Friday, January 31, 2020

Where They Belong

Once I asked an appliance repairman to come to church with me. “No,” he responded. “The church is full of hypocrites.”
“Great!” I responded. The man was startled. Continuing, I said, “That’s exactly where they belong. Let’s join them. I’m sure they won’t mind.”
If I understand it correctly, a hypocrite is someone who says one thing and does another. Or as a friend once said to me, “A hypocrite is a person who does not walk their talk. They profess what they do not possess.”
Many who do not want to attend church say the reason they refuse to do so is because the church is full of hypocrites. For as long as I can remember that has been a frequent excuse for many. As I see it, it is a great reason for them to attend! They already know the difference between the saved and the unsaved. The saved are expected to behave like Jesus and the unsaved person, who says he sees hypocrisy in Christians, already knows what is expected of him if he turns his life over to God for salvation.
We need to extend a warm welcome to those who use “the hypocrite excuse” as a reason not to attend church. Jesus said that He came to call sinners to be saved. Those who believe that they are already good enough will have a difficult time admitting they are sinners. But the hypocrite already knows he is “one!”
Prayer: Lord, help me to live a life that will be an example, not an excuse, for people to seek You. May I live my life consistent with the example of Your Son, Jesus! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Where To Find Happiness

A professor was known to ask his students questions to make them think. On one occasion he stood before the class and wrote on the chalkboard, “Who’s more content – the man with six million dollars or the man with six children? Now think!” he challenged them.
After a few moments, one of the students raised his hand and answered, “The man with the six children.”
“Oh. Why?” asked the professor.
“Well, the man with the six million dollars would always want more!” came the reply.
True contentment is always independent of “things” – whether possessions or pleasures. It only comes from an inner attitude toward life. That is why Paul said, “True religion, with contentment, is great wealth.”
This does not imply that being a Christian means living in poverty or wanting to be poor. But it does mean that the power of “things” will never bring happiness and that the Christian must always focus on “things” that are eternal.
In the final analysis, we can only take two “things” to Heaven: Ourselves and what we have done with our lives.
So, we must live our lives with one goal that dominates our heads, hearts, and hands: to present ourselves to God without shame! As Paul said, “I beg you...to be living sacrifices!”
Prayer: Help us, Father, to realize that life does not consist in amassing an abundance of “things.” Give us Your insight and wisdom to live lives that honor You! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: 1 Timothy 6:6 Yet true godliness with contentment is itself great wealth. 

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Who Is On The Lord's Side?


Years ago when Italy went to war, there was a shortage of soldiers. To find recruits, one captain went through the villages calling men to fight with him. Many joined him bringing their own weapons into combat.
One elderly lady was so moved by the sight that she got her broom, placed it on her shoulder, and began to march with the men into combat.
Many of the soldiers laughed at her. One looked at her and asked, “What good are you, old lady?”
“Not much,” she replied, “but I want everyone to know whose side I’m on!”
Life requires many choices. But there is no more important choice for each of us than to let the world know whose side we are on. Joshua said, “So, honor the Lord and serve Him wholeheartedly.” He challenged the people to declare their allegiance to God because He had proven His trustworthiness to them.
From the simple to the significant, we make many choices every day, each with an opportunity to show the world whose side we are on. Often we are willing to compromise our beliefs and values rather than to declare our allegiance to the Lord as one of His disciples. Rather than taking a clear position to honor God, we waffle and waiver because we fear being ridiculed and rebuked. If we love the Lord and want His peace and protection, His goodness and grace, we must be willing to “take our brooms” and declare our faith. We must listen to the Lord as He speaks to us through His Word and make the right choices.
Prayer: Lord, may we live our lives letting those around us see the depth of our commitment to You. Empower us with courage to prove to others that You are our Lord! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Joshua 24:15-15 But if you refuse to serve the Lord, then choose today whom you will serve. Would you prefer the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates? Or will it be the gods of the Amorites in whose land you now live? But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord.” 

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Where Does Your Light Come From?

Little Sara came home from school and proudly said to her mother, “I learned a new song today!”
“Sing it to me,” came the request.
“God bless America, land that I love: Stand beside her, and guide her, through the night with the light from a bulb,” sang Sara.
There is a great difference between “light from a bulb” and “light from above.” As we look at our nation today, we find that most “light” has come from education, information, training, and knowledge that enables individuals to earn a living. However, the “light” that comes from wisdom – the ability to judge what is true or right or something with lasting value or worth – appears to be in short supply. God’s wisdom seems to be disappearing!!
James reminds us that if we want to have the ability to make wise decisions in troubling situations we can always pray and ask God for guidance and wisdom.
We do not have to stumble in the darkness hoping to find good answers while looking for a “bulb” to light our path. We can ask God for His directions and He will gladly tell us what to do.
God’s wisdom always leads us to the right decision and guarantees us good results. But, we must have God-centered goals that come from knowing, accepting, trusting, and living His Word if we expect His wisdom. It must be within us before it can come out of us or guide us.
Prayer: Lord, fill our minds with Your wisdom as we look to You for guidance to live lives worthy of You. Help us to seek Your wisdom from Your Word to light our way. 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. 

