Sunday, July 31, 2016

"Why A Rope, Son?"

After saying his nightly prayer, little Johnny said to his Dad, “I'll be right back.”
“Where are you going?” asked his Dad.
“To get a rope,” he quickly replied.
“Why a rope, Son?” he wondered.
“Well, Dad, you promised me that Jesus would answer my prayers. I asked him for a pony tonight and I need the rope to tie the pony to my bed when it comes.”
Now that's faith. Asking God for a pony and then running to get a rope. But that is what happens when we take God at His Word. Jesus said, “You can pray for anything, and if you believe, you will have it.”
Contained in the word “anything” is the word “everything.” And when Jesus made that statement He would have us to understand that our prayers are to be motivated by asking for things that have God’s best interest at heart. Certainly when we pray we are to ask for the desires of our hearts, but we must always place His will above our wants, His good above our greed and ask for His wisdom so that we can recognize the needs of His Kingdom first and foremost.
Is it wrong to ask God for a pony? Of course not. He created the little ponies and He wants us to enjoy all of His creation. But if spending time enjoying the pony causes us to stop reading the Bible, praying, worshiping, serving and obeying Him, we have the wrong priorities and we need to give up our “ponies”.
Prayer: Give us the boldness, Father, to pray sincerely, confidently, expectantly and with determination for those things that will honor You and enrich our lives. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. Mark 11:17-27

Friday, July 29, 2016

Which Hand?

“Grandma,” said little Josie, “did you know that God created the world with His left hand?”
“My goodness, Honey, wherever did you get that idea? What do you mean He used His left hand?” asked Grandma.
“The way I figure it,” she explained, “is that God had to use His left hand because Jesus was sitting on His right hand.”
Josie heard the story in Sunday school and in her childlike faith accepted its truth. How precious is a faith that believes. And although we may not know all of the details, God reveals Himself and His plan for His creation and His children, us, in His Word. But there is another thought we must remember when we think about where Jesus is.  His final words to His disciples were, “Be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
What does it mean when He said, “I am with you?” Simply this: Jesus was with His disciples physically as He went about His work while on earth. After His resurrection He ascended into heaven. Now, He is with us through the work of the Holy Spirit. He knew there would be difficult days and trying times for His disciples then and now. So He gave His Word, “I am with you until the end.”
For those who accept Him as Savior there is no need to fear facing life alone. “I,” said Jesus, “am with you!”
Prayer: How blest we are, Father, to know that You are with us every moment of our lives. Give us a peace that comes from Your presence as we faithfully serve You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. Matthew 28:20

What's In Your Mouth?

Legend has it that in old Tibet whenever people met they would face each other, bend low and open both of their hands. This was done to let the other person know that they held no weapons.
Then they would straighten up, take a step back and open their mouths wide to let the other person know that their mouths contained no wicked words.
What would happen if we had a custom like that today? How would our world and our lives be different? Imagine what it would be like if we even entertained the idea that people could search our mouths for “wicked words.”
David wrote in a Psalm, “Take control of what I say, O Lord, and keep my lips sealed.” James wrote that “the tongue is a small thing but what enormous damage it can do.”
Someone said that the average person opens his mouth an average of 700 times a day to speak. That does not include the number of words, either. With the use of the cell phone today the number has no doubt increased!
We rarely consider the significance of the words that come out of our mouths until we see their results. Too often we speak first and then think. We need to turn the process around: think first and then speak.
Words, once spoken, can never be retrieved. They become part of eternity. We must use them to honor God.
Prayer: Lord, we ask that You fill our minds with Your thoughts, our hearts with Your love and our mouths with words that speak of Your grace, mercy and hope. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Set a guard over my mouth, LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips. Psalm 141:3

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

What Does It Take?

The founder of a successful company was being interviewed by a reporter from a large daily newspaper. His first question was, “What does it take to succeed?”
After a moment’s thought he replied, “The same thing it took to get started. A sense of urgency and excitement.”
That answer is certainly true if one wants to be successful in developing and managing a business. And it is also true if one wants to succeed in the Christian life.
No one has ever expressed this truth any more powerfully than the Apostle Paul. Hear him, “...I am focusing all my energies on this one thing: I am straining to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling me.”
God has one goal for everyone - that we will become like Christ! And if we choose to achieve that goal it will take all of our energies just as it took all of Paul’s energies.
Paul said that he focused on “this one thing” - this one goal. He had the mind and heart and focus of an athlete in training. And when athletes are in training, they set aside everything that is harmful or hurtful and anything that might distract them or destroy their commitment to their goal of victory.
The Christian formula for success must include urgency and excitement as well as dedication and focus.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, help us to make those adjustments in our lives that are necessary if we want to be successful Christians. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: …I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:12-14

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The Typewriter

C.L. Sholes enjoyed building things. He spent many hours alone trying to make life better through his inventions. One of his serious ambitions was to make a machine that would print his thoughts faster than he could write them. From this desire came the typewriter.
He worked on this “machine” for years. At the end of the Civil War he made an agreement with Remington and Sons to manufacture 1,000 typewriters. They were to sell for $125.00 each. But the people who bought them and the people who tried them out were not impressed. In fact, the company was about to go bankrupt in 1880.
Then one of their salesmen thought of the business community. He reasoned that if the people who wrote important letters could do it faster and neater it would make businesses more profitable. He was right! In six years nearly every business office that could afford a typewriter had a typewriter.
The Psalmist said, “Happy are those who have the God of Israel as their helper, whose hope is in the Lord.” Our God is the God of hope and help. What more is there?
Often we have what it takes to make a difference in our life and in the lives of others. We try but nothing happens. But when we offer whatever we have to God and ask Him to bless it for His good, we can count on His help and hope that He will reward us for our faithfulness.
Prayer: Lord, may we use every gift and talent You have given us to honor You. May the work of our hands and the desires of our hearts bring goodness to all. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD their God. Psalm 146:5

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Stopped From Growing

Over four hundred years ago a Japanese gardener planted a small pine sapling in one inch of soil in a small bowl. As the tree aged, he would remove it from the soil, trim its roots and branches and then replant it.
When he died, his eldest son continued the work that he started and a tradition was born. This tradition has been continued through thirteen generations. That tree still stands in the original dish. After four hundred years, that tree is only twenty inches tall.
In Peter’s letter to the early church he provided some extremely important advice: “Grow in the special favor and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” Peter was well aware that his time on earth was ending. So in this letter he magnifies the message that God placed on his heart as he faced the end of his journey.
Through the ages his words echo in our hearts: “His divine power gives us everything we need to live a godly life.”
That “divine power” leads to growth, that growth comes from knowledge and that knowledge comes from His Word that nourishes our faith and trust. If we want to become who God wants us to become and do what He would have us to do, we must allow the “roots” of our relationship with Christ to go deep into His Word so that our “branches” will bear the fruits of the Spirit.
Prayer: Help us, Heavenly Father, to recognize the importance of growing in our knowledge of You so that we will enjoy Your favor as we live for and serve You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen. 2 Peter 3:18

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Second Place

One of the great orchestra conductors of all time was Leonard Bernstein. Once he was asked, “What is the most difficult instrument to play?”
Quickly he answered, “Second violin. I can get many first violinists, but to find someone who can play second violin with great enthusiasm - that is a difficult problem to solve.”
Why do orchestras need those who play second violin, second trumpet or second clarinet? Without them there is no harmony and without harmony there would be no beauty in life. Being willing to be “second” to someone else brings an added depth and breadth and width to the work of our Lord.
Selfishness can bring disaster to the life work and responsibilities of the church. That is why God is always looking for men and women who will fill in the lesser positions in His Kingdom - those who will put Him first and bring beauty and harmony to His creation.
However, to be “second” requires humility. It means having a true perspective about ourselves and our identity in Christ. In Him we find our worth and discover that we have great value to Him as we do what He wants us to do. There may be times when we measure our self-worth by the world’s standards. But our true worth, our value to God, comes from our being faithful to Him even if it means we must play “second violin” in God’s orchestra.
Prayer: Father, give us the grace and courage to be where You want us to be and do what You want us to do when You ask us to play “second violin.” In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: 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. Philippians 2:1-4

