Sunday, September 22, 2019

The Great Commision

A salesman was known for keeping his hat on while he worked at his desk in his office. One day a new employee asked, “Why do you keep your hat on when you work in the building? Are you hairless?”
“No,” came the reply. “I wear it to remind myself that I ought to be outselling and ‘here less.’”

Would it be a good idea if we, as Christians, would wear hats when we watch TV, read newspapers, visit with friends, work in the yard, or go shopping? Could wearing a hat remind us that there is a world waiting to hear the message of the Gospel? Might it remind us not to get too comfortable? Would it keep us from forgetting or ignoring the Great Commission?

We place great value on the “last will and testament” of individuals. It gives exact directions for what is to be done with whatever they leave at the end of their time on earth. Jesus did this in the Great Commission. And, He did it with God’s authority behind Him.

He said, “Go and make disciples.” They were not to be satisfied because they had a relationship with Him. Nor were they to be satisfied with the teachings He left in their heads, hearts, and hands. Life with Him on earth had ended. But His life in them was just beginning.    

The command “to go” did not end with the disciples. Rather, that is where it began. His voice still echoes across the centuries to those of us today who are His disciples. We are to “go and make disciples” wherever we are, whenever we can.

Prayer: We often fail, Lord, in doing what You have commanded us to do. Forgive us for failing to be obedient to Your command. May we begin today to honor You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 Scripture For Today: Matthew 28:18-20 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” 

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Strength For The Race

Few people have ever heard of the runner, John Baker. His name is not known the world over. But once, while running a race, he studied the runners who were ahead of him. He began to wonder, “Am I doing my best?” He was not sure, so he decided to try harder.

First he focused on the runner in front of him. After a few strides, he realized that he could run harder and pass him. When he did, he immediately set another goal and passed the next runner, then the next. Finally, he was in first place, won the race and set a record.

What a great lesson for all of us. If we only focus on where we are and what we are doing, we may never achieve the potential that God has invested in us. If we “accept what is” we may well end up “as is.”  A self-satisfied life never becomes a God-glorifying life.

Paul says that we “can do everything with the help of Christ who strengthens us.” Not anything, but everything that God has planned for us to do, He will empower us to do. The power we receive from our relationship with Christ will strengthen us to overcome any obstacle that would keep us from doing His will, His way, in His world. He will never give us a superhuman power to accomplish goals for our own purposes. If He asks us to do something in His name, for His sake that will glorify Him, there are no pressures or problems, trials or troubles that will be able to keep us from winning the race He has set before us.

Prayer: Give us Your strength and will, power and determination, Lord, to do our best to run and win the race You have set before us. All things through You, for You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Philippians 4:13 I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.

Friday, September 20, 2019

Steps In The Right Direction

Our feet contain 26 bones and more than 100 muscles, tendons and ligaments. Most of us will walk 65,000 miles and take 125 million steps in our lifetime. That’s enough “footwork” to make anyone tired before considering to begin such a journey.
Everyone’s journey is different. All of us have different paths. When we awaken in the morning, we have no guarantee of what might happen or where we will be when night falls.

The writer of the first Psalm declared, “Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand with sinners or join in with scoffers.” Clearly he urges us to avoid friendships or to even associate with those who do not honor God. Why? Because they may influence us to abandon the plans He has for us. Friends who do not encourage us in our walk with God may bring about an indifference to the plan and purpose He has for our lives. Often the ones we associate with have an enormous influence on our attitudes. And we must always be aware of the fact that our attitudes shape our behavior and can be manipulated by others.

The author also describes the benefit of those who walk a godly path: the Lord will watch over them. What a comforting thought for the believer to realize that every one of those steps in each of the many miles will have “the Lord watching over them.” When we walk with Him, we have the promise of His presence and His power to protect us and provide for our every need.

Prayer: Help us, Father, to know and obey Your Word so that we may count on Your strength for our journey. Keep our feet on Your path as we follow in Your steps! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Psalm 1 Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand with sinners or join in with scoffers. 

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Searching Everywhere

The phone rang and a small child answered it softly. “Hello,” he said barely above a whisper.

“Hello,” came the response. “Is your mother home?”

“Yes,” came the reply, “but she’s busy.”

“Well,” wondered the caller, “is your father home?”

“Yes,” he said, “but he’s busy, too.”

“Are they both busy? What are they doing?” asked the salesman.

“They’re looking for me. They think I’m lost,” he whispered.

What a picture of our Savior! He said, “I, the Son of Man, have come to seek and save the lost!”

This verse comes at the end of the story of Zacchaeus. Sometimes we focus on the different facts in the story: he was very short, the son of Abraham, he was a very influential man, and he was an unpopular tax collector. None of these facts actually mattered to Jesus.

What did matter to Jesus, then and now, is that a person is not saved because of his family, his wealth, his influence in the community, his appearance or his previous way of life. It is only through faith in the Son of God that the lost can be forgiven and made new.

In one verse Jesus summarized His entire mission: to seek and to save the lost. Wherever or whoever they are, whatever they have done, Jesus continues to seek the lost.

Prayer: Lord, we may have much, but You ask little - only that we, in faith, accept You as our Savior. Help us to understand that all we need to do is to accept You! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Luke 19:10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost. 

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

One Way

ONE WAY
The famous entertainer, W. C. Fields, was an agnostic. One day, a friend came to visit him and found him reading the Bible.

“Bill,” he exclaimed, “it’s so good to see that you are reading the Bible. When did you change and become a Christian?”

“I haven’t changed,” he replied quickly. “I’m looking for some loopholes.”

No matter how hard he searched, he never discovered a loophole in God’s Word.

There are many who do the same thing. They do not study God’s Word to learn of His salvation and grace. They read it looking for errors and contradictions.

