THE GREAT COMMISSION
A salesman was known for keeping his hat on while he worked at his desk in his office. One day a new employee asked, “Why do you keep your hat on when you work in the building? Are you hairless?”
“No,” came the reply. “I wear it to remind myself that I ought to be outselling and ‘here less.’”
Would it be a good idea if we, as Christians, would wear hats when we watch TV, read newspapers, visit with friends, work in the yard, or go shopping? Could wearing a hat remind us that there is a world waiting to hear the message of the Gospel? Might it remind us not to get too comfortable? Would it keep us from forgetting or ignoring the Great Commission?
We place great value on the “last will and testament” of individuals. It gives exact directions for what is to be done with whatever they leave at the end of their time on earth. Jesus did this in the Great Commission. And, He did it with God’s authority behind Him.
He said, “Go and make disciples.” They were not to be satisfied because they had a relationship with Him. Nor were they to be satisfied with the teachings He left in their heads, hearts, and hands. Life with Him on earth had ended. But His life in them was just beginning.
The command “to go” did not end with the disciples. Rather, that is where it began. His voice still echoes across the centuries to those of us today who are His disciples. We are to “go and make disciples” wherever we are, whenever we can.
Prayer: We often fail, Lord, in doing what You have commanded us to do. Forgive us for failing to be obedient to Your command. May we begin today to honor You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Matthew 28:18-20 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
STRENGTH FOR THE RACE
Few people have ever heard of the runner, John Baker. His name is not known the world over. But once, while running a race, he studied the runners who were ahead of him. He began to wonder, “Am I doing my best?” He was not sure, so he decided to try harder.
First he focused on the runner in front of him. After a few strides, he realized that he could run harder and pass him. When he did, he immediately set another goal and passed the next runner, then the next. Finally, he was in first place, won the race and set a record.
What a great lesson for all of us. If we only focus on where we are and what we are doing, we may never achieve the potential that God has invested in us. If we “accept what is” we may well end up “as is.” A self-satisfied life never becomes a God-glorifying life.
Paul says that we “can do everything with the help of Christ who strengthens us.” Not anything, but everything that God has planned for us to do, He will empower us to do. The power we receive from our relationship with Christ will strengthen us to overcome any obstacle that would keep us from doing His will, His way, in His world. He will never give us a superhuman power to accomplish goals for our own purposes. If He asks us to do something in His name, for His sake that will glorify Him, there are no pressures or problems, trials or troubles that will be able to keep us from winning the race He has set before us.
Prayer: Give us Your strength and will, power and determination, Lord, to do our best to run and win the race You have set before us. All things through You, for You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Philippians 4:13 I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.
STEPS IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION
Our feet contain 26 bones and more than 100 muscles, tendons and ligaments. Most of us will walk 65,000 miles and take 125 million steps in our lifetime. That’s enough “footwork” to make anyone tired before considering to begin such a journey.
Everyone’s journey is different. All of us have different paths. When we awaken in the morning, we have no guarantee of what might happen or where we will be when night falls.
The writer of the first Psalm declared, “Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand with sinners or join in with scoffers.” Clearly he urges us to avoid friendships or to even associate with those who do not honor God. Why? Because they may influence us to abandon the plans He has for us. Friends who do not encourage us in our walk with God may bring about an indifference to the plan and purpose He has for our lives. Often the ones we associate with have an enormous influence on our attitudes. And we must always be aware of the fact that our attitudes shape our behavior and can be manipulated by others.
The author also describes the benefit of those who walk a godly path: the Lord will watch over them. What a comforting thought for the believer to realize that every one of those steps in each of the many miles will have “the Lord watching over them.” When we walk with Him, we have the promise of His presence and His power to protect us and provide for our every need.
Prayer: Help us, Father, to know and obey Your Word so that we may count on Your strength for our journey. Keep our feet on Your path as we follow in Your steps! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Psalm 1 Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand with sinners or join in with scoffers.
The phone rang and a small child answered it softly. “Hello,” he said barely above a whisper.
“Hello,” came the response. “Is your mother home?”
“Yes,” came the reply, “but she’s busy.”
“Well,” wondered the caller, “is your father home?”
“Yes,” he said, “but he’s busy, too.”
“Are they both busy? What are they doing?” asked the salesman.
“They’re looking for me. They think I’m lost,” he whispered.
What a picture of our Savior! He said, “I, the Son of Man, have come to seek and save the lost!”
This verse comes at the end of the story of Zacchaeus. Sometimes we focus on the different facts in the story: he was very short, the son of Abraham, he was a very influential man, and he was an unpopular tax collector. None of these facts actually mattered to Jesus.
What did matter to Jesus, then and now, is that a person is not saved because of his family, his wealth, his influence in the community, his appearance or his previous way of life. It is only through faith in the Son of God that the lost can be forgiven and made new.
In one verse Jesus summarized His entire mission: to seek and to save the lost. Wherever or whoever they are, whatever they have done, Jesus continues to seek the lost.
Prayer: Lord, we may have much, but You ask little – only that we, in faith, accept You as our Savior. Help us to understand that all we need to do is to accept You! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Luke 19:10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.
The famous entertainer, W. C. Fields, was an agnostic. One day, a friend came to visit him and found him reading the Bible.
“Bill,” he exclaimed, “it’s so good to see that you are reading the Bible. When did you change and become a Christian?”
“I haven’t changed,” he replied quickly. “I’m looking for some loopholes.”
No matter how hard he searched, he never discovered a loophole in God’s Word.
There are many who do the same thing. They do not study God’s Word to learn of His salvation and grace. They read it looking for errors and contradictions.
Others have difficulty in accepting God’s Word as the final authority for truth. They do not want to believe that there is no other name besides the name of Jesus that they can call upon for salvation. They want to believe that there are many paths that lead to heaven and truth. What they want to believe comes from man-originated beliefs – not the Word of God.
God designated Jesus to be the only Redeemer and Savior. There never has been, nor ever will be, any other name for people to call upon for God’s salvation. While there are some problems that may have more than one solution, when it comes to being forgiven of our sins, there is only One solution. Salvation and eternal life is by grace through faith in Christ alone.
Prayer: Thank You, Father, for Your Son Jesus, in whose Name and through whose life’s work we can be saved. May we accept Your salvation through faith in Him. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Acts 4:12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”
MAKE A WISH
A college freshman, small in stature, wanted to be a member of the football team. He reported for the first practice, went to the coach and asked to try out for the team. Not wanting to discourage him, the coach agreed. He gave him the football and said, “I want you to run toward the goal while these two linemen chase you.”
Tucking the ball under his arm, he ran as fast as he could. Soon, one of the linemen grabbed his right leg, and he began to fall. Then the other one grabbed his left leg, and he fell to the ground. As he lay there panting and praying, one of them said, “This may be your last wish. Make it count and be careful not to waste it.”
“I wish you’d let me go so I can tell the coach, ‘I quit.’”
There were many times in the life of the Apostle Paul that he faced overwhelming odds; times when it appeared that he would be “torn apart.” But he never gave up or quit.
When he was enduring his final imprisonment in Rome and awaiting his trial, he did not know if he would be released or executed. Rather than being filled with fear, he demonstrated his faith in God. So, he prayed. And what did he pray? He prayed that when he stood trial he would speak courageously for Christ and not be ashamed: “For I live in eager expectation and hope that I will never do anything that causes me shame, but that I will always be bold for Christ.” What faith! What trust! What courage! What is your prayer when you need God?
Prayer: Father, may we, like Paul, have confidence and courage, to face adversity with faith and trust, knowing that You are in us, with us, and working through us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Philippians 1:20-21 I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.
LET GO AND LET GOD
An elderly man was taken for his very first plane ride. When it was over and he was safely on the ground, his wife asked him, “Well, Sam, how did you like that?”
“Pretty good,” came the reply. “ Only problem was that I couldn’t let all of my weight down on the seat and relax.”
Sometimes we Christians have difficulty laying down or letting go of the burdens we carry. While we may have many excuses, there is no real reason why we cannot let go of our fears and failures, problems and pressures, worries and woes, and trust the Lord.
Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”
The burdens Jesus came to relieve us of are not only physical burdens, but spiritual and emotional and mental burdens as well.
There are times when we fear that our sins may not have been forgiven because we believe that they are too horrible for God’s grace and mercy. But He promised us that “if we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
Perhaps we become fearful that we are not doing enough for God or have missed His will for our lives. Again, the verse echoes in our ears, “If you become humble…pray…seek… turn…I will forgive.” God’s willingness and ability are as good as His Word. The problem belongs to us – not Him. Remember the verse: “Lord, help my unbelief!” He can…and will!
Prayer: Help us, Heavenly Father, to take You at Your Word, and to cast all our cares on You. It’s not that You can’t do it. It’s that we can’t believe how great You are! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today Matthew 11:28 Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.
KNOCK IT OFF!
An artist began working on a large block of marble. A friend watched him as he chipped away, knocking off one piece after another.
Finally, the friend asked, “What are you making?”
“A horse,” came the reply.
“How do you do that?” he wanted to know.
“By knocking off everything that doesn’t look like a horse,” said the sculptor.
It is normal to question what God may be doing in our lives from time to time. We often look for meaning or purpose when we enter into a period of suffering or pain, darkness or despair. There are some days when problems pile up, difficulties grow, confusion never ends, and the light never comes on.
Paul said we are “pressed on every side by troubles” – days when we feel like we are being squeezed in a vice. But he quickly adds, “we are not crushed or broken” assuring us of the Great Physician’s concern and care. Then he goes on to write that we may feel “perplexed” – as if we were in a state of confusion. Now what? He encourages us not to “give up and quit” – knowing that God can make sense out of nonsense. If we “get knocked down” – we will never get knocked out. God will be there to lift us up, dust us off, and send us on our way. Paul’s message: We may be at the end of our rope, but we are not at the end of our hope.
Prayer: Father, help us to grasp the greatness of Your power and value of Your presence no matter the problem or pain. We know You are with us. Help us to trust. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: 2 Corinthians 4:1-10 –We are hard-pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.