Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Expectations

Following a hard-fought baseball game, a reporter interviewing Pete Rose said, "You only need 78 hits to break Ty Cobb's all-time record. How many trips to the plate do you think you will need to get those 78 hits?"
"Seventy-eight," came the instant response.
"Come on, Pete," continued the reporter. "You certainly do not expect 78 hits in 78 trips to the plate, do you?"
"If I did not expect to get a hit each time I went to the plate," said Rose, "I have no right to step into the batter's box. It is my positive expectations that have gotten me all of my hits."
Our expectations are the foundations of what we accomplish in life. If we expect little we will no doubt accomplish little. We will never get more than we expect and nothing we do not attempt. Paul said, “I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God, through Jesus Christ, is calling us up to heaven.” Nothing ever stood between God and his expectations of doing all that God expected him to do. We, too, must expect great things from God and attempt great things for God.
Prayer: Father, may we expect to accomplish great things for You because of the calling we have from You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Philippians 3:13-14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Going After The Right Things

Everyone admires a "go-getter." Their energy and enthusiasm are an inspiration and often motivate others to “get involved in life.” One important fact, however, is to know what you want and why you want it before you go and try to get it. Getting for the sake of getting can be a disaster!
A good example of a go-getter is King David. He accomplished many things for God and the people he served and led. He left a great legacy for us in his writings that can provide guidance for our lives.
A great example of David "going" after the "right thing" is in Psalm 27. "This one thing I ask of the Lord – this thing I seek most – is to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, delighting in the Lord's perfections and meditating in His temple."
The word "temple" refers to "the presence of the Lord." We cannot read the Psalms without believing David's greatest desire was to live in God's presence each day of his life. Surely, this should be our greatest desire as well.
Why?
When we search for and enjoy being in the presence of the Lord, we can be confident of His peace and protection, His guidance, goodness, grace and gifts.
Prayer: Help us, Father, to always seek You first, knowing that when we do, what we get is Your will for our lives. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 27:1-4 One thing I have desired of the Lord, That will I seek: That I may dwell in the house of the Lord All the days of my life,

Monday, September 28, 2015

On Being An Example

Gilbert Stewart was one of America’s great artists. He became famous because of the portraits he painted. In fact, he painted the portraits of the first six presidents of the United States. His work was easily recognized because of its beautiful coloring. On one occasion, a group of his competitors stole his colors thinking that they could match his work if they had his paints.
When Benjamin West, another artist, heard of those who stole his paints he went to them and said, "It's no use to steal his colors. If you want to paint as he paints you must steal his eyes."
In Paul's letter to the Corinthians, he challenged them to "follow my example and do as I do." This is a rather bold statement and we may think he is bragging. Not so. Paul encouraged the Corinthian Christians, and now us, to do as he did: imitate Christ. He was able and empowered to imitate Him because he read and meditated on God’s Word, spent time with Him in prayer and worship. And if we, as His disciples want to imitate Christ, we must do as Paul did. Only as we come to know Him will we be able to imitate Him. And we cannot know Him unless we spend time with Him.
Prayer: Lord, may our eyes be open to those around us who are lost and dying, and in need of a Savior. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: 1 Corinthians 4:14-16 Therefore I urge you, imitate me.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Writing For Eternity?

Thomas Mann was a widely known and highly regarded novelist. His books were well written and on one occasion he won the Nobel Prize. He was also recognized for the length of time it took him to write one of his books. On one occasion his publisher complained to him saying, "You have been working on this book for an eternity!"
"After all," he replied, “I am writing it for eternity." Even though his writing skills and insights were known around the world and had great influence, none of them could produce life. There is only one Book that has life-giving power: God's Book – His Word.
Jesus said, "But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name." One Word, one Person, one purpose: Life through Christ.
The writer to Ecclesiastes said, "Of the writing of many books there is no end and much study wearies the body." We read and study, learn and think and come to some well thought-out conclusions. But in the final analysis, life does not come through knowledge - it only comes through faith in Jesus Christ.
Prayer: Father, may we know and believe that You are the Way, the Truth and the Life and trust only You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: John 20:31 but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

What Now?

