The Value Of A "Deaf Ear"

Matt came home from school with a note from his teacher. He had misbehaved in class, and the teacher wanted his mother to know what he had done. 

After reading the note, his mother said, “Son, why did you trip James as he was walking to his desk?” 

“It wasn’t my idea, Mom. It was Donald’s,” he responded quickly. 

“Now, Matt, you know that Donald can’t make you do anything,” replied his mother.  

“Well,” he said after a moment’s thought, “it must have been the devil that made me do it.”  

“Son, shame on you. You know that when the devil tempts you, it is important to turn a deaf ear,” she admonished him. 

He put one finger in his left ear and listened to the sound coming from the TV and shook his head. Then he put a finger in his right ear and listened to the sound once again. After a moment, he looked up at his Mom and said smilingly, “Mom, I don’t have a deaf ear.” 

Temptation comes at us from every direction all of the time. It could be something we see or hear or think we would enjoy. But James had the best answer and the surest way to end being tempted: “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw close to God and God will draw close to you.” Such a simple solution that it is almost unbelievable! 

But it is neither simple nor unbelievable. Getting close to God requires time, effort, and energy. And God knows, the devil will fight us for each of them. 

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, help us to take control of our time and our lives by “seeking first the Kingdom of God.” May we begin each day with Your Word and prayer. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today:  Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw close to God and God will draw close to you. James 4:7-8  

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Rules And Records

Greg was having a difficult time doing his homework, knowing that his favorite sports program was on TV. “Mom,” he asked, “can I just this once watch TV before I do my homework?” 

“You know the rules,” came her quick reply. “No TV until your homework is finished!” 

“But, Mom,” he protested, “rules are made to be broken.” 

“No,” she said, “records are made to be broken!” 

“OK, Mom,” he said, “then what’s the record for the most rules ever broken?”  

Paul spoke of a rule he honored and respected to achieve a record he wanted to set for God. “I keep working toward that day when I will finally be all that Christ Jesus saved me for and wants me to be.” After his conversion, he lived his life for one purpose: to use all of his energies, all of his gifts, and all of his time to become who God wanted him to be and fulfill the purpose that God had planned for Him! 

As Christ’s disciples, we must never allow anything or anyone to cause us to take our eyes off of the goal that God has for each of us: to be and become all that He has saved us for. Paul lived his life as though he were in training to compete in and win an athletic contest. He allowed nothing to interfere with his “training.” If something was harmful or distracting in his life, he would turn from it and not allow anything to distract him from his goal. 

Prayer:  Father, empower us with Your Holy Spirit to live to achieve the goal You have set for each of us. May we be committed to being who You want us to be. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

Scripture For Today:  I keep working toward that day when I will finally be all that Christ Jesus saved me for and wants me to be. Philippians 3:12 

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Giving And Receiving

It was well past midnight. There were few travelers, and the weather was nearly unbearable with driving rains and freezing temperatures. A woman stood beside her broken-down car, trying to flag down someone going into the city. 

Finally, a motorist stopped and invited the woman, who was soaking wet and trembling with chills, into his car. He took her to a taxi stand, and as she hurriedly exited from his car, she took time to ask him to write down his name and address. 

A week later, he received a giant TV and stereo with a note that read: “Thank you for assisting me. Because of your kindness, I was able to make it to my dying husband’s bedside just before he passed away. God bless you. Mrs. Nat King Cole.” 

Nearly a thousand years before Jesus was born, Solomon wrote, “Give generously, for your gifts will return to you later.” In his wisdom, he summarized an essential fact of life for all of us: Life involves risk and opportunity and has no guarantees. 

However, Solomon encouraged us to seize the moment to do good for others. He certainly did not support a stingy, self-centered lifestyle. Even though we do not know what may happen tomorrow, he would urge us to share with others whatever we have “at the moment,” and learn to trust in God for tomorrow.  

We show our love for and trust in God when we give to others. 

