A BRIGHT EXAMPLE
Did you know that street lighting was first introduced in Antioch, Greece in the fourth century? Other countries had streetlights in their cities as early as the eighth century. But it was Benjamin Franklin, the great American inventor, who introduced them to America.
While serving as the postmaster in Philadelphia, Franklin urged the city fathers to install streetlights in their city. However, they refused because it seemed too costly and had no value.
Franklin would not give up and hung a beautiful lantern on a bracket in the front of his home. As the people walked by, they realized the difference it made. They no longer stumbled or fell because it provided light for their path. It was not long before his neighbors recognized the value of his light and soon the entire neighborhood, and then the city had lights in dark places. Franklin achieved his goal, not by argument, but by becoming a “living example.”
People everywhere are looking for “living examples,” and ideas that work. If what they see makes sense, people will adopt “what works” and apply them to their lives. That’s why Paul encouraged Timothy to “set an example in speech, in life, in love, in faith, and in purity.”
God’s Word works! And, when we apply it in our lives, people will see the difference it makes and want that same Light in their lives to guard and guide them.
Prayer: Lord, whenever our lives fail to live up to Your standards, we ask that You trouble our hearts and minds until we turn from our sinful ways and live Godly lives. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: 1 Timothy 4:12 Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.
WHERE THEY BELONG
Once I asked an appliance repairman to come to church with me. “No,” he responded. “The church is full of hypocrites.”
“Great!” I responded. The man was startled. Continuing, I said, “That’s exactly where they belong. Let’s join them. I’m sure they won’t mind.”
If I understand it correctly, a hypocrite is someone who says one thing and does another. Or as a friend once said to me, “A hypocrite is a person who does not walk their talk. They profess what they do not possess.”
Many who do not want to attend church say the reason they refuse to do so is because the church is full of hypocrites. For as long as I can remember that has been a frequent excuse for many. As I see it, it is a great reason for them to attend! They already know the difference between the saved and the unsaved. The saved are expected to behave like Jesus and the unsaved person, who says he sees hypocrisy in Christians, already knows what is expected of him if he turns his life over to God for salvation.
We need to extend a warm welcome to those who use “the hypocrite excuse” as a reason not to attend church. Jesus said that He came to call sinners to be saved. Those who believe that they are already good enough will have a difficult time admitting they are sinners. But the hypocrite already knows he is “one!”
Prayer: Lord, help me to live a life that will be an example, not an excuse, for people to seek You. May I live my life consistent with the example of Your Son, Jesus! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
WHERE TO FIND HAPPINESS
A professor was known to ask his students questions to make them think. On one occasion he stood before the class and wrote on the chalkboard, “Who’s more content – the man with six million dollars or the man with six children? Now think!” he challenged them.
After a few moments, one of the students raised his hand and answered, “The man with the six children.”
“Oh. Why?” asked the professor.
“Well, the man with the six million dollars would always want more!” came the reply.
True contentment is always independent of “things” – whether possessions or pleasures. It only comes from an inner attitude toward life. That is why Paul said, “True religion, with contentment, is great wealth.”
This does not imply that being a Christian means living in poverty or wanting to be poor. But it does mean that the power of “things” will never bring happiness and that the Christian must always focus on “things” that are eternal.
In the final analysis, we can only take two “things” to Heaven: Ourselves and what we have done with our lives.
So, we must live our lives with one goal that dominates our heads, hearts, and hands: to present ourselves to God without shame! As Paul said, “I beg you…to be living sacrifices!”
Prayer: Help us, Father, to realize that life does not consist in amassing an abundance of “things.” Give us Your insight and wisdom to live lives that honor You! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: 1 Timothy 6:6 Yet true godliness with contentment is itself great wealth.
WHO’S ON THE LORD’S SIDE?
Years ago when Italy went to war, there was a shortage of soldiers. To find recruits, one captain went through the villages calling men to fight with him. Many joined him bringing their own weapons into combat.
One elderly lady was so moved by the sight that she got her broom, placed it on her shoulder, and began to march with the men into combat.
Many of the soldiers laughed at her. One looked at her and asked, “What good are you, old lady?”
“Not much,” she replied, “but I want everyone to know whose side I’m on!”
Life requires many choices. But there is no more important choice for each of us than to let the world know whose side we are on. Joshua said, “So, honor the Lord and serve Him wholeheartedly.” He challenged the people to declare their allegiance to God because He had proven His trustworthiness to them.
From the simple to the significant, we make many choices every day, each with an opportunity to show the world whose side we are on. Often we are willing to compromise our beliefs and values rather than to declare our allegiance to the Lord as one of His disciples. Rather than taking a clear position to honor God, we waffle and waiver because we fear being ridiculed and rebuked. If we love the Lord and want His peace and protection, His goodness and grace, we must be willing to “take our brooms” and declare our faith. We must listen to the Lord as He speaks to us through His Word and make the right choices.
Prayer: Lord, may we live our lives letting those around us see the depth of our commitment to You. Empower us with courage to prove to others that You are our Lord! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Joshua 24:15-15 But if you refuse to serve the Lord, then choose today whom you will serve. Would you prefer the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates? Or will it be the gods of the Amorites in whose land you now live? But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord.”
WHERE DOES YOUR LIGHT COME FROM?
Little Sara came home from school and proudly said to her mother, “I learned a new song today!”
“Sing it to me,” came the request.
“God bless America, land that I love: Stand beside her, and guide her, through the night with the light from a bulb,” sang Sara.
There is a great difference between “light from a bulb” and “light from above.” As we look at our nation today, we find that most “light” has come from education, information, training, and knowledge that enables individuals to earn a living. However, the “light” that comes from wisdom – the ability to judge what is true or right or something with lasting value or worth – appears to be in short supply. God’s wisdom seems to be disappearing!!
James reminds us that if we want to have the ability to make wise decisions in troubling situations we can always pray and ask God for guidance and wisdom.
We do not have to stumble in the darkness hoping to find good answers while looking for a “bulb” to light our path. We can ask God for His directions and He will gladly tell us what to do.
God’s wisdom always leads us to the right decision and guarantees us good results. But, we must have God-centered goals that come from knowing, accepting, trusting, and living His Word if we expect His wisdom. It must be within us before it can come out of us or guide us.
Prayer: Lord, fill our minds with Your wisdom as we look to You for guidance to live lives worthy of You. Help us to seek Your wisdom from Your Word to light our way. 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.
It has been estimated that the average person speaks about 34,000 words a day. Multiply that by 365 and that amounts to about 12,000,000 words a year. That ought to make our jaws hurt!
When he wrote Psalm 19, David said that he wanted the words coming from his mouth and the thoughts stored in his heart to be pleasing to God. David was so concerned about his words that he wondered if there was any way for him to know what sins might already be lurking in his heart. Jesus spoke of the importance of our words and said that “?out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks.” These “words” about “words” need our attention.
What are we to do about the “words” that come from our mouths? David asked God to “Set a guard over my mouth and to keep a watch over my lips.” What a great place to begin – to ask God to watch our lips and guard our mouths at all times so what we say will please God!
Realizing that God knows every thought we think and every word we speak should cause us to ask Him to make our hearts and minds pure. Then with His power within us and His presence around us and His Spirit to guide us, our words will certainly please Him and others.
Prayer: Father, may our minds and hearts be so full of Your Word that our words will reflect Your message of love and hope. May all that we say please You! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Psalm 19:12-14 May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.
One Sunday morning after church as the family was driving home, Molly asked, “Mom, the preacher said that God was bigger than any of us. Is that really true?”
“Yes, He is!” answered her mother.
“Well, Mom,” she continued, “the preacher also said that God lives in us. Is that also true?”
“Yes,” admitted the mother.
“Well, then,” she asked rather confused, “why doesn’t He show through us?”
How much of God is seen in or through our lives each day?
We speak of Him often, turn to Him quickly, and say we rely on Him totally, but do we consult with Him continually?
When we make plans, we need to include Him. If we visit with a friend, we need to invite Him into the conversation. As we leave for a journey, we need to ask Him to travel with us. Throughout the day, every day, at work or at play, we need to ask Him for His wisdom.
Perhaps if we consulted God for His advice in everything we do and were more conscious that His Spirit is actually within us, and that He wants to work through us, we would realize that He is bigger than we are and wants to “show through” us.
Prayer: Father, we often think of Your goodness, but rarely talk about it to others. We believe that You love us but seldom share this with others. Come, live through us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Galatians 2:20 My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
He began playing the cello at an early age, and by the time he was eighteen, he enjoyed playing in a small European orchestra. Unfortunately, he became nearsighted and as a result, had to memorize his part and the parts of all of the other instruments if he was to play with the orchestra. Fortunately, he became very skilled at memorization.
One day the orchestra was to play before a large audience. Moments before the performance was to begin, the leader became ill. Arturo Toscanini, the cellist, was called upon to lead the orchestra because he was the only person who knew all of the parts of the other musicians. His performance was flawless, and the critics praised his skills. Other opportunities became available to him, and he went on to become a world-famous conductor. What may have defeated others became a successful career for him. He turned his loss into a victory!
God has great plans for each of us. He sees and knows every obstacle we might ever encounter from the day we are born until the day our lives end. His part is to bring all “things” together; our part is to work with Him to achieve the “good” that He has in store for us.
Prayer: Help us, Lord, to believe that You have great plans for each of us. May we never accept defeat, but take each of Your gifts and use them for Your glory. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Romans 8:28 And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.
THE STORMS OF LIFE
Joseph Turner was standing in front of one of his paintings of a raging sea. A friend beside him asked, “How did you paint such a realistic picture of a storm at sea. It is so real.”
He answered, “I was on a ship in the midst of that storm. Not only did I see it, but I was also there and felt it.”
Like that painter, Jesus felt the storms of life.
Whenever we lose a loved one, we must remember that He stood beside a grave and wept.
If ever we are a victim of poverty or lack a place of our own, let’s not forget that Jesus had no place to lay His head.
Whenever we feel alone, abandoned or neglected, we need to recall the times when His followers forsook Him and His disciples deserted Him.
Every event that God brings into our lives is one that Jesus has encountered, endured and experienced and successfully survived. Whatever God brings into our lives is temporary and will pass into the pages of history. Because He has overcome the extremes of life, we can take great comfort in the fact that He is willing to share His victories with us if we look to Him for His salvation.
Prayer: Father, You have been where we are or someday may be. So, we know with certainty that You’ve been there before us and will be with us and that we can survive. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Hebrews 2:18 Since he himself has gone through suffering and testing, he is able to help us when we are being tested.
GIVE IT TO GOD!
A farmer was walking down a long, winding mountain road in Mexico carrying a heavy sack. Without realizing it, a man with a mule-drawn wagon was suddenly beside him and offered him a ride. He climbed on the back of the wagon and breathed a long sigh of relief.
After traveling for some time, the man driving the wagon turned around, and to his amazement, saw that the man was still holding his sack. “Why don’t you drop it next to you?” asked the wagon driver.
“Oh, no,” came the reply. “You are kind enough to carry me. You do not have to carry my load as well.”
Many of us are like that farmer with the sack. God pleads with us to give Him our burdens. Yet, we needlessly and continuously carry them on our backs rather than setting them down at His feet. We say that we trust Him and talk of turning to Him in times of need, but we refuse to “let go and let God” do what He wants to do: completely take the weight from our shoulders and place it in His loving, caring hands.
If we can trust Him for our salvation, surely we can trust Him with every care or concern we have. Most assuredly, His strength will sustain us, always.
Prayer: Lord, help us to be willing to believe that You are able to relieve us of life’s burdens if we truly trust You. In the words of Your disciple, “Help our unbelief!” In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Psalm 55:22 Give your burdens to the Lord, and he will take care of you. He will not permit the godly to slip and fall.