Sunday, May 31, 2015

Who's On The Lord's Side?

Years ago when Italy went to war there was a shortage of soldiers. To find recruits, one captain went through the villages calling men to fight with him. Many joined him, bringing their own weapons into combat.
One elderly lady was so moved by the sight that she got her broom, placed it on her shoulder and began to march with them.

Many of the soldiers laughed at her. One looked at her and asked, “What good are you, old lady?”

“Not much,” she replied, “but I want everyone to know whose side I’m on!”

Life requires many choices. But there is no more important choice for each of us than to let the world know whose side we are on. Joshua said, “So honor the Lord and serve Him whole heartedly.” He challenged the people to declare their allegiance to God because He had proven His trustworthiness to them.

From simple to significant, we make many choices each day. Not being able to see the future or knowing which direction our lives may take, we must put our trust in the One who does. We must listen to the Lord as He speaks to us through His Word. When we do, it will be easier to make the right choices. Especially if we are on the Lord’s side and draw upon His strength.

Prayer: Lord, may we live our lives letting those around us see the depth of our commitment to You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Joshua 24:14, 15 But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Where To Find Happiness

A professor was known to ask his students questions to make them think. On one occasion he stood before the class and wrote on the chalkboard, “Who’s more content – the man with six million dollars or the man with six children? Now think!” he challenged them.

After a few moments one of the students raised his hand and answered, “The man with the six children.”

“Oh? Why?” asked the professor.

“Well, the man with the six million dollars would always want more!” came the reply.

True contentment is always independent of “things” – whether possessions or pleasures. It only comes from an inner attitude toward life. That is why Paul said, “True religion, with contentment, is great wealth.”

This does not imply that being a Christian means living in poverty or wanting to be poor. But it does mean that the power of “things” will never bring happiness and that the Christian must always focus on things that are eternal.

In the final analysis, we can only take two things to God: Ourselves and what we have done with our lives.
So, we must live our lives with one goal that we can reach: to present ourselves to God without shame!

Prayer: Help us, Father, to realize that life does not consist in the abundance of things, but in pleasing You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: 1 Timothy 6:6 Now godliness with contentment is great gain.


Friday, May 29, 2015

Where They Belong

Once I asked an appliance repairman to come to church with me. “No,” he responded. “The church is full of hypocrites.”

“Great!” I responded. The man was startled. Continuing, I said, “That’s exactly where they belong. Let’s join them. I’m sure they won’t mind.”

If I understand it correctly, a hypocrite is someone who says one thing and does another. Or as a friend said to me, “A hypocrite is a person who does not walk their talk. They profess what they do not possess.”

Many who do not want to attend church say the reason they refuse to do so is because the church is full of hypocrites. For as long as I can remember that has been a frequent excuse of many. As I see it, it is a great reason for them to attend! They already know the difference between the saved and the unsaved. The saved are expected to behave like Jesus and the person who says he sees hypocrisy in Christians already knows what is expected of the born again.

We need to extend a warm welcome to those who use “the hypocrite excuse” as a reason not to attend church. Jesus said that He came to call sinners to be saved. Those who believe that they are already good enough will have a difficult time to admit they are sinners. But the hypocrite already knows his need.

Prayer: Lord, help me to live a life that will be an example, not an excuse, for people to seek You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Luke 19:10 for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Where Does Your Light Come From?

Little Sara came home from school and proudly said to her mother, “I learned a new song today!”

“Sing it to me,” came the request.

“God bless America, land that I love: Stand beside her, and guide her, through the night with the light from a bulb,” sang Sara.

There is a great difference between “light from a bulb” and “light from above.” As we look at our nation today, we find that much “light” has come from education, information, training and knowledge that enables individuals to earn a living. However, the “light” that comes from wisdom – the ability to judge what is true or right or something with lasting value or worth – appears to be in short supply.

James reminds us that if we want to have the ability to make wise decisions in troubling situations we can always pray and ask God for guidance and wisdom.

We do not have to stumble in the darkness hoping to find good answers while looking for a “bulb” to light our path. We can ask God for His directions and He will gladly tell us what to do.

God’s wisdom always leads us to the right decision and guarantees us good results. But we must have God-centered goals that come from knowing, accepting and living His Word if we expect His wisdom.

Prayer: Lord, fill our minds with Your wisdom as we look to You for guidance to live lives worthy of You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: James 1:5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Where Does The time Go?

