Friday, December 30, 2016

Strength For The Journey

“Why are you sitting there just staring off into space?” one friend asked another.
“Well, this year has been awful. It’s the worst year that I can ever remember. Nothing’s gone right, so that means everything has gone wrong. So, right now I’m trying to figure out what was the worst thing that happened. But there’s too much competition for first place.”
Call them what you will: Misfortunes or mishaps, troubles or trials, adversities or afflictions. They are part of all of our lives and no one is immune to them.
But some seem to get through them, over them or around them better than others. Does their strength come from a superior source? Do they have a resource to call upon that is unavailable to the rest of us?
There is a story of the men of Judah standing before the Lord with their little ones. Suddenly, the spirit of the Lord came on one of the men. The message that came to him to give to the others was simple: “Do not be afraid. Do not be discouraged. Go out there tomorrow, for the Lord is with you!”
All Christians have God’s Spirit in them, Who goes before them and can – if allowed – work through them. If we stand firm in our faith and ask for God’s help, He will fight our battles for us and give us victory.
Prayer: Lord, when adversity tries to stare us down, may we look up to you to save and sustain us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture: 2 Chronicles 20:13-17 …Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the LORD will be with you.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

With God, All Things...

During a family conference, one small son was confused. He did not fully understand the discussion, so in his innocence he asked, “What’s going on here?”
Might that same question have been on Mary’s mind and in her heart as she looked at the Baby Jesus? Could she completely understand all that God had in His plan for her Son, herself and Joseph? Perhaps as she looked in the face of her child, she was filled with questions. No doubt she knew the Scriptures of the Old Testament and was able to catch a glimpse of God at work. Surely she had a faith that would surpass that of most. Indeed her trust was larger than life. But for her to know what God was planning was something that would have been humanly impossible.
Certainly the question, “What’s going on here” would have surfaced. We can begin with the fact of a virgin giving birth to a child, let alone the Messiah, that had been promised and long awaited. But it happened when God was ready for it to happen, as He planned it.
As we come to the end of this year and look forward to the one that is fast approaching, let’s pause and review “our impossibilities” – the “impossibilities” that have come to pass this year. These once impossibilities have become “miraculous” events that are now memories that prove God’s presence, power, place and plan in our lives.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, give us the faith we lack to see Your presence and protection at work in our lives. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture: Luke 1:37 For no word from God will ever fail.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

When Heaven Came Down

A little girl took her first elevator ride with her father. When they arrived at the top floor, he asked, “What did you think of that? Did you like it?”
“I don’t know, Daddy,” she replied. “It was kind of funny. We got into this little house, and then the upstairs came down.”
An amusing little story, isn’t it? But that’s exactly what happened when God sent His Son into the world. God sent Jesus, His Son, into the world to give us life and light, hope and healing, grace and goodness.
We are expected to do the same through Him. We are to take the message of salvation to others, light up the dark pathways of those who are still blinded by sin, give hope to those who are unable to see past their problems, show grace to those who are burdened beyond measure and demonstrate goodness to those who are in need by sharing our possessions with them.
It is not enough that we know God’s “Golden Rule.” He expects us to live it every day of our lives.
Prayer: Help me, Dear Jesus, to live as You lived and do as You did that I might give to others what You gave to me. May I take a little bit of heaven to others because You brought all of heaven to me. In Your Name. Amen.
Scripture: John 10:9-18 “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me – just as the Father knows me and I know the Father – and I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Receiving And Believing

God works in an unusual way. Before we can ever receive anything from Him, we must believe in His power and ability to do what He says He is capable of doing.
An excellent example of this is God speaking to Mary, the Mother of Jesus. Initially, when the angel spoke to her about a special assignment from God, Mary had a difficult time believing what was happening or in accepting the responsibility God had for her. But she finally said, “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as You have said.”
This is always the way God works in us and through us. We can never see everything that He has planned for us. It may appear to be too overpowering, too difficult, too threatening or too impossible. It may seem foolish, impractical, unwise or unrealistic. But God always works in unseen and unheard of ways.
Mary could never have imagined the angels that would protect her, the shepherds that would visit her, the Magi that would honor her, the gifts that were presented to her, the escape that was provided for her or the Voice that spoke to her, nor the Son that God gave to her to become our Savior.
Like Mary, we can never imagine all that God has in store for us!
Prayer: Father, give us a faith that exceeds our limited sight and a trust that believes the impossible. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture: Luke 1:46 And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord.”

Monday, December 26, 2016

A Gift Worth Receiving

“Mommy,” asked a small child, “how long did Baby Jesus stay in the manger?”
Puzzled, the mother answered. “Not too long, I would imagine.”
Unfortunately, there are far too many individuals who leave Jesus in the stable, seeing His birth as an end, not the beginning. Not everyone realizes that this day is the day that the journey to the cross actually began on earth. This One who was born on this day of days is often left wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. It seems that many have no understanding of the spiritual significance or importance of Christmas.
But for those of us who accept and acknowledge Christ as our Savior, we rejoice and say with the Apostle Paul, “Thank God for His Son – a gift too wonderful to describe!”
This Gift is the gift of God Himself: His only begotten Son. It is the source of His grace, the expression of His mercy, the revelation of His plan, the meaning of His purpose, the passion of His love, the assurance of His presence and the provision for our salvation. He knew what we needed then and what we need now. In Him we have faith to fight our fears and hope for a life in His presence. “Too wonderful” indeed.
Prayer: Thank You, Father, for this Gift we do not deserve, desperately need, is available from no other Source and cannot live without. With grateful hearts, we thank You. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
Scripture: 2 Corinthians 9:15 Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!

Sunday, December 25, 2016

The Birth Of Jesus

And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. She gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them.
That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”
Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”
When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger.
Prayer: We thank you, Father, for this long awaited peace that came to us in Your Son, Our Savior. May we completely surrender our lives to Him and enjoy all that is ours because of Your love. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
Scripture: Read Luke 2:6-16

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Joseph's Dream

…Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. But before the marriage took place, while she was still a virgin, she became pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit. Joseph, her fiancĂ©, was a good man and did not want to disgrace her publicly, so he decided to break the engagement quietly.
As he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. “Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
All of this occurred to fulfill the Lord’s message through his prophet:
“Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us.’”
When Joseph woke up, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded and took Mary as his wife.
Prayer: May we, Heavenly Father, do as Joseph did: do whatever it is that You ask of us. May our faith be so strong that we will be obedient, faithful and trusting. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
Scripture: Read Matthew 1:18-24

Friday, December 23, 2016

The Angel's Visit To Mary

In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a village in Galilee, to a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of King David. Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you!”
Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think of what the angel could mean. “Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favor with God! You will conceive and give birth to a son, and will name him Jesus. He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. And he will reign over Israel forever; His Kingdom will never end!”
Mary asked the angel, “But how can this happen! I am a virgin.”
The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God. What’s more, your relative Elizabeth has become pregnant in her old age! People used to say she was barren, but she’s now in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God.”
Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.” And the angel left her.
Prayer: Father, may we, like Mary, believe the impossible. May we accept the fact that Your promises to Mary have the same power that Your promises have for us. Help or unbelief! In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
Scripture: Read Luke 1:26-38

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Bend Down, Daddy!

A little girl was trying to hug her father, but he was too tall. “Bend down, Daddy,” she cried, “so I can reach you.”
Before God sent His Son into the world, He too, seemed beyond our reach. God the Father became God the Son and lived among us so we could come to know and understand Him. God became Man in the Person of His Son. He “bent down” to reach us.
Like us, He was born of a woman. But unlike us, He had no earthly father.
His life, which began without sin, was lived without sin. He went about doing good for all – healing the sick and providing hope for the crises of life. After all of the good that He did, He voluntarily went to the cross and died for our sins, expressing the love of God, His Father.
He’s the same today. Right now, as always, He’s reaching out to us with His enduring and unending love.
This is a great time to reach out to Him and tell Him we love Him and are thankful for all He’s done for us.
Prayer: Father, we thank You for Your love. We are grateful that You came into the world to show us how much You care for us. May we grow to love You more and live lives that please and honor You. In Your Name, Amen.
Scripture: 1 John 4:19 We love because he first loved us.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

A Cheerful Giver

A lady said to a beggar, “Here’s a quarter. You don’t deserve it, but it will make me happy to give it to you!”
“Thanks, ma’am,” he said. “Why not make it few dollars and really enjoy yourself?”
Giving is an important theme in the Bible. It begins in the heart of God. We read about the abundant gifts He gave His people. It continues in the work of Jesus as He went about healing the sick and feeding the hungry. We see His supreme gift when He gave His life on the cross: the gift of love, life, liberty and eternity with Him. The gifts of God and His Son are priceless – life giving and life sustaining.
Paul reminds us that we are not to “give reluctantly or in response to pressure. For God loves a person who gives cheerfully. And God will generously provide all you need and plenty left over to share with others.”
The Lord has given us two hands: one for receiving and one for giving. The question is not “What can I spare?” but, “What can I share?”
Prayer: Father, without Your love, grace and mercy, we would have nothing. Often we focus on what we have rather than what You have given us. May we realize that we receive to give. When we give, we show Your love: in Christ’s Name. Amen.
Scripture: 2 Corinthians 9:7-9 Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