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Monday, January 27, 2020

Worthy Words

It has been estimated that the average person speaks about 34,000 words a day. Multiply that by 365 and that amounts to about 12,000,000 words a year. That ought to make our jaws hurt!
When he wrote Psalm 19, David said that he wanted the words coming from his mouth and the thoughts stored in his heart to be pleasing to God. David was so concerned about his words that he wondered if there was any way for him to know what sins might already be lurking in his heart. Jesus spoke of the importance of our words and said that “?out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks.” These “words” about “words” need our attention.
What are we to do about the “words” that come from our mouths? David asked God to “Set a guard over my mouth and to keep a watch over my lips.” What a great place to begin – to ask God to watch our lips and guard our mouths at all times so what we say will please God!
Realizing that God knows every thought we think and every word we speak should cause us to ask Him to make our hearts and minds pure. Then with His power within us and His presence around us and His Spirit to guide us, our words will certainly please Him and others.
Prayer: Father, may our minds and hearts be so full of Your Word that our words will reflect Your message of love and hope. May all that we say please You! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Psalm 19:12-14 May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. 

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Who's Bigger?

One Sunday morning after church as the family was driving home, Molly asked, “Mom, the preacher said that God was bigger than any of us. Is that really true?”
“Yes, He is!” answered her mother.
“Well, Mom,” she continued, “the preacher also said that God lives in us. Is that also true?”
“Yes,” admitted the mother.
“Well, then,” she asked rather confused, “why doesn’t He show through us?”
How much of God is seen in or through our lives each day?
We speak of Him often, turn to Him quickly, and say we rely on Him totally, but do we consult with Him continually?
When we make plans, we need to include Him. If we visit with a friend, we need to invite Him into the conversation. As we leave for a journey, we need to ask Him to travel with us. Throughout the day, every day, at work or at play, we need to ask Him for His wisdom.
Perhaps if we consulted God for His advice in everything we do and were more conscious that His Spirit is actually within us, and that He wants to work through us, we would realize that He is bigger than we are and wants to “show through” us.
Prayer: Father, we often think of Your goodness, but rarely talk about it to others. We believe that You love us but seldom share this with others. Come, live through us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Galatians 2:20 My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Unexpected Rewards

He began playing the cello at an early age, and by the time he was eighteen, he enjoyed playing in a small European orchestra. Unfortunately, he became nearsighted and as a result, had to memorize his part and the parts of all of the other instruments if he was to play with the orchestra. Fortunately, he became very skilled at memorization.
One day the orchestra was to play before a large audience. Moments before the performance was to begin, the leader became ill. Arturo Toscanini, the cellist, was called upon to lead the orchestra because he was the only person who knew all of the parts of the other musicians. His performance was flawless, and the critics praised his skills. Other opportunities became available to him, and he went on to become a world-famous conductor. What may have defeated others became a successful career for him. He turned his loss into a victory!
God has great plans for each of us. He sees and knows every obstacle we might ever encounter from the day we are born until the day our lives end. His part is to bring all “things” together; our part is to work with Him to achieve the “good” that He has in store for us.
Prayer: Help us, Lord, to believe that You have great plans for each of us. May we never accept defeat, but take each of Your gifts and use them for Your glory. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Romans 8:28 And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. 

Friday, January 24, 2020

The Storms Of Life

Joseph Turner was standing in front of one of his paintings of a raging sea. A friend beside him asked, “How did you paint such a realistic picture of a storm at sea. It is so real.”
He answered, “I was on a ship in the midst of that storm. Not only did I see it, but I was also there and felt it.”
Like that painter, Jesus felt the storms of life.
Whenever we lose a loved one, we must remember that He stood beside a grave and wept.
If ever we are a victim of poverty or lack a place of our own, let’s not forget that Jesus had no place to lay His head.
Whenever we feel alone, abandoned or neglected, we need to recall the times when His followers forsook Him and His disciples deserted Him.
Every event that God brings into our lives is one that Jesus has encountered, endured and experienced and successfully survived. Whatever God brings into our lives is temporary and will pass into the pages of history. Because He has overcome the extremes of life, we can take great comfort in the fact that He is willing to share His victories with us if we look to Him for His salvation.
Prayer: Father, You have been where we are or someday may be. So, we know with certainty that You’ve been there before us and will be with us and that we can survive. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Hebrews 2:18 Since he himself has gone through suffering and testing, he is able to help us when we are being tested. 

