Monday, August 31, 2015

Put Hypocrites 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 unsaved person who says he sees hypocrisy in Christians already knows what is expected of him if he turns his life over to God for salvation.
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.”

Sunday, August 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.

Saturday, August 29, 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 24:15 But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.

Friday, August 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.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Worthy Words

It has been estimated that the average person speaks about 34,000 words a day. Multiply that by 365 and that amounts to about 12,000,000 words a year. That ought to make our jaws hurt!
When he wrote Psalm 19, David said that he wanted the words coming from his mouth and the thoughts stored in his heart to be pleasing to God. David was so concerned about his words that he wondered if there was any way for him to know the sins that were already lurking in his heart. Jesus spoke of the importance of our words and said that “?out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.” These “words” should get our attention.
What are we to do about the words that come from our mouths? David asked God to “Set a guard over my mouth and to keep a watch over my lips.” What a great place to begin – to ask God to watch our lips and guard our mouths at all times.
Realizing that God knows every thought we think and every word we speak should cause us to ask Him to make our hearts and minds pure. Then with His power within us and His presence around us, our words will certainly be pleasing to Him and others.
Prayer: Father, may our hearts be so full of Your love that the words we speak will help others. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 19:12-14 Keep back Your servant also from presumptuous sins; Let them not have dominion over me. Then I shall be blameless, And I shall be innocent of great transgression.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Who's Bigger?

One Sunday morning after church as the family was driving home, Molly asked, “Mom, the preacher said that God was bigger than any of us. Is that really true?”

“Yes, He is!” answered her mother.

“Well, Mom,” she continued, “the preacher also said that God lives in us. Is that also true?”

“Yes,” admitted the mother.


“Well, then,” she asked rather confused, “why doesn’t He show through?”
How much of God is seen in our lives each day?

We speak of Him often, turn to Him quickly and rely on Him totally, but do we consult with Him continually?
When we make plans, we need to include Him. If we visit with a friend, we need to invite Him into the conversation. As we leave for a journey, we need to ask Him to travel with us. Throughout the day at work, we need to ask Him for His wisdom.

Perhaps if we consulted God for His advice in everything we do and were more conscious that His Spirit is actually within us, we would realize that He is bigger than we are and wants to “show through” us.

Prayer:  Our Father, we often talk of Your greatness but rarely show Your greatness. Help us to change! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today:  Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Unexpected Rewards

He began playing the cello at an early age, and by the time he was eighteen he enjoyed playing in a small European orchestra. Unfortunately, he became nearsighted and as a result had to memorize his part and the parts of all of the other instruments if he was to play with the orchestra. Fortunately, he became very skilled at memorization.
One day the orchestra was to play before a large audience. Moments before the performance was to begin, the leader became ill. Arturo Toscanini, the cellist, was called upon to lead the orchestra because he was the only person who knew the music. His performance was flawless and the critics praised his skills. Other opportunities became available and he went on to become a world famous conductor. What may have defeated others became a successful career for him.
God has great plans for each of us. He sees and knows every obstacle we might ever encounter from the day we are born until the day our lives end. His part is to bring all “things” together; our part is to work with Him to achieve the “good” that He has in store for us.
Prayer: Help us, Lord, to believe that You have a great plan for each of us and never surrender in defeat. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

Monday, August 24, 2015

The Storms Of Life

Joseph Turner was standing in front of one of his paintings of a raging sea. A friend beside him asked, “How did you paint such a realistic picture of a storm at sea. It is so real.”
He answered, “I was on a ship in the midst of that storm. Not only did I see it, I was there and felt it.”
Like that painter, Jesus felt the storms of life.
Whenever we lose a loved one, we must remember that He stood beside a grave and wept.
If ever we are a victim of poverty or lack a place of our own, let’s not forget that Jesus had no place to lay His head.
Whenever we feel alone, abandoned or even neglected, we need to recall the times when His followers forsook Him and His disciples deserted Him.
Every event that God brings into our lives is one that Jesus has encountered, endured and experienced and successfully survived. Whatever God brings into our lives is temporary and will pass into the pages of history.
Because He has overcome the extremes of life, we can take great comfort in the fact that He is willing to share His victories with us if we look to Him for His salvation.
Prayer: Father, You have been where we are or soon may be, so we know with certainty that we can survive. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Hebrews 2:18 For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted.