Each afternoon an old farmer and his Labrador retriever would walk to the train station, sit down together and wait for the train to arrive at three o'clock. When the engine appeared, the dog would jump up, wag his tail, wait for the train to get closer and then race alongside of it.
One day a stranger said to the farmer, "That's a crazy dog you got there, mister. Does he actually think he can catch that train?"
"Nope," said the farmer. "And he wouldn't know what to do with it if he did."
We often behave like that dog. We see things that are larger than life itself and go after them in hot pursuit. We conquer them or they may actually conquer us. But in the end, they have no value to us.
In His message about worry, Jesus advised us not to be concerned about worldly things – things that are here today and gone tomorrow. He warned that "these things dominate the minds of unbelievers."
Our focus, then as believers? "Seek the Kingdom of God above all else." When our priorities are in order, we will no longer chase things that really do not matter.
Prayer: Help us, Father, to trust in You, believing that You know whatever we need and will supply it. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Matthew 6:25-34 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.

Friday, September 25, 2015

What If It's Your Last Day?

A radio talk show host asked his audience an interesting question. "If you knew that this was the last day of your life, what would you do?" The responses were overwhelming and most enlightening.
The first caller said, "I'd hurry to an organ donor bank and make sure that some worthy persons would benefit from my body parts."
Another said, "I would crowd everything that I thought was fun in this, my last day. I'd want to go out laughing."
The third caller said, "I would phone all of my friends and tell them how much I appreciated all that they had done for me. I'd want each of them to know how much our friendship meant."
Finally, one said, "I'd want to take time to be alone with God and pray and make sure that my heart is right with Him. I'd want Him to know how much I was looking forward to meeting Him, too."
Although it is not a pleasant thought, we each have a date with death. Few know the day or the hour. But we all know for certain that there is life after this life.
Prayer: Father, "Now is the acceptable time" for us to be sure that Your Son is our Savior and Lord. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: 2 Corinthians 6:2 Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Using Our Talents

Years ago a Jewish immigrant from Russia gave his son a violin for his eighth birthday. After months of lessons and hours of practice he became very accomplished.
Years later while performing at a concert he paused and shared a funny story about an experience he had that day. The audience laughed heartily and applauded loudly. He was so delighted and encouraged by their response that he decided to end his career as a violinist and become a comedian. The violinist who became a comedian was Jack Benny and as a result of his decision he brought joy and happiness, honor and hope to countless thousands.
God has something very special for each of us to do. And he wants to do through us what He has not and cannot do through anyone else. Each of us has a special place in God's heart and a unique role for us to play in His world. Scripture plainly says "To every man his work."
We often struggle and strain to discover what God has for us to do. But, if we are open to the nudging of His Spirit and develop the gifts He has given us, He will present many opportunities for us to serve Him.
Prayer: Lord, we ask that You guard us and guide us as we follow the paths You have planned for us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 32:8 I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Today

A young Marine was leaning against the side of his tank early one morning during the Korean War. He was eating beans from a can with his penknife. It was cold and foggy and the silence was frightening.
A reporter, aware of the impending battle softly asked, "If I were God and could give you anything you wanted, what would ask for?"
After a lengthy pause, he answered, "Today!"
All that any of us have is today. Few of us, however, realize the importance of each day that God gives us.
The Psalmist said, "Teach us to make the most of our time..." Time is a gift and we must be aware of each tick of the clock and moment of the day. Once gone, time can never be reclaimed or recycled. What we have done with it becomes a part of history.
Realizing the significance of time and the uncertainties of life should help us put our priorities in order. The first is our relationship with God. Is it all that it can be? Second, is our responsibility to others. Is there someone, somewhere who needs God's message? And, finally, do I need to make things right with others?
Prayer: Lord, may we see the value of time in light of eternity and use it wisely to Your glory. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 90:12 So teach us to number our days, That we may gain a heart of wisdom.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The Other Side

While driving over a beautiful mountain pass in North Carolina, my brother said to me, “Larry, I have never seen such beauty. The snowcapped peaks, the cascading waterfalls, the jagged rocks and brilliant blue sky are more beautiful than any I have ever seen! I never expected to see such beauty anywhere."
"Oh," I said, "wait 'til you see the other side."
All of us are anxious to "see the other side." Some because our loved ones have gone on before us and we are lonely. Others long to be free from endless suffering and relentless pain. Many are anxious and worried with problems that are never solved and seem to be tearing us into fragments. Many, however, because we want to see our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Paul encourages us to "Rejoice in our confident hope. To be patient in trouble, and keep on praying." In one verse he gives three commands to the Christian: We are to rejoice, remain patient and pray, knowing and believing that one day, "old things will pass away, and all things will be new" when we get to the "other side."
Prayer: Lord, help us not to lose sight of the "other side" when the cares and concerns of life overwhelm us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Romans 12:12 rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer;

