Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Starting New

My father came from Italy. Often he would fascinate me with stories of their celebrations and holidays. One event stands out – New Year. They would begin each year with fireworks and noise making, hugging and dancing, shouting and well-wishing.

But that was not all. Believing that they should get rid of the old and take on the new, they would go through their drawers and closets and look for worn-out clothing, old dishes and furniture – whatever needed to be replaced. They would only keep what had value to them.

Perhaps it would do us good to go through our lives and take an inventory. We may find that we are harboring hatred and hostilities, harmful habits and hurts. Perhaps we would find some shortcomings and sins, false pride and forgotten promises. We may discover that there have been some days without prayer and Scripture reading, worship and witnessing.

The Bible advises us to “Throw off your old nature…be a new and different person, holy and good.”

We do not have to wait for a new year to do this. We can do it now!

Prayer: Father, we confess with sorrow, shame and sadness our sins. We ask that You would cleanse and consecrate us for Your service. Help us to throw off our faults and failures and replace them with Your values and virtues. Give us victory through Your Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Scripture for Today: Ephesians 4:20-24 You were taught to put away your former way of life, your old self, corrupt and deluded by its lusts, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds,

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Strength For the Journey

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Scripture for Today: 2 Chronicles 20:13-17 Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them, and the Lord will be with you.”

Monday, December 29, 2014

With God, All Things....

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, December 28, 2014

When Heaven Came Down

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

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

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

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

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

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

Scripture for Today: John 10:9-18  I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me,

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Receiving And Believing

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

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

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

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

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

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

Scripture for Today: Luke 1:46 “My soul magnifies the Lord,

Friday, December 26, 2014

A Gift Worth Receiving

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

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

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

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

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

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

Scripture for Today: 2 Corinthians 9:15  Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

The Birth Of Jesus

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

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

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

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

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

Luke 2:6-16
New Living Translation

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Joseph's Dream

…Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. But before the marriage took place, while she was still a virgin, she became pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit. Joseph, her fiancé, was a good man and did not want to disgrace her publicly, so he decided to break the engagement quietly.

As he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. “Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

All of this occurred to fulfill the Lord’s message through his prophet:

“Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us.’”

When Joseph woke up, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded and took Mary as his wife.

Matthew 1:18-24
New Living Translation

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

When Heaven Came Down

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

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

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

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

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

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

Scripture for Today: John 10:9-18

Monday, December 22, 2014

Politics And Promises

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

“No!” he protested. “Why do you ask?”

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

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

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

In creation we see the absolute power of God. How reassuring for the Christian. Beginning at the beginning, from the initiation of time until today, God has never wavered on His word. God’s promises are anchored in His unchanging character and steadfast love. If this were not true what assurance would we have of our salvation or the hope we have for eternal life with our Lord?

There is nothing too big for Him to manage or too small to escape His attention. We have His Word that assures us of His promise: “I have said it, I will do it.”

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

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

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Bend Down, Daddy!

A little girl was trying to hug her father, but he was too tall. “Bend down, Daddy,” she cried, “so I can reach you.”

Before God sent His Son into the world, He too, seemed beyond our reach. God the Father became God the Son and lived among us so we could come to know and understand Him. God became Man in the Person of His Son.

Like us, He was born of a woman. But unlike us, He had no earthly father.

His life, which began without sin, was lived without sin. He went about doing good for all – healing the sick and providing hope for the crises of life. After all of the good that He did, He voluntarily went to the cross and died for our sins, expressing the love of God, His Father.

He’s the same today. Right now, as always, He’s reaching out to us with His enduring and unending love.
This is a great time to reach out to Him and tell Him we love Him and are thankful for all He’s done for us.

Prayer: Father, we thank You for Your love. We are grateful that You came into the world to show us how much You care for us. May we grow to love You more and live lives that please and honor You. In Your Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: 1 John 4:19 We love because he first loved us.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

A Cheerful Giver

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

“Thanks, ma’am,” he said. “Why not make it few dollars and really enjoy yourself?”

Giving is an important theme in the Bible. It begins in the heart of God. We read about the abundant gifts He gave His people. It continues in the work of Jesus as He went about healing the sick and feeding the hungry. We see His supreme gift when He gave His life on the cross: the gift of love, life and eternity with Him. The gifts of God and His Son are priceless – life giving and life sustaining.

Paul reminds us that we are not to “give reluctantly or in response to pressure. For God loves a person who gives cheerfully. And God will generously provide all you need and plenty left over to share with others.”
The Lord has given us two hands: one for receiving and one for giving. The question is not “What can I spare?” but, “What can I share?”

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

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

Friday, December 19, 2014

God's Love and Our Family

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, December 18, 2014

God Wants You

A little girl went to church for the first time. She was full of questions.

When a baby was presented for baptism she became more interested than ever. Noticing her attentiveness, her father said, “The parents are giving her to God.”

After the baptism, the minister gave the baby back to the parents.

Not understanding, she whispered to her father, “I guess God didn’t want that one.”

Not so! God wants every one of us.

On one occasion He said, “Come to Me, all of you…” On another occasion He said, “If you come to Me I will not reject you.”

We have all experienced the pain of rejection. We know what it is like to feel alone. Family members leave us. Friends turn their backs on us. But not Jesus.

Someone said, “With Jesus, the welcome mat is out and the door is always open.” Paul said, “…nothing…will ever separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” There is nothing that we have done or ever will do that can separate us from Him, His love or His salvation.

Prayer: Father, we are so grateful for Your love that reaches out to all of us. We are thankful that Your arms are always open to each of us. We rejoice in Your salvation that can save and keep us: in Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Scripture for Today: Romans 8:38, 39  For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Giving Others A Choice

A mother gave her son two beautiful apples, but one was larger and shinier than the other. Placing them in his hands, and wishing to teach him about sharing, she instructed him to “Give your little sister her choice.”

A short time later, she noticed that he had kept the bigger one for himself. So, she asked, “Why didn’t you give your sister her choice?”

“I did,” came the reply. “I gave her the choice of the little one or none at all. And she took the little one.”

There is a lot of selfishness even in the smallest of us. Size has little to do with whether or not we are self-centered or God-centered. It is easy to save rather than to share, to get rather than to give, to hoard rather than to help, to protect rather than to promote.

Paul reminds us that “Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

Prayer: Help me, Heavenly Father, to realize that the needs of others are an opportunity for me to give to them as You have given to me. May I be sensitive to others who are without the necessities of life, and share with them out of the abundance You have given me–especially Your salvation. In Your Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Philippians 2:1-8  not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Backache Or Heartache

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

“Yes, I am,” he replied.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Scripture for Today: Ephesians 6:1-10 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise— 3 “so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”

Monday, December 15, 2014

Anyone Else Up There?

A man was looking over a cliff when he slipped and began to fall. Sliding down the ledge he grabbed a branch and was hanging on for dear life. Shouting loudly he cried, “Is anyone up there?”

