Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Profit And Loss

It was one of those days when nothing seemed to go right at work. Ralph had lost sale after sale and was three hours late for his lunch.

He sat down on his favorite stool in his favorite diner waiting to place his order. When the waitress asked for his order, he said meekly, “Please, I like two things: an order of pot roast and a few kind words.”

Looking at him kindly, she replied, “The kindest words I can think of right now are, ‘don’t order the pot roast.’“

Offering “kind words” is the responsibility of every Christian every day. Everyone we meet needs words of strength, hope and encouragement to meet the challenges they face. Life for most of us has various shades of difficulty each day. But what are the kindest words we can ever offer anyone? Perhaps they are these: “Don’t forget the next world while living in this one.”

It is possible for each of us to put our values on the wrong things. No one is immune from being caught up in the moment when we are vulnerable and weak. How sad it will be if we live our lives and, at the last moment, discover life’s greatest mistake: we did not include God in our plans.

Jesus asked, “How do you benefit anything if you gain the whole world and lose your own soul?”

Prayer: We pray, Lord, that we will recognize our greatest need: first to accept You as our Savior and then to bring others to a knowledge of Your saving grace. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Mark 8:34-38 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? (Read more…)

Monday, July 30, 2012

Right for God's Plan

Charlie Brown was sitting behind his desk holding his head between his hands, as his elbows kept them in place. With a worried look on his face he moaned, “The moment I set foot on the steps of life, they took one look at me and said, ‘Not right for the part!’“

Not so for the Christian!

Paul, writing to the Ephesians said, “When you believed in Christ, He identified you as His own by giving you the Holy Spirit.” That’s God’s guarantee that we belong to Him and that He has a unique plan for our lives and we are just “right for the part.”

When the Holy Spirit comes into our lives it is the beginning of a new way of living because we have become “new creations” through Christ Jesus. We know that “old things have passed away and all things have become new!” And whatever “part” God has for us is one that meets His needs and we will certainly be able to fulfill that “part” for His glory on earth.

We must always remember that the power of the Holy Spirit is at work in our lives now - transforming us into the likeness of Christ right now. Often we look at the “end product” - being with God in the Kingdom of Heaven. We must always remember that His power is at work in us at this very moment. And when we look back and see where we were, and look forward and know where we will be, we know He has a “part” for us.

Prayer: We pray, Lord, that we will be patient with You as You are with us as You shape us and mold us and work with us until we are “right for our part.” In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Ephesians 1:13 In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise,

Friday, July 27, 2012

Limited By Choice

James Corbett was a one-time bank teller who became a world champion heavyweight boxer. One day while strolling through the woods he came upon a man fishing for trout. Intrigued, he paused to watch him. Eventually he pulled out a very large trout, examined it carefully and threw it back into the stream. After a short time, he caught another large trout, measured it and then threw it back into the stream as he had with the first one. Finally he caught a trout half the size of the first two and kept it.

Puzzled, “Gentleman Jim” Corbett asked, “Why did you throw the two large trout back into the stream and keep the small one?”

“Small frying pan,” said the fisherman, casting his line back into the stream.

Our vision can keep us in bondage. If we have small ideas about what we want to accomplish for God that is exactly what we will do. If we attempt nothing, we will accomplish nothing and our lives will amount to nothing.

If, on the other hand, we look to God for ideas that are worthy of Him, He will give them to us. And not only will He give us the ideas, but the inspiration and confirmation that we can do all things through Him if we do all things for Him.

“By His mighty power,” Paul said, “He can accomplish more than we can ask or hope.”

Prayer: Heavenly Father, it is obvious that You want us to do great things for You. Give us an unlimited view of what we can do for You and inspire us to do great things for You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Ephesians 3:20 Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us,

Thursday, July 26, 2012

How God Loves

Little Nancy had kept every doll that her family and friends had given her. Over the years they had become tattered and worn. Some had missing eyes and ears and a few had lost some or most of their hair.

One day a friend of her mother came for a visit. With pride Little Nancy invited the guest to her visit her bedroom and meet her dolls. All of her dolls were carefully displayed on her bed.

“I love these dolls,” she said to the guest. Picking up a doll with a button missing from an eye, part of the thread missing from its lips and a face that had become worn from being held so very much, she said, “I love this one the most,” she said with a charming smile.

“Why?” asked the friend. “Well,” she replied, “if I didn’t, probably nobody would.”