Monday, December 19, 2016

God's Love And Our Family

Speaking to a Sunday school class, a pastor asked, “Why do you love God?”
“Because,” answered a young boy, “loving God runs in our family.”
What a wonderful statement to make about his family. What an important goal for every family. But God only enters and stays with families as long as He is welcome.
Here’s how it works: Each member of the family must ask Jesus to be their Savior. Then, His Word must be read and accepted, honored and obeyed, followed faithfully and carefully if He is to have His rightful place in the family. Examples of His presence in the lives of the family will be on display. He will be present at every meal, part of every conversation and readily recognized in the way family members treat one another.
Children learn how they are to behave from their parents. Parents must show love and understanding, care and compassion, patience and thoughtfulness, respect and honor toward each other first and then to each child.
If we expect God’s love to run in our families, we must first “run” with God and become obedient to His Word.
Prayer: Help us, Father, to realize the importance of You always being present in our families. May we recognize our need to depend on You, to honor You and to follow the example of Jesus as we show love for each other: in His name. Amen.
Scripture: Ephesians 6:1-4 Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

God Wants You

A little girl went to church for the first time. She was full of questions.
When a baby was presented for baptism she became more interested than ever. Noticing her attentiveness, her father said, “The parents are giving her to God.”
After the baptism, the minister gave the baby back to the parents.
Not understanding, she whispered to her father, “I guess God didn’t want that one.”
Not so! God wants every one of us.
On one occasion He said, “Come to Me, all of you…” On another occasion He said, “If you come to Me I will not reject you.”
We have all experienced the pain of rejection. We know what it is like to feel alone. Family members leave us. Friends turn their backs on us. But Jesus? Never!
Someone said, “With Jesus, the welcome mat is out and the door is always open.” Paul said, “…nothing…will ever separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” There is nothing that we have done or ever will do that can separate us from Him, His love or His salvation.
Prayer: Father, we are so grateful for Your love that reaches out to all of us. We are thankful that Your arms are always open to each of us. We rejoice in Your salvation that can save and keep us: in Jesus’ Name. Amen.
Scripture: Romans 8:38, 39 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Giving Others A Choice

A mother gave her son two beautiful apples. One, however, was larger and shinier than the other. Placing them in his hands, and wishing to teach him about sharing, she instructed him to “Give your little sister her choice.”
A short time later, she noticed that he had kept the bigger one for himself. So, she asked, “Why didn’t you give your sister her choice?”
“I did,” came the reply. “I gave her the choice of the little one or none at all. And she took the little one.”
There is a lot of selfishness even in the smallest of us. Size has little to do with whether or not we are self-centered or God-centered. It is easy to keep rather than to share, to get rather than to give, to hoard rather than to help, to protect rather than to promote.
Paul reminds us that “Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.”
Prayer: Help me, Heavenly Father, to realize that the needs of others are an opportunity for me to give to them as You have given to me. May I be sensitive to others who are without the necessities of life, and share with them out of the abundance You have given me–especially Your salvation. In Your Name, Amen.
Scripture: Philippians 2:1-8 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others…

Friday, December 16, 2016

Backache Or Heartache

It had been a particularly difficult day at work. But when Jim got home, he invited his son into the yard to play catch. Looking over the fence, a neighbor called out, “Jim, aren’t you tired from the day’s work?”
“Yes, I am,” he replied.
“Then why don’t you rest?” continued the neighbor.
“I’d rather have a backache tomorrow,” said the dad, “than heartache later in life.”
As parents we focus on the present, forgetting that what we do today affects all of our children’s tomorrows. We are concerned with daily events and forget about eternity. We have homework on the refrigerator, photos on every table and clothes for every occasion. Yet what we do is far more important than how things look.
In The Message the words of Paul are translated this way: “Take them by the hand and lead them in the way of the Master.” (Ephesians 6:4)
If our children do not get attention from us, they will get it from someone else. If we are not available for them, someone else will be. If we are too busy, someone else will make time available for them.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, help me to be the kind of parent You want me to be. May I love my children as You love me, guard them as You guard me, protect them as You protect me and lead them into life everlasting. Amen.
Scripture: Ephesians 6:1-10 …Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Anyone Else Up There?

ANYONE ELSE UP THERE?
A man was looking over a cliff when he slipped and began to fall. Sliding down the ledge he grabbed a branch and was hanging on for dear life. Shouting loudly he cried, “Is anyone up there?”
“I am the Lord and I am here,” came the answer. “Do you believe in Me?”
“Yes, Lord, I do. But I can’t hang on much longer.”
“I’ll save you,” said the Lord. “Just let go.”
There was a pause. Finally the man asked, “Is anyone else up there?”
How like so many of us. We doubt the Lord and put our trust in others.
Early in life we are taught to depend on ourselves, to be self-sufficient, strong and solve problems on our own. We also learn to rely on others, look to them for strength and help. Eventually we reach our limits and those we look to for insight, come up lacking. Then, when we become fearful or frustrated, we learn to look to God first and foremost.
Do you remember learning to swim? Can you recall someone standing in front of you in the water and saying, “Jump!” Knowing that they were able to catch us is the faith factor. Jumping in becomes the trust factor.
God’s Word constantly encourages us to have faith in Him. It gives us many examples of those who have faith in Him. It is the “letting go” by knowing that He is there to “catch us” that makes faith work. It’s the “trust factor.”
Prayer: Teach us, Father, to realize our need to let go and let God meet us at our point of need. May our knowing give way to believing. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture: Psalm 60:11, 12 Give us aid against the enemy, for human help is worthless. With God we will gain the victory, and he will trample down our enemies.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