Monday, September 21, 2015

Shop Carefully

“Supermarket behavior” is fascinating to watch. It seems as though people change when they enter the door, get their cart and begin to walk through the aisles.
The cart becomes a very special "space" that we fill with various items for our particular wants and needs. We would consider someone strange if they met us at the door and said, "Here, take my cart and fill it with what you think I want and I'll meet you at the check-out area."
Often, however, we do that with our minds. We become careless with what we read, what we watch, what or who we listen to or what we think about. It can be dangerous, just as it would be, if we allowed some stranger to fill our cart.
We are warned in Proverbs to "guard your heart above all else for it determines the course of your life." In the Bible the heart is the “keeper” of our feelings and thoughts, guides our decisions and provides solutions for daily living. The heart is critical in the battle between wisdom and foolishness, righteousness and evil. That’s why it is more important for us to set boundaries around our heart than it is to watch what goes into such a simple thing as a shopping cart.
Prayer: Help us, Father, to be very careful about the things that come into our minds and control our lives. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Proverbs 4:23 Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it spring the issues of life.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Seize The Moment!

A young, unemployed musician had spent weeks walking the streets of New York looking for work. One afternoon he walked into a theater, sat in the front row watching the organist closely. Finally, the organist stood up and left the stage for a break. At that moment he jumped up, ran to the organ, sat down on the bench and started to play an inspiring blues song.
Immediately, the owner ran onto the stage and began to reprimand him for what he had done. But the crowd began cheering loudly and clapping wildly. As he listened to the response of the audience, he realized what had happened, turned to the musician and said, “Want a job?"
"Yes!" said Count Basie and the career of one of the world's most recognized musicians began at that moment.
God often presents a “once in a life time” opportunity for us to use the talents He had given us. It may be in the least expected place at the most unusual time. But opportunities will come. And when they do, we must be ready and willing for He will always – and also – give us the talents to do what He has for us to do.
Prayer: Lord, grant us Your approval and blessings by making our efforts to serve You successful. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 90:17 And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us, And establish the work of our hands for us; Yes, establish the work of our hands.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Salvation And Change

"Never trust Tom. I did and he disappointed me. Not only once, but twice!" said his employer.
"But why should I not trust him?" his friend asked.
"People never change. Once a thief, always a thief! Once a liar, always a liar," he raged.
But that is not always true.
Few people were more despised than the tax collectors in Jesus' day. The Romans were attempting to establish a world empire and it was a costly venture.
To accomplish their goal they levied heavy taxes on all of the nations that were under their control. Without the tax collectors the Empire could not survive. So it was no surprise that the people were shocked when Jesus went to the home of Zacchaeus. How could someone as honest as Jesus associate with such a dishonest thief and liar?
However, when he met Jesus, he realized that he needed to straighten out his life. And he did! "Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor. If I have cheated anyone of anything, I will pay him back four times." And he did.
The new birth brings new behaviors. When we change on the inside, people will see it on the outside.
Prayer: Forgive us, Father, if we claim to be born again but live as we always have. May we repent, now. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 90:17 And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us, And establish the work of our hands for us; Yes, establish the work of our hands.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Remain Faithful

Years ago I fulfilled one of my lifelong dreams when I visited Yellowstone National Park. Many told me of the majesty and power of the geysers as they exploded into the air, sending steam and spray skyward.
The geyser that fascinated me the most was not the largest geyser nor the tallest geyser nor did it spout water higher than the other geysers. It is the world’s most famous geyser: Old Faithful! It is famous because of its faithfulness.
There are times when we envy others for the skills and talents that God has given them. We resent them for the things that they can do and the things we cannot do. We become angry with God for blessing them more than we think He has blest us. We become filled with jealousy and bitterness and believe that God has “His favorites.” Not true! He gives us each of the talents we need to do what He has designed for us to do. It is not about favorites but about faithfulness.
In the end, it’s never about favorites but about faithfulness. It is always about doing what God has called us to do to honor and glorify Him!
Prayer: We ask, Father, that no matter what You call us to be or do, we will remain faithful to You forever. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Revelation 2:10 Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Reach Out

