Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Turning Deaf Ears

Roger was sent home from school with a note from his teacher. “Mrs. Arnold,” the note read, “your son was involved in an incident in the cafeteria today at noon. He and two other students took the food from another student’s tray and would not allow him to eat. He has been assigned a week of detention starting tomorrow.”
After reading the note to Roger, Mrs. Arnold said, “Son, why did you do such a thing?”
After a moment’s thought he replied, “Mom, the other guys asked me to help them and I thought it would be fun!”
“Shame on you Roger,” said his mother. “When you are asked to do things that are wrong you should turn a deaf ear.”
“But Mom,” he protested, “I don’t have a deaf ear.”
It is difficult to go through one day without being tempted by Satan to disobey God. He’s always there presenting one opportunity after another to get us to turn from the Lord and follow his invitation to break God’s laws. However, being tempted to disobey God’s teachings is not sin. Giving into a temptation to disobey God’s commandments is.
Perhaps we can describe temptation as Satan peeking into the keyhole of our heart trying to find a weak spot. He comes without any warning or notice and will only leave when asked. Resist him and he flees.
Prayer: Alert us, Lord, to the subtleties of Satan when he begins to tempt us to follow him and turn from You rather than to worship You and obey Your Word. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Ephesians 4:25-31 …do not give the devil a foothold…And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption…

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

The Thinking Table

A local television station sent one of its reporters to a kindergarten to interview the children. One young boy seemed to stand out above all of the other children. His energy, his enthusiasm, his excitement was very obvious.
Approaching him the reporter asked, “Do you like school?”
“Oh yes,” he replied. Then he became quiet for a moment and said, “Except for the thinking table.” 
“The thinking table? What’s the thinking table?” asked the reporter.
“It’s that table over in the corner. The teacher sends us over there to make us think,” he responded.
“Think? Think about what?” continued the interviewer.
“Well,” the boy answered, “the last time I had to go there and think was after I hit Sarah. I had to go over there and think about why I hit her and why I shouldn’t have.” 
Paul said that we “should think of others better than we think of ourselves.” This does not mean that we should put ourselves down in comparison to others, but that we are to set aside our desires and not take advantage of others. We are to treat others with respect and common courtesy. If we did think of their needs first we would not need “thinking tables.”
Prayer: Often, Father, we think “more highly of ourselves” than we should. We ask You to convict and convince us to “let Your mind be in us.” In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today:  Philippians 2:3-4 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each one of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

Monday, August 29, 2016

The Source

Niccolo Paganini began his musical career later than most musicians. He developed his talents so rapidly and was so gifted that his skills exceeded most of his instructors in a short amount of time. He was the most celebrated violinists of his day and is recognized as one of the greatest virtuosos who ever lived.
One evening as he walked on the stage for a concert he felt that something was wrong. He looked around and could see nothing unusual that would cause this feeling. Then he looked at his instrument and realized that he was handed the wrong violin as he walked on stage. As the orchestra conductor lifted his baton to begin the concert he realized that it was too late to exchange violins.
Later that evening those who heard him perform said that it was his greatest performance. When asked about the violin he said, “Today I learned the most important lesson of my career. I thought the music was in the instrument. Today I learned it is in me.”
Jesus said that if we remain in Him, as a branch in a tree, we will have life. Once a branch is no longer connected to the tree it withers and dies. If we desire to be in Christ we must stay connected to Him by staying in His Word, by spending time with Him in prayer and by being obedient to Him in keeping His commands.
Prayer: We ask, Heavenly Father, that our love for You will be so intense that we will live a life that is centered in Your Word, in prayer and in obedience to You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: John 15:5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”

Sunday, August 28, 2016

The Next Mile

Eric Severide was a news journalist who achieved much recognition and fame. In fact, he was considered to be an “elite correspondent.”
When he graduated from high school a local newspaper sponsored him and a classmate, Walter Port, to travel by canoe from Minneapolis to York Factory – a journey of 2250 miles. When they came to the last leg of their journey, they were overwhelmed with what they faced – 450 miles through the rugged wilderness.
As they faced what seemed to them to be overwhelming odds, an old fur trader helped them by offering a few words of simple advice: “Just think of the last mile.”
Great advice for them. Great advice for Christians.
We do not know what the journey before us may be. In fact, as we face today or tomorrow or next week, we do not know what we will face. Sometimes we look back and recall unpleasant memories that have left us scared and scarred, perhaps fearful and frightened.
But we are here today and have the promise of Jesus for the rest of our lives: “Be sure of this, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
When we place our trust in the Lord, we have a Guide who has never strayed from the way and a Guard who has never lost or abandoned one of His children.
Prayer: Thank You, Lord, for the guarantee that You are and always will be with us no matter what. May we trust You always knowing that Your grace is sufficient. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Matthew 28:20 “Teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Saturday, August 27, 2016

