Tuesday, January 31, 2012

All I Want Is...

The James family gathered together for a quiet time and discussion. Albert climbed into his father’s lap and hugged him with all his might. Teasingly, he asked, "Well, son, what do you want now?"

"Nothing," he answered. "All I want is you!"

How unfortunate for us that we rarely go to our Heavenly Father unless we want something. It seems that when we approach Him it is for something that contributes to our well being, our health, family problems, issues at work, our financial needs or a friend who has come to us for help. Too often we are more interested in the gifts that the Giver has to give us than the Giver. We ask rather than admire and we prey rather than praise and we want rather than worship.
It is true that our Lord has invited us to ask if we want to receive and to come to Him for anything and everything – no matter when or what. For most of us it is a long standing habit that might be hard to break.

Perhaps it would change the nature of our relationship with God if, on occasion, we simply said to Him in a prayer of gratitude, "All I want is You!"

Prayer: Lord, we truly love You! Forgive us for hearts and minds that only focus on our wants and needs. Help us to also express our love and praise. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Romans 6:1-13 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. (Read more...)

Friday, January 27, 2012

Safe Keeping

A new mother was bathing her infant while a small child who lived next door carefully watched. In the arms of the child was a small, soiled, well-worn doll. A leg was missing, the face was badly scratched, the hair was rumpled and the dress was worn and torn.

"How long have you had your baby?" asked the young neighbor.

"Four months," came the proud reply.

"My," replied the child. "You've sure kept her nice!"

Parents have a godly responsibility to keep their children "nice." They are a gift from God and are to be raised in God-fearing, God-centered and God-honoring homes.

Christian parents, first and foremost are to live love – a love that reflects the sacrificial love of God that demonstrates at all times His care and compassion for children.

Christian parents must also be as available to their children as God is to His children. Even as we need God's companionship, our children need us to be as near as He is when we call on Him in prayer.

Prayer: We pray, Heavenly Father, for parents to honor You by honoring the children You give them by raising them with loving care and discipline. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Ephesians 6:4 And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Thank You For This Beautiful Day

Just before leaving for school, little Noah was saying his morning prayers. “Heavenly Father, thank You for this beautiful day.”

“But,” interrupted his mother, “there is going to be a storm with rain, lightning and thunder. That’s not a beautiful day.”

“I know,” was the quick reply. “We just can’t judge a day by the weather.”

There are some days when the last possible thing we can do is to find something beautiful. We awaken to discover that a loved one is critically ill, we feel overwhelmed by the tough schedule we are facing, the children are out of control and the sink is overflowing because the plumbing is stopped-up. What next? Can anything else go wrong?

Perhaps it is time to listen to the Psalmist: “This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.” Throughout the Psalms we often read about the difficult, demanding and discouraging days they faced. What did they do?

They spoke to God honestly and took their problems to Him and plead for His help. And every time, at the end of the psalm, they were rejoicing!

Prayer: Father, we know that You are bigger than every problem we face and have solutions for each of them. May we see Your beauty in all things. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 118:24 This is the day the LORD has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

"My Father Knows!"

A customer was watching young James help his father move boxes of shoes from one location to another. Seeing the pile grow higher and higher in the boy’s arms, he politely asked, “Son, I don’t see how you can carry any more. Isn’t that too much for you?”

Cheerfully he responded, “Sir, my father knows how much I can carry.”

Paul, in his letter to the Corinthians, wanted to give them a burst of encouragement as they faced the temptations in a sinful culture. So, he said, “God is faithful. He will keep the temptation from becoming so strong that you can’t stand up against it.” In other words, “He knows how much you can carry.”

No one is immune from the temptations of life. Even if we feel that we are being singled out by God for a special examination, we must realize that others have faced similar temptations and have successfully resisted them. We have God’s Word that He will always give us the strength to face the temptations and avoid sinning.

The issue is not about being able to face and flee temptation; the issue is whether or not we want to.