Friday, August 21, 2015

The Four "T's" Of Life

Writing in his diary, a young man predicted his future: “Someday I’m going to do something special with my life. I will become famous!”
Years later, an old man said to his family, “I could have done great things with my life, but I didn’t. I am so sorry. I wish I had. I am a failure.”
How tragic, because the old man and the young man were the same person.
God gives to each of us a limited number of days, a select number of skills and with them the ability to earn our livelihood. None of us know the number of our days or the length of our life. Some of us never develop the skills God has given us. And many do not use the fruit of their labor wisely. We must be aware of how we use God’s gifts.
An important question to ask ourselves every day is this: “What am I going to do with the time, the talents and treasures God has given me today?”
We have no assurance of tomorrow. We may lose the skills that we have through a tragedy and our treasures may be taken from us. But when we attach our lives to God’s power and plan, we will have no regrets.
Prayer: Teach us, Lord, to be faithful to You and to make the most of all You have given us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Tell Me, What Do You Do?

An employee was suddenly taken very ill at work and was rushed to the hospital. He was well liked by everyone for his constant humor and great disposition. The first one to visit him at the hospital was his boss.
Standing by the side of his bed and holding his hand, his boss encouraged him by saying, “John, please don’t worry about a thing. Just get well. We’ll all get together and do your work – as soon as we can figure out what you’ve been doing.”
It seems as though every organization has an employee named “John.” He’s over here, over there, everywhere but where he is supposed to be, not doing what he has been hired to do. He’s busy but doing nothing while others take up the slack.
Paul said to “Work with enthusiasm, as though you were working for the Lord rather than people.” We are encouraged to work responsibly as if Jesus were our supervisor. Even when we find our work unsatisfying or unfulfilling at times, we must always remember that God will reward us for what we do and how we will do it, for we do it for His glory.
Prayer: Lord, when our work becomes difficult and we want to quit, encourage us to go on for You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Ephesians 6:7-8 with goodwill doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men, knowing that whatever good anyone does, he will receive the same from the Lord, whether he is a slave or free.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Say It Isn't So

A deacon phoned his pastor who was on vacation in a distant city. When he answered the call, the deacon blurted out, “Pastor, a cyclone just came through our county and destroyed my house and barn.”
“I’m not surprised,” he replied. Then he continued, “The punishment for sin is inevitable!”
“But Pastor,” continued the deacon, “it destroyed your house as well.”
“It did?” exclaimed the pastor. “The ways of the Lord are past human understanding.”
There are times when it is difficult to offer love and kindness to those whom we feel do not deserve it. Our responses to another person’s trials and tragedies often come from a distorted view of God’s love. We are inclined to look at what happens to others from a normal, human response and believe that “they got what they deserved.”
When we realize the kindness of God to us, and truly realize how undeserving we are, perhaps we may see things differently. If God does not hold anything good from us, should He not treat others the same?
Prayer: Lord, may we look at others the same way You do – with love, kindness, care and compassion. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: 1 Corinthians 16:14 Let all that you do be done with love.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Start Immediately!

The great American novelist, Sinclair Lewis, was invited to give a lecture to a group of college students who wanted to become writers. As they sat quietly and waited expectantly, he opened his remarks by asking, “How many of you intend to become successful writers?”
Immediately, everyone in the audience held up a hand to declare their intentions.
“In that case,” said Lewis, “my advice to you is to go home and write.”
Shortly after creating Adam, God directed him to care for and tend to the Garden that He had created for him. And ever since then man has been responsible to work with God and take care of His creation. Each day we are to take every task and do it as “though we are working for the Lord.” Why? Because we care!
“Remember,” said Paul, “the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward” if we “work hard and cheerfully.” We must accept every task and each responsibility He offers us as an opportunity to worship and serve Christ every day of our lives.
Prayer:  Father, may we remember that whatever we do, in word or deed, we are to do to the glory of God whom we love and trust. In Christ’s Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today:  Colossians 3:23-24 And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Put It Down!