Friday, July 22, 2016

Saving Faith - Serving Love

Following a terrible earthquake in Japan, an American reporter decided to do a series of articles on the survivors for his newspaper. As he was traveling from one location to another, he discovered an elderly lady who was selling flashlights and batteries for less than she paid for them. Intrigued, he decided to interview her.
After asking a few introductory questions he asked, “Why are you willing to sell the flashlights and batteries for much less than you paid for them?”
Smiling at him, she replied, “I don’t want to profit from their suffering.”
What a Christlike attitude!
Suffering is something we all experience. It is part of everyone’s life. Sooner or later, today or tomorrow - sickness or sorrow, trial or tragedy will find us and threaten us when we least expect it. No one is immune from the problems or perils of life.
Nor is the Christian immune from responding to those in need. Jesus, in speaking of the final judgment said, “When you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.” There are acts of kindness that we can do to help others every day. Jesus expects His followers to give water to the thirsty, clothes to the naked, food to the hungry, hospitality to the homeless and visit those in prison. We will have no excuse to offer Him if we do not do as He did.
Prayer: Father, the least and the lost of this world are of great concern to You. May we take Your words to heart, and share whatever You give us with them. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: …He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ Matthew 25:35-45

Thursday, July 21, 2016

"Pass It On"

Jascha Heifetz had a brilliant career as one of the world's greatest violinists. From his earliest concert at the age of nineteen and throughout his career as a violinist his performances demonstrated his mastery of the violin. He never ceased to command respect and this brought him the highest esteem of those who heard him play.
When his concert career ended, he was invited to become a professor of music at UCLA. Shortly after he accepted this position, a reporter conducting an interview with him asked, “Why did you change careers?”
He answered, “Violin playing is a perishable art. It must be passed on as a personal skill; otherwise, it will be lost.”
Christian living is a perishable art. It is a way of living that reflects “the way, the truth and the life” of Jesus Christ. And because it is perishable it must be passed on or the message of the Gospel will be lost and people will not come to know Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.
When we become Christians, God gives us a new vocation - not an avocation. An avocation is what we do to entertain ourselves to escape the trying demands of life. The word vocation comes from the Latin word vocatio - a calling. All Christians have a calling.
When we become new creations in Christ, we are called to a new profession: to pass on the Good News.
Prayer: Lord, may we realize, recognize, respect and accept our new calling in Christ and be faithful witnesses to always pass on Your salvation to others. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” Matthew 4:19

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Safe On Your Knees

George’s lifelong dream was to climb the Alps. It took him years to realize his goal but he was finally making his first climb. As he made his way to the top, he was accompanied by two strong guides - one in front of him and one behind him.
As they reached the top, the guide in front of him stepped aside so he would be the first one to see the majestic view. Just as the young climber stood up a strong gale threatened to dash him to destruction. The guide on his left pulled him down and shouted, “On your knees, now, sir. You are not safe here unless you are on your knees.”
Wherever we are and whatever we are doing we are never safe unless we are on our knees acknowledging our need for God’s protection. Even when we think that we are about to see the beauty and wonders of God’s handiwork in our lives, we can be overwhelmed with the storms of life. When such moments arise we must be quick to get “on our knees now!” God is the only one who can stop the winds of destruction and the forces of life that would sweep us away in a downward spiral. He can take every problem and turn it into a prize of His grace. He can take the worst tragedy that life has to offer us and turn it into the very best blessing we could ever imagine.
We must always remember that we are not safe anywhere unless we are on our knees, now and always.
Prayer: Father, we recognize that You are the Lord over all of life and we are only safe when we are on our knees trusting in You to sustain and save us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. Isaiah 43:2

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Not True!

An upscale jewelry store in New York had an exhibit of crosses in their display window. They were anxious to attract shoppers to a sale that was going on. Prominently displayed in the middle of the crosses was a sign that read: “EASY TERMS!”
However, there are no easy terms associated with the cross of Christ. Certainly not for Him. And neither for us if we take our calling to be His disciples seriously.
Jesus said that “A student is not greater than the teacher...and a slave shares the master’s fate.”
Our commitment to Christ carries with it a cost. A sure sign of those who follow Him is the conflict and disagreement that surround them for doing His will and following His teachings. Christian commitment may even separate us from our family, friends and loved ones. How? As we take up our cross and follow Him our eternal values will certainly generate differences of opinions and lifestyles. Our goals will be different. Our vision of right and wrong will bring about separation of what to do with our time, treasures and talents. When we take up His cross and follow Him, He becomes our priority and passion and purpose for living.
Jesus does not call us to a life of peace, pleasure and prosperity. He calls us to live a life like He lived, doing as He did even though we may loose everything we have when we share in the reality of His cross.
Prayer: Give us courage, Lord, to take up our crosses each day knowing that it costs nothing to become a Christian but costs everything to be a Christian. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: The disciples were even more amazed, and said to each other, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.” Mark 10:24-40

Monday, July 18, 2016

Not Something, Someone!

