Thursday, October 31, 2019

Whose Picture Is That?

An art teacher asked her students to draw a picture of someone famous. Looking over the shoulder of one of her students, she asked, “And whose picture are you drawing?”
“God’s,” he answered confidently.

“God’s?” asked the teacher. “No one knows what He looks like.”

“They will when I get through!” he said.

Who was right: the teacher or the student?

Paul said that “Jesus is the visible image of the invisible God.” The word Paul chose for the word “image” was a word his readers knew meant “a description of a person.” In other words, what we see in the life of Jesus is a portrait, or a description, of Who God is and what He would look like. So, if we want to know Who God is and what He would look like, it is possible to see, know and understand God through His Son.

In Jesus, we see a Man filled with unending love that included the least, the last, the loneliest, and the lost. We see in Him One who healed, helped, and hurried to reach and redeem the unreached and unredeemed. This He did every day. Can we do less?

Prayer: Thank You, Father, for the picture we have of You in Your Son, our Lord, and Savior. Convict us to live as He lived and serve as He served. In His Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Colossians 1:15 - Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation. 

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

You Have My Word

As he slipped the engagement ring on her finger, he said, “I want you to know that I will love you forever and then some. But if things don’t work out, I expect you to give me back my ring. Is that perfectly clear?”
People change. Situations change. Times change. But God will not change.
If there is anything that we can know beyond a shadow of a doubt, it is this: God’s promises and His faithfulness will never change. We have His Word and His Word is truth.
Because God is truth we can believe and be secure in all of His promises. His truth is like the anchor of a ship. Winds may blow, waves may crash, and the ship may move from the left to the right – even in a circle, but it is secure and safe as long as the anchor holds.
In God’s eternal truth we find hope. When we feel as though we are being swept along by circumstances that are beyond our control and have nothing secure to grasp or hold on to, we need to reach for Him. He will lift us up and plant our feet securely on the firm foundation that is His never-changing Word.
Though we may not understand what is going on in our world, we know Who is in control of our world. We must always hope, knowing His best is coming soon.
Prayer: Give us, Father, a hope that will not fade, a trust that will not waiver, and hope that holds firm. Help us to realize that all we need can be found in You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Hebrews 6:18-19 So God has given both his promise and his oath. These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie. 

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Priority One

Dwight Eisenhower once said, “I do many things that are urgent but few things that are important.”
What a most revealing statement from one who successfully served his country as a general and president. It would be good to make it a question for each of us to ask ourselves every day: How do I separate the urgent from the important?

Or should we begin with the question: What is the difference between something that is urgent and something that is important?

Something urgent suggests I must give my immediate attention to an event that is happening now! Important, on the other hand, means that something of significance, value or consequence to me is occurring. I quickly answer a ringing phone because it is annoying and gets my immediate attention. I answered it with urgency, but the call may not be important.

Our Scripture for today talks about the difference between urgent and important. The Rich Fool was overly concerned about wealth and was in a hurry to expand his financial worth. But Jesus said, “Guard against greed and focus on your relationship with God.”

We must always make certain that our number one priority as Christians is our relationship with God. We must constantly focus on Him and closely follow Him every day by communicating with Him daily, reading His Word always, and investing time in prayer.

Prayer: I ask, Father, that in Your power and through Your strength, You will always be first in my life. May I think of Your words constantly, and follow them carefully. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Luke 12:14-21 Jesus replied, “Friend, who made me a judge over you to decide such things as that?” 15 Then he said, “Beware! Guard against every kind of greed. Life is not measured by how much you own.”

Monday, October 28, 2019

What Do They See?

An instructor was trying to encourage his class to be creative. He carefully cut a piece of white paper into a perfect square and held it up before the class. All eyes were focused on the sheet of paper when he asked the question, “What do you see?”
No one said a sheet of white paper, a square, something to write a letter or assignment on or a blank page for a book. The entire class said, “A black spot.” In the left corner of the square was a tiny, black speck. Their focus was on the flaw – not the square.

Most of us seem to look for things that are wrong or improper, incorrect or out of place. It comes with our nature – it’s part of who we are. For whatever reason, we try to discover anything about anybody that is not perfect. Or, might it be that we are trying to justify what is not “right” about ourselves by seeing what is “wrong” in others?

There is an important message here for every Christian. Peter wrote, “Make every effort to live a pure and blameless life.” What great advice. How would we live or act if we were always conscious of the fact that we, as Christians, are always being evaluated by what we do or say by those who are not Christians? The world looks at us differently because of who we claim to be. And, like it or not, they have every reason to do so. We will never be perfect in this world, but we can be careful. What we do speaks louder than what we say!

Prayer: Help us, Lord, to be on guard for that “little spot” that destroys our witness and damages Your name. May we be ever careful to represent You well! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: 2 Peter 3:14 And so, dear friends, while you are waiting for these things to happen, make every effort to be found living peaceful lives that are pure and blameless in his sight. 

Sunday, October 27, 2019

What Are You Looking For?

Bill Bowerman was the track coach for the University of Oregon. Every time he watched his athletes run, he would ask himself one question: “What can I do to help him run faster?”

Often he would think of their shoes and wondered if a different design would enable them to increase their speed. One morning while thinking about this concern, his wife served him a waffle for breakfast. As he looked at the waffle, he thought of a slab of rubber with the imprint of a waffle pressed deep inside of it.

From that concern came the beginning of the now-famous waffle-pattern running sole that became the birth of the Nike shoe line.

“If any of you is deficient in wisdom” is the way one translator begins James 1:5. James was a Christian teacher with a Jewish background and saw wisdom as something that was entirely practical – something that was concerned with the business of living life well!