A farmer was walking down a long, winding mountain road in Mexico carrying a heavy sack. Without realizing it, a man with a mule-drawn wagon was suddenly beside him and offered him a ride. He climbed on the back of the wagon and breathed a long sigh of relief.
After traveling for some time, the man driving the wagon turned around, and to his amazement, the man was still holding his sack. “Why don’t you drop it next to you?” asked the wagon driver.
“Oh, no,” came the reply. “You are kind enough to carry me. You do not have to carry my load as well.”
Many of us are like that farmer. God pleads with us to give Him our burdens. Yet, we needlessly and continuously carry them rather than setting them down. We say that we trust Him and talk of turning to Him in times of need, but we refuse to “let go and let God” do what He wants to do: completely take the weight from our shoulders and place it in His loving, caring hands.
If we can trust Him for our salvation, surely we can trust Him with every care or concern we have. Most assuredly, His strength will sustain us, always.
Prayer: Lord, help us to be willing to believe that You are able to relieve us of life’s burdens if we truly trust You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 55:22 Cast your burden on the Lord, And He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved.

The Pain Passes

Pierre Renoir, the famous French painter, was severely afflicted with arthritis. Over the years his hands became twisted and whenever he painted the pain was intense. However, he would not quit.
One day a friend who was watching him paint asked, “How can you paint with the pain causing you so much torture?”
Thoughtfully he answered, “The pain passes, but the beauty remains.”
Job was a godly man who was wealthy and influential. For most of his life he was prosperous and free from any serious problems. One day his life fell apart. Within a short time he lost nearly everything he had and was severely criticized and condemned by his friends. But, he never lost his faith in God.
Though he never learned the reason for his losses and suffering, he never questioned God’s judgment. He believed that an all-powerful God was acting in ways that were in his best interest. In the midst of his trials he said, “When He has tried me I shall come out as gold.”
Prayer: Lord, may we always believe that what You bring into our lives will ultimately work for our best. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Job 23:10-12 But He knows the way that I take; When He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold.

Preparing For Temptation

It was a very hot summer day. All the boys in the neighborhood decided to go swimming but there was no adult to go with them. Recognizing the danger that might occur, Johnny’s mother forbade him to go with them. Later that day, he came home with wet hair.
“What happened?” asked his mother.
“I fell in the pond,” came his reply.
“Well, why aren’t your clothes wet?” she asked.
“I had a feeling I was going to fall in,” he explained, “so I took them off.”
The world has been and is full of temptations and pressures. So, Paul gave us a warning and an escape route. First, he said that we would all be tempted, and second, that God would always provide a way for us to escape and to be victorious. But we must do our part if we do not want to fall and fail. We must first prepare ourselves to recognize and avoid people, places and things that would lead us to sin. Then, if we are tempted, look to Him for strength to resist the temptation before we are overpowered and fall into sin.
Prayer: Grant us, Father, the desire to trust You for strength and power to turn from sin in our lives. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: 1 Corinthians 10:13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Grace That Is Sufficient

A pastor was visiting a member of his church who had been hospitalized for many weeks. She was suffering excruciating pain. After praying with her he offered her a book and said, “This book brought me much comfort while I was ill a few years ago. You will enjoy it greatly and it will bring you much peace. It will be most helpful!”
“Thank you,” she answered. “I’m well acquainted with its contents.”
“Have you read it?” he asked.
“More than that,” she replied. “I wrote it.”
It is always comforting to be able to talk with someone who has experienced pains or problems that are similar to our own. They have been where we are and know and understand our pain or suffering, sadness or sorrow, fears and doubts, questions and concerns. There is a sense of understanding and that brings a closeness or connection.
And when we go through difficult times and are comforted by our Heavenly Father, we must realize that “God comforts us that we might comfort others who need comforting.” Often the “unwanted gifts” come from God as a “special gift” that equips us to understand, care for and help others when they “are going through the valley filled with deep shadows.”
Prayer: Help us, Father, to care for others the way you care for us. May we be open to Your grace that we may share it with those in need. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: 2 Corinthians 1:3 Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort;

