WILLING AND ABLE
Little Anne was anxious for her birthday to arrive. It was a day of celebration filled with presents and a party with her best friends.
One morning before school she asked, “Mom, when’s my birthday? How long before it’s here? You know, how much time do I have to spend being good ‘cause you know it’s hard for me to be good.”
How true of all of us!
If we truly want to be good and do good, however, we need to listen to the advice of Paul: “For God is working in you, giving you the power to do what pleases Him.”
To do good we begin by first being willing “to please Him” - we must be willing to be willing. For the Christian, “doing good” is being Christ-like. For some of us, it takes time. We know that our goal is to have an attitude like Jesus and act as He did. But what do we do until that happens? Many of us have had that as a goal for years and still have not achieved the results we want: to think and act like Jesus. Perhaps our “want” does not match our “will.”
Look at it this way: If we are will-ing – surrender our wills to the Lord - God will en-able – make us able - to do what He would have us to do. If we read the Gospel message, we can see what Jesus did and then go into His world and do whatever He did to honor His Father. Willingness always precedes ability. Ability will come from God when He knows we are willing.
Prayer: Lord, sometimes we really try to complicate things to get out of doing them. Truth is if we want to do good we can do good because You promised to help us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Philippians 2:13 For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.
DOING WHAT’S RIGHT!
It was a dream come true. Robert Gonzales had practiced hard and worked long hours to become the racquetball champion. Finally, the day came when he made it to the pro circuit and had an opportunity to play for the championship.
At match point, he made a powerful shot into the front wall. The referee and linesman said it was good, and he was declared the winner. However, he stunned the crowd. He shook his head back and forth while talking to the referee and said, “That shot hit the floor first, and therefore I am not the winner.”
Sitting quietly after the match, a reporter asked, “Why? Why did you admit that the ball hit the floor first?”
“Because it was the only thing I could do to maintain my integrity,” came the answer. “I can win another match, but I could never regain my integrity.”
Few things in life are as fragile as our integrity. It is our code of conduct, the very standard by which we live our lives and maintain our reputation.
However, there is more. Our reputation is who others think we are. But our character is who God knows us to be. Others may never realize that we have compromised our integrity. But God knows. And, ultimately, finally, He is our judge and the one who keeps our record.
Prayer: Father, may we maintain our integrity by remaining close to You by reading Your Word and spending time in prayer. Help us guard our integrity for Your sake. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Psalm 119:121 Don’t leave me to the mercy of my enemies, for I have done what is just and right.
The young boys in a Paris school felt that they had learned enough for one week and decided that they would go to the park that Friday afternoon. One of them picked up a pebble and began to tap it on a bench as he sat gazing across a bed of flowers. Intrigued, a boy at the other end of the bench kneeled down and put his ear to the board and was able to hear the tapping.
Smiling, he said to his friend, “I heard two gentle taps, a pause and then several loud taps.” A doctor sat watching them with great interest. Suddenly he stood up with a distant look in his eyes as though he was trying to imagine something he had not seen before. At that moment an idea was born in his mind. Whenever he wanted to hear the sounds going on in a person’s body, he would place his ear above the organs he was trying to hear. Eventually, he wondered if it were possible to hear the sounds of a patient’s organs more clearly if he placed a hollow tube on the person’s body. From that idea, the stethoscope was born.
You and I are “God’s stethoscopes.” He has given us ears to hear the cries of those around us who are suffering and crying out for His hope, help, and healing. It is sad, however, that our ears are often “stuffed” with the noises of this world that we cannot hear their cries and help them find the solution to their problems through the love of God!
Prayer: Lord, all around us are those who need someone to hear their cries, wipe away their tears, and share Your love. Help us to see, hear and help those in need. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Psalm 34:15 The eyes of the Lord watch over those who do right; his ears are open to their cries for help.
THROUGH IS NOT THE END
A patient, waiting for his appointment, began leafing through a copy of Who’s Who in America. After several moments he closed the book appearing to be confused. A patient seated next to him asked, “Are you looking for your name or someone you know?”
“No,” he replied, sadly. “I’m listed in ‘Who’s Through.’”
Obviously, he did not know the Lord. For anyone who turns to Him at any time will be met with open arms, given a new identity, and an opportunity to embark on a new beginning.
David made this abundantly clear when he wrote, “I waited patiently for the Lord to help me, and He turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire.. . set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along.”
People who do not know God often think that they have to “pull themselves up by their “bootstraps.” But what God did for David He can and will do for everyone!
This powerful Psalm describes what God can do for anyone at any time in any place. God will not only rescue us from the depths of our despair but place us on solid ground, steady us with His strength, clear the path before us as we begin a new walk with Him. He will also give us a new song to sing as we walk along the path that He has prepared for us.
Prayer: How grateful we are, Father, that no one is ever beyond Your love or unfit for your mercy and salvation. May we accept Your grace to redeem and rescue us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Psalm 40 I waited patiently for the Lord to help me, and he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along.
REACHING OUT – REACHING UP
It was a bitterly cold Sunday morning. People were walking as fast as they could from the parking lot to the steps that led into the sanctuary. Standing next to the entrance was a poorly dressed man with his hat pulled down over his eyes and his collar held tightly around his neck as he tried to keep warm. His clothes were shabby and his shoes well worn. He appeared destitute, hopeless, and to those entering the church, unimportant. No one stopped to offer help.
The church members filled the pews, the choir took their seats, and the organist started the prelude. As the people sat waiting for the service to begin, they suddenly let out a gasp as they saw “that man” who was outside the church walk down the aisle, stand behind the pulpit, and remove his tattered clothes, and stand silently. It was their pastor.
Opening his Bible he read, “I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me.”
Every day God places opportunities to serve Him before us and around us. These opportunities do not require wealth or skills, intelligence or power. They simply require eyes that are open, a mind that is alert, and a heart that is sensitive to the needs of others.
Opportunities create obligations. To refuse to help others is to refuse to help God.
Prayer: Help us, Father, to see what You see, to feel what You feel, and then do what You would have us to do when we see others who need help. Open our hearts! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Matthew 25:42-46 And he will answer, “I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.”
HOW COULD THIS HAPPEN?
A man was found dead next to a dumpster. As they looked in his pockets for his identification, they discovered several checks. When totaled, they were worth more than a thousand dollars. But, they did him no good. He never cashed them to receive their value.
As we read God’s Word, we find promise after promise – all having value to the believer when “cashed in.” But as with the checks of the dead man, they must be “turned into cash” to have any value. We must go to God and claim His promises to meet our needs.
James said that God “does not resent your asking. But when you ask Him, be sure you really expect Him to answer, for a doubtful mind is as unsettled as a wave of the sea?”
There are times when it is easier to believe in God than it is to believe in the fact that he deeply cares for each of us and our every need. Surely, if He is bound by His Word – and He is – we can go to Him “in faith believing.” We must always remember that nothing is so small that it escapes His concern, or that any problem is so large that He cannot solve it.
We limit God by the limitations we place on Him. The problems we have with our faith are our problems – not God’s. “Whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you,” said Jesus.
Prayer:Give us a faith, Father, that is larger than our problems and a trust that matches Your power. Help us to grow in Your faith and not remain in our doubts. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: James 1:1-8 If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind.
“YOU BE JESUS”
It was a Saturday morning and many activities were scheduled for the day. To make it special, the mother of Albert and George was preparing pancakes for them. Suddenly, they began to argue over which of them would get the first one.
Dismayed over their arguing, the mother said, “If Jesus were sitting here, He’d say ‘Let my brother have the first pancake.’”
“Great idea, Mom! George, you be Jesus and I’ll take the first pancake,” said Albert.
Paul, writing about how to “live love,” said that “love does not demand its own way.” In other words, the love that we as Christians are to demonstrate in our lives is not a self-centered love. It is a love that focuses on the needs of others – the way God loves us.
God loves us relentlessly, completely, unreservedly, and uncompromisingly with no limitations or conditions. In spite of our shortcomings or failures, He is there in us, for us, with us – loving us.
And, what does He ask of us? First, that we love Him in return for His love. Then, He asks us to love others as He loves us. When we love others as He loves us, we show others what Christian love is all about – something this world desperately needs. Live God’s love!
Prayer:Help us, Lord, to love as You loved, to give as You gave, to care as You cared, and to do as You did. May others see Jesus in us! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: 1 Corinthians 13:4-5Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged.
WORKING WITH GOD
George Washington Carver was a botanist, educator, inventor, and scientist. As the son of a slave, he was aware of the difficulty facing farmers, knowing that they needed more than cotton for their fields. He became interested in peanuts. Soon he realized that there was no market for them. Needing help, he turned to God, in prayer.
One day he prayed, “Mr. Creator, why did You make the peanut?”
Later in life he said: “God led me into the laboratory and together we got down to work.” Before he died, his research and influence produced over 300 products from peanuts including cosmetics, dyes, plastics, gasoline, and nitroglycerine. He published many books, including one with over 100 recipes using peanuts.
James has an interesting bit of advice. He said, “If you need wisdom – if you want to know what God wants you to do, ask Him and He will gladly tell you.” True wisdom begins with respect for God and His laws, leads to right living in the sight of God, and enables us to align our goals with the goals God has for us. When we do this, we honor God, and in His time, He will honor us. We may begin with something as small as a peanut, but only God knows where it will end.
Prayer:Help us, Father, to look to You for Your wisdom and insight in all that we do, knowing it is always available. And, also give us patience and perseverance to work with You for Your glory. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: James 1:5 If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.
WINNING AND TRYING
It was his first attempt to win a trophy for swimming. He was successful and won first place. After receiving his prized possession, his mother said, “I’m so happy for you. I never won a trophy.”
“Mom,” he asked, “did you ever try?”
God created each of us to succeed. But we can never succeed at anything until we try something. And whenever we want to accomplish anything, we need a good place to begin. We find that “place” in the first words of the Bible: “In the beginning – GOD?.”
Beginning with God means that before we try to do anything we seek His will. God promised Joshua great success. He told him that no one would be able to stand their ground against him, promising, that “I will not fail you or abandon you” as long as you live. But with His promise He gave him a warning: “study the Book of the Law continually? obey it?and only then will you succeed.”
The promise that God gave to Joshua works for us, too. However, God places the same limits on our success as He did Joshua’s: “Study My Word continually, obey it, and only then you will succeed.” If we begin with God’s Word, we will end with God’s blessings. Surely, that is the definition of success!
Prayer: Lord, help us to realize and remember that success is all about You and never about us. May we be faithful to Your Word and then enjoy Your blessings! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Joshua 1:1-9Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do.
A reporter once asked Henry Ford the question, “Do you ever worry?”
“No. I believe that God is managing my affairs. With God in charge, I believe that everything will work out for our best. So, what’s there to worry about?”
Worry is like going back and forth in a rocking chair: a lot of motion but no forward movement. It can disturb our thinking, disorganize our work, destroy our health, and steal our life. It has never calmed a fear or brought peace to a troubled heart.
Worry is nothing more than anticipating some calamity or chaos that will probably never come our way. It normally has no substance or power except what we allow it to have as it invades our minds and controls our thoughts and disrupts our lives.
When we allow worry to muddle our minds, we need to call upon God immediately. Immediately! We must ask Him to replace each problem with one of His promises and ask for an extra portion of faith and trust in His goodness and grace. He knows what is in our future and every need that we ever have is under His control.
Prayer:Help me, Father, to increase my faith in You as I learn to trust Your promises and accept Your will. Give me confidence in Your care and concern for my best! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Matthew 6:31-32 So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs.