Ask And Ask And Ask Again

As she tucked little Lynn into bed, her Mom asked, “Have you said your prayers yet?”
“Well, not really,” she answered. “I started to say them. I got down on my knees and when I started saying them I remembered that they were the same ones that I said last night. Since I didn’t want to bore God I told Him the story of the Three Bears. I hope He liked it.”
Our prayers never bore God. In fact, Jesus said just the opposite. On one occasion when He was teaching people to pray, He advised them to “Continue to ask until you get what you want; continue to search until you find what you are looking for, and continue to knock on the door that is closed until it is opened.” There is an important lesson for us here.
God will always answer our prayers; but He will answer them in His time and in the way that reveals His perfect wisdom and perfect love. If He were to answer our prayers as soon as we offered them, it might be the worst possible thing for us. Often we ask for things that, if they were granted immediately, would be our ruin and bring about our destruction!
Jesus assures us that God will answer our prayers if we insist and persist. Not only will He answer them at the right time but that we will eventually and ultimately understand the wisdom, love and plan He has for us.
Prayer: Lord, we not only ask for the determination to keep on asking, seeking and knocking, but for the patience to wait upon You knowing that the answer will come. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Matthew 7:7-11 Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.

Anger And Forgiveness

One of the most esteemed and honored paintings in the world is The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci. It is a marvel of grace and beauty, peace and calmness.
While da Vinci was in the process of painting it, one of his friends came to visit him. As they were talking da Vinci became angry with him. As they continued their conversation he completely lost his temper and lashed out at his guest with bitter words.
After the man left his studio he returned to his canvas to paint the face of Christ. Try as he would he could not bring himself to continue his work on this part of the painting. His anger made him so miserable that he had to stop what he was doing.
Finally, after putting down his brushes he searched out the man he had quarreled with to ask for his forgiveness. The man accepted his apology and da Vinci returned to his easel and completed painting the face of our Lord.
Anger is one of our most destructive emotions. It not only reveals a weakness in us but a true lack of our faith in God. When we act in anger it is because we want to control others, usually to the point of harming them in one way or another. God made all of us different and when we disagree with another person it’s not who is right or wrong, but God wanting us to look at ourselves, our anger and the damage it is doing to us.
Prayer: Lord, we need to be patient with others whom You love as much as You do each of us. When we disagree, give us grace to be kind and think carefully. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 37:8 Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret – It leads only to evil.

Willpower Or Wiltpower?

Little Debbie looked at her mom with sadness in her eyes. “Please, Mom, may I have one more cookie?”
“Sweetheart,” replied her mom, “you’ve already had three.”
“I know, Mom,” she whined, “but they are so good. Just one more? Please?”
“All right,” agreed her mom, “one more and that’s all!”
“Thanks, Mom!” exclaimed Little Debbie. “You sure don’t have much willpower. You gave in without even thinking.”
Giving in to temptation is easy if we do not call on the Lord when we face the slippery slopes of life. The easy way out, however, is rarely the best way out. When we give in without counting the cost we are usually giving up something of value.
Paul reminds us that we all face the same type of temptations. In fact, he says, that “they are no different from what others experience.” Why is it, then, that some Christians have better “survival rates” than others?
It’s because of their focus. If we depend on ourselves for the strength to overcome the “evil one” we will surely lose the battle. But if we look to and call upon the Lord, the battle becomes His and victory is assured.
Prayer: Lord, before we are tempted and tried may we fill our minds with Your Word, open our hearts to Your Spirit and depend completely on You for our survival. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today:  1 Corinthians 10:13 No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.

Willing And Able

Little Anne was anxious for her birthday to arrive. It was a day of celebration filled with presents and a party with her best friends.
One morning before school she asked, “Mom, when’s my birthday? How long before it’s here? You know, how much time do I have to start being good ‘cause you know it’s hard for me to be good.”
How true of all of us!
If we truly want to be good and do good, however, we need to listen to the advice of Paul: “For God is working in you, giving you the power to do what pleases Him.”
To do good we must first be willing to do good. For the Christian doing good is being Christ-like. For some of us it takes a while. We know that our goal is to have an attitude like Christ and act as He did. But what do we do until that happens? Many of us have had that as a goal for years and still have not achieved the results we want: to think and act like Jesus.
Look at it this way: If we are willing, God will enable us to do what He would have us to do. We can read the Gospel message and see what Jesus did and then go into His world and do whatever He did to honor His Father. Willingness always precedes ability. And ability comes from imitation, practice and application.
Prayer: Lord, sometimes we really try to complicate things to get out of doing them. Truth is, if we want to do good we can do good for You promised to help us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Philippians 2:13 For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.

"Why Didn't You Ask Me?"

Henry Ford was always a center of attention. It seemed that people could never get enough information about him or what he was doing. On one occasion he purchased a very large insurance policy. It made the headlines in a Detroit newspaper.
One of his friends, an insurance salesman, read the article and called Mr. Ford. “Why,” he asked, “didn’t you purchase the policy from me?”
“Because,” came the answer, “you didn’t ask me.”
All of us have the same needs. No doubt that God “wired us” the same so we could understand one another’s needs so we would know how to help each other. We are quick to help others when we know that they have physical or emotional needs. It comes naturally. But the greatest need that each of us has is a spiritual need: To know Jesus Christ as Savior. We must always be aware of the fact that everyone we see has this need that only Christ can meet.
It’s difficult for most individuals to ask for help. However, when they do, it is a good place to begin to build a relationship to ask life’s most important question: Do you know Jesus Christ as your Savior.
Prayer: Help us, Father, to be aware of the needs of others and in Your name help them when we can. But let us never forget their most important need: salvation. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Luke 14:15-24 But they are alike began to make excuses…I tell you, not one of those men who were invited will get a taste of my banquet.

Whose Side Are You On?

During one of the civil wars in Italy a regimental leader was having a difficult time recruiting soldiers to fight. To solve his problem he was going from city to city looking for people to join him. Many joined him bringing with them their swords and guns.
One old lady was so moved as she saw the response that she wanted to join in the battle. So, she grabbed her broom, put it over her shoulder and began to march with the men.
Many laughed at her and one person jeered from the crowd, “What are you doing old lady? What good are you?”
“Not much,” came the answer, “but at least everyone will know whose side I’m on.”
Every day we are confronted with choices that reflect our allegiance to Christ. Often they are subtle and do not require much effort and get little attention from others. Sometimes the call to obedience may result in revolutionary changes and completely upset lifelong plans and dreams. Surely there have been times when all He asked was to “be still and know that I am God.”
The call varies but our response to be faithful to Him is always optional. We either turn toward Him and do as he asks us to do or turn away from Him and follow our selfish ambitions. To choose is not optional, but what we choose has lasting consequences.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, we are always available when You call us to serve You. We pray, however, that when You call we will respond in faithful service. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: John 14:14-15 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it. “If you love me, you will obey what I command.”

What Next?

Have you ever eaten a Twinkie? Those moist cakes filled with creamy vanilla? Do you know how they got to the grocer’s shelf?
Jimmy Dewar is the creator of the delicious little treats. He never planned on baking Twinkies. The idea for them came to him out of frustration.
He began by making strawberry shortcakes but ran into a problem. At the end of the season, he had pans but no strawberries. He then decided to create a banana filling which was well received in the stores. But he ran into another problem.
One year there was a shortage of bananas and he was forced to try something else. He thought and worked and experimented and came up with the idea of a vanilla filling. It was and still is a delicious treat and enjoyed by many every day. Besides, the creamy vanilla filling has no season.
That’s the way God works in our lives. When he closes one door He willingly opens another if we are faithful, work diligently and look to Him for guidance. Unfortunately, many Christians look upon difficult days as a reason to become despondent – not dependent upon God.
God’s Word declares, “I have opened a door for you that no one can shut.” Trust Him. He wants you to succeed.
Prayer: Open our eyes, Lord, to see the opportunities that You set before us. May we look to You each day with excitement for the challenges You will bring us! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Revelation 3:8 I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.

What Counts

In the game of baseball victory is determined by runs. It is not determined by strikes or strike outs, hits, double plays, triple plays or the number of innings a game may go. It is only determined by runs.
The player who hits the ball into left field for a single, even stretches it into a double and slides safely into second is not rewarded with “half-a-run.” It is not part of the final score.
How true of life. How true of everything we do. It is not how well we start, how well we continue for a while, but whether or not we finish what we started.
Paul had a co-worker named Demas. How long he was involved with Paul or whether or not he had any particular skills in church planting is not known. What is known is that he deserted Paul because he loved the things of “this life.” He allowed his desire for worldly things and pleasures to surpass his desire for the things of the Lord.
There are two ways we might view the world. One is the way God intended it to be and the way it will be when He returns in His glory. The other way we might look at the world is as Demas did – as it is now with its attractions and pleasures that can defeat us and destroy us.
All of us have the same choices as Demas and Paul: to live for the things of this world or the world to come.
Prayer: Create within us, Lord, the desire to seek first the Kingdom of God and a life of righteousness. May we honor You in all we do and forsake the world. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: 2 Timothy 4:10 For Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me and has gone to Thessalonica, Crescens has gone to Galatia, and Titus to Dalmania.