The Need To Be Kind

THE NEED TO BE KIND
Miss Wilson went to the post office nearly every day to buy a stamp or two. Often the line was long and it appeared that she had difficulty standing quietly waiting her turn at the counter.
A stranger who had seen her on many occasions asked, “Why don’t you just use the stamp machine? It would be so much easier and quicker and you wouldn’t have to stand so long.”
“Oh my,” she said, “the clerks are so kind to me. They always smile at me and ask me how I am doing and how I feel. The machines don’t do that.”
Kindness does two things at the same time: It makes us feel good and others feel good. And it rarely costs us anything.
Kindness, like love, has its source in God. We read in Titus that “When the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy.”
When we actually begin to understand the fullness of God’s kindness to us personally, we will no doubt see others in a different light. We certainly do not deserve God’s kindness - yet He has been more than kind to us. He held nothing back in giving His Son to be our Savior. Showing kindness to others demonstrates His love. We must do the same for His sake.
Prayer: Acts of kindness, Father, present endless opportunities for us to show others that we care for them just as You do. Help us to represent You always. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Titus 3:4-5 But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us not because of righteous things we had done but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.

Friday, August 26, 2016

The Miracle Worker

Twelve ministers boarded a flight in Miami for New York. Shortly after takeoff the plane encountered a terrible unexpected storm. The people onboard became frightened as the aircraft bounced and seemed to shift from side to side with the currents.
One of the clergymen called to a flight attendant and said, “Tell the Captain that everything will be okay because twelve ministers from Miami are onboard.”
Politely excusing herself she phoned the Captain with the news. A moment later she returned to the minister and said, “The Captain asked that I tell you that he was honored to have all of you onboard the flight. But he also asked that I tell you that he would rather have four dependable jet engines.”
Jesus, our Savior, was a miracle worker. He specialized in accomplishing supernatural things for God with ordinary people and ordinary things. What He did then He can do now. He has not changed nor has His power changed.
When He fed the five thousand He used the lunch of a small boy to feed the hungry crowd. He took that small insignificant gift and accomplished one of His greatest miracles. The lesson: No one is ever too young or no gift ever too small for God to accept and use to accomplish great things that will honor Him.
Prayer: Father, help us to realize that it is not the gift we offer You but the need that will be met by our willingness to work with You to do Your work. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: John 6:1-14 …Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish…Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks and distributed to those…as much as they wanted…

Thursday, August 25, 2016

The Limits Of Truth

It was a tense trial. The man who was facing serious charges needed someone to testify to his trustworthiness. One of his friends was called to the stand as a witness. He was asked, “Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth?”
He quietly responded, “Yes I do.”
The judge turned to him and asked, “Do you understand the meaning of that oath?”
“Yes, your Honor, I do,” he replied. And then added, “But under those conditions I don’t have much to say.”
What a careful, cautious response. He had much that he could say, but he was clear about what he would not say.
Whatever we put into our minds determines what comes out of our mouths and is seen in our behavior. Paul advised us to program our minds to “Think about things that are true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, admirable, and worthy of praise.” What a challenge!
If we take Paul’s advice seriously and pause to consider what we allow to enter our minds, we might be quite surprised. As people of “habits” we do things out of routine that have been established over the years.
Whatever we look at or read, think on or talk about will influence our minds and hearts and eventually our behavior. 
Take care!
Prayer: Heavenly Father, fill our minds with thoughts that come from Your Word that will draw us so close to You that we will speak words of praise. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Philippians 4:8 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.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The Limits Of Prayer

Young Eddie was saying grace before the family had dinner in a local restaurant. Heads were bowed and hands united around the table when he said, “Lord, thank You for the food that is coming. And Lord, I’ll really thank You a lot more if Mom would get us some ice cream!”
A woman sitting at the next table was heard to say, “Shame on that child. Kids just don’t know how to pray anymore. Asking God for ice cream is a disgrace.”
Someone in a booth overheard the woman and said, “Asking God for ice cream is a great prayer. Ice cream is good for the soul.”
When the ice cream was served, young Eddie took his bowl to the woman and said, “Here, ma’am. This is for you. Sometimes ice cream is good for the soul.”
Paul said, “Pray about everything!” Nothing is beyond everything – not even ice cream. As believers we need not worry about anything because we have a loving Heavenly Father Who knows about and cares for our every need and want.
Here’s a great reminder from Peter: “Give all your worries and wants to God, for He cares for you.” If only we would accept the reality of God’s power and His unlimited concern for us, our prayers would be vastly different and even include “ice cream” sometimes.
Prayer: Help us, Father, to look to You as a Father Who cares for everything about us. May we take You at Your word and pray and trust You completely. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: 1 Peter 5:7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Someone Is Always Listening