Others have difficulty in accepting God’s Word as the final authority for truth. They do not want to believe that there is no other name besides the name of Jesus that they can call upon for salvation. They want to believe that there are many paths that lead to heaven and truth. What they want to believe comes from man-originated beliefs - not the Word of God.

God designated Jesus to be the only Redeemer and Savior. There never has been, nor ever will be, any other name for people to call upon for God’s salvation. While there are some problems that may have more than one solution, when it comes to being forgiven of our sins, there is only One solution. Salvation and eternal life is by grace through faith in Christ alone.

Prayer: Thank You, Father, for Your Son Jesus, in whose Name and through whose life’s work we can be saved. May we accept Your salvation through faith in Him. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Acts 4:12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” 

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Make A Wish

A college freshman, small in stature, wanted to be a member of the football team. He reported for the first practice, went to the coach and asked to try out for the team. Not wanting to discourage him, the coach agreed. He gave him the football and said, “I want you to run toward the goal while these two linemen chase you.”
Tucking the ball under his arm, he ran as fast as he could. Soon, one of the linemen grabbed his right leg, and he began to fall. Then the other one grabbed his left leg, and he fell to the ground. As he lay there panting and praying, one of them said, “This may be your last wish. Make it count and be careful not to waste it.”

“I wish you’d let me go so I can tell the coach, ‘I quit.’”

There were many times in the life of the Apostle Paul that he faced overwhelming odds; times when it appeared that he would be “torn apart.” But he never gave up or quit.

When he was enduring his final imprisonment in Rome and awaiting his trial, he did not know if he would be released or executed. Rather than being filled with fear, he demonstrated his faith in God. So, he prayed. And what did he pray? He prayed that when he stood trial he would speak courageously for Christ and not be ashamed: “For I live in eager expectation and hope that I will never do anything that causes me shame, but that I will always be bold for Christ.” What faith! What trust! What courage! What is your prayer when you need God?

Prayer: Father, may we, like Paul, have confidence and courage, to face adversity with faith and trust, knowing that You are in us, with us, and working through us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: 
Philippians 1:20-21 I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 

Monday, September 16, 2019

Let Go And Let God

An elderly man was taken for his very first plane ride. When it was over and he was safely on the ground, his wife asked him, “Well, Sam, how did you like that?”
“Pretty good,” came the reply. “ Only problem was that I couldn’t let all of my weight down on the seat and relax.”

Sometimes we Christians have difficulty laying down or letting go of the burdens we carry. While we may have many excuses, there is no real reason why we cannot let go of our fears and failures, problems and pressures, worries and woes, and trust the Lord.

Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”

The burdens Jesus came to relieve us of are not only physical burdens, but spiritual and emotional and mental burdens as well.

There are times when we fear that our sins may not have been forgiven because we believe that they are too horrible for God’s grace and mercy. But He promised us that “if we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Perhaps we become fearful that we are not doing enough for God or have missed His will for our lives. Again, the verse echoes in our ears, “If you become humble...pray...seek... turn…I will forgive.” God’s willingness and ability are as good as His Word. The problem belongs to us – not Him. Remember the verse: “Lord, help my unbelief!” He can...and will!

Prayer: Help us, Heavenly Father, to take You at Your Word, and to cast all our cares on You. It’s not that You can’t do it. It’s that we can’t believe how great You are! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today Matthew 11:28 Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Knock It Off!

An artist began working on a large block of marble. A friend watched him as he chipped away, knocking off one piece after another.
Finally, the friend asked, “What are you making?”
“A horse,” came the reply.
“How do you do that?” he wanted to know.
“By knocking off everything that doesn’t look like a horse,” said the sculptor.
It is normal to question what God may be doing in our lives from time to time. We often look for meaning or purpose when we enter into a period of suffering or pain, darkness or despair. There are some days when problems pile up, difficulties grow, confusion never ends, and the light never comes on.
Paul said we are “pressed on every side by troubles” – days when we feel like we are being squeezed in a vice. But he quickly adds, “we are not crushed or broken” assuring us of the Great Physician’s concern and care. Then he goes on to write that we may feel “perplexed” – as if we were in a state of confusion. Now what? He encourages us not to “give up and quit” – knowing that God can make sense out of nonsense. If we “get knocked down” – we will never get knocked out. God will be there to lift us up, dust us off, and send us on our way. Paul’s message: We may be at the end of our rope, but we are not at the end of our hope.
Prayer: Father, help us to grasp the greatness of Your power and value of Your presence no matter the problem or pain. We know You are with us. Help us to trust. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: 2 Corinthians 4:1-10 –We are hard-pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Is Your Light Shining?

It was in the darkness of night that we called on a mechanic to fix a problem with our car. As he worked under the hood, his helper stood by holding a flashlight so he could see what he was doing.
After a short amount of time, the helper became bored, began to watch our dog and turned the light away from the problem the mechanic was repairing.

“Shine your light on the engine,” demanded the mechanic. “That’s why you’re here.”

Jesus said that His followers were like “a city on a mountain, glowing in the night, for all to see.” What an interesting picture to consider.

If you have ever flown in an airplane at night and looked out of the window, you have no doubt been fascinated to see the lights of the cities below. If the night is clear, their light cannot be hidden. Their “glow” can be seen for miles in every direction.

What is true of the lights of those cities can be true of the Christian. We always have the opportunity to “glow” like those lights for Christ. As His witnesses in His world, we are to be known for the “light” we can provide to those looking through the darkness of this world for directions to Christ, our Savior. Our faith must be seen if we are to have any value to the lost who are looking for their way in the world. Jesus said, “Don’t hide your light, let it shine!”