“I am the Lord and I am here,” came the answer. “Do you believe in Me?”

“Yes, Lord, I do. But I can’t hang on much longer.”

“I’ll save you,” said the Lord. “Just let go.”

There was a pause. Finally the man asked, “Is anyone else up there?”

How like so many of us. We doubt the Lord and put our trust in others.

Early in life we are taught to depend on ourselves, to be self-sufficient, strong and solve problems on our own. We also learn to rely on others, look to them for strength and help. Eventually we reach our limits and those we look to for insight, come up lacking. Then, when we become fearful or frustrated, we learn to look to God first and foremost.

Do you remember learning to swim? Can you recall someone standing in front of you in the water and saying, “Jump!” Knowing that they were able to catch us is the faith factor. Jumping in becomes the trust factor.
God’s Word constantly encourages us to have faith in Him. It gives us many examples of those who have faith in Him. It is the “letting go” by knowing that He is there to care for us that makes faith work – the trust factor.

Prayer: Teach us, Father, to realize our need to let go and let God meet us at our point of need. May our knowing give way to believing. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 60:11, 12 Give us aid against the enemy, for human help is worthless. With God we will gain the victory, and he will trample down our enemies.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

How To Start Each Day

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

A woman attended a concert and realized the next morning that she has lost a diamond earring the night before. She called the manager of the auditorium and asked if it had been found. He said, “If you stay on the line, I’ll check.” A search was made and the diamond found. When he returned to the phone, the woman had hung up.

How like many of us when we pray. We do not expect anything to happen when we pray so we give up on God.

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

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

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

Saturday, December 13, 2014

I Have To Give It Up!

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

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

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

Pure and simple, time is a special gift. It is a commodity that, once used in one way or another, can never be retrieved. Once gone, it is forever lost.

One expert on time put it this way: “Time is life. It is irreversible and irreplaceable. To waste your time is to waste your life. To master your time is to master your life and make the most of it.”

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

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

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

Friday, December 12, 2014

I'd Give My Right Arm

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

If we had the chance to ask this thief if he would really give up his arm for a television, I would assume he would not. Yet, each day we trade what is eternally valuable for the temporary pleasures. We work and give our time, energy and money to so many things that have no meaning in life. We do all these things in place of turning to God and using our talents and gifts to serve Him. We make sacrifices in life for what we deem important.

What sacrifices are you making for Christ? He has called us to take up our cross and follow Him. What are you willing to give up in order to be a follower of Christ? He wants us to give up everything for Him.

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

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

Thursday, December 11, 2014

It's As Big As We Want It To Be!

He was deeply in love with his fiancé, and saved as much money as he could to buy her a beautiful engagement ring. Finally, he took his savings to the jeweler and bought the biggest diamond he could afford.

As he presented it to her he said, “I’m sorry dear, that it is not bigger. It’s all that I had.”

“It’s perfect!” she shouted in her excitement. “It is as big as we make it!”

What a beautiful response. Sincerity is much more important than size and thoughtfulness more than any “thing.” Size had nothing to do with our salvation. Our salvation depended on someone’s sacrifice.

If we want more from God, we must give more to God. That’s His way. And He invites us to make His way, our way. “Give and it will be given to you,” Jesus said.

When we share our time, He will increase our talents so we can do more. When we share our treasures, He will make up the difference – and then some. When we share our strength, He will enable us to reach far beyond the limits we place on ourselves. But we must give in faith, believing and trusting that He will provide for our every need in ways we never imagined.

Prayer: Help us, Heavenly Father, to have enough faith to trust, knowing that You will never fail us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Colossians 3:14-25 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

I've Shot Myself

In Texas a man got tired of thieves breaking into his store. So he rigged a shotgun to shoot anyone who entered when it was closed. One morning he came to work and forgot to dismantle the trap. He opened the door and the gun went off. As he fell to the floor he cried, “I’ve shot myself!”

Sometimes our great ideas can get us “killed.” We are attracted by the things of this world and become influenced by its many “traps.” We begin to believe that our plans are better than what God has planned for us. Scripture teaches us that sin leads to death. We mindlessly walk in paths that lead to our destruction and death. Instead, we need to surrender our lives to God and to ask Him to make His way known to us as we read and trust His Word. We need to look to God for His purpose in our lives. As we accept His precious gift of salvation and eternal life, we must realize that we are citizens of His kingdom and obligated to live lives that honor Him.

Prayer: Father, help me recognize the sin in my life that keeps me from growing into the likeness of Your Son. I pray that Your Holy Spirit will convict me and cleanse me and make me pleasing in Your sight. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

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

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Keep Them At Home

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, December 8, 2014

My One And Only Love

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Not Good Enough!

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

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

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

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

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

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

As Christians we need to look at our lives through God’s eyes. Looking at our lives through His eyes may enable us to find joy in the smallest event, happiness in the smile of a child, satisfaction in a job well done.
Embracing our lives just as they are and being thankful for what we have will enable us to give up the struggle to acquire what we want but do not need. Where we are and what we have is exactly the way things are to be. Rejoice and be thankful!

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

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

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Proud To Be Humble

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

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

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

If we want to grasp the meaning of humility we must look to our Lord and Savior. Here is one Who was with God and equal to God, but willingly laid it aside. He lived a selfless life of service to others and then suffered a horrible death on the cross for our salvation. In humility He accomplished His Father’s plan doing whatever He could to reflect in word and deed His love.

Pride comes naturally, but not humility. When we do difficult things in a loving and caring manner – as Jesus did – we are living godly humility.

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

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

Friday, December 5, 2014

Stretch!

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

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

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

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

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

Scripture for Today: 2 Timothy 3:14-17 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it,

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The Whistler And His Wife

A new preacher came to town. Each day as he passed one particular home on his walk to the post office, he heard a man whistling happily and loudly.

Day after day he heard the whistler. He became so fascinated with the sounds that he decided to discover where they came from. One morning the preacher opened the gate quietly and looked inside. Hearing the gate creak, “the whistler” approached the preacher asking him to come inside.

“Why do you whistle so loudly when you work?” asked the preacher.

“My wife’s a cripple,” he answered, “and she is also blind. I want her to know as she sits alone on the porch that I’m always close by and thinking about her. When she hears me whistling, she knows I’m not only nearby but available.”

Our Lord is just like “the whistler” – always nearby and available. Although we may not hear Him or see Him, He is always present in our world. However, we must trust “Him with our worries and cares, for He is always thinking about us and watching everything that concerns us.”

Prayer: Thank You, Heavenly Father, for always being nearby, for always watching over us and protecting us, and meeting our every need. May we always sense Your presence in our lives and Your love that surrounds us. In Your Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: 1 Peter 5:7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

What To Live Without

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, December 1, 2014

The Best Medicine Is Love

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

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

“Double the dose,” came the quick reply.

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

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

Love is a gift. Take it and let it grow.
Love is a sign. Wear it and let it show.
Love is an act. Do it and let it go.