It was a luncheon designed to impress her friends from the neighborhood. Wanting to impress them she asked her five year old son, Jamie, to return thanks.
“Jamie,” she said politely, “will you please say grace?”
“Mommy, please, I don’t really know what to say,” he replied cautiously.
“Well, dear,” she said encouragingly, “just say what you heard Mommy say this morning.”
Bowing his head and folding his hands he began, “Good Lord, why did I invite all these dumb people to lunch today.”
Words can be a sword or a solace or even a weapon that leaves a wound. Words once spoken can never be retrieved or marked “Void.” Words take on a life of their own and will leave another person better or bruised, helped or hurt, encouraged or emptied.
King David wrote, “May the words of my mouth...be pleasing to you, O Lord...” Pleasing words have their source in another part of that verse that states: “may...the thoughts of my heart be pleasing to you.” David is asking God to approve his words and thoughts as though they were offerings brought to God’s very own altar and came from the depths of his soul.
What a great prayer for us to offer to God each day!
Prayer: Father, “may the words of our mouths and the thoughts of our hearts be pleasing to you, O lord, our rock and our redeemer.” In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 19:14 May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Say What Is!

The editor of the classified ad section of a newspaper noticed the cornerstone of a large cathedral in New York City. She paused to read the words and became intrigued.
Walking into the church she made her way down the aisle, through the halls and finally found the pastor’s study. Politely she asked if he had a moment to speak with her.
Seated in front of his desk she introduced herself and said, “I noticed the words on the cornerstone that quoted the words of Jesus: ‘Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils.’ Do you do those things here?”
“Oh no,” came the reply. “Years ago they were placed there because the congregation thought they sounded good.”
“Well,” she replied, “if you don’t do those things you shouldn’t advertise that you do.”
It is one thing to say that we believe the gospel but another thing to show others that we also do believe the gospel. Often we speak the words of the Bible as citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven but do not live by its rules. Again, we may verbalize the teachings of Jesus but it is quite another thing to verify the value of His words with our life. If we say it, we ought to do it, and the goal of what we do should be to honor our Savior and Lord!
Prayer: Help us, Lord, to live our faith. We ask that You give us the courage to do what we ought to do wherever we are to show others we belong to Your Kingdom. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Philippians 1:27 Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Ruined But Reclaimed

One of the most magnificent statues in the world is David. It is considered by many to be the masterpiece of Michelangelo. The story of its completion, however, is far different from that of its beginning.
The block of marble from which he fashioned it was once marred and discarded by another artist. It had been so mutilated that it was cast aside as worthless.
When Michelangelo looked at the piece of marble, he saw possibilities and promises – not something that had been rejected because someone thought it was ruined. And from what others trashed he brought forth a true treasure.
It is like those of us who become Christians. We “become new persons...(We) are not the same anymore for the old life is gone. A new life has begun!”
It is difficult to grasp the reality of that verse of Scripture. Perhaps it is because our size does not change and our shape remains the same. But the moment we are born again, the Holy Spirit gives us a new life and we are changed on the inside. And through the power of the Holy Spirit we are empowered to live differently and act differently because “a new life has begun.”
Once our lives were a shambles, shaped and scarred by sin. But the God of all creation recreated us.
Prayer: Thank You, Heavenly Father, that You took us, recreated us and gave us a new life. Your grace has transformed us into Your likeness. Thank you! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: 2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, the old has gone, the new has come!

