the other is receiving. An angel rejoiced and proclaimed: “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior which is Christ the Lord.” That is God giving. And John said, “As many as received them He gave life.” But the choice to receive is ours.

Prayer: We thank You, Father, for the Gift of life You provided for each of us. May we accept Your Gift in faith believing. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: John 1:12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name:

Friday, November 30, 2012

Life Revealed!

A prominent biographer was asked to write a history of the Duke of Wellington. He was assured that he would have full access to everything that remained in his home as well as everything that had been written about him previously.

He began his task with great enthusiasm and interest. He studied where he went, what he did, his favorite places to visit, his family background and who his friends were. He searched through trunks and diaries. And although he had a fairly good understanding of the Duke, he was not satisfied with his research.

One day, while searching through a drawer, he came across his checkbook. He began to study what the Duke spent his money on and was finally able to put together a complete picture of who he was.

“May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation,” the Apostle Paul wrote. “Those good things that are produced in your life by Jesus Christ - for this will bring much glory and praise to God.” The fruit of our salvation is certainly reflected in how we invest the gifts that God has given us.

Our true character, who we really are, reveals the depth and intensity of our relationship with God. If we maintain a right relationship with Him and draw our spiritual nourishment from Him, others will find Him in everything we do. They will find His fingerprint on every page of our lives.

Prayer: Lord, as the author and finisher of our salvation, we ask You to be the beginning and end of our lives. May our lives reveal our submission to Your will. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Philippians 1:11 being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Love At Work

The family completed reading their evening devotional together and knelt to pray. Mary Jane, the youngest of the children, always prayed first. After a moment’s hesitation she said, “You know God, there are only four people in our family, and there are some days, like today, that I don’t love any of them. How can You love everybody all of the time?”

Fortunately, God loves us no matter how we act or who we are. And we see His love revealed in the life of Jesus.

Recall His patience with His disciples. In spite of their faults, unfaithfulness and ignorance, He never gave up on them. He was able to overlook their past lives and their present limitations and see the role they would fulfill in establishing His Kingdom on earth.

Remember His kindness, His compassionate gentleness and His thoughtfulness when he took a few loaves and some fish and fed the hungry multitude. He did not say, “I’ll feed you if you listen carefully to what I have to say.” Nor did He satisfy Himself and His disciples first while others waited to get the leftovers. No, He extended His love to those in need because He wanted them to understand a love that put others first.

Jesus took every opportunity to reach out to anyone and everyone and set the example of what true love is. He is indeed the essence of love – God’s love – a love that is gentle, patient, kind, thoughtful and constant.

Prayer: Fill our hearts, Heavenly Father, with a love that has no limits, is unconditional, patient in times of stress and expects nothing in return for being helpful. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: 1 John 3:16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Thunderstorms And Rainbows

The beauty of a rainbow after the dark clouds of a thunderstorm is a reminder of God’s love, grace and mercy. But it takes rain and sunshine to bring the brilliant colors to life. Endless clouds and constant rain would be depressing and the sun shining by itself would scorch the earth but together they are a beautiful combination that reminds us of His promises.

We know that the love, grace and mercy of God are at work in our lives when, after a siege of grief, discouragement or suffering we sense God’s presence and peace more than we ever did. We realize, perhaps, in a more important way, that God is at work in everything - not random or isolated events that seem disconnected. And, moreover, He’s at work for our good.

Perhaps we need to remind ourselves that what happens is not always good. But, His Word states that it is for the good of those who love Him. God will bring us closer to His will and the plan that He has for us in every experience that He brings into our lives. Nothing, absolutely nothing, ever happens to us by mistake. Either God is in control of our lives or He is not. Either He is a sovereign God or a God Who cannot be trusted.

Notice that He is not working to make us happy or wealthy or popular. But He is working through His Holy Spirit to conform or shape us into the image, the likeness of His Son. What more can we ask?

Prayer: We struggle - even resist - Lord, those times when we feel our lives are dominated by pain or loneliness. May we remember, however, that You are at work in our lives and for our Good because we love and trust You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: 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.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Looking Beyond The Clouds

James was having a difficult time getting his rain coat on before running to catch the bus for school. Struggling to get the buttons through the correct holes he said, “Mom, this is going to be a beautiful day!”

Puzzled, she asked, “How can you say that when it is pouring down rain outside?”

“Mom,” he said with a smile, “don’t forget the sun is just on the other side of the clouds waiting to peek out!”

Psalm 136 is a great resource and reminder for the difficult times in life when the heavens seem to disappear behind dark clouds. In it we are reminded of the greatness and wonder of God’s power and the reality of His enduring, everlasting love. Every verse, after giving a reason to give thanks, is concluded with the phrase, “His faithful love endures forever.”

There are days when one obstacle surfaces after another. Frustration overwhelms us and anger surfaces that surprise us. But God would have us to seek His peace and look at every obstacle as opportunities to call on Him for help and guidance.

There are times when tragedy strikes with no warning and we find ourselves facing life without the presence of a loved one. Grief becomes an overpowering force in our lives and it seems impossible to see beyond the moment. But God wants us to remember that He is our best source of peace and comfort and will sustain us.

Prayer: We give You thanks, Heavenly Father, for Your grace and mercy that comes to us through Your enduring love. Teach us to be thankful for everything! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 136 Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever. (Read more…)

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Always Something

A visitor from Wisconsin was traveling through the rural roads of Georgia and noticed a fruit stand with a sign reading, “FRESH PEACHES.” Having heard of the large, sweet, juicy peaches of Georgia, he decided to stop and purchase a small basket to take on his journey.

Approaching the fruit stand he said to the farmer, “My goodness, these peaches are really small.”

“Yep,” replied the farmer with a nod.

“Well, I’ll take some anyway,” said the traveler.

A few moments later the traveler returned. He approached the farmer once again, this time looking angry. “These peaches are not only small,” he said sternly, “but they are hard and tasteless!”

“Well,” said the farmer quietly, “you ought to be thankful you didn’t buy a bushel full!”

“No matter what happens,” Paul wrote, “always be thankful, for this is God’s will for you when you belong to Christ Jesus.”

Far too often our thankfulness seems to depend on the circumstances in our lives. When “good” things happen, we rejoice - sometimes not even pausing to thank God. When “bad” things happen we complain and blame God.

Paul precedes “thankfulness” with a challenge to “be joyful” and to “keep praying.” And that’s the key: If we are always joyful and in constant prayer, we will see God at work in our lives and “be thankful” for His gifts.

Prayer: Help us, Father, to realize the importance of expressing our gratitude for all of Your gifts. May we learn to look beyond the immediate to Your eternal plan. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Faith: Facts Or Feelings?

