All Together, Now!

One morning on their way to school a group of young boys was walking past a home with a large iron gate. Michael thought he would provide a bit of humor for the group and decided to put his arms and head through the gate and said, “Look at me! My head and hands are on one side of the gate but my heart and body are on the other side.”
Before he could get his head and hands out of the gate, one of his friends slammed the gate and Michael Faraday was badly hurt. He overcame his injuries and became one of the most influential scientists in history for his contributions in the field of electromagnetism.
Later in life he said, “That experience taught me one thing: My heart, head and hands should always be on the same side.”
This great scientist explained an important truth: there is a path that flows from the heart to the head and from the head to the hands. Simply stated, what begins in our heart usually grows, and in one way or another, spreads outward and ends up dominating the way we live, what we live for and what we do.
God’s Word reminds us that we must “not let any part of our body become a tool of wickedness.” So, when our eyes are enticed to look at objects that may lead to temptation and sin, we must immediately look to Him to “deliver us from evil.”
Prayer: Help us, Lord, to realize that sin has a way of beginning with an innocent glance that can lead to everlasting destruction. May we keep our eyes on You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Romans 6:12-14 …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.

A Word That Is Not In God's Word

Carl Sandburg was a great American author who won several Pulitzer Prizes for his poetry. Near the end of his life he was asked, “What’s the ugliest word in the English language?”
Without hesitation he answered, “Exclusive!”
But that word is not found in God’s Word. In fact, the Apostle Paul said, “Anyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved!” And anyone includes everyone.
How wonderful it is to know that the God of love and the love of God are not exclusive. No matter who we are or what we have done, He loves us. No matter where we have been or whom we have traveled with, He loves us. No matter how dirty we get or how often we have disappointed Him, He loves us. He loves us when we are at our best and when we are at our worst. Anyone at anytime can call on Him and He will hear and help!
But Paul follows his statement about God’s gracious invitation with the question: “How can they believe in Him and receive Him if they have never heard of Him?” With this critical question he places a great responsibility on every Christian: We must take the Good News of God’s message of salvation to those who are unsaved. Unless we accept this challenge from Paul, those whom we know that are lost are doomed. We must do for others what others have done for us.
Prayer: Father, we are so grateful that someone took Paul at his word and shared Your message of salvation with us. Help us to do the same while there is still time. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Romans 3:14 “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

Why Do We Suffer?

Many of us, from time to time, ask ourselves the age old question: “If God is God, and if God is a great God and if God is a good God and if God is a powerful God, why does He allow bad things to happen to me and others who have good intentions and want to please Him?”
Deep down we do believe that He is a good and great and powerful God. But that question still nags at our innermost thoughts and feelings and from time to time challenges our faith with subtle doubts.
He certainly does have everything under His control and He does desire our very best. But not all things, such as sorrow and suffering, seem good while we are going through them.
I remember very well my mother’s homemade bread. I would return home from school and the entire house would be filled with the aroma of fresh baked bread and wanting some butter and homemade strawberry jam to go with it.
The flour, yeast, shortening and baking soda needed to be “put together.” But when Mom followed a “recipe”, allowed them to “rise” and then baked them in a hot oven, the results were amazing and wonderful.
Is that not how God works? Some pain here. A lot of suffering there. A time of grief. Sorrow for a season. Financial problems. Discouragement over a loss. That’s God’s mixing everything together for our good and His purpose.
Prayer: Father, give us grace and courage to look at our lives the way that You look at them - knowing and believing that everything works for our good and Your glory. 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 called according to his purpose.

Who Are You Following?

It was the first time that Wayne and his Dad rode their bikes through the neighborhood. Wayne was excited as they rode down one street and then another. They turned left, then turned right and finally arrived at home. Taking off his helmet Wayne looked up at a smiling father and said, “Thanks, Dad, if it weren’t for you I wouldn’t have known where to turn and I’d be lost by now.”
The Psalmist expressed the same idea and trust when he said to the Lord, “Whom have I but you?”
But not all of us have that much faith in the Lord. John reports a story about Jesus and His disciples. They were having some problems about His teachings and Jesus said, “This is very hard to understand.” As a result, we read that “many of His disciples turned away and deserted Him.”
Have you ever wondered why those disciples turned away from Jesus? The Bible does not give any specific reason. No doubt they left Him then for the same reason people leave Him today: an unwillingness to make sacrifices for Him.
Many turn to the Lord for what they think He will do for them - not what they can do for Him and with Him and through Him. Many of us have expectations that go in one direction only: that God will take care of us and we have no obligation to Him.
But this is not how God works. If we follow Him wherever He leads, “All these things will be added to us.”
Prayer: Teach us, Lord, that You call us to Yourself that we may love You, honor You and bring glory to Your name. May You always be first and foremost in our lives. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: John 6:64-67 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”

Where's The Happiness?