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Our Needs From His Riches

An architect designed a cluster of office buildings around a central green area. After they were built he called a landscape architect and asked him to plant grass in the area among the buildings.
Puzzled, the landscape architect asked, “But where do you want me to allow space for the walks?”
“Don’t worry about that. Just plant the grass,” said the architect.
A few months later the buildings were filled with occupants. As the people went from one building to another they made pathways in the grass. The architect then decided it was time for the walkways.
“Do you see those paths created by the people?” he asked the landscape architect.
“Yes,” came the reply.
“That is where I want you to place the walks,” said the architect. “It was important for me to see the needs of the people going from one building to another before we located the walks.”
That’s the way our Lord works. When we have a need, He is ready to respond to us from His riches.
When we are afraid, He will increase our faith. When we grieve, He will give us His unending grace. When we are overcome with the world’s problems, He will give us His peace. His riches will match our needs and the paths we walk.
Prayer: Help us, Lord, to trust You completely for all that we need. We have the promise of Your Word that if we ask, You can and will meet our every need. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Philippians 4:19 And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Obstacles Can Be Opportunities

Centuries ago, a king had a group of his soldiers place a large stone in the middle of a road during the night. They worked in silence following his orders because he wanted no one to see them place a sack beneath the stone.
The next day he sat in a balcony where no one could see him and watched as the people passed by. All of them looked at the stone, paused a moment and then walked around it. Some became angry and wanted to know who could possibly have a reason to interrupt their lives with such a horrible inconvenience. Others cursed the stone thinking that their oaths would make a difference and the stone would move under its own power.
Finally an elderly peasant paused, looked at the stone and then summoned all of his strength and pushed it out of the way. To his surprise he discovered a purse beneath the stone. When he opened it he discovered many gold coins and a note from the king. The note read: “Whoever moves this stone is entitled to the coins in this purse.”
God works “in everything,” according to Paul, “for our good.” It does not mean that whatever happens to us is good. But that “good” will come to us if we fulfill His purpose for our lives and grow into His likeness.
Prayer: Give us, Dear Father, the vision to see every obstacle in life as an opportunity to use the strength You have given us to grow into Your likeness. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Romans 8:28 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.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Master Model

All of her life Melissa wanted to be a school teacher. It was a dream come true when she enrolled in college and actually began to prepare for a life of teaching. She wanted to be the best teacher any pupil ever had. 
She decided to write Thomas Carlyle, a world famous historian, and ask his advice. She wrote, “Tell me, sir, what is the secret of successful teaching?” 
His reply was simple, “Be what you would have your pupils to be. All else is unblessed mockery!”
What a reminder for Christians. Though our words are important, our life is a much stronger lesson about who Christ is and what He can do than anything we can ever say. Said Paul to Timothy, “Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith and your purity.” 
Timothy was a young pastor and under much scrutiny. Paul knew the pressure that he faced and wanted him to be an example to his church in everything that he said or did. Wisely, Paul warned him that only those who lived lives that were modeled after Christ would be worthy examples and effective teachers of the Good News. 
And if we read Paul’s words carefully, we will notice that every aspect of life is mentioned: speech, behavior, love and faith as well as pure thinking and living.
Prayer: We often forget, Lord, that we are always Your model for the world to see. May our faith be strong, our thoughts pure and our lives modeled after Your Son. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: 1 Timothy 4:12 Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith, and in purity.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

"Lucky Lindy"

Everyone called him “Lucky Lindy” but not those who knew him. When he made his historic flight across the Atlantic Ocean, Charles Lindbergh left absolutely nothing to “luck.” During his preparation he was careful and cautious, thoughtful and thorough. He never hoped things would go right. He made certain that everything would be right. Nothing was left to chance. Everything relating to his flight was the result of a deliberate choice.
A few days prior to his historic solo transatlantic flight, Lindbergh and his copilot, Frank Samuels, completed a hard day’s work. They spent endless hours examining every detail of what he would do, why and how he would do it and the possibilities of something going wrong.
That night they checked into a motel. Shortly after midnight Samuels was awakened and saw Lindbergh at the window. “Why are you sitting there awake when you should be sleeping?” asked Samuels.
“I’m studying the stars,” he answered “and practicing staying awake.”
Paying attention to details and leaving nothing to chance is a God-honoring character trait. It is a reflection of our dependence upon God to give insight and wisdom to do everything to honor Him for His gifts.
Prayer: Help us, Father, to realize that whatever we do as Christians is a reflection of You. May whatever we do in word or deed be done to glorify You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Colossians 3:17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Living For Others