  How like our Heavenly Father. When we read John 3:16, we are confronted with a love that includes everyone – no exceptions or preconditions. When He said whosoever He included everyone.

Often when we see those who are marred by sin and self-destructive behaviors or catch a glimpse of those who are dirty and grimy and homeless, we look away in disgust. Not Jesus. He sees a life He died for.

Prayer: Help us, Father, to see those for whom You died as You do. May we realize the great price You paid for their salvation and do what we can to win them to You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: John 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Humility

A visitor to a monastery asked the monk who greeted him the main ministry of his order. Offering the visitor a gracious smile he said, “Well, when it comes to learning and teaching, we cannot compare to the Jesuits. When it comes to good works, we certainly cannot match the Franciscans. And when it comes to preaching we are far below the Dominicans. But when it comes to humility we are at the top of the list.”

The apostle Peter is well known for his boldness for his Lord. Yet he once wrote, “You young men...serve each other with humility, for God sets Himself against the proud, but He shows favor to the humble.”

We often think that position and status are the marks of greatness. It is normal to want recognition for the things that we do. But here Peter reminds us that in the final analysis, we must remember that God’s recognition and approval count more than all of the human praise we may ever get.

In His own time God will honor and bless us for what we do to honor and bless Him. It is not the things that we do to draw attention to ourselves that matter to God. It is what we do that draws attention to His love that reflects His goodness and grace, mercy and salvation.

In the end, it’s all about Him!

Prayer: Lord, let us look for every opportunity to let others know that You are the “main attraction” in our lives. May what we do point others to Christ our Savior. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: 1 Peter 5:6 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

God's Master Plan

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle studied to be a physician. After completing his studies he established a medical partnership with a friend. It did not go well and they soon parted ways.

 Shortly afterward, he opened his own practice. Initially he had very few patients and to pass away the long, boring days he began to write factious crime stories. His first writings were not well received. But since he had empty hours to fill, he continued to write.

Two of his characters were Sherlock Holmes and Watson. His stories were framed around much of the information he learned while a medical student, and it was his use of “differential diagnosis” in his writings that brought much of the intrigue to his works. It did not take long before his stories gained much attention and his writing career was established.

It may be intriguing for some to wonder why he did not go directly into writing crime stories rather than the field of medicine. Certainly that was an option. But it was his understanding of “differential diagnosis” that made his crime stories different and brought him success.

Often we wonder why we are sometimes called to go through “things” that seem foolish and worthless, boring and frustrating. But God has a plan for each of us and we must be patient with Him until He reveals it.

Prayer: Help us, Father, to be patient and open while You are preparing us for our life’s work. May we do our best to develop our talents carefully and wisely for 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.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Great Work To Do Today

John Tyndall was a nineteenth century physicist who was highly respected and widely recognized for his scientific research in physics. He was the author of seventeen books and his work led to many discoveries that advanced our knowledge about the universe. In fact, many think it was his work that led to the interest of studying the science of physics.

He was once asked by a colleague, “Where did your greatest inspiration come from?”

“A servant,” he replied. “Every morning he’d knock at my door and say, ‘Arise sir! You have great work to do today.’”

We do, too. Paul talks about the attitude and perspective we who are Christians should possess. “Work hard,” he says, “and cheerfully at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than people.”

Ever since the dawn of creation God has given man work to do. And if we view this work as Paul asks us to, it will be done as an act of service and worship to our Creator. Having this view of our daily responsibilities would take away much of the drudgery and dissatisfaction that often make them boring and appear meaningless to us. We might even end our complaining and have less resentment for what we do. Perhaps we might even view our problems as part of the cost of discipleship.

Prayer: Lord, give us thankful hearts, able bodies and sound minds that enable us to work. May we see all that we do as an opportunity to bring You honor and glory. 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.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Where Is Your Focus?

Karl Wallenda was one of the world’s greatest tightrope performers. In 1978 he fell to his death.

Some time later his wife was speaking of the tragedy. “All Karl thought about,” she recalled, “for three straight months prior to his death was falling. It was the first time he had ever thought about that, and it seemed to me that he put all of his energies into not falling rather than in walking the tightrope.”

Paul warned us about focusing on the wrong things. In his letter to the Philippians he advised them to “look forward to what lies ahead. I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God through Christ Jesus is calling us to heaven.”

The future is in front of all of us. And often it is not the future that causes us problems, but the past. We can’t feel sorry about what problems that may happen in the future, we can’t become discouraged about mistakes that might occur in the future and we can’t regret sins we will commit in the future. But we can become overwhelmed with problems and mistakes and sins that occurred in the past.

