Friday, August 31, 2012

The Source Of Peace

Russ Ortiz was an outstanding baseball pitcher for the Atlanta Braves. In fact, in one season he won twenty-one games. On one occasion a reporter asked him how he kept calm in situations when it looked like he would lose control of the game. Quickly he replied, “When I am on the mound and need a calming experience I look under the bill of my cap. You see, I keep a Bible verse there,” he explained. “When I started doing it,” he continued, “it helped me put things in perspective.”

The Christian is never guaranteed a life free from stress, strife or the worries of the world. It does not assure us of quiet paths and calm waters. But it does assure us that when we keep our minds securely focused on God and His Word we will know perfect peace even in the most turbulent times.

Isaiah, in a song of praise to the Lord wrote, “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in You, whose thoughts are fixed on You!”

This is a powerful promise for the believer. His Word provides all of the assurance that we need to know a perfect peace. It exceeds all of the wisdom, knowledge and understanding that we find in the writings of worldly authors. In Him we have everything we need: His unending and unchanging love. When we accept that fact, there is no reason for us to fear the chaos that confronts us or the confusion that surrounds us.

Prayer: Lord, may we accept the peace that You offer us through Your Son, our Savior. Help us to rely on Him and His power to protect and preserve us in all things. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Isaiah 26:3 You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

What Do You See?

The citizens of a small community were overwhelmed with discouragement. The drought had destroyed the crops of the farmers and they were facing bankruptcy. The merchants were unable to purchase inventory for their stores because their customers could not pay their bills. And things went downhill from there.

Everyone was heartbroken and depressed except one elderly man of God. He invited the leaders of the community to his home for a meeting to see if he could encourage them to continue a little longer.

His friends came to his home and sat around his kitchen table. Standing before them he hung a large piece of white paper on a wall and asked them to turn and look at it. As they did, he placed a black dot in the center. He then asked, “Gentlemen, what do you see?”

In unison they said, “A black dot.” Not one of them mentioned the white paper that surrounded the one small black dot.

“Gentlemen,” he asked, “are there some blessings in your life that we can place around the black dot that might make it not so obvious?” One by one they thought of some of the good things that they had been overlooking in their time of loss and grief.

God’s goodness sometimes disappears from our horizon. When days are difficult and nights are long, it is easy to see the dot and not the One who can remove it.

Prayer: Help us, Heavenly Father, to be aware of all that we have because of Your grace. Give us faith to proceed through difficulties of life through Your strength. 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, August 29, 2012

Dig Deeper!

Henry was caught up in the gold rush. Shortly after arriving in California he found a mine, staked a claim and began digging. One day he found some ore, became excited, and believed he had struck it rich. He knew without any doubt that fame and fortune would soon be his.

He kept digging for a few weeks but eventually became discouraged and wanted to quit. Finally, a stranger approached him and offered to purchase his mine. In a moment of frustration he agreed to sell his rights for $11,000.00.

The new owner was excited about his purchase and began to dig where Henry stopped. And he kept digging for years and years. Eventually the Comstock Mine produced 340 million dollars of gold!

Wanting to encourage the church in Galatia, the Apostle Paul wrote, “So don’t get tired of doing what is good. Don’t get discouraged and give up for we will reap a harvest of blessings at the appropriate time.”

We have all faced those times in our lives when we become discouraged and distressed at doing what we believe is the right thing to do. No one offers a word of thanks or encouragement and there are no visible results to accompany our hard work. But Paul reminds us to keep on doing good and to trust God for the results. Giving in or giving up or giving out is the sure way to forfeit the blessing that God will award us for being faithful.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, may we be faithful to You in what You ask us to do. Protect us from allowing discouragement to destroy us and doubt to defeat us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Galatians 6:9 And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

To Believe Is To Achieve

A group of men was preparing to climb Mount Everest. As the final pieces of their plan fell into place, a psychologist asked if he could interview them. They agreed and he met with them at their camp.

Looking at each one of them carefully and asking them individually, he asked, “Tell me, will you get to the top?”

