The R's And The A's

We all know of the significance of the “Three R’s” – Reading, ‘Riting and ‘Rithmatic. They are the foundation for lifelong learning.
But there is also the importance of the “Three A’s” for lifelong success in life. They are “Ability, Attitude and Ambition.” Without recognizing their importance and value, people can “stay stuck” and live mediocre and unproductive lives.
“Ability” comes from the gifts that God has given to each of us. It includes the physical, mental and spiritual potential that He implants in the hearts of those who surrender their lives to Him. It can be seen in the skills and talents He gives to each of us. But they are not gifts to lie dormant. We are obligated to develop them and use them in service to Him.
“Ambition” is the desire to apply the “abilities” that God gives us. It can be seen in the lives of those who are eager to serve and honor Him in their daily activities. Those who truly love Him will always be actively involved in looking for new and different ways to use their “abilities” for Him.
“Attitude” is our disposition toward life. It has to do with how we see God’s world, what is going on around us and what we can do about it. Some look around and say, “I can and will do something about ‘this or that’ with the ‘abilities’ He has given me. I am going to serve Him daily!” Others say, “It’s beyond me. Why try?”

Prayer: Help each of us, Father, to accept the opportunities, and with them, the responsibilities to be faithful to You with all the gifts You have given us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Luke 12:48 For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more.

Not Impossible For God!

Mr. Williams always took great care to encourage his students. Each day he would challenge them to do and be their best.
One Monday morning he decided to begin the week asking each student to share their goals in life.
“Matt,” he asked the sad looking child in the front row, “what do you want to be when you grow up?”
“Possible,” came the forlorn reply.
“What do you mean, ‘possible’, Matt?” he wondered.
“Well,” he said in a hopeless voice, “my Dad’s always saying to me, ‘Son, you are impossible.’ So, someday I want to know what it’s like to be possible, I guess.”
Jesus on many occasions dispelled the “myth of the impossible.” On one occasion He said, “Nothing will be impossible for you.” On another, He promised, “With men this is impossible, but not with God. All things are possible.” Then again He said, “What is impossible with men is possible with God.”
Paul said, “I can do everything with the help of Christ who gives me the strength I need.” And he did! He was a warrior who became the ultimate witness. He was the one who approved the stoning of Stephen yet he became one of God’s most famous saints. He was the one who demonstrated to us that freedom comes from surrendering our plans to the plan that God has for us. He was the one who first proclaimed that forgiveness and eternal life are available to anyone who believes!
Prayer: Help us, Heavenly Father, to look beyond what we are to what we can become when we make ourselves available to Your transforming power. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

The Value Of Commitment

There once was a jockey who lost his first race and felt humiliated. But he did not give up. In fact, he lost his next 250 races before he enjoyed victory. His name? Eddie Arcaro and he became one of the most famous jockeys of his day.
There once was a baseball player who struck out 1,330 times. But he is not remembered for striking out. He is remembered for being one of the greatest home run hitters of all time. His name? Babe Ruth, a true legend in the history of “the game.”
There once was a man who once failed 99 times while doing the same experiment before it turned out right. But he is not remembered for his failures. Thomas Edison is remembered for being one of the world’s greatest inventors and is credited with 1,093 patents and his famous “trial and error” or Edisonian Approach to research: work until “you get the results you are seeking.”
Failure need not be fatal. It can be an important part of our learning process and lead us to ultimately discover the plan that God has in store for each of us.
There once was a man who denied his Lord. He often spoke without thinking, was brash and impulsive, turned his back on Jesus at His trial and even denied Him three times. Yet, he became the recognized leader among the disciples, was one of the “inner three” and became one of the greatest voices of the Gospel Message.
Prayer: We are grateful, Lord, that You will not give up on us as long as we stay close to You and seek Your will for our lives. May we never do less than our best for You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Proverbs 3:1-6 My son, do not forget my law, But let your heart keep my commands For length of days and long life And peace they will add to you.

Faith Or Feelings?

Two best friends were walking home from church. It was a time for laughing and shoulder-nudging. Tim’s Mom looked on approvingly as they enjoyed each other’s company.
Suddenly, Tim caught Alex off-guard – looking in the wrong direction. To his left was a huge mud-puddle. Into the mud went Alex after a two-handed push from Tim.
“Why in the world did you do that, Tim?” asked his mother.
“Well,” came his reply after a moment’s thought, “the devil tricked me!”
“How?” she wondered. After all, they were walking home from church.
“Well,” Tim said after thinking for a moment, “when the devil told me to do it, it felt so good I thought it was the Lord talking to me.”
Scripture, Paul reminds us, is not only inspired by God, but was given to us to teach us “what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It straightens us out and teaches us to do what is right!”
Feelings come and go but they are not facts that we can safely build our lives upon. There are times when our feelings encourage us to do what is right and avoid doing what is wrong. But there are many times when our feelings and emotions are distorted by temptations and could lead us in the wrong direction. That’s why God gave us clearly defined directions to follow.
PrayerGive us a faith, Lord, that is strong enough to take You at Your Word and follow You every day of our lives. May we accept and follow Your guidance. In Jesus’ Name, Amen
Scripture for Today: 2 Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,

How A Child Spells Love

Children have a special way of spelling love. And it only includes one letter from the word, love. Children spell love: T-I-M-E! They hunger for our companionship more than any other gift we can give them. No amount of toys, pets, gifts or devices can take the place of Sunday school teachers or youth leaders. Time shared with a child is an opportunity to make a difference in eternity – if the time is God-honoring.
Not long ago, while visiting with an executive, we were talking about the importance of helping children become who God would have them to be. Suddenly, he interrupted our conversation and called his secretary on the intercom and said, “I’ve decided to spend more time with my children. See how you can fit them into my schedule.”
The writer of Proverbs saw it quite differently. He very clearly stated that we are to, “Train up a child in the way he should go,” and in keeping with his individual gifts “and he will not depart from them.” God has given each child a particular set of skills or gifts or abilities that are in keeping with the plan He has for their life. Parents and Christian leaders are responsible to God to recognize the potential and future that He has “locked-up” within each child.
Parents and Christian leaders are obligated to God to “train” children to fulfill the plans He has for them. We are accountable to Him to follow His directions.
Prayer: We often cringe, Father, from what we see in the lives of children who do not know You – yet do little to help them. Burden us to work with You to save them. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.

The Eye Of The Beholder

Michelangelo’s statue David is considered to be one of the most beautiful sculptures in the world. Many believe it is his most noteworthy accomplishment. Few know its unpromising beginning.
The block of marble from which he fashioned David had been disfigured by another artist. After attempting to “make” something from the marble, he cast it aside as “worthless” and having no potential.
But Michelangelo was not discouraged when he looked at the rejected mass of marble. While another saw only flaws, he saw a future locked up inside a piece of cold, rejected rock that was colored with irregular markings.
There is an important lesson for each of us here. Paul wrote, “Those who become Christians become new persons!” When we accept Christ as our Savior and Lord, He starts a “work” on the inside that will manifest itself on the outside. Through Him we become brand-new people from the life that is given to us by the Holy Spirit. We are not the same people we once were. God looked at us, saw the potential in us, and began to form us into the likeness of Christ. We are not re-formed, or reshaped, we are, in fact, re-created – even re-invented!
Michelangelo was ultimately limited by the size and shape of the block of marble and his vision. But as new persons in Christ we are only limited by the limits we place on God and what He can do through us!
Prayer: We pray, Father, that our minds and hearts will be open to the limitless potential we have through You. May we grow into the likeness of Christ through Your Holy Spirit. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: 2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

Refuse To Be Discouraged

Dr. Jonas Salk, one of the world’s foremost microbiologists, was the first person to discover and develop a vaccine against polio. It was not an easy process and took years.
Once he said, “Ideas come to me as they do to everyone else. But I take each one of them seriously, consider them carefully, examine them thoroughly and study them endlessly. I do not allow anyone to discourage me, though many try.”
For the Christian, discouragement overcomes us when we are no longer aware of the presence of God in our lives, become unconcerned for the plans He has for our lives, refuse to believe that He will provide for our every need and doubt that He will fulfill the promises He has made in His Word.
God told Moses to “be strong and very study and obey His law...” and then, and only then, could he count on being successful. Why? Because then, and only then, could he count on God to be with him, protect him and empower him wherever he went.
God wanted Moses to know, understand, believe and accept the fact that it was important for him to be obedient and follow “all that is written.” He also wanted him to know that faithfulness to God is not a guarantee that he would be successful in the eyes of the world. God did, however, assure Him that He would be successful in His eyes and that type of success lasts throughout eternity.
Prayer: Thank You, Heavenly Father, for assuring us of Your presence and power in our lives if we obey Your Word. Give us strength and courage as we follow You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Joshua 1:9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Lunch Box Religion

In a “Peanuts” comic strip, Linus carefully listened to Lucy as she boasted about her religious zeal. She wanted him to think that she was all about witnessing to others.
“You know, Linus,” she bragged, “I could be a terrific evangelist. Do you know the kid that sits behind me in school? I convinced him that my religion was better than his religion!”
“How did you do that?” he asked.
“I hit him with my lunch box until he gave in,” she replied.
Jesus said, “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” Jesus knew that love would work better than a lunch box!
Biblical love must never be confused with warm, fuzzy feelings or emotional ups and downs. Biblical love is a love that would open ones lunch box to someone who is hungry and in need of food even though the lunch box owner would have to do without food. It is a love that may cause us to give until we ourselves have to do without. It is a love that will, at times, drain us of energy and finances to help those who are victims of wrongdoing through no fault of their own. It is a love that absorbs the hurts of others without complaining or holding back when we think that we are being taken advantage of. It is a kind of love that is hard to do. But it is the kind of love we see revealed in the life of Jesus.
Prayer: We see in Your Son, Father, the ultimate definition of love – a love that had or has no limits or draws no lines. Fill our hearts with a love like Your Son. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: John 13:35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

You Can't Stay Where You Are

Someone once described life as an “incline.” If we are not continually going up, we will certainly slip downward. We can never stay where we are. And when we falter and fall, it is what we do that makes a difference.
Years ago I heard of a tombstone that contained the words, “He died climbing.” What a profound statement a loved one had made about him. Imagine what we might all accomplish for God if our lives were invested in moving upward and forward in love and service to Him!
When Jesus was telling His disciples about His return He said, “Stand straight and look up for your salvation is near!” He wanted His followers to focus on what they had to look forward to – not what was going on around them. Focusing on what is going on around us will cause us to lose sight of what is before us – the hope of being with our Savior in heaven!
If we only focus on the tragedies and troubles that surround us, we will find a cause of worry and fear, doubt and despair. But if we embrace the joy of living in and through our Savior and Lord, we will find a peace that passes all understanding and the comfort that come from knowing that God is in control.
As believers we can look forward to the return of our Lord and His reign of justice and peace. Rather than fearing what is going on around us, we must constantly, continually and confidently look forward to Christ’s return and the hope we have of being with Him forever!
Prayer: Heavenly Father, help us to keep our eyes and minds on You and not the things in this world. Give us strength and courage to go forward every day of our lives. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Luke 21:28 Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.”

How To Be Happy Always

Long time comedian Jimmy Durante was rushing from one performance to another. He had only a few minutes to spare, but a friend asked him to “take a moment” and say a few words to a group of veterans in a hospital.
Walking into a ward, he went through a brief routine of his favorite jokes. The crowd applauded loudly and cheered for more. He told a few more jokes and the applause and cheers became louder and longer. The soldiers were thoroughly enjoying every word he spoke and every joke he shared. Instead of a greeting and “taking a few moments,” he ended up staying for thirty minutes. Finally, he had to leave.
As he was exiting the ward his manager asked, “What happened? You said you only had a few moments and you stayed for half an hour.”
“I really needed to leave,” said Durante. “But I want to show you the two men in the front row. See those two men? Look carefully at them.”
When his manager looked at the two men, he noticed that one had lost his right arm and the other had lost his left arm in combat. But, working together they were able to clap: one’s right hand reached out to the other’s left hand and together they were able to register their delight for the entertainer taking time to be with them.
Happiness does not spring from an empty heart. It comes from sharing the gifts God gives us with others!
Prayer: Help us, Father, to be as generous to others as You have been to each of us. May we always share the gifts You have given us with others. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 106:3 Blessed are those who keep justice, And he who does righteousness at all times!

Do It Right The First Time!

The class was excited to meet their new art teacher. Waiting expectantly for their first assignment, the teacher stood before the class and said, “I want each of you to draw a square, a triangle and a rectangle. And I want you to do your best.”
After a few minutes she began to walk among the students and observe their work. Pausing to look at the work Bobby was doing she noticed that his lines were not straight.
“Look, Bobby,” she said, “that line isn’t straight.”
“I know,” he admitted, “but I can straighten it later.”
“Bobby,” she replied, “a straight line never needs to be straightened. Do it right the first time!”
The Psalmist wrote, “I have chosen to be faithful; I have determined to live by your law.” In this psalm the author reveals two critical decisions: first, to be faithful to God’s laws and, secondly, not be deterred from being faithful by being fully committed to keeping God’s laws. He said, “I am determined!”
God has given each of us the wonderful gift of choice. In this psalm, the author said that he made a decision that would guide every decision he would ever make.
If our decisions are based on the teachings of God’s Word, we will not need to go back and “straighten the lines.” May His Word light our paths and guide our steps.
Prayer: We pray, Lord, that we will surrender our lives completely to You and think the truth, speak the truth, live the truth and do things right the first time. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 119:30 I have chosen the way of truth; Your judgments I have laid before me.

No Enemies Yet, Pastor

Six-year-old George listened very attentively to his pastor’s sermon. As he and his father were leaving church he said, “Pastor, I heard you say that I should love my enemies. I’m only six and I don’t have any. But I hope to have some next year when I’m seven.”
Individuals tend to become enemies when they cannot agree on an issue or a course of action or a goal. The differences become insurmountable, positions harden and opinions become set in stone. We might say with certainty that we “make” our enemies. Unfortunately once we “make” an enemy that “enemy” usually lasts a lifetime.
On the other hand, friendships are formed when individuals have common likes and dislikes, goals and values. There are “common denominators” that draw them together and a sense of mutual trust. And we read in Proverbs, “A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in times of need.”
Perhaps the greatest part of friendship is loyalty – standing with or alongside of someone when they are enduring times of distress or disappointment, sickness or struggles that never seem to end. When there are “calm seas and gentle winds” carrying us along life’s journey, we can pretty much make it on our own.
But when the waves are crashing and the winds are howling – that’s when we discover the true meaning of friendship and loyalty. There seems to be nothing as valuable as a friend. We need to make more – not enemies!
Prayer: Help us, Lord, to reach out and make friends with those who are our sisters and brothers in Christ so that we may grow together in loyalty and service. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Proverbs 17:17 A friend loves at all times, And a brother is born for adversity.

Anyone Can Be A Quitter

His lifelong ambition was to play professional football. Finally the day was scheduled for him to try out before the coaches of the San Diego Chargers. But on the day before the try out, Dale lost both of his legs and several fingers in an explosion.
Sixty long days after the explosion, he was discharged from the hospital. As he was wheeled from his room to a waiting car, he looked at the two “stubs” that were now his legs and his right hand that had only a thumb and little finger remaining.
He could have given up in disappointment, gone on welfare and received a lifelong disability. But he didn’t.
He could have focused on everything he lost in the explosion and chosen to live a life of anger and hatred. But he didn’t.
He could have become filled with resentment for those who made the team that year and were hailed as heroes. But he didn’t.
Instead of giving up or becoming angry and hateful or filled with resentment, he challenged himself with the realty that “Anyone can become a quitter. But I’m going to become the greatest insurance salesman my company has ever seen!” And he did.
Paul said, “I can really know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised Him from the dead.”
Fortunately, that same power is available today for Christians who choose to use that power to glorify Him.
Prayer: Help us, Heavenly Father, to accept the challenges You bring into our lives as opportunities to trust in Your power to accomplish great things for You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Philippians 3:10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death,

The Gifts of Ancestors

It was a luncheon for art collectors in New York City. Only the affluent were invited to attend. One lady sitting next to a rabbi asked, “Did you know that one of my ancestors signed the Declaration of Independence?”
“No, I did not,” he replied. “And did you know that one of mine signed the Ten Commandments?”
Tracing ancestors back hundreds of years has become an interesting hobby for many individuals. The idea of knowing one’s relatives and where they came from is interesting, and at times fascinating. And for some, it is a reason for pride while others are embarrassed.
Many parents take great pride in telling their children about their ancestors; who they were, where they came from and what they accomplished. But, no doubt, there are far more who cannot tell where their children were last night or what they were doing.
The Psalmist said, “How happy are those who fear the Lord – and follow His ways!” This psalm clearly describes the benefits and blessings that God grants a family that follows His teachings and honors Him in all that they do. His values described in this psalm include love, service, honesty, integrity and prayer. They are the essential elements for every healthy relationship – especially family relationships that last into eternity. 
The greatest legacy parents can leave their children is one of family Bible-reading, praying and church going.

Prayer: Father, we pray that all families everywhere will place You and Your Word at the center of their home and honor You with family worship and praise. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 128

The Resurrection

“Lo, there was a great earthquake, for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled away the stone and sat upon it; his appearance was as lightening and his clothes were as white as snow. For fear of him, the guards trembled and became as dead men.
“And the angel said to the women, “Be not afraid. I know that you seek Jesus of Nazareth who was crucified. He is risen. He is not here. Why seek the living among the dead? Remember how He spoke to you while He was still in Galilee, saying, ‘The Son of Man must be delivered up into the hands of sinful man and be crucified and on the third day rise again.’ Come now and see that place where He lay. (Then they remembered His words.)”
“Go quickly and tell His disciples and Peter that He is risen from the dead, and lo, He goes before you into Galilee. There, you will see Him as He told you.”
“Some went away with fear and trembling and said nothing because they were afraid. Others went away quickly with fear and great joy and ran to tell the disciples.”
Prayer: Father, how grateful we are for Your victory over death and the assurance of eternal life with You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Mark 16, Matthew 28, Luke 24

Believe - Expect - Receive

The season was nearly half way over and Pete Rose was on a hitting streak. A reporter asked for an interview following a difficult loss. He said to Rose, “You need 78 hits to break Ty Cobb’s record. How many times at bat will you need to get 78 hits?”
“Seventy-eight,” came his quick reply.
“Come on,” said the reporter. “You don’t expect to get 78 hits in 78 times at bat, do you?”
“Every time I step up to the plate,” said Rose, “I expect to get a hit! If I don’t expect to get a hit, I have no right to step in the batter’s box.”
As he was in playing baseball, so ought we be in our prayer life! Every time we go to the Lord in prayer we must learn to expect results. Otherwise, why pray?
Jesus said, “If you ask anything in my name, I will do it for you so that the Father’s glory will be shown through the Son.” Expecting results in prayer could not be explained more clearly! If we ask in His name, He will grant our requests.
The problem, then, seems to be either/or. Either our prayers are not consistent with what is included in the “name” of Jesus or we are not asking. To “ask in His name” means that our prayer requests are consistent with What and Who Jesus represented. If when I pray, I know that God cannot and will not be able to bless what I am asking for, or if my request will not honor and glorify Him, I cannot expect Him to grant my request when I pray.
Prayer: Help us, Heavenly Father, to understand what it means to “ask in Your name” so that when we pray in faith believing, we can expect Your blessings. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: John 14:13 And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.

"Why Do Something For Others?"

Alfred Adler is known as one of the “founding fathers” of modern psychology. He is remembered mostly for his analysis of the impact of birth order on personality and what he called his “Fourteen-Day Cure Plan.”
He claimed that his plan could cure anyone of mental illness in just fourteen days if they would just do exactly as he told them to do. One day a woman who was extremely depressed came to see him. He told her, “I can cure you of your depression in just fourteen days if you will follow my advice.”
“What do you want me to do?” she asked.
“If you will do one thing for someone else every day for fourteen days, at the end of that time your depression will be gone,” he told her.
She objected, “Why should I do something for someone else when no one ever does anything for me?”
Jokingly he responded, “Well, maybe it will take you twenty-one days.” He knew that if she did something for someone she would be on her way toward improving her mental condition and “curing” her depression.
Paul said that we are to “share each other’s problems and troubles.” Christians must never develop an attitude that entertains the idea that we are excused from the task of helping others. It is sometimes difficult to think of “service before self.” But that is the way Jesus lived and died. As His disciples, can we do less?
Prayer: Lord, may we move from an attitude of self-centeredness to one of other-centeredness and see, hear, feel and meet the needs of others as You did. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Galatians 6:2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

Is It How Long Or How Well?

Most people who know a little about the Bible at least know that Methuselah lived to be 969 years old. Some might even know that he was the son of Enoch and the grandfather of Noah. Even though we know that he walked and talked, we have no idea where he walked or who he might have walked with or even what he talked about. All we know is that he walked and talked.
Imagine holding the world record for having more birthdays than anyone else who ever lived but being remembered for nothing else but walking and talking.
According to the Bible, Methuselah lived when the earth was full of wickedness. Everywhere he walked, he was surrounded by sin and sinners. But he never mentioned a word about God or God’s grace. In fact, he had nothing to do with God.
Imagine the influence he could have had on the multitudes of individuals whom he must have seen or talked with. Consider what he might have done for God if he had followed in the footsteps of his father. Enoch, Scripture tells us, “enjoyed a close relationship with God throughout all of his life – then he suddenly disappeared because God took him!”
Methuselah lived almost three times as long as his father, Enoch. Yet, when he died, he left no legacy of having made a difference for God or for good. In the final analysis, it is not how long we live but whether or not we enjoy a close relationship with God and honor Him.
Prayer: Help each of us, Father, to recognize the importance of living and walking for and with You. May our lives reflect Your love and salvation each day we live. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Genesis 5:21 Enoch lived sixty-five years, and begot Methuselah.

Be Who God Wants You To Be

When Bill Robinson joined the New York Yankees, he was introduced as the “new Mickey Mantle.” He tried desperately to live up to that title, and in the process, he failed.
After being traded from one team to another, he ended up with the Pittsburgh Pirates. The coach came to him one day and said, “Bill, stop trying to be Mickey Mantle. Be yourself!
When he did, he became a star.
Paul wrote, “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.”
In His infinite wisdom, God created each of us to be different from every other person who has ever lived. So, when we try to act, be like or think like another person we are, in fact, abandoning the plan that He has designed especially for us.
When we accept the fact that God has “transformed” us into new persons, that makes life so very exciting for the Christian. Imagine the limitless possibilities that become ours as a result of allowing God to change the way we think! New thoughts will result in our eyes being opened to see the limitless opportunities that God has designed for each of us that only we can do.
We limit God’s power in our lives when we refuse to allow Him to transform our minds. Transformed minds always result in transformed lives that are truly unique.
Prayer: Father, we pause in a moment of humility to consider the fact that You have a special plan for each of us. May we be willing to change our minds and follow You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Romans 12:2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

Why Not Your Best?

A well-dressed gentleman stepped from a taxi cab in New York whistling half-heartedly as he collected his briefcase and umbrella. A newsboy, just a few feet away, listened for a brief moment and said, “You’re not much of a whistler are you? Listen to how good I am!”
When the newsboy finished, he asked the gentleman, “Can you do better?”
“Indeed I can,” came the reply. The man was an expert whistler who was in New York for a performance. And then he whistled his very best to the astonishment of the young newsboy.
Puzzled, the young boy looked at him and then asked, “Why were you doing so poorly when you got out of the cab?”
Solomon wrote the book of Ecclesiastes to challenge God’s followers to live lives with meaning and purpose. “Whatever you do,” he wrote, “do well!” He very clearly and convincingly encourages us to enjoy life as a gift from God and to focus on doing our very best – always, If you are a whistler, whistle the best you can all of the time – not only during a “performance” in front of an audience. After all, we are all “performing” whatever we do before God our Creator. We are always on “stage” demonstrating our gratitude for the gifts He’s given us.
We must always be aware of the fact that no matter where we are or what we are doing we are responsible to bring honor and glory to God. We must always “do well.”
Prayer: Lord of our lives, it is never what we have, but what we do with what You have given us. May we do our best with each of the gifts You have given us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Ecclesiastes 9:10 Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might;

Hiding "What Is"

In ancient Greece the theaters had no scenery and the actors wore no costumes. To portray a character, however, they carried hand-held masks which they would place in front of their faces. It was designed to portray the character of the person in the role they were playing. They would walk onto the stage, mask in hand, and when speaking, hold it before their face.
The word hypocrisy, as we know it today, had its roots in the Greek word hupokrisis. It meant “acting a part in a play or feigning to be what one is not.” In other words, a hypocrite is one who wears a “mask” to hide their real identity.
John addressed hypocrisy when he wrote, “If someone says I belong to God, but doesn’t obey God’s commandments, that person is a liar and does not live in the truth.” Strong words that leave no “wiggle room.”
True Christian faith results in consistent Christian living. John the apostle confronted all of us because Christian faith results in Christian living and Christian service.
If we profess to be “Christian” but do not demonstrate Christ like behavior in “word and deed,” we are wearing a mask to present ourselves as someone other than who we truly are. We are “feigning” to be who we are not.
John encourages us to look at our behavior in the light of God’s Word. He says candidly that “the way we act gives us the assurance that we belong to Christ!”
Prayer: Father, we are all capable of hiding who we truly are from others. But we cannot hide ourselves from You. May we come out of hiding and be truly Christians. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: 1 John 2:4 He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.

Facing The Enemy

Sometime ago, the DENVER POST reported a most unusual incident. A rancher, Ms. Lexy, of Montana, was losing many of her lambs to coyotes that roamed her pastures. She tried every suggestion that her friends and fellow ranchers made but nothing solved the problem. Nothing she tried protected her lambs.
One day, quite by accident, she read an article that described llamas as afraid-of-nothing animals. The article reported that “when the llamas see something, they put up their heads and walk straight toward it.” She decided to purchase some and place them in her pastures.
And it worked! When the llamas saw the coyotes, they walked straight toward them, heads held high and frightened them so much that they ran away.
Is there a lesson here for the Christian? It seems that there is.
What would happen in this sin-hardened world if, when we Christians recognized someone or something that was destroying lives or the very fabric of society, we would face it bravely, walk into it confidently and with God’s power expose its dangers? Sadly, we have surrendered our convictions to “being politically correct” and fearful of “offending” the enemy and expecting politicians to do God’s work. We have retreated hastily because we no longer choose “to resist the devil and he will flee.”
Prayer: Convict us, Lord, for being weak and fearful in the face of the enemy. Empower us with Your Holy Spirit and the strength of Your Word to battle Satan. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: James 4:7 Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.

What To Admire In Someone

Alan was sitting at the table in the kitchen looking out of the window. His mother noticed that he was in deep thought by the puzzled look on his face. Finally she said, “Son, is there something I can help you with?”
After a moment’s thought he said, “Please, Mom. My teacher asked us to write a paper on ‘The Person I Admire Most’ and I’m writing about you. So I have to think about it for a while.”
Peter told us about the person he most admired. “Christ,” he wrote, “is our example. Follow His steps. He never sinned and He never deceived anyone. He did not retaliate when He was insulted. When He suffered He did not threaten to get even. He left His case in the hands of God Who always judges fairly...He carried away our His own body...and He is the Shepherd whom we can follow.”
Not only is Christ someone for us to admire, but as Peter said, “someone whose example we can follow.” Yet, even a casual look at the list of the qualities of Jesus is enough to cause us to feel as though He set the bar too high. It is more than we can handle.
And, humanly speaking that is true. Fortunately, however, the power of Christ is available to us so that if we choose to do so, we can live life as He did. Paul said, “ all things through Christ.” That includes no retaliation, no threats, no judging and being a shepherd to those around us who need Someone to follow.
Prayer: Admiring You, Heavenly Father, is not enough. If we are truly Your disciples, we must not only admire You, but serve You faithfully every day. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: 1 Peter 2:21-25 For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us[b] an example, that you should follow His steps:

Is It The End or The Beginning?

Two men met for prayer early one morning. After reading a passage of Scripture they knelt in prayer. Said the first, “Lord, it’s hard for me to pray. You know that I am at the end of all my resources. I have nothing left.”
Upon hearing his brokenness, his prayer partner put his arm around his shoulder and said softly, “How wonderful! Now you are at the beginning of God’s resources.”
Mark’s Gospel has an interesting story about a ruler and his resources. It reminds us of the importance and necessity of eternal values rather than earthly riches.
Jesus, in speaking of the emphasis we place on money said, “People with wealth will have a difficult time in getting into heaven.” In astonishment His disciples asked, “Well, if money won’t get us into heaven, what will?”
Calmly He replied, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But not with God. Everything is possible with God.”
Material possessions and our desire to acquire them tend to fix our hearts on the things of this world. When this happens, we lose sight of what is truly valuable: our relationship with God. He becomes unimportant.
For many, it is easier to pass the test of adversity than the test of prosperity. Prosperity places the focus on ourselves while adversity proves our need for God.
Prayer: Help us to realize, Lord, that without placing our trust in Your saving power and the redeeming love of God, we will never be with You in heaven! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Matthew 19:26 But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

Now Or Never

A soldier was assigned the responsibility of driving a senator from the airport to a military installation. Between the baggage claim area and the vehicle he noticed an elderly lady struggling to pull her suitcase behind her. He immediately went to her rescue and pulled the suitcase until they met her waiting family. He then paused to help a young mother secure her child in a stroller. After that he helped a man who was having a difficult time opening the door to the restroom.
Impressed, the senator asked, “How is it that you see so many people who need help and immediately go to their rescue?”
After a moment of silence he replied quietly, “During my tour of duty in Vietnam it was my job to clear minefields. I never knew if my next step would be my last. It was there that I learned to get the most out of every moment because, in life, it’s now or never.”
Paul summed it up this way: “Share each other’s troubles and problems because if you do so you will obey the law of Christ.” We, as Christians, have a responsibility to God and to anyone we know who is faced with a difficult situation to help them. It can be as simple as opening a door or as complex as helping them through the loss of a loved one.
The size of the problem does not matter to God. It is the willingness of His children to help those in need.
Prayer: We pray, Lord, for eyes that see the needs of others, ears that hear the cries of others, a heart that is open to others and hands that are willing to help others. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Galatians 6:2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

Facing Reality

Linus approached Charlie Brown in a comic strip and boldly asked, “Charlie Brown, do you want to know what the trouble is with you?”
“No,” he answered.
“That’s the trouble with you, Charlie Brown,” screamed Linus. “You don’t want to know what the trouble is with you!”
Charlie Brown is not the only one with that problem.
Few want to hear or accept the fact that “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” But that does not change anything.
To refuse to hear something does not mean that it was not said. And if we deny something it does not mean that it is not true. Sin is sin and it comes in all sizes and shapes, colors and containers, with many options and countless opportunities.
We all seem to have a Charlie Brown attitude. Few want to admit that we have broken God’s laws or that we have refused to follow the teachings of Jesus. But Paul said all have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory. That includes each and every one of us.
Denying the fact of sin will not keep us from sinning nor eliminate the penalty that comes from being disobedient to God. No one is foolish enough to believe that if they deny the reality of death, they will live forever. We must all admit and accept what is: “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life!”

Prayer: Open our hearts, Father, to the truths in Your Word and reality of sin and salvation. May we look to You in faith, believing that You alone can save us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Romans 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

The Best Ability Is Dependability

“Old Faithful” is a faithful geyser. It is not the biggest geyser or the highest spouting geyser. But it is the most popular geyser. Why? Because it is dependable.
“Old Faithful” received its name in 1870 by a group of explorers who stood in awe as it spewed its water nearly 200 feet into the air. But they were more amazed when they recognized that it erupted every ninety-one minutes. For that reason it became recognized as the most predictable geographical feature on earth by geologists and other scientists.
Being dependable is essential – especially for the Christian. The Psalmist wrote, “Help, O Lord, for the godly are fast disappearing! The faithful have vanished from the earth!”
The Christian can always count on God’s faithfulness. His Word reveals that time and time again: If He said it, He did it. And because of that fact we can have faith in Him and can always count on Him.
But the question He asks of us is this: Can I always count on you? Will you be faithful to Me in your daily walk? Can I depend on you to honor Me in all things? As the Psalmist asked, “Because the godly are fast disappearing...and the faithful have vanished?”
Can He depend on us? What a sad statement! God is not seeking famous people but faithful people. More than any ability He has given us, He wants our dependability and faithfulness.
Prayer: We know, Father, that if You are first in our lives You will find us faithful to You, Your Word and Your ways. May You find us dependable at all times. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture: Psalm 12:1 Help,  LORD, for no one is faithful anymore; those who are loyal have vanished from the human race. 


Not long ago a pastor came to visit me. At the beginning of our conversation he appeared to be excited about life and his ministry. But the longer we talked the more discouraged he became. Finally, in tears he said, “I don’t know what to do. I work so hard, study for hours, visit my members and the visitors who come to our church, but nothing is happening. My work and life are not producing any visible results.”
“Let me ask you a question,” I said. “Do you expect to see results every time you preach or visit or pray?”
“No,” came a solemn, quiet reply.
“That may be the problem,” I said.
Jesus said, “For this reason I am telling you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe (trust and be confident) that it is granted to you and you will (get it).” When we pray believingly and live expectantly our work will reflect His results. We have His promise!
There is one condition, however, that we must be aware of: When we pray we must have faith in God not in ourselves or in the object of our prayer. If we focus on the object and it is not granted to us, we will be left empty handed and not able to see God at work in our lives. His answer may be different from our expectations.
When Jesus prayed He said, “It’s all possible – but I want Your will.” He had God’s interests – not His – as the focus of His prayers and expectations. His will must always be first and foremost if we expect His blessings.
Prayer: Father, we know that no goal is too great or request too ridiculous if what we ask will honor You. May our motives be pure and our heart’s desires, Yours. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture: Mark 11:24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.