We must always remember that our God is a giving God and gives us the wisdom we need to make the right choices, solve difficult problems and find directions for right living. As willing as God is to give, the responsibility for asking lies with the Christian. When we ask for anything in faith believing, God will grant the request as long as it is in His and our best interest.

Prayer: We pray, Father, that we will rely on You for the wisdom we need to meet and solve our problems. May we constantly seek Your goodness and guidance. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: James 1:5 If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

What A Surprise!

Two men had not seen each other for quite some time and were renewing their friendship.
“How’s your wife, Fred?” asked Al.

“Haven’t you heard? She’s in heaven,” said Fred.

“Oh, I’m sorry,” replied Al. Catching himself, he apologized and said, “I mean, I’m glad.”

But it still did not sound right, so he said, “What I really mean is that I’m surprised.”

Seeing the confusion on Fred’s face, Al tried once again. “What I’m trying to say is that I’m sure you are relieved.”

Sometimes, no matter how hard we try, our words just do not come out right. We get them twisted or turned in the wrong direction. What we want to say is not what we actually say. Our words become quite discouraging or devastating to the person we are talking to.

The wise writer of Proverbs said, “We gather our thoughts, but the Lord gives us the right answer.” When others come to us for help or counsel, we must always be thoughtful and ask the Lord to guide us as we talk. When we speak without thinking or give advice without carefully considering all of the possibilities or alternatives, we may do more harm than good. We must watch our words, put a “guard” on our lips, and speak after thinking.

Prayer: Help us Father, to be careful in all that we say. May our words encourage and enlighten. May we speak only after thinking, wanting to be helpful. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Proverbs 16:1 We gather our thoughts, but the Lord gives us the right answer. 

Friday, October 25, 2019

Time To Ask

It was one of those days that every mother tries to avoid. First, the washing machine stopped in the middle of the spin cycle. Then she discovered that the toaster was not working. When she opened the door to the refrigerator, she discovered that it had been on “defrost” all night, and everything in the freezer was thawed. The last straw was a raging migraine headache.
She reached down, picked up her small son, placed him on her lap, held him tightly, and began to weep softly as the tears ran down her cheeks.
Without saying a word, Ronnie took the pacifier out of his mouth and placed it in hers.
Some days just seem to unravel. We awaken to a shining sun only to have dark clouds appear from nowhere. What we thought would be a day of joy suddenly turned into a night of despair. Bad days come into each of our lives, and we end up feeling alone and abandoned, overwhelmed and oppressed. Problems pile up like flakes of snow in a blizzard.
When days do not unfold as we want them to, what is our option? We can be grateful for the grace of God. In the midst of the most draining and demanding experiences that life has to offer, He is with us. He has promised that He will never leave us nor forsake us. Even though God seems far away, He is always close at hand offering His help. “Ask anything in My name,” He offered, “and I will do it!” It’s His promise to each of us! So, ask for the “Son” to appear!
Prayer: Heavenly Father, how thankful we ought to be that Your power exceeds our problems! Help us to believe that You are with us and willing to rescue us. Always! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: John 14:13 You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father. 

Thursday, October 24, 2019

What Are You Looking For?

Bill Bowerman was the track coach for the University of Oregon. Every time he watched his athletes run, he would ask himself one question: “What can I do to help him run faster?”
Often he would think of their shoes and wondered if a different design would enable them to increase their speed. One morning while thinking about this concern, his wife served him a waffle for breakfast. As he looked at the waffle, he thought of a slab of rubber with the imprint of a waffle pressed deep inside of it.

From that concern came the beginning of the now-famous waffle-pattern running sole that became the birth of the Nike shoe line.

“If any of you is deficient in wisdom” is the way one translator begins James 1:5. James was a Christian teacher with a Jewish background and saw wisdom as something that was entirely practical – something that was concerned with the business of living life well!

We must always remember that our God is a giving God and gives us the wisdom we need to make the right choices, solve difficult problems and find directions for right living. As willing as God is to give, the responsibility for asking lies with the Christian. When we ask for anything in faith believing, God will grant the request as long as it is in His and our best interest.

Prayer: We pray, Father, that we will rely on You for the wisdom we need to meet and solve our problems. May we constantly seek Your goodness and guidance. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: James 1:5 If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.

The Source Of Our Troubles

Charlie Brown was sitting on a rock with his head in his hands and his elbows on his knees. Linus seeing such a sad sight said, “Charlie Brown, do you want to know what the trouble is with you?”

“No,” he answered.

Continuing, Linus said, “The trouble with you is that you don’t want to know what the trouble with you is!”

That’s the trouble with many of us. We really do not want to see ourselves as we are or as God sees us. He has established spiritual goals for us to achieve, and unless we are willing to see ourselves as he sees us – as we actually are - and how He would have us to be and live, we will not see our “troubles.”

Moses warned Israel that God required them “to fear the Lord your God, to walk in His ways, to love Him, (and) to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and to keep His commandments.”

How fortunate we are that God lets us know the expectations He has for us. He has clearly and carefully described the standards and conditions for His children to follow.

There are no surprises, no hidden agendas, and no games. He is a loving God and wants us to know how He wants us to live. But, we must want to know. And, if we do want to know, we can find His ways in His Word, and then ask Him: “What is the trouble with us is?”

Prayer: Thank You, Father, for Your Word. May we study it carefully, live it consistently, and be committed to making You known. May our lives prove our love for You! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Deuteronomy 10:12-16 He requires only that you fear the Lord your God, and live in a way that pleases him, and love him and serve him with all your heart and soul. And you must always obey the Lord’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good. 