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

Scripture for Today: 1 Corinthians 13:4-7  Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Now or Later or Both?

It’s really rather plain: the “righteous” will receive rewards while living. It’s also plain that the sinner and the wicked will receive “much more repayment” for their life style.

While not stated, it is obvious that someone will pass judgment on both, and both will be compensated for what they have done or not done and how they have lived. And the “judge” will “compensate” both of them.

While in court recently, I was careful to watch the proceedings and the actions of the judge. To some he said, “Your behavior has surprised me and I’m going to reduce your sentence as a reward.” To others he said, “You have broken the law once again. Therefore, your parole is revoked and you are going back to prison.”

Judges have power to sanction those who are under their control or jurisdiction. A sanction can be a reward for exceeding expectations or requirements. Or a sanction may be given as punishment for disobeying or breaking the law or regulations.

Some look at the Proverbs as being too simplistic or too good to be true. For example, “If the righteous receive their due on earth, how much more the ungodly and the sinner.”

Take note of “on earth.” This is a bold statement that God is active - here and now - in rewarding or punishing - everyone - righteous or wicked. Also, these sanctions are both positive and negative. Finally, rewards from God will be handled judiciously - today and in the future!

Prayer:  Father, help us to realize that You, our Judge, are watching us constantly. May our lives please You! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 11:31 If the righteous receive their due on earth, how much more the ungodly and the sinner!

Saturday, November 29, 2014

A Sure Sign Of Wisdom

“Dr. Guido,” she said rather timidly, “how do you see yourself? All of the teachers we have are different. But tell us, what makes you different from all of the others?”

My first thought was to explain how my world view differed from most other professors because of my faith. That would have been a safe, standard answer. But I wanted to say something that made the way I taught different from other professors. As I reflected on the importance of her question, I realized how critical my answer would be.

After a few moments God brought a word to my mind that I had never associated with teaching before. I looked at the young lady and said, “I see my role as being similar  to a midwife. I believe that it is my responsibility to bring to your life, and the lives of others, what God has planted or will plant within you. My role is to work with God to bring what He plants in your heart and head to life and to prepare you for the life He has for you.”

“The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and the one who is wise saves lives,” wrote Solomon. What we do in our relationships with others is a matter of life and death. We are responsible, with the opportunities and guidance that God gives us, to bring others into a saving relationship with Him. We are to use whatever influence or position we have to bring His message of “life” to others.

A “tree of life” will grow in the life of one who has been redeemed by Christ. And that “tree” will also bear fruit and bring “the tree of life” to others by its fruit.

Prayer:  Lord, we plant “seeds” continually by what we do and where we go. May we bring forth “good fruit.” In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 11:30 The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and the one who is wise saves lives.

Friday, November 28, 2014

If And When

The Bible was not written to teach psychology. But, the Bible is psychologically sound and correct.
Consider Proverbs 12:25: “Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up.” The writer does not profess to be a diagnostician but he certainly is insightful.

Recently a study on “anxiety disorders” concluded that 40 million Americans, or 18.1% of our population, are  plagued with fears that, from time to time, trouble them. It is also a known fact that anxiety can lead to depression.

From wisdom that comes from God, Solomon made the same “diagnosis.” Notice that he said, “Anxiety weighs down the heart.” The words “weigh down” imply a state of depression. Our author, with God’s guidance, described people whose anxiety is coupled with fear or worry - which can lead to depression.

All of us, at one time or another, have had those moments when we feared that something horrible was about to overtake or destroy us. When those feelings came to the “surface” it was natural to feel “weighted down” or depressed. It is normal to look for encouragement and support when that happens. How tragic if no one was there to help us or share a “kind word to cheer us up.”

Notice, however, that Solomon was not talking to a behavioral health specialist. He was talking to people like us who have the ability to recognize the lonely, the sad, the worried, the anxious and depressed. Often people only need a “word” of grace, comfort, encouragement or...simply a smile to bring them hope, health and happiness.

Prayer:  We thank You, Father, for giving us Your love to share with others. May we be alert to those in need. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 12:25 Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Right Way - Wrong Way

“I may not always be right,” he said as though he believed it, “but I’m never wrong. Never!”

We sat there wondering if he knew what he was saying, trying to convince himself of such insanity, or wanting to create fear in our  hearts about his power. It really did not matter. All of us, including him, realized the folly of his speech.

However, there are many who believe as he believed: they are incapable of being wrong. They refuse to accept the counsel of anyone and after making a decision become even more resolute and stubborn. Solomon had something to say to people who held that opinion of themselves: “The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice.”

Ultimately and finally, those who have that attitude about themselves are on a path to self-destruction. When looked at from a biblical point of view, they refuse to accept the role of sin in their lives, their need for a Savior or the reality of God’s judgment that awaits them. Their world view is completely distorted.

The wise, however, “listen to advice.” Even though they may be embarrassed or disappointed when someone who loves them corrects them or points out a “flaw,” they know that it is for their own good. Those who listen to the advice or counsel of someone with spiritual insight and wisdom, will be rewarded.  Listening to and accepting the advice of our “elders in Christ” is the “wise” thing to do before making any decision.

Prayer:  Lord, break the hardness of our hearts when we  think we “know it all.” Lead us to those who are wise. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 12:15 The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

"You Need To Change Her Name!"

“Larry,” says Bruce every time he sees me with my dog, “you need to change her name to ‘Lucky.’ I can’t  imagine anyone who would take better care of that dog than you. It’s plain to me she’s not Bella. She’s ‘Lucky’ - really lucky she found you.” Here’s what happened...

One dark, stormy, cold, foggy night I opened the door to our carport. Sensing something at my foot, I looked down. There, looking up at me, was a small dog wagging her tail and wiggling all over as if to say, “I’m home!”

For weeks Mary and I searched for her owners but were unsuccessful. Then, we tried to find her another home. That didn’t work either. Every time we gave her away, she eventually came back. So, we decided to keep her and named her “Bella,” which means “beautiful.”

When reading through Proverbs several months ago, I noticed a verse that had never registered in my mind: “The righteous care for the needs of their animals.” Please understand that I am not claiming to be righteous, nor elevating animals to the level of humans. But notice this:

A distinct contrast is made by the author between a person who is righteous and one who is not: the one who is righteous has a gentleness that the wicked do not have. And, if one is truly righteous, it becomes obvious: if we as believers willingly give our hearts completely to God, He will remove every trace of “cruelty.” He will control us and bless us and enable us to demonstrate how much we value every gift He gives us - even animals. We expose who we truly are by the way we care for each gift God gives us.

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, implant within us a gentle, gracious and loving heart. May we respect all of Your gifts. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 12:10 The righteous care for the needs of their animals, but the kindest acts of the wicked are cruel.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Why Character Counts

“Sticks and stones can break my bones, but names will never hurt me!”

That little phrase has been used by many parents and teachers to comfort children who have been harassed. Words used to describe another person are important because they are the foundation for one’s reputation. And, like it or not,  everyone has  a reputation.