Prayer:  Help us, Lord, to realize we have so much we do not deserve. May our hearts be as open to meet the needs of others as much as Your heart is open to us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

Scripture For Today: Give generously, for your gifts will return to you later. Ecclesiastes 11:1

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Theories And Realities

A mother recently said, “Before I had children I read every book I could on how to raise them. I must have developed at least a hundred theories on how I should bring them up and train them. Now, after raising seven children, I have only two: Love them even when they least deserve love, and hold them accountable for everything they do - even when it hurts.” 

That sounds like advice that would come from God - not only about how we are to raise our children, but how He “raises” His children. 

Everyone needs love - especially the type of love that has its source in God. His love is a love that is undeserved, fair, just, essential, and life-giving. It is a love that may require a self-sacrificial act for the good of anyone who God brings into our lives - whether a family member, friend, or someone who enters our life for a brief moment. It is a way of acting “with grace and mercy” toward another person rather than a feeling that may be fleeting and short-lived. 

But there is also a need for accountability - being responsible, first to God and then to others to share His love. Although God has given each of us the freedom of choice, we are also responsible to Him for each and every choice we make. Whatever we do and wherever we do it, we are accountable to Him to show His love. When we are born again, we are changed from the inside out, and obligated to live His love, show His grace and demonstrate His mercy. 

Prayer:  Your Word, Lord, clearly states that others will know that we are Your disciples if we show them Your love. Help each of us to accept and fulfill this obligation. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

Scripture For Today: If you love each other, all men will know you are My followers. John 13:35 

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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. 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, emotional, 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?” Which are you? The choice is yours. 

Prayer:  Help each of us, Father, to accept life’s opportunities, and with them, the obligation to be faithful to You with all the gifts You have given us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

Scripture For Today:  The man who receives much will have to give much. If much is given to a man to take care of, men will expect to get more from him. Luke 12:48

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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 student 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.” One another occasion 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 surrender – by exchanging our pursuits for God’s and our plans to the plan that God has for us. He is 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 if we make ourselves available to Your transforming power. Help us to “do it!” In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

Scripture For Today: I can do all things because Christ gives me the strength. Philippians 4:13 

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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 his first 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 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. He 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 essential part of our learning process and lead us to ultimately discover the plan that God has in store for each of us. 

There was a man who abandoned his Lord. He often spoke without thinking, was brash and impulsive, turned his back on Jesus at His trial, and denied Him three times. Yet, he became the recognized leader among the disciples, was one of the “inner three,” a remarkable preacher and writer, and became one of the greatest voices of the Gospel Message. His name? Peter!  

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 always do our best for You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

Scripture For Today: Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not trust in your own understanding. Agree with Him in all your ways, and He will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:1-6 

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Should It Be 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!” No small challenge! 

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, unfortunately, there are many times when our feelings and emotions are distorted by temptations and will lead us in the wrong direction. That’s why God gave us clearly defined directions to follow in our relationships with others. We can find them in His Word if we look.  

Prayer:  Give us 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: All the Holy Writings are God-given and are made alive by Him. Man is helped when he is taught God’s Word. It shows what is wrong. It changes the way of a man’s life. It shows him how to be right with God. 2 Timothy 3:16 

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How A Child Spells Love

Children have a unique 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 parents. 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 discussing 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. “I’ve decided to spend more time with my children. See how you can fit them into my schedule,” he shouted. 

The writer of Proverbs saw it quite differently. He very clearly stated that we are obligated to “Train up a child in the way he or she should go,” and in keeping with the child’s unique gifts. If parents do this, the child will not depart from the teachings of God. Parents are responsible to God to recognize the potential God places in their children and the future that He has “locked-up” within each child. When parents fail to do this, they disobey God. 

Parents - and Christian leaders – have an incredible opportunity and are obligated to God to “train” children to fulfill the plans He has for them. We dare not disappoint either. 

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. Help us to train them correctly. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

Scripture For Today: Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6  

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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 chisel 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!  

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 You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

Scripture For Today: This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! 2 Corinthians 5:17  

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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. We 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 rely 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 imperative for him to be obedient and follow “all that is written.” Additionally, he wanted him to know that faithfulness to God is not a guarantee that he would be successful in the “eyes” of the world. Why? God defines “success” differently than the world does. God did, however, assure him that if he was faithful to the challenges He set before, he would be successful in His sight. In the end, it is God’s blessings and approval that define real success.  

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:  This is my command - be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9  

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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 being beaten with a lunch box! 

Biblical love must never be confused with warm, fuzzy feelings or emotional ups and downs. Biblical love is a love that opens one’s 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 causes us to give until we 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 poverty 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 love that is “hard to do” because it is a love that comes from God, and we see in His love, a sacrificial, “other’s needs come first” kind of love.  

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 love like Your Son’s. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

Scripture For Today: Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples. John 13:35   

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You Can't Stay Where You Are

Someone once described life as an “incline.” If we are not continually going up, we will undoubtedly 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 dedicated to 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. Concentrating on what is going on around us will cause us to lose sight of what is before us - the joy we have in our relationship with Christ! 

If we only focus on the tragedies and troubles, pains and problems that surround us, we will find an excuse to 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 comes 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 of this world. Give us strength and courage to go forward every day of our lives. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

Scripture For Today: So when all these things begin to happen, stand and look up, for your salvation is near! Luke 21:28  

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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 the hospital 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 need. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

Scripture For Today: There is joy for those who deal justly with others and always do what is right. Psalm 106:3  

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Do It Right The First Time!

The class was excited to meet the 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, second, not to be deterred from being faithful and fully committed to keeping God’s commandments. He said emphatically, “I am determined!”  

God has given each of us the wonderful gift of choice. In this psalm, the author said that he made one decision that would guide every other decision he would ever make. 

If our decisions are grounded in the teachings of God’s Word, we will not need to go back and “straighten the lines of our lives.” May God’s Word light our paths and guide our steps. 

Prayer:  We pray, Lord, that our decisions are guided by Your Word so that our lives will be well-pleasing to You. May we live lives of integrity and honesty. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

Scripture For Today:  I have chosen to be faithful; I have determined to live by your regulations. Psalm 119:30 

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No Enemies Yet, Pastor

Six-year-old George listened very attentively to his pastor’s sermon. As he and his father were leaving the 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 imagine that I’ll 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. Their differences become insurmountable, positions harden, and opinions become set in stone. We might well say that enemies are “made.” Unfortunately, it is easy to make them, and - once made - they usually last a lifetime. 

On the other hand, friendships are formed when individuals have common likes and dislikes, goals and values. Friends have “common denominators” that draw them together and provide a sense of mutual trust. This fact is emphasized in Proverbs: “A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in times of need.”  

Perhaps the most significant benefit of friendship is loyalty - standing with or alongside 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 realize the need for a friend and the true meaning of loyalty. There is nothing more valuable than a friend. We need to make them before we need them. Remember, it takes a friend to become a friend!  

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: A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need. Proverbs 17:17 

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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 tryout, Dale lost both of his legs and three fingers on one hand 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 reality 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, if I chose, “I can know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised Him from the dead.” He did, and we can see the difference Christ made in His life. Fortunately, that same power is available today for Christians who choose to use that power to glorify God with their lives. Life in Christ is a choice!  

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:  I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death. Philippians 3:10  

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The Gifts Of Ancestors

It was a luncheon for art collectors in New York City. Only the wealthy and influential were invited to attend. One lady sitting next to a rabbi, wanting to impress him, 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 exciting hobby for many individuals. The idea of knowing one’s relatives and where they came from may be impressive and fascinating. And, for others, it may be a reason for pride while others will be 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 parents 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 will give a family that follows His teachings and honors Him in all that they do. His values, defined in this psalm, include love, service, honesty, integrity, and prayer. They are the “essential elements” for every healthy relationship - especially family relationships because they will last into eternity.  

The most significant legacy parents can leave their children is a legacy of a family united in Bible-reading, worship, and attending church together.  

Prayer:  Father, we pray that all families everywhere will place You and Your Word at the center of their home and honor You. May parents understand their responsibilities. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

Scripture For Today: How joyful are those who fear the Lord - all who follow his ways! Psalm 128 

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Believe -Expect -Receive

The season was nearly halfway over, and Pete Rose was on a hitting streak. A reporter asked for an interview following a painful 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 demonstrated through the Son.” Expecting results in prayer could not be explained more clearly or convincingly! If we ask in His name, He will grant our requests. 

The problem, then, seems to be if/or. If our prayers are not consistent with what is represented in the “name” Jesus, we cannot expect Him to grant our requests. To “ask in His name” means that our prayers are consistent with what and Who Jesus represented and what He taught His disciples. If, when I pray, I know that God cannot and will not be able to bless what I am asking for, and ultimately honor Him, I cannot expect Him to meet my prayers.  

Prayer:  Help us, Heavenly Father, to “ask in Your name” so that when we pray, in faith believing, we can expect Your blessings. May our prayers reflect Your will. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

Scripture For Today: You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father. John 14:13

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"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” – the “position” or “place” we have with our siblings, and how that influences our personality. He also developed what he called his “Fourteen-Day Cure Plan.” 

He claimed that this plan could cure anyone of mental illness in just fourteen days if they would just do exactly as he told them to do. For example - 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 follow my advice.” 

“What do you want me to do?” she asked. 

“If you do one thing for someone else every day for fourteen days, at the end of that time, your depression will be cured,” 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, I guess because you are different, it will take you twenty-eight days. Adler realized that because she was so self-centered, there was little hope for her to change her behavior, and think of others rather than herself, and find relief.  

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 not responsible for helping others in their times of need. 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 Your Son did. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

Scripture For Today: Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2 

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Is It How Long Or How Well?

Most people who read the Bible at least know that Methuselah lived to be 969 years old. Some might even remember that he was the son of Enoch and the grandfather of Noah. Some will be able to recall that he “walked and talked with God,” but we have no idea what they talked about, or when or where this occurred.  

Imagine holding the world record for having more birthdays than anyone else who ever lived but being remembered for nothing else.  

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 godliness, or God’s grace or goodness. He knew God but did not serve Him.  

Imagine the positive influence he could have had on the multitudes of individuals whom he knew. Consider what he might have done for God if he had followed in the footsteps of his father. Enoch. Scripture tells us, “he 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 good. In the final analysis, it is not how long we live but what we do. What matters most is whether or not our relationship with God empowered us to leave a legacy of serving God and others through our lives.  

Prayer:  Help each of us, Father, to recognize the importance of living for You and professing our faith. May our lives reflect Your love and salvation each day we live. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

Scripture For Today: When Enoch was 65 years old, he became the father of Methuselah. Genesis 5:21 

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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 limit ourselves and abandon 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, in you can, 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 and possibilities 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 willingly change our minds and follow You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

Scripture For Today: 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. Romans 12:2 

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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” everything 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 for doing our best to bring honor and glory to God. 

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, always, with each of the gifts You have given us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

Scripture For Today: Whatever you do, do well. For when you go to the grave, there will be no work or planning or knowledge or wisdom. Ecclesiastes 9:10 

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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 that they would place in front of their faces. They were designed to represent the character of the person in the role they were playing. They would walk onto the stage, and when speaking, hold the mask 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.” Our word, hypocrite, had its origins in the Greek work hypocrisies - 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 is confronting all of us because Christian faith results in Christian living, Christian conduct, and Christian service. 

If we profess to be “Christian” but do not demonstrate Christlike behavior in “word and deed,” we are wearing a mask to present ourselves as someone other than who we are. We are attempting to represent ourselves as someone we are not. 

John is encouraging us to look at our behavior in the light of God’s Word. He says, candidly, that “if we live like Christ, we belong to Christ!” In other words, “walk our talk.” 

Prayer:  Father, we are all capable of hiding who we are from others. But we cannot hide from You. May we come out of hiding and be Christ-like Christians. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

Scripture For Today:  If someone claims, “I know God,” but doesn’t obey God’s commandments, that person is a liar and is not living in the truth. 1 John 2:4

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Facing The Enemy

Some time 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. Everything she tried failed. She was unable to protect 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 evil” in the world that destroys God’s “lambs.” 

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 evil. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

Scripture For Today: So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. James 4:7 

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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. There is so much to write about.” 

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, “... do all things through Christ.” That means that through Him, there is no room for retaliation, no room threats, no room for judging, and then become an example to those around us who need an example.  

Prayer:  Admiring You, Heavenly Father, is not enough. If we are genuinely Your disciples, we must not only admire You but serve You faithfully every day. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

Scripture For Today:  For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps.1 Peter 2:21-25

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. I am totally broken in mind, heart, and spirit!”  

Upon hearing his brokenness, his prayer partner put his arm around his shoulder and shouted, “How wonderful! Now you are at the beginning of God’s resources.” 

Mark’s Gospel has an exciting 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.” Astonished, one of his disciples asked, “Well, if money won’t get us into heaven, what will?”  

Calmly He replied, “Humanly speaking, getting into heaven on your own 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 unless we place our trust in You and the redeeming love of God, we lose sight of what is important! May we seek Your “way.” In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

Scripture For Today: Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible.” Matthew 19:26 

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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 bag 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 others who are faced with a difficult situation, to help them in their time of need. 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. What matters most to Him 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, hearts that are open to others, and hands that are willing to help others. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

Scripture For Today: Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2 

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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, not wanting to listen to that fact, does not change anything. 

To refuse to hear something does not mean that it was not said. And, if we deny something 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 plan. That “all” includes 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 the 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: For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Romans 3:23 

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"It May Be My Last"

It began as a day like any other day. James Galway, a brilliant flutist, was happily walking to his morning rehearsal. While crossing a street, a speeding motorcyclist hit him and shattered the bones in both of his legs and one arm. 

He was rushed to the hospital, and the orthopedic surgeons immediately began a lengthy operation as they attempted to repair the damage. Unfortunately, the bones did not heal as quickly or properly as they had anticipated. As a result, he had to remain in the hospital for many months. As he left the hospital, he said, “It took quite a while to pick up the pieces.”  

While he was still recovering from the accident, he told a fellow-musician, “I decided from the moment I left the hospital, I would play every concert, record every album, give every performance and live every day as though it may be my last.” He summed it all up by saying that his new goal in life was to make sure that every time he played, his performance would be as near to perfection as God wanted it to be! 

No doubt that is what Paul had in mind when he wrote, “Whatever you may do, do all to the glory and honor of God!” 

There is a two-fold implication in this verse: Whatever we do is a choice. And, with that choice, if we are a Christian, there is an opportunity to bring honor and glory to God. So, not only are our decisions critical but with each one we make, we represent Christ. 

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, guide us in each of our choices. Make us conscious of everything we do, knowing that we are always representing You by the way we live. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

Scripture For Today: So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31 

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Frozen In Fear

A young man from Kansas dreamed of becoming a crew member of a tall ship. Finally, his lifelong ambition was realized when he was offered an opportunity to set sail on one of the few remaining vessels. His enthusiasm was short-lived when, after a few days, the captain ordered him to climb to the “crow’s nest” and search the horizon for approaching vessels. 

The higher up he climbed on the rope ladder, the more frightened he became, and the slower his progress. Halfway up, he stopped, frozen in his tracks. He was unable to move. No amount of persuasion or encouragement from the sailors below inspired him to go higher. Finally, someone had to climb up behind him and slowly coax him down to safety. 

Now and then, we all seem to get “stuck” when we are unable to overcome an old habit, when facing a new challenge or being forced to do something we have never done before. People all around us may provide insight and ideas to solve our problem and challenge us to move on. But nothing seems to make sense, and we “freeze” in our tracks. 

However, God, in His Word, promises that “He gives His power to the faint and weary, and might to him who has no strength.” 

When life’s obstacles “freeze” us with fear, we must claim the promises of God and move forward in faith!  

Prayer:  Lord, increase our faith. May our doubts disappear, and our trust in Your promises give us the confidence and assurance that You will always provide for our safety and security. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

Scripture For Today: He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. Isaiah 40:29-31 

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