How To Start Each Day

What is the first thing you do each morning? The author of Pilgrim’s Progress said that “He who runs from God in the morning will scarcely find Him the rest of the day.” It is important that we go into the presence of God before we go into the presence of men.
A woman attended a concert and realized the next morning that she had lost a diamond earring the night before. She called the manager of the auditorium and asked if it had been found. He said, “If you stay on the line, I’ll check.” A search was made and the diamond found. When he returned to the phone, the woman had hung up.
How like many of us. We do not expect any results when we pray. We hope He hears, yet we do not wait for His answer. So, we abandon Him and give up and live life without Him or His guidance.
David said, “In the morning will I direct my prayer unto Thee and will look up.” He was saying, “I will pray and then I will wait for answers and directions.” If we begin every day with God, we will end up with His blessings!
Prayer: Lord, when I begin my day I know it is important to ask for Your guidance and grace and to seek wisdom from Your Word. May I look to You for Your wisdom in every decision I make and direction in every path I take. In Your Name. Amen.
Scripture: Psalm 5:3 In the morning, LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

I Have To Give It Up!


It was the worst game of golf he had ever played. As he missed his putt on the final green, he flew into a terrible tantrum, screaming and swearing and flailing his arms. Beating his putter on the grass, he cried, “I have to give it up!”
“Give up golf?” asked the caddy in disbelief.
“No,” snapped the golfer, “my ministry. The church is taking up too much of my time. Those people expect too much of me and always expect me to take care of them.”
Pure and simple, time is a special gift. It is a commodity that, once used in one way or another, can never be retrieved. Once gone, it is forever lost.
One expert on time put it this way: “Time is life. It is irreversible and irreplaceable. To waste your time is to waste your life. To master your time is to master your life.” Lost time leads to a lost life.
We must always begin each day with God in a time of worship – prayer, Scripture reading, meditating on His Word and recognizing His role in our lives. If we make Him our first priority and focus on Him throughout the day, we can trust Him to direct our paths and bless each moment He gives us.
Prayer: Help me, Lord, to not only do things right, but to do the right things in the right way, at the right time. I surrender my time to You and ask that You help me to use it wisely, for Jesus’ sake, Amen.
Scripture: Romans 8:37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

Monday, December 12, 2016

I'd Give My Right Arm

Haven’t you heard the expression, “I’d give my right arm for that?” A thief did. He broke the window of a store to steal a television. As he reached his arm through the broken glass, a falling section of glass severed it above the elbow.
If we had the chance to ask that thief if he would chose to give up his arm for a television, there is little doubt that he would not agree to do so. Yet, each day we trade what is eternally valuable for temporary treasures and pleasures.
We work hard and invest ourselves – our time, talents and treasures – for “things” that are temporal and soon become worthless. “Things” that once had significance and meaning become worthless and outdated. We make sacrifices for what we deem important at that moment. Ask yourself this question: What sacrifices am I making for Christ? He has called us to take up our cross and follow Him. What are you willing to give up in order to be a follower of Christ? He wants us to give up everything for Him.
Prayer: Lord, help me to see my life the way that You see it. I am sure that there are some things I need to be doing that I am not doing and some things that I need to stop doing. Give me insight and courage to make the necessary corrections for Your sake. In Your Name. Amen.
Scripture: Luke 9:23 Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.”

Friday, December 9, 2016

Keep Them At Home

A man once said to Mark Twain, “It is my deepest desire to go to the mount where God gave Moses the Ten Commandments and recite them there!” Puzzled, Mark Twain asked, “Don’t you think it would be better to stay at home and try to keep them there?”
The Lord did not give us the Ten Commandments to review, but to reveal; not to look at but to live; not to admire but to acknowledge in the way we behave.
There are many who say one thing with their lips but show another thing with their lives. There are those who say the right things but live the wrong way. And there are some who speak the language of faith but give no evidence of it in their lives. The proof of our faith is not our words but our works.
Some say, “I am a Christian” but if they are watched closely there is no evidence of Christ in their lives. We are reminded by James that we are not only to be hearers of the Word, but doers of the Word. A good time to start doing good is now. A good place to start doing good is where you are.
Prayer: Father, help me to follow the directions for living that I find in Your Word. Do not allow me to deceive myself into thinking that I am acting on Your behalf when my behavior does not reflect what Your Word tells me to do. In Your Name. Amen.
Scripture: James 1:22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 