Trying To Find Me

A telephone salesman called a home and a small child answered the phone just above a whisper. “Hello,” he said.
“Is your mother in?” asked the salesman.
“Yes,” he said in a hushed voice. “But she’s busy.”
“Well,” the salesman continued, “is your father home?”
“Yes,” came the quiet reply. “But he’s busy too.”
Wondering what was going on the salesman asked, “Well, what are they doing?”
“Looking for me,” whispered the child. “I broke my mom’s favorite vase and I’m hiding.”
Hiding is the natural thing to do when we’ve done something that is wrong. It has a long heritage going back to the Garden of Eden when Adam said, to God, “I heard you, so I hid.” Facing the Lord is not pleasant even though we know that He loves and will willingly forgive us if we ask.
Often when we are guilty of being disobedient or knowingly commit a sin, we fear approaching Him. But that is the time we need Him the most. We need to remember that He does not want to hurt us but to heal us. He is anxious to forgive us, restore our relationship with Him and grant us His pardon and peace. “If we confess, He is faithful and just to forgive.”
Prayer: We know, Heavenly Father, that we do what is unacceptable to You when we sin. May we be swift to confess and repent and forsake what we know is wrong. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: 1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

Today Is Not Tomorrow

Abraham Lincoln spent years as a circuit riding lawyer. On one of his trips he and a friend were faced with crossing the dangerous Fox River. While traveling through a small village he decided to ask a minister about the best place to cross it.
“Well,” said the minister, “it’s always pretty bad. I am familiar with all its dangers. But I have one fixed rule that I never change: I never cross it until I reach it.”
Planning for tomorrow is time well spent. But worrying about what might happen tomorrow is a foolish use of our time. When we worry we close our eyes and ears and cannot see or hear our Heavenly Father at work in our lives. So what do we do?
First, we must release the problem to the Lord in prayer. We must hand the problem to Him as a quarterback hands off the football to a running back. The football can only get to its final destination when it is let go.
Second, we must fix our thoughts on the power of God to solve the problem. We must allow His Spirit to guide us and give us insight to solve the problem.
Third, we must activate our faith and believe that God will lead us to the solution that He has for us – not necessarily the solution we want. To combat worry and anxiety we must take God’s promises at face value.
PrayerHelp us, Father, to believe that You will solve our problems and take away our anxieties when we look to You in faith and accept Your will in our lives. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Matthew 6:33-34 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Through Is Not The End

A patient, waiting for his appointment, began leafing through a copy of Who’s Who in America. After several moments he closed the book. A patient seated next to him asked if he was looking for his name or someone he knew.
“No,” he replied, sadly. “I’m listed in Who’s Through.”
Obviously he did not know the Lord. For anyone who turns to Him at any time will be met with open arms and given an opportunity to embark on a new beginning.
David made this abundantly clear when he wrote, “I waited patiently for the Lord to help me, and He turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire,…set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along.”
People who do not know God often think that they have to pull themselves up by their “bootstraps.” But what God did for David He can and will do for everyone!
This powerful Psalm describes what God is willing to do for anyone at any time. God will not only rescue us from the depths of our despair, but place us on solid ground, steady us with His strength as we begin a new walk with Him and give us a new song to sing along the path that He has prepared for us.
Prayer: How grateful we are, Father, that no one is ever beyond Your love or grace, salvation or mercy. May we recognize Your power to redeem and rescue us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 40 He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand…

The Value Of Hard Times

My mother was a most wonderful Christian who always taught her children by example. She taught Sunday school, child evangelism classes, ladies Bible study groups and weekly prayer services for missionaries. Each Thursday was a day of fasting and prayer.
I remember overhearing her pray on one occasion. She was praying for her children: “Oh God,” she cried, “don’t ever let my children have an easy life. Let them experience sorrow and suffering, pain and problems.”
That prayer shaped all of us children. It has given us a heart for those who are broken-in-heart. As a result of her prayers when we see the tears of others we want to dry their eyes because we can understand their pain. When others go through a time of grief we can identify with them because we’ve been there. When others are in need it motivates us to help them because we have been without. When we see the unsaved we are encouraged to pray: Lord what can I do to win them to Christ.
We must also remember that Jesus went through these very same experiences. He was beaten and spit upon, abandoned and betrayed, went through hours of excruciating pain – even death itself. Now, in heaven He remembers these feelings and through His ever sufficient grace will give us hope, help and healing.
Prayer: We are grateful, Father, that You know first-hand what we go through in the dark hours of pain and suffering which assures us of Your compassion and care. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Matthew 9:36-38 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd…

Change Your Course!