Faith is very much an important part of every moment of every day of our lives. Yet, we rarely think about our “applied faith.”

Think, for a moment, about driving a vehicle. We turn on the ignition, start the car and begin to drive. Without thinking about it, we have faith that when we apply the brakes the car will stop. When we approach a chair and sit down, we have faith that the chair will support us and will not collapse. When we drink water, we have faith that it will quench our thirst. Faith comes from facts that “things” will always do what they have always done. It is believing that I can depend on something or someone because of its record of reliability.

“Faith,” says the author of Hebrews, “is the confident assurance that what we hope for is going to happen.” Like brakes stopping a car, a chair holding us up or water quenching our thirst.

So it with our faith in God. Because God has always done what He said He was going to do, we can believe that He will continue to honor His Word throughout eternity. When He called the universe into existence, it happened. When He promised a Savior, He “gave His only Son” to be our Savior.

The beginning of our faith is in the character of God and the end of our faith is in the work of Christ. Our faith is established in the Word of God – “for by grace are we saved through faith – not of ourselves, but from God.”

Prayer: We thank you, Lord, for Your faithfulness in honoring Your Word and keeping Your promises. May our faith continue to grow as we come to know You better. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Almost Does Not Count

There was a small huddle going on at home plate. Lucy and Linus of the Peanuts comic strip were having an intense discussion with their coach, Charlie Brown.

“Our team,” said Charlie, “has lost every game this season. There’s nothing good about our team!”

“But,” protested Lucy, “Schroeder almost hit a home run. We almost won a couple of games. Once we almost made a double play.”

Linus interrupted Lucy and added, “If it’s any consolation to you, Charlie Brown, we led the league in ‘almosts.’”

But there is no column in record books listed as “almosts.” There are wins and loses and records set and records that have been broken. But never an “almost!”

“Almost” carries with it the idea that if we had more time, more energy, more opportunities, more money or “more of something” our lives would be completely different. While life may impose limits on us, God does not! Whatever He has He freely gives.

The Psalmist said, “No good thing will the Lord withhold from those who do what is right.” He did not say that God will almost bless us, or almost answer our prayers or almost provide for our needs or almost give us good things. Not at all.

When we do “what is right,” God will give us “good things!” Not almost give, but will give if we do right.

Prayer: Help us, Lord, to follow the example of Your Son and “do what is right” at all times and in all places as He did. May we do what is right, not almost right! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 84:11 For the Lord God is a sun and shield; The Lord will give grace and glory; No good thing will He withhold From those who walk uprightly.

Friday, November 16, 2012

The Foolishness Of Hiding

A telemarketer phoned a home just as it was time for the evening meal. Little Gordy answered the phone, and in a hushed voice barely above a whisper, said, “Hello.”

Asked the caller, “Is your Mom home?”

“Yes,” came the barely audible answer. “But she’s busy.”

“Well,” he continued, “how about your Dad.”

“He’s here,” said Little Gordy. “But he’s busy, too.”

“Well, what are they doing?” came the next question.

“Looking for me,” he whispered. “I’m hiding because I don’t want to eat dinner because I don’t like fish.”

Little Gordy serves as a reminder to me of how I try to hide from God when He wants me to do something that I think is unpleasant. It could be that I hear of an opportunity to serve Him or see someone in need whom I can help. I know that He’s looking for me to take advantage of this opportunity that is before me. And I know that what He wants me to do is not all that difficult. I also know that sooner or later I am going to have to face Him and admit “what is.”

When God calls us to be His children He also calls us to serve Him. And when He calls us to serve Him, He will provide all that we need and protect us, too.

Prayer: Father, You not only created each of us but have called us by our very own name to do things that only we can do. May we always be ready to hear Your call. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Isaiah 43:1-2 But now, thus says the Lord, who created you, O Jacob, And He who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are Mine. (Read more...)

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Instant Change

The old jail had served its purpose for many years. Age finally overcame the obsolete structure and it was condemned. The city council had several special meetings to discuss the new jail and finally insisted on the following requirements:

1. The new jail must be built on the site of the old jail.
2. The new jail must be built with material salvaged from the old jail.
3. The old jail must be used until the new jail was built.

When these demands were placed on the ballot, the voters were so confused that they did not know what to do. They thought that the changes could not be made.

When God saves and changes us, however, it is very different. “Those who become Christians,” Paul wrote, “become new persons. They are not the same anymore for the old life is gone. A new life has begun!” How wonderful! God, instantaneously, changes us from the inside out. He gives us a brand new life and we are no longer the same old persons. We are not re-formed or re-invented or re-educated - we are re-generated, re-deemed and re-created. In other words we are new creations!

When Christ comes into our hearts and lives, we begin a new life in Him and through Him. We begin a new life, ruled by a new King, living in a new Kingdom.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, we are overwhelmed with what happens when we surrender our lives to You as our Lord. May our lives reflect that we are a new creation in You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: 2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Unreal Expectations

It was the end of their first month of marriage. The husband sat quietly looking at a slice of half-eaten bread and in a voice filled with discouragement said, “I wish you could make bread like my mother.”

Without a moment’s hesitation she responded, “And I wish you could make dough like my father!”

It is natural for us to have expectations of others - especially family members and friends. Doing “good things” for others is what Christians are expected to do when we see someone in need. Often, however, our expectations reflect greed and self-centeredness and go beyond what we have any right to expect.

Paul, in writing of God-type-love had something important to say: “Love,” he said, “is patient and does not demand its own endures through every circumstance.”

The type of love Paul is writing about seems to be the opposite of what we usually think of when we want something. We usually want what we want when we want it. And when we don’t get what we want, we “develop an attitude.”

Paul also wrote, “Let this mind - or attitude - be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.” When we make unreal expectations of others, it reflects a self-centered and greedy person - just the opposite of our Savior.

God expects us to have the same “attitude” toward others as Jesus did: one of humility and service.

Prayer: Fill our hearts, Lord, with the love that filled the heart of Jesus. May we see others as He saw them - as individuals He loved and served and wanted to save. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Gift Of Adversity

A botanist once said that trees need the March winds. When asked why, he replied, “It is the winds that cause the trunks of trees to ‘flex’ and the branches to ‘sway.’ As the tree is ‘shaken’ it draws the sap up to nourish the new growth and sprouting leaves.”

James must have wanted us to understand that “trouble” in the life of the Christian has its value. He wrote, “...whenever trouble comes your way let it be an opportunity for joy!” He did not say, “If trouble comes your way...” And he did not say, “Should you happen to encounter any trouble in life...” No. He most assuredly says “whenever trouble comes your way” as though it is certain to happen. No doubt each of us can verify the fact that “trouble” comes with life!

