Wanted: Friends

A husband and wife were driving down a street with manicured lawns, lovely flowers and beautiful trees. In the front yard of one quaint cottage was a sign reading, “ANTIQUES.” They stopped the car, got out, walked to the door and knocked. Immediately they were greeted by two elderly ladies.
“Come in,” was the gracious invitation. “Let us give you a cup of afternoon tea and a cookie.”
After enjoying the delicious snack the husband asked, “May we see the antiques now?”
“You’re looking at us,” said one of the ladies with a twinkle in her eye. “We’re very lonely and we’ve found that this is a lovely way to make new friends.”
Everywhere we look, we find people who are lonely. They fill crowded streets, social events – even in our churches. Many can be with others and still feel alone.
In Genesis we find God saying that “It is not good for man to be alone.” We were created to live in relationships. So, we all need friends who will be near when we need to be comforted, listen to us when we need to talk about a problem and even wipe away a tear when it runs down our cheek. In good times and bad, we all need a friend to share our dreams and help carry our burdens. People need people. Let’s ask God to bring a lonely person or two into our lives - today.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, humble our hearts to seek the least, the lonely and the lost and share Your love, grace and hope. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
Scripture for Today: Proverbs 18:24 One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

Trust Me!

It was a cold winter night when a fire broke out and was rapidly spreading throughout the home. The father had successfully rescued his wife and children and they were standing outside watching the firemen fight the blaze. Suddenly he heard the voice of his six-year-old son who had slipped away from the family. He wanted to rescue his toys from his upstairs bedroom that he somehow managed to reach. He was surrounded by smoke.
Standing beneath the window the father shouted, “Jump, I’ll catch you!”
“Daddy,” came the frightened reply, “I can’t see you! It’s too smoky.”
“But I can see you, Son. Jump!” said his father.
He trusted his father, jumped and was saved.
How like our Heavenly Father. His Word says: “Trust Me in your times of trouble and I will rescue you and you will give Me glory!” The word “trust” as used in the Bible means that we are “to place our complete confidence in” the Lord – a confidence that has no limits.
At times it is just as difficult for us as it was for the young son who could not see his father. Our eyes become filled with “smoke” that blocks our view of God and His power to rescue us from the things of this world that would consume us. Nevertheless, He’s there. Jump!
Prayer: Father, give us complete confidence in Your Word knowing that You will never leave us or forsake us. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 50:15 and call on me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me.”

The Warrior And The Ant

Tamerlane was an oriental warrior who had defeated and conquered many armies. His many victories included the conquests of the Mongols, the Turks and the Persians.
Once when it appeared that his army would be defeated by an enemy whose strength he had underestimated, he hid in a manger to avoid being captured. As he lay quietly, discouraged and desperate, he noticed an ant struggling to carry a large kernel of corn over a steep wall. The ant tried the first time and failed. Then the second time – and failed again. Again and again the ant tried with the same result. Each time the ant tried and failed Tamerlane would make a mark in the dirt. The ant tried and failed sixty-nine times. Once again for the seventieth time the ant tried and was finally successful – making it over the top.
Tamerlane was amazed and encouraged at the persistence of the ant. His courage returned, he regrouped his army, engaged the enemy once again and won!
The book of Proverbs warns against giving in to the temptation of laziness. It says, “Take a lesson from the ants. Learn from their ways and be wise!” God used the ant as an example to encourage us to be industrious.
Prayer: Help us, Lord, to take each moment that You give us as a gift of Your grace to be used wisely and thoughtfully for Your glory. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
Scripture for Today: Proverbs 6:1-11 Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise!

