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WHEN TIMES ARE THREATENING
A young boy was sitting on the roof of his home watching his father repair a leak in the shingles. Not realizing the steep pitch of the roof, he began to inch his way upward and suddenly started to slide downward. Realizing the danger of his situation, he shouted, “O God, help me I’m in trouble and I’m going to fall to my death!”
Suddenly his jeans became snagged on a nail and he stopped sliding. Looking upward he said, “Thank you God, I’m all right now!”
Who do you call upon when you are suddenly faced with a life-threatening situation? We often have a loved one whom we can call upon in a moment’s notice. Most of us are blessed with a few faithful friends who respond immediately in times of disaster. But, when we are suddenly and without warning faced with what appears to be an imminent disaster, what are we to do?
Fortunately, our God has promised us that we will never face any adversity alone. Again and again, His Word assures us that He is ready, willing, able and wanting to rescue us when we are in trouble. He is always alert, awaiting our call and anxious to respond.
Prayer: Father, we are grateful for Your promise that we can always “call upon You in the day of trouble.” Help us to trust in the greatness of Your goodness and grace In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Psalm 50:15Then call on me when you are in trouble, and I will rescue you, and you will give me glory.
TRUSTING THE PLAN
Years ago I would watch my mother embroider beautiful napkins, pillowcases, and tablecloths. She would spend hours working within a small “hoop” that stretched the fabric tight so she could follow the pattern. She would work with one color of thread at a time until she finished that part of the pattern. Then, she would move to the next part of the pattern and begin again.
If I looked underneath the “hoop,” I would see many knots and dangling threads that made no sense at all. It looked like a real mess. When I looked carefully at the top side of the “hoop,” however, I would eventually see a pattern emerge that followed the plan of an artist. And, when the product was finished, it was beautiful.
There are times when it seems as though life is made up of “many knots and dangling threads.” No matter where we look, nothing makes any sense at all. We feel forced to cry out, “Lord, what are You doing?” or “Where are you taking me?” or “I want to give up!” or “What’s happening?” or “Have you no plan for me, God?”
When times are tough, we must turn to and trust in His Word: “I know the plans I have for you?Plans for good and not for evil?to give you a future and a hope!” Look for the pattern. It’s there!
Prayer:Lord, when days are dark and the path is perilous, let us sense Your presence and trust Your plan. Help us to see our lives through Your eyes! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.
“TO THE GLORY OF GOD”
Johann Sebastian Bach is recognized as one of the world’s most famous musicians. He was orphaned when he was ten years old and went to live with his oldest brother, a church organist. Recognizing his joy for music, his brother began teaching him how to play various instruments. At age fourteen he was awarded a scholarship to study music at a famous university. After graduation, he auditioned for a job he deeply wanted but was not hired.
He refused to be discouraged and dedicated himself to becoming a gifted musician and composer. On the top part of each composition, he wrote the words, “To the glory of God.”
How would our lives be different if we preceded each word or deed or thought with the words: “Will what I am about to do or say or think bring glory to God?” Would our lips be sealed, our hands idle, or our minds blank if what we said, or thought or did could not bring glory to God? Would we become as still as a statue?
The Bible makes no apologies when it declares, “Whatever you do, do it all to the glory of God!” All that we do or think or say is to be done to bring glory to God. Keeping this Scripture in mind will help us realize the impact our behavior has on others – positively or negatively – and the glory it brings to God.
Prayer:Father, may every word or deed, thought or action, bring unending glory to Your name each day of our lives. Let our thoughts, words, and deeds glorify Your Name. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: 1 Corinthians 10:31 So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
THE JOY OF GIVING
It was their first anniversary, and the husband wanted to make it one that his wife would remember for years to come. Speaking to a clerk in a greeting card store, he said, “I’d like a beautiful card for my wife to show her how much I truly love her.”
Leading him to the Anniversary Section, the clerk selected a card and presented it to him saying, “Here’s a lovely card, Sir, one of our most beautiful. And the message is most appropriate.”
“How much is it?” asked the husband.
“It’s a little less than $7.00,” he replied.