However, along with the promise of “trouble” coming into our lives, James tells how we are to respond: “Let it be an opportunity for joy!” In other words, take advantage of the troubles in life and maintain a positive attitude! So, instead of pouting and asking why, James would encourage us to ask, “Lord, how can I take what You have brought into my life and use it to help others?”

How, after I have endured a great loss in my life, I can more easily understand the pain of one who is grieving and truly grieve with them. If my family and I have experienced the pain and anguish of cancer, I can walk and weep with those who are traveling this valley.

Prayer: Father, whenever we experience problems give us optimism and a cause for joy knowing that what comes into our lives is a gift from You to serve others. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: James 1:2-4 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Our Source Of Strength

In the early days of his ministry, Norman Vincent Peale once visited one of his professors. Noticing a look of discouragement on his face, the professor asked, “What’s the matter, son?”

“I have no feeling of power,” admitted Peale.

“Listen while I read a verse of Scripture.” He opened his Bible and read softly: “He gives power those who are tired and worn out; He offers strength to the weak. Even youth will become exhausted, and young men will give up. But those who wait upon the Lord will find new strength. They will fly high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.”

Even the strongest person grows tired during a strenuous day or a difficult experience. Energy ebbs and fatigue takes over everyone from time to time. Each of us has discovered the limits of our endurance at one time or another.

But God’s power, strength and might can never be diminished or exhausted. He is never too weary or occupied or indifferent or uncaring to come to our rescue when we call humbly upon Him. These verses remind us that He alone is our source of strength if we turn to and call upon Him in our time of need.

But we are reminded to “wait.” We need to learn the practice of “resting” in Him and “depending” upon Him for His strength and power, knowing ours is limited.

Prayer: It is difficult, Father, to admit that we are not all powerful and all knowing as You are. May we come to realize our need for You to meet the demands of life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Isaiah 40:29-31 He gives power to the weak, And to those who have no might He increases strength.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Fitness That Matters Most

Bear Bryant, the legendary football coach, was once informed that some of his players were griping and complaining about his strenuous workouts. Calling the team into their locker room he said quietly and with confidence, “Men, you can’t live soft all week and play tough on Saturday.”

Success in any athletic endeavor requires self-sacrifice and tough training routines. It conditions the athlete to endure fatigue and outlast the competition. It is often the difference between winning and losing, victory and defeat.

Paul often referred to the importance of physical training and winning. He was aware of its value. But in a letter to Timothy he established an important priority for Christians. “Physical exercise has some value,” he wrote, “but spiritual exercise is much more important for it promises a reward in both this life and the one to come.”

We spend much money on physical fitness. In fact, one major research firm in America estimated that as a nation, we spend five billion dollars annually on fitness programs and exercise equipment. Although physical health in very important we must always make spiritual health our main priority. Each day that we live we must invest some time in reading and studying His Word, in prayer and worshiping Him. God expects us to develop our “spiritual muscles” to overcome evil.

Prayer: Help us, Lord, to accept our responsibility to develop our spiritual resources by allowing Your power to work with us. May our faith grow stronger each day. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: 2 Timothy 4:8 Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Either Side Is OK With Me

It was his first pastorate after completing seminary. He loved his members and served them faithfully. Upon learning that one of the members of his church was in the hospital he hurried to visit her.

As he walked to her room, he asked a nurse if she resting comfortably. “No,” she responded, “we believe that she only has a few hours to live.”

The news disturbed him and he was visibly shaken. When he entered her room, the saintly lady recognized his fear. She looked at him compassionately and said, “Son, there’s nothing to be scared about. I’m just going to cross over Jordan, and my Father owns both sides of the river. Either side is O.K. with me!”

John wrote, “He will remove all of their sorrows and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. For the old world and its sorrows are gone! And the one sitting on the throne said, ‘Look, I am making all things new!’”

Presently, we live on the side of the river that is dominated by pain, suffering and sorrow. It is all we have experienced. God does indeed own it and we are fortunate that He is with us to comfort and sustain us on “this side of the river.”

But we can rejoice in the hope of a new creation: a new heaven and a new earth. Once again He will make all things perfect and complete - including us, His children. With joy we can look forward to that day!

Prayer: Lord, with our limited minds we cannot imagine what heaven will be like. So, we ask You to increase our faith and trust in You and our hope for tomorrow. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Revelation 21:3-5 And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Back To The Basics

A once successful football team experienced several successive losing seasons. The fans were unhappy and many stopped attending their games. So the owner decided it was time for a new coach. After a lengthy search, he located a leader whom he felt was up to the challenge – one who could inspire the players.

At the team’s first meeting he stood before the players and said, “Gentlemen, we are going back to the basics. We are going to start at the beginning.”

“This is a football,” he said forcefully – making certain that each of them knew how serious he was.

“Basics” are important for any endeavor in life. They provide the foundation for growth and expansion. They assure stability in times of distress and doubt and direction when the path seems uncertain. They enable one generation to pass on a heritage of guidance and hope to another and give structure to families and institutions.

Paul passed on a “basic” to young Timothy. He gave him a “solemn warning before God” to be faithful in his responsibilities to Christ. “Preach the Word!” he wrote. “Be persistent whether it is convenient or not. Patiently correct and encourage your people with good teaching,” he concluded.

That “warning” has never been more important than it is now. We who are His disciples must be willing to listen, hear, obey and follow His “basic” teachings.

Prayer: It is so easy, Father, to forget what matters most in life. Help us to accept and follow the “basics” of Your Word and live lives that are pleasing to You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: 2 Timothy 4:1-2 Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.

Monday, November 5, 2012

When Everything Else Fails...

His chin was resting on his chest and his hands gently folded in his lap. He sat quietly for several moments. Finally he said, “I’m at the end of my rope. I have no idea what to do next or where to go for help.”

“How wonderful,” replied his pastor with optimism in his voice. “Now you are ready for God to take control of your life!”

How blest we are when we finally come to the end of our resources and realize what we have in God!

Need courage? “Do not be afraid, for I am with you. Be not dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you and uphold you with my victorious right hand.”

Feel weak? “Now glory be to God! By His power at work within us, He is able to accomplish infinitely more than we would dare to ask!”

Want guidance? “And we can be confident that He will listen to us whenever we ask Him for anything in line within His will!”

Lack success? “Yet if I live, that means fruitful service for the Lord.”

Lost confidence? “It is better to trust the Lord than to put confidence in people.”

Enduring trials? “God blesses the people who patiently endure testing.”

Seeking rewards? “If we are faithful to the end…we will share in all that belongs to Christ!”