Prayer: Help us, Lord, to realize that Your Son faced every temptation that we will face, yet remained sinless. May we, as He did, call on You for help. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: 1 Corinthians 10:13 No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Forever Going Forward

Having been called to be a missionary, David Livingstone was required to appear before an organization for their endorsement and support. While being questioned about his call, he was asked, “Where are you willing to go?”

“Anywhere,” he answered, “as long as it’s forward!”

In concluding his second letter, Peter wrote, “But grow in the special favor and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” By his life and in his writings, Peter emphasized the importance of growth in the life and service of Christians. No matter how well we may believe we know God or how mature we may think that we are in our spiritual development, there is always space to “move forward.”

We live in a world that is hostile to the things of God. There is little doubt that many would be pleased if they could make God completely invisible. Because of the spirit of agnosticism, we must be aware of the battles that are going on around us and within us.

The world will always challenge our faith. The only way to make certain that we are moving forward is to spend time each day with God.

Prayer: May we realize, Lord, the importance of drawing closer to You each day so that we are always prepared to stand for truth and righteousness. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: 2 Peter 3:18 but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen.

Monday, January 23, 2012

But He Forgives And Forgets!

Young Mark was preparing to say his prayers before going to bed. His mother had been in his room going over his homework with him. As he knelt to pray he said, "Go away, Mom. I want to talk to God."

"But can't I listen?" she asked.

"Well," he said, “I don't mind telling God about the wrong things I did today because I know He will forgive me and forget what I did. But you'll go on yelling at me forever."

How gracious is our God! His Word declares, "And I will forgive their wrongdoings, and I will never again remember their sins." One of the final characteristics of the New Covenant is that the blood of Jesus not only cleanses us completely but that He will remove them from His memory.

That's probably hard for many of us to accept. We often harbor in our hearts and minds the wrongs that people do against us. Often we seem to roll them around and seek opportunities to get revenge – or at least get even. Not our God.

We know that His grace is sufficient to save us. But believing that He will never allow our sins to enter His memory should bring us a permanent peace.

Prayer: Help us, our Father, to take You at Your Word, and know that as we confess our sins, You not only forgive them but forget them – forever. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Hebrews 8:12 For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.”

Friday, January 20, 2012

Choosing Sides

A minister had been invited to have dinner with President Abraham Lincoln shortly after his inauguration. Shortly after they gave thanks for the food, the minister said, "I hope the Lord's on our side. We are facing some difficult times!"

"I don't agree with you," said the president.

“What?" gasped the minister. "You don't agree that we need the Lord on our side?"

"No," replied Lincoln. "It is my prayer that I and this nation should be on the Lord's side."

When we ask God to be on the side of the choices we make or the paths we choose to follow, they may or may not be those that would honor God. The assumption is that God will be with us and bless us no matter what.

But when we choose to be on God's side, everything is different. We look to Him for guidance and instruction and do those things that are pleasing in His sight. Often individuals think that if we are a nation of slogans and signs that refer to God we will be honored and blessed by Him. Not so!

The Bible clearly and consistently reminds us that: Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD!

Prayer: We acknowledge, Lord, that we cannot expect You to guide and guard us unless we willingly honor, worship and praise You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Exodus 32:26 then Moses stood in the entrance of the camp, and said, “Whoever is on the LORD’s side—come to me!” And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together to him.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Sowing Seeds Of Beauty

Captain James Cook was one of the most famous British navigators. He sailed around the world many times. On each of his journeys he would take seeds of flowers that came from lovely English gardens.

Whenever his ship reached a port, he would disembark with his crew. While the crew enjoyed the city, he would take some of the seeds he brought with him and plant them in a garden near the port. Everywhere he went, he left a reminder of his visit by planting seeds that brought beauty to the lives of the people who lived in that city.

There is nothing more important for Christians to do than to share God’s love and beauty. Wherever He leads us in our journey through life, He will give us many opportunities to “plant” seeds of His love, salvation and hope.