An unhappy skeptic said to Benjamin Franklin, “The Constitution is a mockery! Where’s the happiness that it guarantees?”
“My friend,” said Franklin, “it only guarantees the pursuit of happiness.” 
Our word for happiness can be misleading. The “root” hap means chance. Human happiness is something that is dependent on the chances and the changes of life, the daily “things” – events or circumstances – that may or may not give us “happiness.”
Consider the beatitudes. They are not about some hope for a future, blissful state in heaven. They are for the now which belongs to the Christian in this present life. The way the beatitudes are written assures the Christian of the presence of God, the joyous thrill of His presence and the hope of the Christian life. 
The word blessed that is used in each of the beatitudes is a very special word. It describes a joy that has its secret within ourselves - a joy that is peaceful and untouchable and self-contained. It is a joy that is above and beyond and independent of all the circumstances of life. It is a joy that comes from God Himself. “No one,” said Jesus, “will take your joy from you!” Walking daily with Him assures us of a joy no one or nothing can disturb.
Prayer: Give us, our Heavenly Father, a peace that passes this world’s understanding, a joy that comes from Your presence and a hope that assures us of our home with You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Matthew 5:1-12 …Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Where Am I Going?

A Bishop in the Church of England, known for his forgetfulness boarded a train in London. Shortly after the train left the station he began crawling around his seat and the other seats near him. Fearing for his safety the conductor approached him carefully, tapped him on the shoulder and asked what he was doing.
“I’m looking for my ticket,” said the Bishop.
“Well, that’s not a problem, Bishop. We’ll take care of you. It’s really quite all right,” replied the conductor.
“No it isn’t,” said the Bishop. “I forgot where I am going!” confessed the Bishop.
“Show me the path where I should walk, O Lord, point out the right road for me to follow,” cried David. He knew that he needed guidance for life’s journey so he went to the ultimate source: God!
What are God’s methods for providing guidance to His children?
His primary guidance system is His Word. If we truly want Him to lead us, we need to go to the “source” for the right information. By carefully reading and meditating on His Word we will gain wisdom and insight on where He wants us to go and what we are to do.
Then we must spend time in prayer - waiting with a sincere willingness for Him to reveal His path for us.
Prayer: Lord, we know that You have the path for us to take in life’s journey. As we read Your Word, open our eyes, speak to our hearts and show us the path we are to take. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 25:1-5 …Show me your ways, O LORD, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.

What's In A Number?

When Harlan Sanders turned forty he realized that he could not point to anything in his life that could be considered a success. Whatever he attempted to do, failed. One day someone said to him, “Harlan, life begins at forty!” It jolted him in so much that it awakened his faith and he determined to begin again.
After a time of prayer he decided to open a service station. Shortly after its opening he added a luncheonette. One of his meals was fried chicken. To make it tastier he came up with a “special” batter and called it the Harlan Sanders’ Kentucky Fried Chicken. People enjoyed it so much that they soon recommended it to their friends. It brought him fame and fortune and the Governor of Kentucky made him a “Kentucky Colonel.” Soon people everywhere were buying the “Colonel’s” Kentucky Fried Chicken.
By God’s grace and the Colonel’s faith, what had been a life of failure and frustration became a life with a future and personal fulfillment. But his new life did not begin at forty. It began when God became the main ingredient of his life’s “recipe.”
When God becomes the main “ingredient” in our life, everything will become new. With Him as the centerpiece and His Word as our guide, we can overcome any obstacle or difficulty that stands in the way of our success.
Prayer: Let us always remember, Lord, that all things are possible when we trust in You and desire to honor You with the gifts and talents You have given us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Philippians 4:13 I can do anything through him who gives me strength.

What Are You Doing With My World?

It was Jim’s sixth birthday and his father wanted him to begin to understand continents and nations. So, he bought him a lighted globe. He was fascinated with the way it glowed in the dark and gently lit his room. And he also enjoyed the time his Dad spent in his room telling him stories about the different countries of the world.
One evening his Dad silently slipped into his room thinking that Jim was asleep. He wanted to “borrow” the globe so he could locate the countries that were mentioned during the evening news hour.
As he was leaving, Jim who was not asleep asked, “Dad, what are you doing with my world?”
What a great question for each of us. No doubt God would have us answer a similar question: “What are you doing with My world?”
Jesus said that “God loved the world so much that He sent me into the world to save it.” We know that Jesus fulfilled God’s plan for His life; He gave His life on the cross for our salvation. We also know that He is now in heaven with His Father. And we also know that the work that Jesus began is to be carried on by us His disciples.
As His disciples, it is important, no it is critical, that we ask ourselves constantly, “What we are we doing in God’s world today to save the lost for whom my Son, your Savior, died?”
Prayer: Lord, give us an urgency to do Your work in Your world to save the lost. Do not let us rest in Your peace until we bring Your message to someone each day. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Time Out!

One morning in a small town in Switzerland the clock in the tower stopped. Children unaware of what happened naturally thought that they had more time to stop and enjoy the lovely spring day. Secretaries on their way to work stopped to visit with their friends in the little shops that surrounded the square. Men reading their newspapers took some extra time to enjoy their stories. After about thirty minutes, the clock started again and the children, the secretaries and the businessmen, noticing that the hands were moving, ran off to their appointments. These people were late because the clock they trusted pointed to the wrong time.
Each of us has a personal clock ticking inside of us. It has a specific number of “ticks” that God has allocated to each of us that will determine how long we will live. There are times when we think that our clock is pointing to a great number of days that we cannot see nor count on. We may have a year in mind when we plan to retire and begin to live a life of ease and do things we have delayed doing.
God’s Word reminds us, however, that “None of us live for ourselves.” God has given each of us the power to make plans and dream dreams and to look forward to the future. But the most important thing we must do is to include God in our plans. Do not forget that “while we live, we live to please the Lord and when we die, we go to be with Him.”
Prayer: Help us, Father, to listen to the “tricking” of our clock - to always be aware of the fact that we have no assurance of tomorrow. May we make each day count for You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Romans 14:7-8 For none of us lives to himself alone and none of us dies to himself alone. If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.

Three Hundred! What A Game!

Tombstones are often interesting reminders of what people accomplished in life. One that is very interesting is in Wisconsin. It reads: “He bowled 300 in 1962.”
Do you wonder, as I do, if that was his greatest achievement in life? Or how many games he bowled before he had a perfect game? Or was it his first and last game and it left him so stunned that he never bowled again? We’ll never know.
But one thing we do know is that we will all be remembered for something. Paul made a most interesting observation about life’s accomplishments. He was writing to the Philippians about his achievements. Reading them is like reading the resume of one of the world’s greatest leaders. They are very impressive. But then he pulls the rug out from under his own feet. After what sounds like someone bragging about what they had accomplished he concludes: “But because of Christ I decided that all of my worldly accomplishments are worth nothing.”
Paul always had it right. More than anything in life he wanted to be known for his relationship with Christ and what he did for Him. Other than knowing and serving Christ, everything to him was “worthless trash.”
Prayer: Help us, Lord, to place You first and foremost in our lives. May we be remembered for what we did for You and through You, because of You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Philippians 3:4-11 …I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own…but which is through Christ – the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.

This Isn't Working Either!

It was Mom’s “Day-A-Way” and Jake and Dad were having the time of their lives. As soon as she left the games began and were non-stop until it was time for lunch.
After lunch it was time for a nap. But the activities of the morning were so intense that Jake could not settle down. Shades drawn and lights out were not enough. He’d climb out of his bed and look for Dad expecting the fun and games to start again.
Finally, in desperation, Dad decided to lay down with Jake, expecting eyes to become heavy and sleep to come to his rescue. After a few moments, Jake sat straight up in bed and said proudly, “This isn’t working either, is it?”
God in His eternal wisdom gave each of us a conscience - a moral compass that signals what is right or wrong. No matter where we go in the world, from one culture to another, people know deep inside what is right or wrong. All societies have laws that keep people together and set limits on what is appropriate or how to treat others.
And even though we, as well as others, know what is right and what is expected of us, we seem to want to do what is wrong. God has planted His standards on everyone’s heart and when any heart becomes troubled - for whatever reason - it is His Holy Spirit beginning to do His work to begin convicting us of our unrighteousness and God’s holiness.
Prayer: Lord, thank You for “early warning signals” that alert us to Your standards. Make our hearts very sensitive to Your laws and convict us when we do wrong. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Romans 2:15 Since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.

The Greatest Offering

It was the final night of the annual missionary conference. Many missionaries from many nations had gathered to tell of the work of God all around the world. Hearts were deeply touched and many lives were changed.
The pastor concluded the final service with an offering that was to be shared among the speakers. The plates were filled with money and checks. But in one plate was a note that simply read, “Myself.” Underneath the word “Myself” was the name and phone number of the person who signed it.
The next day the pastor called the young man who signed it and asked, “What do you mean, James?”
“I’m giving myself to become a missionary,” he said. And then he added, “I’m willing to go anywhere and do anything at any cost to serve the Lord.”
James made an important gift to God: his body. Unfortunately, many Christians believe that God is only concerned about our souls. Not so! We need to realize that our bodies belong to God just as much as our souls. When we give Him our souls He expects our bodies as well.
The body is the temple of the Holy Spirit and is the only instrument through which the Holy Spirit works. So, Paul says, “Take your body and think of all that it does each day - the skills, tasks and the abilities - and offer it to God; and when you do, follow Him wherever He leads You.”
Prayer: May we realize, Father, that You expect us to give our bodies to You just as Your only Son did. May we not limit what You can do because we fail to surrender. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Romans 12:1 Therefore, I urge you brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship.

The Gamblers

In the Middle Ages there was a group of men who called themselves The Gamblers. Wherever there was sickness or suffering, plagues or pestilence they would take their lives into their own hands - gamble against all odds – that they could help others. They willingly gambled with their lives for the good of others.
But they were not the first to do this. The Apostle Paul talks about one of his co-workers: Epaphroditus. In speaking of him, he wrote, “He risked his life for the work of Christ and he was at the point of death while trying to do for me the things you couldn’t do because you were far away.”
We do not know very much about Epaphroditus. But these things we do know that he delivered money to Paul while he was in prison. We do know that he helped Paul during a time of great physical and financial need. We do know that he became sick while he was staying with Paul. And we do know that Paul trusted him to deliver a most important “thank-you” letter to the church at Philippi.
The world honors those who are recognized for being rich, athletic, wealthy, entertaining, and intelligent. But here we see God recognizing and honoring a servant. And Paul also said, “Welcome him with Christian love, great joy, and be sure to honor people like him.” A simple servant, honored eternally, for taking a risk for God.
Prayer: We are reminded, Lord, of those who do for You what few are willing to do. Thank You for the missionaries who serve You quietly. Honor them greatly. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Philippians 2:25-30 …Welcome him in the Lord with great joy, and honor men like him, because he almost died for the work of Christ, risking his life to make up for the help you could not give me.

Take Care, God!

Little Margie was saying her prayers before getting into bed. Her mother stood at her door and listened as she honestly expressed her faith and dependence on God:
“Dear Lord, You know I really had a bad day. Thanks for getting me through everything OK. I don’t know what I would have done without You. So I really want You to take care of Yourself - cause if anything happens to You, I don’t know what I’d do!”
Being dependent is sometimes difficult. It is normal and natural to want to be self-reliant, believing that we can do all things in our own strength and with our wisdom and insight. We take great time and go to great lengths to prepare ourselves to meet and overcome the demands of life. But in the end, when facing life’s difficult challenges, we know that sooner or later, we’ll need God’s help.
How fortunate for those who know they can be mighty because God is mighty. Our God who created the universe has arms that can reach us wherever we are or whatever our situation may be. Nothing is beyond Him, nothing escapes Him, nothing overwhelms Him, and nothing frightens Him. If it concerns us, it concerned Him first.
God will make us equal to every challenge He brings into our life. Remember the words of the Apostle Paul: “Our sufficiency is from God!”
Prayer: Heavenly Father, You know when we need to be convinced that we can’t make it without You. Help us to see You at work in our lives to make us depend on You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: 2 Corinthians 3:5 Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything to ourselves, but our competence comes from God.

Start Where You Are!