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Give It To God!

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Give It To God!
A farmer was walking down a long, winding mountain road in Mexico carrying a heavy sack. Without realizing it, a man with a mule-drawn wagon was suddenly beside him and offered him a ride. He climbed on the back of the wagon and breathed a long sigh of relief.
After traveling for some time, the man driving the wagon turned around, and to his amazement, saw that the man was still holding his sack. “Why don’t you drop it next to you?” asked the wagon driver.
“Oh, no,” came the reply. “You are kind enough to carry me. You do not have to carry my load as well.”
Many of us are like that farmer with the sack. God pleads with us to give Him our burdens. Yet, we needlessly and continuously carry them on our backs rather than setting them down at His feet. We say that we trust Him and talk of turning to Him in times of need, but we refuse to “let go and let God” do what He wants to do: completely take the weight from our shoulders and place it in His loving, caring hands.
If we can trust Him for our salvation, surely we can trust Him with every care or concern we have. Most assuredly, His strength will sustain us, always.
Prayer: Lord, help us to be willing to believe that You are able to relieve us of life’s burdens if we truly trust You. In the words of Your disciple, “Help our unbelief!” In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Psalm 55:22 Give your burdens to the Lord, and he will take care of you. He will not permit the godly to slip and fall. 

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

The Pain Passes

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THE PAIN PASSES
Pierre Renoir, the famous French painter, was severely afflicted with arthritis. Over the years, his hands became twisted, and whenever he painted the pain was intense. However, he would not quit.
One day a friend who was watching him paint asked, “How can you paint with the pain that causes you so much torture?”
Thoughtfully he answered, “The pain passes, but the beauty remains.”
Job was a godly man who was wealthy and influential. For most of his life, he was prosperous and free from any serious problems. One day his life fell apart. Within a short time, he lost nearly everything he had, suffered greatly, was severely criticized and condemned by his friends. But, he never lost his faith in God.
Though he never learned the reason for his losses and suffering, he never questioned God’s judgment. He believed that an all-powerful, all-loving God was acting in his best interests. In the midst of his trials, he said, “When He has tried me I shall come out as gold.” That’s trust!
Prayer: Lord, may we believe that what You bring into our lives will ultimately work for our best. Give us faith when we are troubled and trust when we doubt Your love. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Job 23:10-12 But he knows where I am going. And when he tests me, I will come out as pure as gold. For I have stayed on God’s paths; I have followed his ways and not turned aside. I have not departed from his commands, but have treasured his words more than daily food. 

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

The Four "T's" Of Life

Writing in his diary, a young man predicted his future: “Someday I’m going to do something special with my life. I will become famous!”
Years later, an old man said to his family, “I could have done great things with my life, but I didn’t. I am so sorry. I wish I had. I am a failure.”
What a tragic disclosure! The old man now talking was once the young man dreaming
God gives each of us a limited number of days, a select number of skills, and with them the ability to do something honorable. None of us know the number of our days or the length of our life. Some of us never develop the skills God has given us. Many do not invest the talents God has given them wisely, wasting their lives on the frivolous unaware of God’s gifts.
An important question to ask ourselves every day is this: “What am I going to do with the time, the talents and treasures God has given me today?” For this day may be our last.
We have no assurance of tomorrow. We may lose the skills that we have through a tragedy or our treasures may be taken from us without warning. When we attach our lives to God’s power and His plan, we will have no regrets. Our lives will honor God and bless others.
Prayer: Teach us, Lord, to be faithful to You and to make the most of all You have given us. May we take Your gifts, invest them wisely, and do what honors You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.  Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. 

Monday, January 20, 2020

Tell Me, What Do You Do?

An employee was suddenly taken very ill at work and was rushed to the hospital. He was well-liked by everyone for his constant humor and happy disposition. The first one to visit him at the hospital was his boss.
Standing by the side of his bed and holding his hand, his boss encouraged him by saying, “John, please don’t worry about a thing. Just get well. We’ll all get together and do your work – as soon as we can figure out what you’ve been doing.”
It seems as though every organization has an employee named “John.” He’s over here, over there, everywhere but where he is supposed to be, not doing what he has been hired to do. He’s busy doing nothing while others take up the slack.
Paul said to “Work with enthusiasm, as though you were working for the Lord rather than people.” We are obligated to work responsibly as if Jesus were our employer. Even when we find our work unsatisfying or unfulfilling at times, we must always remember that God put us where we are to do what He wants us to do and that His will and purpose for our lives is what matters most. He will reward us for what we do and how well we do it. We work to glorify Him.
Prayer: Lord, when our work becomes difficult and boring and tedious and we want to quit or perform poorly, reminds us that we do what we do to honor You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Ephesians 6:7-8 Work with enthusiasm, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will reward each one of us for the good we do, whether we are slaves or free. 