The angry husband approached the terminal gate obviously upset that the door was closed and the plane was leaving. Turning to his wife he said, “If you hadn’t taken so long to get ready, we would be on that plane.”

“Yes,” she answered graciously, “and if you hadn’t hurried me so, we wouldn’t have to wait so long for the next one.”

Some people count their minutes rather than making their minutes count. However, we must always remember that time is a God-given gift, and once gone will never be returned. Though others may have more talents or more treasures, no one has more time. We are all given twenty-four hours each day. God gives to all equally.

Alan Lakein said that “Time is life. It is irreversible and irreplaceable. To waste your time is to waste your life, but to master your time is to master your life and make the most of it.”

David accomplished much in his life. Author, poet, musician, politician, judge, leader of an army – the list goes on and on. No doubt the reason he was able to accomplish so much was his attitude toward time. He put everything in perspective when he said, “Remember how short my time is and what a fleeting life is mine.”

Prayer: Help us, Father, to make the most of every moment, using every minute we have to honor You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 89:47 Remember how short my time is; For what futility have You created all the children of men?

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Where Am I Going?

A well-respected theologian was leaving London for a lecture series in another city. As he sat looking out the window, the conductor asked for his ticket.

Searching frantically through his pockets, he discovered that he had lost it.

Wanting to be helpful, the conductor said, “It’s all right. Don’t worry.”

“No, it’s not all right,” said the passenger. “I don’t know where I’m going.”

Many have the same problem. They start on life’s journey not knowing where they are going or where or when it will end. Someone once said, “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.”
Not David. He knew where to find directions. In Psalm 25 he said, “Show me the path I should walk, O Lord, point out the right road for me to follow.”

With all of his knowledge and wisdom, success and power, David still looked to the Lord for direction. He constantly looked to God for guidance no matter where he was or what he was doing. How wise!

If it was important for David to do this, how much more so for us. He realized that he needed God’s guidance. He discovered it by meditating on His Word, going to Him in prayer and listening for His voice. Instead of demanding answers, he waited for directions.

Prayer: We pray, Father, that we will look to You to lead us and guide us in paths of righteousness. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 25:1-5 Show me Your ways, O Lord; Teach me Your paths.


Monday, May 25, 2015

What's Next?

Reading through the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, reveals God’s thoughtful planning.

Nothing happened by chance. He wisely created everything to fit together very carefully and logically, in perfect harmony. The fish came after water, grass before animals and trees before birds. Then when everything was prepared, God created man. God knew what He was doing and where He was going. What a great example for us.

James gave us some insight about planning, too. He reminds us that we sometimes begin to do something without even knowing what tomorrow may bring. He seems to be making fun of us when he says, “Now listen, you who go here or there…spend a year here to carry on business…thinking you will make money, but not knowing anything about tomorrow.” Rather he says, “Focus on God’s will!” Great advice!

It is important for us to have visions of what we want to accomplish and plans to make the visions a reality. But we get into difficult situations if our focus is on our self-sufficiency or self-importance. We must humbly rely on God, looking to Him first and foremost in all that we plan to do. We must always be close enough to Him to hear His voice, and willing to change our plans when He asks. May our plans agree with His purpose.

Prayer: We ask, Father, that You guide us in all that we do and guard us from being self-centered. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: James 4:13-17 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Unseen Power

A snowflake is a remarkable object in size and shape. Sometimes they appear as though they are floating through space. Other times they arrive in force and fury. Occasionally they fall on an eyelash and can be seen but not felt. They are a weightless wonder until they are massed together. Then, they can provide a beautiful country scene or bring a city to a complete halt. Snowflakes give us a unique picture of the strength and power of numbers. What a lesson for the church!

From the very beginning God has intended for His followers to come together for strength and power. We find throughout Scripture that a community of believers can accomplish much more than an individual acting on his own behalf. God established the church and empowered it with the Holy Spirit to spread the gospel and provide strength, hope and encouragement to its members.

When a Christian feels lonely or deserted, afraid or abandoned, overwhelmed or overpowered, the church is to be a refuge for healing hearts and holding hands. God wants the church to provide protection and peace to all who seek His love, grace and mercy. Within the church believers can link their lives together to offer protection from sin and work together as God’s witness to the world.

Prayer: Lord, may our church be faithful to accomplish Your purpose as we worship, work and witness together. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Ecclesiastes 4:9, 10 Two are better than one, Because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Try, Try Again!