Years ago Ben Franklin Stores was a major, successful retail chain. Many of their customers came from rural areas to shop for their needs. One observant employee overheard some customers describing the difficult time they had in getting to one of the stores to shop. He discussed the problem with Franklin and recommended to him that he open some stores in rural areas. When his suggestion was rejected, he resigned and began building stores closer to the people.
As a result of his vision, Sam Walton's name is known around the world and Wal-Mart stores are everywhere. He did not expect people to come to him.
One day Jesus said to Simon, "Now go out where it is deeper and let down your nets and catch some fish." Initially, Simon was hesitant saying that he and his co-workers had already tried that and it did not work. Then, after thinking for a moment, he said, "But if You say so, I'll let them down again." And when he followed the advice of Jesus, the results were amazing.
Jesus left a message for each of us: "Go into the world and make disciples!" Fish never come to the fisherman - the fishermen always go where the fish are. Skepticism has ended many opportunities to reach out to win the lost. Like Sam Walton, we must go to the people.
Prayer: Father, may we reach beyond our homes and churches and do all that we can to make disciples. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Luke 5:1-11 When He had stopped speaking, He said to Simon, “Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.”

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Planning For Success

Early in life Michael Johnson was taught how to plan for success. Each time he would share his dreams with his father, he was asked, "How do you plan to do that?" He was then expected to list each step involved in reaching his goals, research everything that was involved to accomplish his goals, and list every step involved in attaining his goals.
When he became a sprinter, he applied the same rules to running. As a result of his planning and training, he won four gold medals as a sprinter in the Olympics. He was crowned the world champion sprinter eight times and still holds two world records. In the world of running, everyone acknowledges his success.
For the Christian, success is pleasing God. We must take our goals to God and ask His blessings on them. We must make certain that they are deeply rooted in integrity and honesty and consistent with God's will for His world. There is a vast difference in worldly success and Godly success. Godly success comes to the Christian when we honor Him in everything we do, even if we do not win medals or set records.
Prayer: Lord, may we always aim to please You in all that we do and make every plan a Godly one. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: 2 Corinthians 5:9-10 Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Not Us

Leaving church one Sunday morning, a husband and wife said to the pastor, "That was a great sermon, one of your very best. I only wish that our neighbors had been here with us. Everything you said applied specifically to them. They needed to hear it!”
Far too many individuals come to church with a shield or sieve not a wagon or wheelbarrow. Instead of taking the message with them and applying it to their lives, they deflect anything that applies to them or allow only little bits of sifted material to enter their minds or hearts.
One of the important parts of a healthy life style is an annual physical examination by a physician. It is designed as an early warning system to detect any life-threatening disease. Many times an illness can be stopped effectively before it becomes deadly.
That is why we need a Scriptural check-up. Paul wrote, "Examine yourselves...test yourselves" to see if you are truly Christian. A Scriptural checkup done daily will help us to see if there is a growing awareness of Christ's presence and power in our lives. If we are not getting closer to God every day, we are moving farther away from Him.
Prayer: Help us, Father, to be honest with You about our salvation and to be true Christians, not imposters. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: 2 Corinthians 13:5-6 Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Mop, Please

A fierce storm was raging. It was dark and cold, and Jim's mother was busy cleaning the kitchen. Nearing the end of her work, she said, "Please go outside and get me the mop, would you?"
"But Mom," he pleaded, "I'm afraid of the dark."
"Don't be afraid, son," she said. "Jesus is there to help you."
He opened the door, peered into the darkness, stuck one hand outside and said, "Jesus, would you please hand me the mop?”
Is that His responsibility?
In his letter to the Philippians, Paul said, "I can do everything with the help of Christ." Most of us wonder what he meant by "everything." So what did he mean?
As we live in Christ, with Christ, through Christ and for Christ, we can do everything through Christ as long as we are doing His will. His power is always available and His strength is certainly sufficient to meet, face and overcome any challenge that may confront us. But we must abide in His Word, be obedient to His teachings, and follow the directions He gives in His Word.
Prayer: Father, we know that You will never leave us nor forsake us as long as we are faithful to You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Making Difficult Decisions