Paul reminds us that we Christians must be clothed in God’s love. His love adds His beauty to our actions and makes whatever we do attractive to others. No matter what other gifts God may give us, we can all share His love in every word and deed.

Prayer: Lord, help us to always be mindful of the great love You have for us and as we do, be willing to go to any extreme to give that Love to others. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: 1 Corinthians 13 And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love. (Read more…)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Judged For What?

It was a difficult semester in school for little Tammy. Her grades were very low and her fear of being punished very high. Thinking about a way out of her dilemma she asked her Dad, "Can you write your name with your eyes closed?"

"Yes, I think so," he replied.

"Great!" So, she had him sit at the table, got a pen and said, "Sign here!" as she guided his hand.

When he opened his eyes, he realized that he had signed her report card. Needless to say, he was not pleased and made some appropriate adjustments.

Although we may think that we are hiding things from God, Solomon reminds us that "God will judge us for everything we do, including every secret thing, whether good or bad."

We are reminded by Solomon that we are to enjoy life and everything that God has given us. But this does not excuse us or exempt us from obeying God and what He has commanded us to do. We must train ourselves to recognize what is right or wrong according to God's Word and then live a life that is in agreement with His demands. He has the final say.

No excuses! No exemptions! No explanations!

Prayer: May we live our lives, Lord, with a clear understanding of the fact that one day we will stand before You in judgment for all we've done. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Ecclesiastes 12:14 For God will bring every work into judgment, Including every secret thing, Whether good or evil.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Keys To Success

Vince Lombardi, the legendary football coach of the Green Bay Packers, knew what it took to be victorious. Once when asked the formulae he replied, "Dedication, hard work and sacrifice."

When his team met for practice, he would remind them that "You're here for to play football. And I'm here to see you play as well as your God-given talents and abilities will allow you to play. And that means total dedication!"

But dedication was not enough. Lombardi was known as a coach who was relentless in making his teams produce. He knew that dedication by itself would not be enough. It would take long hours of practice and preparation, perseverance and pain, suffering and sacrifice. It took every talent and every ability that every player possessed to become winners and champions.

Paul wrote, "Do not let any part of your body become a tool of wickedness to be used for sinning. Instead, give yourselves completely to God since you have been given new life."
God gave us a new life to use for His glory. We must make every sacrifice to succeed for Him.

Prayer: Help us, Father, to commit our minds and hearts to You and then develop every skill and talent You have given us to work for Your Kingdom. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Romans 6:13 And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Who Wants You?

It was the final game of the season. The team that won would receive the victor’s trophy for the season. But the star running back broke the team curfew and was benched – unable to play.

It was a difficult game and the team fell behind. However, the students began to rally support for the benched player and started to chant, "We want Roger! We want Roger!"

Looking at the benched player, the coach motioned to him. He jumped up and said, "I'm ready Coach, I'm ready!"

"Great," said the coach. "Go up into the stands. They want you more than I do."

Jesus said, "Those who come to me I will never reject." This verse should give us an assurance of how welcome we are to enter into the presence of God.

It does not matter where we have been or what we have done, none of our behaviors or beliefs will cause Him to reject us. His arms are open, His voice is calling and His invitation is to "whosoever will."

Our coming to Christ is never conditioned by who we are but who He is and what He has done.

Prayer: We thank You, Father, that Your grace, mercy and salvation are extended to those who hear Your voice and accept Your invitation. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: John 6:37 All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out.

Friday, January 13, 2012

It's Not How Long But How Well

The class had become boring. So the teacher decided to liven it up with a group discussion.

"If Shakespeare were alive today," he asked, "would he be considered remarkable?"

"Remarkable?" replied one student. "That's hardly the way to put it. He'd be considered ancient."

Living long does not mean that one has lived well or accomplished much. It simply means that one has lived. What we do with the time that God gives us is what really matters. We all must face one simple, significant, serious question: Who and what do we live for?

After his conversion Paul had one desire: To live and die for Christ. He wrote "that I will never do anything that causes me shame...that I will always be bold for Christ...that my life will always honor Christ...for me to live is Christ."