The first answered, “I certainly hope so.” The second responded, “I’ll do my best.” The third, “I’m going to give it all I’ve got.” And the fourth said, “Yes, I will.” And he did – and he was the only one!

Our body can achieve what our hearts believe and our hearts believe what comes from our minds. A lack of faith enlarges our fears and turns them into facts. The shadows that our minds create become so dreadful that we are afraid to face them. Our worries eventually become walls that we cannot climb over or around.

Often when we are asked to do “something” for the Lord our minds create fears that are not based on facts or shadows that have no substance or windows of opportunity that become walls without ends.

Isaiah the Prophet boldly declared, “See, God has come to save me, I will trust in Him and not be afraid! The Lord God is my strength and my song, he has become my salvation!” If we truly trust God, all things are possible.

Prayer: Lord, in Your grace You bring so many opportunities and challenges into our lives that allow us to honor You. Help us to trust in You and be victorious. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Isaiah 12:2 Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the Lord Jehovah is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Pray Or Worry: Which?

Each morning Josie and her Mom prayed together before she left for school. One morning after they prayed, Josie noticed a look of distress and concern on her Mom’s face. Concerned, she said, “Mom, we just prayed together and thanked the Lord for everything we had and then told Him about everything we needed. I thought that if we prayed we wouldn’t have to worry. I didn’t know that we could do both.”

Worry and faith are actually incompatible. If we have faith there is no need to worry and if we worry we do not need to pray. One seems to cancel out the other. Many would argue that it is impossible not to worry at least some of the time. But listen to Paul: “Don’t worry about anything,” he said. “Instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need and then thank Him for all He has done.”

Maybe that’s the key to not worrying: When we thank God for all that He has done for us, we can see His hand at work in our lives. And rather than worrying about what might or might not happen, we can see what has happened and know that God is protecting us and providing for our every need. Paul advised the church members at Philippi to turn their worries into prayers. He wanted them to have a strong faith and trust and believe in the Lord for all things. If our faith and trust is weak, worrying won’t help.

Prayer: Lord, increase our faith to exceed the size of our fears and our trust to be large enough to combat the uncertainties of life. May we become steadfast and sure. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Philippians 4:6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;

Friday, August 24, 2012

Where's The Piccolo?

Sir Michael Costa was a celebrated and successful conductor in England. He was recognized by others for the demands he placed on musicians to be accurate and to perform with excellence. In fact, many resented him for his adherence to high musical standards.

On one occasion, during a rehearsal of a large choir and orchestra, he brought the music to an abrupt stop. The musicians were puzzled until be shouted, “Where’s the piccolo? I can’t hear the piccolo.”

With all of the musicians playing as loudly as they could, and the choir singing as loudly as it could, the piccolo player thought to himself, “My instrument is so small and the sound it makes is so insignificant it won’t be missed.” But to Costa, the sound of one small instrument was essential to make the harmony needed for the concert to be complete.

Paul, writing to the church at Corinth said, “Now, all of you together are Christ’s body and each one of you is a separate and necessary part of it.” Here we find him emphasizing the significance that each of us have, though we have our own distinctive talents and skills, that is necessary to do the work of Christ through our church and its various activities.

One of the dangers of comparing ourselves to others is that we come out looking as small as a piccolo. But remember, the Conductor needs us to play our part.

Prayer: Lord, may we each play our part in Your symphony of grace, realizing that if do not play our part, Your Kingdom will be incomplete. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: 1 Corinthians 12:27 Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

No Cushion For His Cross

A missionary told the story of watching a man, dressed like Jesus carrying a cross through crowded streets during Easter week. He was intrigued by the scene and got as close to the man as possible. He wanted to observe him more carefully so he could tell the story to others. When he finally was a few feet from him, he noticed that under his garment was a pillow that cushioned the weight of the cross so it would not hurt him.

We must never forget the weight of the cross that Jesus carried on our behalf. Picture, if you can, the scene: the heat of the day, the blood streaming down His face from the crown of thorns and down His back from the horrible beatings He endured before the nails were driven through His hands and feet, crowds laughing and taunting, alone and abandoned by His trusted friends and followers.