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Say It Isn't So

A deacon phoned his pastor who was on vacation in a distant city. When he answered the call, the deacon blurted out, “Pastor, a cyclone just came through our county and destroyed my house and barn.”
“I’m not surprised,” replied his pastor. Then he continued, “The punishment for unconfessed sin is inevitable! Sooner or later, God will judge all sin and sinners!”
“But Pastor,” continued the deacon, “it destroyed your house as well.”
“It did?” exclaimed the pastor. “The ways of the Lord are past human understanding.”
There are times when it is difficult to offer love and kindness to those whom we feel do not deserve it. Our responses to another person’s trials and tragedies, unfortunately and often, come from a distorted view of God’s love. We are inclined to look at what happens to others from a normal, distorted, human response and believe that “they got what they deserved.”
When we realize the loving-kindness of God to us and His blessings on us, and then realize how undeserving we are of anything and everything, perhaps we may begin to see things differently. If God does not withhold anything good from us, we should treat others the same!
Prayer: Lord, may we look at others the way You look at us – with love, care and compassion. May we realize that we are all equal when we stand before You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: 1 Corinthians 16:14 And do everything with love. 

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Start Immediately!

The great American novelist, Sinclair Lewis, was invited to give a lecture to a group of college students who wanted to become writers. As they sat quietly and waited expectantly, he opened his remarks by asking, “How many of you intend to become successful writers?”
Immediately, everyone in the audience held up a hand to declare their intentions.
“In that case,” said Lewis, “my advice to you is to go home immediately and write.”
Shortly after creating Adam, God directed him to care for and tend to the Garden that He had created for him. And, ever since then, man has been responsible to work with God and take care of His creation. Each day we are to accept every task that comes our way and do it as “though we are working for the Lord.” Why? Because He has tasked us to care for His creation!
“Remember,” said Paul, “the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward” if we “work hard and cheerfully” for Him. We must accept every task and each responsibility He offers us and recognize it as an opportunity to worship and serve Him every day. “Whatever we do - in word or deed - we are to do it for the glory of God!” We work for the Creator of the universe!
Prayer: Father, may we always remember that whatever we do, we are to do as an act of worship. We do this from hearts full of love because of Your salvation. In Christ’s Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Colossians 3:23-24 Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ. 

Friday, January 17, 2020

Preparing For Temptation

It was a very hot summer day. All the boys in the neighborhood decided to go swimming but there was no adult to go with them. Recognizing the danger that might occur, Johnny’s mother forbade him to go with them. Later that day, he came home with wet hair.
“What happened?” asked his mother.
“I fell in the pond,” came his reply.
“Well, why aren’t your clothes wet?” she asked.
“I had a feeling I was going to fall in,” he explained, “so I took them off.”
The world has been, is, and always will be full of temptations and pressure to sin. So, Paul gave us a warning and an escape route. First, he said that we would be tempted, and then second, that God would always provide a way for us to escape temptation and to be victorious over sin. But we must do our part if we expect Him to do His. We must first prepare ourselves with His Word, and to recognize and avoid people, places and things that will lead us to sin. Then, if we are tempted, look to Him for strength to resist the temptation before we are overpowered and fall into sin.
Prayer: Grant us, Father, the courage to avoid situations that tempt us to sin. Empower us to ask for Your strength and power to turn from sin and live for You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: 1 Corinthians 10:13 The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure. 

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Grace That Is Sufficient

A pastor was visiting a member of his church who had been hospitalized for many weeks. She was suffering from excruciating pain. After praying with her, he offered her a book and said, “This book brought me much comfort while I was ill a few years ago. You will enjoy it greatly, and it will bring you much peace. It will be most helpful!”
“Thank you,” she answered. “I’m well acquainted with its contents.”
“Have you read it?” he asked.
“More than that,” she replied. “I wrote it.”
It is always comforting to be able to talk with someone who has experienced pain or problems that are similar to our own. They have been where we are and know and understand our pain or suffering, sadness or sorrow, fears and doubts, questions and concerns. There is a sense of understanding that brings a closeness or connection, a bond and a blessing.
When we go through difficult times and are comforted by our Heavenly Father, we must realize that “God comforts us that we can comfort others who need comforting.” Often the “unwanted gifts” of pain and sorrow come from God as a “special gift” that equips us to understand, care for and help others who “are going through their valley with dark shadows.”
Prayer: Help us, Father, to care for others the way You care for us. May we be open and accepting of Your love, mercy, and grace so we can share it with others. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: 2 Corinthians 1:3-11 Even when we are weighed down with troubles, it is for your comfort and salvation! For when we ourselves are comforted, we will certainly comfort you. Then you can patiently endure the same things we suffer. 

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Money Matters

One day Winston Churchill was informed that he was to address the United Kingdom in one hour. He called a taxi and said to the driver, “Drive me to the British Broadcasting Corporation just as fast as you can.”
“Sorry, sir,” he responded, “I can’t do that. Sir Winston is to broadcast at six o’clock. I want to get home to hear him, and if I drive you to the BBC, I’ll miss him. I cannot do that!”
The answer thrilled Churchill so much that he reached in his pocket and gave him a large sum of money.
“The devil with Churchill,” said the driver. “Hop in!” and off they rode.
There is nothing wrong with having money or enjoying the things that money can buy. But there is something wrong if wanting money causes us to do the wrong things, do things poorly, or if we compromise our values, to get money.
Jesus said that if power or possessions, position or priorities have first place in our lives they will become worthless and ultimately destroy us. What we have in this world will be left in this world – we cannot take anything from this world into the next. Everything we have now is temporary and cannot be exchanged for anything eternal. The “things” of this world cannot purchase salvation or eternal life. As Christians, we are obligated to make the pursuit of God and building His Kingdom on earth the most important goals of our lives.
Prayer: Help us, Father, to live lives that demonstrate to others that You are Lord of our lives. May we seek first Your righteousness and then Your Kingdom. Through Christ our Lord, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Mark 6:36-37 But Jesus said, “You feed them.” 

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Love And Respect

One evening a husband returned from work and found his home cluttered and un-kept. Calling his wife he asked, “What on earth happened today?”
“So,” she responded thoughtfully, “every evening when you arrive home you ask, ‘What did you do all day?’ Well, now you know. I didn't do it.”
When a man and woman become husband and wife, a unique relationship is formed: the two become one. And when the two are merged into one, a unique union is formed. From then on, whatever affects one certainly affects the other. It is as if there is no seam or separation.
Paul said that “each man must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.” We know that a man “loves himself” if he takes care of himself as one who was created in God’s image and for God’s glory. If a man takes his obligation to God seriously, he will be concerned about his spiritual, mental and physical well-being. How? By developing his relationship with God, putting “good things” into his mind, and caring for his body. These are the “right” things to do. And, as he cares for himself, he must – willingly and consistently – also care for his wife the same way. A wife knows that her husband cares for her if he cares for himself as God intended him to. He will also want the same – what is best in God’s sight and teachings – for her. Respect for the husband comes easily and naturally and freely and consistently when the wife knows she is being cared for the way God intended.
Prayer: Lord, we pray that in our homes and in our lives we will live the true love that comes only from You. Help us to live love and show love as Your Son did. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Ephesians 5:33 So again I say, each man must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. 

Monday, January 13, 2020

Knowing And Doing

In 1927 many businesses had financial difficulties that forced them to close. One was an insurance company in Savannah, Georgia. There were more than 500 stockholders who lost hundreds of thousands of dollars. The owner, a man named Mercer, and his son, promised to repay each one of them.
Twenty-eight years later the final debt was paid. Even though the father had died, the son paid each debt in full.
The son had become a famous songwriter, and it was one of the songs he wrote that enabled him to pay the debts. The songwriter was Johnny Mercer and the song that paid the debt was, “Accentuate the Positive and Eliminate the Negative.”
Choosing to do the right thing is often difficult, sometimes painful. There are times when it may mean the loss of money or some valued object. It may cost a friendship with someone who is destroying us and our walk with the Lord. It may mean giving up a job that would cause us to compromise our values. Honoring God always forces us to choose to do what He has asked us to do: obey His teachings. Knowing what is right is rarely the problem. Doing what is right, however, is. Remember: “I can do all things through Him who gives me His strength!”
Prayer: Lord, may we always honor You by accepting, believing, and living Your Word. Help us to take You at Your Word, and live as though we thoroughly believed it! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: 1 Chronicles 29:17 I know, my God, that you examine our hearts and rejoice when you find integrity there. You know I have done all this with good motives, and I have watched your people offer their gifts willingly and joyously. 

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Sunday, January 12, 2020

Growing Up

One Sunday morning, the pastor was visiting the first grade Sunday school class. With a bright smile, he said to a small child, “Who made you, Jimmy?”
“Well,” he said thoughtfully, “God made part of me.”
“What do you mean that God made part of you?” asked the pastor.
“First, God made me real little, and I growed the rest all by myself.”
How insightful! God begins a “good work in us” when we accept Christ as our Savior. We are, so to speak, “real little” like Jimmy. But, He does not expect us to remain “little.” When God started the process of the new birth within us, He did so with the intention of bringing it to completion – for us to grow into the likeness of Christ. This is possible because the Holy Spirit lives with us and is willing and able, with our involvement, to let it happen through prayer, Bible study, and worship. Come, grow with Him. He has great things waiting for each of us.
Prayer: Lord, may we work with You to grow into Christlikeness. May we, with determination and surrender, commit our lives to become who You created us to be. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Philippians 1:6 And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. 