It was a stormy night. The waves were high, the winds fierce and the stars hidden behind angry clouds. Suddenly, from the bridge of his ship, the captain saw lights in front of him in the distance. He immediately had his signalman send a message: “I’m the captain of a large battleship. Change your course ten degrees.”
Back came a reply: “I’m a seaman first class, Sir. You change your course ten degrees.”
“I said I’m a captain. You are a seaman. I order you to change your course ten degrees,” replied the captain.
“I would, Sir, but I’m on a lighthouse and can’t change my course,” came the message from the seaman.
We find some great advice in Proverbs: “There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death.” The path that many travel may “seem right” but it is not right. It may offer many options and choices that appear exciting and require few sacrifices, but ultimately they destroy the soul and lead to death.
The right choice often requires hard work and difficult decisions, self-sacrifice and doing without. They may demand changes in our lifestyle and force us to give up attractive surroundings and pleasurable experiences.
Giving in often requires giving up what matters most in life: living to please God and being blessed by Him.
Prayer: Often in life, Heavenly Father, we know the right thing to do. But knowing what is right and doing it is often difficult. Give us strength, we pray, to “do right.” In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Proverbs 14:12 There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.

The General's Last Request

As General Grant lay dying, his heart was troubled and he desired to make things right with God. Turning to someone nearby he asked for a minister to come visit him.
“General,” said the minister, “‘The Son of man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.’ If you’ll sincerely call upon Him from your heart, you’ll receive mercy from Him and abundant pardon.” 
The minister then fell to his knees and prayed for the general and General Grant received Jesus as His Savior. At that moment, he was wonderfully converted.
Thrilled, the minister said, “God’s Kingdom has received a great acquisition in your conversion, General.” 
General Grant, thinking for a moment responded, “God doesn’t need great men, but great men need God.”
On the cross of Christ, God leveled the playing field. No one stands above the crowd. Each time we are reminded of the death of Jesus we must also remind ourselves that the “Son of man has come to seek and to save those who are lost.”
No one is saved as a result of a great heritage or popularity. Our background or previous lifestyle does not matter. God saves us by “His special favor when we Him...because salvation is a gift from God.”
Prayer: We thank You, Lord, for making it possible for all men everywhere to have equal access to Your grace and salvation and that there are no requirements. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 
Scripture for Today: Ephesians 2:8 For it is by grace that you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.

Room Full Of Lonely

It seemed as though the night would never end. Little Luke tossed and turned trying to get comfortable and fall asleep. Finally he gave up and came wandering out of his bedroom with his favorite blanket and teddy bear.
His father heard his footsteps and went upstairs. Picking him up he asked, “What’s the matter? Why can’t you sleep?”
“It’s my room,” he replied.
“Your room? What’s wrong with your room?” asked his Dad.
“It’s full of lonely,” said Luke.
It is a well-known fact that loneliness is one of the biggest problems in society today. Though we are surrounded by family and friends, loneliness grips the hearts and minds of countless millions. Medications and endless activities do not seem to fill the vacuum.
God has promised in His Word that “He will never leave us nor forsake us.” If that’s true, then, why do so many feel lonely?
Could it be that we have left God and He wants us to return? Has He created those feelings of loneliness to get us to seek Him? Have we become so involved with so many “things” that we have crowded Him out of our days? Must He use the darkness of a lonely night to get our attention to return to Him?
Prayer: We ask You, Father, to do whatever it takes, to draw us so close to You that we will feel Your presence and power wherever we are, night or day. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Hebrews 13:6 So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?”