Prayer: Help us, Jesus, to be the light You planned us to be in Your world. May our light shine brightly so that our words and deeds will lead and guide others to You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Matthew 5:14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.” 

Friday, September 13, 2019

How Could This Happen?

A homeless man was found dead trying to climb into a dumpster. When they looked in his pockets for his identification, they discovered several checks. They were worth thousands of dollars, but they did him no good. He never surrendered them to receive their cash value.
As we read God’s Word, we find promise after promise – all having value to the believer. But as with the checks of the homeless man, they must be “turned into cash” to have any value for the Christian. We must go to God, through His Word, to claim His promises to meet our every need.
James said that God “does not resent your asking. But when you do ask Him, be sure you really expect Him to answer, for a doubtful mind is as unsettled as a wave of the sea…”
There are times when it is easier to believe in God than it is to believe in the fact that He deeply cares for each of us and our every need. Surely, if He is bound by His Word, then we can go to Him “in faith believing.” We must always remember one simple fact: nothing is so small that it escapes His concern, or that any problem is so large that He cannot solve it.
We limit God by the limitations we place on Him. The problems we have with our faith are our problems – not God’s. “Whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you,” said Jesus. What more can He say to assure us of His love and concern for our best?
Prayer: Father, give us a faith that is larger than our problems and a willingness to trust in Your power. Remind us that You are bigger than the universe You created. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: James 1:1-8 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do. 

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Here And Hereafter

Two elderly ladies were sitting on the porch rocking and talking the day away. Said one to the other, “Sally, do you ever think of the hereafter?”
“All the time,” came the reply. “Every time I go into a different room I look around and say to myself, ‘What did I come here after?’”

An amusing little story that we can use to remind ourselves of one of life’s most important realities: while we live in this world, we must prepare ourselves for the next. Many live as though this life will never end, or that the next one will never begin. I recall seeing a tombstone that read: “I lived all of my life expecting to die – but not this soon.”

We all marvel at the persistence and power, the determination and drive that the Apostle Paul had in presenting the message of salvation. His audience would change, his location would be different, and his conditions would vary. But one fact remained constant: “The necessity to turn from sin, get closer to God every day of his life, and grow his faith in Christ as Lord.”

This message is for the “newly saved” as well as the “elders of the church.” There must be that moment in everyone's life when we surrender ourselves completely to Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. But, there are also many other moments in life when we pause, confess our sins, repent, seek forgiveness, and prepare to meet the Lord! Are you ready to face Him?

Prayer: Thank You, Lord, for Your salvation. We want to live life knowing that we may meet You sooner than we had planned. So, convict us every day of our sins. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Acts 20:21 I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus. 

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Greed

Years ago there was a pretzel stand in front of a building in New York. A generous businessman wanted to help the owner grow his business and eventually become successful. Each day he would put a quarter on the counter and walk away without taking a pretzel.

One day as he was leaving his quarter, the owner said, “Sir…”

Stopping quickly, he said, “I presume that you are going to ask me why I never take the pretzels?”

“No,” she said rather haughtily. “I just wanted to tell you that the price of the pretzels is fifty cents.”

In Paul’s letter to the Colossians, he warned them to “Put to death…evil desires and greed which leads to idolatry and most other sins.” He then made an astonishing suggestion to accomplish this: “consider yourselves as though you are dead.” He suggests that we make a conscious effort every day to identify and banish any greedy desire as soon as we sense it growing in our minds, extinguish it and not allow it to grow which will lead to our destruction.

Everyday our minds are stimulated by ideas, thoughts, and suggestions that imply, “If only you had this, you would be satisfied or if you achieve this goal you will be successful and therefore happy.” Not so!  “Things” cannot fill the empty space in our hearts because it has been reserved for God Himself. Only Christ, Who stands at the door to our hearts, gently knocking and patiently waiting to come in, can remove the loneliness we feel without His presence.

Prayer: Lord, give us a clear vision of the peace and satisfaction that can be ours with You in our hearts. Convict us of any desire to put “things” in Your “space.” In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: 
Colossians 3:5 Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature:sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Encouraging Children

A large cathedral was having its beautiful, hand-carved doors replaced with ones that were lighter and easier to open. A gentleman walking by the church stopped and asked the foreman the reason for changing the doors.
“Because,” came the reply, “they are too heavy for children. No church should have doors that are too difficult for children to open.”

Jesus set the example for us to follow in our relationships with children. He said, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to them!”
What a precious picture of Jesus – perhaps one of the most important ones of Him in the Gospels. He was the kind of person who children loved. In fact, George MacDonald once said, “People would never be followers of Jesus if the children were afraid of Him.” The love He spoke of must have been obvious to everyone because of the life He lived. He was never too busy to be interrupted, or too tired to be disturbed. He gave His all to everyone who needed anything.

Jesus also seemed to say that children were nearer to God than anyone else. Why? Because of their trust and truthfulness, simplicity and sincerity. As we age, we seem to grow further from God rather than closer. Might we learn from this truth from children and ask God for a child-like faith? Are we too involved with ourselves to return to a child-like faith?