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Saturday, January 11, 2020

Attitude Is Everything!

A poor widow had two sons. She was extremely consumed with their success and feared that they would fail. Both were self-employed. One sold umbrellas and the other one sold fans.
The first thing she would do each morning was to run to the window to check the weather. If it was raining, she would sigh and say, “Oh, me, no one will want to buy fans today. It’s going to be cool.” And, if it was sunny, she would fret and say, “Oh my, no one will need an umbrella because it’s not raining.”
One day a friend said to her, “Listen, if the sun is shining, someone will buy a fan and if it’s raining, someone will buy an umbrella. The weather is always changing so someone will always buy one or the other.”
Many of us allow the conditions around us to control the attitude that is in us. It’s “what’s out there” that controls “what’s in here.” How unfortunate! We have things backward. When we are “in Christ,” we need to go to Him and ask Him to fill our hearts with thanksgiving and joy for all that we have “in Him.” We have all of His promises available to us in His Word. And, if we accept them and act on them, rain or sun, come what may – God is in control and will give us what we need. “Greater is He who is within you than he who is in the world!”
Prayer: Lord, help us to see things through Your eyes, and believe that Your care for us exceeds every need we will ever have. May we accept Your promises. In Christ our Lord. Amen.
Scripture For Today: 5:16-17 Always be joyful. Never stop praying. 1 Thessalonians 

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Friday, January 10, 2020

Good For Evil

A truck driver went into a café and ordered a hamburger, French fries, a piece of pie, and a cup of coffee. Shortly after he placed his order, a group of bikers came in and surrounded him. When he was served, they ate his food and drank his coffee. Quietly, the trucker stood up, walked to the cash register, paid his bill, said nothing, walked past them, and out the door.
“He’s really not much of a man,” said one of the bikers.
“And he’s really not much of a driver either,” said the cashier. “He just ran over three bikes in the parking lot.”
In Romans 12 Paul describes the central values for Christian living. In particular, he said that if we have truly experienced God’s grace, we will want to share it with others. Forgiveness is a good example of sharing and showing God’s grace to others.
Often we say that we forgive others for the wrongs they have done to us. But, forgiveness is much more than quietly offering kind words under our breath that only God hears. Forgiveness is active, not passive. If we have trouble forgiving someone and the hate remains lodged in our heads and hearts and not expressed with our hands by showing forgiveness, we need to do something that reflects forgiveness – like offering them a small gift. That would certainly demonstrate forgiveness.
And, when we do so, we can begin to think of – in some very small way – the tremendous gift of forgiveness that God gave to us in and through His Son: our salvation!
Prayer: Help us, Father, to be forgiving and loving of those who harm us. We see examples of this in Your Son, even when on His cross. May we follow His example. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Romans 12:17-21 Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone. 

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Thursday, January 9, 2020

God's Good Gifts

It was that quiet time of the day just before the sunset. Sitting on his front porch, H.C. Booth was fascinated as columns of dust swirled past him and then suddenly disappeared from sight.
As he watched the swirling dust, he wondered and asked himself a question: “What if it was possible to reverse the wind, and instead of it blowing the dust, pull it back?” After much thought and many experiments, he invented the vacuum cleaner in 1901.
Each day God brings many “columns of dust and dirt” into our lives. Often they seem routine and repetitive, troubling or trying, frustrating or frivolous. We are disturbed by them, become exasperated with them, and wish they would go away. Our peace evaporates and our rage rises. But, there is hope!
James has some good advice for us. He says, “If you need wisdom – if you want to know what God wants you to do – ask Him and He will gladly tell you and give you what you need.” This wisdom he speaks of is “practical discernment or sensible insight” – the ability to make wise decisions during difficult times. And, we have His promise that at all times and in every situation, if we only ask, He’ll give us His insight and guide our choices to make life acceptable.
Prayer: Lord, open our eyes to see that things do not need to remain the way they are. We have Your word that if we ask for Your insight You will surely give it to us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Ephesians 4:32 Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you. 

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Forgive Who? For What?

Pope John Paul II was one of the most notable leaders of the Roman Catholic Church. In 1981 the Pope made a trip to a prison to speak with the man who tried to assassinate him and tell him that he forgave him. In 1984 the Pope appeared on the cover of TIME with the would-be assassin, shaking hands with him while his other arm was around his shoulders. Underneath the photo were the words “WHY FORGIVE?” in bold letters.
Strangely, the Pope asked readers to “pray for my brother whom I have sincerely forgiven.” Some condemned the Pope. Others agreed with the Pope. Still, others could not understand the reason the Pope did such a thing: offer to forgive him.
For most of us, forgiveness is not easy to do nor pleasant to think about. Some of us might even enjoy the resentment and anger that grows within us when we have been wronged. Some speak of their anger as a sign of strength and power. Yet?
Paul said when we accept and understand God’s mercy and forgiveness, He expects us to forgive others just as Jesus did to those who crucified Him. Furthermore, because God through the death of Jesus has forgiven us, He expects us to forgive others as our Savior has forgiven us. When we willingly forgive others, we begin to understand the cost of our salvation.
Prayer: Father, we pray for the willingness to forgive others who have wronged us even as our Savior willingly forgives us. May we show Your love by forgiving others. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Ephesians 4:32 Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you. 