Prayer: Lord, how good it is to know that Your resources far exceed any need we may ever have. Your goodness and grace are beyond measure and always available. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Mark 10:27 But Jesus looked at them and said, “With men it is impossible, but not with God; for with God all things are possible.”

Friday, November 2, 2012

The Eyes Have It!

Little Marie shouted, “Mom, guess what?”

“I really don’t know – what?” replied her Mom as she kept loading the dishwasher.

“Mom,” pleaded Marie, “you’re not listening!”

“But I am,” answered her mother as she placed the dirty silver in the tray.

“But Mom,” she protested vigorously, “you’re not listening with your eyes!”

The Apostle Peter quoting David the Psalmist wrote, “The eyes of the Lord watch over those who do right; His ears are open to their cries for help!”This is a wonderful example of the promise that “the Word of the Lord endures forever.” It was good for David. It was good for Peter. And it is good for us. We need to remind ourselves constantly that God not only sees us but watches over us and that His ears are waiting for us to call upon Him – night or day.

Once, when talking to a young child, he grabbed my cheeks, pulled my face close to his, looked into my eyes and said, “I know you hear what I am saying but you are not listening to me!”

How different is our Heavenly Father. He not only sees us and hears us but constantly watches over us as a mother watches over, cares for and protects her new born child!

What a wonderful thought: God Himself, Creator and Sustainer of the universe, watching over us.

Prayer: How gracious You are, Heavenly Father, to watch over us day and night. We thank You for caring for us and meeting our needs often before we even ask. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: 1 Peter 3:12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, And His ears are open to their prayers; But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Sacrifice And Success

Ade Mae and Harry Day were cattle ranchers in Arizona. When it was time for their first child to be born, they had to travel over 200 miles to locate a doctor to assure a safe delivery for their child.

Immediately after her birth they brought Sandra to their humble home: an adobe house on the ranch. There was no electricity and no running water and there was no school within a reasonable driving distance. So, when Sandra turned four years old her mother began teaching her the “basics” at home.

Eventually it was necessary for Sandra to move to El Paso, Texas to begin her formal education in a public school. She lived with her grandmother during these critical, formative years and when she was old enough, attended a boarding school for girls.

After graduating from high school she went to Stanford University in California where she excelled as a student. After she completed her college education, she attended the law school at Stanford and served on the editorial staff of the school’s Law Review.

She was the first woman to serve as the majority leader in the Arizona Senate and was the first woman Supreme Court Justice of the United States. Her husband suffered from Alzheimer’s disease for over twenty years and she now works to end that disease.

Jesus said, “With God all things are possible.” Faith can turn our trials into triumphs if we follow Him.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, may we be willing to look beyond what is to what can be. Let us not be discouraged by the hardships in life knowing that You are there to lead and guide us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Matthew 19:26 But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Value Of A "Deaf Ear"

Matt came home from school with a note from his teacher. He had misbehaved in class and the teacher wanted his mother to know what he had done.

After reading the note his mother said, “Son, why did you trip James as he was walking to his desk?”

“It wasn’t my idea, Mom. It was Donald’s,” he responded quickly.

“Now, Matt, you know that Donald can’t make you do anything,” replied his mother.

“Well,” he said after a moment’s thought, “it must have been the devil that made me do it.”

“Son, shame on you. You know that when the devil tempts you, it is important to turn a deaf ear,” she admonished him.

He put one finger in his left ear and listened to the sound coming from the TV and shook his head. Then he put a finger in his right ear and listened to the sound once again. After a moment he looked up at his Mom and said smilingly, “Mom, I don’t have a deaf ear.”

Temptation comes at us from every direction all of the time. It could be something we see or hear or think we would enjoy eating. But James had the best way to end being tempted: “Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw close to God and God will draw close to you.” Such a simple solution that it is amusing! But it is neither simple nor amusing. Getting close to God takes time and the devil cleverly sets our priorities.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, help us to take control of our time and our lives by “seeking first the Kingdom of God.” May each day begin with Your Word and prayer. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: James 4:7-8 Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Rules And Records

Greg was having a difficult time doing his homework knowing that his favorite sports program was on TV. “Mom,” he asked, “can I just this once watch TV before I do my homework?”

“You know the rules,” came her quick reply. “No TV until your homework is finished!”

“But, Mom,” he protested, “rules are made to be broken.”

“No,” she said, “records are made to be broken!”

“OK, Mom,” he said, “then what’s the record for the most rules ever broken?”

Paul spoke of a rule he honored to achieve a record he wanted to set for God. “I keep working toward that day when I will finally be all that Christ Jesus saved me for and wants me to be.” After his conversion he lived his life for one purpose: to use all of his energies, all of his gifts and all of his time becoming who God wanted him to be and fulfilling the purpose that God had planned for Him!

As Christ’s disciples, we must never allow anything or anyone to cause us to take our eyes off of the goal that God has for each of us: being all that He has saved us for. Paul lived his life as though he were in training to compete in and win an athletic contest. He allowed nothing to interfere with his “training.” If something was harmful or distracting in his life, he would turn from it and not allow it to distract him from his calling.

Prayer: Father, empower us with Your Holy Spirit to live to achieve the goal You have set for each of us with dedication and determination to be who You want us to be. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Philippians 3:12 Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Giving And Receiving

It was well past midnight. There were few travelers, the weather was nearly unbearable with driving rains and freezing temperatures. A woman stood beside her broken down car trying to flag down someone going into the city.

Finally, a motorist stopped and invited the woman, who was soaking wet and trembling with chills, into his car. He took her to a taxi stand, and as she hurriedly exited from his car, she took time to ask him to write down his name and address.

A week later he received a giant TV and stereo with a note that read: “Thank you for assisting me. Because of your kindness I was able to make it to my dying husband’s bedside just before he passed away. God bless you. Mrs. Nat King Cole.”

Nearly a thousand years before Jesus was born, Solomon wrote, “Give generously, for your gifts will return to you later.” In his wisdom, he summarized an important fact of life for all of us: Life involves risk and opportunity and has no guarantees.

However, he encouraged us to seize the moment to do good for others. He certainly did not support a stingy, self-centered life style. Even though we do not know what may happen tomorrow, he would urge us to share with others whatever we have right now and learn to trust in God for tomorrow.

We show our love and trust when we give to others.

Prayer: Help us, Lord, to realize we have so much we do not deserve. May our hearts be as open to meeting the needs of others as much as Your heart is open to us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Ecclesiastes 11:1 Cast your bread upon the waters, For you will find it after many days.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Value Of Commitment

There once was a jockey who lost his first race and felt humiliated. But he did not give up. In fact, he lost his next 250 races before he enjoyed victory. His name? Eddie Arcaro and he became one of the most famous jockeys of his day.