And when we allow the past to interfere with our future we will take our eyes off the “prize” that God has waiting for us. We must never relax our efforts or lower our standards if we want to be all that we can be through Christ our Savior. If we do, we lose the prize.

Prayer: Help us, Father, to keep our eyes upon You and the prize that we have in Christ Jesus our Lord. May we allow no one or no thing to distract us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Philippians 3:13-14 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Great Men - Great God

When General Ulysses S. Grant lay dying, he called for his pastor. As his pastor stood by his bedside Grant asked, “Tell me, will God receive me?”

“Yes,” he replied, “for the Lord said, ‘him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out.’”

General Grant, at that moment came to the Lord. The pastor, both amazed and grateful for this startling conversation said, “God’s Kingdom had just gained a great man!”

Quietly, but with great sincerity and dignity Grant said, “God does not need great men, but great men need God.”

General Grant put things in the proper perspective. It is not uncommon for those who achieve status and power, prestige and importance to believe that God needs their help. We hear much about the résumés and financial statements of prominent people. We offer our respect and esteem to those who move across the world’s stage attempting to control world events. We speak of their efforts and accomplishments as though they keep the planet in orbit and from spinning out of control. But in the final analysis they still need God’s grace, mercy and salvation as we do.

God without man is still God. But man without God is nothing and is condemned to spend eternity in hell.

Prayer: Father, we thank You with grateful hearts for Your salvation through Jesus Christ, Your Son. May we recognize Your Lordship and serve You with gladness. 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.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Yes, But Does It Work?

A well recognized inventor called his closest friends together to unveil the new electric motor he had just finished. He stood in front of the group with his new product displayed on an elegant black velvet tablecloth and highlighted by a spot light.

“Gentlemen,” he said in a voice that exposed his pride, “this is my most recent invention – a newly designed electric motor. What do you think of it?”

“Put it to work,” said one of the engineers, “I can’t tell a thing about it until I see it in action.”

If we say that we are Christ’s disciples then others will recognize us as His disciples when they see us “in action.” In writing to the Ephesians, Paul said that we are to be “careful how you live…Make the most of every opportunity for doing good in these evil days. Do not act thoughtlessly, but try to understand what God wants you to do.”

When Paul referred to “these evil days” he was emphasizing the urgency of presenting the Gospel message. Then, as now, “evil” has penetrated society in such a powerful manner that it is difficult to see good or goodness in the way so many Christians behave. What was once avoided as “unbecoming for Christians” has now become accepted as appropriate by many who consider themselves as His disciples.

As the engineer said, “Put it” (our faith) “to work.”

Prayer: Help us, Heavenly Father, to be aware of our witness in this world and to “understand” how we ought to live as Your disciples in this fallen, sin-filled world. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Ephesians 5:15-20 See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. (Read more…)

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Out Of Sight But Never Out Of Touch

Marie had to stay home from school because of her measles. Her mother, knowing that the bright sunlight coming in through the window would cause her infected eyes to hurt, completely darkened the room as though it were night.

Sitting near her on the bed, her mother asked, “Are you afraid?”

“No, mother,” came the reply, “as long as you sit where I can touch you.”

Feelings of being alone or abandoned haunt each of us at one time or another. We draw feelings of strength, encouragement, hope, significance and inspiration from others. But, there are also times when we feel as though no one is there.

And it is at those precise moments that we need to claim the promise that “He will never leave us or forsake us!” That promise is unlimited, unconditional, unending and unwavering. If He says it and I accept it and believe it that ends it.

Whenever we have feelings of uneasiness or are frightened or afraid or lack the necessities of life that is God saying, “There may be no light but if you reach out to touch Me, you will always find Me available.”

Whatever need we may have, God is right there with us. No matter how far we have fallen, how often we have failed or how deep is our doubt, He’s there with us.

Prayer: Lord, we all want to be strong, filled with courage and have the ability to conquer life. How thankful we are to know that when we need You, You are there. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Isaiah 41:10 Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’

Monday, July 16, 2012

Faith And Obedience

Charlie Brown decided that he would take a break from baseball and take up archery. His friend and advisor, Lucy, approached him one day while he was practicing. She became rather puzzled. He would place an arrow on the string of his bow, pull it back and then let the arrow fly into the fence. Then he would do it again. And again. And again.