William Booth, the Founder of the Salvation Army, had a deep love for the Lord and the poor of London. In fact, the Army was founded in the slums of London in a nation that was not very kind to the poor. On one occasion Booth was actually arrested for practicing charity among the poor.
During that era the needs of the poor were great and the times were difficult for all. As a result, his work grew rapidly. He was told that there was a similar need in America and decided to send some “volunteers” from his Army to America to begin their work here.
On one occasion the American Salvation Army was having a convention. Although he could not attend he was asked to send a message to the ones in attendance. He cabled only one word: “Others!”
There is a great danger when we do not think of “Others!” Paul warned about it when he wrote, “Don’t be selfish: don’t live to make a good impression on others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourself.”
It is almost impossible to imagine the impact that we Christians could have on the world if we took Paul’s words to heart. Imagine with me, if you can, how different the world would be if we accepted the problems of others as though they were ours.
Prayer: Help me, Father, to accept my responsibility to be moved with compassion and act with charity to meet the needs of others who need hope and help. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Philippians 2:3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Irreversible Call

The legendary Babe Ruth was known for stating his opinion – whether wanted or not. On one occasion there was an umpire who displeased “The Babe” and he violently disagreed with one of his calls.
Shouted Ruth, “There are 40,000 people in the stands who know that pitch was a ball!”
“Maybe so,” said Umpire Pinelli, “but mine is the only one that counts.”
Not quite. There is an Ultimate Judge. Scripture declares that “As surely as I live, says the Lord, every knee will bend to me, and every tongue will confess and give praise to God. Yes, each of you will give a personal account to God.”
Paul states clearly that there is a Righteous Judge before whom we play the game of life. He knows each of us by name and everything there is to know about us. He is infallible and impartial and cannot be bought or bribed.
Unfortunately, many Christians adopt or adapt their standards of conduct on what others in society are doing. This reflects a weak faith and a disregard for the teachings of the Word of God.
Since we will all give an account to the Lord for every thought we think and deed we do, we must look to Him for His guidance and His Word for directions.
Prayer: Father, we often live life as if what we do does not matter. Awaken us to the reality that we will stand before You to be judged for everything we do. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Romans 14:11 It is written: “’As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before me; every tongue will confess to God.’”

Sunday, August 14, 2016

"I Do Care"

George went to confession on a regular basis. He was more faithful than most. But whenever he went his attitude expressed no feelings of remorse and his behavior showed no signs of repentance.
His priest was concerned that there was no sorrow for his sins or shame for his shortcomings. It hurt the priest because he loved George deeply. He had known him from his childhood.
One day in his frustration he said, “George, please go into the cathedral. Near the altar is a statue of Christ on the cross. Get down on your knees, look into the face of our Lord, raise your fist and say, ‘Jesus, you did all this for me but I don’t really care! It’s just not that important to me.’ Will you do that for me?”
Reluctantly he agreed and went into the cathedral. He slowly walked to the cross, dropped to his knees, looked up into the face of Jesus and began to repeat the words of the priest: “Jesus, you did all this for me...Jesus you did all this for me...Jesus you did all this for me.” Suddenly he began to sob loudly and shouted, “Jesus forgive me, please forgive me for my sins. Now that I see You, I really do care.”
Once we finally see and understand what Jesus did for us on the cross of Calvary our lives will change.
Prayer: Lord, may we come to that place in our lives where we will in some small way realize the depth of Your suffering, the price of our salvation and of the debt we owe You by the care we show others. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Guidelines

While counseling an anxious young college student recently, he said to me, “I need your guidance. I know that you are very successful so I know that any advice you give me would be very worthwhile. Can you give me a few words that can guide me through life?”
“Yes,” I replied. “But first you must know that they come from the Bible and that I have found them most reliable.”
The first word is anything. Be willing to do any work or task that God places before you. Accept all of His assignments with confidence because He has never planned for anyone to fail.
The second word is anywhere. Be ready to follow Him wherever He leads you. The will of God won’t lead you where the grace of God can’t protect you or His power provide for your every need.
Finally, any cost. Nothing is too precious to give up for the Lord. And whatever you give up for Him will be given back to you many, many times over. And above all remember this: Give up everything for Him but do not give Him up for anything.
Jesus said, “Take up your cross and follow me!” To be one of His disciples means carrying a cross. Carrying a cross as He did means we are willing to submit and surrender our lives to Him and do what He asks us to do.
Prayer: Father, may we realize that being Your disciples carries with it a supreme sacrifice - carrying a cross as You did. Help us to be willing to pay the price. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Mark 8:34 Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”

Friday, August 12, 2016

Gratitude Or Greed?