The Value Of Stress

A famous violin maker took his young apprentice into the forest to locate wood to make new instruments.
As they began to climb a mountain, the young apprentice pointed out some tall, strong, sturdy and healthy looking trees to the master violin maker. The old gentleman looked at the trees in passing, shook his head and kept climbing. Finally they passed the tall trees that grew half way up the mountain and came to some short, gnarled trees near the top. The trees had endured the ice of many winters and the winds that swirled around them since the time they began to grow.
As the old master began to cut down one of the trees, the young apprentice questioned him, asking, “Why these trees? The others were tall and beautiful.”
“The wood of the sheltered trees will break under the pressure of shaping the wood into violins,” said the old man. “But the trees beaten by time and nature will produce the best wood and they will make the most beautiful music.”
It is normal to question God when we are torn by trials and surrounded by storms. Why, we ask. He is making us strong “so that when others are troubled, we can pass on to them the same help and comfort God has given us.”
Prayer: Lord, when nights are long and days short, may we accept and understand that You are preparing us to minister to the needs of others when they suffer. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
Scripture for Today: 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.

Tell Your Wife...

His career started off slowly. But suddenly, with a new found success, he discovered that he was taking on almost too many projects. As his obligations piled up and his responsibilities increased, he became fearful of forgetting all of his promises and obligations. To relieve this fear, he began to make a detailed list of everything he was to do the following day before going to bed each evening.
One evening he returned from a very strenuous day, he neglected to eat, went to his room, made out his list and fell quickly asleep. The next morning when he was reviewing his list he noticed that an item had been added. There at the bottom of the list, in his wife’s handwriting were the words, “Take time to tell your wife that you love her!”
Life is all about priorities. And how we use our time and money always reveals our priorities – what we do, what we buy, how much time we invest in something. A careful inventory of each of these may be a surprise that could change our lives for the best.
God always intended for us to focus on relationships: first with Him and then with others – especially our spouses and our families. We are in danger of missing the best that He has given us when we allow making a living take first place. Peter said wisely, “Love each other intently with all your hearts.”
Prayer: Lord, it’s a busy world and so often we find ourselves forgetting the most important things – loving You and those You have given us to love. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
Scripture for Today: 1 Peter 1:22 Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart.

Sunday's Sermon

After returning from church President Coolidge’s wife asked, “What did the preacher speak about today?”
“Sin,” came the brief reply.
“What did he say about it?” wondered Mrs. Coolidge.
“He’s certainly against it!” said the president.
One of the Psalmists asked a great question: “How can a young man stay pure?” He then gave a simple, easily understood answer: “By obeying Your word!”
He then continues by informing young people to develop personal wisdom and integrity and be disciplined if they want to live an uncorrupted life. But how can we, young and old, do this?
The answer does not appear to be complicated but it may be difficult to follow: “I have hidden Your word in my heart, that I might not sin against You!”
The way to “hide God’s Word in our hearts” and to draw His wisdom from it is to invest time in reading and meditating on it. This “reading and meditating” is much like a cow chewing a cud. After we read it, we think about it by turning it over and over in our minds, asking God to show us the truth and wisdom that it contains. Another way of meditating would be like holding a beautiful diamond in the sunlight and carefully turning it around and around to see the brilliant colors “inside.”
Prayer: Lord, may we love Your Word so much that we will make reading, praying and meditating the most important part of each day. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 119:9-16 I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.

Why Be Afraid?

John Wesley - evangelist, author, and hymn writer - had always thought of himself as a Christian. Once, however, as he was traveling across the Atlantic Ocean, the ship he was on encountered a violent storm. He became frightened and terror stricken.
As he observed his fellow passengers, he noticed that the group of Moravian missionaries remained peaceful and unafraid, showing no fear. When the storm passed and the seas were calm once again, he went to one of the missionaries and asked, “Why weren’t you afraid?”
“Why should we be afraid,” he answered, “we know Christ.” Then looking at Wesley he asked, “Do you know Christ?” And Wesley, the preacher, realized for the first time in his life that he did not know Christ as His Savior.
We may know all about the Bible, but not know the Savior of the Bible. We can know of His miracles, but never believe or accept the fact that it was the miracle of His death, burial, and resurrection that made our salvation possible. Only when we call upon His name, repent of our sins, and receive Him as Savior will we be born again.
Prayer: We pray, Lord, that if there is one reading this devotional who is not born again, that he or she will accept You now. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
Scripture for Today: John 8:19-39 Then they asked him, “Where is your father?” “You do not know me or my Father,” Jesus replied. “If you knew me, you would know my Father also.”

"Somebody Loves You"

A receptionist walked to her desk one morning and saw a bouquet of twelve beautiful roses. Anxiously, she opened the card and read, “From somebody who loves you!”
Her mind began to go through a list of individuals whom she thought might have sent her the flowers. It could have been her boyfriend, her mom or dad, co-workers – or any number of different people. She made many phone calls to everyone who she thought might have sent the flowers.
Finally, she thought of her sister and called her. “Janet,” she asked, “did you send me the roses?”
“Yes,” was the reply. “You seemed discouraged and I wanted you to spend some time thinking about people who love you.”
“Well, I did,” she said, “and the list went on and on. I never thought that I was important to anyone.”
But there is Someone who loves us more that anyone on earth – our Heavenly Father. Long ago Jeremiah wrote about God’s love: “I have loved you, My people, with an everlasting love. With an unfailing love I have drawn you to Myself.” It is almost unbelievable!
God, in His grace, mercy and kindness, has offered His unfailing and everlasting love to anyone who will accept it. How blest we are: God loves each of us.
Prayer: Lord, we are undeserving and unworthy of the love that You offer us through Christ our Savior who died that we may live with You eternally. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
Scripture for Today: Jeremiah 31:3 The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.

Nothing To Worry About!

A small child was sitting alone looking out the window of a train traveling to Northern England. A kind, elderly lady saw him quietly looking out the window. Thinking he might be lonely or afraid, she asked, “Are you traveling alone, sonny?”
“Yes, ma’am,” he replied.
“How far are you traveling?” she inquired.
“To the end of the line, ma’am,” he answered.
“Aren’t you afraid of taking such a long trip all by yourself?” she said in amazement.
“No, ma’am,” he said with confidence. “My father’s the engineer.”
The quiet confidence and unwavering assurance of being safe and protected can become the centerpiece of the life of every Christian. We often find ourselves in situations that are fearful and frightening, turbulent and threatening. While life around us may seem to be falling apart, our Heavenly Father is still “the Engineer.” He knows His own and He owns this planet and everything on it. We can always be confident and courageous because we have the assurance that He will constantly guard us.
The Living Bible puts it this way: Let Him have all your worries and cares, for He is always thinking about you and watching everything that concerns you.
Prayer: Help us, Father, to take You at Your Word and in faith, believe that everything in our lives is there because You are in control. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
Scripture for Today: 1 Peter 5:7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

Not To Me, It Doesn't

A tourist traveling through the mountains of Kentucky came to a fork in a winding road. He became confused when he saw two signs that read, “Rutland” pointing toward each of the branches of the fork.
Seeing a farmer standing beside his mail box, he rolled down his window and asked, “Does it make any difference which road I take to Rutland?”
“Not to me it doesn’t,” answered the farmer.
Indifference is one of the worst sins toward others. Rather than hating someone, indifference says, “I just don’t care one way or the other about you or your problem since it does not concern me.”
Paul thoughtfully said, “Live a life filled with love for others, following the example of Christ.” Just as children imitate their parents, so are we to be imitators of our Lord in showing His unending love for others. God expects us to follow the examples of Jesus in the way He treated others. When we remember the fact that He sacrificed Himself for us that we might have eternal life, we can begin to realize the love that Paul is talking about. Our love toward others is to be that same kind of love – a love that is not sentimental or conditional, but a love that is self-sacrificing if necessary. We need to train our eyes to see the needs of others and open our ears to hear their cries for help.
Prayer: Help us, Father, to constantly search for ways to show Your care, compassion and concern for others every day of our lives. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
Scripture for Today: Ephesians 5:1-2 Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children 2 and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

Never Give Up!