Too often we look at an empty cross and forget the reality of the cross and what it cost Jesus and His Father. Our religion has become a religion of convenience – not of conviction.

We have glamorized the cross and made it into a piece of jewelry that adorns the necks of people who do not know or want to know the story of redemption. To many it is simply an ornament – something worn but not born. Jesus said, “If you want to be my follower, then shoulder your cross and follow me closely.”

Prayer: Help us, Father, through Your grace, to understand the cost and value of our salvation. May we accept our part of the price by shouldering our cross with You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Mark 8:34 When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

I Want To Help Others

He could feel the damp moisture in the late night London fog each time a gust of wind blew over him. Blind and alone he was feeling his way down a deserted street with a white cane in one hand and a lantern in the other.
Eventually a stranger approached him walking in the opposite direction. Amused, and in a sarcastic voice he said, “Why are you, a blind man, carrying a lantern?”

“Oh, sir,” replied the blind man, “I’m not carrying it for myself. It’s for others. I want to help them so they won’t stumble over me.”

Often we think only of ourselves: our problems and our pains, our difficulties and our diseases, our hard times and horrible tasks.

It is the duty of the Christian to think of everyone and everything that may cause problems for ourselves and others as well. We are responsible to hold up a light in the darkness of this world for others who are seeking their way through life.

And not only to light a pathway for them in times of life’s darkest moments, but to help them find the “Light of the World” - Jesus - who is “the Way, the Truth and the Life!”

God’s Word is clear and unconditional when it states, “Each one of us will give an account of himself to God.” We must hold high the Light!

Prayer: Father, even though we are kind and gracious when we help others through times of darkness, it does not relieve us of our responsibility to present the Light. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: 1 John 1:5 This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Where Is God?

Sir John Franklin is remembered for being a great Englishman and explorer of the Arctic region of the planet. As he was planning one of his expeditions he decided that, based on his journeys, he would revise the map of the world.

Previous to Franklin, others had been marking unknown territories with phrases such as “Here be Dragons,” and “Here be Demons.”

But on his revised map he wrote, “Here be God.” Sir Franklin, as a result of his journeys, knew that wherever he was God would be. Even in the most distant, most lonely, and most inaccessible places he believed that he would find God.

In Psalm 121 we discover the assurance and hope that wherever we are God is with us protecting and providing for our every need - day or night. He not only made the mountains and seas, the valleys and deserts, but all that they contain.

We must never forget that the Creator of the universe is the sustainer of the universe. Trusting the One Who “put it all together” enables us to believe that He will not allow “dragons” and “demons” to overcome the one who trusts in His goodness and grace.

Nothing will ever divert or distract God from watching over His children. We can have the utmost confidence that in Him we are safe and that we will never escape His untiring watch over us.

Prayer: May we join our voices with the Psalmist, Father, and shout, “Keep watch over me, Lord, as You come and go, both now and forever!” In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 121 The Lord shall preserve you from all evil; He shall preserve your soul. (Read more...)

Monday, August 20, 2012

Let God Be The Judge

Young Anthony was ending his prayers before leaving for school. “And, finally God, thank You for this beautiful day that You have given us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.”

“But, Anthony,” protested his mother, “this is not going to be a beautiful day. There are large thunderstorms approaching.”

“I know, Mom,” replied Anthony. “Never judge a day by its weather,” he said as he ran out the door.

The Psalmist proclaimed, “This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it!”

Sometimes when we get half way through a day we feel that there is nothing to rejoice about or to be thankful for. Our problems mount and their solutions evade us. Our plans are interrupted by meaningless demands that make no sense at all. Our decisions seem to be wrong no matter how hard we tried to get them right. Our sorrow overwhelms us and our guilt appears beyond His forgiveness. What then? Rejoice? Makes no sense to most people.

But according to the Psalmist, that’s the thing to do. When we read the Psalms carefully and allow God to speak to us clearly, we will discover that they were open and honest with God about their difficulties. And when they spoke to God sincerely, by the time they came to the close of their prayers they ended in giving Him praise. Tell God the facts. He wants to help!