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Finding Light In The Darkness

Darkness.
We’ve all experienced it. Sometimes feared it. Always recognized it. Occasionally wanted it. Most often found our way out of it. But, have you ever tried to define it? Or explained it?
A quick and easy answer would be: “The absence of light.” When darkness surrounds us, we need light to discover where we are and where we want to go.
Another question might be: Do we need darkness? Perhaps, some might say, “We need it for rest and peacefulness.” But, consider the fact that we also need it to see the stars.
There are times in all of our lives when we are going through what we might call the “deepest darkness imaginable.” Suddenly, a glimmer of light appears before us. And then it grows and grows, and then becomes larger and larger. Finally, we are surrounded by light.
Isaiah had a unique experience with darkness. It kept him from seeing God at work in His world and in his life. But, one day everything changed and he wrote, “In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord.” After his vision, he was able to recognize the presence and power of God and see His light. And after that experience, he became a mighty prophet and counselor to kings and prophesied many signs that described the coming Messiah. From the darkness that once surrounded him, he then experienced God’s redeeming light.
It worked for Isaiah. It will work for us if we seek His light!
Prayer: Open our eyes, Lord, that we may see Your light and find the path You have prepared for us. Help us to seek Your light when we experience dark times in life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Isaiah 6:1-4 In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord. 

Monday, January 6, 2020

Don't Leave Shore Without Him

A young ensign was completing his first deployment aboard a large destroyer. He had performed all of his duties in an exemplary manner, and as a reward, the captain gave him permission to “get the ship underway.”
In his excitement and enthusiasm for being given such an honor, he went through every procedure carefully, wanting to further impress his superiors. However, in taking advantage of this new challenge, he broke an old tradition. As he was steering the ship out of the harbor, the First Officer quietly said to him, “Ensign, you have overlooked one of the unwritten rules of the sea. Make sure the Captain is on board before you get underway.”
There are times in all of our lives when we are so anxious to “get underway” that we leave our “Captain” standing on the shore. We all face days of uncertainty with tasks that seem beyond us. We are overwhelmed by new opportunities that are unfamiliar to us and demands that have defeated others around us. So, unprepared and uncertain, we “get underway” without God “at the helm.” Then we discover that we are in a sea with waves that would turn our lives upside down and winds that take away our breath. Unfortunately, we often “leave shore” without our Captain. Fortunately, when we return “to shore,” we find Him there waiting to take the “helm” of our life and save us. The winds and waves obey His voice!
Prayer: Lord, may we realize that we are not safe unless You are at the “helm” of our lives. Without You steering us we place ourselves in harm’s way. Save us! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Psalm 139:10 Even there your hand will guide me, and your strength will support me. 

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Don't Stop Now!

Some time ago it was my privilege to be the commencement speaker at a high school graduation. At the end of the service, the students came forward and walked up to the headmaster to receive their diplomas. As he shook their hands, he looked into their eyes and said softly to each one of them, “Don’t stop now, keep moving forward!”
Great advice – not only for the graduates but for everyone, every day. Whatever we do, wherever we go, we must keep on keeping on. We must keep forgiving! Keep growing! Keep helping! Keep loving! Keep witnessing! Keep serving! Keep worshipping! Keep working! Keep laughing! Keep moving forward! We must never stop doing good, but keep on keeping on!
If this is important for life in general, it is even more important in the life of a Christian. Paul said that “I keep working toward that day when I will finally be all that Christ Jesus saved me for and wants me to be.” “Keep working” means “Keep on keeping on doing good!”
What great advice Paul offers us. Nothing must ever interfere with, nor cause us, to take our eyes off of knowing and serving Christ. We must focus on Him, and His will for our lives, as Paul did, to win the race and receive the prize He will award us by being faithful to Him.
Prayer: Help us, Heavenly Father, to focus on “the prize” You have for each of us, as we run life’s race. Help us to keep focused on You as we grow into Your likeness. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Philippians 3:8-14 Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us. 

Saturday, January 4, 2020

Do What Is Needed!