Paul's whole purpose in life was to become more like Christ and to speak boldly for Christ. It did not matter if he was among friends or in a prison, in front of a crowd or writing a letter. He was totally consumed with serving the Lord. Someone said that if we are not ready to die, we are not prepared to live.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, may we always put You first in all that we do and one day hear You say, "Well done my good and faithful servant." In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Philippians 1:21 For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

On Being Fear-Filled

A world famous surgeon was being interviewed by a television reporter for a series on the advances being made in the medical profession. Coming to the last question, the reporter asked,

"Tell me doctor, what is your greatest fear?"

After thinking for a moment, he replied, "That I may no longer feel the pains of my patients."
For him, feeling was essential if he was to help others. It moved him as he performed surgery on those in need of healing.

Sympathy is meant to stir us to service, to help us see the needs of others and to move us into action. Without sympathy we would do little to help the least, the last and the lost.

Paul said, "Share each others troubles and problems." Sympathy enables us to see the needs that others have and do something about them. It is the very foundation from which love and obedience to fulfill the commandments of Christ flows.

No Christian should ever feel that they are beyond the requirement of or excused from helping and praying for others. At all times and in all situations we are to be alert to the needs of others and respond as Jesus did.

Prayer: Lord, open our eyes that we might see the things that You saw and be moved by the things that moved You and then do as You did in love. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Galatians 6:2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

WHat's The Problem?

A man who was greatly overweight made an appointment with a psychiatrist. He wanted to know why he could not control his eating.

"Why," he asked, "am I so fat?"

Pausing to think for a moment, the psychiatrist responded, "Because your life is focused on food. When you go to a baseball game, you indulge in hotdogs and beer. When you watch TV, it means snacks like candy, chips and other snacks. When..."

Before he gave another example the patient interrupted and said, "You're right. Now tell me, what type of food do you serve during your sessions?"

Whatever is uppermost in our minds is what we live for and eventually die for. Jesus, wanting us to be sure our priorities are the ones that lead us to living God-pleasing lives said, "Blessed are those who are hungry and thirsty for righteousness for they will be satisfied."

Whenever we surrender to anything in our life that is self-destructive or self-defeating, it is a sure sign that He does not have His proper place of honor in our lives. Peace and healing come only from Him.

Prayer: Lord, as we look at our lives, may we realize that if things are out of control, we need to search our hearts for Your solution. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Matthew 5:6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Be Right To Do Right

One night a group of Delaware Indians gathered around a bright, warm fire talking with their Chief.

"I've been thinking," said one, "about the words of the missionary. He talked of a rule delivered by the Author of Christianity. It is known as the Golden Rule. Do you remember his words?"

"Tell me what it is," said the Chief.

"In everything," he said, "do to others what you would have them do to you."

"That's impossible," said the Chief, "unless the Great Spirit who made man would give man a new heart."

That is exactly what God promised to do for us and within us. He said, "I will give you a heart with new and right desires and I will put a new spirit within you."

God wants us to be filled with His grace and treat others as He treats us. However, we cannot be who He wants us to be and do what He wants us to do unless we have that "new spirit." No matter how we have lived or how badly we have treated others in the past, if we choose to accept Christ and do His work, He will put that new spirit within us to do as He would do.

Prayer: Lord, give us that new heart that we may live a new life that is God-honoring, Christ-exalting and Spirit-filled leading to acts of love. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Ezekiel 36:26-27 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.

Friday, January 6, 2012

What's Average Got To Do With It?

Someone said that the average man has sixty-nine pounds of muscle, forty-one pounds of bones but only three pounds of brain. (Now that may explain many things!)

Henry Spangler was not average. He was alert.

He worked as a janitor but had problems with dust. Whenever he swept the floor, the dust would rise, causing him to sneeze and cough. His eyes would run and it even caused him to have serious headaches. But he did not quit. He began to think about the dust – not himself. He began to search for ways to suck up dust rather than scattering it through the air. If only, he thought, there would be a way to capture the dust in a container. He asked God to help to solve his problem.