Prayer: Thank You, God, for always being with us in all of our difficulties. Help us to hear Your voice and to accept Your grace as a solution to our problems. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 118:24-28 This is the day the Lord has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it.

Friday, August 17, 2012

That Doesn't Look Like Me!

A young mother went to Mr. Duffy for him to do a portrait of her so that her children would know what she looked like as a young lady. Mr. Duffy was known for his “idealized” paintings - painting his clients as they could be if they were “ideal”.

When she returned after several months of waiting, she was shocked by what she saw. Angrily she said, “That doesn’t look like me.” “I know,” he replied graciously, “but try your best to look as lovely as it does.”

Mr. Duffy saw in the mother what she could become. And so, when he painted her portrait, he brought out the best in her, the “ideal.” He wanted to help her achieve her best.

One day after Andrew met and accepted Jesus as the Messiah, he brought Simon to meet Jesus. As Jesus looked intently at him He saw an “ideal” disciple and said, “You are Simon, the son of John - but you will be called Cephas (which means Peter).”

Jesus saw not only who Simon was but who he would become. That is the reason He gave him a new name. Peter was not always a “solid rock” throughout the Gospels but that is what he became “rock-solid” as he grew in Christ. Christ always sees more in us than we see in ourselves. He sees us as we can be - rock-solid - in our walk with and witness for Him. Come. Follow me!

Prayer: Lord, may we walk with You, in faith, believing that You have great plans for our lives. May we trust You completely and become “ideal” disciples. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: John 1:42 And he brought him to Jesus. Now when Jesus looked at him, He said, “You are Simon the son of Jonah. You shall be called Cephas” (which is translated, A Stone).

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Answering The Right Question

A young student was sitting before Socrates anxiously wanting to learn from “ the master.” With a penetrating glaze he asked, “Where can I find the best things in life?”

The young student was struck with the breadth of the question. He thought of the various places that had the best fabrics and finest robes. Then he thought of the market places that had the finest merchandise. Then he thought of the restaurants that had the best food and drinks.

As he was about to answer, Socrates held up his hand as if to interrupt the student’s thoughts and asked, “Must we not first, however, ask what the best things are?” That question changed Plato’s life forever.

David once said, “You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence, and the pleasures of living with you forever.”

Most individuals spend most of their time searching for the “best things of life” – things that will bring them joy, satisfaction and happiness. He realized that in spite of everything he possessed God was the one who could make a difference in life and bring him peace and completeness. He realized that only God would be able to comfort him in his moments of distress and discouragement.

Everything in life is temporary except God. We must make worshiping Him the best thing in our lives.

Prayer: Help us, Heavenly Father, to place You at the center of our lives. May we find contentment within us knowing that we have found the way, the truth and the life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 16 You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore. (Read more…)

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

When Do We Start Getting Smaller?

When he was a child Little Tommy was fascinated as he stood in the back yard and watched airplanes get smaller as they disappeared over the horizon. He would stand motionless, sometimes even holding his breath, as he watched this amazing sight time after time.

Day after day he would beg his grandmother to “take me flying on one of those airplanes.” Finally, the day came when his grandmother took him on his first flight. After he was buckled in his seat and the air craft sped down the runway and began to ascend into the clouds, a puzzled look came across his face. Anxiously, he turned to his grandmother and asked quietly, “Grandmother, when do we start getting smaller?”

This is an important question for all Christians! John the Baptist played a most significant role in the ministry of Jesus. He realized that God gave Him an important work to do to introduce Jesus to the world. This was his main purpose in life. And he did it well. God, because of his faithfulness, made him an important person in the history of our faith.

But when Jesus appeared, John realized that his role in doing God’s work changed. Not only does his willingness to decrease in importance describe an example of what humility is, but it prescribes clearly the role of every Christian today: We are to witness God’s grace to others without drawing attention to ourselves.