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

The Most Of The Moment

A soldier who served in Vietnam was assigned the duty to meet a senator at the airport near his command. It was his responsibility to see that he was taken safely to the office of the commanding general.
As they walked to the car, the soldier stopped to help an elderly woman who was having difficulty carrying her luggage. After a few more steps, he picked up some items that had fallen from the arms of a mother who was having a problem with her child. Then he picked up a child that had tripped and fallen down.

Impressed, the senator asked, “Who taught you to be so kind and gentle and helpful?”

Quickly, and without hesitation, the soldier replied, “During my tour of duty in Vietnam, Sir, it was my duty to clear the fields of mines. I never knew if my next step would be my last. So, I learned then and there to get everything I could out of every moment I had.”

Twice the Apostle Paul said in his writings, “Make the most of every opportunity.” He challenged the early Christians to be alert and aware of the people God brought into their lives. He wanted to impress them with the fact that whatever time we have to present His plan of salvation to others is limited and that opportunities to witness once gone will never return.

We too are obligated to accept this challenge. When time is gone, it is gone forever!

Prayer: Help us, Father, to realize the shortness of life, the length of eternity, and our responsibility to be faithful witnesses. Empower us to share! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Ephesians 5:16 Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. 

Monday, October 21, 2019

The Ring Bear

It was the first time he had been asked to be involved in a wedding. As he came down the aisle, he would take a step, turn his hands into claw-like instruments, grasp at the air, and growl like a bear, curl his lips, furrow his forehead, and lunge forward.
The people were laughing at such an unusual sight. When he got to the row where the bride’s mother was sitting, she pulled him to the side and asked, “What are you doing?”
“Grrrrr,” he growled. “I’m being a ring bear.” Unfortunately, no one taught him how a “ring bear” behaved.
Parents and teachers have an obligation and responsibility to educate and encourage children to learn and behave appropriately. Often we place expectations on the young when they have no experience or have had no one to explain how they are to behave in certain situations. When they make mistakes or when things go wrong, we put the blame on them even if they have had no opportunity to learn proper behaviors.
That is the reason Solomon gave such wise guidance, “Listen to your father’s experience…” True wisdom comes from God and parents must invest time with Him and in His Word if they are to prepare their children for the demands of life. Often we expect our children to know how to behave and what to do when we have neither taught them nor provided an example of godly behavior for them. That’s why we have “Ring Bears.”
Prayer: Grant us, Father, the willingness to accept our responsibility to faithfully teach our children “the way they should go.” May our lives be their example. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Proverbs 4:1-13 My children, listen when your father corrects you. Pay attention and learn good judgment. 

The Ring Bear

It was the first time he had been asked to be involved in a wedding. As he came down the aisle, he would take a step, turn his hands into claw-like instruments, grasp at the air, and growl like a bear, curl his lips, furrow his forehead, and lunge forward.
The people were laughing at such an unusual sight. When he got to the row where the bride’s mother was sitting, she pulled him to the side and asked, “What are you doing?”
“Grrrrr,” he growled. “I’m being a ring bear.” Unfortunately, no one taught him how a “ring bear” behaved.
Parents and teachers have an obligation and responsibility to educate and encourage children to learn and behave appropriately. Often we place expectations on the young when they have no experience or have had no one to explain how they are to behave in certain situations. When they make mistakes or when things go wrong, we put the blame on them even if they have had no opportunity to learn proper behaviors.
That is the reason Solomon gave such wise guidance, “Listen to your father’s experience…” True wisdom comes from God and parents must invest time with Him and in His Word if they are to prepare their children for the demands of life. Often we expect our children to know how to behave and what to do when we have neither taught them nor provided an example of godly behavior for them. That’s why we have “Ring Bears.”
Prayer: Grant us, Father, the willingness to accept our responsibility to faithfully teach our children “the way they should go.” May our lives be their example. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Proverbs 4:1-13 My children, listen when your father corrects you. Pay attention and learn good judgment. 

Secret Things

A magician and his parrot were having a great time performing for the audiences on a large cruise ship.
Whenever he would make a card disappear, the parrot would say, “It’s up his sleeve.” If he would make a dove appear, he would shout, “It came from his pocket.”

One day, in the middle of performing their show, the ship hit an iceberg and sank. Sitting together with the magician in a life raft, the parrot asked, “OK, what did you do with the ship?”

There are many things in the Bible that are easily understood. They are clear, well-described and are obvious to the occasional reader. There are some passages that take research or an explanation from someone who has spent a lifetime searching and studying the Word of God. Then there are those passages that even the most learned scholars have difficulty explaining or interpreting. What then?

Moses wrote, “There are secret things that belong to the Lord our God, but the revealed things belong to us.” Even though we can search, study and understand most of the Bible, our minds are finite. We will never be able to understand the infinite things of God. That is when and where faith begins.

Prayer: Thank You, Lord, for giving us minds to know, hearts to believe and faith to accept Your Word. When doubts arise and faith fades, may we never doubt Your love! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Deuteronomy 29:29 The Lord our God has secrets known to no one. We are not accountable for them, but we and our children are accountable forever for all that he has revealed to us, so that we may obey all the terms of these instructions. 

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Saved To Serve

A six-year-old child was trapped in a bedroom on the second floor of a home that was engulfed in flames. He was frightened and did not know what to do.
He ran to a window and used all of his strength to open it. But he failed. Then he climbed on a dresser, broke the window and shouted for help. Though he could not be heard, his father saw him. There was no way he could get back into the house, climb the steps and rescue him. The flames continued to burn intensely.