Prayer: Help us, Father, to live lives that attract the young, the old and everyone in between who need You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Matthew 19:13-15 Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”  

Monday, September 9, 2019

Driven By Desire

Young Antonio was driven by a desire to play the violin and sing. Unfortunately, his fingers were not nimble enough to move swiftly over the strings, and his voice sounded screechy. He went from one teacher to another, and then another. They all agreed that he would never be a great musician. They would laugh, and he would cry.
One day, by chance, he met Amati, a violin maker. He was very attracted to the sincerity and passion that Antonio had for music, even though he could neither play nor sing. “Son,” said Amati, “it is a song in your heart that makes the difference. There are many ways to make music. And you can make music if you want.”
Those words inspired Antonio, and he became an apprentice to Amati to learn how to make violins. In time, Antonio Stradivarius became the world’s greatest maker of violins. He was helped by a friend, something all of us can do for others.
The Apostle Paul had some great advice: “Don’t make your children - or anyone’s children - angry by the way you treat them.” The true purpose of guidance is to help children grow by example and encouragement. All children deserve a parent or teacher who is Christ-honoring, hard-working, accountable to God and others. Expressing love by being kind, patient, and encouraging to children, ours and others, is an honor and calling. Showing “our Father’s” love by encouraging and mentoring children is a gift we can all give to children.
Prayer: We pray, Lord, for opportunities to demonstrate Your concern for children. May we show Your love and grace by word and deed, and follow Your example. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Ephesians 6:4 Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. 

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Do You Care?

DO YOU CARE?
An elderly lady asked a young child, “How do you do, my dear?”
“Fine, thank you,” came the reply.
There was a pause, and finally the lady asked, “Why don’t you ask me how I am doing?”
After thinking for a moment, the child replied, “You know, I really don’t care how you are doing!”
Demonstrating care for others is an important responsibility of the Christian. In fact, the first century Christians were recognized by the saying, “My, how they love one another!” Sadly, that is not true today. Some churches are more like a wrestling match than a worship center.
In His wisdom, God has connected all of us together, believers and nonbelievers. No one is self-sufficient or able to act independently of others and never require help from anyone. We must never think that we are ever excused from the responsibility of giving help to those in need. It’s God’s way, especially for Christians, to show His love to those who are unsaved.
We read in God’s Word that “we will reap whatever we sow.” As someone once said, “You can’t plant corn and expect to get a crop of watermelons.” Although we may not want to believe it, we will only get what we have planted. We see this truth in the laws of nature, and find evidence of it in the laws of God as well. Everything we do has predictable results. If we sow comfort, we can be assured of receiving care. Christians must always live God’s love.
Prayer: Help us, Father, to be alert to the needs of others and sow Your love and grace. May we share the gifts You give us with others, and bless them in Your Name, for Your sake. Amen.
Scripture For Today: Galatians 6:1-10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. 

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Conscious Of Our Conscience

CONSCIOUS OF OUR CONSCIENCE
While managing the Washington Senators, Gil Hodges learned that four of his players had violated the team curfew. Calling the team together, he said, “I know that four of you have violated the team curfew, and I know who you are. No, I don’t want to make this an issue, but you know the penalty for doing that. So I am going to leave a box on my desk, and you guilty ones put your hundred dollars in the box, and we’ll drop the matter. I want to see $400 in that box in the morning!” The next morning there were eight one-hundred dollar bills in the box.
Our conscience is one of God’s greatest gifts. If we live according to His Word, it will enable us to distinguish right from wrong, good from bad, the sacred from the secular.
Paul said that he took “pains to have a clear conscience toward both God and man.” He lived his life in constant awareness of the fact that one day there would be a resurrection of the living and the dead followed by a judgment of both the just and the unjust. He refused to be found doing anything that would dishonor His Lord and Savior, and be judged “unfit!”
There are many statements in the writings of Paul where he talked about his final accounting before God. He lived his life continually reminding himself - and others - of one important fact: We will all stand before Him to be judged. We would do well to remember this.
Prayer: Father, may we live life in light of eternity, always realizing that You will judge all of us on that day. May we prepare now for that day when we will face You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Acts 24:16 So I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man.

Friday, September 6, 2019

Came With Nothing - Leave With Nothing

Alexander the Great was a Macedonian king who conquered Persia, Greece and Egypt. He was considered the “conqueror of the world.” It was the custom in his day that when a person died, their hands would be wrapped so no one could see them. However, prior to his death, he asked that his hands remain unwrapped. When they asked why, he replied, “I want everyone to see that they were empty.”
In his letter to Timothy, Paul said, “After all, we didn’t bring anything with us when we came into this world, and we certainly can’t take anything with us when we die.” This is a popular verse, used by many, but accepted and followed as a guide for living by only a few – judging by the way that most people live: Full hands, empty lives!
In three short verses, Paul gives some astounding advice to all of us. He begins by saying that true religion can be very valuable if it brings one contentment. Might he be implying that if we are not content with what we believe, no amount of money - or things - will bring us peace? Next, he reminds us that we “can’t take it with us.” Finally, he concludes this bit of advice by saying, “By the way, if you have enough food and clothing, be content. And, if you are not content with what God’s given you, you will be tempted and trapped by foolish desires that will bring ruin and destruction.” If God’s Word controls our heart, we can live with empty hands.
Prayer: It’s easy, Lord, to want what has earthly value. However, place in our hearts a desire for what matters most: knowing, loving, obeying, and serving You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: 1 Timothy 6:6-10 After all, we didn’t bring anything with us when we came into this world, and we certainly can’t take anything with us when we die.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Another Grey Hair

A father said to his son, “When you cause problems and are disobedient, you add another grey hair to my head.”
“Wow,” said the son in amazement, “you must have treated your dad horribly! Grandpa’s hair is completely grey! What did you do to him?”
God’s Word demands that children honor and obey their parents. But there is also a distinction between obeying and honoring parents.
Obeying means that children are to do what they are told to do as long as it is legal, proper, and ethical. Honoring, on the other hand, means giving respect, love and admiration.
Children cannot be expected to obey their parents if it means disobeying God. Neither are they to be submissive to parents who are controlling and demeaning when they are mature. As long as children accept the support of their parents, they must comply with the expectations made by their parents if the expectations of their parents are in keeping with God’s Word.
But honoring and loving parents may sometimes be more difficult than obeying them. It is always important for parents and children to remember that respect, which leads to giving and receiving honor and love, flows in both directions. If there is thoughtfulness and kindness, patience and gentleness, goodness and happiness in the home, honor and love will be normal and natural.
Prayer: Father, family life is difficult. When You are the focus of a family, all can live in love, hope, and harmony. We pray that families will invite You in as a member .In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Ephesians 6:2 “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise—“so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.” 