After he had several arrows sticking in the fence he would walk up to each one and draw a target around it.

“Charlie Brown,” said Lucy, “that’s not right. You always do things the wrong way and you are wrong again. You are supposed to draw the target first and then shoot at it!”

“I know,” he said. “But if you do it my way you never miss.”

Many of us go through life the same way. We do not have a courage-based faith that enables us to step out in a faith that believes God in and for all things.

A good example is Abraham. God “called him to leave home and go to another land that God would give him as his inheritance.” Upon God’s command he left home without asking God one question because he not only believed God but also trusted Him. He left not knowing where he was going; only knowing Whom he trusted. And the result? He was a pioneer and founded an empire for God.

Prayer: Help us, Lord, to believe Your word, knowing that when we place our faith in You, You will not only guard us, but guide us in the paths we should take. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Hebrews 11:8 By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.

Friday, July 13, 2012

As Big As We Make It!

Herb had been dating Liz for about a year. He was deeply in love with her and finally decided that he would ask her to marry him. So, he went to a jewelry store and used all of his hard earned savings to purchase an engagement ring for her. Unfortunately, the rings were more expensive than he imagined and he had little money to spend and had to settle for one with a small diamond.

One evening he took her to dinner and after they ordered their meal, with a shy, trembling voice he asked, “Liz, will you marry me?”

“Oh yes, of course I will,” said Liz.

With tears in his eyes he presented the ring to her and said, “Liz, I’m sorry, so sorry that the diamond is not as big as I wanted it to be or as large as my love.”

“Oh my,” said Liz, “that doesn’t matter. The diamond is as big as we make it!”

How very true! Value is always in the eye of the beholder, isn’t it? We often substitute things for thoughtfulness or gifts with goodness. We even confuse large with lovely or big with beauty. Often we substitute spending time with someone by offering them a present instead of ourselves.

When we give something to someone, especially God, cost doesn’t matter. What we keep for our self does.

Prayer: May we realize, Lord, that giving reflects the sincerity of our heart not the size of the gift. May we show our love more by what we do than what we give. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Colossians 3:14-25 But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. (Read more...)

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Victory At Sea!

Lord Nelson was England’s most famous naval officer. He was highly esteemed for his inspirational leadership and brilliant grasp of naval strategies and unconventional tactics. His supreme knowledge of warfare at sea enabled him to win many significant victories for England. In fact, in one battle, with only 27 small vessels he destroyed 33 of Napoleon’s large battleships.

However, in spite of his brilliant career as a naval officer, he suffered from seasickness all of his life. Yet, he refused to allow this serious condition to become an excuse from what he believed he was called to do.

This is a significant lesson for each of us. All of us can find excuses not to do something whenever we want to. Whether we “talk” ourselves into a headache or turn a small task into an overwhelming, mountain-sized, life-threatening project, we can always – if we want to – find a way out of doing what God calls us to do.

Imagine standing before our Lord someday and He asks: “Do you remember when I asked you to teach Sunday school and you said you were too busy?” Or: “Can you explain why you didn’t have time to help with Vacation Bible School…sing in the choir…volunteer to work at the homeless shelter…feed the poor…go to camp with the youth…contribute more?”

Prayer: Help us, Heavenly Father, to serve You as You deserve. May we not look for excuses to refuse Your call, but to look for opportunities to serve You constantly. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Romans 12:11 not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord;

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Rewards of Honesty

One of the traits that made Harry S. Truman a great president was his honesty. In fact, it was more important to him than the presidency.

During the presidential campaign against Thomas Dewey, his staff notified him that his campaign funds were running low. When one of his supporters was given this information, he approached Truman and said, “I’ll give you what you need if, when you become president, you will use your office to get policies in effect that will benefit me.”

“Give your money or keep it,” said Truman, “but I’m not making any deals.”

His response electrified his staff and they began to work harder than ever. As a result, the money coming into his election committee increased dramatically and Truman went on to win the election.

We read in Proverbs that, “The Lord hates cheating, but he delights in honesty.” That is about as straight forward as it gets. And there is no way to get around it.

Honesty is very easy to measure: We are either honest or we are not. We either tell the truth or we lie. There are no “degrees” in honesty. We can’t be 99% honest or 1% honest or somewhere in between. It’s 100% or nothing.

Honesty is basic to a Christian’s integrity.