“Wow!” he gasped. “Got anything for about a buck?”
The church at Macedonia was going through troubling times and difficult days. But when it came to giving, Paul said “They are being tested by many troubles, and they are very poor. But they are also filled with abundant joy, which has overflowed in rich generosity.”
Giving, for the Christian, is the good and right thing to do. It reflects our attitude about trust and our dependence on God. It is never about God, but about us and does not depend on the day or the time, but on the joy we find and the peace we have in Christ. We limit God’s blessings when we limit our giving.
Prayer: We pray, Father, that we will find the source and satisfaction of life in what we do with what we give. May we understand that all that we have is Yours and that we cannot out-give You! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: 2 Corinthians 8:1-8 They are being tested by many troubles, and they are very poor. But they are also filled with abundant joy, which has overflowed in rich generosity.
Florence Chadwick swam across the English Channel from England to France in 13 hours and 20 minutes in 1950. The following year she swam from France to England becoming the first woman to swim the channel in both directions.
Two years later she decided to swim from the Catalina Islands to Palos Verdes, California, a distance of 26 miles. She was surrounded by people in small boats who were concerned for her well-being. They were prepared to help her if she became tired or encountered any danger from sharks. After 15 hours, a thick fog settled in, and she began to doubt her ability to complete her journey. An hour later she was pulled from the water, unable to see the shore. After getting into the boat, she learned that she had stopped one mile short of her goal – the shore.
Two months later she tried again – this time successfully. Even though a thick fog once again came in, she accomplished her goal because she kept a mental image of the coastline in her mind.
Paul said, “Fix your minds on what is true, right, honorable, lovely and admirable.” To achieve our goal to live “Christ-like,” we must “fix our minds on Christ” and not let the “fog settle in!”
Prayer: Help us, Lord, to keep our eyes focused on You when we are confused and need direction. Help us to see You clearly and trust in Your strength to sustain and protect us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Philippians 4:8-10 Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.
STRESS AND DISTRESS
A man hurrying to meet a deadline was caught in a traffic jam. As his anger grew and his patience diminished, he noticed a bumper sticker that read, “Go ahead and honk. It’s your ulcer.” It added to his rage, and he tried to strangle his steering wheel by squeezing it as tightly as he could. But, nothing happened as his rage grew, and he became more upset.
Stress invades all of our lives and quickly causes distress. Whether it is a problem we are having difficulty solving, a goal we can’t achieve, or a decision that eludes us, we all face events that seem to be more than we can bear or beyond our capabilities. What then?
Peter said, “Give all your cares and concerns, worries and woes to God for He cares about what happens to you!” When we refuse to give our stressors and struggles to God, we reveal our lack of trust in His power and strength. Often this shows a lack of humility on our part because we are saying to Him: “I really don’t need You – I can do this all by myself!” It takes real humility to admit to God that we need His help and the help of others who care for us and are concerned about us. We need to recognize our limitations and His greatness and willingness to do for us what we can’t do for ourselves.
Prayer: Father, give us an understanding of our limits and limitations, and our need for Your help. When we come to the end of our abilities, may we be humble enough to call on You for Yours! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: 1 Peter 5:7 Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.
PRETZELS AND PRAYER
Years ago, there was a group of monks in the northern part of Italy who gathered a group of children together to teach them to pray. Each time the children learned a new prayer, they were given a gift as a reward.
One monk began to pray about the gifts he was giving the children. He wanted them to understand the importance of prayer as well as to remind the children to pray. So, he decided to give the children a tasty item baked in his oven from unleavened bread. Rolling out a piece of dough, he carefully designed a pastry with three holes and a twist in the middle that represented two arms folded in prayer. He called it a “pretola” which means “little gift.” It was eventually called a “pretzel” and has been enjoyed all over the world for 1300 years.
All of us have many opportunities to remind people of the importance of prayer. One thing we can do is to share God’s answers to our prayers with others. Another thing we can do is to invite people to pray with us. We can also remind others of what God’s Word teaches about prayer, something as simple as, “Call on Me, and I will answer you!”