When a neighbor saw the dangerous situation, he ran to the home, leaned against the side of it and encouraged an onlooker to climb on his shoulders. Then another climbed on top of his shoulders until there were enough, one standing on the shoulders of another until they reached the window. They were finally able to force open the window and rescue the child. When he reached manhood, he identified himself as a “brand plucked out of a fire.” His name? John Wesley. He grew to become one of the most famous preachers of all time and the founder of Methodism.

God spared Wesley’s life and then called him into a life of ministry. Few of us will ever go through an experience like his. Yet, all of us are called to serve the same Lord. Each day that our Creator gives us, we are to worship, honor and serve Him in all that we do. We are not called to be famous, but faithful.

Prayer: Help us, Heavenly Father, to realize that each day is a God-given day to love, honor and serve You. Help us to understand the importance of being faithful. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Zechariah 3:2 – And the Lord said to Satan, “I, the Lord, reject your accusations, Satan. Yes, the Lord, who has chosen Jerusalem, rebukes you. This man is like a burning stick that has been snatched from the fire.” 

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Ready Or Not

A truck came speeding down a steep hill. It was necessary to make a quick turn at the bottom of the hill to avoid going into a lake. Unfortunately, the driver failed to make the turn and ended up in the lake. Fortunately, the driver escaped, unharmed.
As he climbed from the cab of the truck and waded from the lake to the crowd that had assembled onshore, he was shaking his head from side to side. Finally someone asked,
“What happened?”

“Well,” he said, “I guess I should have gotten brake fluid before I needed it.”

Procrastination, at times, seems to invade everyone’s life. Occasionally, we “all plan to do tomorrow what we could have done today.” And there are many excuses that encourage us to do so. One might be fear. Another might be thinking the task is unimportant or even too difficult. Again, we may not want to be bothered by a request or even have a desire to inconvenience the one who is depending on us. Time is one of God’s greatest gifts. Once gone, it can never be reclaimed or returned. So, we must learn to see time from God’s perspective and place a high value on it. God gives us time, first of all, to accept His salvation. Then, whatever days He allows us to live, are to be lived in service to Him and others who need to know Him as Savior and Lord.

Prayer: Help us, Father, to make the most of the time You give us, so that we may accomplish the purpose You have for us. May we live each day realizing that it is a gift. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Zechariah 1:4 Don’t be like your ancestors who would not listen or pay attention when the earlier prophets said to them, ‘This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: Turn from your evil ways, and stop all your evil practices.’ 

Friday, October 18, 2019

Multiplying Love

A mother had only one son. She loved him more than anything in the world. One day she introduced him to a friend and said, “This is my only son, and I love him dearly!”
He greeted him kindly and said, “I have eight sons, and I love all of them dearly, too.”

“Eight sons?” she exclaimed in disbelief. “I can’t imagine that. I love him so much that I can’t imagine dividing my love by eight.”

“Ma’am,” he replied. “I don’t divide my love, I multiply it.”

What a wonderful description of how God loves us! He never divides His love, He multiplies it, and has enough for everyone and anyone who has ever lived or ever will live.

The central theme in God’s Word is that He loves us. And, not only does He love us, but there is no one who loves us as much as He does. Furthermore, He loves each of us equally. Fortunately, He has no favorites.

God’s love is so great that He freely, willingly, and gladly gave His One and only Son for our salvation. It cost Him dearly and is far beyond our ability to understand. Yet, we do not need to understand it to accept it. It is ours for the asking if we accept it through faith in Christ. The offer comes from Him personally and it is our choice to receive it.

Prayer: Lord, we are amazed at such love – a love we cannot understand but desperately need and can only find through Christ, Your Son, our Savior. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: John 3:16 For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Loving Some Ain't Easy

A little girl was saying her evening prayers. There was a slight pause, and then she continued, “God, it must be difficult for You to love everybody. There are only four people in my family, and it’s hard for me to love all of them.”

Loving others does not always come easy. In fact, some people are almost impossible to love. As someone once said to me, “I love that person just enough to get into heaven.”

But loving others is not an option, it is an obligation. Jesus said, “Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are My disciples.” This was not a new commandment. It can be traced all the way back to Leviticus. But the disciples of Jesus saw a totally new way to love others. He taught them in and through His life and death to love others in a sacrificial way: His way - the way of the cross.

To love sacrificially demands that we go beyond the ordinary ways of helping people. It means that we are willing to be inconvenienced to help anyone who has a need we can meet. It means that we are willing to share the best of what we have - not only the surplus “junk” we no longer need. It means we may have to sacrifice something we value. But so was the way of the cross. This kind of love will draw others to Jesus because the world rarely sees it but needs it.

Prayer: Dear Jesus, help me to show others how much I love You by the way I live and the way I love others. May my life be an example of mercy, grace, and kindness. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: John 13:34-35 So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. 35 Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples. 

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Little Things

An aircraft mechanic was completing his final inspection before a plane’s departure. Having made major repairs, he was satisfied that everything was ready. Then he noticed a small drip of water coming from the lavatory. It did not seem serious since it was so small, so he cleared the plane for take-off.
As the plane climbed to its flying altitude, the drip became a little larger. The water began to freeze, and a large piece of ice was formed. Finally, it broke loose, hit an engine and destroyed it. The plane was then forced to make an emergency landing. Although no one was injured, it caused serious and unnecessary damage, and there was a great loss of time. The repair to the plane cost much more than it would have cost if it had been taken care of when it was first noticed.

So it is with sin. It usually begins with a small, stray thought or an unhealthy desire. We allow a vision or idea to grow, expand and develop, and it eventually overwhelms us, and the temptation leads to sin.

God’s Word contains an important promise: “With every temptation, He will provide a way out.” How marvelous are His power and protection! No matter how difficult the choice may be – if we ask and look for and search thoroughly, we will find His “escape route.”

When tempted, we must turn to Him and claim victory in His Name.

Prayer: Father, we cannot live without being tempted, but we can avoid sinning if we trust, obey, and rely on You and in Your Word. Give us victory over sin! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: James 1:13-15 And remember, when you are being tempted, do not say, “God is tempting me.” God is never tempted to do wrong, and he never tempts anyone else. Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death. 

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Keeping Score

In the great game of baseball, victory is not determined by hits – only by runs. It is not decided by double plays or even a no-hit performance by a pitcher – only by runs.

A player may hit the ball, slide safely into the third base but get no further and not score. He will be remembered as being “left stranded.” He will not be recognized for “three-quarters of a run.”

This is true of everything in life. Few people are ever recognized for how well they start. Normally, they are remembered for how well they finish. We may run hard, overcome obstacles, work our way through difficult situations, but unless we accomplish our goals and “score,” we are normally forgotten unless we finish well.

There is a sad verse in Paul’s letter to Timothy. He speaks of Demas, and writes that he “has deserted me because he loves the things of life…” A former co-worker of Paul’s, he exchanged his calling from God for worldly pleasures and values. Perhaps Demas never counted the cost of serving Christ. Maybe he became weary in well doing and lost his enthusiasm. We do not know the reason, but we see the results. And here is the lesson for each of us: Rather than condemn or criticize him, let’s look for the “Demas” that may be in each of us.

Prayer: Lord, never let us lose our love for You or the life You have called us to live. May we be faithful, fruitful, truthful, loyal, and never forsake or desert You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: 2 Timothy 4:10 Demas has deserted me because he loves the things of this life and has gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, and Titus has gone to Dalmatia. 

Monday, October 14, 2019

It's Not All Looks

The pastor of a church in a rural community had been complaining about not feeling well for several months. His wife finally persuaded him to see the local doctor. Concerned that he would not explain all of the details of his illness, she decided to accompany him.
After his examination, the doctor asked her to accompany him into an adjacent room. After a moment he said, “I really don’t like the way your husband looks.”
After a few moments, she said, “I don’t either.” Then she continued in a hushed voice, “But he’s a wonderful pastor, a great husband, and an excellent example for the children to follow.”
What gracious compliments! There are not many who measure up to His standards. However, we as Christians are challenged to live lives that are examples. Paul said that we “must be an example to them by doing good deeds of every kind,” and “to let everything we do reflect the integrity and seriousness of our teaching.”
When we live according to God’s standards, we will be examples for others to follow. If we live according to His instructions, we have the right to be heard when we speak, teach or talk. Additionally, we can provide counsel and comfort with certainty to those who are discouraged and in need if we are faithful to His Word. Are you an example of Him?
Prayer: Help us, Father, to live as an example of Your love, grace, and mercy by doing good deeds every moment of every day. May our lives imitate Your Son’s! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Titus 2:7-8 And you yourself must be an example to them by doing good works of every kind. Let everything you do reflect the integrity and seriousness of your teaching. 8 Teach the truth so that your teaching can’t be criticized. Then those who oppose us will be ashamed and have nothing bad to say about us. 

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Humility Matters

It was his first day as a general. For years his one goal was to pin a star on his shoulder. Sitting behind his desk for the first time, with his personal flag behind him, he felt as though he had finally “arrived.” He was anxious to impress his staff with his accomplishment.
There was a knock on his door, and he shouted, “Enter.” He reached for his phone, and wanting to impress the men who were quietly walking into his office, said, “Thank you, Mr. President, for calling. It was good to speak with you. Yes, sir. Goodbye.” He then hung up the phone.

Turning to the men before him, he asked, “And now, men, what can I do for you?”

“Yes, sir, thank you, sir. I’m your aide, and these men have come to connect your phone.”

There is nothing wrong with wanting to succeed. But there is something wrong with wanting to succeed for selfish, self-seeking, self-centered reasons. Pride brings with it the idea that we deserve whatever we can get. It creates a greedy appetite within us and leads us to believe that we should have whatever we can get or should have whatever we want in life. It makes us want far more than we need and leaves us unsatisfied with what we have. Sometimes God has to humiliate us to teach us humility. “Pride comes before a fall!”

Prayer: Help us, Lord, to trust You for our needs, to be satisfied with what we have, and to be thankful for Your love. May we be covered with humility and grace. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: James 4:6 And he gives grace generously. As the Scriptures say, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” 

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Hidden By Masks

Early in the history of Greek drama, the theaters had no scenery, and the actors wore no costumes. When they performed, the actors would carry a mask on stage, and when it was time for their part, they would hold the mask in front of their faces and speak.
The word “hypocrisy” came from Greek drama and refers to ‘one who is expressing feelings, beliefs and values that belong to someone else.” In Scripture the hypocrite is a pretender: one who is acting a part, one who is false, tells lies or is godless. They are with us today – speaking, acting and expressing words they do not believe - and behaving differently from who they really are. Times have changed but hypocrites have not.

Jesus despised hypocrites with a passion. He spoke of the hypocrites who loved to pray publicly so others could see them and think that they were living a religious life. On another occasion, He told the hypocrites to get the log out of their own eyes and stop criticizing others for having a speck in theirs. He also spoke of the Pharisees and advised people to beware of their self-righteous, hypocritical, and spiritless behavior.

John wrote, “If someone says ‘I belong to God’ but does not obey His commands he is a liar.” If what we do or say is not consistent with what God requires of us, we must ask God for forgiveness, repent, and change. There is no room for hypocrites in the Kingdom of God.

Prayer: Forgive us, Father, when we have disobeyed Your commands and professed what we did not possess. May our lives be as honest as was Your Son’s life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: 1 John 2:4 If someone says ‘I belong to God’ but does not obey His commands he is a liar. 

Friday, October 11, 2019

God's Out To Get You!

In one of their cartoons, Hobbes and Calvin were having a serious discussion. Said Hobbes, “Is there a God?”
“Well,” answered Calvin, “I’m not sure. But someone’s out there trying to get me!”
He was absolutely right. God is out there, and He is trying to “get” everyone!
Jesus said, “I came to seek and to save the lost!” He initially made this statement in His meeting with Zacchaeus. And, if you recall, as a tax collector, he was in one of the most unpopular professions of his day. But, it didn’t matter to Jesus: He was always searching out seeking to save the lost. This was His message and His mission. Zacchaeus was just as valuable to God as anyone and everyone else. In fact, Jesus was out to “get him.”
No matter who we are or what we have done or are doing, Jesus wants us for His own. It is not what we know or who we know that will save us. Remember – Zacchaeus was a son of Abraham, the religious elite. But, that could not save him. Only his faith in the Savior, the Son of God, could. And, only one’s personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ can save us from our sin.
We must never forget that God is “out to get” everyone to know, love, and accept His Son as their Savior. How can He do this? By abiding in us, being with us, and working through us.
Prayer: Dear Jesus, thank You for providing our salvation and the opportunity to work with You to reach others. May what You have done for us, help us to “get others.” In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Luke 19:10 For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost. 

Thursday, October 10, 2019

God-Love

Perhaps there is no one word that is more confusing, more misunderstood, more diminished in its significance or abused than the word “love.” Although it contains feelings, it is much more than feelings. Although it includes emotions, many times emotions are abused and misused. While it includes sentiments, it is more than sentimental desires that fluctuate from day to day.

Feelings, emotions, and sentiments change from moment to moment and day to day because life is dynamic, and every situation different. True love, God-love, must be seen, observed, lived, and expressed in the behavior of a Christian.

What I do with and to and for someone is what matters most in demonstrating and describing love. If we have any questions about this type of love, we simply need to look at the life of Jesus and meditate on His words: “God so loved this world that He gave His one and only begotten Son!” This is not a sentimental love, nor an emotional or feeling type of love. It is a love that was initiated by God, demonstrated in the life of Jesus and to be seen today in and through the lives of Christians today.

This love is the foundation of all relationships: first for our relationship with God and then our relationships with others. “God-love” will keep a relationship strong and healthy and bring individuals together in a common bond. In fact, this love will unite people in spite of flaws and faults, failures and foolish deeds. As Christians, we are obligated to “demonstrate God-love.”

Prayer: Father, fill our hearts with God-love, a love that has no limits, never gives up, puts others first, always demonstrates compassion, and proves our concern. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: John 3:16 For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. 

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Frozen Assets

Years ago a fire destroyed a large warehouse that contained many tons of ice. Although the firemen had tens of thousands of gallons of water available to extinguish the fire, they could not be used. The ice was in “cold storage” and beyond reach. The building burned to the ground even though it was full of “frozen water.”
God has given each one of us unique gifts and talents, skills and abilities, to do His work. We all are as different as our fingerprints and designed to do things that honor Him. Too often we imagine that what He wants us to do is beyond our capabilities.
We tend to see problems and issues that would require massive amounts of money or large numbers of people to bring change. We look beyond the immediate to the distant, even unimaginable, and find excuses not to do what God places before us.
If you recall the beginning of the earthly ministry of Jesus, He invited ordinary men to join Him in His extra-ordinary work. They had no special training but they did have a special commitment. We know that they were committed because we read that “they spent time with Jesus.” These “ordinary men” put aside their personal interests and began to see life through His eyes. He taught them to see the spiritual needs of others and how to meet those needs.
If we are willing to “spend time with Jesus,” follow Him closely, listen to Him carefully, and pray to Him sincerely, we will be able to do the same.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, help us to always be alert for opportunities to tell others of Your love, salvation, and hope. If we love You, we will follow You and serve You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Matthew 4:19 Jesus called out to them, “Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!”

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

From Trials To Triumph

What do you do when you have a difficult time pleasing someone?
George Crum was the chef at a famous country club in Saratoga Springs, New York. One evening there was a guest who ordered fried potatoes to go with his meal. When his order of fries was served, he asked the waiter to return it to the kitchen saying they were too thick. This happened several times. Crum became frustrated. But he did not give up.

Challenged, he took his sharpest knife, sliced some potatoes wafer-thin, deep-fried them in boiling oil, and sprinkled salt on them. Then he had the waiter take them to the guest. The guest sampled them, smiled and decided to pass them around the table to his friends. Everyone enjoyed them and ordered more. The “potato chip” was born that evening and has become one of our favorite snacks.

There are times in all of our lives when people irritate us or bother us. It seems like nothing we do will ever please them or meet the standards they have set for us. No matter what we do or how hard we try, it is not going to be good enough. So, we are tempted to give up or quit. Paul said, “God causes all things to work together for our good.” This includes the most painful problems and difficult demands of life. In all things, we must trust Him, be willing to do our best, and leave the results to Him. He, not others, knows what is best for our lives.

Prayer: Thank You, Father, for giving us problems to solve and challenges to meet, so we can grow strong. Help us to be patient, to be polite, and to persevere. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Romans 8:28 And we know that God causes everything to work together[a] for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. 

Monday, October 7, 2019

Don't Blame Us!

DON’T BLAME US!
Over much opposition from members of the community, a man opened a large night club. One of the local churches came to the logical conclusion that the most important responsibility they had in the matter was to ask God to intervene and close the club. They called an all-night prayer meeting and asked God to honor their request.

During the prayer meeting, lightning struck the club, and it burned to the ground. The club owner, learning of the church’s prayer meeting, became angry and sued the church. In response to the lawsuit, the church denied all responsibility.

After hearing the case, the judge said, “Wherever the guilt may lie, the night club owner believes in prayer but the church, obviously, does not.”

What at first may appear to be humorous may be an indictment on our faith and trust in the power of God. In His teaching on prayer, Jesus said that we are to ask Him for “anything” and “everything” – two “all-inclusive” words. When we take them literally and seriously, they will give us the right and responsibility to ask for “whatever” is within the will of God.

Could it be that we do not believe that God can and will answer our prayers? Do we really believe that God is listening, is willing, and is certainly able to respond if we truly believe?

Prayer: Dear Jesus, You clearly and convincingly said that “everything is possible with God” if only we believe! In Your name, please remove any and all of our doubts. Thank You! Amen.

Scripture For Today: Mark 10:27 Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But not with God. Everything is possible with God.” 

Breakthrough

It was the first time she, JoAnn, had ever competed in the Special Olympics. She had trained hard but had no expectations of winning her race. But, she did win.
After the medal was placed around her neck, she ran to her parents and said, “Look mom and dad – I won! I won my race!” Tears fell from their eyes and ran down their cheeks.

Noticing their tears, the judge approached them and asked, “Aren’t you happy that your daughter won the race? Why are you crying?”

Wiping the tears from her eyes, JoAnn’s mother said, “Of course we are happy she won her race. But what brought tears to our eyes was the joy we had in hearing the first words she ever uttered.”

It is easy for Christians to do good works and kind deeds in the name of the Lord without mentioning His name. And that is good. But we must also willingly and without hesitation boldly tell others of His blessings in our lives and give Him the credit.

Prayer: Give us courage, Lord, to share Your message of love, hope, and salvation with the lost. Also, Father, give us courage praise Your blessings, too. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Psalm 107:2 Has the Lord redeemed you? Then speak out! Tell others he has redeemed you from your enemies. 

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Do You Really Believe?

“Wire-walkers” are known for their death-defying performances. These well-prepared and highly skillful entertainers are known for walking on thin wires that are suspended high in the air over dangerous sites. Normally they use a long pole for balance.
There was one “high-wire walker” who decided to use a wheelbarrow filled with 200 pounds of bricks for his balance as he crossed Niagara Falls. After he accomplished his feat, a crowd of reporters gathered around him and began to ask questions. After he answered the last question, he pointed to one of them and asked, “Do you believe that I can take this wheelbarrow that is now filled with bricks back to the other side?”
“Certainly,” came the reply.
“Good!” The wire-walker then dumped the bricks on the ground and said to the reporter, “Get in and I’ll take you to the other side.”
Mark tells the story of a father who brought his demon-possessed boy to the disciples for healing. They failed. Then, he took his son to Jesus, and said, “Do something if you can.” And Jesus said, “If I can? Anything is possible if you believe. But, do you believe?”
And the father replied, “Lord, help my unbelief!”
Our faith only grows when we pray, give our fears to God, and trust in Him alone.
Prayer: Father, remove our doubts and fears and fill our minds and hearts with a faith that completely relies on You for all things. Please, remove our unbelief. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Mark 9:24 The father instantly cried out, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!” 

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Dismount!

Stories of the Knights of the Round Table are fascinating – often intriguing. There are many hidden messages in the way they did things.
For example, when they were fully dressed, they would ride a large, strong horse to bear the weight of their armor. When they went hunting, they would ride a small, swift horse that could run fast to catch up with the prey. When in a parade, they would ride a tall, high horse. This made them appear bigger than the poor peasant who had no horse at all and was forced to look up to them.

In fact, the expression “Get off your high horse” originated from their exploits. It meant to the onlookers, “Stop acting as if you are above us! Remember, you’re on a horse.”

Wise Solomon had some advice for those who act as if they are above others. He said, “Haughty eyes, a proud heart, and evil actions are all sin.”

God wants us to develop talents carefully and use wisely the skills, talents, and gifts that He has given us. We are to be thankful for all that we can do in His name to bring Him glory and honor. We must never have an inflated opinion of our value or importance. We have what we have because of His grace. We are what we are and what we can be because of Him. We must realize at all times that we are His and are obligated to serve Him faithfully each day.

Prayer: Father, may we be ever thankful for all of the gifts You have given us and use them to honor You. May we set ourselves aside at all times and exalt only You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Proverbs 21:4 Haughty eyes, a proud heart, and evil actions are all sin.

Friday, October 4, 2019

Beginning At The End

One day a grief-stricken man prayed, “Dear Lord, I’m at the end of all my resources. I have nothing left.”
“My child,” answered the Lord, “when you come to the end of your resources, you are just at the beginning of mine.”

One of God’s great gifts is allowing us to come to the place of hopelessness and helplessness. When we realize that we have nothing left to cling to, and no one else to depend on, we will realize how much we need the Lord. There are many times in our lives when we are convinced that we are brave or strong, energetic or invincible, only to have the “rug pulled out from under us.” We are left feeling alone or abandoned, deserted or defeated.

It has been said that it is easier for someone to stand adversity with God than prosperity without Him. We learn in times of trouble and trials that “my grace is sufficient” or “Lo, I am with you always.” In times of plenty, we may be forced to realize that “life does not consist in the abundance of things.” And, actually, that may be what is best for us at that time.

Eventually, we as Christians may come to the place where we realize that “all things” are possible with and through Christ. But rarely do we realize this until we get to the other side of “whatever” may have brought us to the “end of our resources.” Thank God for our “ends.”

Prayer: Thank You, Father, for those times in life when we exhaust our resources and know that we need Yours to grow in Your grace and stand in Your strength. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Mark 10:27 Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But not with God. Everything is possible with God.” 

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Avoiding The Truth

A gentleman was fascinated with an advertisement he read about a barometer. He thought he would be the envy of his neighbors to have such an instrument at his home. In his mind he imagined them coming to him for weather reports. So, he ordered one.
When it arrived, the needle was pointing to “Tornado.” In disbelief, he shook it, slapped it, then waved it from side to side. But the needle remained pointing toward the word “tornado.” In anger, he wrapped it up, took it to the post office, and mailed it back to the manufacturer, thinking, “They tried to cheat me!”

As he was returning home, he noticed that many trees were overturned with their roots in the air. Buildings were destroyed and power lines down. Damage and destruction were everywhere he looked. Finally, he turned onto the street where he lived and there, before his eyes, was his home. It had been completely destroyed. The barometer was right, he was wrong: a tornado had been approaching when he received his barometer.

Many of us fail to realize that there are serious consequences for each decision we make. Every choice does indeed, have its consequences. However, there is one choice that is more important than any other choice we will ever make: What will YOU do with Jesus?

Prayer: We thank You, Father, for Your salvation that can be ours through Christ. May we accept Your grace and accept Your salvation, now! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14 He called you to salvation when we told you the Good News; now you can share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Be All You Can Be

Years ago, after being introduced to the students in a small college in South Carolina, the guest speaker stood quietly for a moment.
She then began her remarks by saying, “I was born to a mother who was deaf and could not speak. I do not know who my father is or where he may be. The first job I ever had was in a cotton field.”
Smiling, she continued and said, “I stand before you today as the Treasurer of the United States. My name is Azie Taylor Moore. Nothing has to remain the way it is if that’s not the way you want it to be.”
Paul said that “I can do everything with the help of Christ who gives me the strength that I need.” Does that mean we can become the Treasurer of the United States? The chief executive officer of a large corporation? The driver of an eighteen-wheeler? The crossing guard for an elementary school? Perhaps.
The power that is ours through Christ is available to meet every challenge in life as long as we are doing His will. His strength will prevail in us, for us, and through us whenever we do what He has called us to do. But we must be willing and committed to fulfilling the purpose He has for our lives. It is inappropriate for us to expect God to empower us to be or do anything that is not in keeping with His will. What we do must be in keeping with what His character is!
Prayer: Help us, Lord, to be faithful to You in everything we do, and to always seek Your will for our lives. May what we do and think follow the example of Your Son. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Philippians 4:13 I can do everything with the help of Christ who gives me the strength that I need. 

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Asking, Seeking And Knocking

A little girl was climbing into bed when her mother asked, “Ann, did you remember to say your prayers?”
“Well,” she replied, “I got on my knees and started to say them as I do every night. And then all of a sudden I thought, ‘I’ll bet that God gets tired of hearing me pray about the same old things every night.’ So, I decided that I would just lay here in bed and tell Him the story of ‘The Three Bears.’”

Persistence in prayer and pursuing God’s plan and purpose for our lives is very important. It’s equally important, however, to understand how He answers our prayers and when He will answer our prayers. We must never allow ourselves to think that God will not accept our prayers or that He will ever forget our prayers. Prayers and praying are a serious and significant part of the life of the Christian. However, we must always remember that He will answer our prayers at the right time, in the right way, in a way that is in our best interests.

We need to remember that He responds to our requests with His wisdom and His never-ending and always compassionate love. When the answer does not come when we expect it, we must hold fast to the fact that “His grace is sufficient” now and into eternity. The answer will come when we need it most and will fulfill His plan for our well-being. When we give up, give in, and quit praying, God knows we are not sincere and that our request was “a passing fancy.”

Prayer: Lord, give us a faith that does not falter, a trust that will not tire and persistence that will prevail. May our hope in Your faithfulness and our best interests prevail. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 Scripture For Today: Matthew 7:7 Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. 

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Anger

While completing the last phase of his painting of The Lord’s Supper, Leonardo da Vinci became annoyed with a certain man. Finally, his annoyance boiled over, and he lost his temper and lashed out at the man with bitter words in an angry rage.
After the man left his presence, he returned to his canvas where he had been painting the face of Christ. Try as he might, he was unable to make any progress on his work.

After struggling for several hours, he put down his brushes, left his studio, hurried to the man’s home and asked his forgiveness. Graciously the man accepted his apology. Leonardo then returned to his studio and was able to finish painting the face of our Lord.

Anger and rage are extremely destructive emotions. They take away our joy and peace and destroy our faith and trust in God. When we lose control of our emotions, it is a sign that we are excluding God from His rightful place in being the judge over others' behavior. We attempt to do His work if we try to do what He has reserved for Himself. When this happens, we make matters worse and lose touch with God and the one with whom we are angry.

Whenever we are threatened or treated unfairly, we must turn to God immediately and ask Him to make things right. After all, that is His responsibility – not ours.

Prayer: Lord, it is difficult to remain calm and peaceful when I am tested. I often feel that I am the one to “make things right.” May I give the problem to You instead. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Psalm 37:1-9 Stop being angry! Turn from your rage! Do not lose your temper - it only leads to harm.