Winston Churchill is recognized as one of the most outstanding leaders in the history of the world. He held England together during World War II and brought encouragement and hope to the entire nation and the world.
He attended a preparatory school that was recognized for having high academic standards and making students study and earn their grades by spending hours at their desks and in the library. He is known to have excelled in all of his studies.
Toward the end of his life he was invited to return to the school to address the students. When he was being introduced to the students, the Headmaster said, “Our Prime Minister is one of the greatest orators in the world. Listen carefully and take notes.”
Churchill stood to his feet, gazed intently at the young people who gathered to hear him and said, “Never give up. NEVER GIVE UP! NEVER!” And sat down.
Paul put this another way for Christians: “So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.”
Often we work hard for the Lord yet see no rewards. However, we must “Never Give Up!” His reward will come when we need it most.
Prayer: Encourage our hearts, Lord, to know that we may not receive rewards in this world, but surely in the one to come with You in heaven. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
Scripture for Today: 1 Corinthians 15:58 Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

Never Forgotten

It was late one Friday evening when two Iowa City police officers were walking their beat in the downtown area. As they approached the steps of a church, they discovered a three-year-old child sitting alone. The tiny child was sitting quietly playing with a few tattered dolls and eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. She had been abandoned by her mother.
One of the officers sat next to the child and asked her what she was doing. “Mommy told me to wait for the other children to come to Sunday school so I can play with them,” was her reply.
On one occasion, Isaiah cried, “Can a mother forget her child? Can she feel no love for a child she has borne? But even if that were possible, I would not forget you! See, I have written your name on my hand.”
What comforting, reassuring words! What peace it brings to the hearts of God’s children! Knowing that He cares so much for us, His adopted children, that He even writes our names on His hand. How precious it is to have the assurance of His presence and the promise of unending love and mercy.
If or when we feel that God has forsaken us, we need to search our hearts and lives and ask ourselves this question, “Have we forsaken Him?” We know His Word assures us that He will never leave or forsake us.
Prayer: Our gracious Heavenly Father, how grateful we are and how comforting it is to know that You will never forget us, no matter what we do. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
Scripture for Today: Isaiah 49:15 “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast
and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!

Just Like Being At Home

Little Jimmy came home from school in a state of anger. “I’m tired of the cafeteria and I’m never going back. I’m never going to eat there again!”
Puzzled, his mother asked, “Why? What’s the problem?”
“Because,” he answered stomping his foot, “there’s always a teacher standing around yelling her head off.”
“Why’s she doing that?” his mother wondered.
“I suppose,” he replied, “so we won’t miss our mothers.”
Paul speaks of a love that is “patient and kind...not irritable...never gives up or loses faith...is always hopeful and endures through every situation.” Jimmy would no doubt have a difficult time believing that he could ever find a home where that type of love was the rule not the exception. For that matter, most of us would enjoy living in a home where a love like that was always practiced, too.
What we sometimes call love is our desire to dominate others for the sake of controlling them. God’s love is vastly different. He expects us to help others by showing His care and compassion at all times. He wants all believers to work graciously with others to bring Him honor and glory in all that we do.
Prayer: Help us, Lord, to live the type of love that Paul writes about so that all that we do and say will be pleasing to You and helpful to others. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
Scripture for Today: 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.

It's Not A Knock

A motorist stopped at a garage in a small rural town and complained to a mechanic, “Every time I hit eighty miles an hour, there’s a terrible knock in my engine. I don’t know what it is.”
“Maybe,” said the mechanic, “it’s not a what, it’s a Who. It just might be the Lord warning you to slow down.”
“Whatever you do,” said Paul, “do it to the glory of God!” Great advice!
On one occasion Paul gave two specific principles for the way Christians are to behave. The first is that we who are Christians are to do whatever we do for the glory of God. We are His personal representatives and whatever we do we do in His name. So, all of our actions and activities are to be in harmony with the teachings of Jesus and in keeping the laws of society. We cannot pick and choose what we want to do.
The second principle is that we are not to do anything that would harm another person’s Christian faith. At all times our behavior is to be guided by what is best for others even if it causes an inconvenience or difficulty for us. What may not be a problem for us may be a problem for others. We must always be an example, in word and deed, of behavior that honors our Lord.
These two principals are the heart of the Gospel. Live them!
Prayer: Help us, Father, to be representatives of Your Gospel that will earn us the reward of being good and faithful servants. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
Scripture for Today: 1 Corinthians 10:31 So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.