Prayer: It is so easy, Lord, to compromise the truth when we want to fulfill some worldly desire. Cleanse us from deceit and fill our minds and mouths with truth. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 11:1 Dishonest scales are an abomination to the Lord, But a just weight is His delight.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Change Your Course!

It was a stormy night. The waves were high, the winds fierce and the stars hidden behind angry clouds. Suddenly, from the bridge of his ship, the captain saw lights in front of him in the distance. He immediately had his signalman send a message: “I’m the captain of a large battleship. Change you course ten degrees.”

Back came a reply: “I’m a seaman first class, Sir. You change your course ten degrees.”

“I said I’m a captain. You are a seaman. I order you to change your course ten degrees,” replied the captain.

“I would, Sir, but I’m on a lighthouse and can’t change my course,” came the message from the seaman.

We find some great advice in Proverbs: “There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death.” The path that many travel may “seem right” but it is not right. It may offer many options and choices that seem exciting and require few sacrifices, but ultimately it destroys the soul and ends in death.

The right choice often requires hard work and difficult decisions, self-sacrifice and doing without. It may demand a change in lifestyle and force us to give up attractive surroundings and pleasurable experiences.

Giving in often requires giving up what matters most in life: living to please God and being blessed by Him.

Prayer: Often in life, Heavenly Father, we know the right thing to do. But knowing what is right and doing it is often difficult. Give us strength, we pray, to “do right.” In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 14:12 There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Keep 'Em Down!

A group of tourists was strolling along the ocean front when they saw a group of young boys catching crabs. They became curious when they saw that the basket they placed the captured crabs in had no top. As a crab was being placed into the basket one of the men said, “You’d better cover the basket or all of the crabs will climb out!”

“Oh no, sir,” said one of the boys. “That’ll never happen. If one of them tries to climb out the others will pull him down.”

How like many who attend church each Sunday and call themselves “disciples.” Whenever they hear of someone being promoted or another, who receives an unusual gift or special recognition for a job for serving the Lord or a reward for their performance at work, they are unable to rejoice with the one whom God has blessed. They look for reasons to pull that one down. How sad that gossip, jealousy and envy rule!

Paul wrote that “Love is not jealous!” In other words, if I truly love others as God wants me to love them I do not become jealous when God blesses them. Instead, I rejoice at His goodness to them. Whatever we have or what others have comes from God. They are His blessings.

The love that Paul writes about is not a natural love. It is a God-love that comes from Christ dwelling in us. Only as we surrender to Him will we live His love and others will see Him in the way we live.

Prayer: Help us, Lord, to rejoice when You bless others and give sincere thanks when You honor us. Fill our hearts with so much love that we will rejoice and be glad. 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.

Friday, July 6, 2012

In God's Image

Whenever pennies were made in ancient Rome, they were always stamped with the image of the emperor on them. It served as a constant reminder to those who used the coins that they were expected to honor him and obey his laws.

In the opening verses of His Word, God said, “Let us make man to be in our image, to be like us.” Moses, quoting God, said that we have the image of our God on us. And the fact that we have the image of God on us proves our unquestionable worth to God.

People frequently talk about self-worth. Often we hear of individuals who have low self-worth. Some people even describe themselves saying, “I’m really not worth very much.” This seems to come from the opinions of others who they think are important – perhaps parents, friends or teachers. That is unfortunate because they seem to struggle to find something significant about themselves that would make them feel worthwhile.

However, it is never about self-worth, it is about God-worth. Whenever we are tempted to think that we have no significance or importance, we need to remind ourselves that we were created in the image of God. And even though that image was lost in the fall, the story does not end there. A few verses later God begins to reveal His plan of redemption which demanded the death of His Son on the cross. We see our true worth to God in Christ’s cross.

Prayer: We admit, Father, that we cannot understand how much You love us. But we accept Your grace and ask that through Christ our Savior, we will see our worth. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Genesis 1:26-31 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; (Read more…)

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Flawed! Discard It!

A great sculptor was commissioned to create a statue of Napoleon. The marble was ordered from a quarry in Greece known for its quality materials. As soon as it arrived in the studio of the famous sculptor, Canova, he examined it carefully. To his dismay he noticed that it was not perfect. In disgust he shouted, “Discard it! It has a flaw in it. I will not lay my chisel upon it.”

How fortunate we are that God’s attitude toward and acceptance of sinners are the exact opposites. Paul boldly declares that God saved us “by His grace” - a word that means strong kindness toward someone! Imagine, if you can, how important God’s grace is for us.