Aesop was a Greek slave who became famous for writing a number of famous fables. One of his stories involved a dog, a bone, a stream and a bridge.
As the dog was crossing the bridge carrying his bone, he looked down at the water beneath him. To his surprise, he thought that the bone in the other dog’s mouth was larger.
In his greed he opened his mouth to try to snatch the bigger bone from the other dog. However, when he opened his mouth he dropped his bone into the water. Then he had nothing. The water in the stream carried the bone to the river and then into the sea.
Paul compares people who are greedy with those who are immoral and impure and assures his readers that they will not inherit the Kingdom of Christ and of God. In fact, he says, “greedy people are actually idolaters” – and indeed they are. An idolater is one who worships and wants things more than they do God and puts the worship of things above and beyond the worship of God.
It is not wrong to want nice things. But if we want things more than we want God, it takes our minds away from Him and changes our priorities to the things of this world. As Christians we must be careful to focus our mind and place our treasures in Heaven with Jesus.
Prayer: Give us discerning minds and faithful hearts, Father, to desire those things that are best for us. May we be careful and cautious at all times to honor You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Ephesians 5:5 For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person – such a man is an idolater – has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Giving And Receiving

Little Amy was pleased that her teacher came to visit her farm. Taking her through the barn and out into the pasture, she pointed with pride to a cow that was quietly chewing its cud. 
Filled with pride she said to her teacher, “That’s my cow!”
“Oh, how wonderful, Amy,” she commented. “Does she give milk?”
“Not really,” replied Amy. “We have to take it from her.”
Some Christians are like Amy’s cow – there is good in them but it has to be taken from them. This may be true because of the influence of the world rather than the influence of the Word. 
All of us are encouraged to hold on to whatever we possess as tightly as possible. We are constantly advised to invest our money wisely so that when we advance in age we will have enough to survive.
But the writer of Proverbs says, “It is possible to give freely and become more wealthy.” What did he mean?
God always blesses those who give freely of their time, treasures and talents in service to others. When we give we are simply sharing with others what God has given us and providing space for more of His blessings.
Prayer: Help us, Lord, to believe in Your Word and trust in Your ways. Open our hearts to share the blessings You have given us with those in need. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Proverbs 11:24-25 For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person – such a man is an idolater – has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Getting Dirty Takes Time

Two young children who lived in a ghetto were invited to a Salvation Army Christmas banquet. They were amazed at the lovely surroundings and were surprised to discover that the tables were covered with clean white tablecloths.
When they placed their hands next to their napkins one boasted, “Look, my hands are dirtier than yours.”
“Yes,” responded his friend, “but you are two years older than I am.”
How like sin. Sin is subtle and moves silently but surely, quietly and quickly until it invades every aspect of one’s life. The longer one lives in sin the more it expands and grows until it completely controls one’s life. It is rarely recognized for what it is unless an individual comes to know and understand and accept God’s Word and His message of salvation.
The only way to be redeemed and reclaimed from a sin-centered life is to accept Jesus Christ as Savior and enthrone Him as Lord. Not only is He powerful enough to save us but strong enough to strengthen us, to sustain us and safeguard us from sin.
Jesus offers us His salvation freely as a gift of His eternal love. There is nothing we can do to earn His salvation, but there is much to do once we accept it.
Prayer: Lord, we acknowledge our need for Your salvation if we want to be saved from our sins and live lives that are free from sin and worth living. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 32 Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered…Many are the woes of the wicked, but the Lord’s unfailing love surrounds the man who trusts in him.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

From Farm To Fame

Grover Cleveland Alexander is recognized as one of the greatest baseball pitchers of all time. His record of ninety shutouts still stands and his 373 recorded victories has been achieved by only one other pitcher. In 1938 he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
From his earliest days on the farm his only desire was to play baseball and be a pitcher. He actually began his career by throwing apples and stones at fence posts between chores to sharpen his throwing skills.
One day he bought a few baseballs and nailed an old catcher’s mitt to the chicken coop. He would spend every available moment throwing baseballs at the mitt and finally became successful at hitting the mitt nine times out of ten.
During his pitching career reporters piled heaps of praise on him as his record grew and fame spread. But none of them were ever aware of the many hours he practiced with no one watching or helping him develop the skills that would eventually bring him world recognition.
Fame never comes unless one is willing to pay the price it requires. Hard work is God’s plan for all of us. Those who work diligently are the recipients of many benefits in their own lives and the lives of others. God blesses those who develop the skills He gives them.
Prayer: Help us, Lord, to take the gifts You give us with great humility and work with all of our might to develop them to bring honor and glory to You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12 Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Convenience Or Conviction