There once was a baseball player who struck out 1,330 times. But he is not remembered for striking out. He is remembered for being one of the greatest home run hitters of all time. His name? Babe Ruth, a true legend in the history of “the game.”

There once was a man who once failed 99 times while doing the same experiment before it turned out right. But he is not remembered for his failures. Thomas Edison is remembered for being one of the world’s greatest inventors and is credited with 1,093 patents and his famous “trial and error” or Edisonian Approach to research: work until “you get the results you are seeking.”

Failure need not be fatal. It can be an important part of our learning process and lead us to ultimately discover the plan that God has in store for each of us.

There once was a man who denied his Lord. He often spoke without thinking, was brash and impulsive, turned his back on Jesus at His trial and even denied Him three times. Yet, he became the recognized leader among the disciples, was one of the “inner three” and became one of the greatest voices of the Gospel Message.

Prayer: We are grateful, Lord, that You will not give up on us as long as we stay close to You and seek Your will for our lives. May we never do less than our best for You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 3:1-6 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.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Should It Be Faith Or Feelings?

Two best friends were walking home from church. It was a time for laughing and shoulder-nudging. Tim’s Mom looked on approvingly as they enjoyed each other’s company.

Suddenly, Tim caught Alex off-guard – looking in the wrong direction. To his left was a huge mud-puddle. Into the mud went Alex after a two-handed push from Tim.

“Why in the world did you do that, Tim?” asked his mother.

“Well,” came his reply after a moment’s thought, “the devil tricked me!”

“How?” she wondered. After all, they were walking home from church.

“Well,” Tim said after thinking for a moment, “when the devil told me to do it, it felt so good I thought it was the Lord talking to me.”

Scripture, Paul reminds us, is not only inspired by God, but was given to us to teach us “what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It straightens us out and teaches us to do what is right!”

Feelings come and go but they are not facts that we can safely build our lives upon. There are times when our feelings encourage us to do what is right and avoid doing what is wrong. But there are many times when our feelings and emotions are distorted by temptations and could lead us in the wrong direction. That’s why God gave us clearly defined directions to follow.

Prayer: Give us a faith, Lord, that is strong enough to take You at Your Word and follow You every day of our lives. May we accept and follow Your guidance. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: 2 Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

How A Child Spells Love

Children have a special way of spelling love. And it only includes one letter from the word, love. Children spell love: T-I-M-E! They hunger for our companionship more than any other gift we can give them. No amount of toys, pets, gifts or devices can take the place of Sunday school teacher or youth leaders. Time shared with a child is an opportunity to make a difference in eternity - if the time is God-honoring.

Not long ago, while visiting with an executive, we were talking about the importance of helping children become who God would have them to be. Suddenly, he interrupted our conversation and called his secretary on the intercom and said, “I’ve decided to spend more time with my children. See how you can fit them into my schedule.”

The writer of Proverbs saw it quite differently. He very clearly stated that we are to, “Train up a child in the way he should go,” and in keeping with his individual gifts “and he will not depart from them.” God has given each child a particular set of skills or gifts or abilities that are in keeping with the plan He has for their life.

Parents and Christian leaders are responsible to God to recognize the potential and future that He has “locked-up” within that child. Parents and Christian leaders are obligated to God to “train” children to fulfill the plans He has for them. We are obligated to Him to follow His directions.

Prayer: We often cringe, Father, from what we see in the lives of children who do not know You - yet do little to help them. Burden us to work with You to save them. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.

Monday, October 22, 2012

The Eye Of The Beholder

Michelangelo’s statue David is considered to be one of the most beautiful sculptures in the world. Many believe it is his most noteworthy accomplishment. Few know its unpromising beginning.

The block of marble from which he fashioned David had been disfigured by another artist. After attempting to “make” something from the marble, he cast it aside as “worthless” and having no potential.

But Michelangelo was not discouraged when he looked at the rejected mass of marble. While another saw only flaws, he saw a future locked up inside a piece of cold, rejected rock that was colored with irregular markings.

There is an important lesson for each of us here. Paul wrote, “Those who become Christians become new persons!” When we accept Christ as our Savior and Lord, He starts a “work” on the inside that will manifest itself on the outside. Through Him we become brand-new people from the life that is given to us by the Holy Spirit. We are not the same people we once were. God looked at us, saw the potential in us, and began to form us into the likeness of Christ. We are not re-formed, or reshaped, we are, in fact, re-created!

Michelangelo was ultimately limited by the size and shape of the block of marble and his vision. But as new persons in Christ we are only limited by the limits we place on God and what He can do through us!

Prayer: We pray, Father, that our minds and hearts will be open to the limitless potential we have through You. May we grow into the likeness of Christ through Your Holy Spirit. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: 2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

How To Be Happy Always

Long time comedian Jimmy Durante was rushing from one performance to another. He had only a few minutes to spare, but a friend asked him to “take a moment” and say a few words to a group of veterans in a hospital.

Walking into a ward, he went through a brief routine of his favorite jokes. The crowd applauded loudly and cheered for more. He told a few more jokes and the applause and cheers became louder and longer. The soldiers were thoroughly enjoying every word he spoke and every joke he shared. Instead of a greeting and “taking a few moments,” he ended up staying for thirty minutes. Finally, he had to leave.

As he was exiting the ward his manager asked, “What happened? You said you only had a few moments and you stayed for half an hour.”

“I really needed to leave,” said Durante. “But I want to show you the two men in the front row. See those two men? Look carefully at them.”

When his manager looked at the two men, he noticed that one had lost his right arm and the other had lost his left arm in combat. But, working together they were able to clap: one’s right hand reached out to the other’s left hand and together they were able to register their delight for the entertainer taking time to be with them.

Happiness does not spring from an empty heart. It comes from sharing the gifts God gives us with others!

Prayer: Help us, Father, to be as generous to others as You have been to each of us. May we always share the gifts You have given us with others. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 106:3 Blessed are those who keep justice, And he who does righteousness at all times!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Do It Right The First Time!

The class was excited to meet their new art teacher. Waiting expectantly for their first assignment, the teacher stood before the class and said, “I want each of you to draw a square, a triangle and a rectangle. And I want you to do your best.”

After a few minutes she began to walk among the students and observe their work. Pausing to look at the work Bobby was doing she noticed that his lines were not straight.

“Look, Bobby,” she said, “that line isn’t straight.”

“I know,” he admitted, “but I can straighten it later.”

“Bobby,” she replied, “a straight line never needs to be straightened. Do it right the first time!”

The Psalmist wrote, “I have chosen to be faithful; I have determined to live by your law.” In this psalm the author reveals two critical decisions: first, to be faithful to God’s laws and, secondly, to not be deterred from being faithful by being fully committed to keeping God’s laws. He said, “I am determined!”