Jeanie had a very bad day. Nothing seemed to go the way she intended it to go, and she ended up embarrassing herself several times.

That evening, as she read her Bible, she went to the Lord in prayer. Confessing her sins, she said, “Lord, make me a good girl, please!”

After thinking for a moment and realizing that it might be a difficult job even for the Lord, she quickly added, “If at first You don’t succeed, Lord, try, try again!”

We can take great comfort in knowing that He will never give up on any of us, and more importantly, He will do all He can to help us succeed.

Paul said that “those who become Christians become new creations. They become brand new persons!” Hard to believe? Of course. Impossible for God? Indeed not!

Christianity differs from every other religion. It is not the teachings of our Founder that save us, it is His death, burial and resurrection. It was His death that canceled our sins and His resurrection that made our new life in Christ possible. We become new persons.

When there is sin in our life, He is anxious to forgive us. When we are trapped by habits that would destroy us, He wants to free us. “If we confess our sins, He will forgive us, cleanse us.” He’s always there to help.

Prayer: Lord, even though we are new persons, we often fail to be who we want to be. Help us to succeed. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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

Friday, May 22, 2015

The Great Commission

A salesman was known for keeping his hat on while he worked at his desk in his office. One day a new employee asked, “Why do you keep your hat on when you work in the building? Are you hairless?”

“No,” came the reply. “I wear it to remind myself that I ought to be out selling and ‘here less.’”

Would it be a good idea if we, as Christians, would wear hats when we watch TV, read newspapers, visit with friends, work in the yard or go shopping? Could wearing a hat remind us that there is a world waiting to hear the message of the Gospel? Might it remind us not to get too comfortable? Would it keep us from “forgetting” the Great Commission?

We place great value on the “last will and testament” of individuals. It gives exact directions for what is to be done with whatever they leave at the end of their life. Jesus did this in the Great Commission.

He said, “Go and make disciples.” They were not to be satisfied because they had a relationship with Him. Nor were they to be complacent with the teachings He left in their hands and hearts.

The command “to go” did not end with the disciples. His voice still echoes across the centuries to those of us today who are His disciples. We are to “go and make disciples” wherever we are, whenever we can.

Prayer: We often fail, Lord, in doing what You have commanded us to do. Forgive us for failing to honor You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Matthew 28:18-20 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Strength For the Race

Few people have ever heard of the runner, John Baker. His name is not known the world over. But once, while running a race, he observed the runners who were ahead of him. He began to wonder, “Am I doing my best?” He was not sure, so he decided to try harder.

First he focused on the runner just in front of him and determined that he would run harder and pass him. When he did, he set another goal and passed the next runner, then the next. Finally, he was in first place, went on the win the race and set a record.

What a great lesson for all of us. If we only focus on where we are and what we are doing, we may never achieve the potential that God has given us. A self-satisfied life never becomes a God-glorifying life.

Paul says that we “can do everything with the help of Christ who strengthens us.” Not anything, but everything, meaning that whatever God has for us to do, He will enable us to do. The power we receive from our relationship with Christ will strengthen us to overcome any obstacles that would keep us from doing His will, His way, in His world. He will never give us a superhuman power to accomplish goals for our own purposes. But if He asks us to do something in His name, there are no pressures or problems, trials or troubles that will be able to keep us from winning the race He has set before us.

Prayer: Give us Your strength, Father, to do our best to run and win the race You have set before us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Philippians 4:13  I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Steps In The Right Direction

Our feet contain 26 bones and more than 100 muscles, tendons and ligaments. Most of us will walk about 65,000 miles and take about 125 million steps. That’s enough to make anyone tired just thinking about such a journey.

We are all concerned about life’s journey. Each morning when we awaken, we have no guarantee of what might happen or where we will be when night falls.

The writer of the first Psalm declared, “Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand with sinners or join in with scoffers.” Clearly we are urged to avoid friendships or even to associate with those who do not honor God because of the influence they may have on us. Friends who do not encourage us in our walk with God may bring about an indifference to the plan and purpose that God has for our lives. Often the ones we associate with have an enormous influence on our attitudes. And we must always be aware of the fact that our attitudes shape our behavior and influence others.

The author also describes the benefit of those who walk a godly path: the Lord will watch over them. What a comforting thought for the believer to realize that every one of those steps in each of the many miles will have “the Lord watching over them.” When we walk with Him, we have the promise of His presence and His power to protect us and provide for our every need.