President McKinley was having a difficult time making a decision between two qualified candidates for a key position in his cabinet. He labored long and hard knowing that his decision would affect the nation and the world.
One evening he boarded a crowded streetcar on his way home. After finding a seat he noticed one of the men he was considering for the position seated near the entrance. At the next stop an elderly lady with a large cumbersome package struggled to get onboard.
The candidate for the position turned his eyes, pretending that he did not see the lady who was having a difficult time. He kept his seat while he looked out the window as though he did not see her. But the president not only helped her with her package, he gave her his seat.
The next morning McKinley made his decision. The man's lack of kindness eliminated him from further consideration and the other man received the appointment.
Every decision we make affects history because it reflects who we are and what is important to us. Paul said to "be kind, tenderhearted, and loving toward one another."
Prayer: Heavenly Father, make us aware of each decision we make because it reflects our love for You. 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.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Knowing And Doing

Two men were enjoying the annual church golf tournament. While waiting for their turn, one said to the other, "There are times when I would like to ask God why He allows hunger and poverty. If He is all powerful, why doesn’t He do something about it."
"Well," asked his friend, "why don't you ask Him?”
"Because," he answered, "I'm afraid He might ask me the same question."
Many believe that we only sin when we do what we know is wrong: by not following the Word of God. Not so, writes James.
He tells us that sin is also not doing what we know to be the right thing to do. We would all agree that it is a sin to speak evil of someone and harm their reputation. But it is also a sin if someone speaks evil of a brother or sister and we remain silent and do not speak up on their behalf. God expects us to do kind acts, serve others, guard their reputation and protect others the way He protects us.
Someday we will be judged by our standard of life not our standard of living.
Prayer: Help us, Lord, to do what we know is right, to avoid what we know is wrong, and always be honest. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: James 4:17 Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.

Friday, September 11, 2015

It's About The Right Choice

Mountain climbing was a driving force in the life of Tim Hansel. On one of his expeditions he fell seventy feet and landed on his back and neck. The damage was severe. He fractured most of the vertebrae from his neck down his spine, crushed most of his discs, tore ligaments and broke many ribs. It was a miracle that he survived.
Following his accident, after surgery and many consultations, he was given less than an 8 percent chance that he would ever walk again. But he did not give up. He persevered and was able to walk, ride a bicycle and even play tennis. His experience with God in nature led him to found Summit Express, a unique ministry to provide encouragement to others.
Throughout the remaining years of his life, he was never free from pain. Once, in desperation, he prayed "Lord, I feel almost dismembered this morning from outrageous pain. Me with my desire to be agile and free am barely able to get out of my chair. Teach me to live in new ways, oh Lord. Teach me and show me Your ways in the midst of this."
What was his secret? He quoted Nehemiah 8:10, "The joy of the Lord is your strength."
Prayer: Lord, give us strength to overcome the trials of life through Your power and the hope we have in You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Nehemiah 8:10 Then he said to them, “Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Is God Asleep?

A small child was having a difficult time being quiet in church. Whispering in his ear, his father said in desperation, "Hush, this is where God lives. Be quiet when you are in His house!"
"Why?" asked the child. "Is God asleep?"
Certainly not. Our God, the God Who created heaven and earth, has promised us in His Word that He is always watching over us, day and night. We must never forget that He is "awake," watching carefully and waiting patiently to guide and guard us. This One, this all-powerful God, who loved us and gave His Son to redeem us, is always available to meet our every need.
We often forget that God is constantly watching over us and caring for us. More than anyone we know, He is for us. We often "trade Him in" for lesser "gods" who cannot be trusted - the gods of money and power, prestige and worldly success. Even though we turn to them often and trust in them frequently, only the God who created us will be faithful to us, strengthen and sustain us and never abandon us. In Him we are safe and secure - day and night.
PrayerLord, we are thankful for Your watchful eye, carefully overseeing our lives with compassion. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 121 He will not allow your foot to be moved; He who keeps you will not slumber.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Honorable Husbands

Two longtime friends met at a class reunion. One turned to the other and asked, "Has your husband lived up to his promises?"
"Oh yes," she answered quickly. "He said that he wasn't good enough for me and has spent the last fifteen years proving it."
What makes a good husband and a husband good? The letter to the Ephesians describes a model for us: "You husbands must love your wives with the same love that Christ showed the church." At first, that may seem almost impossible. When carefully considered, however, it has great meaning and significance. This love that Paul speaks of has three elements in it: sacrifice, care and equality.
The sacrificial love mentioned here means that the husband must be willing to give up - sacrifice, if necessary - his life for his wife if it is in the best interest of the marriage. Nothing will ever be so important to him that his individual pursuits will overshadow her well-being. His goals will always include her and he will care for her physical needs as if they were his own “for husbands must love their wives with the same love we have” in Christ.
Prayer: Father, may Your Spirit trouble and convict us husbands until we love our wives as Scripture insists. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Ephesians 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her,