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Money Matters

One day Winston Churchill was informed that he was to address the United Kingdom in one hour. He called a taxi and said to the driver, “Drive me to the British Broadcasting Corporation just as fast as you can.”
“Sorry, sir,” he responded, “I can’t. Sir Winston is to broadcast at six o’clock. I want to get home to hear him.”
The answer thrilled Churchill and he reached in his pocket and gave him a large sum of money.
“The devil with Churchill,” said the driver. “Hop in!” and off they rode.
There is nothing wrong with having money or enjoying the things that money can buy. But there is something wrong if wanting money causes us to do things wrong or to do the wrong things or if we compromise our values to get it.
Jesus said that if power or possessions, position or priorities have first place in our lives they will become worthless and ultimately destroy us. What we have in this world will be left in this world – we cannot take it with us.
Everything we have is temporary and cannot be exchanged for anything in the next. “The things of this world” cannot purchase salvation and eternal life. As Christians, we are obligated to make the pursuit of God the most important goal of our lives.
PrayerHelp us, Father, to live lives that demonstrate to others that You alone matter most. Through Christ our Lord, Amen.
Scripture for Today: 1 John 2:17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Love And Respect

One evening a husband returned from work and found his home cluttered and un-kept. Calling to his wife he asked, “What on earth happened today?”
“Well,” she responded, “every evening when you arrive home you ask, ‘What did you do all day?’ Well, now you know.”
When a man and woman become husband and wife, a unique relationship is formed: the two become one. And when the two are merged into one, a unique union is formed. From then on, whatever affects one certainly affects the other. It is as if there is no seam.
Paul said that “each man must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.” We know that a man “loves himself” if he takes care of himself as one who was created in God’s image for God’s glory. If a man takes this obligation seriously, he will be concerned about his spiritual, mental and physical well-being by developing his relationship with God, putting “good things” into his mind and caring for his body. These are the right things to do. And as he cares for himself, he must – and will willingly – also care for his wife the same way. A wife knows that her husband cares for her if he cares for himself as God intended him to and wants the same – what is best in God’s eyes – for her. Respect for the husband comes naturally and freely when the wife knows she is being cared for the way God intended.
Prayer: Lord, we pray that in our homes and in our lives we will live this love that comes from You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Ephesians 5:33 Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Knowing And Doing

In 1927 many businesses had difficulties that forced them to close. One was an insurance company in Savannah, Georgia. There were more than 500 stockholders who lost hundreds of thousands of dollars. The owner, a man named Mercer and his son, promised to repay each one of them.
Twenty eight years later the final debt was paid. Even though the father had died, the son paid each debt in full.
The son had become a famous songwriter and it was one of the songs he wrote that enabled him to pay the debts. The songwriter was Johnny Mercer and the song was “Accentuate the Positive.”
Choosing to do the right thing is often difficult, sometimes painful. There are times when it may mean the loss of money or some valued object. It may even cost a friendship with someone who is destroying our walk with the Lord. It may mean giving up a job that would cause us to compromise our honor. Honoring God always forces us to choose to do what He has asked us to do: obey His teachings. Knowing what is right is rarely the problem. Doing what is right, however, is. However, greater is He who is within us than he who is in the world.
Prayer: Lord, may we always honor You by honoring our word and living open and honest lives. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: 1 Chronicles 29:17 I know also, my God, that You test the heart and have pleasure in uprightness.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Growing Up

One Sunday morning the pastor was visiting the first grade Sunday school class. With a bright smile he said to a small child, “Who made you, Jimmy?”
“Well,” he said thoughtfully, “God made part of me.”
“What do you mean that God made part of you?” asked the pastor.
“First, God made me real little, and I growed the rest all by myself.”
God begins a “good work in us” when we accept Christ as our Savior. We are, so to speak, “real little” like Jimmy. But He does not expect us to remain “little.” When God started the process of the new birth within us, He did so with the intention of bringing it to completion – for us to grow into the likeness of Christ. This is possible because the Holy Spirit lives with us and is willing and able, with our involvement, to let it happen through prayer, Bible study and worship. Come, grow with Him. He has great things waiting for each of us.
Prayer: Lord, may we work with You to grow into Christlikeness, anxiously waiting for Your return. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Philippians 1:6 being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Attitude Is Everything!