A pastor once thought that it was his responsibility to change the world. For years he struggled and worked. He finally became so discouraged that he wanted to quit. 
In a moment of insight, he decided to utilize a new strategy. “I’ll change the attitude of my Elders. That’s the place for me to begin.” But he soon realized that this was not going to happen. Their resistance was fierce and he soon gave up.
“Since they didn’t respond,” he said to himself, “I’ll change my family.” That didn’t work either. Each evening when he laid out their tasks for the next day they looked at him with blank stares.
Finally he identified the problem: “I must change and improve myself first and the others will follow.”
David got it right! He said, “Search me, O God, and know my heart. Test me and know my thoughts.” 
It is much easier to look at the lives of others and see things that we think they need to change. It is much easier to want to change them than to want to change ourselves. But seeing what needs to be changed in others and wanting to change them is not the way God works. He wants us to begin with ourselves - to see the sin that is in our lives - the sin that He sees. And when He removes the sin and shortcomings from our lives we become like Him, and then become an example for others to follow.
PrayerHeavenly Father, help us not to be concerned about what others need to change in their lives, but what we need to change in our lives to be more like You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 139:23-24 Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

Pull Or Push: Which Is Better?

General Dwight Eisenhower is recognized as one of the greatest leaders in all of history. After a brilliant military career he became a trusted and honored president.
On one occasion he was asked to describe the art of leadership. Rather than describing it, he decided to demonstrate it. To illustrate his point, he put a piece of string on a table and said, “Push it and it will go nowhere. Pull it and it will follow.”
Few of us will ever say to others: “Look at me. I am a good example. Follow me and do as I do.” But that’s exactly what Paul wrote in his letter to the Corinthians. Quite a daring statement!
He established himself as an example, however, because he walked close to his Lord and Savior, spent much time studying God’s message, and praying and witnessing. Because he was “in Christ” he lived his life “through Christ” and could say to others, “I ask you to follow my example and do as I do.” At all times and in every situation whatever Paul did is what he believed Christ would have done.
If there ever was a Christian leader who “pulled” people to the Lord it was Paul. We see it in his faith that sustained him in situations far beyond our imagination. We are inspired by his hope that never faltered when he had no reason to hope. And his very life defined love, service, hope and trust.
Prayer: Father, it is frightening to think that others may look at us and imitate what we do because they assume we are Your examples. May our lives be worthy of imitating. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: 1 Corinthians 4:16 Therefore I urge you to imitate me.

Prayer And Providence

An ocean liner was in the midst of a terrible storm while making its way from England to America. The ship was swaying violently from side to side and heaving up and down as the waves washed over the bow.
The captain was trying his best to calm the people and encourage them not to be frightened. Suddenly a lady shouted, “Do something!”
“We’re doing our best,” said the captain calmly, “and we are trusting in the providence of God.”
“Oh my word,” she cried. “Is it that bad?”
The word providence comes from two Latin words. One means “before” and the other means “to see.” When the Christian speaks of “providence” it conveys the message that God knows the outcome of the events in our lives before they happen. Not only that, He knows and understands how those things which we sometimes resent are working to shape us into the person He wants us to be!
Paul said that whatever happens in the life of the Christian happens for the Christian’s best interests. In fact he said that “ 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.” Not that everything that happens to the Christian is good in and of itself. It means that everything that happens is to shape us into the likeness of Christ – and that’s for our good. As we become more and more like Him, He can use us more and more to do the work He has for us.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, may we not only accept the fact that You are at work in our lives, but really believe it is because You love us and want us to be like Christ. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Romans 8:28 For we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Make Your Plans Large!

One of my most prized possessions is my mother’s Bible. Its cover is well worn - the brown leather comes through the black dye. The pages are turned down at the corners and show wrinkles from her tears. Verses are underlined and endless notes in the margins show her thoughts and insights about different passages. There are dates next to many promises of God where she claimed them for her husband and children, missionaries and friends.
But there is one verse that sums up her undying faith in God: Ephesians 3:20. In the column next to it she wrote: “If God’s your partner, make your plans large!”
Ephesians 3:20 says, “God is able to do...” Well, people can “do” too. But the verse continues...
“God is able to do abundantly.” Many times, however, people are limited and unable to do what needs to be done. So then Paul added something else...
“God is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask.” What more, if anything, is there, Paul?
“God is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we can ask or think!”
Is there anything beyond exceedingly abundantly?
Only asking and thinking. No wonder she wrote, “If God’s your partner, make your plans large.”
Prayer: How unfortunate, Father, that we limit You when we limit what we believe You can do for us and through us. Increase our faith to match Your power. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Ephesians 3:20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.

Looking For God?