Reaching Out - Reaching Up

It was a bitterly cold Sunday morning. People were walking as fast as they could from the parking lot to the steps that led into the sanctuary. Standing next to the steps was a poorly dressed man with his hat pulled down over his eyes and his collar held tightly as he tried to keep warm. His clothes were shabby and his shoes well worn. He appeared destitute, hopeless and unimportant. No one stopped to offer help.
The church members filled the pews, the choir took their seats and the organist started the prelude. As the people sat waiting for the service to begin, they suddenly let out a gasp as they saw “that man” who was outside the church walk down the aisle, stand behind the pulpit and remove his tattered clothes. It was their pastor.
Opening his Bible he read, “I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me.”
Every day God places opportunities to serve Him before us and around us. These opportunities do not require wealth or skills, intelligence or power. They simply require eyes that are open, a mind that is alert and a heart that is sensitive to the needs of others.
To refuse to help others is the same as refusing to help God.
Prayer: Help us, Father, to see what You see, to feel what You feel and then do what You would do when we see others who need our help. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Matthew 25:42-46 “I will tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for the least of these, you did not do for me.”

Quiet, Please

The young boys in a Paris school felt that they had learned enough for one week and decided that they would go to the park that Friday afternoon. One of them picked up a pebble and began to tap it on a bench as he sat gazing across a bed of flowers. Intrigued, a boy at the other end of the bench kneeled down and put his ear to the board and was able to hear the tapping.
Smiling, he said to his friend, “I heard two quiet taps, a pause and then several loud taps.”
A doctor sat watching them with great interest. Suddenly he stood up with a distant look in his eyes as though he was trying to imagine something he had not seen before. At that moment an idea was born in his mind. Whenever he wanted to hear the sounds going on in a person’s body he would place his ear above the organs he was trying to hear. He wondered if it were possible to hear the sounds of a patient’s organs more clearly if he placed a hollow tube on the person’s body. From that idea the stethoscope was born.
You and I are “God’s stethoscopes.” He has given us ears to hear the cries of those around us who are suffering and crying out for His hope, help and healing. It is sad, however, that our ears are often so filled with the noises of this world that we cannot hear those who are calling out to Him for His love and salvation.
Prayer: Lord, all around us are those who need someone to hear their cries, wipe away their tears and share Your love. Help us to see, hear and respond. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 34:15 The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their cry.

"One Who Shines When It's Dark"

Mitch was afraid of being in the dark at night when the lights of his room were turned off. His father wanted to help him solve this problem. After thinking about it he decided that if he had a picture of the Lord in his room he would not be afraid of the darkness.
One Saturday morning he took Mitch to the Christian bookstore to purchase a picture of Jesus. They stood in front of the pictures of Jesus and looked at each one. None seemed to please him. Finally, in desperation, Mitch’s Dad asked, “We’ve looked at all of these pictures, Son, and you don’t want any of them. What kind of a picture of Jesus do you want?”
Looking at his Dad, Mitch smiled and said, “I want a Jesus that shines in the dark.”
That’s what we all need, isn’t it? We need a Savior Who will shine His light on our paths when they are uncertain; we need Him to illuminate the roads we have not traveled before and we need His brightness to turn our darkest hours into the glory of the rising sun.
Jesus brings the presence, the protection and the power of God into our lives. He is the Light of the world and from His light comes the Truth that all mankind seeks. Without Him we live in the darkness of doubt and despair. With Him we live in the fullness of God’s love, salvation and hope.
Prayer: Lord, we need You to shine brightly when we are facing a world of temptation, trouble and tears. Be the lamp for our path and the light for our journey. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: John 8:12 When Jesus spoke again to the people he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

It's A Charlie Brown Baseball Team

Lucy and Linus were talking to their coach, Charlie Brown, at home plate. Kicking the dirt in disgust, Charlie Brown said, “Our team is no good. We have lost every game. There is nothing good about our team!”
“But,” protested Lucy, “Schroder almost hit a home run. And we almost won a couple of games. Once we almost made a double play. Don’t forget that you almost made it to first base before the ball, once.”
“If it’s any consolation, Charlie Brown,” interrupted Linus, “we did lead the league in almosts.”
“Almosts” are part of everyone’s life. Some “almosts” work to our advantage. For example, there are times when we almost slipped and fell. Or, we almost had an accident while driving home after a difficult day at work. Then there might have been occasions when we almost got that promotion at work. “Almost” is “very nearly” but “not quite.” So the almosts are the same as it never really happened at all.
On one occasion Paul was witnessing to King Agrippa. He appealed to the facts of Scripture in his conversation with the king and said, “I know these facts are not hidden from you and that you do believe them!”
But sadly the king replied, “Paul, you almost persuaded me to become a Christian.”
Prayer: We pray today, Father, for those who might almost be convinced to become a Christian. We ask for Your grace to work in them through the Holy Spirit. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Acts 26 Then Agrippa said to Paul, “Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?”