A visitor recently said to me, “There's something different about you. You have something I don't have. I lack something in my life that you have in your life. It's very obvious to me. What is it?”
“Oh,” I replied, “it's not something. It's Someone. It's the Lord!”
John, the Apostle, put it this way: “Life itself was in Him, and this life gives light to everyone. This light shines through the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.”
This magnificent truth declares that the Light we need in and for our lives. The darkness of sin can never extinguish the Light that comes from God through Jesus Christ. In this Light we can see ourselves as we really are: sinners in need of a Savior and the salvation that only He can provide. When we come to Jesus, the true Light, and follow Him, we can walk confidently in His strength and power, seeing things as they really are. We will be able to avoid falling into temptation and sin since His Light will shine on our paths. We will then walk in ways that are pleasing to Him.
When we follow this Light we can be assured of knowing that our lives are pleasing to Him and we can count on His presence and power.
With God's Son Jesus, as our Savior, we will become “someone” who is different. Our lives will reveal His wonder and glory and we will shine as His “lights.”
Prayer: Lord, You truly are the Light of the world and will, if we allow You, give us “the” light that will guide us and guard us and bring us safely into Your presence. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: …In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1

Sunday, July 17, 2016

No One Can Replace Him!

Thomas Jefferson was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. He was also the principal author of the Declaration of Independence. One of his other roles was as a minister of the United States to France.
When he went to France to serve America, he presented his credentials to the French premier. As he looked at them, the premier said, “I see you’ve come to replace Benjamin Franklin.”
“No sir,” came his response. “I’ve come to succeed him. No one can replace him!”
And that is true of each of us: No one can replace us or is equipped to do the work that God has planned for us to do. What a sobering thought.
Even as our fingerprints are unique and will never be given to another person, so are the tasks and responsibilities that God has set before us. We are an “original” with our own set of credentials.
Our worth is not dependent on what we do but on who we are in Christ. Our worth does not come from what we have been able to achieve or accomplish but from God’s mercy and grace. Our worth is revealed in the price God paid for our redemption through the death of Christ on the cross.
God has something unique for each of us to do as “His minister” to His World. No one can replace us!
Prayer: May we accept our responsibility, Lord, to do what You would have us to do, knowing that You have chosen us and prepared us for something special. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: I know your deeds, your love and faith, your service and perseverance, and that you are now doing more than you did at first. Revelation 2:19

Saturday, July 16, 2016

No Limits Love!

Four-year-old Martha was just beginning to understand numbers. Trying to put her new knowledge to work, she said, “Mommy, I love you ten times! No, I love you a hundred and ten times. No. That's not right, Mommy. I love you more than all the numbers in the world!”
That mother’s heart must have jumped with joy!
Numbers have become an important part of everyone’s life. It seems as though we try to measure everything in one way or another. Whether it is household budgets, interest rates, unemployment numbers, political polls or retirement accounts - to name a few - we attach a number to everything.
But there is one item that cannot be measured. It is impossible to assign a number to the love of God. It is immeasurable, incalculable, and actually beyond our reason to comprehend. God set the pattern or the standard for true, selfless, self-sacrificing love in the gift of His one and only begotten Son.
God paid a price we cannot comprehend when He gave His Son to pay the price of our sins. And we must also add to that love the love of Jesus who willingly and unhesitatingly gave His life on the cross for our salvation.
When we combine the love of God with the love of Jesus, we come to Martha’s conclusion: it’s more than all the numbers in the world! And then some!
Prayer: Father, we do not understand the love that You have for us. It is beyond our ability to grasp. We do know, however, that Your love made salvation possible. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

Friday, July 15, 2016

Mind Your Thoughts!