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

"Grace"

In 1918 a salesman traveling from door to door selling “foot scrappers" stopped at the door of Eric Enstrom, a Minnesota photographer. He looked into the eyes of the salesman and noticed their kindness and was so impressed by the gentleness of the man that he invited him in to eat.
"Come in,” said Enstrom, "I'm ready to sit down to dinner. Join me." As he walked to the table, an idea struck the photographer. He asked, "Will you please pose for a picture for me?"
"Yes," answered the salesman and sat down at the table. There was a pair of glasses on a Bible, a bowl of food and a piece of bread. "Would you please bow your head," and as he did, the peddler, without giving thought to what he was doing, immediately began to thank God for what he had been given.
The photograph was taken in 1918 during World War I. Enstrom said he wanted to take the picture to remind people that even though they had to do without many things, they still had much to be thankful for. Enstrom wrote "Though poor in earthly goods he has more than most." He called the picture Grace.
Prayer: Help us, Father, to always be thankful for all that we have because of Your goodness and grace. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: 1 Thessalonians 5:18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Failing Is Not Fatal

A struggling single mother worked as a secretary in a Dallas bank. Electric typewriters had just been introduced, but there was no automatic way to correct mistakes. Betty Nesmith became frustrated when she would have to retype an entire page for one misspelled word.
Watching the painters decorate the bank windows for Christmas, she noticed that if they made a mistake, they would simply cover it with another color.
Intrigued, she began to experiment at home and eventually developed a white, water-based paint. Whenever she made a mistake, she would simply cover it with her new product and continue typing. One morning she took her “discovery” to work in a nail-polish bottle. When others noticed what she was doing they asked if she would provide some for them to use. It was from her “failings” and research that “Liquid Paper” was born.
When we fail, it is never final unless we give in and give up. The prophet Micah had some great advice for us. Micah said, "Though I fall I will rise again. Though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be my light.”
When we fail we must remember that it is not fatal. We must look to the Lord for His strength to empower us, His Spirit to give us insight and His help and wisdom to survive and succeed.
Prayer: Encourage us, Lord, when times are tough and we are tempted to quit, to rely completely on You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Micah 7:8 Do not rejoice over me, my enemy; When I fall, I will arise; When I sit in darkness, The Lord will be a light to me.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Down But Not Out

Shepherd. Warrior. Poet. Murderer. Nation builder. Song writer. King. Sinner. Musician. Visionary. Failed father.
Looking at the life of David is like watching a yo-yo go up and down. On one hand, David was a very spiritual man who had a tender heart for God. He spent much time praying and praising God and wrote many psalms that led people to worship God. Yet, when he went into combat he was a military genius and was victorious over his enemies.
David had a great passion for honoring God and leading His people in many ways that honored God. Yet, he neglected his children and failed to control, guide or discipline them. He also committed adultery and murder to hide his sin.
His life reflects contradictions and contributions also. In the final analysis, however, David was a person just like us. He struggled with being human and was overcome by temptations which led to sin. Yet the Lord understood his imperfect nature and never abandoned him. Why? Because God does not expect perfection but progression. God saw in his heart a desire to worship and serve Him.
Prayer: Thank You, Lord, for promising us that You will "lift up the fallen" if we repent and seek forgiveness. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 145:14 The Lord upholds all who fall, And raises up all who are bowed down.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

"Doing The Best I Can"

Every now and then we meet someone who believes that they have been called to do something special - something that no one else can do. It makes their lives different, unique.
Charles Schultz created the world-famous comic strip, Peanuts. It grew from the pages of a newspaper to television specials and ultimately the movies. But success came slowly to him. When he was in art school he barely earned a "C+" in a course entitled "The Drawing of Children."
While serving in the armed forces Schultz designed cartoons on the letters his friends sent home to their loved ones to make the letters special. After he returned to civilian life, he submitted a few of them to the Saturday Evening Post and were eventually published. This eventually turned into the comic strip, Peanuts.
Once during an interview he said, "I don't think I am a true artist. But I do think I am doing the best I can with whatever abilities I have been given."
"God has given gifts to each of you...manage them well...so His generosity can flow through you." All of us have been given gifts from God and He expects us to use them in serving others. "Manage them well!"
Prayer: We thank You, Father, for the gifts You have given us to use to honor You by serving others. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: 1 Peter 4:10 As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Change Your Course