I Can't Handle Much More!

Walter had recently been elected chairman of the deacons in his church. His pastor thought it would be beneficial to the church if the congregation knew him.
After introducing him, Rev. Simpson asked him to make a few remarks. He thought for a moment and then began by saying, “I am so grateful for the way God has blessed me. My business has grown tremendously in the last few years. It has provided me with enough money to purchase a new home with a lovely swimming pool. And I am planning on taking my family to Europe this summer. I am so blessed I can’t handle much more. I don’t know what more God could give me!”
“I do,” replied an older and much wiser deacon sitting in the front row. “A good dose of humility.”
Often when sharing God’s blessings, people speak with arrogance rather than appreciation or sound greedy rather than grateful. We must always be mindful of God’s mercy and without His loving-kindness realize that we would be no one or have nothing. What we have, we have because of His grace – beginning with our salvation.
Every breath, every heartbeat, every thought, every step we take or arm we lift or sight we see – and every sound we hear is a gift from Him. Whatever we have, we have because of His love, mercy and grace.
Prayer: Lord, we only fool ourselves when we think we have earned what we have. Help us to be mindful that without You, we are no one and would have nothing. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Micah 6:8 He has shown you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

God And The Cafeteria

After church one Sunday the head usher decided to take his family to the local cafeteria to eat. After they went through the line and selected their food, they sat at a table near a window. Little Margie unfolded her napkin, folded her hands, bowed her head and waited for the prayer of thanksgiving. After a moment or two she opened her eyes to see what the others were doing. To her surprise, her father had started to eat.
“Mom,” she whispered quietly, “Dad has started to eat and we haven’t thanked Jesus for the food. What’s going on?”
“Hush,” said her father. “People don’t give thanks in a place like this.”
“Why?” asked Margie. “Doesn’t God go to cafeterias?”
Our thankfulness should not fluctuate with where we are or what is going on in our lives. Though our circumstances change and our feelings fluctuate, we must never forget that God is in all things doing what is in our best interest. Remember: He is always at work in our lives shaping us into the person He wants us to be.
When life’s trials turn to triumphs we can rejoice with Paul and say, “Thanks be to God who gave us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!” He always protects us and provides for us and is worthy of our thanks.
Prayer: We often forget, Father, that You love us with an everlasting love and that You are with us even though others forget about our pains and sorrows. Thank you! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: 1 Corinthians 15:57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Failing Is Not Fatal

For years Thomas Edison tried to perfect a long lasting storage battery. During this time he conducted thousands of experiments that were unsuccessful. One day one of his employees came to him and said, “Isn’t it a shame that you have wasted all of this time? All of the tremendous labor and time that you have spent on this project has not achieved any results that will work.”
“I’ve got plenty of results,” said Edison. “You see, I’ve discovered several thousand that won’t work!”
To his credit, Edison was able to look at what he was doing as a way of learning and solving problems. When he failed he did not look at it as final. He looked at it as a stepping stone to something else. How fortunate is that person who can see beyond the moment of defeat to the joy of victory!
Often we fail to see God at work in what we are doing. We look for the approval of others believing that our rewards come from them. Scripture reminds us, however, to define success in terms of being faithful to God and what He has called us to do. God rewards us for being faithful to Him, for doing what He calls us to do even when we fail in the eyes of the world.
Struggling through difficult days and trying times proves that our trust is in God and that we look to Him for our rewards. “Fear not, I will strengthen and help you.”
Prayer: It’s natural, Lord, to want the approval of those around us. Often we think that they are the final authority. Remind us, however, that we labor for You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Isaiah 41:10 So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. 

Down, But Not Out!

Packy East began his professional career as a lightweight boxer. He ended his career as one of the world’s best known ambassadors. What started in a ring ended on a stage.
Packy entered the ring in Cleveland, Ohio, one evening for a boxing match he intended to win. It was not to be. At the end of the second round he was knocked down and carried to his dressing room.
But that setback did not hinder him. It actually helped him and changed his career. He eventually became a comedian, traveled the world entertaining large audiences and was very generous with his time to visit American troops wherever they were stationed. He was not known as “Packy the Performer.” He changed his name and was known as Bob Hope, the comedian.
It’s not being knocked down that destroys us - it’s staying down. When we are down it is time to look up and to look out! We need to look up to God to see what He has in store for us and then look out into His world to see where He would have us serve Him.
Jesus said that “everything is possible if a person believes.” He did not mean that anything was possible with “positive thinking.” He did want us to know, however, that nothing is impossible for God to do in our lives if it is in keeping with His will for us.
Prayer: Help us, Father, to be open and alert to what is going on around us and discover what You would have us do to serve and honor You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Mark 9:23 “’If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for him who believes.”