Perhaps one day when eating a pretzel with a friend, we can share the story of the pretzel and remind them to pray whenever they see a pretzel.
Prayer: Help us, Lord, to understand the importance of prayer in our lives, and to pray more often! May we realize that You are waiting, willing and wanting to hear from us, and meet our need. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Luke 18:1 One day Jesus told his disciples a story to show that they should always pray and never give up.
PRACTICING THE PRESENCE OF GOD
Lord Moynihan was a brilliant, skillful and world-famous British surgeon. On one occasion after completing an operation before a gallery of doctors, a reporter asked, “How can you work so calmly with such a famous crowd of surgeons present?”
Thoughtfully he replied, “There are just three people in the operating room when I operate: the patient, myself, and God.”
As he concluded his farewell speech, Moses told Joshua that the Lord would be with him: “Do not be afraid or discouraged? I will go ahead of you and be with you and never abandon you.” We often forget that wherever we are, God is: He is the one Who created us, has a plan for us, and will purposefully work through us.
The opposite of being “discouraged” is to be “encouraged.” “En” means “to give.” When placed before the word courage, it becomes “to give courage to!” And, this is what God will do for us – constantly and continually. He will always give us the courage to face every challenge in life because He has promised that He will never forget us, forsake us, or fail us.
The question is not “Can we count on God to be faithful and give us courage?” The question is “Can God count on us to be faithful to Him in all He asks of us so He can give us courage?”
Prayer: Heavenly Father, may we sense Your presence and power wherever we are and whatever You call us to do. Give us Your courage to be faithful to You at all times. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Deuteronomy 31:1-3 But the Lord your God himself will cross over ahead of you. He will destroy the nations living there, and you will take possession of their land.
Enterprise, Alabama is known for having a monument to an agricultural pest – the boll weevil. In 1915, the “pest” invaded the area and destroyed their only crop – cotton. This disaster left the farmers destitute and nearly hopeless. However, in 1917 the county produced and harvested more peanuts than any other county in the nation.
The monument, erected in 1919, stands in the center of the downtown district as a symbol of their willingness and ability to adjust to and overcome adversity. The residents are quick and proud to remind visitors of the lessons they learned from the boll weevil.
One resident said, “There was a time when we had one crop – cotton; the boll weevil destroyed it. Then we were forced to diversify. Now we are doing better than ever. The boll weevil was a blessing in disguise.”
Paul said, “We can rejoice when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us to develop endurance.” Difficulties are not to be dreaded. They are to be accepted as unique opportunities that God brings into our lives as challenges to help us “diversify” – to develop all of the skills and talents God has given us.
Prayer: Lord, help us to trust in Your goodness and grace, believing that all of the obstacles in our lives are gifts from You. Help us to accept them willingly and grow through them. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Romans 5:3 We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance.
ONE FATHER’S LEGACY
Fathers always leave a legacy for their children. We do it by word and deed – sometimes consciously and through careful planning. Other times we do it without being aware of what we leave as their inheritance. In preparing to leave the throne to his son, Solomon, David gave him three legacies:
The legacy of courage. “Be strong, prove yourself a man.” David knew his son would face difficult times and wanted him to have the strength that only comes from God. Having God’s strength would enable Solomon to serve the Lord faithfully and fully.
The legacy of conviction. “Keep the charge of the Lord your God.” Here David is advising Solomon to be a man of the Book – keep the charge – to always follow God’s Laws. It is important to gain knowledge, but knowledge without God’s wisdom is foolishness!
The legacy of conduct. “Keep His statutes.” Godly courage is built on convictions that flow from God’s Word which result in godly conduct. Godly conduct is a witness of the love and grace of God without ever saying a word. Through us, people see “God in action.”
Our legacy lives forever in our children’s lives. What legacy are you leaving yours?
Prayer: Help us, Lord, to be fathers who leave godly legacies for our children. May we leave them legacies that are consistent with Your teachings, are established in Your Word. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: 1 Kings 2:1-4 Observe the requirements of the Lord your God, and follow all his ways. Keep the decrees, commands, regulations, and laws written in the Law of Moses so that you will be successful in all you do and wherever you go.