Age is almost irrelevant when we talk about another person. Opinions are formed, decisions made and often  strengths or limitations are placed on another individual. Never mind “who said what,” an opinion is formed. Even first impressions or a few words shared about another person can last a life time. What is said and heard about someone can build them up or tear them down.

If the words are praiseworthy, they can bring honor to that person. If they are mean spirited, they may result  in a life of torment to the one defamed. Words stick and sometimes shatter hopes and dreams. What we do and what others say about what we do is important.

“A person is praised because of their prudence, and one with a warped mind is despised,” wrote Solomon.
This “warning” reminds us that we are responsible for what others come to believe about us. Prudence describes the moral choices we make and are observed by others. If our choices are “honorable” we will be praised. Otherwise, our reputation for having a “warped mind,” or being a person “with a crooked heart” will come to light.

What a challenge this presents to Christians.

Prayer:  Lord, You observe us and others do the same. May our lives always bring honor to Your Name. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 12:8 A person is praised according to their prudence, and one with a warped mind is despised.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Choosing A Wife

“Clothes make the man!” at one time was a popular saying. Solomon, however, would strongly disagree. In fact, he would say that “A worthy woman enhances her husband’s reputation and well-being and status in the community.” He does not imply, even slightly, that a wife “exists” only to “serve” a husband but to do him “good.”

This “worthy woman” is more thoroughly described in Proverbs 31, and it is no accident that in the Hebrew Bible, the Book of Ruth follows the book of Proverbs. This wife of “noble character” stands as a “model wife” for the young man who one day will become a husband. A wife of “noble character” is the “crown” of her husband because she brings him esteem, honor and worth in his community.

It stands in direct contrast to a wife who “shames her husband.” The wife who “shames” her husband lowers his status and brings shame on him with her “lack of good judgment.” Her influence on his reputation is like “decay in his bones” - the “rotting” away of his life because he is never able to “rise above her reputation” or influence in the community where they live. No matter how successful he may be, she “brings him down” because he can never rise above her reputation.

When we look deeply into the importance of this verse, we discover the importance of a “noble wife.” We are warned about the seriousness and importance of choosing a partner for life. A partner is not to be chosen because of beauty or glamour or wealth. Godliness and character must come first. Then, other things will follow.

Prayer:  Thank You, Father, for this warning and the truth it contains. Thank You, also, that change is possible. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 12:4 A wife of noble character is her husband’s crown, but a disgraceful wife is like decay in his bones.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

God's Favorites

It’s true. God does have favorites!

It’s also true that He offers all of us the opportunity to become “one” of His favorites. And, it’s not that difficult, either. “Good people,” wrote Solomon, “obtain favor from the Lord.” It’s rather obvious that those who want “His favor,” as well as those who receive “His favor” are those who are “good people.”

Since most of us have our own definition of “good,” it is important to understand God’s definition of “good.” If we know His definition of “good” we then have a choice: we can either meet His requirements and receive “His favor” or decide that “His favor” is not worth the effort.

Throughout the Old Testament “good people” are the ones who are motivated by a Godly-love to do Godly-things. They willingly set their own needs and desires to the side while they serve the needs of others. Doing “God-things” is the driving force in their lives. The “good” are those who are able and willing, when they see someone in need, to do something about it - even if it causes a sacrifice. The “good” are those who work with God to bring honor to His name when one of His children is being treated unfairly or unjustly. The “good” are those who follow the example of Jesus: His life was about doing “good.” The “good” have God’s “seal of approval” on their lives.

“Those who devise wicked schemes” are the opposites of the “good people.” Their lives are about self, not sacrifice; their “schemes” are unfair, unjust, unholy; they lack decency, honesty, integrity or kindness. God’s wrath awaits them.

Prayer:  Lord, convict me, challenge me, discipline me and burden me until I become one of Your “good people.” In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 12:2 Good people obtain favor from the Lord, but he condemns those who devise wicked schemes.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Knowledge And Discipline

It was obvious to Solomon.

People who want wisdom are willing to pay the price to get it - because they “love” it. There is even a willingness to be disciplined, if necessary, to obtain wisdom.

People who “hate correction” or discipline, on the other hand, are considered “stupid.”

“Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but whoever hates correction is stupid,” wrote Solomon. There is a price to be paid for everything: even knowledge. In this verse, the author uses two interesting words to describe the attitude of one who wants “knowledge” or one who is content to be “stupid” - love and hate.
Here, however, they are not connected to an emotional state. They focus on the priorities of an individual. If a person wants knowledge, it must be a libeling priority. If a person wants to be stupid, the only requirement is to refuse to learn or be corrected.

Knowledge and wisdom have very similar meanings in the Bible. In fact, they are almost synonymous, are life-giving, life-sustaining, life-enhancing and require one thing in common: the person who wants them, must at all costs, embrace “discipline.” To “get” one, wisdom, we must endure the other, discipline.

Interestingly, the word stupid is found five times in the Old Testament. It is used to portray a dense, dumb animal as well as a man who is unkind and runs roughshod over people.

To refuse discipline, then, lowers the status of a person. To accept it opens the door to successful living.

Prayer:  How blest we are, Father, for the opportunities You give us to achieve great things. Help us to persevere. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 12:1 Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but whoever hates correction is stupid.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Much More And Then

“How much more...” is a familiar phrase. As in “How much more do you want from me...” or “How much more of this do you think I can take...” or “How much more is there in life...” or “How much more can be done...”  And the list could go on and on.

Those three words appear four times in  the Book of Proverbs and the words, “How much less” appears twice. There are several lines of thought about their meaning: Some think they are too good to be true; some think they are overly simplistic; some think their promises are vastly overstated while others think they apply to the spiritual realm alone and are completely “future oriented.”

“If the righteous receive their due on earth, how much more the ungodly and the sinner,” writes Solomon. Is there a simple message in these few words that we may try to complicate for the sake of discussion? Perhaps.

There is a popular opinion among many that some sins are not bad, or they can sin and “get away with it.” But, that opinion is not supported by Scripture. Besides, when we want to know what sin is, where it comes from and what to do about it, we do not go to psychologists or philosophers: We go to God’s Word.

As far as riches and righteousness, sin and unholy living go, Solomon has some advice: “The righteous do receive their due on earth; how much more the ungodly!”  Jesus said: “What a man sows he will reap.”

God will reward each of us for the way we live - now  and in the life to come.

Prayer:  May I focus my life, Lord, on living a  righteous life: a life that is worthy of Your unending blessings! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 11:31 If the righteous receive their due on earth, how much more the ungodly and the sinner!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Prosperity Plus

Sin is sin.

There’s no way around it. Some ridicule those who fear it. Some try to hide it. Some look forward to it. Some suffer horrible consequences because of it. Some do their best to avoid it. Some can’t get enough of it.

Some have ways of classifying sins. One sin, to some, may be worse than another sin. If you do it, it’s sin - but if I do it - well, it’s a mistake or something that could not be avoided. “God was testing me, and it was more than even the best Christian could resist. It got to me!”