Doing What's Right!

It was a dream come true. Robert Gonzales had practiced hard and worked long hours to become the racquetball champion. Finally the day came when he made it to the pro circuit and had an opportunity to play for the championship. 
At match point he made a powerful shot into the front wall. The referee and linesman said it was good and he was declared the winner. However, he stunned the crowd. He shook his head back and forth while talking to the referee and said, “That shot hit the floor first and therefore I am not the winner.” 
Sitting quietly after the match a reporter asked, “Why? Why did you admit that the ball hit the floor first?”
“Because it was the only thing I could do to maintain my integrity,” came the answer. “I can win another match, but I could never regain my integrity.”
Few things in life are as fragile as our integrity. It is our code of conduct, the very standard by which we live our lives and maintain our reputation. 
However, there is more. Our reputation is who others think we are. But our character is who God knows us to be. Others may never realize that we have compromised our integrity. But God knows. And ultimately, finally, He is our judge and keeps our record.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, may we remain close to You by reading Your Word, spending time in prayer and in fellowship with others as we guard our integrity. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 119:121 I have done what is righteous and just; do not leave me to my oppressors. 

Danger Ahead!

A battered, old truck was rambling down a country road and approached a sharp right turn. Unfortunately, the driver applied the brakes but nothing happened. It missed the turn and ended up in a field. 
Fortunately, the driver climbed out of the cab uninjured. Dusting himself off, he said to the crowd that gathered around him, “I reckon I should’ve bought brake fluid before I needed it!” 
Procrastination presents problems. One of the problems for procrastinators is that what they tend to put off leads to crises. Like the truck driver ending up in a field. Fortunately, he ended up in a field with no injury to himself.
One unfortunate result of procrastinating is that it can result in irreversible consequences. This is true of those who face death thinking there will always be time to make things right with God. This is certainly one of Satan’s greatest accomplishments: convincing the lost to believe that “there will be time tomorrow. And if not tomorrow, the next day. Perhaps next week.” Not wise!
Satan takes great pleasure when he gets us to focus on tomorrow instead of today. He rejoices when we have “spiritual intentions” that we “reserve” for “tomorrow.” Those “intentions” also include our promises to read His Word, pray, attend church and witness.
Prayer: We pray, Father, for those who have delayed accepting You as Savior. May Your Spirit work in their hearts and help all of us to turn our intentions into actions. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Zechariah 1:4 “Do not be like your forefathers, to whom the earlier prophets proclaimed: This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘Turn from your evil ways and your evil practices.’ But they would not listen or pay attention to me, declares the LORD.”

Completely Covered

According to Greek legend, Achilles was the greatest warrior who ever lived. In Homer’s Iliad, he was the hero of the Trojan Wars. When he was a baby his mother wanted him to be invulnerable to injury. So, early in his life she took him to the River Styx, believing that it had miraculous powers, held him by his heels and dipped him in the water. Only his heels were not covered by the water.
He became a great warrior! Unfortunately, he was killed in battle by a poisoned arrow that pierced his heel – the only spot that was not covered by the water from the River Styx. It is from this legend that we talk of “our Achilles heel.”
Although it is only a legend it teaches us a significant fact: Our surrender to Christ must be complete. Paul advises us that we are not “to let any part of our body become a tool of wickedness to be used for sinning...instead...let your whole body be as a tool to do what is right for the glory of God.”
Surrender is often difficult for some of us for fear that we will fail our Lord. Does this come from the idea that we think we are responsible for victory over sin? We are not! It is God working in us and for us and through us that gives us victory over sin through Christ. Whatever we do not surrender to God is claimed by Satan and causes us to sin.
Prayer: Help us, Father, to remember that the battle and the victory are in Your hands. We know that if we surrender to You we will not be defeated. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Romans 6:12-14 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness. For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace. 