God has given each of us the wonderful gift of choice. In this psalm, the author said that he made a decision that would guide every decision he would ever make.

If our decisions are based on the teachings of God’s Word, we will not need to go back and “straighten the lines.” May Your Word light our paths and guide our steps.

Prayer: We pray, Lord, that we will surrender our lives completely to You and think the truth, speak the truth, live the truth and do things right the first time. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 119:30 I have chosen the way of truth; Your judgments I have laid before me.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

No Enemies Yet, Pastor

Six-year-old George listened very attentively to his pastor’s sermon. As he and his father were leaving church he said, “Pastor, I heard you say that I should love my enemies. I’m only six and I don’t have any. But I hope to have some next year when I’m seven.”

Individuals tend to become enemies when they cannot agree on an issue or a course of action or a goal. The differences become insurmountable, positions harden and opinions become set in stone. We might well say that enemies are “made.” Unfortunately, it is easy to make them and they usually last a life time.

On the other hand, friendships are formed when individuals have common likes and dislikes, goals and values. There are “common denominators” that draw them together and a sense of mutual trust. And we read in Proverbs, “A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in times of need.”

Perhaps the greatest part of friendship is loyalty – standing with or along side of someone when they are enduring times of distress or disappointment, sickness or struggles that never seem to end. When there are “calm seas and gentle winds” carrying us along life’s journey, we can pretty much make it on our own.

But when the waves are crashing and the winds are howling – that’s when we discover the true meaning of friendship and loyalty. There seems to be nothing as valuable as a friend. We need to make more of them!

Prayer: Help us, Lord, to reach out and make friends with those who are our sisters and brothers in Christ so that we may grow together in loyalty and service. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 17:17 A friend loves at all times, And a brother is born for adversity.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Anyone Can Be A Quitter

ANYONE CAN BE A QUITTER His life long ambition was to play professional football. Finally the day was scheduled for him to try out before the coaches of the San Diego Chargers. But on the day before the try out, Dale lost both of his legs and several fingers in an explosion.

Sixty long days after the explosion, he was discharged from the hospital. As he was wheeled from his room to a waiting car, he looked at the two “stubs” that were now his legs and his right hand that had only a thumb and little finger remaining.

He could have given up in disappointment, gone on welfare and received a life long disability. But he didn’t.

He could have focused on everything he lost in the explosion and chosen to live a life of anger and hatred. But he didn’t.

He could have become filled with resentment for those who made the team that year and were hailed as heroes. But he didn’t.

Instead of giving up or becoming angry and hateful or filled with resentment, he challenged himself with the reality that “Anyone can become a quitter. But I’m going to become the greatest insurance salesman my company has ever seen!” And he did.

Paul said, “I can really know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised Him from the dead.” Fortunately, that same power is available today for Christians who choose to use that power to glorify Him.

Prayer: Help us, Heavenly Father, to accept the challenges You bring into our lives as opportunities to trust in Your power to accomplish great things for You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Philippians 3:10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death,

Friday, October 12, 2012

"Why Do Something For Others?"

Alfred Adler is known as one of the “founding fathers” of modern psychology. He is remembered mostly for his analysis of the impact of birth order on personality and what he called his “Fourteen-Day Cure Plan.” He claimed that his plan could cure anyone of mental illness in just fourteen days if they would just do exactly as he told them to do.

One day a woman who was extremely depressed came to see him. He told her, “I can cure you of your depression in just fourteen days if you will follow my advice.”

“What do you want me to do?” she asked.

“If you will do one thing for someone else every day for fourteen days, at the end of that time your depression will be gone,” he told her.

She objected, “Why should I do something for someone else when no one ever does anything for me?”

Jokingly he responded, “Well, maybe it will take you twenty-one days.”

He knew that if she did something for someone she would be on her way toward improving her mental condition and “curing” her depression.

Paul said that we are to “share each others problems and troubles.” Christians must never develop an attitude that entertains the idea that we are excused from the task of helping others. It is sometimes difficult to think of “service before self.” But that is the way Jesus lived and died. As His disciples, can we do less?

Prayer: Lord, may we move from an attitude of self-centeredness to one of other-centeredness and see, hear, feel and meet the needs of others as You did. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Galatians 6:2 Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Is It How Long Or How Well?

Most people who know a little about the Bible at least know that Methuselah lived to be 969 years old. Some might even know that he was the son of Enoch and the grandfather of Noah. Even though we know that he walked and talked, we have no idea where he walked or who he might have walked with or even what he talked about. He walked and talked.

Imagine holding the world record for having more birthdays than anyone else who ever lived but being remembered for nothing else. According to the Bible, Methuselah lived when the earth was full of wickedness. Everywhere he walked, he was surrounded by sin and sinners. But he never mentioned a word about God or God’s grace. In fact, he had nothing to do with God.

Imagine the influence he could have had on the multitudes of individuals whom he must have seen or talked with. Consider what he might have done for God if he had followed in the footsteps of his father. Enoch, Scripture tells us “enjoyed a close relationship with God throughout all of his life – then he suddenly disappeared because God took him!”

Methuselah lived almost three times as long as his father, Enoch. Yet, when he died, he left no legacy of having made a difference for God or for good. In the final analysis, it is not how long we live but whether or not we enjoy a close relationship with God and honor Him.

Prayer: Help each of us, Father, to recognize the importance of living and walking for and with You. May our lives reflect Your love and salvation each day we live. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Genesis 5:21 When Enoch had lived 65 years, he became the father of Methuselah.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Why Not Your Best?

A well-dressed gentleman stepped from a taxi cab in New York whistling half-heartedly as he collected his briefcase and umbrella. A newsboy, just a few feet away, listened for a brief moment and said, “You’re not much of a whistler are you? Listen to how good I am!”

When the newsboy finished, he asked the gentleman, “Can you do better?”

“Indeed I can,” came the reply. The man was an expert whistler who was in New York for a performance. And then he whistled his very best to the astonishment of the young newsboy.

Puzzled, the young boy looked at him and  asked, “Then why were you doing so poorly when you got out of the cab?”

Solomon wrote the book of Ecclesiastes to challenge God’s followers to live lives with meaning and purpose. “Whatever you do,” he wrote, “do well!” He very clearly and convincingly encourages us to enjoy life as a gift from God and to focus on doing our very best - always. If you are a whistler, whistle the best you can all of the time - not only during a “performance” in front of an audience. After all, we are all “performing” everything we do before God our Creator. We are always on “stage” demonstrating our gratitude for the gifts He’s given us.

We must always be aware of the fact that no matter where we are or what we are doing we are living to bring honor and glory to God. We must always “do well.”