Prayer: Help us, Father to know and obey Your Word so that we may count on strength for the journey. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 1 Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers.


Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Searching Everywhere

The phone rang and a small child answered it softly. “Hello,” he said barely above a whisper.

“Hello,” came the response. “Is your mother home?”

“Yes,” came the reply, “but she’s busy.”

“Well,” wondered the caller, “is your father home?”

“Yes,” he said, “but he’s busy, too.”

“Are they both busy? What are they doing?” asked the salesman.

“They’re looking for me,” he whispered.

What a picture of our Savior! He said, “I, the Son of Man, have come to seek and save the lost!”

This verse comes at the end of the story of Zacchaeus. Sometimes we focus on the different facts in the story: he was very short, the son of Abraham, he was a very influential man, and he was an unpopular tax collector. None of this actually mattered to Jesus.

What did matter to Jesus, then and now, is that a person is not saved because of his family, his wealth, his influence in the community, his appearance or his previous way of life. It is only through faith in the Son of Man that the lost can be forgiven and made new.

In one verse Jesus summarized His entire mission: to seek and to save the lost. Wherever they are, whatever they have done, Jesus continues to seek the lost.

Prayer: Lord, we may have much, but You ask little except that we, in faith, accept You as our Savior. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Luke 19:10  for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”


Monday, May 18, 2015

One Way

The famous entertainer, W. C. Fields, was an agnostic. One day, a friend came to visit him and found him reading the Bible.

“Bill,” he exclaimed, “it’s so good to see that you are reading the Bible. When did you change and become a Christian?”

“I haven’t,” he replied quickly. “I’m looking for loopholes.”

No matter how hard he might search, he will never discover a loophole in God’s Word.

There are many who do the same thing. They do not study God’s Word to learn of His salvation and grace. They read it looking for errors and omissions.

Others have difficulty in accepting God’s Word as the one final authority for truth. They do not want to believe that there is no other name besides the name of Jesus that they can call upon for salvation. This fact did not come from the church or any religious movement. It is a promise of God found in His Word.

God designated Jesus to be the only Redeemer and Savior. There never has been nor ever will be any other name for people to call upon for salvation. While there are some problems that may have more than one solution, when it comes to being forgiven of our sin, there is only One. Salvation is by grace through faith in Christ.

Prayer: Thank You, Father, for Your Son Jesus, in whose name and through His work we find salvation. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Acts 4:12 Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”


Sunday, May 17, 2015

Make A Wish!

A college freshman, small in stature, wanted to be a member of the football team. He reported for the first practice, went to the coach and asked to try out for the team. Not wanting to discourage him, the coach agreed. He gave him the football and said, “I want you to run toward the goal while these two linemen chase you.”

Tucking the ball under his arm, he ran as fast as he could. Soon, one of the linemen grabbed his right leg and he began to fall. Then the other one grabbed his left leg and he fell to the ground. As he lay there panting and praying, one of them said, “This may be your last wish. Make it carefully.”

“I wish you’d let me go so I can tell the coach, ‘I quit.’”

There were many times in the life of the Apostle Paul that he faced overwhelming odds; times when it appeared that he would be “torn apart.” But he never gave up or quit.

When he was enduring his final imprisonment in Rome and awaiting his trial, he did not know if he would be released or executed. Rather than being filled with fear, he demonstrated his faith in God. So, he prayed that when he stood trial he would speak courageously for Christ and not be ashamed. “For I live in eager expectation and hope that I will never do anything that causes me shame, but that I will always be bold for Christ.” What faith. What trust. What courage.

Prayer: Father, may we, like Paul, have the boldness and courage to face adversity with courage and trust. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Philippians 1:19-21 according to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Let Go And Let God

An elderly man was taken for his very first plane ride. When it was over and he was safely on the ground, his wife asked him, “Well, Sam, how did you like that?”

“Pretty good,” came the reply. “Only problem was that I couldn’t let all of my weight down on the seat and relax.”

Sometimes we Christians have difficulty laying down or letting go of the burdens we carry. While we may have many excuses, there is no real reason why we cannot let go of our fears and failures, problems and pressures and trust the Lord.

Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”

The burdens Jesus came to relieve are not only physical ones, but spiritual and emotional ones as well.