Who Is The Winner?

It was the end of the season and the teams were playing for the championship of the league. Hope and excitement were building as they came to the final inning of the game. The teams were scoreless.
There were two outs, a runner was on third and it was the pitcher’s turn to bat. Although he was a good pitcher, he was a poor hitter. Realizing the importance of the moment, the coach decided to bring in a pinch hitter. The count was full and the crowd was on their feet. On the next pitch, the batter singled into left field, a run scored, and they won the game.
How did the pitcher respond? Was he angry because he did not get the hit and drive in the run? No. He was the first one out of the dugout, running to the pinch hitter to congratulate him. He was delighted. Although he did not get the hit, he was credited with the win.
The writings of Paul reflect an amazingly selfless attitude. He realized that not all preachers had pure motives - some only wanted recognition. But he said, “I rejoice because they are preaching about Christ.” There may be some Christians who do the right things for the wrong reasons, but thank God for they are at least doing something!
PrayerHelp us, Lord, to do what we can, where we can, when we can to get Your message to the lost and dying. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
Scripture for Today: Philippians 1:15-18 The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.

"I Wish I Were Dead"

Recently a young wife, mother and highly recognized and effective school teacher sat across from me and said, “I wish I were dead. I would like to go to sleep and never awaken again – just die. I have disgraced myself, my husband, my children, my family, my friends, my students. Everyone! Life as I knew it is over and I no longer want to be part of it. I’m going to prison and I am afraid.”
What a tragedy. Life as she once knew it is gone forever. In the eyes of many the wrong cannot be righted nor the damage repaired. It is a scar that is permanent and will remain throughout life. But is that a reason to want to die? Not for one who understands the grace of God.
The Bible says, “If we confess our sins to Him, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness!” If we want to maintain our relationship with God we must ask for His cleansing and forgiveness whenever we falter and fail. Whenever we ask for His forgiveness, we receive it as well as His guarantee that He will remove every sin. He is a faithful God who honors His Word and will never forsake us. Never!
When God forgives us of our sins, He also removes the guilt and the penalty which are justly ours. But in His grace, we are justified, forgiven and made complete and His penalty removed.
Prayer: We thank You, Father, for Your salvation, knowing that Your love exceeds our guilt and Your mercy allows forgiveness. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
Scripture for Today: 1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

"I Wasn't Praying To You!"

One evening while a mother was teaching her children to pray, little Martha was tired and about to fall asleep. When she began to pray her words ran together and she began to mumble.
“I can’t hear you, Martha,” said her mother.
Back came the reply, “I wasn’t praying to you Mom, I was praying to God!”
Prayer, quite simply stated, is having a conversation with God about whatever is on our minds or in our hearts. There is no special formula, no sacred position, no particular words, no recognized hour of the day or night to pray.
When we pray, we admit to God that we are weak and dependent upon Him. We need His grace and mercy to solve our problems, heal our bodies, comfort our broken hearts, and mend damaged relationships that we have shattered because of selfishness or greed. Whatever we find lacking in our lives can be filled by God.
We must always remember that everything is within God’s power. Everything! Nothing is beyond our Creator. Jesus tells us to ask for “whatever” or “anything” in His name. If we do that in faith believing, He will grant our requests if they are in keeping with His will for our lives.
Remember: Prayer is asking and receiving. Not wondering, or wishing, or hoping – but receiving God’s best.
Prayer: Give us the confidence, Lord, to take You at Your Word and come into Your presence with confidence that You will hear and answer our requests. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
Scripture for Today: Luke 1:9-13 But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John.