Prayer: Lord of our lives, it is never what we have, but what we do with what You have given us. May we do our best with each of the gifts You have given us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Ecclesiastes 9:10 Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the realm of the dead, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Hiding "What Is"

In ancient Greece the theaters had no scenery and the actors wore no costumes. To portray a character, however, they carried hand-held masks which they would place in front of their faces. It was designed to portray the character of the person in the role they were playing. They would walk onto the stage, mask in hand, and when speaking, hold it before their face.

The word hypocrisy, as we know it today, had its roots in the Greek word hupokrisis. It meant “acting a part in a play or feigning to be what one is not.” In other words, a hypocrite is one who wears a “mask” to hide their real identity.

John addressed hypocrisy when he wrote, “If someone says I belong to God, but doesn’t obey God’s commandments, that person is a liar and does not live in the truth.” Strong words that leave no “wiggle room.”

True Christian faith results in consistent Christian living. John is confronting all of us because Christian faith results in Christian living and Christian service. If we profess to be “Christian” but do not demonstrate Christlike behavior in “word and deed,” we are wearing a mask to present ourselves as someone other than who we truly are. We are “feigning” to be who we are not.

John is encouraging us to look at our behavior in the light of God’s Word. He says candidly that “the way we act gives us the assurance that we belong to Christ!”

Prayer: Father, we are all capable of hiding who we truly are from others. But we cannot hide ourselves from You. May we come out of hiding and be truly Christians. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: 1 John 2:4 Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Is It The End Or The Beginning?

Two men met for prayer early one morning. After reading a passage of Scripture they knelt in prayer. Said the first, “Lord, it’s hard for me to pray. You know that I am at the end of all my resources. I have nothing left.”

Upon hearing his brokenness, his prayer partner put his arm around his shoulder and shouted, “How wonderful! Now you are at the beginning of God’s resources.”

Mark’s Gospel has an interesting story about a ruler and his resources. It reminds us of the importance and necessity of eternal values rather than earthly riches.

Jesus, in speaking of the emphasis we place on money said, “People with wealth will have a difficult time in getting into heaven.” In astonishment his disciples asked, “Well, if money won’t get us into heaven, what will?”

Calmly He replied, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But not with God. Everything is possible with God.”

Material possessions and our desire to acquire them tend to fix our hearts on the things of this world. When this happens, we lose sight of what is truly valuable: our relationship with God. He becomes unimportant.

For many, it is easier to pass the test of adversity than the test of prosperity. Prosperity places the focus on ourselves while adversity proves our need for God.

Prayer: Help us to realize, Lord, that without placing our trust in Your saving power and the redeeming love of God, we will never be with You in heaven! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Matthew 19:26 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Now Or Never

A soldier was assigned the responsibility of driving a senator from the airport to a military installation. Between the baggage claim area and the vehicle he noticed an elderly lady struggling to pull her suitcase behind her. He immediately went to her rescue and pulled the suitcase until they met her waiting family. He then paused to help a young mother secure her child in a stroller. After that he helped a man who was having a difficult time opening the door to the restroom.

Impressed, the senator asked, “How is it that you see so many people who need help and immediately go to their rescue?”

After a moment of silence he replied quietly, “During my tour of duty in Vietnam it was my job to clear minefields. I never knew if my next step would be my last. It was there that I learned to get the most out of every moment because, in life, it’s now or never.”

Paul summed it up this way: “Share each other’s troubles and problems because if you do so you will obey the law of Christ.” We, as Christians, have a responsibility to God and to anyone we know who is faced with a difficult situation that is beyond their ability to manage. It can be as simple as opening a door or as complex as helping them through the loss of a loved one.

The size of the problem does not matter to God. It is the willingness of His children to help those in need.

Prayer: We pray, Lord, for eyes that see the needs of others, ears that hear the cries of others, a heart that is open to others and hands that are willing to help others. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Galatians 6:2 Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Facing Reality

Linus approached Charlie Brown in a comic strip and boldly asked“Charlie Brown, do you want to know what the trouble is with you?”

“No,” he answered.

“That’s the trouble with you, Charlie Brown,” screamed Linus. “You don’t want to know what the trouble is with you!”

Charlie Brown is not the only one with that problem. Few want to hear or accept the fact that “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” But that does not change anything.

To refuse to hear something does not mean that it was not said. And if we deny something it does not mean that it is not true. Sin is sin and it comes in all sizes and shapes, colors and containers, with many options and countless opportunities.

We all seem to have a Charlie Brown attitude. Few want to admit that we have broken God’s laws or that we have refused to follow the teachings of Jesus. But Paul said all have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory. That includes each and every one of us.

Denying the fact of sin will not keep us from sinning nor eliminate the penalty that comes from being disobedient to God. No one is foolish enough to believe that if they deny the reality of death, they will live forever. We must all admit and accept what is: “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life!”

Prayer: Open our hearts, Father, to the truths in Your Word and reality of sin and salvation. May we look to You in faith, believing that You alone can save us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Romans 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

"It May Be My Last"

It began as a day like any other day. James Galway, a brilliant flutist, was happily walking to his morning rehearsal. While crossing a street, a speeding motorcyclist hit him and shattered the bones in both of his legs and one arm.

He was rushed to the hospital and the orthopedic surgeons immediately began a lengthy operation as they attempted to repair the damage.

Unfortunately, the bones did not heal as quickly or properly as they had anticipated. As a result, he had to remain in the hospital for many months. He was once known to have said, “It took quite a while to pick up the pieces.”

Upon his release from the hospital and while he was still recovering from the accident he is quoted as saying, “I decided from this moment on I will play every concert, record every album, give every performance and live every day as though ‘it may be my last.’”

Someone who knew him said that his new goal in life was to “make sure that every time he played, his performance would be as near to perfection as God wanted it to be!”

No doubt that is what Paul had in mind when he wrote, “Whatever you may do, do all to the glory and honor of God!” There is a two-fold implication here: Whatever we do is a choice. And with the choice is an opportunity to bring honor and glory to God. So, not only are our choices critical but that Christ is exalted in the things we do.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, guide us in our choices and make us conscious of whatever we do, knowing that we are always representing You by the way we live. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: 1 Corinthians 10:31 So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Frozen In Fear

A young man from Kansas dreamed of becoming a crew member of a tall ship. Finally, his lifelong ambition was realized when he was offered an opportunity to sail on one of the few remaining ships. His enthusiasm was short lived when, after a few days, the captain ordered him to climb to the “crow’s nest” and search the horizon for approaching vessels.