There are times when we fear that our sins may not have been forgiven because we believe that they are too horrible for God’s grace and mercy. But we are promised that “if we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Perhaps we become fearful that we are not doing enough for God or have missed His will for our lives. Again, the verse echoes in our ears, “If you become humble…pray…seek…turn…I will forgive.” God’s willingness and ability are as good as His Word. The problem belongs to us – not Him.

Prayer: Help us, Heavenly Father, to take You at Your Word, and to cast all of our cares on You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Matthew 11:28  Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Knock It Off!

An artist began working on a large block of marble. A friend watched him as he chipped away, knocking off one piece after another.

Finally the friend asked, “What are you making?”

“A horse,” came the reply.

“How do you do that?” he wanted to know.

“By knocking off everything that doesn’t look like a horse,” said the sculptor.

It is normal to question what God may be doing in our lives from time to time. We often look for meaning or purpose when we enter into a period of suffering or pain. There are days when the problems pile up, the difficulties grow, the confusion is never ending or the light seems about to go out.

Paul said we are “pressed on every side by troubles” – as though we are being squeezed in a vice. But he quickly adds, “we are not crushed or broken” assuring us of the Great Physician’s concern and care. Then he goes on to write that we may be “perplexed” – as if we were in a state of confusion, so he encourages us not to “give up and quit” – knowing that God can make sense out of nonsense. If we “get knocked down” – we will never get knocked out. God will be there to lift us up, dust us off, and send us on our way. The message: We may be at the end of our rope, but not at the end of our hope.

Prayer: Our Father, may we realize the promise of Your power and presence no matter the problem or pain. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: 2 Corinthians 4:1-10 We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Is Your Light Shining?

It was in the darkness of night that we called on a mechanic to fix a problem with our car. As he worked under the hood his helper stood by holding a flashlight so he could see what he was doing.

After a short amount of time, the helper became bored, began to watch our dog and turned the light away from the problem the mechanic was repairing.

“Shine your light here,” demanded the mechanic. “That’s why you’re here.”

Jesus said that His followers were like “a city on a mountain, glowing in the night, for all to see.” What an interesting picture for us to consider.

If you have ever flown in an airplane at night and looked out of the window, you have no doubt been fascinated to see the lights of the cities below. Those cities cannot be hidden: their “glow” can be seen for miles in every direction when the night is clear.

What is true of the lights of those cities is true of the Christian. We always have the opportunity to glow like those lights for Christ. As His witnesses in His world, we are to be known for the light we can provide to those looking through the darkness for direction. Our faith must  be seen if we are to have any value to the lost who are looking for their way in the world. Jesus said, “Don’t hide your light, let it shine!”

Prayer: Help us, Jesus, to be the light You need in this world that we may lead and guide others to You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Matthew 5:14 “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.


Wednesday, May 13, 2015

How Could This Happen?

A man was found dead next to a dumpster. As they looked in his pockets for his identification, they discovered several checks. They were worth more than a thousand dollars. But they did him no good. He never surrendered them to receive their value.

As we read God’s Word, we find promise after promise – all having value to the believer. But as with the checks, they must be “turned into cash” to have any value. We must go to God and claim His promises to meet our needs.

James said that God “does not resent your asking. But when you ask Him, be sure you really expect Him to answer, for a doubtful mind is as unsettled as a wave of the sea…”

There are times when it is easier to believe in God than it is to believe in the fact that He deeply cares for each of us and our every need. Surely, if He is bound by His Word, we can go to Him “in faith believing.” We must always remember that nothing is so small that it escapes His concern or that any problem is so large that He cannot solve it.

We limit God by the limitations we place on Him. The problems we have with our faith are our problems – not God’s. “Whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you,” said Jesus.

Prayer: Give us a faith, Father, that is larger than our problems and a trust that matches Your power. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: James 1:1-8 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Here And Hereafter

Two elderly ladies were sitting on the porch rocking and talking the day away. Said one to the other, “Sally, do you ever think of the hereafter?”

“All the time,” came the reply. “Every time I go into a different room I look around and say to myself, ‘What did I come here after?’”

An amusing little story that we can use to remind ourselves of one of life’s most important realities: while we live in this world, we must prepare for the next. Many live as though this life will never end or that the next one will never begin. There is a tombstone that reads: “I lived all of my life expecting to die – but not this soon.”

We all marvel at the persistence and power, the determination and drive that the Apostle Paul had in presenting the message of salvation. His audience would change, his location would change, and his conditions would change. But one thing never changed: “The necessity of turning from sin and turning to God, and having faith in our Lord Jesus.”