His search finally led him to the idea of a vacuum cleaner. After much thought, he shared his idea with an old friend and asked him to finance the idea and work with him. It resulted in the Hoover Vacuum Cleaner and his old friend was H. W. Hoover.

James wrote, “If you want to know what God wants you to do, ask…He’ll tell you.” God can solve any problem we have if we look to Him for His solution.

It’s never the size of our problem but our faith.

Prayer: Lord, help us to look beyond ourselves when we have a problem and know that You already have the solution if we simply ask for Your help. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: James 1:5-8 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. (Read more…)

Thursday, January 5, 2012

When Silence Is Golden

He was a new Christian. But it didn't matter: he wanted to be a witness for the Lord and let everyone know how grateful he was for his salvation.

On the final night of a revival meeting, he went to his pastor and asked if he could give his testimony. The pastor was pleased and said that he would call him to the platform when it was time for him to speak.

As the service progressed, George became rather nervous and fearful of standing before a group of people he did not know. But he smiled, asked God for strength and peace, and looked forward to the time to share his story.

Finally, his moment came. He walked boldly to the pulpit, placed his hands on each side as he had seen his pastor do on many occasions, and said, "Brethren."

And that was it. His fear overwhelmed him. Not able to remember what he was planning to say, the only thing he could utter was, "Will you please join me in three minutes of silence to honor our beloved Savior."

Our words of worship and witness need not be eloquent, only sincere. A genuine Christian is the best proof of genuine Christianity. Standing to honor our beloved Savior may, at times, be the best thing we can do.

Prayer: Father, there are times when our lives speak so loudly that words are not necessary. May we realize, however, that in word or deed, we witness for You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Philippians 1:7-12 And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, (Read more...)

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

"Let's Turn It On!"

Thomas Edison worked many years to develop a light bulb. The day finally arrived when his first one was ready to be tested. He turned to his lab technician and said, "Take this downstairs and let's turn it on!"

The technician was filled with excitement as he left the laboratory. As he ran down the stairs, he slipped, fell and broke the bulb.

Discouraged but not defeated, Edison went on to make his second bulb. When it was finished, he turned to the same technician and said, "Take this downstairs and let's turn it on!" With the same amount of excitement, but more cautious, he carefully took the bulb downstairs and the experiment was completed successfully.

More often than not, it is easy to give up when things do not turn out as we expect them to. In a moment of despair we find it easier to turn our backs on projects that fail or goals that crumble. But even though we may make a mess of things, God has not nor ever will give up on us. The Lord, speaking through Joshua, said, "Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go!"

What a gracious promise of His presence and power!

Prayer: Lord, may we always work with You to turn every tragedy into triumph and every disaster into a delight that honors You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Joshua 1:1-9 Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” (Read more...)

Monday, January 2, 2012

Living Fear-Free

"It's above me, around me, in me and under me," he said.

"What?" I asked.

"Fear," came the reply. "I am afraid of everything and everybody, anything and anybody."

David gave us a good prescription for fear.

"Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust Him and He will help you." In one brief verse he provides three steps to dealing with our anxieties:

Step One: Commit our concerns. The word "commit" contains a unique picture: it is as though you would "roll" the burden, problem or threat from yourself to God. Imagine putting all your concerns in a wheelbarrow and then rolling them into the presence of God and "dumping" them out at His feet. What a joy!

Step two: Fortify our faith. When we leave our concerns with God, we know that not only does He care about them, but He has the ultimate responsibility for their solution, because we have His Word that – “He will help!"

Step three: Trusting God does not mean that He will remove every problem or give us everything we want. But it does mean that He is totally responsible for our well-being and will meet every need.

Prayer: Help us, Lord, to take You at Your Word, to know that you will calm our every fear, give us Your everlasting peace, and provide for all our needs. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 37:5 Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, And He shall bring it to pass.