Thursday, December 8, 2016

My One And Only Love

A shopper once said to a sales associate, “I want the most beautiful gold heart that you have in your store and I want you to hang it on the finest gold chain available. It’s for my fiancĂ©e.”
After considering many different choices, he made his decision, and said, “I’ll take that one. Inscribe on it, 'My one and only love.'”
“Shall I inscribe her name on it?” asked the sales associate.
“Oh no!” came the instant reply. “If we break up, I may want to use it again.”
How different is God’s love. We hear it in the words of Jesus when He said, “I have loved you with an everlasting love.” How comforting it is to know that God’s love is permanent. How fortunate we are to know that God’s love is guaranteed by His Word. How wonderful it is to know that God’s love is for everyone. And finally, how grateful it is to know that His love makes our salvation through Jesus Christ possible.
Prayer: Help us, Father, to understand how much You love us. May those who read this “Seed” come to know You and accept Your Son as their Savior and love Him because He first loved us and gave Himself for us. Amen.
Scripture: 1 John 4:11-12 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Not Good Enough!

His old bicycle was worn out. He begged his dad for a new one.
Finally it was his birthday. When he came home from school that afternoon, he discovered a beautiful new bicycle in the garage. With great excitement he rode down the street to show it to his best friend.
Soon he returned home and waited for his father. When his dad arrived, he began to cry, “George got a new bike, too. It has a light on the handlebar. It’s better than mine.”
Jealousy! It begins at birth, rages in most hearts, and for some, lasts a lifetime.
In the Bible “jealousy” is sometimes described as the opposite of love and thankfulness and the enemy of gratitude.
It is the “attitude of gratitude” that exposes our faith in God. Often we only feel secure in what we have, not Whom we have, Jesus Christ. When times are good, bank accounts growing, the economy flourishing, and jobs secure, we rarely notice what others have.
As Christians we need to look at our lives through God’s eyes. Looking at our lives through His eyes may enable us to find joy in the smallest event, happiness in the smile of a child, satisfaction in a job well done.
Embracing our lives just as they are and being thankful for what we have will enable us to give up the struggle to acquire what we want but do not need. Where we are and what we have is exactly the way things are to be. Rejoice and be thankful!
Prayer: Help me, Lord to accept all that I have as gifts of Your goodness, especially my salvation. Remove jealousy from my heart and envy from my mind. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture: Philippians 4:11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Proud To Be Humble

A tourist visiting a monastery was impressed with the daily routine of the monks. Awakening at dawn, they would pray for hours, eat little food, and spend time alone meditating and reading their Bibles or labor on their farm. Curious about the nature of their mission, he asked one of the monks to explain how they were different from the other monastic orders.
“Well,” said the monk, “when it comes to learning, we don’t compare with the Jesuits. When it comes to good works, we’re no match for the Franciscans. But when it comes to humility, we’re at the top!”
It is inappropriate for Christians to attempt to appear humble and downplay the gifts that God has given them. God has endowed each of us with certain gifts that are unique to us. We must accept them graciously, develop them to their fullest potential, and use them to the glory of God.
If we want to grasp the meaning of humility we must look to our Lord and Savior. Here is one Who was with God and equal to God, but willingly laid it aside. He lived a selfless life of service to others and then suffered a horrible death on the cross for our salvation. In humility He accomplished His Father’s plan doing whatever He could to reflect in word and deed His love.
Pride comes naturally, but not humility. When we do difficult things in a loving and caring manner – as Jesus did – we are living godly humility.
Prayer: Father, we often pray to be humble not wanting to accept our responsibility to be humble. Grant us a willing heart to set ourselves aside. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture: 1 Peter 5 …All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time…

Monday, December 5, 2016

Stretch!

Rubber bands appear worthless until they are stretched. They remain quiet but ready. They come in different sizes and shapes waiting for various types of assignments. Some are thick, some are thin, some are small and some are large. But, all are designed for specific uses. However, a rubber band is worthless until it is stretched to its limit. Then it will hold things together, keep things orderly and bring chaos under control.
We cannot accomplish God’s purpose without stretching. When we bear one another’s burdens, help someone solve a problem that is beyond their capabilities, wipe away a tear from a saddened eye, give a cup of cold water to a thirsty traveler, we are showing the kindness and grace of God.
Each day we need to stretch our minds and learn something new about our Lord, His Word, His world and His ways. If we remain as we are, we fail to grow into His likeness and the future He has for us.
We also need to stretch our bodies and bring them under God’s control. The stronger we are physically, the more we can do spiritually. An out-of-control body reflects an out-of-control life. God expects us to do the best we can with what He gives us.
Prayer: Help us, Father, to take what You have given us and stretch it to the limits of our potential. May we never be satisfied with who we are until we become who You have intended us to become in worship and service. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture: 2 Timothy 3:14-17 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