This message is not only for the unsaved, but for the saved as well. There is that one moment in life when we turn our lives over to Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. But there must be many other moments when we confess our sins and prepare to meet the Lord our God! He is coming again!

Prayer: We thank You, Lord, for our salvation. Help us, we pray, to live life knowing we may soon meet You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Acts 20:21 testifying to Jews, and also to Greeks, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Greed

Years ago there was a pretzel stand in front of a building in New York. A generous business man wanted to help the owner. Each day he would put a quarter on the counter and walk away without taking a pretzel.

One day as he was leaving his quarter, the owner said, “Sir…”

Stopping quickly, he said, “I presume that you are going to ask me why I never take the pretzels?”

“No,” she said rather haughtily. “I just wanted to tell you that the price of the pretzels is now fifty cents.”

In Paul’s letter to the Colossians he warned them to “Put to death…evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.” He asks that we consider ourselves as though we are dead and therefore unresponsive and unable to be involved in a list of sins, ending with greed. He suggests we make a conscious effort every day to remove anything in our lives that would in any way allow these desires to be present and grow and lead to our destruction. We are to rely on the Holy Spirit’s power to overcome the temptation to sin.

In these days of economic uncertainty we are much more aware of what we have and do not have. We seem to face more pressures to lay up treasures for our future on earth rather than with God. We seem to rely more on what we can get from God than what we can give to God.

Prayer: Lord, give us a clear vision of what to value. Protect us from desires to put “things” before You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Colossians 3:5 Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Encouraging Children

A large cathedral was having its beautiful, hand carved doors replaced with ones that were lighter and easier to open. A gentleman walking by the church stopped and asked the foreman the reason for changing the doors.

“Because,” came the reply, “they are too heavy for children. No church should have doors that are too difficult for children to open.”

Jesus set the example for us to follow in our relationships with children. He said, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to them!”

What a precious picture of Jesus – perhaps one of the most important in the Gospels. He was the kind of person whom children loved. George MacDonald said, “People could never be followers of Jesus if the children were afraid of Him.” The love He spoke of must have been obvious to everyone who saw Him. He was never too busy to be interrupted or too tired to be disturbed. He gave His all to everyone who needed Him.

Jesus also seemed to say that children were nearer to God than anyone else. Why? Because of their trust and truthfulness, simplicity and sincerity. As we age, we seem to grow further from God rather than closer. Might we learn from this truth and ask God for a child-like faith?

Prayer: Help us, Father, to live lives that attract the young, the old and everyone in between who need You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Matthew 19:13-15 But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.”

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Driven By Desire

Young Antonio was driven by a desire to play the violin and sing. Unfortunately, his fingers were not nimble enough to move swiftly over the strings and his voice sounded screechy. He went from one teacher to another and they all said he would never be a great musician. They would laugh and he would cry.

One day, by chance, he met Amati, a violin maker. He was very attracted to the sincerity and passion that Antonio had for music. “Son,” said Amati, “it is the song in your heart that makes the difference. There are many ways to make music. And you can make music if you want.”

Those words inspired Antonio and he became an apprentice to Amati to learn how to make violins. In time Antonio Stradivarius became the world’s greatest maker of violins. He was helped by a friend, something all of us can do for others.

The Apostle Paul had some great advice for all of us: “Don’t make your children angry by the way you treat them.” The true purpose of parental discipline is to help children grow by example and encouragement. All children deserve a father who is Christ-honoring, hard-working, accountable to God and others, love-expressing, kind, patient, and family-oriented. Growing up in a home where the Father comes first will provide what children need to succeed.

Prayer: We pray, Lord, for fathers who look to You for guidance and grace as they raise their children. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Ephesians 6:1-4 And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Do You Care?

An elderly lady asked a young child, “How do you do, my dear?”

“Fine, thank you,” came the reply.

There was a pause, and finally the lady asked, “Why don’t you ask me how I am doing?”

After thinking for a moment, the child replied, “You know, I don’t really care how you are doing!”

Demonstrating care for others is an important responsibility of the Christian. In fact, first century Christians were recognized by the saying, “My how they love one another!” Sadly, that is not always true today.

In His wisdom, God has connected all of us together, believers and nonbelievers. No one is self-sufficient or able to act independently of others and never require help from anyone. We must never think that we are ever excused from the responsibility of giving help to those in need.

We read in God’s Word that “we will reap whatever we sow.” As someone once said, “You can’t plant corn and expect to get a crop of watermelons.” Although we may not want to believe it, we will only get what we have planted. We see it in the laws of nature and we find it in the laws of God as well. Everything we do has predictable results. If we sow care, we can be assured of receiving care. Christians must always live God’s love.

Prayer: Help us, Father, to be alert to the needs of others. May we always show Your care to everyone. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Galatians 6:1-10  Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Conscious Of Our Conscience

While managing the Washington Senators, Gil Hodges learned that four of his players had violated the team curfew. Calling the team together he said, “I know that four of you have violated the team curfew, and I know who you are. No, I don’t want to make this an issue, but you know the penalty for doing that. So I am going to leave a box on my desk and you guilty ones put your hundred dollars in the box and we’ll drop the matter. I want to see $400 in that box in the morning!” The next morning there were eight one-hundred dollar bills in the box.
Our conscience is one of God’s greatest gifts. If we live according to His Word, it enables us to distinguish right from wrong, good from bad, the sacred from the secular.
Paul said that he took “pains to have a clear conscience toward both God and man.” He lived his life in constant awareness that one day there would be a resurrection followed by a judgment of both the just and the unjust. He refused to be found doing anything that would dishonor His Lord and Savior.
There are many instances in the writings of Paul where he talked about his final accounting before God. He lived his life continually reminding himself and others of that fact. Perhaps we would do well to do the same.
Prayer: Father, may we live life in light of eternity, always realizing that You will judge us all on that day. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Acts 24:16 This being so, I myself always strive to have a conscience without offense toward God and men.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Came With Nothing - Leave With Nothing

Alexander the Great was a Macedonian king who conquered Persia, Greece and Egypt. He was considered the “conqueror of the world.” It was the custom in his day that when a person died their hands would be wrapped so no one could see them. However, prior to his death he asked that his hands remain unwrapped.

When they asked why, he replied, “I want everyone to see that they were empty.”

In his letter to Timothy, Paul said, “After all, we didn’t bring anything with us when we came into this world, and we certainly can’t take anything with us when we die.” This is a popular verse, used by many, but accepted and followed as a guide for living by only a few – judging by the way that most of us live!

In three short verses, Paul gives some astounding advice to all of us. He begins by saying that true religion can be very valuable if it brings one contentment. Might he be saying that if we are not content with what we believe, no amount of money will bring us peace? Then he reminds us that we “can’t take it with us.” And then he concludes this bit of advice by saying, “And by the way, if you have enough food and clothing, be content. And if you are not content with what God’s given you, you will be tempted and trapped by foolish desires that bring ruin and destruction.” We must always consider what is in our hands.

Prayer: It’s easy, Lord, to want what has no eternal value. Place in our hearts a desire for what matters most. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: 1 Timothy 6:6-10  Now godliness with contentment is great gain.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Another Grey Hair

A father said to his son, “When you cause problems and are disobedient, you add another grey hair to my head.”

“Wow,” said the son in return, “you must have been horrible. Grandpa’s hair is completely grey! What did you do to him?”

God’s Word demands that children honor and obey their parents. But there is also a distinction between obeying and honoring parents.

Obeying means that children are to do what they are told to do as long as it is legal, proper and ethical. Honoring, on the other hand means giving respect, love and admiration.

Children cannot be expected to obey their parents if it means disobeying God. Neither are they to be submissive to controlling parents when they are grown. As long as children accept the support of their parents, they must comply with the expectations made of them if they are in keeping with God’s Word.

But honoring and loving parents may sometimes be more difficult than obeying them. It is always important for parents and children to remember that respect, which leads to giving and receiving honor and love, flows in both directions. If there is thoughtfulness and kindness, patience and gentleness, goodness and happiness in the home, honor and love will be normal and natural.

Prayer: Father, family life is difficult. But when You are the center, all can live in love, peace and harmony. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Ephesians 6:1-11 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.


Monday, May 4, 2015

An Inside Job

“Why is it,” the girl asked the botanist, “that when I open a marigold it dies, but when God opens it, it’s beautiful?”

“Because,” came the answer, “God works from the inside out, while you work from the outside in.”
What a beautiful description of the new birth. It’s not something we do on the outside, but something God does on the inside.

A Christian becomes a completely new person. Although we cannot see the change on the inside, we know that there is a change when we see it on the outside – the new behaviors that come with the new birth. When Christ fills our heart on the inside, others will see it on the outside: we will no longer be the same.

People often speak of “being rehabilitated.” But that means that one has been restored to good health, a useful life, one’s former condition. But that is not true of those of us who have been born again. We have, in and through Christ, been re-created: “The old life is gone. A new life has begun,” said Paul.

When we are converted to Christ, we do not turn over a new leaf, we begin living a new life under a new Leader that results in a new way of living. This means that we now live by a new set of standards – God’s standards. We must ask, “Do others see Jesus in us?”

Prayer: Help us, Lord, to examine our lives carefully and completely to be sure we are living this “new life.” In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: 2 Corinthians 5:11-19  Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

A Spine And a Spirit

Kenneth was a shy eight-year-old who loved to read. On one occasion his Sunday school teacher asked him to read part of the story of Daniel. In reading one of the verses, he accidentally read “an exceptional spine was within him” rather than “an excellent spirit was within him.” Both phrases, however, clearly describe who Daniel was.

Daniel was recognized for his wise insight, great wisdom and prophetic visions. As he rose to power and prestige with the king, the other palace administrators became jealous of his privileged position. In their effort to get rid of Daniel, they were successful in persuading the king to outlaw prayer. It did not matter to Daniel and rather than give in to pressure, he continued to pray to the Lord, his God.

We all recall with pleasure the amazing miracle God performed by protecting him when he was thrown into the den of hungry lions. God was with him and guarded him against any harm. Daniel was faithful to God and God was faithful to him and blessed him.

Daniel was able to “show his exceptional spine” every time he was challenged to surrender to the demands of a sinful world. It was the “excellent spirit” that came from his relationship with God that gave him his “exceptional spine.” He knew that this God was sovereign.

Prayer: Father, give me a faith that will not flinch and a spine that will not shrink when tempted to compromise. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Daniel 6:3 Then this Daniel was preferred above the presidents and princes, because an excellent spirit was in him; and the king thought to set him over the whole realm.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

A Mother's Influence

As her son was about to leave home for college, his mother asked, “Robert, will you promise me one thing?”

“Yes, ma’am, I will,” he answered.

“Promise me,” she begged, “that you will read one chapter from the Bible each day.”

“I will,” he agreed.

That promise led to his coming to know Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. Later, Robert Moffat went to Africa as a missionary where he labored for his Lord for forty-five years. He became famous as an educator, explorer, evangelist and translator of the Bible.

What better request can any mother ask of a child than to be faithful to read God’s Word. We are confronted from every direction with challenges to our faith, tempted by friends to engage in behaviors that cause self-destruction, and provided with endless opportunities that may destroy the plans God has for us.
In his letter to Timothy, Paul expressed a true sense of urgency and warning for him. He knew that people who believed in God would be misunderstood, challenged, tempted and ridiculed because of their faith. So Paul encouraged him to remain faithful to what he had been taught. Why? God’s Word is our only faithful guide.

Prayer: Father, parents have such a responsibility in raising their children. Grant them Your wisdom, always. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: 2 Timothy 3:12-16  But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it,

Friday, May 1, 2015

A Cup Of Water

We had been traveling all night by train, moving rapidly toward our destination. Suddenly things turned upside down. Our passenger train was hit head on by a freight train. It was a frightening experience. Wreckage was all around us, people were screaming in pain. The crew was doing all they could to provide comfort until help arrived.

But God was protecting us and we were uninjured. Fortunately we were able to help others in their distress and were doing all that we could. Shortly after the accident, we discovered a little girl who was crying and we reached out to help her. She was pleading for water. We had none, but a man came along with a container of water and offered to share it with her.

As he gave her a cup of water he said, “I’m sorry I’m not a doctor and cannot bandage your wounds. And I am sorry there is no medicine available to ease your pain. But I am thankful that I can give you some water.”
Jesus emphasized the importance of a cup of water. In fact, He said, “If anyone gives a cup of water in the name of the Messiah, that one will be rewarded!”

Our Lord did not ask us to do great things, just simple things. Jesus never left anyone with a need He could meet. When we see the needs of others, we must help them.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, may our eyes and hearts be open to see the needs of those around us that we can meet by showing Your love. In Your Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Mark 9:40-41  Truly I tell you, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to the Messiah will certainly not lose their reward.