Careful: God At Work

One morning a man, seeking direction in his life, was going through his mail. He had prayed earnestly for direction from God but it never seemed to come. On this day, however, things changed.
Tucked away in the pile of mail he was sorting through was a magazine that was addressed to his neighbor. He looked at the cover and saw an article entitled, “The Needs of the Congo.” His curiosity got the best of him so he opened the magazine and read the article. It touched his heart deeply.
For days he prayed about its contents and the opportunities and challenges it presented. Finally, one day he declared, “My search is over.” He went to the Congo, lost himself in his work and became a great medical missionary and author. Ultimately he received the Nobel Peace Prize for his work.
Albert Schweitzer was a theologian, philosopher, organist, and physician. But one day he became a medical missionary where he lost himself in God’s will doing God’s work among the lost and dying.
Was it an accident that the mailman put the magazine in the wrong mail box? Of course not. He too was doing God’s work. Although some may consider it an “accident” it was actually “an act of God” to get his attention.
Prayer: How marvelous are the different ways, Lord, You use to get our attention to do Your will. Help us to be alert to see and hear what You have for us to do. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Romans 8:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 

Am I Doing My Best?

John Baker was an unlikely candidate to become a respected track star. He was not very well built, much shorter than other members of the track team and appeared to be uncoordinated. But something happened.
During his junior year in high school the coaches wanted his best friend to join the track team. He refused. When John learned of this he said, “Let me join and maybe he’ll come with me.” They agreed to John’s suggestion and both boys began running track together.
At the first cross country track event most eyes were focused on the state champion, Lloyd Goff. When the race began, he quickly took the lead. But as the racers approached the finish line, one runner was far in front of the others. The coach turned to his assistant and said, “Here comes Goff.” Taking his binoculars he looked and said, “Wow! It’s not Goff - it’s Baker.”
After the race the coach asked Baker how he was able to win the race. “I focused on the runner in front of me and said, ‘Am I doing my best?’ And when I passed him I said that about the next one in front of me until I passed them all.”
All of us who profess to be Christians need to ask ourselves constantly: “Am I doing my best for Christ?”
Prayer: You have given us so much, Father, that we sometimes forget what we have and what we can do for You. May we do more for You today than we did yesterday. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Philippians 4:13 I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

All Together - Now, Smile

It was her first day at work and the manager was carefully going over the responsibilities of his new secretary. After carefully explaining her tasks, he said, “Now I’d like to tell you a few things about myself so you will know what kind of person I am.”
He then began telling her about his college career – how he excelled in academics and athletics. He then started to talk about his accomplishments with the company, how he received one promotion after another and was rewarded with raises and bonuses. He spent a great amount of time bragging about himself.
Finally, in her frustration she asked, “Tell me sir, have you ever had a group photo taken of yourself?”
Many worry about being properly recognized for their position and status. We want others to know what we can do and how well we can do it – whether they are interested or not. We want others to look us to us and stand in awe of our accomplishments.
However, Peter warns us to remember that it is God’s recognition that matters most. Human praise is one thing but God’s approval is all that counts. In His own time, God will bless our efforts and honor our work. We must also remember that the recognition may not come in this lifetime. But, if we are faithful to Him and give Him the glory, He will surely reward us in heaven.
Prayer: Lord, whatever we do in life is because of Your grace. The talents and skills, the abilities and strength come to us to give back to You in loving service. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: 1 Peter 5:6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s almighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. 1 Peter 5:6

A Discouraging Day

It began with a toaster that didn’t work. Then the washing machine stopped in the middle of a large load of soiled clothes and dirty water. The garbage disposal quit and the sink backed up. Deciding to take a walk outside to get the mail, Bev looked up at the clouds and shook her head.
Opening the one letter she found in the mail box, she was overwhelmed when she discovered a bill that she could not pay. Her husband hadn’t worked for two months. He was laid-off when work slowed down at the factory.
Walking back into the house she picked up her young toddler, placed him on her lap, hugged him tightly and began to cry. Suddenly he struggled in her arms and when he got loose and without saying a word, took the pacifier from his mouth and placed it in hers.
He felt her pain and reached out, giving her all that he had.
If a child can feel our sorrow, how much more can our Heavenly Father feel our pain? Whatever concerns us concerned Him first. Certainly, then, our problems become His priorities.
That is why Jesus said, “You can ask for anything in My name, and I will do it.” Need a toaster or washer, a plumber or job, God is bigger than any of them. No wonder, then, that Jesus said “ask for anything.”
Prayer: We ask, Lord, that You will increase our faith to exceed the size of our problems. May we take You at Your Word – in faith, believing in Your promises. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: John 14:13-14 “And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name and I will do it.”