One night at sea, the captain of a large destroyer saw lights off in a distance. It appeared as though another ship was heading directly toward him. Turning to his signalman, he ordered him to send a warning: "I'm a Captain. I'm on a destroyer. Change your course ten degrees south."
Came the reply, "I'm a Seaman First Class. I'm on a lighthouse that is unmovable. Change your course ten degrees north."
There are many times when it does not matter who you are, but where you are and - even more importantly - where you are going. There is great advice to support this fact in Proverbs: "There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death."
There is a vast difference between the right choice and the choice that "seems" right. Sometimes we make decisions quickly to solve problems without seeking guidance. Decisions or solutions that are often simple, easy, convenient or attractive, may lead us in the wrong direction. This is why we need God's help and guidance to look carefully and cautiously at our options. We need to be certain to choose the ones that honor Him and lead us into the likeness of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Prayer: Help us, Father, to look to You for wisdom, insight and leadership in every choice we make. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Proverbs 14:12 There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Caring For "The Babe"

Babe Ruth is one of the legends of baseball. He is remembered for many accomplishments – especially for hitting 714 home runs. His final game was a disappointment to him. His life style and age were taking its toll and he was playing poorly. First he committed an error when fielding a ground ball. Then, he struck out several times. And because of his poor play, the Cincinnati Reds took a five run lead. The people began to “boo” him loudly when he came to the plate in the final inning.
Suddenly a little boy ran from the stands, threw his arms around his legs and started to cry. The deep affection of the little boy melted the hearts of the crowd. First they became quiet and then they started to cheer, "The Babe. The Babe!" In spite of it all they still loved “the Babe!”
God’s love is like that. In spite of all our sins and shortcomings, our errors and missed opportunities to honor Him, the Lord deeply loves us. His love contradicts the world’s understanding of love because it is not selfish or self-focused. He loves us “no matter what.”
This love, this God-love is a love that we do not understand or deserve. It is giving love that begins with Him, is seen in Christ and to be reflected in our lives. We must show that love to others, too or they will not understand the love of God.
Prayer: Help us, Savior, to love others as You love us - not counting the cost, but showing that we do care. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up;

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Against All Odds

Ernesto Malinowski was a builder of railroads in South America. He was once a member of a group that was asked about the possibility of building a railroad through the Andes Mountains in Peru. After several lengthy discussions and heated debates, all of the engineers gave up except one: seventy-two year old Malinowski. His enthusiasm and energy prevailed because he believed in the impossible.
When completed the project included sixty-two tunnels, thirty bridges and was stopped twice because of wars. By Malinowski’s refusal to quit, he motivated a group of fellow believers who followed his passion and overcame every obstacle and problem. Through his leadership, commitment and faith made it possible to transport the natural resources of the inland cities to the coastal cities and shipped around the world.
Standing firm in our loyalty to Christ is often difficult and at times, discouraging. However, we need to remind ourselves of the words written in Hebrews that when we “are exposed to public ridicule...trust in the Lord and remember the great reward it will bring.”
God’s rewards will come as a result of our endurance and faithfulness.
Prayer: Help us, Father, to stand firm in our faith and to be God-honoring and Christ exalting in all that we do. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Hebrews 10:32-36 Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

A Bright Example

Can you believe that street lighting was first introduced in Antioch, Greece in the fourth century? But it was Benjamin Franklin, the famed inventor, who introduced it to America. Other countries had street lights in their cities as early as the eighth century.
While serving as the postmaster in Philadelphia, Franklin urged the city fathers to install street lights in their city. The city fathers refused because they believed it was too costly.
Franklin refused to give up and hung a beautiful lantern on a bracket in the front of his home. As the people walked by, they realized the difference it made. They no longer stumbled or fell because it provided light for their path. It was not long before his neighbors recognized the value of the light and soon the entire neighborhood, and then the city, had lights in the dark places. Franklin achieved his goal, not by argument, but by example.
People everywhere are looking for ideas that work. If they make sense people will adopt them and apply them to their lives. That’s why Paul encouraged Timothy to “set an example in speech, life, love, faith and purity.”
God’s Word works! When we apply it to our lives people will soon see that the Light of our lives makes a difference and follow our example.
Prayer: Lord, whenever our lives fail to live up to Your standards, give us no peace until we change. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: 1 Timothy 4:12 Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity.