To Believe Is To Achieve

A group of men was preparing to climb Mount Everest. As the final pieces of their plan fell into place, a psychologist asked if he could interview them. They agreed and he met with them at their camp.
He looked at each one very carefully. Then, after a moment of reflection he asked, “Tell me, will you get to the top?”
The first answered, “I certainly hope so.” The second responded, “I’ll do my best.” The third, “I’m going to give it all I’ve got.” And the fourth said, “Yes, I will.” And he did – and he was the only one!
Our body can achieve what our hearts believe and our hearts believe what comes from our minds. A lack of faith enlarges our fears and turns them into facts. The shadows that our minds create become so dreadful that we are afraid to face them. Our worries eventually become walls that we cannot climb over or around.
Often when we are asked to do “something” for the Lord our minds create fears that are not based on facts or shadows that have no substance or windows of opportunity that become walls without ends.
Isaiah the Prophet boldly declared, “See, God has come to save me, I will trust in Him and not be afraid! The Lord God is my strength and my song, he has become my salvation!” 
If we truly trust God, all things are possible.

Prayer: Lord, in Your grace You bring so many opportunities and challenges into our lives that allow us to honor You. Help us to trust in You and be victorious. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Isaiah 12:2 Behold, God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid;‘ For Yah, the Lord, is my strength and song; He also has become my salvation.’”

Pray Or Worry: Which?

Each morning Josie and her Mom prayed together before she left for school. One morning after they prayed, Josie noticed a look of distress and concern on her Mom’s face.
Concerned, she said, “Mom, we just prayed together and thanked the Lord for everything we had and then told Him about everything we needed. I thought that if we prayed we wouldn’t have to worry. I didn’t know that we could do both.”
Worry and faith are actually incompatible. If we have faith there is no need to worry and if we worry we do not need to pray. One seems to cancel out the other.
Many would argue that it is impossible not to worry at least some of the time. But listen to Paul: “Don’t worry about anything,” he said. “Instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need and then thank Him for all He has done and will do.”
Maybe that’s the key to not worrying: When we thank God for all that He has done for us, we can see His hand at work in our lives. And rather than worrying about what might or might not happen, we can see what has happened and know that God is protecting us and providing for our every need.
Paul advised the church members at Philippi to turn their worries into prayers. He wanted them to have a strong faith and trust and believe in the Lord for all things. If our faith and trust are weak, worrying won’t help.

Prayer: Lord, increase our faith to exceed the size of our fears and our trust to be large enough to combat the uncertainties of life. May we become steadfast and sure. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Philippians 4:6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;

At Least One More Thing

The elderly deacon was encouraging a young, yet very successful, entrepreneur to pray and surrender his life to the Lord. Arrogantly he said, “There’s no need for me to pray. I have everything I can imagine. I am young, handsome and rich. What else is there?”
“Well,” replied the man graciously, “there’s at least one more thing to consider. You may want to think about asking God for humility.”
It is fascinating to recall the fact that God created the universe out of nothing and that unless we are willing to become nothing, the Lord will be unable to make anything significant out of us. Pride is a destructive force in so many lives.
When we come to believe that we deserve what we have and become self-centered and self-serving, we are creating an attitude of self-dependence and not God-dependence. We forget the fact that whatever we have we have by the grace of God, and that our abilities to accomplish anything and everything come from Him. When this happens we tend to become greedy and forget our responsibility to honor God with everything that we have.
The cure for being self-centered and self-serving is humility. Humility shows that we are submissive and dependent on God and that we approach Him in meekness and respect. David said that the “Lord leads the humble in what is right.” God can only lead the humble.
Prayer: Father, we need Your leadership in our lives. Without Your guidance and direction we may achieve much but we will miss the great things You have for us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: James 4:6 But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.”

Anger In Action

A college professor was having a difficult time getting his students to do their required assignments. As the class was about to end he said emphatically, “When you come to class tomorrow, it would be wise to have your assignment completed and ready for my review.”
The next day when class began he said in a loud, threatening voice, “Hold up your papers with your right hand!” All of the students complied with his demand except one. He held up his paper with his left hand.
Incensed, the professor shouted, “Right hand stupid, not your left hand. Don’t you know the difference?”
“Yes, sir, I do sir,” said the student. “But I lost my right hand in combat.”
The Greeks had a special phrase for anger. They called it “a brief madness.” It seems appropriate. When we become angry we lose control of ourselves and we often say things that are hurtful and harmful.
David the Psalmist was wise when he wrote, “Stop your anger! Turn from your only leads to harm.”
Anger and rage are destructive emotions that reveal a desire to dominate and control others. That is God’s responsibility. Ours is to concentrate on God and His grace and find peace as we trust Him to control us.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, help us to turn our anger into affection and our frustration into faith – knowing that You will turn our trials into triumphs. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 37:8 Cease from anger, and forsake wrath; Do not fret—it only causes harm.

Where's The Piccolo?

Sir Michael Costa was a celebrated and successful conductor in England. He was recognized by others for the demands he placed on musicians to be accurate and to perform with excellence. In fact, many resented him for his adherence to high musical standards.

On one occasion, during a rehearsal of a large choir and orchestra, he brought the music to an abrupt stop. The musicians were puzzled until he shouted, “Where’s the piccolo? I can’t hear the piccolo.”
With all of the musicians playing as loudly as they could, and the choir singing as loudly as it could, the piccolo player thought to himself, “My instrument is so small and the sound it makes is so insignificant it won’t be missed.” But to Costa, the sound of one small instrument was essential to make the harmony needed for the concert to be complete.
Paul, writing to the church at Corinth said, “Now, all of you together are Christ’s body and each one of you is a separate and necessary part of it.” Here we find him emphasizing the significance that each of us have, though we have our own distinctive talents and skills, that is necessary to do the work of Christ through our church and its various activities.
One of the dangers of comparing ourselves to others is that we come out looking as small as a piccolo. But remember, the Conductor needs us to play our part.
Prayer: Lord, may we each play our part in Your symphony of grace, realizing that if we do not play our part, Your Kingdom will be incomplete. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: 1 Corinthians 12:27 Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually.

No Cushion For His Cross

A missionary told the story of watching a man, dressed like Jesus carrying a cross through crowded streets during Easter week. He was intrigued by the scene and got as close to the man as possible. He wanted to observe him more carefully so he could tell the story to others. When he finally was a few feet from him, he noticed that under his garment was a pillow that cushioned the weight of the cross so it would not hurt him.
We must never forget the weight of the cross that Jesus carried on our behalf. Picture, if you can, the scene: the heat of the day, the blood streaming down His face from the crown of thorns and down His back from the horrible beatings He endured before the nails were driven through His hands and feet, crowds laughing and taunting, alone and abandoned by His trusted friends and followers.
Too often we look at an empty cross and forget the reality of the cross and what it cost Jesus and His Father. Our religion has become a religion of convenience – not of conviction.
We have glamorized the cross and made it into a piece of jewelry that adorns the necks of people who do not know or want to know the story of redemption. To many it is simply an ornament – something worn but not born. Jesus said, “If you want to be my follower, then shoulder your cross and follow me closely.”
Prayer: Help us, Father, through Your grace, to understand the cost and value of our salvation. May we accept our part of the price by shouldering our cross with You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Mark 8:34 When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.

I Want To Help Others

He could feel the damp moisture in the late night London fog each time a gust of wind blew over him. Blind and alone he was feeling his way down a deserted street with a white cane in one hand and a lantern in the other.
Eventually a stranger approached him walking in the opposite direction. Amused, and in a sarcastic voice he said, “Why are you, a blind man, carrying a lantern?”
“Oh, sir,” replied the blind man, “I’m not carrying it for myself. It’s for others. I want to help them so they won’t stumble over me.”
Often we think only of ourselves: our problems and our pains, our difficulties and our diseases, our hard times and horrible tasks.
It is the duty of the Christian to think of everyone and everything that may cause problems for ourselves and others as well. We are responsible to hold up a light in the darkness of this world for others who are seeking their way through life.
And not only to light a pathway for them in times of life’s darkest moments, but to help them find the “Light of the World” – Jesus – who is “the Way, the Truth and the Life!”
God’s Word is clear and unconditional when it states, “Each one of us will give an account of himself to God.” We must hold high the Light!
Prayer: Father, even though we are kind and gracious when we help others through times of darkness, it does not relieve us of our responsibility to present the Light. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: 1 John 1:5 This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.

Where Is God?

Sir John Franklin is remembered for being a great Englishman and explorer of the Arctic region of the planet. As he was planning one of his expeditions he decided that, based on his journeys, he would revise the map of the world.
Previous to Franklin, others had been marking unknown territories with phrases such as “Here be Dragons,” and “Here be Demons.”
But on his revised map he wrote, “Here be God.” Sir Franklin, as a result of his journeys, knew that wherever he was God would be. Even in the most distant, most lonely, and most inaccessible places he believed that he would find God.
In Psalm 121 we discover the assurance and hope that wherever we are God is with us protecting and providing for our every need – day or night. He not only made the mountains and seas, the valleys and deserts, but all that they contain.
We must never forget that the Creator of the universe is the sustainer of the universe. Trusting the One Who “put it all together” enables us to believe that He will not allow “dragons” and “demons” to overcome the one who trusts in His goodness and grace.
Nothing will ever divert or distract God from watching over His children. We can have the utmost confidence that in Him we are safe and that we will never escape His untiring watch over us.

Prayer: May we join our voices with the Psalmist, Father, and shout, “Keep watch over me, Lord, as You come and go, both now and forever!” In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 121 I will lift up my eyes to the hills— From whence comes my help? My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth.

Let God Be The Judge

Young Anthony was ending his prayers before leaving for school. “And, finally God, thank You for this beautiful day that You have given us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.”
“But, Anthony,” protested his mother, “this is not going to be a beautiful day. There are large thunderstorms approaching.”
“I know, Mom,” replied Anthony. “Never judge a day by its weather,” he said as he ran out the door.
The Psalmist proclaimed, “This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it!”
Sometimes when we get half way through a day we feel that there is nothing to rejoice about or to be thankful for. Our problems mount and their solutions evade us. Our plans are interrupted by meaningless demands that make no sense at all. Our decisions seem to be wrong no matter how hard we tried to get them right. Our sorrow overwhelms us and our guilt appears beyond His forgiveness. What then? Rejoice? Makes no sense to most people.
But according to the Psalmist, that’s the thing to do. When we read the Psalms carefully and allow God to speak to us clearly, we will discover that the writers were open and honest with God about their difficulties. And when they spoke to God sincerely, by the time they came to the close of their prayers they ended in giving Him praise. Tell God the facts. He wants to help!
Prayer: Thank You, God, for always being with us in all of our difficulties. Help us to hear Your voice and to accept Your grace as a solution to our problems. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 118:24-28 This is the day the Lord has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it.

Using Everything For The Lord

Shauna was on her way home from work, tired from a difficult day. The road was icy and the curves dangerous. Suddenly the car began to skid and plunged into an icy river.
A truck with four men also returning from work was following some distance behind her. When they saw what had happened, they stopped their truck and with no hesitation dove into the icy water to help.
One of the four men was Terry Kelly. Terry did not know how to swim and had a withered right arm that was almost useless. Nevertheless, he knew he wanted to do something. And he did.
The men found the car locked and Shauna on the inside losing consciousness, struggling in fear. But Terry got his small withered arm through a window that was partially open and unlocked the door. The men were then able to rescue and revive Shauna.
Though many would have questioned the value of Terry’s withered arm, it worked when it had to.
Paul said, “Give yourselves completely to God since you have been given new life. And use your whole body as a tool to do what is right for the glory of God.”
God has a unique plan for each of our lives. And He wants to do through us what He has not or cannot do through anyone else. Whatever He asks us to do is within the gifts and abilities He has given us. His plan for each of us may include what we consider our defects.
Prayer: Lord, we are all “perfect” in Your sight for the work that You have called us to do. May we look beyond what we see to what You see as our worth to You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Romans 6:13 And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.

Earning It Is What Matters!

A friend of Clark Gable took her young son to his home for a visit. As they were about to leave, the boy pointed to the Oscar that Gable had won and asked, “May I have this?”
“Sure,” answered Gable, giving it to the child.
“Give it back immediately,” shouted the mother in shock.
“Oh, no,” said Gable. “Keep it. Having the Oscar around doesn’t mean anything to me. Earning them does.”
Focusing on the future has many benefits. Paul boldly declared that “I am still not all I should be! But I am focusing all my energies on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead I strain to reach the end of the race.”
Paul had great reasons to want to forget the past – he persecuted Christians and even had them killed. He held them in great contempt creating fear and anxiety among them. But, he also had accomplished many outstanding things for Christ when he wrote these words. In all reality he could have “stayed stuck” for one reason or another: either the wrongs he had done from feelings of guilt or false pride for his service to his Lord.
These are two traps every Christian faces: our failures and our successes. Either one can destroy what God has called us to do. We must always move forward!
PrayerHelp us, Father, not to ruin the present or the future by staying stuck in the past. You have called us to do great things through Christ. May we be faithful. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Philippians 3:13-14 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

That Doesn't Look Like Me!

A young mother went to Mr. Duffy for him to do a portrait of her so her children would know what she looked like as a young lady. Mr. Duffy was known for his “idealized” paintings – painting his clients as they could be if they were “ideal”.
When she returned after several months of waiting, she was shocked by what she saw. Angrily she said, “That doesn’t look like me.”
“I know,” he replied graciously, “but try your best to look as lovely as it does.”
Mr. Duffy saw in the mother what she could become. And so, when he painted her portrait, he brought out the best in her, the “ideal.” He wanted to help her achieve her best.
One day after Andrew met and accepted Jesus as the Messiah, he brought Simon to meet Jesus. As Jesus looked intently at him He saw an “ideal” disciple and said, “You are Simon, the son of John – but you will be called Cephas (which means Peter).”
Jesus saw not only who Simon was but who he would become. That is the reason He gave him a new name. Peter was not always a “solid rock” throughout the Gospels but that is what he became “rock-solid” as he grew in Christ.
Christ always sees more in us than we see in ourselves. He sees us as we can be – rock-solid – in our walk with and witness for Him. Come. Follow Me!

Prayer: Lord, may we walk with You, in faith, believing that You have great plans for our lives. May we trust You completely and become “ideal” disciples. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: John 1:42 And he brought him to Jesus. Now when Jesus looked at him, He said, “You are Simon the son of Jonah. You shall be called Cephas” (which is translated, A Stone).

Asking The Right Question

A young student was sitting before Socrates anxiously wanting to learn from “the master.” With a penetrating glaze he asked, “Where can I find the best things in life?”
The young student was struck with the breadth of the question. He thought of the various places that had the best fabrics and finest robes. Then he thought of the market places that had the finest merchandise. Then he thought of the restaurants that had the best food and drinks.
As he was about to answer, Socrates held up his hand as if to interrupt the student’s thoughts and asked, “Must we not first, however, ask what the best things are?” That question changed Plato’s life forever.
David once said, “You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence, and the pleasures of living with you forever.”
Most individuals spend most of their time searching for the “best things of life” – things that will bring them joy, satisfaction and happiness. He realized that in spite of everything he possessed, God was the one who could make a difference in life and bring him peace and completeness. He realized that only God would be able to comfort him in his moments of distress and discouragement.
Everything in life is temporary except God. We must make worshiping Him the best thing in our lives.
Prayer: Help us, Heavenly Father, to place You at the center of our lives. May we find contentment within us knowing that we have found the way, the truth and the life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 16 You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

When Do We Start Getting Smaller?

When he was a child Little Tommy was fascinated as he stood in the back yard and watched airplanes get smaller as they disappeared over the horizon. He would stand motionless, sometimes even holding his breath, as he watched this amazing sight time after time.
Day after day he would beg his grandmother to “take me flying on one of those airplanes.” Finally, the day came when his grandmother took him on his first flight. After he was buckled in his seat and the air craft sped down the runway and began to ascend into the clouds, a puzzled look came across his face. Anxiously, he turned to his grandmother and asked quietly, “Grandmother, when do we start getting smaller?”
This is an important question for all Christians!
John the Baptist played a most significant role in the ministry of Jesus. He realized that God gave Him an important work to do to introduce Jesus to the world. This was his main purpose in life. And he did it well. God, because of his faithfulness, made him an important person in the history of our faith.
But when Jesus appeared, John realized that his role in doing God’s work changed. Not only does his willingness to decrease in importance describe an example of what humility is, but it prescribes clearly the role of every Christian today: We are to witness God’s grace to others without drawing attention to ourselves.
Prayer: Lord, may we willingly step aside, as John did, as we present Your Son to the world. May we do what we do for You and You alone and only exalt Christ. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: John 3:30-36 He must increase, but I must decrease.

A Picture Of Christ

It was the first day in art class and the professor wanted to challenge his students to do something creative. Standing before them he suggested that they draw a picture that had meaning and interest. Pausing for a moment he turned to one student and said, “And what, William, are you going to draw?”
“I believe that I will draw a picture of Christ,” he replied.
“But,” said the professor, “no one knows what He looks like.”
“They will when I’m through,” said William.
People may see a representation of Christ on canvas, paper or cloth, but God expects them to see Christ in us – in the way we live. Scripture clearly explains, time and time again, that the Christian is the one, not an artist, who is to provide a “picture of what Christ looks like.”
Those around us who know we are Christians will gain an understanding and image of Christ by watching us. They “read” about Christ in how we act and react to the events that come into our lives. They “see” Christ in what we do for others because they know that we are responsible to show His love.
A Christian is to have a “mind” that thinks as Jesus thought, a “heart” that breaks when the ravages of sin are visible, a “hand” that reaches out to those in need, and a “voice” through which He speaks to share His message.
Prayer: Our Father, You have given us a tremendous responsibility to represent You to others. We admit we are unable to do this unless we allow You to live thru us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: 1 John 2:4-6 He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5 But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. 6 He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.

God Bless Our Bumps

Little Martha was in a hurry to run out the door so she would not be late for school. In her haste she tripped and fell, hitting her head on the floor. Immediately, a bump appeared and frightened her. As the tears ran down her cheeks she climbed into her mother’s arms to be comforted.
Her Mom, holding her tightly, placed a cold pad on the lump and said, “Let’s pray and ask Jesus to heal you so you can go to school.”
Soon the tears stopped, Martha left her mother’s lap, stood up and said, “Jesus healed me. Now I can go to school.”
That night when they knelt to pray the mother asked, “What do you want to thank Jesus for tonight.”
“My bump,” answered Martha quickly. “Because now I know He loves me because He made my bump go away.”
“Whenever trouble comes your way,” wrote James, “let it be an opportunity for joy. For when your faith is tested your endurance has an opportunity to grow.” In the life of every Christian, there is always a connection between the problem and the promise, between the hardship and the hope.
James reminds us to turn our difficulties into optimism and to have a positive outlook for life. Troubles are not an end in themselves. If we are willing to work with God, He can teach us perseverance.
Prayer: May we understand and accept, Father, that “whatever comes our way” is for our good and that we can profit from every hardship as we learn to trust You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: James 1:2-3 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials,  knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.

Never Left Alone

A flight attendant noticed an elderly lady having a difficult time buckling her seat belt. Recognizing her anxiety and obvious fear, the flight attendant went to the captain and explained what she had seen. Graciously, he accompanied the attendant to the lady and he asked, “May I help you, Ma’am?”
“Oh yes,” she replied. “This is my first flight. I must admit that I am rather frightened. Tell me, Sir, will you bring me back down safely?”
As he fastened her seat belt, he smiled politely and said, “Yes, Ma’am. I’ve flown hundreds of thousands of miles and never left anyone up there.”
In the closing verse of Matthew, Jesus promised His disciples, “And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
What a precious promise: “I am with you always.” But what does it mean? His memories would be with us? His teachings would be with us? His imprint on history would be with us? Of course. But that is only the beginning.
“I am with you” leaves no doubt that after Jesus ascended into heaven He would be with us through the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives. The Holy Spirit would be Jesus’ presence that was with them then and is with us now and will never leave us. Ever.
Jesus said, “I am going away, but I will come back to you again!” Jesus continues to be with us today.
Prayer: Thank You, Father, for the assurance of Your presence in our lives. We are comforted to know that whatever comes into our life, You are there to protect us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Matthew 28:20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.

What We Have In Christ

Looking at a gallon of water in a plastic container hardly suggests that it has any power. But if it seeps into the crack of a rock or a cement road and turns into ice, the rock and the road will split into pieces. If the water is turned into steam it can drive the pistons of a large engine and become a massive amount of power. Water has the potential to do many great things.
So do we.
When we become Christians, God empowers us to change our lives into something completely different and special. Paul in our Scripture for today teaches us that there are four things that Christ can do for us:
1. He gives us wisdom. By walking with Him and listening to Him, we hear the truth because He is the expert in living.
2. He is righteousness. Righteousness in Paul’s writings always means a right relationship with God. We can never achieve a right relationship with God through ourselves or what we do – only through Christ.
3. He is holy. It is only through the presence of Christ in our lives that we can be or become all that God intends or expects us to be or become.
4. He is deliverance. Only Christ can deliver us from our past sin and present helplessness to sin. Only He can deliver us from our slavery to sin and set us free from self-destruction.
Prayer: Lord, help us to understand the goodness of Your grace and the power of Your presence in our lives. With You, all things are possible – most importantly salvation. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: 1 Corinthians 1:26-31

One Answer

It was the first day in her new position as the secretary to the president. As she was being given her first task, she wanted to appear confident and competent.
Listening carefully he said to her, “These accounts that I am giving you are very important. They are the foundation of our income. I want you to go over each of them at least three times to make sure that all of the numbers are correct before you return them to me. Your results must be right!”
Working anxiously for quite some time, she finally completed her task. She went to him and handed him the results of her efforts. As he took the papers from her hands she said, “Sir, I want you to know that I exceeded your expectations. I went over each page ten times and came up with ten different answers.”
When asked the way to heaven and eternal life, Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.”
This statement in John’s Gospel is one of the most basic and important passages in all of Scripture. If anyone anywhere wants to know the way to God and eternal life, this is the one and only answer. Jesus, with no hesitation, declared once and for all that He is the Way. Some may argue that this declaration and proclamation is too narrow. But in all reality, it is wide enough for anyone, anywhere to enter at any time.
Prayer: Thank You, Heavenly Father, for sending Your one and only Son into the world to become, if we choose, Our Savior and the Way to eternal life with You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: John 14:6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

Faith Or Fear?

When Mario Marini, a famous Italian painter and sculptor, was young, he fashioned a series of figures of men on horses. The first one he sculpted appeared young, strong, fierce, formidable and triumphant: expressions of extreme confidence. But as he continued his series of bronze figures, each rider and horse appear to become less confident and certain of being victorious. In fact, the last figure in the series portrays a rider and his horse frozen in terror.
When asked about the way his series changed from triumph to terror he replied, “That is because I believe that we are approaching the time of a sorry end to the world.”
How different for the Christian! Rather than fear, we have faith. In place of horror, we have hope. Because of our God we know that we shall be given eternal life through Christ our Savior and Lord and we will be with Him throughout eternity.
How blest we are to have the words of the Psalmist: “Even though I will walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I do not need to be possessed by fear, for You, Creator of life, are with me to protect me!”
Our Savior will guide us and guard us and grant us victory. One day we will also say with the Psalmist, “Your goodness and unending kindness has been with me all of my life, and afterwards I will live with You in Your home – forever!”
Prayer: Grant us, Father, Your peace that passes all understanding and the assurance that You are the God of all comfort and that we do not fear the threats of life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 23 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

Count On Me!

General Robert E. Lee had a brilliant officer serving on his staff. He was fiercely faithful and loyal to the general. He was also a man of conviction, courage and confidence. Every letter or note he wrote to General Lee was signed, “You can count on me.” 
Our Lord has many people He can count but not many He can count on. But there is one who stands as an example to all of us: Joshua!
Joshua was careful to obey all of the teachings and instructions given by God. As we read the book that bears his name, we find the theme of obedience time and time again. This theme of obedience is so very prominent because it was an important aspect of the believer’s life. Additionally, it is certainly a significant part of our lives and one part of our lives that, with God’s help, we can control.
We cannot control the events that God brings into our lives, but we can control the way we respond to them. We cannot control the behavior of others around us but we certainly can control how we behave when we are in their presence. We cannot control the decisions of our leaders but we certainly can “pray without ceasing” for them. We cannot control the content of the media but we can certainly choose different materials to read or programs to watch on television.
However, one choice that every Christian has is to obey God. God’s Word sets the standard for all to follow.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, empower us with Your Holy Spirit to understand and accept Your Word, and to be obedient to it so You will be able to “count on us.” In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Joshua 11:15 As the Lord had commanded Moses his servant, so Moses commanded Joshua, and so Joshua did. He left nothing undone of all that the Lord had commanded Moses.

Take Time To Preach

Saint Francis is remembered for his greatness and goodness in spreading the Gospel of Christ. His writings still inspire people today.
One day he said to a fellow brother who lived with him in the monastery, “Let’s go to town and preach to the people.”
As they walked the dusty road they stopped to talk to people and play games with the children. Tired and hungry, St. Francis turned to his young companion and said, “Let’s return to the monastery.”
“But,” protested his young colleague, “when do we preach to the people?”
“Every step we took,” said St. Francis, “and every word we spoke and every smile we shared with the people and everything we did was our sermon. We have been preaching all day!”
The only sermon some people will ever hear are the words that come from our lips and the only preaching that many will “listen” to is what they see in our lives. For many we are what we say we believe.
John wrote, “Those who say they live in God should live as Christ did.” To live as Jesus did we must obey His teachings and follow His example by being obedient to His teachings.
Years ago a hymn writer asked most effectively: “Can others see Jesus in you?”
Prayer: Father, may the disturbing words of that hymn trouble our minds and hearts and force us to examine our lives and make changes that will please You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: 1 John 2:6 He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.

Guard Your Heart!

She was over eighty years old and still worked every day. Though old in years, she was young at heart. She made her way through life in a wheelchair and was very successful in several different business ventures. Additionally, she was known for being involved in doing kind things for others going through difficult times.
“What caused you to end up in a wheelchair?” asked a friend one day.
“Infantile paralysis,” she replied.
“My goodness! How do you cope,” the friend wondered, “and do so many kind things for so many people?”
“Well,” she said with a gracious smile, “the paralysis never touched my head or my heart.”
Our head is the door to our heart. What we see, think and dwell upon shapes our feelings and is expressed in what we do and the way we act.
It was the writer of Proverbs who expressed this so well. “Keep and guard your heart with all vigilance,” he wrote, “for out of it flow the springs of life.”
Our heart, the source of our feelings of love and desire, dictates the things that we do and say. How we live and what we find time to do and enjoy all come from within. Wisely, Solomon advises us to concentrate on those things that will reflect God’s love to others. We must make sure that what matters most leads us in the right direction. We can only do this if we focus on God.
Prayer: Help us, Heavenly Father, to look straight ahead and keep our eyes focused on You. Keep us from becoming sidetracked by things that would destroy us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Proverbs 4:23 Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it spring the issues of life.

What's Next?

Grandmother had just finished reading the story of Creation to her beloved four year old granddaughter, Beth. Sitting quietly in her lap she noticed that Beth seemed to be in deep thought.
“Beth,” she asked, “what do you think of that story?”
“I love it, Grandmother!” she replied.
“Love it? Why?” Grandmother wondered.
“Well,” she replied carefully, “you just never know what God’s going to do next!”
While life is unpredictable, God isn’t. Even though we do not know what God is going to do next, He certainly does. And one thing we who are Christians know for certain is this: whatever He brings into our lives is in our best interest to mold us and make us into His likeness.
Whatever we face we know that God will be with us and never abandon us. As life comes and goes He does not pick and choose when He will be available to help us. He will not step back from the pain we may be enduring nor the problems we are forced to face and resolve. No, the Eternal One guides us, and guards us and guarantees us His presence and power to accept and overcome every obstacle and challenge.
Whether life is joyous or seemingly unjust, God will never give up on us and never fail us. When times are hard and life is horrible we need to focus on Him.
Prayer: Lord, help us to trust in You and on You and know that You will never leave us or forsake us. May we ever seek and sense Your will and way in our lives. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.

Don't Forget What He Looks Like!

Little Danny was proud of his new born brother. Every now and then he would quietly and carefully approach his crib, look down at him and smile.
On one occasion his mother stood watching him from a corner in the nursery while she was folding the baby’s clothes. After a few moments Little Danny said, “Little Brother, before you get too big and forget, please remember what God looks like ‘cause I want you to tell me when you learn to talk.”
Little Danny is not the only one who wants to know what God looks like. Hidden in the heart of everyone, everywhere is the same question. It was planted there by God Himself!
John wrote that “No one has ever seen God.” If this is true, Little Danny is in serious trouble.
But John also wrote that “His only Son, who is Himself God, is near to the father’s heart, and He has revealed God (literally brought Him out) to us.”
Jesus was, and still is, the complete expression of God in human form. Through His life and teachings He revealed God to us so we do, indeed, know what He looks like, acts like and actually thinks like.
And Jesus passed on that “picture” of God to His disciples, and they in turn passed it on to their disciples. So, today, as His disciples, we have the same responsibility that Jesus had: to reveal God to the world through the way we live. What a great privilege!
Prayer: Lord, You have given us a responsibility to make You known to the world. Empower us with Your Spirit to live God-like lives that makes You visible. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: John 1:18 No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.

Mercy. Who Needs It?

Alexander the Great was the first conqueror of the world. Even today, as we recognize leaders who have impacted the world, he is considered as one of the most remarkable men of history.
Late in his life an artist was commissioned to paint a portrait of him. In discussing the content of the painting Alexander informed the artist that he was anxious to conceal the scar on his face.
To accommodate him, the artist painted the portrait of Alexander in a reflective mood with his head resting on his hand and a finger covering the scar. This act of insight and kindness worked perfectly and the scar was hidden. The artist wanted to meet the expectations of Alexander not embarrass him.
That’s love in action – reflecting the mercy of one who honors the needs of others.
The Apostle Peter summed up the behavior that we, as Christians, are to show others: “Most important of all,” he wrote, “continue to show deep love for each other.”
Love is always expressed in showing mercy to those in need. If we say that we have love for others, yet do nothing to help them in their times of need, we do not reflect our appreciation for the compassion that God, through Christ, has shown us.
We can only show our gratitude for the grace of God in our lives by what we do to and for others. Words are not works and our thoughts will not help others.
PrayerHelp us, Lord, to show our gratitude to You for the love, grace and mercy You shower upon us each day, by what we do to help others in their times of need. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: 1 Peter 4:8 And above all things have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins.”

Do Our Words Really Matter?

It was the mid-week prayer service. The crowd was small but the singing loud. The final hymn before the Bible study was “For You I Am Praying.”
A visitor turned to a member of the church who was standing next to him and asked, “For whom are you praying?”
“No one, really,” came the response. “I just came to sing.”
Often the hymns we sing and the words we speak are completely disconnected from the lives we live. Sometimes our faith is so frail that we fail Him.
But if our relationship with God is what He expects it to be and we want it to be, we must give Him our love and our lives, our heads and our hearts, our desires and our dreams. And we must ask Him to empower us, by His grace and goodness, to live lives that will be pleasing to Him.
God’s first expectation of us is that we totally commit our lives to Him. Paul, writing to the Romans said, “I beg you, in view of all that God has done for you, to make a decisive decision to present all that you are or have to God as a living sacrifice – which is only reasonable.”
If we do that – make that decisive decision to surrender our lives to Him – the songs we sing and the words we speak will be consistent with His expectations.
Prayer: Help us, Heavenly Father, to be certain that our walk matches our words and that we behave what we say we believe. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Romans 12:1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.