Prayer: Lord, may we willingly step aside, as John did, as we present Your Son to the world. May we do what we do for You and You alone and only exalt Christ. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: John 3:30-36 He must increase, but I must decrease.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

A PIcture Of Christ

It was the first day in art class and the professor wanted to challenge his students to do something creative. Standing before them he suggested that they draw a picture that had meaning and interest. Pausing for a moment he turned to one student and said, “And what, William, are you going to draw?”

“I believe that I will draw a picture of Christ,” he replied.

“But,” said the professor, “no one knows what He looks like.”

“They will when I’m through,” said William.

People may see a representation of Christ on canvas, paper or cloth, but God expects them to see Christ in us – in the way we live. Scripture clearly explains, time and time again, that the Christian is the one, not an artist, who is to provide a “picture of what Christ looks like.”

Those around us who know we are Christians take their understanding and image of Christ by watching us. They “read” about Christ in how we act and react to the events that come into our lives. They “see” Christ in what we do for others because they know that we are responsible to show His love.

A Christian is to have a “mind” that thinks as Jesus thought, a “heart” that breaks when the ravages of sin are visible, a “hand” that reaches out to those in need, and a “voice” through which He speaks to share His message.

Prayer: Our Father, You have given us a tremendous responsibility to represent You to others. We admit we are unable to do this unless we allow You to live thru us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: 1 John 2:4-6 By this we know that we are in Him. He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked. (Read more…)

Monday, August 13, 2012

God Bless Our Bumps

Little Martha was in a hurry to run out the door so she would not be late for school. In her haste she tripped and fell, hitting her head on the floor. Immediately, a bump appeared and frightened her. As the tears ran down her cheeks she climbed into her mother’s arms to be comforted.

Her Mom, holding her tightly, placed a cold pad on the lump and said, “Let’s pray and ask Jesus to heal you so you can go to school.”

Soon the tears stopped, Martha left her mother’s lap, stood up and said, “Jesus healed me. Now I can go to school.”

That night when they knelt to pray the mother asked, “What do you want to thank Jesus for tonight.” “My bump,” answered Martha quickly. “Because now I know He loves me because He made my bump go away.”

“Whenever trouble comes your way,” wrote James, “let it be an opportunity for joy. For when your faith is tested your endurance has an opportunity to grow.” In the life of every Christian, there is always a connection between the problem and the promise, between the hardship and the hope.

James reminds us to turn our difficulties into optimism and to have a positive outlook for life. Troubles are not an end in themselves. If we are willing to work with God, He can teach us perseverance.

Prayer: May we understand and accept, Father, that “whatever comes our way” is for our good and that we can profit from every hardship as we learn to trust You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: James 1:2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.

Friday, August 10, 2012

What We Have In Christ

Looking at a gallon of water in a plastic container hardly suggests that it has any power. But if it seeps into the crack of a rock or a cement road and turns into ice, the rock and the road will split into pieces. If the water is turned into steam it can drive the pistons of a large engine and turn into a massive amount of power. Water has the potential to do many great things.

So do we.

When we become Christians, God empowers us to change our lives into something completely different and special. Paul in our Scripture for today teaches us that there are four things that Christ can do for us:

1. He gives us wisdom. By walking with Him and listening to Him, we hear the truth because He is the expert in living.
2. He is righteousness. Righteousness in Paul’s writings always means a right relationship with God. We can never achieve a right relationship with God through ourselves or what we do – only through Christ.
3. He is holy. It is only through the presence of Christ in our lives that we can be or become all that God intends or expects us to be or become.
4. He is deliverance. Only Christ can deliver us from our past sin and present helplessness to sin and Only He can deliver us from our slavery to sin and set us free from self-destruction.

Prayer: Lord, help us to understand the goodness of Your grace and the power of Your presence in our lives. With You, all things are possible – most importantly salvation. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: 1 Corinthians 1:26-31 But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty;

Thursday, August 9, 2012

One Answer

It was the first day in her new position as the secretary to the president. As she was being given her first task, she wanted to appear confident and competent.

Listening carefully he said to her, “These accounts that I am giving you are very important. They are the foundation of our income. I want you to go over each of them at least three times to make sure that all of the numbers are correct before you return them to me. Your results must be right!”

Working anxiously for quite some time, she finally completed her task. She went to him and handed him the results of her efforts. As he took the papers from her hands she said, “Sir, I want you to know that I exceeded your expectations. I went over each page ten times and there are ten different answers.”

When asked the way to heaven and eternal life, Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.”

This statement in John’s Gospel is one of the most basic and important passages in all of Scripture. If anyone anywhere wants to know the way to God and eternal life, this is the one and only answer. Jesus, with no hesitation, declared once and for all that He is the Way. Some may argue that this declaration and proclamation is too narrow. But in all reality, it is wide enough for anyone, anywhere to enter at any time.

Prayer: Thank You, Heavenly Father, for sending Your one and only Son into the world to become, if we choose, Our Savior and the Way to eternal life with You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: John 14 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.(Read more...)

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Faith Or Fear?

When Mario Marini, a famous Italian painter and sculptor, was young, he fashioned a series of figures of men on horses. The first one he sculpted appeared young, strong, fierce, formidable and triumphant: expressions of extreme confidence. But as he continued his series of bronze figures, each rider and horse appear to become less confident and certain of being victorious. In fact, the last figure in the series portrays a rider and his horse frozen in terror.

When asked about the way his series changed from triumph to terror he replied, “That is because I believe that we are approaching the time of a sorry end to the world.” How different for the Christian! Rather than fear, we have faith. In place of horror, we have hope. Because of our God we know that we shall be given eternal life through Christ our Savior and Lord and we will be with Him throughout eternity.

How blest we are to have the words of the Psalmist: “Even though I will walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I do not need to be possessed by fear, for You, Creator of life, are with me to protect me!”

Our Savior will guide us and guard us and grant us victory. One day we will also say with the Psalmist, “Your goodness and unending kindness has been with me all of my life, and afterwards I will live with You in Your home - forever!”

Prayer: Grant us, Father, Your peace that passes all understanding and the assurance that You are the God of all comfort and that we do not fear the threats of life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 23 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Count On Me!

General Robert E. Lee had a brilliant officer serving on his staff. He was fiercely faithful and loyal to the general. He was also a man of conviction, courage and confidence. Every letter or note he wrote to General Lee was signed, “You can count on me.”

Our Lord has many people He can count but not many He can count on. But there is one who stands as an example to all of us: Joshua!

Joshua was careful to obey all of the teachings and instructions given by God. As we read the book that bears his name, we find the theme of obedience time and time again. This theme of obedience is so very prominent because it is an important aspect of the believer’s life. Additionally, it is certainly a significant part of our lives and one part of our lives that, with God’s help, we can control.

We cannot control the events that God brings into our lives, but we can control the way we respond to them. We cannot control the behavior of others around us but we certainly can control how we behave when we are in their presence. We cannot control the decisions of our leaders but we certainly can “pray without ceasing” for them. We cannot control the content of the media but we can certainly choose different materials to read or programs to watch on television.

However, one choice that every Christian has is to obey God. God’s Word sets the standard of all to follow.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, empower us with Your Holy Spirit to understand and accept Your Word, and to be obedient to it so You will be able to “count on us.” In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Joshua 11:15 As the Lord had commanded Moses his servant, so Moses commanded Joshua, and so Joshua did. He left nothing undone of all that the Lord had commanded Moses.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Take Time To Preach

Saint Francis is remembered for his greatness and goodness in spreading the Gospel of Christ. His writings still inspire people today.

One day he said to a fellow brother who lived with him in the monastery, “Let’s go to town and preach to the people.”

As they walked the dusty road they stopped to talk to people and play games with the children.

Tired and hungry, St. Francis turned to his young companion and said, “Let’s return to the monastery.”

“But,” protested his young colleague, “when do we preach to the people?”

“Every step we took,” said St. Francis, “and every word we spoke and every smile we shared with the people and everything we did was our sermon. We have been preaching all day!”

The only sermon some people will ever hear are the words that come from our lips and the only preaching that many will “listen” to is what they see in our lives. For many we are what we say we believe. John wrote, “Those who say they live in God should live as Christ did.” To live as Jesus did we must obey His teachings and follow His example by being obedient to His teachings.

Years ago a hymn writer asked most effectively: “Can others see Jesus in you?”

Prayer: Father, may the disturbing words of that hymn trouble our minds and hearts and force us to examine our lives and make changes that will please You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: 1 John 2:6 He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Don't Forget What He Looks Like!

Little Danny was proud of his new born brother. Every now and then he would quietly and carefully approach his crib, look down at him and smile.

On one occasion his mother stood watching him from a corner in the nursery while she was folding the baby’s clothes. After a few moments Little Danny said, “Little Brother, before you get too big and forget, please remember what God looks like ‘cause I want you to tell me when you learn to talk.”

Little Danny is not the only one who wants to know what God looks like. Hidden in the heart of everyone, everywhere is the same question. It was planted there by God Himself!

John wrote that “No one has ever seen God.” If this is true, Little Danny is in serious trouble. But John also wrote that “His only Son, who is Himself God, is near to the father’s heart, and He has revealed God (literally brought Him out) to us.”

Jesus was, and still is, the complete expression of God in human form. Through His life and teachings He revealed God to us so we do, indeed, know what He looks like, acts like and actually thinks like.

And Jesus passed on that “picture” of God to His disciples, and they in turn passed it on to their disciples. So, today, as His disciples, we have the same responsibility that Jesus had: to reveal God to the world through the way we live. What a great privilege!

Prayer: Lord, You have given us a responsibility to make You known to the world. Empower us with Your Spirit to live God-like lives that makes You visible. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: John 1:18 No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Mercy. Who Needs It?

Alexander the Great was the first conqueror of the world. Even today, as we recognize leaders who have impacted the world, he is considered as one of the most remarkable men of history.

Late in his life an artist was commissioned to paint a portrait of him. In discussing the content of the painting Alexander informed the artist that he was anxious to conceal the scar on his face.

To accommodate him, the artist painted the portrait of Alexander in a reflective mood with his head resting on his hand and a finger covering the scar. This act of insight and kindness worked perfectly and the scar was hidden.

That’s love in action – reflecting the mercy of one who honors the needs of others. The Apostle Peter summed up the behavior that we, as Christians, are to show others: “Most important of all,” he wrote, “continue to show deep love for each other.”

Love is always expressed in showing mercy to those in need. If we say that we have love for others, yet do nothing to help them in their times of need, we do not reflect our appreciation for the compassion that God, through Christ, has shown us.

We can only show our gratitude for the grace of God in our lives by what we do to and for others. Words are not works and thoughts do not bring change.

Prayer: Help us, Lord, to show our gratitude to You for the love, grace and mercy You shower upon us each day, by what we do to help others in their times of need. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: 1 Peter 4:8 And above all things have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins.”

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Do Our Words Really Matter?

It was the mid-week prayer service. The crowd was small but the singing loud. The final hymn before the Bible study was “For You I Am Praying.”

A visitor turned to a member of the church who was standing next to him and asked, “For whom are you praying?”

“No one, really,” came the response. “I’m just singing.”

Often the hymns we sing and the words we speak are completely disconnected from the lives we live. Sometimes our faith is so frail that we fail Him. But if our relationship with God is what He expects it to be, we must give Him our love and our lives, our heads and our hearts, our desires and our dreams. And we must ask Him to empower us, by His grace and goodness, to live lives that will be pleasing to Him. God’s first expectation of us is that we totally commit our lives to Him.

Paul, writing to the Romans said, “I beg you, in view of all that God has done for you, to make a decisive decision to present all that you are or have to God as a living sacrifice - which is only reasonable.” If we do that - make that decisive decision to surrender our lives to Him - the songs we sing and the words we speak will be consistent with His expectations.

Prayer: Help us, Heavenly Father, to be certain that our walk matches our words and that we behave what we say we believe. 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.