The bombing of the Federal Building in Oklahoma City was a tragedy that struck at the heart of America. The disaster prompted many individuals and teams from across the nation to set aside whatever they were doing, and help meet the needs of the survivors.
One rescue team had been working for hours and finally, after being overcome by fatigue, stopped to rest at 2:00 a.m. Sitting there quietly in the darkness, they heard a strange sound – one they could not identify. When they stood up and turned around, they saw an elderly lady sweeping bits and pieces of debris into a neat pile.
“Where are you from?” asked a member of the rescue team.
“Dallas,” came the reply. “I can’t do very much but when I offered to help, they told me the most important thing I could do was to help clean things up. So I got a broom and started to sweep.”
Life is always filled with opportunities to serve others. Whenever we do what needs to be done, no matter how small or insignificant it may seem, and do the best we can do, we honor God and bless His name. We must not compare our work with the work of others if we are doing what God has called us to do. If our heart is right, our work will be right, and God will bless it.
Prayer: Help us, Father, to honor You by helping others in their times of need. May we use the gifts and skills You have given us to do whatever we can to serve others. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Galatians 6:4 Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else. 

Friday, January 3, 2020

Disqualified!

It was the day before the most important football game of the season. Sitting in his office, the coach received a phone call from the dean informing him that his quarterback was disqualified from playing. He hurried to the dean’s office to protest the news.
As he sat across from the dean, frustrated and angry, he questioned the decision. The dean said, “He sat next to an honor student in an exam, and his answers were identical to hers – word for word.”
“Maybe,” said the coach, “the honor student copied the quarterback’s answers.”
“No,” answered the dean. “The honor student wrote ‘I don’t know the answer’ for the final question, and your quarterback wrote, ‘I don’t know either.’”
There is no room for opinions in honesty. We either are or are not honest. There are some who try a little “sleight of hand” by deceiving others to gain an edge or advantage. They may call it “clever,” “smooth,” “slick,” or say “it’s OK this time.” That is not how God sees things. He sets clear standards and easy-to-understand rules to guide us and guard us in every area of life especially this one: His Word says, “Good people will be guided by honesty.”
Prayer: Help us, Father, when we are in threatening situations, to have the courage to be honest! May we honor You, and “speak the truth in love!” In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Proverbs 11:1 The Lord detests the use of dishonest scales, but he delights in accurate weights. 

Thursday, January 2, 2020

Criticism

Paderewski was a great Polish pianist. But when he first chose to take piano lessons a teacher said to him, “Your hands are too small. You will never be able to master the keyboard.”
Caruso was one of the greatest tenors who ever lived. When he went for his first voice lesson in Italy, the teacher said to him, “Your voice is like wind whistling through a window.” He refused to give him voice lessons.
Alexander Graham Bell spent years working to develop and perfect his telephone. When he displayed it to a group of people, they said, “You are a fool with a useless toy.”
As Christians, we must learn to look at criticism as a “challenge and call to courage” and turn to the Lord as our guide and guard. If we are grateful for the skills and talents God has given us, we will accept every challenge as an opportunity to “become better” as a gift to honor Him for the gifts He has given us. The choice is ours: We can choose to rise to the occasion, meet it and be victorious, or give up in fear because we do not trust in Him to give us victory over our opportunities. The God of our salvation and hope promises us that with His help all things are possible. We must accept, trust, and act in His strength, wisdom and power, not ours!
Prayer: Lord of our lives, whenever we face an obstacle, may we see it as an opportunity to turn to You for grace and guidance. All things are possible through You! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Colossians 1:11 We also pray that you will be strengthened with all his glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need. May you be filled with joy. 

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

A Good Name For The New Year

A GOOD NAME FOR THE NEW YEAR
“Mr. Edison,” said his secretary, “we just had a customer call and complain about a defective battery that we manufactured.” Surprised at the news, Thomas Edison wondered what might have caused the problem. Realizing that other batteries would have the same problem, he wondered what he should do.
Discouraged, but not defeated, he began a large advertising campaign, asking people to return their defective batteries for a complete refund. The amount involved in the transaction was staggering. However, the money he lost meant nothing to him after he compared the cost of the recall to the value he placed on his name and reputation.
It is critical for Christians to have an honorable and respected name. Whatever we do, whatever we say, or wherever we go, we are representatives of the Lord Jesus Christ. If we fail to live lives of grace and beauty, honesty and integrity, purity and righteousness, our witness will be disregarded, our motives questioned, and our testimony impaired. And, when that occurs, God’s name is dishonored, and His message disgraced.
Living righteous lives will eliminate our need to worry about being exposed or not living up to what God expects of us. He calls us to live lives that are consistent with His Word, to follow Him and His eternal directions carefully. Great riches are worthless if we get them dishonestly or by deceiving others. “Earning” a good name by honoring God is worth much more than money.
PrayerFather, we ask You to work in us and through us so that we may represent You faithfully in all we do and say. May we earn a good name to honor You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Proverbs 22:1 Choose a good reputation over great riches; being held in high esteem is better than silver or gold.