The higher up he climbed on the rope ladder, the more frightened he became and the slower his progress. Half way up he stopped, frozen in his tracks. He was unable to move. No amount of persuasion or encouragement from the sailors below inspired him to go higher. Finally, someone had to climb up behind him and slowly coax him down to safety.

Every now and then we all seem to get “stuck” when we are unable to overcome an old habit, when facing a new challenge or being forced to do something we have never done before. People all around us may provide insight and ideas to solve our problem and challenge us to move on. But nothing seems to make sense and we “freeze” in our tracks.

However, God, in His Word, promises that “He gives power to the faint and weary, and might to him who has no strength.”

When life’s obstacles “freeze” us with fear, we must claim the promises of God and move forward in faith!

Prayer: Lord, may our faith in Your Word and our trust in Your promises give us the confidence and assurance that You will always provide for our safety. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Isaiah 40:29-31 They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Sincerity May Not Be Enough

Charlie Brown was standing in front of his baseball team talking about the game they had just lost. With a look of sadness in his eyes he sighed and said, “Sixty-five to nothing. I don’t understand it. We were so sincere.”

Sincerity is good but it does not insure success. We may be as sincere as the day is long but it will not replace knowledge, skill or the right attitude. If we are going in the wrong direction sincerity will not lead us to the right destination.

One may be sincere about what they believe but it does not guarantee salvation. One may sincerely believe in eternal life and want to go to heaven, but unless they receive Christ as their Savior, they will not be with Him in eternity.

John wrote, “So whoever has God’s Son has life; whoever does not have His Son does not have life.” This simple statement says it all when it comes to the new birth and the way to eternal life.

Eternal life begins the moment we surrender our lives to the Lordship of Christ as our Savior. It is not something we can work for or hope for or purchase. It is not something that is passed on from one generation to another. And it certainly does not depend on a “feeling.” It is something that God guarantees through His Son. Whoever believes will certainly receive eternal life.

Prayer: Only through You and in You, Heavenly Father, can we have eternal life. We are grateful for Your salvation and the assurance of eternal life with You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: 1 John 5:12 He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Giving Help - Inspiring Others

Joseph Priestly left college believing he was called to serve God as a minister. However, he soon became uncomfortable with this calling and decided to teach school. One day Benjamin Franklin visited his classroom and was very impressed with his teaching skills. At the conclusion of the class he said to Priestly, “I believe that you have the abilities to write a history of electricity. I’ll help you by lending you my books and notes.”

Encouraged by the generosity of Mr. Franklin, he accepted the challenge and immediately began writing a book on the history of electricity. He was so enthusiastic and excited about this project that he researched and wrote the entire book in one year. This inspired him to dedicate his life to scientific research. His research led him to the discovery of oxygen. He is also credited with developing the first carbon dioxide fire extinguisher.

Paul recognized the important role of encouraging others. In his letter to the Thessalonians he encouraged them to “encourage each other and build each other up!”

At the end of a long race the runners often speak of muscles that are cramping or throats that are parched and burning as their body is about to collapse. But then the crowd begins to shout, “You can do it - keep it up - you are going to make it!” Those few words of encouragement are all they need to finish well.

Prayer: Help us, Heavenly Father, to be alert to those around us who need a word of strength, hope or love to persevere in the face of adversity. Make us Your encouragers. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: 1 Thessalonians 5:11 Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Setting The Standard

He is a central figure in the success of the New York Yankees. He has led the American League in the most single hits, runs scored and “at bats.” He has over 3,000 hits, stolen more bases than any other player, has five golden glove awards, selected 13 times as an all-star and played more games than any other New York Yankee. Many of his records will stand for many years to come.

A reporter once asked, “What’s the best advice your father ever gave you?”

“Don’t let anyone outwork you,” came the quick reply of Derek Jeter.

We are all compiling a list of accomplishments that will reflect what we have done with the time and talents God has given us. However, beyond that fact we must realize that the time we are allocated and the talents we are given are gifts from God and must be used to His glory.

Paul wrote, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart as though you are working for the Lord rather than for people!” We are all accountable to someone for the work we do here on earth. Ultimately, though, the Christian is accountable to God and will be judged by Him for what we have done with the many opportunities He has given us. We must always remember that we represent Him in all that we do.

Prayer: We thank You, Lord, that You are interested in the work that You have given us to do. May we accept this with thanksgiving and bring You honor in what we do. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: 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.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

An Attitude For Gratitude

James and his grandmother were having a wonderful day at the beach. The wind was gentle, the sun warm and the crowd friendly. It was a delight for her to watch James as he splashed in the waves not far from where she was relaxing.

Suddenly a large wave came crashing over James and pulled him into the water and out of her sight. In fear and anguish she shouted, “Oh, God, I’ll do anything You ever ask me if You will only save my grandson and return him safely to shore. Please God – help me.”

The very next wave brought James back to shore safely, but a bit frightened. Standing up and walking toward him, his grandmother gave a sigh of relief knowing he was safe. Then she put her hands on her hips and said, “O.K. God. What happened to his hat?”

Paul wrote, “Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart.” It seems to be much easier to “devote ourselves to prayer” than to “devote ourselves to a thankful heart.” Giving thanks to someone means we are indebted to them for something.

Our God is a gracious and giving God and all that we have is the result of His goodness and grace. He stands before us with outstretched arms and open hands waiting to draw us close to Himself to protect us and provide for our every need, beginning with our salvation. Yet, too often we fail to be grateful!

Prayer: Forgive us, Heavenly Father, if we have been forgetful in expressing our gratitude to You for all You have done for us. May our thankfulness be equal to Your gifts. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Colossians 4:2 Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving;

Monday, September 24, 2012

Failure And Success

Michael Jordan, the legendary basketball player is quoted as having said, “I’ve lost more than 300 games. There were twenty-six games when I was given the ball in the last seconds to make the basket that would have won the game. But it didn’t happen – I missed the shot and we lost. I have failed over and over. And that’s why I succeed.”

Strange quote from someone who elevated basketball to a higher level through his skills. We rarely think of such an achiever in any sport as someone who turned failure into success. High-achievers seem to come fully developed and highly skilled.

However, experience is always part of failure. And if we chose, we can use the experience to gain insight and from insight we can gain knowledge and from the knowledge we can gain wisdom and learn to turn failure into success.

The Christian has a wonderful resource to help in this process: the Holy Spirit. He dwells within us and is present, ready and willing to give us the wisdom we need to become successful in life.

There is one condition, however. If we want wisdom, we must go to God in humility and ask for it and then use it for His glory. God will give us whatever we need if we willingly use His gifts for His glory and not our own self-interests or self-advancement.

Prayer: Help us, Lord, to know that when we fail we need to “fall forward” into Your waiting arms, knowing that Your desire is to work with us to help us succeed. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today:  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.