A French astronomer speaking to a group of intellects proudly declared, “I’ve swept the universe with my telescope and I find no God. I’ve searched the skies for years but can find Him nowhere. Therefore, I have come to the conclusion that there is no God.”
Following him a humble, but world renowned violinist came to the stage and said, “Your statement, dear sir, is just as foolish as for me to say, ‘I have searched inside my violin with a microscope to find a musician and I could not find one.’ Because there is music, Sir, there must be a musician.”
And because there is a creation, he concluded, there must be a Creator!
David declares that God has revealed Himself in and through nature. In nature we learn about His power and greatness and our insignificance and finiteness. As God reveals Himself through Scripture, we learn about His holiness and our sinfulness. As God reveals Himself through our daily experiences, we learn about His grace and goodness that frees us of our sin and guilt. 
We are surrounded by God’s greatness that we see in His many magnificent displays in nature, deeds of kindness and expressions of love. But the greatest display that we see of God is in His work of love, grace, mercy, salvation and hope. What more evidence do we need to have than our salvation, the healing of a loved one or the hope He plants in our hearts?
Prayer: Thank you, Father, for not only making Yourself known to us, but for providing our salvation, the answers to our prayers and the hope of being with You. In the Name of Jesus’ Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalms 19:1 The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

How Strong Is Your Belief?

Watching a person walking across a deep crevice on a wire is nerve-racking for most of us. As they carefully make their way from one side to the other with their long pole becomes frightening at times.
There was a “walker” who decided that he was going to walk from one side of Niagara Falls to the other using a wheelbarrow that contained 200 pounds of rocks. When he accomplished his goal flawlessly, the reporters in the crowd thronged him. After answering a few of their questions he looked one of them in the eye and asked, “Do you think I can take my wheelbarrow back to the other side?”
Quickly he responded, “Yes, I certainly do!”
“Good,” he said. “Then, you believe that I can do it?”
“Of course I believe you can,” said the reporter.
Dumping the bricks on the ground in front of him he said, “If you really believe it - get in the wheelbarrow and let’s go to the other side.”
Accepting Christ as Savior is the start of our faith-walk “believe and be saved!” However, when we commit our lives to Jesus as Lord it means that we will trust Him to get us safely from where we are at that moment until we will be with Him in glory.
Our journey will be difficult but not if we “get in His wheelbarrow”.
Prayer: Give us courage, Father, to trust You for safe passage through those times in our lives when we are faced with disaster and doubt, knowing we are safe in Your arms. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Acts 16:31 They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved – you and your household.”

How Did God Get In Your Life?

The new pastor wanted to get to know the members of his congregation. One evening at a church dinner he asked Mark how he came to know the Lord as his Savior.
To his surprise Mark replied, “Well pastor, I believe God is at work in our family.”
One thing is for certain: If our faith is real and at work, it will be real and at work in our homes. Family relationships always seem to be “on the edge.” There are so many different individual wants and needs, so many competing priorities and interests that relationships always seem to be stressed to the point of breaking.
The letter to Ephesians has some sound advice for families. It very clearly states that children are to obey their parents as long as parents act in the will and way of God. Parents have every right to make expectations of their children that are in keeping with His Word. Ideally, parents will act with thoughtfulness, gentleness and love. While this may seem difficult, if family members act in accordance with the teachings of God’s Word, each will put the other’s interests ahead of their own and selfishness will be replaced with selflessness because the real Father is the head of the home and worshiping Him will come first.
Fathers are also advised to “Bring up your children with discipline and instruction that is approved by the Lord.”
Prayer: We pray, Father, for families that are struggling to survive, dealing with overwhelming problems that leave them helpless. Give them hope through Christ to be victors. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Ephesians 6:1-4 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right…Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.

Going But Not Doing

While waiting for a bus to take me to the hotel at the end of the day, I watched as several of them passed by my waiting area. As they sped to their destination there was a sign in each of them that read, “Out of Service.”
Jesus, when speaking about the responsibilities of His disciples said, “Look around you! Vast fields are ripening all around and are now ready for the harvest.”
Our Lord clearly addressed a pressing need in His day and a need that we, as His followers, face today: There are many in front of us, to the side of us and behind us that are waiting to be brought into the Kingdom of God. It is not that He is unconcerned about them or that they are not willing to listen to His offer of salvation. It is because we, His followers, are out of service.
Sometimes we excuse ourselves from being His witnesses and “harvesters” by saying that our family members and friends are not ready to believe. Jesus, however, made it very clear that we are surrounded by an opportunity to be involved in a constant and continual harvest waiting to be reaped.
Each day we must remind ourselves that He will return and expect to find us doing “something.” What will it be? Will He find us involved in taking the Good News of the Gospel to those around us? When He appears will we be doing what He has called us to do or find us out of service?
PrayerLord, You have called us to labor with You in the “great harvest” by witnessing and winning the lost around us. Convict us of our lack of concern for the lost. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: John 4:34-38 …“I tell you open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.”