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

An Inside Job

“Why is it,” the little girl asked the botanist, “that when I open a marigold it dies, but when God opens it, it’s beautiful?”
“Because,” came the answer, “God works from the inside out, while you work from the outside in.”
What a beautiful description of the new birth. It’s not something that happens on the outside, but something God does on the inside that will eventually be seen on the outside.
A Christian becomes a completely new person. Although we cannot see the change on the inside, we know that there is a change when others see it on the outside – the new behaviors that come with the new birth. When Christ fills our heart on the inside, others will see it on the outside: we will no longer be the same and therefore do the same as we did in the past.
People often speak of “being rehabilitated.” This means that one has been restored to good health, a useful life, one’s former condition. But, that is not true of those of us who have been born again. We have, in and through Christ, been “recreated” - we become completely “new beings” or actually “new people!” “The old life is gone. A new life has begun,” said Paul.
When we are converted to faith in Christ, we do not turn over a new leaf. We begin living a new life under a new Leader that results in a new way of living. Now we begin living a new life by a new set of standards – God’s standards. We must now ask, “Do others see Jesus in me?”
Prayer: Help us, Lord, to examine our lives carefully and completely to be sure we are living this “new life.” May we allow Your Holy Spirit to work within us to change us, for Jesus’ sake, Amen.
Scripture For Today: 2 Corinthians 5:11-19 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

A Spine And A Spirit

Kenneth was a shy eight-year-old who loved to read. On one occasion his Sunday school teacher asked him to read part of the story of Daniel. In reading one of the verses, he accidentally read “an exceptional spine was within him” rather than “an excellent spirit was within him.” Both phrases, however, clearly describe who Daniel was.
Daniel was recognized for his wise insight, great wisdom, and prophetic visions. As he rose to power and prestige with the king, the other palace administrators became jealous of his privileged position. In their effort to get rid of Daniel, they were successful in persuading the king to outlaw prayer. The fact that prayer was “outlawed” did not matter to Daniel, and rather than give in to political pressure, he continued to pray boldly and publicly to the Lord, his God.
We all recall with pleasure the amazing miracle God performed by protecting him when he was thrown into a den of hungry lions. God was with him and guarded him against any harm. Daniel was faithful to God and God, in turn, was faithful to him and blessed him.
Daniel was able to “show his exceptional spine” every time he was challenged to surrender to the demands of a sinful world. It was the “excellent spirit” that came from his relationship with God that gave him his “exceptional spine.” He knew that His God was sovereign, and would guide him and give him His favor for being faithful.
Prayer: Father, give me a faith that will not flinch and a spine that will not shrink when tempted to compromise. Assure me of Your presence and power as I honor You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Daniel 6:3 Now Daniel so distinguished himself among the administrators and the satraps by his exceptional qualities that the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom. 

Monday, September 2, 2019

A Mother's Influence

As her son was about to leave home for college, his mother asked, “Robert, will you promise me one thing?”
“Yes, ma’am, I will,” he answered.
“Promise me,” she begged, “that you will read one chapter from the Bible each day.”
“I will,” he agreed.
That promise led to his coming to know Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. Later, Robert Moffat went to Africa as a missionary where he labored for his Lord for forty-five years. He became famous as an educator, explorer, evangelist, and translator of the Bible.
What better request can any mother ask of a child than to be faithful to read God’s Word. We are confronted from every direction with challenges to our faith, tempted by friends to engage in behaviors that cause self-destruction, and often provided with endless opportunities that may destroy the plans God has for us.
In his letter to Timothy, Paul expressed a true sense of urgency and warning for him. He knew that people who believed in God would be misunderstood, challenged, tempted and ridiculed because of their faith. So Paul encouraged him to remain faithful to what he had been taught. Why? God’s Word and wisdom will guide us and guard us when we are tempted to sin.
Prayer: Father, parents have a great responsibility to raise their children to love, honor, and obey Your Word. Grant them courage and a willingness to do so. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: 2 Timothy 3:14-16 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness. 

Sunday, September 1, 2019

A Cup Of Water

We had been traveling all night by train, moving rapidly toward our destination. Suddenly things turned upside down. Our passenger train was hit head-on by a freight train. It was a frightening experience. Wreckage was all around us; people were screaming in pain. The crew was doing all they could to provide comfort until help arrived.
But God was protecting us, and we were uninjured. Fortunately, we were able to help others in their distress by doing whatever we could to assist those who were injured. Shortly after the accident, we discovered a little girl who was crying so we reached out to help her. She was pleading for water. Unfortunately, we had none. Suddenly, a man appeared out of the wreckage with a container of water and offered to share it with her.
As he gave her a cup of water, he said, “I’m sorry I’m not a doctor and cannot bandage your wounds. And, I am sorry there is no medicine available to ease your pain. But, I am thankful that I can give you what I have: water.” He gave her what he could, from what he had.
Jesus emphasized the importance of “a cup of water.” Read and hear Him say, “If anyone gives a cup of water in the name of the Messiah, that one will be rewarded!”
Our Lord did not ask us to do great things, just simple things. Jesus never left anyone with a need He could meet. He expects the same of us: “Give to others as I have given to you!”
Prayer: Heavenly Father, may our eyes, ears, and hearts be open to see and hear the needs of those around us. May we share Your love by sharing Your gifts. In Your Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Mark 9:41 If anyone gives a cup of water in the name of the Messiah, that one will be rewarded. 

Saturday, August 31, 2019

Rewarded Because...

“Give and it will be given unto you,” said Jesus. But it does not end there. He continued His promise by adding, “A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
As we come to the close of our “Seeds of Wisdom,” there can be no more fitting words for us to consider than the words in the last verse of Proverbs: “Give her the reward she has earned, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.” God does indeed reward those who are faithful to His Word, who follow His instructions and minister to the needs of their family.
This “wife of noble character” did many “good things.” As a result of her godly living and disciplined life, she is to be recognized and rewarded by being “praised at the city gate.” The city gate is where the husband had been recognized for his wife of “noble character.” But, now the recognition is focused on her for a life of selfless-service, family-focus, and faithfulness.
It’s her turn to be praised. Imagine a husband leading a chorus of praise at the city gate? “Let’s give a shout for my wife of ‘noble character!’ Give her the recognition she deserves!”
This is no ordinary woman: she is a “gracious woman who attained honor.” What a model wife and mother! What a tribute to a life well-lived! What an example for all women!
Boaz once said to Ruth: “And now, my daughter, don’t be afraid. I will do for you all you ask. All my fellow townsman know you are a woman of noble character.”
Prayer: God, bless all mothers everywhere who seek to honor You, their husbands and children as women of “noble character.” May we honor them for honoring You! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Proverbs 31:31 Give her the reward she has earned, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate. 

Friday, August 30, 2019

Enduring Praise

ENDURING PRAISE
One of my memories from living on the coast in Monterey, California was the frustration of coping with fog. It would silently, often without warning, slip quietly in from the ocean and cover the area with a blanket of mist that severely limited one’s vision. Without warning, whether day or night, the fog would arrive and sometimes bring traffic to a complete stop. Fog lights were of no use because they could not penetrate the dense moisture. Then, suddenly, just as it had arrived, it would disappear as though it never existed.
“Beauty is deceptive,” wrote King Lemuel in the concluding verses in Proverbs. In fact, a more correct translation would be “fleeting” suggesting that it is “transitory” or even “temporary,” much like the fog, that without notice, comes and goes without any warning.
Although some have the illusion that “beauty” is a lifetime gift that will bring endless praise and constant attention, it is short-lived and passing. In this verse, it is described as being deceitful and fleeting because “it passes away and with it passes the hope of happiness that was based on it.”
“But a woman who fears – or who stands in awe of and worships’ - the Lord, is to be praised!” This “woman” who “fears the Lord” is not afraid of God. Rather, she is a “woman of God” who lives her life by following and applying the wisdom and truths contained in the book of Proverbs that describes the roles and responsibilities of being a God-honoring wife and mother.
And the results? She is “to be praised.” For what? Her spiritual beauty that comes from loving and worshipping and serving God.
Prayer: Father, few today understand “beauty” and “praise” as taught in Your Word. We ask that You reward and bring praise to wives and mothers who live by Your truth. Amen.
Scripture For Today: Proverbs 31:30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. 

Thursday, August 29, 2019

For Want Of Praise

One important responsibility that many husbands seem to neglect is giving praise to their wives. Their comments made to others are often critical, unkind, unnecessary and unbecoming.
The disgust of degrading one’s wife is not whether or not the statements have any degree of truth in them, but what right does a husband have to criticize her publicly? What has he done to diminish the beauty and elegance of the bride he chose to marry? Has he been supportive and demonstrated sacrificial love? Where has the “love of his life” gone? And what did he do to “impair” the person he “could not live without?” How this must grieve God!
“Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all,” would be encouraging words to any wife. Set aside false measures of attainment for a moment and overlook flaws and faults. Kind words and “husbandly help” and support can solve most problems in a relationship. Wives do their very best only to be criticized and condemned and not offered love and help.
In my many years as a pastor and family counselor, a common denominator in failed relationships was criticism and condemnation. It did not matter what the root causes were, one or the other would seize on a symptom and enlarge it beyond any possible solution. How sad!
Consider the rewards of praise. We all need it. We all want it. The demands of managing a home and raising children are often dumped on the wife and when expectations are unmet, criticism begins, praise ends and families unravel unnecessarily. Let’s reverse the process.
Prayer: Lord, may Your Spirit encourage husbands to search for ways to praise their “helpmates” and not hurt or harm them by wicked words. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Proverbs 31:29 Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all. 

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

A Mother's Desired Name

Whenever we had any need, we would say “Ma!” If we faced a problem, were in trouble, had a banged-up knee or a cut or bruise, we would still say “Ma.” Often it would be “Thanks, Ma” or “Please, Ma?” even “Ma, why me?” or “Ma! I need help!” But all of us called her “Ma.” It contained feelings of warmth and comfort, reassurance in times of trouble and difficulty, or happy smiles and laughing voices on special occasions. Now it brings precious memories of a saint reading her Bible, kneeling quietly in prayer for her children, or leading a large number of children to a Child Evangelism class. “Ma” deserved to be called “blessed!”
Solomon raised the bar on motherhood to its highest level when he wrote, “Her children rise up and call her blessed, her husband also and he praises her.” This verse suggests a scene at a banquet or special gathering when children gather together and publicly announce to the world that their mother is worthy of being called “Blessed.” It is not a term that is used to praise God. Its strict use is for one person to praise another person for outstanding accomplishments. In this instance, it is children praising their mother for her influence on and in their lives by imparting God’s wisdom as their foundation for successful living.
The husband is also part of the celebration and “he also praises her.” What a beautiful picture of a family! Too often we hear of dysfunctional families, broken families, single-parent families, blended families, neglected families - every type of family imaginable except families that have a mother who is called “blessed” by her children and “praised” by her husband.
We desperately need homes filled with such mothers.
Prayer: Father, we need homes where Moms are called “blessed!” Give us Christian homes where the Bible is taught and lived and homes filled with Your love! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Proverbs 31:28 Her children rise up and call her blessed, her husband also and he praises her.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Nothing to Chance!

During World War II all Americans were cautious and vigilant about the things they said and did. They did not want to give the enemy any opportunity to gain an advantage that could harm our country.
One of the slogans was “Your resolution will bring us victory!” Being resolute - or determined, and not wavering in one’s opinion, purpose or position - was one of the most quoted. It was a rallying cry that people took to heart because they could not entertain the possibility of defeat.
No wonder Solomon wrote, “She watches over the affairs of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness.” He knew that the alternative of being slothful and compromising, inconsistent and careless, was a disaster. “Watching” is a full-time responsibility and an important priority for those God calls to be a “faithful household administrator.” No matter what other tasks or duties are part of her “job description,” this “wife of noble character” never allows her attention to be diluted or her mind to be diverted to less important items than her household responsibilities. She is thoroughly absorbed in the things that matter most.
“Idleness” does not imply that this “wife” would be one who watches “soaps” or spends her time foolishly “tweeting” or on Facebook. Not at all. It refers to a “wife” who believes strongly in the fact that whatever she has is a result of her faithfulness to her calling as a wife. She has joyously and graciously fulfilled her obligations as a wife, mother, household administrator, and witness of the love of God to all whom He brings into her life.
She is deserving of all of the blessings and benefits of God that she has received because of her untiring faithfulness to God and her fidelity to her husband, children, and community. Dads and children must always support and honor a godly mother.
Prayer: Father, we join our hearts and pray that You will bless those noble wives who serve You with distinction! May they be honored for their service to You! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Proverbs 31:27 She watches over the affairs of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness. 

Monday, August 26, 2019

Faithful Means Consistent

Imagine what it would be like to go to bed at night and wonder if the sun would be there to greet us in the morning. Or, to fear that the sun would stand still and scorch the earth because the universe lost its way. Or, to see a drought begin and worry that the rain will never come again.
We live in an orderly, predictable universe. It’s the way God created and planned it to be. It is, simply stated, a picture of a God who is faithful, dependable, reliable and trustworthy. Who He was yesterday He will be today and when the sun sets this evening, it will not go into hiding. It will rise again tomorrow because of the enduring faithfulness of a sovereign God.
Faithfulness is important because it gives us the assurance of stability and structure. It creates trust and the possibility of planning. Though we may not desire some of the “contents” that come with predictability, at least we can prepare for them.
God’s covenant with the children of Israel gave them the assurance of His faithfulness. Other gods were created by men but our God is the One who created man. He promised to guide, guard and grant us mercy, grace and salvation because of His great love for His creation.
“Wisdom” speaks of this God, to be sure. But, to be faithful to Him in all things and pass this wisdom on to children as mothers and mentors is something our God-ordained to be an important priority in Christian homes. “She speaks with God’s wisdom and faithful instruction is on her tongue.” There is little doubt in God’s mind: Mothers matter!
Prayer: Father, we pray for Your strength and dignity to fill all who are called by You to be mothers and mentors. Lead them by Your Spirit to be God-centered. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Proverbs 31:26 She speaks with God’s wisdom and faithful instruction is on her tongue. 

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Prepared For The Future

While growing up, I remember an advertisement that was very popular: “Clothing makes the man.” It’s a slogan from the past that has been overcome by ads that are much different. Each time I heard it, I would stop, look at what I was wearing, and wonder if it would be a help or a hindrance to what I wanted to accomplish.
Though the slogan is a thing of the past, clothes continue to contribute to the opinions others form about us. And we, also, do the same. More often than not we judge others by their clothing. We often do it without even thinking about what we are doing: stereotyping others.
“She is clothed with strength and dignity, she can laugh at the days to come,” are words that describe the “woman of noble character.” How do we identify the garments of “strength and dignity” and is it ever wise to “laugh at the future?”
“Men,” God’s Word reminds us, “look at what people wear. God looks at the person’s heart.” Character and values are something that flows from the inside of a person. The essential qualities described here refer to God at work in the lives of those who surrender their lives to Him. Strength comes from His presence within, and dignity is the result of being who He wants us to be so we can walk in a “just pride” because we are His very own children.
When we walk in His strength and not our own and when we realize the benefits of being “His child,” there is no reason to “fear the days to come.” We are in “good hands” - His hands - and that is what matters most.
PrayerOften, Father, we fail to recognize all that we can have through You. Open our heart to Your greatness. May we accept Your gifts with gratitude and humiity. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Proverbs 31:25 She is clothed with strength and dignity, she can laugh at the days to come. 

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Unselfish Service

Where do service and charity end? Certainly, not in the home. Selfish homes produce selfish children and God’s Kingdom and God’s world suffers. What can be done to change this condition?
“She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy.”
There is an obvious route that travels from the head to the heart to the hands. God’s Word enters our lives through our head. We hear the Word preached and taught, and read and meditate on the Word each day. But it must not stop there. It must reach into our hearts - the very center of our lives, and then move outward through our hands in service and charity to others. It’s the head, heart, hands conception and connection.
What is in our hearts always comes out in our lives. Nobel character is of little good if character is an end in itself. In fact, the sign of our character is seen in what we do in our homes first and then God’s world. One pastor said, “A saving faith is always seen in serving others.” If we are saved, we will serve.
There can be little doubt that our love for God is always seen in our attitude and actions toward those in need. Proverbs contain many warnings about those who refuse to be charitable, and in fact, reminds us that giving to the poor is the same as lending to God.
“Open arms and extended” hands, however, is much more than giving “things.” It is surrendering one’s self to serve. It includes time, talents and teaching God’s way to others.
Prayer: Father, we owe so much to others because of what You have given us. May we all serve sacrificially by following the example of Your Son, our Savior! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Proverbs 31:20 She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy.

Friday, August 23, 2019

Being Good And Doing Good

Character counts. Character makes a difference. Character can be measured. Character is the difference that God brings to our lives. Character matters because God matters. When He is present and in control of our lives, everything changes because He changes everything. We view life differently because we view life through His eyes, hear voices through His ears, feel pain as He feels pain, and He gives willingly as He willingly gave us His Son.
This “wife of noble character” has an impact on every aspect of her husband’s life: “She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.” Imagine an obituary that included that statement, and ended with the words that included “whatever he accomplished in life was because of her homemaking talents and dedication to the well-being of her family.” Certainly a stretch in today’s environment. But, that’s the implication and message.
An important message in this verse is that the wife is focused on the career of her husband and her home. If the wife has a career outside of the home, it is secondary to everything else. This is far different from what we see in society today. The career of the husband and the management of the home is first and foremost according to Solomon.
Notice one small, three-letter word: her. It may be a subtle implication but the burden for managing the home seems to shift from the wife to the husband if she is called home before him. Husbands and fathers need to be “in training” to assume her tasks if necessary.
Prayer: We pray Lord, for husbands and fathers who willingly become involved in caring for their wife and their homes. May they accept their responsibility. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Proverbs 31:12 She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life. 

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Unquestioned Confidence

Character breeds confidence. When we cannot have complete confidence in others, doubts arise and questions surface. We worry and wonder, watch and wait for things to go wrong. We sense an uneasiness and do not know what to expect. Perhaps that is why Solomon wrote, “Her husband has full confidence in her (this wife of noble character) and lacks nothing of value.”
“Full confidence” is a broad, sweeping term and covers all of the activities in a home. It includes raising children, managing the family’s finances and the reputation of the family - whatever is included in developing the image of the family in the community. Everything is included in the term “full confidence.”
“Full confidence” is a remarkable term because it is the same term that is used or applied to the term “confidence in the Lord.” Throughout the entire Old Testament, it is only used twice in reference to having “confidence” in another person.
This value of having such “confidence” in one’s wife is important because it frees up the husband to become involved in occupational, civic, and religious duties. The husband of a “wife of noble character” can commit himself to what God has called him to do because his household is in good, competent and safe hands.
Notice, too, that the husband “lacks nothing of value.” The home is in “good hands” and the “resources,” - financial, reputation or character - will increase because of God’s blessings!
Prayer: Lord, there is a great need in Kingdom work for wives to know You, love You and serve You faithfully. Bless them for their service and the sacrifices they make. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Proverbs 31:11 Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. 

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

The Search Continues

Consider this: there are twenty-one letters in the Hebrew alphabet. In Proverbs 31:10 there are twenty-two letters, forming an acrostic. It begins with a succeeding letter of the Hebrew alphabet in the final chapter of Proverbs. Obviously, believing that the Holy Spirit is the infallible author of each verse in the Bible, this did not happen by accident. Certainly, there is a significant message contained in these few verses. The use of the acrostic model was used by teachers and scholars of the laws and prophets to make the message easy to memorize.
First, the acrostic was used to provide a helpful way to organize information for future use. A wife of noble character, as pictured in these few verses, includes items that young women would want to include in their resumes as they matured. It is also the criteria for men to apply to women when seeking a wife. The traits that are presented in these verses are both goals to be achieved and traits to be sought in a wife.
Second, the term noble implies capabilities, character, and efficiency. It is the same term used when a wife is spoken of as the crown of her husband.
Third, “who can find?” The noble wife is rare and not easily found. However, it does not mean that the search is not worth the effort. Quite the contrary.
Ruth was described as a “woman of noble character.” Her story echoes throughout history. How fortunate we are that God gave an example for women to follow and men to search for in a wife.
Prayer: Lord, how blest we are that You provide us with detailed instructions on what matters most in life! May we align our minds and hearts with Your Word. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Proverbs 31:10 A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. 

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Misplaced Trust

We all inherit the same sinful nature at birth. It is very evident in the way we think and act. We have an “inbred” dependence on our subjective, self-focused, self-centered, or perhaps might we be more honest and say “sinful” selves. We tend to rely on our God-given gifts as something we have accomplished on our own apart from Him. It is as though we took a lump of clay from the ground and fashioned a person, endowed him with skills and abilities and said, “Now, let’s do something that we can be proud of!”
“He who trusts in himself is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom is kept safe.” This statement reminds us of the wisdom contained in another proverb: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” Once again in his wisdom and our lack of it, Solomon took time to remind us of how we easily turn to ourselves rather than God. Trusting in ourselves is normal and natural but not without proving to ourselves, others and God that we are fools.
Notice this: “A greedy man stirs up dissension, but he who trusts in the Lord will prosper.” This theme, flowing throughout Proverbs, is so very important when we relate it to our sinful nature. To “trust in” is difficult because it signals to the world that what we do is not of ourselves but is a gift from God and to God be the glory for that gift!
Greed is who we are. It’s not a word that we want to be identified by. It is something most of us try to deny. The solution? Give credit to God for who we are and what we have!
Prayer: Lord, thank You for seeing who we can be in spite of who we think we are. Make us willing to be willing to let go and let God get the glory, honor, and praise! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Proverbs 28:26 He who trusts in himself is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom is kept safe.