The Whistler

A new preacher came to town. Each day as he passed one particular home on his walk to the post office he heard a man whistling happily and loudly.
Day after day he heard the whistler. He became so fascinated with the sounds that he decided to discover where they came from. One morning the preacher opened the gate quietly and looked inside. Hearing the gate creak, “the whistler” approached the preacher asking him to come inside.
“Why do you whistle so loudly when you work?” asked the preacher.
“My wife’s a cripple,” he answered, “and she is also blind. I want her to know as she sits alone on the porch that I’m always close by and thinking about her. When she hears me whistling, she knows I’m not only nearby but available.”
Our Lord is just like “the whistler” – always nearby and available. Although we may not hear Him or see Him, we know that He is always present in our world. However, we must reach out to Him and call on Him when we need Him. Knowing that He cares is one thing. Trusting Him to bring us hope, help and healing is quite another thing.
Prayer: Thank You, Heavenly Father, for always being nearby, for always watching over us and protecting us, and meeting our every need. May we always sense Your presence in our lives and Your love that surrounds us. In Your Name, Amen.
Scripture: 1 Peter 5:7  Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

Friday, December 2, 2016

What To Live Without

A young lady was bragging to her girlfriends about her good fortune. “I have two handsome men who want to marry me, and I can’t decide which one to choose. I can live with either of them!”
One of her friends wisely said, “Your job is to determine which one of them you can live without.”
Everyone has a decision to make: Will we accept or reject Christ as our Savior.
When we choose to accept Him and the life He has to offer, we settle our eternal destiny. Once we have accepted Him as our Savior our life will be different. When we turn from sin to the Savior, we are given the power to live an abundant life – a life that is satisfying and fulfilling and one that pleases and honors God.
Sin is not a defect in our personality but a disease that destroys us. Sin is not an attitude or an accident, but a decision to turn against God. Sin is not a mistake but a willing rebellion against God’s laws. God’s Word says that “the wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life.”
Prayer: Heavenly Father, we are eternally grateful to You for giving us the opportunity to choose life through Your Son, Jesus Christ. We ask that You will become the Master in our lives and keep us from sin. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture: Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

The Best Medicine Is Love

A country doctor said, “I’ve been practicing medicine for over 30 years. During all those years I have prescribed many different things. But in the long run, I’ve learned that for most of what ails the human condition, the best medicine is love!”
“But,” asked a student, “what if it does not work?”
“Double the dose,” came the quick reply.
Many have said that love is the greatest medicine in the world. It can do more to heal the sick than most medicines. But what is this “healing love?” It is holding someone’s hand when they are lonely. It is shedding a tear with someone who is brokenhearted. It is sitting quietly beside someone who is grieving. It is having a cup of coffee with someone who has been abandoned by a loved one. It is praying with someone who is overwhelmed with discouragement.
Love is not an emotion that is based on a passing feeling. It comes from a compassionate heart that has experienced the conversion that God has provided for us through His Son. Love is something that is born of God and given by God.
Love is a gift. Take it and let it grow.
Love is a sign. Wear it and let it show.
Love is an act. Do it and let it go.
Prayer:Fill our hearts, Father, with Your love. May we overcome selfishness by living lives of service as Your Son, our Savior did. In His name, Amen.
Scripture: 1 Corinthians 13:4-7  Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

As Big As We Make It!

Herb had been dating Liz for about a year. He was deeply in love with her and finally decided that he would ask her to marry him. So, he went to a jewelry store and used all of his hard earned savings to purchase an engagement ring for her. Unfortunately, the rings were more expensive than he imagined and he had little money to spend and had to settle for one with a small diamond.
One evening he took her to dinner and after they ordered their meal, with a shy, trembling voice he asked, “Liz, will you marry me?”
“Oh yes, of course I will,” said Liz.
With tears in his eyes he presented the ring to her and said, “Liz, I’m sorry, so sorry that the diamond is not as big as I wanted it to be or as large as my love.”
“Oh my,” said Liz, “that doesn’t matter. The diamond is as big as we make it!”
How very true! Value is always in the eye of the beholder, isn’t it?
We often substitute things rather than thoughtfulness or gifts rather than goodness. We even confuse large with lovely or big with beauty. Often we substitute spending time with someone by offering them a present instead of ourselves.
When we give something to someone, especially God, cost doesn’t matter. What we keep for our self does.
Prayer: May we realize, Lord, that giving reflects the sincerity of our heart not the size of the gift. May we show our love more by what we do than what we give. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: 2 Corinthians 9:7 Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Words Of Wisdom