A poor widow had two sons. She was consumed with their success, and feared that they would fail. Both were self-employed. One sold umbrellas and the other one sold fans.

The first thing she would do each morning was to run to the window to check the weather. If it was raining, she would sigh and say, “Oh, me, no one will want to buy fans today. It’s going to be cool.” And, if it was sunny, she would fret and say, “Oh my, no one will need an umbrella because it’s not raining.”

One day a friend said to her, “Listen, if the sun is shining someone will buy a fan and if it’s raining, someone will buy an umbrella. The weather is always changing so someone will always buy one or the other.”

Many of us allow the conditions around us to control the attitude that’s in us. It’s “what’s out there” that controls “what’s in here.” Wrong! We have things backward. When we are “in Christ” we need to go to Him and ask Him to fill our hearts with thanksgiving and joy for all that we have “in Him.” We have all of His promises available to us in His Word. And if we accept them, rain or sun, come what may – God is in control and will give us what we need.

Prayer:  Lord, help us to see things through Your eyes, and know that Your care for us exceeds what ever need we might have. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Scripture for Today:  1 Thessalonians 5:16-17  Rejoice always, pray without ceasing,

Monday, August 10, 2015

Good For Evil

A truck driver went into a café and ordered a hamburger, French fries, a piece of pie and a cup of coffee. Shortly after he placed his order, a group of bikers came in and surrounded him. When he was served, they ate his food. Quietly, the trucker stood up, walked to the cash register and paid his bill. He said nothing as he walked past them and out the door.
“He’s really not much of a man,” said one of the bikers.
“And he’s really not much of a driver either,” said the cashier. “He just ran over three bikes in the parking lot.”
In Romans 12 Paul describes the central values for Christian living. In particular he says that if we have truly experienced God’s grace, we will want to share it with others. Forgiveness is a good example.
Often we say that we forgive others for the wrongs they have done to us. But, forgiveness is much more than quietly offering kind words under our breath that only God hears. Forgiveness is active not passive. If we have trouble forgiving someone and the hate remains lodged in our hearts, perhaps we might do something special – like offering them a small gift. That always helps!
And as we do so, think of the gift God gave to us in His Son Who died to forgive us of our sins against Him.
Prayer: Help us, Father, to be forgiving and loving of those who harm us even as You through Christ forgive us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Romans 12:17-21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

God's Good Gifts

It was that quiet time of the day just before the sun set. Sitting on his front porch, H. C. Booth was fascinated as columns of dust swirled past him and then suddenly disappeared from sight.
As he watched, he wondered and asked himself a question: “What if it was possible to reverse the wind and instead of it blowing the dust, pull it back?” After much thought and many experiments, he invented the vacuum cleaner in 1901.
Each day God brings many “columns of dust and dirt” into our lives. Often they seem routine and repetitive, troubling or trying, frustrating or frivolous. We are disturbed by them, become exasperated with them and wish they would go away. Our peace evaporates and our rage rises. But, there is hope!
James has some good advice for us. He says, “If you need wisdom – if you want to know what God wants you to do – ask Him and He will gladly tell you.” This wisdom he speaks of is “practical discernment” – the ability to make wise decisions during difficult times. And, we have His promise that at all times and in every situation, if we only ask, He’ll give us insight and guide our choices.
Prayer: Lord, open our eyes to see that things do not need to remain as they are if we look to You for insight. 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.

Forgive Who? For What?

Pope John Paul II was one of the most notable leaders of the Roman Catholic Church. In 1981 the Pope made a trip to a prison to speak with the man who tried to assassinate him and tell him that he forgave him. In 1984 the Pope appeared on the cover of TIME with the would-be assassin, shaking hands with him while his other arm was around his shoulders. Underneath the photo were the words “WHY FORGIVE?” in bold letters.
Strangely, the Pope asked readers to “pray for my brother whom I have sincerely forgiven.” Some condemned the Pope. Others agreed with the Pope. Still others could not understand the reason the Pope did such a thing.
For most, forgiveness is not easy to do nor pleasant to think about. Some even enjoy the resentment and anger that grows within us if we have been wronged. Some speak of their anger as a sign of mental health. Yet…
Paul said…When we accept and understand God’s mercy and forgiveness He expects us to forgive others just as Jesus did to those who crucified Him. Furthermore, because God through the death of Christ has forgiven us, He literally expects us to forgive others as our Savior has forgiven us. We must follow His example.
Prayer: Lord, we pray for the willingness to forgive others who have wronged us even as our Savior willingly forgives us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Ephesians 4:32 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Finding Darkness In The Light

Darkness.
We’ve all experienced it. Sometimes feared it. Always recognized it. Occasionally wanted it. Most often found our way out of it. But have you ever tried to define it? Or explained it?
A quick and easy answer would be: “The absence of light.” When darkness surrounds us we need light to discover where we are and, perhaps where we might want to go.
Another question might be: Do we need darkness? Perhaps, some might say, “We need it for rest and peacefulness.” But, we also need it to see the stars.
There are times in all of our lives when we are going through what we might call the “deepest darkness imaginable.” Suddenly, a glimmer of light appears. And then it grows, and then becomes larger and larger. Finally, we are surrounded by light.
Isaiah had a unique experience with darkness. It kept him from seeing God at work in His world. But, one day his life changed and he wrote, “In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord.” After his vision he was able to recognize the presence and power of God and see His light. And after that experience he became a mighty prophet and counselor to kings and prophesied many signs that described the coming Messiah. From the darkness that surrounded him to God’s redeeming light.
It worked for Isaiah. It will work for us if we see His light.
Prayer: Open our eyes, Lord, that we may see Your light and find the path You have set before us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Isaiah 6:1-4 In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Don't Leave Shore Without Him

A young ensign was completing his first deployment aboard a large destroyer. He had performed all of his duties in an exemplary manner and as a reward the captain gave him permission to “get the ship underway.”
In his excitement and enthusiasm for being given such an honor, he went through every procedure carefully, wanting to further impress his superiors. However, in taking advantage of this new challenge he broke an old tradition. As he was steering the ship out of the harbor, the First Officer quietly said to him, “Ensign, you have overlooked one of the unwritten rules of the sea. Make sure the Captain is on board before you get underway.”
There are times in all of our lives when we are so anxious to “get underway” that we leave our “Captain” standing on the shore. We all face days of uncertainty and tasks that seem beyond us. We are overwhelmed by opportunities that are unfamiliar and demands that have defeated others around us. So unprepared and uncertain, we rush into the journey without God’s guidance. Then we discover that we are in a sea with waves that would turn our lives upside down and winds that take away our breath. Unfortunately, we often leave shore without our Captain. But, fortunately, when we return, we find He is there waiting to take the helm. The winds and waves obey His voice!
Prayer: Lord, may we realize that we will not be safe without Your presence as we travel life’s seas. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 139:10 Even there Your hand shall lead me, And Your right hand shall hold me.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Don't Stop Now!

Sometime ago it was my privilege to be the commencement speaker at a high school graduation. At the end of the service, the students came forward and walked up to the headmaster to receive their diplomas. As he shook their hands, he looked into their eyes and said softly to each one of them, “Don’t stop now, keep moving forward!”
Great advice – not only for the graduates but for everyone, every day. Whatever we do, wherever we go, we must keep on keeping on. We must keep forgiving! Keep growing! Keep helping! Keep loving! Keep witnessing! Keep serving! Keep worshiping! Keep working! Keep laughing! Keep moving forward!
If this is important for life in general, it is even more important for the life of a Christian. Paul said that “I keep working toward that day when I will finally be all that Christ Jesus saved me for and wants me to be.”
What great advice he offers us. Nothing should ever interfere with nor take our eyes off of knowing Christ. We must focus on Him the same way athletes focus on winning a race because nothing else matters.
PrayerHelp us, Heavenly Father, to keep moving forward as we strive to grow into Your likeness. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Philippians 3:8-14 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Do What Is Needed