Years of struggle had finally ended for George. He completed all of his requirements to become a high school teacher. After sending out many resumes one principal finally invited him for an interview. He looked forward to it with great excitement.
Sitting across from the principal he was asked, “In your biology classes, would you teach biology or evolution?”
Anxious to get the job he replied, “I would teach it any way you wanted me to teach it. It really does not matter to me.”
In many of his letters Paul addressed the importance of being Christians of conviction. Writing to the church at Corinth he boldly declared: “Be on guard! Stand fast for what you believe. Be courageous. Be strong. And everything you do must be done with love!”
No apology here. Those words are as important when he wrote them as they are today. The spiritual danger to compromise our faith greets us everywhere we turn. The temptation to compromise our witness when we are called upon to speak boldly for Christ is difficult when the fear of rejection overwhelms us. And we often act unlovingly toward others when acts of kindness and thoughtfulness could be essential win them for Christ.
Prayer: Lord, we pray that we will become strong in our faith through You. May we rely on Your strength and power to overcome the temptation to compromise. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: 1 Corinthians 16:13 Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Commitment

One story of the Church in Russia has been relayed from one generation to the next. It occurred one Sunday as believers met in a house church. The small fellowship gathered together and began to sing their favorite hymns quietly but fervently. Suddenly, two soldiers walked into their midst with loaded weapons.
“If you wish to renounce your commitment to Christ,” shouted one, “leave now!”
Two left. Then another. Finally, two more.
Closing the door the officer snapped with the voice of a commanding officer, “Keep your hands up – but this time in praise to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. We too are Christians.”
The other officer then added, “We’ve learned by our experiences that unless people are willing to die for their faith, they cannot be fully trusted.”
Nearing the end of his life Paul often spoke of his loyalty and commitment to his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Through shipwrecks and imprisonments, disappointments and being abandoned by his friends and followers – even when facing death – he remained focused. He had achieved great status in the world but one day realized that it offered nothing in comparison to what he discovered in Christ. He was willing to suffer and die for Christ because he knew what awaited him. That’s faith.
Prayer: Our Father, we may never be called upon to suffer for You, nor we may never be asked to sacrifice anything we value for You, but help us to be willing. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: 2 Timothy 4:5-8 For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and time has come for my departure. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day – and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Christ Preeminent

Leonardo da Vinci had just completed his masterpiece, The Last Supper. Pleased with his work, he invited another artist to come to his studio and view his painting.
Gazing with great admiration, the guest artist was overwhelmed and speechless. Finally he exclaimed to da Vinci, “You have painted the chalice with exquisite beauty. It is the most beautiful thing in the whole picture.”
When he heard the comments of the other artist, he immediately took his brush and painted over the chalice. As his friend watched in shock, da Vinci said, “I don’t want anything to take away from the beauty of my Lord which is the reason for the painting.”
Christ is present in the life of every Christian. But His presence is no assurance of His preeminence. Writing to the church at Colossae Paul said, “Christ...is first in everything.”
Because of His death, resurrection and ascension into heaven, God exalted Him and elevated Him to His rightful place in creation. And if God so honored Him as being supreme over all things, how ought we to honor Him in and through and with and by our lives?
Simply accepting Him as our Savor is not enough. We must exalt Him as Lord and elevate Him in every aspect of our lives.
Prayer: We thank You Father, for what You have done for us and what You can do through us. May we make You the centerpiece of our lives. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Colossians 1:18 And he is the head of the body, the church, he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy

Friday, August 5, 2016

Asking The Right Question

A salesman was calling on one of his favorite customers – an elderly gentleman who owned a country store. He found “Old Sam” sitting on the porch of his store gently rocking back and forth with an old Labrador retriever laying quietly beside him. As he walked up the steps he said, “Does your dog bite?”
“Nope,” said “Old Sam,” as he continued to rock.
The salesman reached down to pet the dog. Just as he touched the dog’s head, it growled and snapped viciously at him. He jumped back and shouted, “I thought you said that your dog didn’t bite!”
“My dog doesn’t. But that’s not my dog,” responded “Old Sam.”
All of us collect information. It is an ongoing process in all of our lives. But the value of the information we collect depends on the questions we ask.
Thomas once asked, “Lord, we don’t know where You are going, so how can we know the way?” Jesus replied, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
The most important question everyone must answer is implied in the response of Jesus: “Do you know the way to God?” Jesus left no doubt about the route: We can only get to God through Him.
Prayer: Lord, we thank You that Your Son clearly and consistently explained the only way to come to You is through Him. May we in faith accept Your “way.” In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: John 14:6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Advance!