Thomas Edison is recognized as being one of the greatest inventors who ever lived. He is credited with over 1,200 inventions, including the light bulb and the first “talking machine.” He was the founder of General Electric and greatly influenced the quality of life for everyone.
Edison was one who was known to be very conscious of the value of time. On one occasion the person introducing him as a featured speaker at a large gathering did not know when to end his remarks. He spoke endlessly of his creative genius, his ability to see things others did not see and the great future for his “talking machine.”
When he finally stopped talking, Edison stood up and said, “Thank you for your kind words. But I must make a correction. God invented the talking machine. I only invented the first one that can be shut off.”
“Let your conversation be gracious and effective,” said Paul, “so that you will have the right answer for everyone.” A wise warning for Christians who want to witness the grace of God in a way that will draw others to Christ.
We Christians are ineffective if we act offensive and arrogant. We must always be gracious and humble if we want others to listen to and accept God’s message of love, salvation and hope.
Prayer: We pray, Father, that the “grace of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ” will always be obvious in our speech and conduct as we represent You to others. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Colossians 4:5-6 Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Where's God When I Need Him?

Danny was kneeling next to his bed saying his prayers. Hands folded, eyes shut, his mother heard him praying: “Lord, my brother still doesn’t have a job and he sure needs one. And my sister, Ruth, she hasn’t had a date for a long time and she’s getting pretty old. And you know about Mon – she’s no better and may have to go back to the hospital. And Dad hasn’t gotten the promotion his boss promised him. You know, God, I’m really getting tired of praying for my family and not getting any results. Have you quit listening to me?”
Ever feel like Danny? No doubt most of us have.
Thank God for John’s insight: “And we can be confident that He will listen to us whenever we ask Him for anything in line with His will. And if we know He is listening when we make our requests, we can be sure that He will give us what we ask for.”
John’s emphasis here is on God’s will – not our wants. And there is a dramatic difference between the two. Too often when we take our requests to the Lord they do not fit His will for our lives. We ask selfishly and do not take into consideration how what we want may differ from what we need to be and what He has designed for us to do. We need to align our requests with His will. The ultimate test of any prayer is: Lord, give me this for Your sake in Your name for Your will.
Prayer: Lord, help us to understand how to pray and what to pray for. May we accept the delays knowing that Your will is much better than our wants. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: 2 Corinthians 9:7 This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.  And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Where Do I Begin?

A company was well known for its highly effective sales personnel. They were able to outperform all of their competitors by their volume of sales, the new customers they attracted and the loyalty of their old ones.
Once, during an interview, a professor asked the personnel director what he did to attract so many outstanding people to his company. After thinking for a moment he replied, “We give them a water test.”
The professor was surprised. He thought he knew of every pre-employment test available. So he asked, “What is the water test?”
“Well,” he responded, “before we hire anyone, we take them into a room where the faucet is running, the sink is overflowing and water is pouring onto the floor. We offer the person a mop and say ‘Mop up the water.’ If they begin to mop up the water without turning off the faucet, we know they are poor problem solvers and decision makers and they would not be good employees. So, we don’t hire them.”
Too often Christians try to “clean” up their lives without turning “off” old habits and behaviors that lead to sin. If we want to become who God wants us to become, we must turn away from every temptation that can distract, defeat and destroy us. We can solve the problem of sinning by deciding to keep away from evil.
Prayer: We look to You, Heavenly Father, for insight and guidance as we face the difficult choices of life. May we always recognize our need for Your wisdom. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: 1 Thessalonians 5:22 Reject every kind of evil.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

When We Need Rest

It only lasted fifteen seconds.
But the 1906 earthquake that leveled most of San Francisco caused 375 deaths and left over 300,000 people homeless. Death, destruction and devastation were everywhere.
Tragedies occur every day – some much more significant and severe than others. But the significance of any tragedy is always personal – What impact does it have on me, my family or friends.
God is so good to us that we rarely prepare for the unwelcomed, unwanted or unanticipated events in our lives. They usually come unannounced or when we least expect them. When we awaken to a beautiful sunrise or go to bed following a glowing sunset, it always brings a contentment with life.
In times of prosperity there are many who want our friendship or our presence. It is good to laugh and be happy. But what happens when life falls apart? What do we do or where can we turn?
For the Christian there is always the Lord.
Jesus said, “Come unto me all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens and I will give you rest!” He offers us His unconditional love when we feel abandoned, His strength when we are weak, His peace when we are troubled and His grace when we sin.
Prayer: How marvelous are Your gifts, our Father. To know that we can come to You whenever any need arises is beyond reason but not beyond Your compassion. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Matthew 11:28 ”Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

Friday, November 25, 2016

What's In Your Mind?