The bombing of the Federal Building in Oklahoma City was a tragedy that struck at the heart of America. The disaster prompted many individuals and teams from across the nation to put whatever they were doing aside and help meet the needs of the survivors.
One rescue team had been working for hours and finally stopped to rest at two in the morning. Sitting there quietly in the darkness they heard a strange sound – one they could not identify. When they stood up and turned around they saw an elderly lady sweeping debris into a neat pile.
“Where are you from?” asked a member of the rescue team.
“Dallas,” came the reply. “I can’t do very much but when I offered to help they told me the most important thing I could do was to help clean things up. So I got a broom and started to sweep.”
Whenever we do what needs to be done, no matter how small or insignificant, and do the best we can, we honor God and bless His name. We never need to compare our work with the work of others if we are doing what God has called us to do. If our heart is right, our work is right and needed.
Prayer: Help us, Father, to honor You by helping others in their times of need, doing whatever we can. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Galatians 6:4 But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Disqualified!

It was the day before the most important football game of the season. Sitting in his office, the coach received a phone call from the dean informing him that his quarterback was disqualified from playing. He hurried to the dean’s office to protest the news.
As he sat across from the dean, frustrated and angry, he questioned the decision. The dean said, “He sat next to an honor student in an exam and his answers were identical to hers – word for word.”
“Maybe,” said the coach, “the honor student copied the quarterback’s answers.”
“No,” answered the dean. “The honor student wrote ‘I don’t know the answer’ for the final question and your quarterback wrote, ‘I don’t know either.’”
There is no room for opinions in honesty. We either are or are not honest. There are some who try a little “sleight of hand” by deceiving others to gain an edge or advantage. They may call it “clever,” “smooth,” “slick,” or say “it’s OK this time.” That is not how God sees it. He sets clear standards to guide us in every area of life especially this one. His Word says, “Good people will be guided by honesty.”
Prayer: Help us, Father, to be honest in all areas of life, knowing that as Christians we represent Truth. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Proverbs 11:1 Dishonest scales are an abomination to the Lord, But a just weight is His delight.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Criticism

Paderewski was a great Polish pianist. But when he first chose to take piano lessons a teacher said to him, “Your hands are too small. You will never be able to master the keyboard.”
Caruso was one of the greatest tenors who ever lived. When he went for his first voice lesson in Italy, the teacher said to him, “Your voice is like wind whistling through a window.” He refused to give him voice lessons.
Alexander Graham Bell spent years working to develop and perfect his telephone. When he displayed it to a group of people, they said, “You are a fool with a useless toy.”
As Christians we must learn to look at criticism as a “challenge and call to courage” and turn to the Lord for His guidance. If we are grateful for the skills and talents God has given us, we will accept every opportunity to “do better” as a gift to honor Him. The choice is ours: We can choose to rise to the occasion, meet it and be victorious, or give up in fear because we do not trust in Him. The God of our salvation and hope says that with His help all things are possible. We must only accept and act in His strength and power, knowledge and wisdom.
Prayer: Lord of our lives, whenever we face an obstacle, may we see it as an opportunity to turn to You for grace and guidance. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Colossians 1:11 strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy;

Saturday, August 1, 2015

A Good Reputation

“Mr. Edison,” said his secretary, “we just had a customer call and complain about a defective battery that we manufactured.” Surprised at the news, Thomas Edison wondered what might have caused the problem. Discouraged but not defeated, he began a large advertising campaign asking people to return the defective batteries his company manufactured for a complete refund. The cost to replace the batteries was staggering. The cost, however, meant nothing to him. When he compared the cost of the recall to the value he placed on is name, it did not matter.
It is critical for Christians to have an honorable name. Whatever we do, whatever we say, wherever we go we are representatives of the Lord Jesus Christ. If we fail to live lives of integrity our witness will be damaged, our message questioned and our testimony impaired. And when that occurs, God’s name is damaged and His message becomes questionable.
Being honest and open in everything will eliminate our need to worry about being exposed or not living up to what God expects of us. He calls us to live lives that are in agreement with His Word, to follow Him and His eternal directions carefully and to ask Him to place a guard over our speech so we will not say things that are untrue, hurtful or harmful.
Prayer: Father, we ask that You will be at work in us and through us that we may represent You faithfully in all we do and say. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Proverbs 22:1 A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, Loving favor rather than silver and gold.