God is perfection and only perfection is good enough for Him. Our very nature condemns us and will not allow us to grow into anything near perfection. If we are ever to get near to God, then, it must be on His terms. God is also love. This love that we do not deserve or can ever understand is what makes grace necessary. There is nothing we could ever do that would enable us to remove the flaws in our lives. We need Someone who is above us and beyond us Who will reach out to us and say, “In spite of your flaws, I love you and will forgive you and transform you by My grace if you have faith in my Son.”

In spite of their flaws, Jesus called men to be His disciples who were like us: ordinary sinners saved by grace.

Prayer: Lord, it’s not about breaking Your laws that requires Your grace, but breaking Your heart. Forgive us, transform us and enable us to live worthy of Your love. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Freedom From Fear

The word “freedom” carries with it the idea of being free from any restraints or not being bound by any regulations, rules or requirements. Many long to live a life with no obligations, no opposition or no oppression.

Yet all of life is wrapped with boundaries of one nature or another. Highways are divided by traffic lanes, stop signs, caution signs, turning lanes and many other constraints. Every athletic contest or sporting event has specific lines, certain types of equipment or clothing and regulations to control the activities of the participants. Even something as simple as boiling water has specific criteria.

Rarely, if ever, do we pause to consider all of life’s limits. We take for granted the ability to move about at will, make independent choices and manage our own affairs. But does moving and choosing and managing make us free? Not really. They still involve constraints in the final analysis. Where, then, do we find freedom?

Paul said, “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” God, through Christ, offers us the priceless gift of living each day free from destroying ourselves and free for being who He wants us to be and doing what He has created us to do. But we must allow His Spirit to direct us along the path He has laid out for us. We can only be free if we have accepted the forgiveness of God through Christ.

Prayer: Lord, may we not fool ourselves into thinking we are free if we are enslaved by sin and have not been forgiven. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Scripture for Today: 2 Corinthians 3:17 Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Straight From Azalea Avenue

Jane was very specific in each prayer she offered to God. Her “This Is What I’m Asking You For, Jesus” list contained detailed information about each person or item that she had written on her list.

One night following her “In Jesus’ Name, Amen” at the end of her prayer, she paused for a moment and then added the message: “Lord, these requests come directly to You from 417 Azalea Avenue, Savannah, Georgia!”

It would be interesting to know exactly what was on Jane’s prayer list. But it really does not matter. What we do know is that whatever was on her list was asked for “In Jesus’ Name.”

When Jesus said that we could “ask for anything in my name” we must never forget that our “asking” must be consistent with the character of God and will of God. We cannot expect God to grant our requests if they are contrary to whom we know He is.

We know without any doubt that our God is a holy God and a righteous God and a loving God and a God who loved us so much that He sent His Son into the world to die for us and become our Savior and Lord. Certainly when we consider these four basic characteristics of God, we realize that they lead to a significant fact about our God: He is unselfish. A simple way to evaluate each of our requests is to ask: Is this prayer to glorify me or God?

Prayer: Father, we know that You want us to have the desires of our hearts. Help us understand Your will so that our requests will be consistent with Your Name. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: John 14:13-14 And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.

Monday, July 2, 2012

"For Us Or Against Us?"

It was the final football game of the season. The winning team would win the conference championship. Every player was giving their best and fighting with all their strength to win. Unfortunately, the quarterback of one team was severely injured and had to be carried off the field. His backup walked confidently onto the field to take his place.

On the first play he fumbled the ball but quickly fell upon it and avoided a costly mistake. Then he threw an incomplete pass. On his third play he threw an interception and the player who caught the ball ran the length of the field giving the opposing team a victory and the championship.

After the game when the team assembled in the locker room the coach said to the losing quarterback, “Son, which side were you on?”

In the book of Exodus we read of a situation where Moses confronted the people whom Aaron allowed to get completely out of control. He refused to let things remain as they were and challenged them by saying: “All of you who are on the Lord’s side come here and join me!”

Perhaps each of us needs to respond to that very same statement. We may attend church, carry a Bible, sing hymns and even pray. But when we get into the “game of life” do those around us know “which side we are on?” Does what we say and do represent the Lord favorably?

Prayer: Heavenly Father, we know that there are times in our lives when the world does not know which side we are on. Forgive us and strengthen us, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.

Scripture for Today: Exodus 32:25-26 Now when Moses saw that the people were unrestrained (for Aaron had not restrained them, to their shame among their enemies), 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.