Giving In Or Growing In Him?

We all have had days filled with discouragement and disappointments. Perhaps more than we care to recall. Often they can be used by the devil to defeat and destroy us.
Think of discouragement. It comes from being dissatisfied with things in the past, a distaste of the present or quite possibly a distrust in the future. When we allow ourselves to become discouraged, we are surrendering our courage to what we have allowed to overcome us. Discouragement is a signal from God that the devil is trying to take away the hope He has given us in Christ. When we feel discouraged we need to take away the “d” and replace it with an “H” and call for “His-courage” to enable us to be victorious.
We also need to realize that our disappointments are, in fact, His-appointments! Nothing enters our life by chance - only by and through Christ. Often when things do not go as we intended them to go, we consider them to be one of life’s disappointments. However, what we need to realize is that God Himself is intervening in our life. He is attempting to get our attention. He wants us to make an adjustment to what we are doing with our lives that is not in line with the plans He has for us. 
Not everything that happens to us can be considered “good” - but everything will eventually be “good” for us.
Prayer: Help us, Heavenly Father, to believe that You love us too much to abandon us, care for us too much to harm us and too gracious to keep what we need from us. 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.

Get Up And Go On

Little Lola was having a hard time learning to skate. Every time she got up and started to skate, she fell down. The bruises were multiplying and covering all of the available space on her knees and elbows.
A neighbor passing by watched her try and try again. Finally he approached her and asked, “Why don’t you give up?”
“Because,” she cried with tears streaming down her face, “my father didn’t give me these skates to give up with but to go on with.”
Our Lord gives us His gracious favor and wonder working power to “go on with…” A good example of this is the Apostle Paul. God did not remove His affliction. He promised, however, to demonstrate His grace and power in and through him at all times.
God wants to display His grace and power in our lives often through what we believe to be our weaknesses. He wants to give us courage and hope, strength and victory. When we willingly admit our weaknesses and limitations we are forced to depend upon God to be effective and successful. Surrendering to Him when we need His help forces us to admit our inabilities and His abilities. Admitting our limitations enables us to develop our Christ-dependence, deepen our respect for God’s presence and power in our lives and will encourage us to develop a deeper sense of worship.
Prayer: Father, we truly need Your involvement in our lives. When we are weak - give us Your strength, when we are down - raise us with Your power. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”…That is why, for Christ sake, I delight in weakness, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak then I am strong.

Finding Life's Secrets

Charlie Brown was having a serious conversation with Lucy in one of the “Peanuts” cartoons. Said Charlie, “I’ve made a giant step forward in unraveling the mysteries of the Old Testament, Lucy!”
“What’s that?” asked Lucy, bursting with interest.
“I started reading it,” he replied.
Many people view the Bible as a collection of fables, myths or tales and unintelligent stories about a god who hides himself in deep, unfathomable messages. Some say that it is a “book beyond human understanding – its Truth” unintelligible. True, it is a book written by humans but it is not a “human book.” It is the story of God making Himself known through Himself, through His words and “The Word,” and His beloved Son. It is not beyond the ability of humans to understand its contents. God Himself will make its message clear when people ask Him to speak to them through His Holy Spirit.
Through the Holy Spirit, God revealed His Person and plan of redemption and reconciliation - the Gospel Message. The authors of the God’s revelation in Scripture were inspired by His Spirit to speak on His behalf. God wanted to make Himself known because He wants us to know Him, to love Him and to trust Him.
If we want to know and understand God we need, as Charlie Brown did, to “start reading” His Word.
Prayer: You have spoken to us, Lord, through Your Word. If we seek Your truth and want to know You and please You with our lives, Your Word will show us how. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: 2 Timothy 3:16-17 All Scripture is God breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Faithful Until The End

At seventy-five Grandma Faith learned that cancer would soon take her home to heaven. She had been a faith-filled Christian all of her life. Realizing that her time with her family on this earth would soon be over, she called all of them together. After they gathered around her bed she said in a calm, steady and joyful voice, “For many years I’ve shown you how to live like a Christian. Now I want to show you how to die like one!”
Life after life was important to Paul. He planned for it, prepared for it and personally looked forward to the time when he would be with his Lord. From the day he met his Savior, his values changed and his view of things on earth was different. Not only did he see life from an eternal perspective but the only thing he wanted others to do was to see life the way he did: through the eyes of the risen Christ.
His faith enabled him to confidently say that dying would be even better than living. He knew that only those who were ready to die could face life confidently and fearlessly. He realized that in death he would be removed from the problems and pains of this life and finally be with his beloved Savior for evermore.
Reading his words in Philippians is a testimony to his faith: he wanted others to see what he looked and longed for after his earthly life: “For me, living is living for Christ and dying is even better.”
Prayer: We look to You, Heavenly Father, for faith for today, hope for tomorrow and purpose in between. Fill us with love for You and the lost whose lives are in our hands. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Philippians 1:20-26 – For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.

Did God Really Cause The Fire?

Shortly after a new nightclub was opened near a church, the members decided to call an all night prayer meeting. While they were praying a powerful thunderstorm engulfed the city and lightning struck the club and burned it to the ground.
The owner became angry and decided to sue the church. At the hearing, however, the church denied any and all responsibility for the destruction of the club.
Confused, the judge exclaimed, “I’m not sure where the guilt may lie. On one hand the nightclub owner believes in prayer but the members of the church don’t.”
On one occasion when Jesus was teaching His followers and disciples about eternal life someone asked, “But who can be saved?” He replied, “Humanly speaking, it is something man cannot do. But with God, all things are possible.”
Prayer is asking and receiving. It is not hoping or wishing or wondering. It is receiving. Yet, it is not unusual for Christians to be amazed, even surprised, when God answers a prayer that exceeds their faith. How interesting.
Perhaps that’s why Jesus made that statement when talking about salvation. Consider this: if God can redeem us from our sinful state and grant us eternal life, can He not do anything we ask in His name and for His glory?
Prayer: Help us, Father, to have a faith that is bigger than our problems, stronger than the attacks of Satan and larger than any doubt that would ever defeat us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Mark 10:27 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.”

Decrease To Increase

A nearby church called a new pastor. He was well received and in a short time the church began to grow. The attendance at Sunday school and worship services increased beyond expectations. Even the increase in the number of people at prayer meeting surprised everyone.
“Congratulations on the way your church is responding to you,” I said after being introduced to him. “What are you doing differently than most other churches to see such growth?”
“I’m decreasing,” was his strange reply.
“Decreasing?” I asked with a question mark on my face. “Are you on a diet?”
“Well, not really,” came his quick reply. “It’s what John said about Jesus: ‘He will increase if I will decrease.’“
John’s willingness to decrease is an important first step in humility. Those of us who want to serve God with the gifts He has given us are always tempted to do what John did in reverse order: we want the attention and focus to be upon us and what we are doing when blessings occur and success arrives.
We must never forget that it is always about Him. If we want to see Him at work in our lives, we must do as John did so consistently: point to Him and make Him the “main attraction.” We must never put ourselves first. We must stand aside and let His Kingdom grow through us!
Prayer: Lord, it’s difficult to get out of the way and not want to be praised in what we do for You. We pray for hearts that are humble and lives that are surrendered to You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: John 3:30 He must become greater; I must become less.

Becoming Christ-Like

A sculptor was beginning a new project and a reporter came to interview him about his work. He had never talked to a sculptor before so he asked, “What are you going to create?”
“A horse standing on its hind legs,” he answered.
“How will you do such a thing?” he wondered.
“By knocking off everything that doesn’t look like a horse,” he replied.
Paul in writing to the Corinthians said, “Through suffering, these bodies of ours constantly share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.” God, we are reminded by Paul, is in deed and in fact, shaping us into the likeness of Christ.
As Christians, we need to know and accept the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. We may at times think that we are at the end of our rope but as followers of Christ we are never at the end of our hope!
As the sculptor worked with his block of marble, so is our loving Lord working with us to “knock off” everything in our lives that is not Christ-like. We sing our songs and say our prayers and tell others that “we want to be like Him.” And someday we will be.
But until that day arrives we must be patient and willing to submit to His will, allow Him to work in us and on us so that He may work through us.
Prayer: We know, Heavenly Father, that You have a plan for each of us to become like Your Son. Give us the desire to work with You while You complete your plan. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: 2 Corinthians 4:1-10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.