Many consider the rich, wealthy or prosperous to be devious and dishonest, sinister and sinful, unable to be honest and helpful because they are jealous. They cannot believe that what the rich have came from clean living, hard work, honoring God and serving others. However, their position cannot be supported by Scripture.

There is nothing wrong with being wealthy or rich. Those “who trust in their riches will fail, but the righteous will thrive like a green leaf.”

Many who have riches are also very righteous. They recognize that what they have comes from God, and in turn, honor Him from the abundance of His gifts and their hearts. What we do with what we have proves our love.

The Bible clearly states that any problems of the rich do not come from their riches, but from the way they relate to worldly wealth. Thank God for their wealth if they use it to honor and glorify Him. They can do for Him what many of us would enjoy doing if we could.

Prayer:  Father, whatever we have are gifts of Your love and grace. What I do with them proves my love for You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 11:28 Those who trust in their riches will fall, but the righteous will thrive like a green leaf.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Where Does It All End?

“God’s not finished with me yet!” Many of us use those words as an excuse every time we made a mess of things. While I’m not sure it ever worked for that reason,  it was comforting until reality set in. There are days when God seems to be shaking us by the nape of our necks to get our attention. There are other days when His grace grants one blessing after another. It cannot be denied, however, that we are all a “work in progress” as long as we are alive. The question we must ask ourselves is: What is progress, and how will we know when God is finished with us?

If the “desire of the righteous ends with only good” what happens if we falter, fail or fall? Are we doomed? Is righteousness ever attainable in this life? Or, is it something we are to struggle with and strive for?

In this instance, “desire” is the outcome of those who have righteousness as a goal. It is what His children focus their hearts, minds and ambitions on. It is not something that happens as a byproduct of life. Righteous living is a core value at the center of all that believers do. In fact, unrighteousness must be avoided at all costs!

“But the hope of the wicked end only in wrath.” Now, that should get everyone’s attention. Wrath, God’s wrath, is His overflowing anger against the unrighteous. God’s wrath can be compared to a fire that is slowly growing and at a moment in time will be all consuming.

This verse should remind us that the unrighteous  face God’s impending wrath. Now is the day to repent.

Prayer:  May we understand, Father, that our desires determine our destiny. May righteousness rule our lives. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 11:23 The desire of the righteous ends only in good, but the hope of the wicked only in wrath.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Decisions! Decisions! Decisions!

Even before getting out of bed this morning, I had to make a decision: Would I hit the “snooze” button and rest a little longer or would I turn off the alarm and start my day? It is not possible to go for any length of time without having to make a decision. And although all of us are making decisions most of the time, we rarely take time to think about our “decision making process.”

Every decision we make affects our lives one way or another. Some decisions last a life time and can bring joy and satisfaction or sorrow and guilt. Some can be changed immediately if we see things going in the wrong direction. Others engulf us and seem to squeeze the life out of us. Often we want to blame others for our decisions, but ultimately, we are accountable for every one.

Solomon provided us with excellent decision making advice: “For lack of guidance a nation falls; but victory is won through many advisors.” What applies to a nation also applies to an individual. Gathering information from a variety of reliable people will provide guidance, insight and direction and lead to the best decision.

In this verse, an “uncommon” word is used: guidance. It refers to the “tackle” or the “ropes” that enable a ship to stay on course. People are much like ships: where there is no guidance even the shortest journey can be disastrous. Learning the “ropes” that come from God’s wisdom will lead us through the charted course that God has laid out for us before the foundation of the world.

No wonder He is called the Wonderful Counselor!

Prayer:  Father, may we always seek Your guidance for each decision we make in life. May we always look to You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 11:14 For lack of guidance a nation falls, but victory is won through many advisers.

Monday, November 17, 2014

It's All Up To God

“God’s gonna get you for that!”

There was little doubt in Sally’s mind about God’s justice. Any time anyone said any thing she didn’t want to hear, out would come her famous “threat.”  With red hair, pointed finger and a strong voice, she would continue, “You just wait and see. Maybe not before you fall asleep. But, I’d keep one eye open while I slept tonight if I were you! I know He’s coming after you for that! What you said was wrong.”

Everyone on campus loved Sally. Her enthusiasm for life, her happy smile, the twinkle in her eye.  Every time she uttered those words, the receiver could not help but look around for a truck or bolt of lightning. Or both. She was very convincing.

Justice belongs to God. He is righteous. He is fair. He has no favorites. He looks at things differently than we do: as He planned them to be. He will not allow others to harm His beloved children. His Son died for them.

“The righteous person is rescued from trouble,” said Solomon, “and it falls on the wicked instead.” He knew from personal experience that when the righteous are the objects of schemes to hurt them, God will intervene at the right time. Our God will never allow any injustice to go by without becoming personally involved. Even though we do not know what His justice will bring or when it will come, all of life is in His hands. He will right each wrong.

Isaiah summed it up this way: “For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for Him.”

Prayer:  Help us, Father, to trust in Your justice. We are human and spiteful. You are fair and will do what is right. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 11:8 The righteous person is rescued from trouble, and it falls on the wicked instead.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Is It The End Or The Beginning?

“I’m bored with it all!”

Power and prestige, influence and insight, victory and valor seemed worthless to Winston Churchill as he was about to die. His final words expressed an emptiness as he slipped into a coma nine days before he would pass away. What a  tragic outlook for a man who did much to shape the course of history as he was about to face God.

As he was struggling to breathe, a colleague took the hand of Michael Faraday, the brilliant chemical scientist and asked, “What will be your occupation in heaven?” He replied, “I shall be with Christ and that is enough!” 

Two great men who lived two great lives. Yet, when it came to facing death, one looked backward in despair, the other forward in faith and with hope. What a startling difference God makes in everyone’s life.

“Hopes placed in mortals dies with them; all the promise of their power comes to naught.” Solomon does us a great service with these words. He very pointedly states the difference between a life lived for God and a life lived for any other reason or purpose: One who does not live for God or know Him personally will eventually see all of his hopes and dreams die. Living for this life alone or living a life that focuses on oneself, ends with a sense of hopelessness or fear of insignificance. Dreams end, but life continues in the depths of death and darkness.

What a blessed hope we may have if we choose to accept the love and grace and mercy of God. Hope can be ours because of Christ. Choose Christ, find life, have hope.

Prayer:  How great is Your love, Lord. As unworthy as we are, we have forgiveness of our sins through Your Son. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 11:7 Hopes placed in mortals die with them; all the promise of their power comes to nothing.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Level Pathways

Recently, I received two fall catalogs from sporting goods companies. Both featured fall items that anyone who loves the outdoors would be pleased to own. Both had a focus on hiking and the wilderness. The clothes were so attractive that they seemed appropriate enough to wear to a wedding reception.