When Caesar crossed the English Channel from Gaul and was preparing to go ashore he knew that the odds were against his winning the battle. After thinking about the seriousness of the situation he did a strange thing.
Prior to the invasion, he ordered his men to get off of the ships and gather around him. He then commanded all but a few to move forward and not look back. Then, he ordered the remaining few to stay with him. At his command they were to set fire to all of the ships.
After the first party made their way forward he issued the order to set the ships ablaze. When the ships were blazing he then gave another command for the men to turn around and see the burning ships.
The men were stunned as they looked at the burning vessels. They realized that they were now stranded in enemy territory and could not retreat to safety. There was nothing that they could do but advance and fight. And they did. With every ounce of strength they possessed they fought their way forward and were victorious!
When we are faced with overwhelming challenges and difficult decisions, we must look to God and ask Him what is the best way to advance and win the battle. He knows what we should do. However, we must trust in Him, follow His advice and trust His strength to be victorious.
Prayer: Each day, Lord, we face tasks that are trying and problems that are perplexing. May we look to You for Your insight and wisdom as we advance. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Proverbs 3:5, 6 Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Active Or Effective

To be active for God is one thing but to be effective for God is quite another thing. Anyone can be active but not everyone will be effective.
Being “active” can be compared to “riding” a stationary bicycle: there is a lot of motion but no movement. Or spending an hour in a rocking chair going back and forth: you end up in the same place having gone nowhere.
For the Christian to be effective means making a positive impact on the world with our lives. It means that we have lived lives that made a difference in the lives of others – a difference that can be seen, a difference that can be felt, and a difference that will bring others to Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord.
We begin this life of effectiveness by giving our life to God through the work of Christ. When we give our lives to Him, He will accept us as we are and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. And when He cleanses us, He will fill us with power that comes from His Holy Spirit dwelling with us. When he fills us with His Spirit He can use us effectively.
There are many things we can do but only one thing we must do. Paul said, “Present your bodies to God!” God has pleasing and perfect plans for all of us to do His work effectively. But we must first present ourselves to Him.
Prayer: Lord of our lives, help us to understand how much You want us to work with You in reclaiming Your world. May we present all that we are to You, now! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Romans 12:1 Therefore, I urge you brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Accidents Or Appointments?

A rough-and-ready cowboy applied for a large insurance policy. Worried about his life style, the agent was careful and cautious to ask questions to make sure that the cowboy would not take any foolish chances.
“Have you had any accidents?” asked the agent.
“No, not really,” he answered. “Come to think of it, though, a rattlesnake bit me and a horse kicked me once.”
“Well,” questioned the agent, “aren’t those accidents?”
“Oh no,” he responded. “They did it on purpose!”
There are no accidents in the life of the Christian – only appointments that are from God. They come from Him to let us know that He is with us and working out His will in our lives. God is always working in “everything” not as though He was bored and wanted something to do. Many things that happen to us are not good in themselves, but are good for us because they bring us closer to God.
God through His power and love is able to take every event and turn it into an experience that will fulfill His purpose for our lives. Wherever we are and whatever occurs is because of the fact that Christ is in us preparing us for that time when we will be with Him. We need a heavenly “mindset” that enables us to see beyond the moment and into our future with Him.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, help us to develop an eternal vision that allows us to see that You are active in our lives preparing us for life with You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Romans 8:28 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.

Monday, August 1, 2016

A Better World

A BETTER WORLD
One day the Abbotts were watching the morning news. After observing one tragic event after another, Jon turned to his wife and said, “You know, I could make a better world than this one.”
Turning to him she politely said, “Why don’t you?”
We read in Genesis that God “looked over all that He made, and He saw that it was excellent in every way.” Every small detail that God brought into existence was the way He intended it to be – excellent. From placing light in the sky and fish in the sea; land for farmers to grow crops and people to enjoy; and the sun and moon and stars to govern days and nights and seasons; and fish and birds and animals for man’s enjoyment, use and nourishment – even men and women were created without flaw. It was all perfect.
But then through man – the triumph of His creation – sin entered the world and all that was the way He wanted it to be was destroyed. When Satan entered God’s creation he brought with him disappointment, destruction and death.
Any good in us or in the world is of God. He is the only source of light and life, grace and goodness, peace and purity. And it is only as we let God through Christ, Who is Lord, rule and reign in our lives that we can become good and do good for God and reclaim His work in His world.
Christ in us, the hope of glory.
Prayer: Help us, Father, do Your work in Your world as we surrender our lives to Your will. May we make the world better through Your Son, our Savior. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Genesis 1:31 God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning – the sixth day.