It was a beautiful day in the mountains. The crisp, clean air and the morning sun combined to create a sense of magic. Gary decided that he would take a long, leisurely drive to the many vistas in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Shortly after he started his trip a tire went flat. Easing to the side of the road he parked his car and got out. When he opened his trunk and looked inside, he discovered that his jack was missing. He went to the middle of the road and looked for any signs of life. Off in the distance he saw a cabin. His heart began to beat with hope thinking there would be someone there to help him.
As he walked along the road he began to think, “What if the person living there does not have a jack?” Then he thought, “What if he has a jack and won't lend it to me? And why should he lend it to me since he doesn't even know me? I doubt if he will even open the door.”
He was so agitated that by the time he got to the cabin he was shaking all over. Climbing the steps, he paused and knocked on the door. When the resident opened it, he blurted out, “Keep your jack. I didn't want to use it anyhow,” and hit him in the jaw.
Our thoughts shape our attitudes and our attitudes shape our behavior and our behavior tells others who we really are.
Prayer: Father, may we, as Your Word advises us, “Fix our hearts on what is good and true and right” and show grace and gratitude to everyone. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things. Philippians 4:8

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Knowing And Doing

When Albert Einstein was a child, he enjoyed playing with a compass. When the Wright Brothers were children, they spent hours with a toy rubber-band-driven helicopter trying to make it fly. Their curiosity in objects gave them a desire to learn that lasted a lifetime and benefitted the world.
Those who have studied the childhood of famous figures in history have come to an interesting conclusion: Many young children who become interested in some particular object make it a part of their life's interest and accomplishments.
What is true about the development of children is also true about the development of Christians. Said Paul to young Timothy, “You have been taught the Holy Scriptures from childhood, and they have given you the wisdom to receive the salvation that comes by trusting in Christ Jesus.”
As parents we give our children many gifts. But rarely do we pause to think of the gift that these gifts will give them. God planted in all children the gift of curiosity. So when we give our children anything, we must always remember that gifts have consequences. They add “something” to a child's life.
Paul commended the parents of Timothy for giving him the gift of God's Word when he was a child. It made a difference in his life: “wisdom to receive salvation!”
Prayer: We pray, Heavenly Father, for insight to give our children those gifts that will lead them to Your grace, mercy and salvation that come from trusting You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: From infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. 2 Timothy 3:15

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

How To Recognize Our Value

At the end of each season in each major sport, someone is recognized as being the most valuable player. In 1942, the Most Valuable Player of the Year Award in the American League was given to a player who made the most errors, hit into more double plays than anyone else and also struck out more than any other player. His name was Joe Gordon. He was also named into the baseball players Hall of Fame.
We can learn much from Joe Gordon. Even though he failed in some categories more than other players he did not allow his failures to be final. He did not give up nor refuse to do his best. He persisted through his problems and kept struggling to be successful. And he was! Rather than giving up he stood up, faced his problems and focused on his goal: to be his best and do his best.
Paul said, “Work with enthusiasm (and) remember that God will reward each one of us for the good we do…” This word of encouragement is a point well worth pondering.
There are times, for the Christian, that we work hard and do our best to be faithful in the tasks that God brings our way. We serve without notice and with little recognition. It seems as though no one cares because no one comments. But God does indeed care and one day He may make one final comment: Well done, good and faithful servant.
Prayer: Lord, for all who are weary in well doing and continue to serve You faithfully, we ask that someone somewhere will recognize the good they have done. In Your Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does, whether he is slave or free. -Ephesians 6:8

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

How Can I Know For Certain?

A television producer in Great Britain was in the process of developing a series on Heaven and Hell. He wanted to make certain that his facts were right so he decided to call the office of the Archbishop.
“How can I be certain that the position of the Roman Catholic Church on Heaven and Hell is correct and that what you are teaching is true?”
Back came the answer, “Die.”
Perhaps the best, shortest, simplest and most complete summary of the Good News comes from Paul and Silas while in prison. When the jailer asked them what he needed to do to be saved they answered, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.” There is nothing more and certainly nothing less for anyone to do to be born again and be assured of life everlasting.
But they did not stop with a message that was for the jailer only. They wanted him to know that his family was also included in the invitation. So they said, “Along with your entire family!” - which also included the jailer’s servants.
We must always remember that it was not the jailer’s faith that brought salvation to his household. Each of them had to come to Jesus in faith believing that He alone was the One who brought them eternal life.
It is indeed a wonderful example of what God can do within a family when the father honors Christ.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, we pray that every father everywhere will come to know You as their Savior and by the way they live bring their family to Christ. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved – you and your household.” Acts 16:31

Monday, July 11, 2016

Higher! Faster!

A drill sergeant, wanting to get his recruits in shape, was pushing them harder and harder. Yelling at them loudly he said, “Fall on your backs. Now get your legs in the air. Now, make them go in circles like you’re riding a bicycle. Higher! Faster!” he shouted. But one recruit was lying quietly with his legs in a “V” position.
Walking over to where he was lying, he glared at him and demanded, “What are you doing? You are supposed to be riding a bicycle!”
“I am, Sir,” said the recruit. “But right now I’m coasting downhill!”
Paul once said, “I am focusing my energies on one thing...and...I am straining to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us up to heaven.” He was totally consumed with becoming who God wanted him to be so he could do what God called him to do. This took all of his energies. With the single-mindedness of an athlete in training he set aside everything that would distract him or destroy him from being an effective witness for Christ. There was no place in his training program for “coasting downhill” even if the wind was at his back.
As “saints in training” we, like Paul, must stay focused, be diligent, work earnestly, live obediently and strive constantly to receive the “prize” God has for us.
Prayer: Father, we call upon You to make us alert and aware of temptations that would limit our effectiveness. May we live disciplined, determined lives always. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: But one thing I do: …straining toward what is ahead…I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Jesus Christ. Philippians 3:13-14

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Good For Something

Pat Kelly was an infielder who played for several major league baseball teams in the 90s. Once, while having a conversation with his manager he said, “Aren't you glad that I walk with the Lord?”
“I certainly am,” came the reply. “But I'd much rather you walked with the bases loaded.”
Sometimes Christians think that the most important thing that they can do is to “be good.” But that is not enough. Christians must do good. It is not enough that we strive to be holy, we must also be helpful. More important than simply wanting to be grateful, we must also be generous.
We read in Acts that “God anointed Jesus with the Holy Spirit and with power. Then Jesus went around doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.”
Jesus not only lived a perfect life but lived the life of a servant. His sermons were powerful and transformed the lives of individuals everywhere He went. But He also fed the hungry, comforted the grieving, consoled the brokenhearted, gave water to the thirsty and food to the hungry. He did simple things for simple people having simple needs. But He did not stop there.
When He saw a need He met the need. And after He met their physical needs He always reached out and met their spiritual needs. What a great example for us!
Prayer: Lord, trouble our hearts with the things that troubled Your heart. May we never be so comfortable with what we have that we fail to see the needs of others. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him. Acts 10:38

Saturday, July 9, 2016

God Leads Us All The Day Long!

It seemed that every day was a struggle for George Long. The more he did to serve the Lord the worse things got. He was the pastor of a small country church and it was necessary for him to work as a carpenter in order to provide for the needs of his family.
For months he and his family lived in a borrowed tent while he built a small home for them. The day finally came when they moved into their new dwelling.
One night while the Longs were worshiping together with their friends from the surrounding communities, a group of men decided to destroy their home by fire. They resented the positive influence that the church was having on their families. The men thought that if they destroyed their home the Longs would leave.
Returning from church that evening they found their home going up in flames. The Longs were stunned. In a state of fear and shock they gathered together and cried out in prayer to the Lord. All of their personal belongings were destroyed. But not their faith in God. It was undisturbed.
When they finished crying, George Long took a piece of paper and a pencil and wrote:
“Some through the waters, Some through the flood;
Some through the fire, But all through the blood;
Some through great sorrow, But God gives a song;
In the night season and all the day long!”
Prayer: Father, when days are difficult and painful and the hopelessness and sorrows of dark nights never seem to end may our faith in You bring a song to our hearts. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want…my cup overflows…I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever. Psalm 23

Friday, July 8, 2016

Facing Fear

General Jimmy Doolittle was the first pilot to fly an airplane relying only on the aircraft’s instruments. He is also the one who led the impossible, yet successful, raid on Tokyo in World War II. On one occasion he said to his crew, “I can honestly say that I have never felt fear.” How amazing!
Fear grips us when we sense an impending danger, a situation that might harm or destroy our well-being. Fear comes to us when we feel or sense that a situation is beyond our control. Fear can be either helpful or harmful.
On one occasion David said, “I trust in God, so why should I be afraid? What can mere mortals do to me?”
In other words, David was saying, “How much damage or harm can people do to me if my trust is in the Lord?” People can try to destroy our reputation. They can make statements that hurt us. They can inflict pain and suffering and even death. But they cannot destroy our relationship with God or remove our name from the Book of Life.
God has given each of us complete responsibility to accept or reject His salvation. We have the power of choice within the grace of God to trust Him for our salvation and the privilege of being with Him in eternity. Jesus said, “Do not be afraid of those...who can kill your body. They cannot touch your soul.” Our only fear should be of God who controls this life and the one to come.
Prayer: We thank You, Lord, for being a God whom we can trust and whose Word endures forever. We are grateful that we trust in You and never be afraid. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust, I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me? Psalm 56:4