A group of visitors was watching a potter fashion an object from shapeless clay. Intrigued, one of them asked, “What are you making?”
“Something very beautiful,” he answered.
“How do you know it’s going to be beautiful?” asked the visitor.
“Because I can see it in my mind,” he replied.
Isaiah made a profound statement about the potter and his clay. “Lord,” he began, “you are our Father. We are the clay, and you are the potter. We are all formed by your hand.”
Whenever and wherever pottery is mentioned in Scripture the story is the same: the potter has power over the clay. He can do with the clay what he will and shape objects that have a wide variety of uses. One may be used as a vessel to carry water or store grain. Another may be used to contain oil for a lamp that will shed light in dark places. Again, the potter may make a bowl for soup or a plate for a feast. The clay has no power or influence over the outcome of the process. The potter has control over the clay and will shape the clay carefully according to his will to fulfill its purpose.
Likewise for the Christian. God has a specific plan in His mind for each of our lives. For us to fulfill His purpose, He must shape us and mold us as a potter does with his clay until we are ready for His use.
Prayer: We thank You, Heavenly Father, that You have a plan and a purpose for each of us. May we be patient and willing to be made into Your likeness. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Isaiah 64:8 Yet you, LORD, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Give Thanks In All Things

When four-year-old Sammy awoke after surgery, the nurse explained that it would be necessary for him to be fed intravenously for the next few days.
After assuring him that everything would be fine, she began the process to administer the glucose. Always in the habit of giving thanks before each meal, Sammy asked in a brave and cheerful voice, “Aren’t you going to give thanks?”
It is not easy to give thanks in painful situations. Nor is it natural to see God’s goodness in all of life’s trials and troubles. But the Apostle Paul reminds us to “Be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
When we give thanks, we acknowledge our confidence in the Lord, knowing that He cares for us. When we give thanks, we express our closeness to God, realizing that He is with us in every situation. When we give thanks, we declare that we are willing to accept the counsel of God knowing that His will is being done.
Prayer: Dear Lord, may I learn the grace of giving thanks to You in all of life’s situations. Help me to realize that You are always with me, watching, protecting, providing and guiding me in every area of life. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
Scripture for Today: 1 Thessalonians 5:16-23 Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus…

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

What's In A Goal?

Charlie Brown struck out for the fourth time in the same game. In deep despair he cried out, “Lucy! I’ll never make it. All of my life I’ve dreamed of playing in the big leagues. But I know now I’ll never make it!”
“Charlie,” she answered, “choose an immediate goal. When you go out to pitch, see if you can walk to the mound without falling.”
What’s in a goal?
GUIDANCE: Establishing goals provides a process that enables us to accomplish worthwhile projects in life. Great things can be achieved when we know what we want to do. Goals enable us to make plans, solve problems, make decisions and set priorities. Then, at the end of the day, we can sit, review our progress or lack of it, redirect our steps and move forward.
OBJECTIVITY: We all have days when we feel like giving up. But if we have a goal in front of us, we will be able to see progress and see that the struggle is really worth the effort.
ACCOUNTABILITY: If we truly want to make a difference in this world we can find an accountability partner who will work with us to encourage us to “get where we want to go.” Being accountable is difficult without someone looking over our shoulder.
LABOR: Anything that has value and worth will require our hard work, patience, perseverance and prayer.
Prayer: Father, You have given each of us a reason for living and a purpose to accomplish. May we use the talents You have given us to achieve great things for You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Philippians 3:13-14 …Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

What Do You Want?

A young man, aspiring to become a great philosopher, went to Socrates and said, “I want knowledge. What must I do to get it?”
Socrates asked the young man to accompany him to a beach. After staring at the water for a few moments he asked the young man to join him and walk with him into the water. They waded slowly into the water until they were neck deep. After pausing for a moment he pushed him under the water and held him there. The young man struggled and finally, after becoming exhausted, Socrates allowed him to surface and take some deep breaths.
After releasing him, Socrates asked, “While you were struggling underneath the water, what did you want more than anything in the world?”
“Air,” came the quick reply.
“When you want knowledge as much as you wanted air,” said the philosopher, “then you will get it.”
Whatever our hearts truly desire is what motivates us. And what motivates us is what we “get.” Throughout the Bible we are reminded constantly of this irony. If we focus our attention on the things of this world, we will no doubt acquire many “things.” If, on the other hand we “Delight ourselves in the Lord, He will give us the desires of our hearts” and good things will come to us as by-products of His grace and goodness. We have His promise and that’s all we need!
Prayer: Lord, we ask for Your Spirit to move in our hearts and create a deep desire within us that will encourage us to take delight in honoring You always. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 37:4 Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.