But the shoes were in a class by themselves. They all had a rugged appearance with built in safety features: steel shanks for stability, soles with rock-biting “teeth” to provide non-skid traction, comfortable inserts to prevent fatigue and fabric laces that would last for years.

Every picture that featured the shoes “in action” had a person walking up a steep incline with rocks, shrubs and stones that made the journey difficult. Some of the models had sticks in their hands to provide balance or to protect them from snakes or other animals. All appeared ready for “anything” with canteens of water and first aid kits. Whatever came their way would be subdued! They were able to conquer anything at any time. They were prepared for their journey through the wilderness.

But no matter how wisely they prepared for their journey through the wilderness, it did not prepare them for the journey through life. The journey through life is not about shoes or clothing: it is about walking in His righteousness. The only “safe-passage” is with Christ. “The righteousness of the blameless makes their path  straight, but the wicked are brought down by their deeds.”

God wants His best for us. But it comes with limitations.

Prayer:  Lord, may we stay close to You as we journey through life, knowing that we will be safe if we live right. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 11:5 The righteousness of the blameless makes their paths straight, but the wicked are brought down by their own wickedness.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Riches and Righteouness

“I need to come talk with you,” he said nervously. “I have everything anyone could ask for, but I’m miserable. I think you are the only hope I have. As soon as I get back from this trip I’m taking, I’ll be in to see you.”

“Well,” I said, “I don’t have any answers for your problems, but I believe strongly that God does. And if you seek Him sincerely and honestly, He’ll give you the right answer for any problem. We have His Word on that.”

The trip is over, He returned safely and had a “good time,” but has found no time to look for God’s answers to his miserable condition. Perhaps the trip was so enjoyable that it has relieved him, temporarily, of his distress. It may also have been a “gentle” forewarning from God that, when his misery returns, he will not escape His wrath.

God does everything He can to bring people to a place while they still have time to make things “right” with Him. Our God is not only gracious, He is patient and inviting. But, as Solomon wrote, “Wealth is worthless in the day of God’s wrath.”

When that “day of wrath” arrives, no amount of this world’s wealth will make any difference. In support of this David wrote a warning to the wealthy who have no time for God: “The foolish and the senseless also perish. People, despite their wealth, do not endure.”

Righteousness and right living has its own rewards. It is a life with God’s presence, power and protection now, and a life with Him in eternity forever. He promised us that He will deliver us from destruction and death.

Prayer:  Thank You, Father, for Your eternal Word, the gift of eternal life with You and a hope that comes with it. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 11:4 Wealth is worthless in the day of wrath, but righteousness delivers from death.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

One False Turn...

It was a new car with a new navigation system and we were living near the top of a mountain. We were told that our home was well over 5,000 feet above sea level. To reach our front door was a major driving project. The road twisted and turned and included several “switch backs” -  instant “U” turns. At times it seemed as though the turns were much tighter than a paper clip.

As we sat and programmed our “nav system” before beginning our journey, our hearts beat with excitement. It was a new experiment and we were anxious to learn how it worked. After many attempts and several minutes a voice “came from the clouds” and said: “Proceed to the nearest major highway.” It was almost frightening.

As we started down the mountain, the little arrow that was intended to point us in the direction we were to travel started to go around in circles. It was spinning as though it could not determine where we were to go. This was certainly not a “confidence builder.” But we started down the mountain and when we arrived at the highway that same voice said, “Turn right and proceed 7.4 miles to Highway 16.” We did, it was correct and our faith grew.

Trust and confidence are the most critical factors when looking for directions - especially directions for life. Solomon assured us that “the integrity of the upright guides them.” Integrity, then, is our compass.

Consider Joseph: He was a man of great integrity and suffered greatly for his faith. Yet, in the end he was able to say: “God meant it for good! Look at these results!”

Prayer:  Guide us and guard us, Lord, as we seek Your way. Fill us with Your Spirit who will protect us from evil. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 11:3 The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Disgrace Or Wisdom: Our choice

The word “pride” seems to be closely connected to those who are arrogant or who have an unreasonably elevated opinion or value of themselves. It presents a picture in our minds of one who looks down on others with an attitude of superiority or condescension. Often, we look at those who we consider “full of pride” as also being “full of themselves and their abilities.” They cannot see God as the giver of each and every gift they have. In Hebrew, it comes from a word meaning “to boil” and when water boils, we know it cannot be contained without problems.

A person of “humility” is one who is seen as being submissive to authority, compliant and willing to listen, observe and learn. A humble person does not attempt to keep others from being recognized or rewarded for what they have accomplished. Their modesty gives God the credit for what He has done through them. And they also understand that all things come from God and, in all reality, belong to Him.

Is it any wonder, then, that Solomon says, “When pride comes, then comes disgrace; but with humility comes wisdom.” If we see ourselves as being above and beyond others, as possessing more ability and knowledge than others, more of anything and everything than others, where will we find room for growth and what is our need for wisdom - especially God’s wisdom. We “have it all together.” No wonder the proud end up in disgrace.

But the humble? They are open, honest, able and willing to recognize their need for God and His wisdom.

Prayer:  Help us, Father, to realize our limitations and failures and to depend on You to fill our need for wisdom. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 11:2 When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Double Standards

There is a theme throughout the Old Testament that needs constant attention: God will not tolerate business practices that are dishonest, false or even questionable. It has its roots in the Law, is emphasized by the prophets and has a place of prominence in Wisdom Literature.

In Biblical times the phrase “dishonest scales” was used and meant “scales of deceit.” Also used was the phrase “a just weight” or “an accurate” or “perfect stone.” Merchants used “stones” as measures in place of coins and conducted their businesses by using  balances and weighted stones. It was common knowledge that merchants had two sets of stones: one for selling and one for purchasing goods. When purchasing products for selling, they would use the heavier stone to gain an advantage over the person who was selling them goods to be resold. When selling their product, they would use the lighter stone, which resulted in the customer getting much less than what was paid for. Each stone was labeled so the merchant knew he had the advantage. 

This type of business was an “abomination to the Lord,” was unacceptable to Him and one He would not tolerate. On the other hand, “an accurate weight” finds “favor with Him.”

This comes as no surprise to His faithful. God finds favor in those whose character is consistent with His ways and His Word and live in agreement with  His will.

The lives of those who profess to be His followers are under His surveillance. He will honor their faithfulness!
 
Prayer:  Convict us, Lord, when we are less than honest in any of our ways. May we live lives that honor You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 11:1 The Lord detests dishonest scales, but accurate weights find favor with him.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Focusing On The Future

“The way of the Lord” is a phrase that appears quite frequently in the Bible - most often in the Old Testament. Each time it appears, it may be viewed as a “path” that God has laid out for His followers or a path that winds through history as God deals with an individual, a nation or with all of mankind.

Solomon wrote that “The way of the Lord is a refuge for the blameless, but is a ruin of those who do evil.” It is important for us to understand that our “God is a refuge” for whoever is blameless - or those who walk in His way! With great trust we can accept Him and believe that only in Him, with Him and through Him  can we find a place of refuge, now and throughout eternity.

God deals with each of us individually and as nations united by a common government. So, those who walk in His righteousness will always find a place of refuge in His grace and mercy because of His love. Evil and evil ones may surround and govern us, but as long as we remain faithful to Him, He will remain faithful to us. We have His Word and His record of faithfulness that His peace, security and comfort will always be our refuge.

The key to the promise of this verse is strictly an if/then. If we walk in the way of the Lord and have as our primary goal in life to be blameless or righteous, we can then be confident that He is and will be our refuge. We can count on Him at all times, under any condition for His peace and protection. However, if our ways are evil, we are warned well in advance that His judgment awaits us. 

Prayer:  Father, Your Word is clear: we can only expect You to be our refuge if we are faithful. Give us strength! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 10:29 The way of the Lord is a refuge for the blameless, but it is the ruin of those who do evil.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

We Have Our Limits

Solomon makes no apology when he writes: “The blessing of the Lord, it makes one rich.” That is the literal translation of the verse: “The blessing of the Lord brings wealth.” And when he wrote that powerful statement, he made it abundantly clear that our resources - no matter how abundant they may be - are “limited” by God. It is the Lord who is faithful and who has the final word on riches and who gets them and when they will get them.

No matter how hard we try, how many hours we work, what we do or the skills we possess, we - in and of ourselves - cannot produce wealth. All the wealth in the world cannot make one “rich.” If God does not add His blessing to whatever we have we are, in His sight, poor. On the other hand, one may have none of this world’s goods, yet be rich. How can this be? Rich but not rich? Poor and yet rich? It certainly seems to be contradictory.

But it isn’t.  Rich is in the eye of the beholder.

Throughout his Proverbs, Solomon warns us that if we get the “riches” of this world through methods that are dishonest or deceitful, unfair and unjust, many problems will come with them. These problems may range from psychological to physical, legal to financial, personal to interpersonal or relationship issues. Godly living, God-honoring work and God-centered practices bring  joy and satisfaction, peace and true prosperity with them to the one who lives for the Lord.

God’s riches come with His blessings. They are free of fear and the consequences that come with disobedience.

Prayer:  Father, may all that we do, bring blessings honor and glory to Your name. May we seek Your “riches.” In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today:  Proverbs 10:22 The blessing of the Lord brings wealth, without painful toil for it.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Heart Health

“If it works, don’t fix it!”

Most of the time our heart works well and we rarely pause to think about it. Each day our hearts beat about 100,000 times. It sends 2,000 gallons of blood surging through the veins of our bodies, nourishing our organs and tissues. Although it is no bigger than our fist, it keeps blood flowing through 60,000 miles of blood vessels. It is the controlling force of our lives. When it fails, life ends.

The heart, in the Bible, is the center of our emotions, rational and irrational thoughts, our wills and desires. In the Bible, the heart is the “seat” of the entire personality.

And the heart, as described in the Bible, can be our most fundamental problem. What we store, keep or hide in our hearts is what we become and who we really are.

So, as long as we “keep our mouths shut” we can deceive others. But, unfortunately, that does not seem to be possible. In the blink of an eye or a moment in time, we “let our guard down” and our true “self” becomes exposed to the world. We are “found out.”

Solomon wrote that “The tongue of the righteous is choice silver, but the heart of the wicked is of little value.” Jesus said, “How can you who are evil say anything good? For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.”

We hear amazing stories about surgeons who are skilled at “heart transplants.” But a heart transplant does not correct the problem of evil. Only Christ can correct that problem. So, He does not transplant hearts. He transforms hearts. And when that happens, lives change.

Prayer:  Lord, come into and rule our hearts so others will know that Your Son, our Savior, rules our lives. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
 

Scripture for Today:  Proverbs 10:20 The tongue of the righteous is choice silver, but the heart of the wicked is of little value.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Who Are The Real Heroes?

It is fascinating to walk through any community or mall - or even down a city street - and noticing the vast number of football jerseys that people of all ages and sexes are wearing this time of the year. The names and numbers of their “heroes” vary as much as the sizes and shape of the persons wearing the jersey.

And, the dollar amount of this way of “identifying” with an athlete is growing. In 2005, nearly ten years ago, the total amount of money spent on sports clothing was in excess of two hundred billion dollars.

Sadly, many of those names and numbers represent felons, drug abusers, wife or child abusers, murderers and other violent criminals. Yet, their names and numbers are held in high esteem, even worshiped, because of their accomplishments in their area of athletic prowess.

Walk in the same mall or down the same street and count the number of individuals wearing a shirt that has the name of Jesus or Paul or Stephen or Jeremiah written across the front or back. In fact, only now and then will a T-shirt with some reference to something Christian ever appear. Unfortunately, its message is usually unclear or perhaps, questionable or embarrassing.  

Solomon talked about “heroes” who “walked” Godly lives. “Whoever heeds discipline shows the way to Godly life, but whoever ignores correction leads others astray.” What a timely, challenging verse for Christians. People look for heroes. What do they see when they look at us?

Do others see Christ living in us? “By their fruits...”

Prayer:  Lord, we can’t hide who we are or what we believe or our values. May our lives represent You well. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 10:17 Whoever heeds discipline shows the way to life, but whoever ignores correction leads others astray.


Thursday, November 6, 2014

All Seeds Are Not The Same

“What are you planting?” asked the salesman of the elderly gentleman.

“Seeds,” said the old farmer, rather nonchalantly.

“Of course they’re seeds. I can see that. I’m not dumb or blind,” he said with a bit of sarcasm in his voice.

“Well, if you are so interested, hang around for a few months and see what comes up. You might be surprised. Might even be something you like,” came the reply.

Planting seeds and gardening is a craft. It is done with care and concern. Nothing is left to chance and the only uncontrollable aspect of farming is the weather.

“The wages of the righteous is life,” wrote Solomon, “but the earnings of the wicked are sin and death.” The word “wages” in this verse comes from the agricultural world and describes the crop or yield that is gained at the time of harvest. Earnings are the result of work. But both have a similar meaning: Our life style and way of living have implications far beyond the moment. Righteousness brings life, now and after this life - eternal life with God. The alternative life style, wickedness, is one of sin and leads ultimately to death - eternal separation from God.

Our God is a just God and will reward each of us for the “seeds” we plant. Our old farmer knew what the crop would be from the seeds he planted. He didn’t have to wait and be surprised at harvest time. Neither do we.

God’s Word leaves no doubt about sowing seeds and the coming harvest. “Do not be deceived,” said Paul, “for whatever a man sows, that will he also reap.”

Prayer:  Father, may we examine our lives in light of your Word and plant “seeds of righteousness” each day. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 10:16 The wages of the righteous is life, but the earnings of the wicked are sin and death.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Is The Word "Love" A Cover-Up?

“Do you know what today is?” Mary, my wife, asked.

“Of course. It’s Tuesday,” I replied.

“Well, is it anything more than Tuesday? Does it have a number and is there a month that goes with it?” she asked with a faint smile.

Looking at my watch, I said, “It’s October 24. Almost time for Halloween.” And that did it.

First there came tears. Then, a few more words about forgetting important things - like birthdays. Then more tears. Not only was I embarrassed, I was humiliated that I forgot such an important date and event.

“But, I do love you. And that should make up for it,” I said, thinking of the words of Solomon: “Love covers all wrong.” But does it?

Love, God’s love, is the center of every relationship - beginning with Him. And when we learn to love Him as He loves us, it will have a preeminent place in our lives. It will be visible to all whom we know - especially those in our lives that are special to us. They will be more than a  name or number: they will be blest because we love them.

The love that Solomon describes here is a love that draws in and unites. It invites people into our hearts and then bonds them to us as closely as two pieces of Velcro.

We cannot use the word love as a “cover” when we do something wrong - as though we want the other person to feel guilty. True love, God’s love, anticipates a need long before it surfaces. It remembers the needs of others and reaches out to them as God reaches out for each of us.

Prayer:  Help us, Lord, to be sincere and honest and pure when we say, “I love you!” May our love match Yours. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today:  Proverbs 10:12 Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers over all wrongs.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Why Live a Life of Integrity?

“Why” is a question that most of us try to avoid. It usually demands careful thinking, choice wording and clear reasoning. It makes us refine our thoughts to give us the assurance that what we are doing or thinking is right.

Solomon makes a profound statement when he says, “Whoever walks in integrity walks securely; but whoever takes crooked paths will be found out.”

It’s normal to want to feel “secure” as we go about life. “Secure” implies that we are able to face life as it comes, knowing that God is present in our lives and will provide whatever we need. Being “secure” eliminates fear and the anxiety that accompany it. And, if we want that feeling of security that only comes from God, Solomon says that we must “walk in integrity” or “live without compromise or corruption.”

For some, that sounds impossible. We think about our past attempts to honor God in all things. We want to be an example to others as our Savior was: a witness of His grace, a helper to those in need, a friend to the lonely and an encourager to the sick and suffering. But we allow things to get in our way and we “fall short” of who God wants us to be and who we, in fact, want to be. And therein lies the secret: it’s all about what we desire.

If our innermost desire is to bring all of our life into harmony with God’s Word, His will and His ways, and if we consciously submit our lives to Him and live for Him, He will give us His security. We have nothing to fear if our deepest desire is to know Him and make Him known.

Prayer:  Father, the world makes many promises it cannot keep. But we have Your Word that never fails. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
 

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 10:9 Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but whoever takes crooked paths will be found out.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Know God - Have Life

“Ill-gotten treasures” bring many feelings as well as pictures to our minds. Some pictures remind us of events where we were taken advantage of by one who made no apologies for stealing our “property.” Other feelings are the result of a dishonest sales person who hid the truth from us when we purchasing a valuable item. Usually, there are many numbers involved in large transactions and unless we know what to look for, it’s easy to become a “victim” of dishonesty.
However, when we look at some the “valuables” we have collected over time, there may be an item or two we obtained in less than honest methods. They were really “ill-gotten” even though they “belong” to us now.  
“Ill-gotten” is a strong phrase that means “treasures gotten as a result of wickedness.” We know that wickedness is not compatible with the character of God. It stands in complete contradiction to everything God values. It also cost Him the life of His Son. “Righteousness” on the other hand, clearly states who God is: a God who is consistent with His Word and His ways. Our God is honest and just!
Treasures are a gift from God. And there is nothing wrong with having treasures. But, when they become the “center of life,” or the “reason for living,” attaining them is self-destructive. They no longer bring satisfaction because they have no “lasting value” - and the “search” continues.
“Righteousness” delivers us from death: physical, spiritual and eternal. Those who live in “righteousness” have no fear of God because their “search” is to know Him.
Prayer:  Father, give us a desire to live for “things” that are eternal and have their source in You and Your love. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Proverbs 10:2 Ill-gotten treasures have no lasting value, but righteousness delivers from death.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

It's All In The Family

“The nice thing about friends is that you get to choose them. But, when it comes to family members, you’re stuck with what you get. And boy, did I ever get stuck,” said the comedian.
No doubt that many of us feel this way about our Moms and Dads, brothers and sisters. And even though names and addresses vary, all families have some things in common and some things that are vastly different. But there are two primary truths that cannot be denied: One is that God intended parents to be the primary teachers and influencers of their children. And the other is that family ties are never completely severed no matter where parents or children eventually complete their lives. An invisible bond remains.
The contrast between a “wise son bringing joy to his father and a foolish son bringing grief to his mother”  implies that this family is “divided” or “dysfunctional.” It emphasizes the fact that the behavior of one member of the family affects the behavior of all of the other family members. This tragedy is seen throughout the Bible.
The “joy” infused into the family by the “wise son” does not eliminate the “grief” that invades a family by a son who is “foolish.” The “foolish” son is the one who, by his behavior, brings “hardships” to the parents as well as others in the family.
But the “hardships” need not remain. Again and again Solomon reminds us that gaining wisdom is a choice that brings change. The same is true of being born again.
Prayer:  Because You love us, Father, no parent or child is beyond Your mercy and grace. Your Son offers us hope! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Proverbs 10:1 A wise son brings joy to his father, but a foolish son brings grief to his mother.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Compare And Contrast

Right choices are sometimes obvious, occasionally hidden, perhaps difficult, unfortunately painful and even every now and then, when least expected, pleasant and rewarding.  Yet, there is one thing that is certain: with every choice we make there is a consequence that comes with it. Sometimes, when we make a choice, the results may even surprise us or others. Consequences vary and do cause changes that can be enjoyable or painful.
Frequently the consequence of a choice is known at the time we make our decision. Other times it is “wait and see.” But we all know that “payday” will come someday.
In the ninth chapter of Proverbs, Solomon clearly compares and contrasts the differences between a woman who is wise and a woman who is foolish or “wicked.” Both offer an invitation to a feast they have prepared. Both are inviting people to enjoy their company. Both are sitting in a place of prominence where they can be seen and heard.
Wisdom, on one hand, lacks nothing - it is complete, perfect and available. Yet, wisdom must be pursued with lifelong diligence. It is a never-ending quest that brings insight.  It adds joy, satisfaction and peace to life.
Folly, or wickedness, on the other hand, appeals to the senses and a moment of ecstasy following a time of excitement. It is temporary, often enjoyable and seems to gratify some basic need. Yet, it has no future and is short lived. It brings no lasting satisfaction. It provides an interlude of “escape,” but ends in destruction and death.
 Choices determine the outcome of life. Choose wisely.
Prayer:  Father, our choices are eternal. May we choose wisely. May we choose life. May we choose You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Proverbs 9:1 & 3 Wisdom has built her house; she has set up its seven pillars. She has sent out her servants, and she calls from the highest point of the city,