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Entrance Exam

Booker T. Washington began life as a slave and ended life as a famous educator, author, orator and political leader. As a young man he wanted to attend Hampton Institute. He often recalled his “entrance exam” the headmaster gave him prior to his admission.
Wanting to be careful before admitting him to the Institute, the headmaster asked him to clean a room. To make sure his work was acceptable he swept the floor three times and dusted it four times.
Unable to find the slightest amount of dirt or dust, the headmaster said, “You'll do to enter this institution.”
“That,” said Washington, “was the turning point in my life.”
Work has always been a significant part of God's creation. Often when we allow our tasks to become sheer drudgery or demeaning, we forget that whatever God calls upon us to do we are to do it as an act of worship and service to Him.
Paul said, “Work hard and cheerfully at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.” For Jesus' sake, we are to work without complaining or resentment because whatever we do we do to honor Him as part of our discipleship.
We were born to work and worship. They go together. Whatever He calls us to do let's pass the “exam.”
Prayer: Lord, we recall with fondness that You were called to work as a laborer in a carpenter’s shop. May we, as You certainly did, do things to the glory of God. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not men… Colossians 3:23-25

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Each One Makes A Difference

A vacationer left his beach cottage and was walking along the shoreline. He was amazed when he approached an elderly fisherman who was picking up one starfish after another and throwing them into the water.
Approaching him, he asked, “Why are you doing that?”
“Well,” he replied, “these starfish will die if they are left until the morning sun rises. The heat will kill them.”
“But,” said the vacationer, “the beach goes on for miles and miles and there are hundreds and hundreds of them. What difference will what you are doing make?”
“It makes a difference to this one,” he said, as the vacationer looked on.
Crowds followed Jesus. Multitudes came to hear Him speak. But He never lost sight of the individual who needed attention, hope, healing or salvation.
If there was one individual who needed a drink of water, or a person who needed sight, or one who was lame and could not walk, or another who was mentally disturbed and possessed by demons, He stopped everything and met the need of that person.
Today we are impressed by great attractions that receive worldwide attention and draw large crowds. Not so Jesus. It was the “least of these, my brothers and sisters” that opened His heart and caused Him concern.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, give us tender hearts and sensitive minds that see the needs of those around us. May we show Your love to those who need our help. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: “He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’” Matthew 25:45

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Daddy, Did God Die?

DADDY, DID GOD DIE?
Climbing up in her father’s lap, little Nancy asked, “Daddy, did God die?”
Stunned, he responded quickly, “No, of course not! Why on earth would you ask?”
“Well,” she replied timidly, “you never seem to talk to Him anymore and I was just wondering.”
In the Gospels of Matthew and Luke we find two tiny passages of Scripture that are called “The Lord’s Prayer.” Both of them contain a phrase stating that we are to go to God each day for our “daily bread” - our nourishment.
Praying for our bread each day means that we are acknowledging Him not only as our Creator, but as our Sustainer and Provider. It is important for us who acknowledge Him as our Lord to also recognize that He alone is the One who meets our every need.
When we allow “gaps” in our prayer life we begin to think that we are self-sufficient and can go through life without Him. But it is a misconception to think that we can provide for any of our needs on our own. We must always remember that every heartbeat, every breath, every movement, every sensation is a gift from God. Without His grace and goodness we would be without everything that we have.
When we pause, ask for and give thanks for our daily bread, let’s also remember that He gives so much more than the bread we eat. Everything is from “above.”
Prayer: Thank You, Father, for being so generous in meeting all of our needs. May we always be aware of Your grace, mercy, love and presence in our lives. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Give us today our daily bread. Matthew 6:11

Monday, July 4, 2016

Courage!

Anne Lindbergh was a highly respected author as well as an aviator. Once, while visiting with a Japanese friend, she remarked “I understand that the Japanese honor the bamboo for prosperity and the pine for long life. But why is the plum honored for courage?”
“Because,” replied her friend, “the plum puts forth blossoms while the snow is on the ground. That takes courage.”
Courage is not the absence of fear - it is the willingness to face fear. It is not avoiding danger and hardship because we do not want what may come from them - but the determination to face danger and hardship with confidence and resolution. Courage is our willingness to accept new surroundings and situations knowing that God is with us, will protect us and provide for our safety and security if we go forward in His strength.
Think of Joshua. He was responsible to lead two million people into a strange new land and conquer it. The words strange and new are enough of a warning to frighten most of us and cause us to withdraw from a situation in fear. But that was not an option for him. Many tasks God calls us to do are challenging, frightening and appear overwhelming. But God will not put us in any situation without giving us the strength and skills to succeed. When God calls us to battle He equips us to win.
Prayer: Give us the faith and trust, Heavenly Father, to know that You love us too much to abandon us or will neglect to prepare us for every challenge we face. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them. Joshua 1:6

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Attitudes Make The Difference

His lifelong ambition was to become the CEO of the successful business his father founded. He dreamed about the day he would have a corner office overlooking the skyline of New York with a secretary to bring him coffee each morning.
Then reality set in. The day before he was to begin his career his father said, “Son, you'll start at the bottom just as I did. Your first job will to be to water the hundreds of plants in our building.”
His hopes dashed and his dreams shattered, he refused to become discouraged. The next morning he came to work with his new business card that read: “Plant Manager.”
We cannot always control our circumstances but we can control our attitude. Whatever happens in our lives happens because God has something special for us to do in every situation we face. This does not mean that what happens to us is good. Rather, it means that God is able to turn every circumstance of our lives into something that will eventually be good for us. We must remember that God is not working to make us happy. He is working in us to complete the work that began in our lives when we received Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord. His goal is to fashion and form us into the likeness of His Son so that we are enabled and equipped to fulfill the purpose He has for us.
Prayer: Help us, Father, to refuse to be disturbed or destroyed by the disappointments of life. May we accept and believe that all things work together for our good. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Who Wants You?

It was the final game of the year. The team that won the game would receive the victor’s trophy for the season. But the star running back broke the team curfew and was benched – unable to play.
It was a difficult game and the team fell behind. However, the students began to rally support for the benched player and started to chant, "We want Roger! We want Roger!"
Looking at the benched player, the coach motioned to him. He jumped up and said, "I'm ready Coach, I'm ready!"
"Great," said the coach. "Go up into the stands. They want you more than I do."
Jesus said, "Those who come to me I will never reject." This verse should give us an assurance of how welcome we are to enter into the presence of God.
It does not matter where we have been or what we have done, none of our behaviors or beliefs will cause Him to reject us. His arms are open, His voice is calling and His invitation is to "whosoever will."
Our coming to Christ is never conditioned by who we are but who He is and what He has done.
Prayer: We thank You, Father, that Your grace, mercy and salvation are extended to those who hear Your voice and accept Your invitation. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. John 6:37

Friday, July 1, 2016

When Silence Is Golden

He was a new Christian. But it didn't matter: he wanted to be a witness for the Lord and let everyone know how grateful he was for his salvation.
On the final night of a revival meeting, he went to his pastor and asked if he could give his testimony. The pastor was pleased and said that he would call him to the platform when it was time for him to speak.
As the service progressed, George became rather nervous and fearful of standing before a group of people he did not know. But he smiled, asked God for strength and peace, and looked forward to the time to share his story.
Finally, his moment came. He walked boldly to the pulpit, placed his hands on each side as he had seen his pastor do on many occasions, and said, "Brethren."
And that was it. His fear overwhelmed him. Not able to remember what he was planning to say, the only thing he could utter was, "Will you please join me in three minutes of silence to honor our beloved Savior."
Our words of worship and witness need not be eloquent, only sincere. A genuine Christian is the best proof of genuine Christianity. Standing quietly to honor our beloved Savior may, at times, be the best thing we can do.
Prayer: Father, there are times when our lives speak so loudly that words are not necessary. May we realize, however, that in word or deed, we witness for You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: …And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ… Philippians 1:7-12