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Devotional for 3-27-2017

FAILURE AND SUCCESS

Michael Jordan, the legendary basketball player is quoted as having said, “I’ve lost more than 300 games. There were twenty-six games when I was given the ball in the last seconds to make the basket that would have won the game. But it didn’t happen – I missed the shot and we lost. I have failed over and over. And that’s why I succeed.”

Strange quote from someone who elevated basketball to a higher level through his skills. We rarely think of such an achiever in any sport as someone who turned failure into success. High-achievers seem to come fully developed and highly skilled.

However, experience is always part of failure. And if we chose, we can use the experience to gain insight and from insight we can gain knowledge and from the knowledge we can gain wisdom and learn to turn failure into success.

The Christian has a wonderful resource to help in this process: the Holy Spirit. He dwells within us and is present, ready and willing to give us the wisdom we need to become successful in life.

There is one condition, however. If we want wisdom, we must go to God in humility and ask for it and then use it for His glory. God will give us whatever we need if we willingly use His gifts for His glory and not our own self-interests or self-advancement.

Prayer: Help us, Lord, to know that when we fail we need to “fall forward” into Your waiting arms, knowing that Your desire is to work with us to help us succeed. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: James 1:5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. James 1:5

Devotional for 3-26-2017

SEARCHING FOR VICTORY

During one of his fights Gene Tunney broke both of his hands. Some thought that he would never fight again because of the severe damage. However, he did not give up boxing and years later said that “breaking my hands was the best thing that ever happened to me.”

Realizing that he would never be able to hit his opponents hard enough to win a world championship by knocking them out, he chose to become a scientific fighter. So, he decided that he would become a boxer and not a slugger. As a result of that decision he became a champion.

Often the obstacles we face in life are God’s way of actually giving us an opportunity to grow and develop and learn faith and trust. Many times we come face to face with unforeseen and overwhelming problems we never thought we would have to face. They may be simple or significant, large or small, few or many. But each and every one of them come to us as a gift from God and are a sign of His grace and overflowing love to offer us an opportunity to grow into His likeness.

What may seem as something that would destroy us may be God’s way of presenting a new opportunity to us to prove the promises in His Word. With His power and strength, with His wisdom and knowledge, with His guidance and protection we can overcome all things.

Prayer: Increase our faith, Father, and enable us to see beyond what is to what can be. Open our eyes and minds that we may willingly see You at work in our lives. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: James 1:17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

Devotional for 3-25-2017

THE SIGNIFICANCE OF A SMILE

He is recognized as a pioneer medical missionary, an African explorer who wanted to discover the source of the Nile River, a scientific investigator and a reformer of the political system in England.

One day at a Missionary Conference in London, a gracious man with a contagious smile noticed a young boy standing quietly with a puzzled look on his face. With a kind expression and that wonderful smile, he approached the youngster and asked, “Wouldn’t you like to become a missionary?”

Years later David Livingstone said, “It was that smile and the kind, questioning face that led me to become a missionary.”

Paul once wrote of Moses and said that “his face shown with the glory of God.” The glory that was evident in the face of Moses came from his relationship with God – the source of all glory then and now.

And Paul also wrote, “I pray that God who gives you hope will keep you happy and full of peace as you believe in Him.”

There is an obvious connection in Paul’s mind that is expressed in his writings: If the glory of the Lord is on the inside of the Christian, it will be obvious to those around us by the expressions on our faces. If you know and love Jesus you will express His grace and glory through the smile on your face and the kindness in your voice.

Prayer: We ask, Heavenly Father, that we will be so filled with Your Spirit that our faces will reflect Your beauty, our voices Your kindness and our deeds Your love. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Romans 15:13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. 

Devotional for 3-24-2017

PREPARED BUT VULNERABLE

Fort Eben-Emael in Belgium was considered to be the strongest fortress in the world. Its concrete walls were fifteen feet thick and reinforced with honeycombed steel. It took five years to build and was the strongest and most heavily armed fortress in the world. Upon completion the Belgians boasted, “It is so strong no army can storm it.”

And they may have been right.

But one night a German glider with well-trained and heavily armed paratroopers quietly descended into the fort. They discovered that few men were on duty and they easily took command of the fort and its assets. All of the preparations of the Belgians were in vain.

The Apostle Paul had a military background. So it is no wonder that he went back to his military experience to give an insight for Christian living to the Church at Corinth. And it seems as though he is speaking as a military commander when he wrote, “Be on your guard! Stand true to what you believe. Be courageous. Be strong. And everything you do must be done in love.”

His first order of the day was to be alert – to be on guard – to the worldly dangers that will certainly and with great consistence confront the Christian. We may prepare well and be strong in our faith but if we are not constantly alert to life’s temptations we will be defeated.

Prayer: Help us, Lord, to avoid becoming complacent in our lives. May we be constantly aware of those areas in our life where we are weak and look to You for our strength. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: 1 Corinthians 16:13 Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.

Devotional for 3-23-2017

DOING WHAT FOR WHOM?

One of the world’s greatest composers and musicians was Johann Sebastian Bach. He is recognized as the most celebrated German composer of all times. He was also known as a deeply religious man. Over every one of his compositions he wrote the words, “To the glory of God.” He never lost sight of Who got credit for what he did.

This sets a great example for us: Whatever we do we must do, as Paul said, for the glory of God. But how is this possible and what does it mean? Am I to receive no recognition for what I do? Must God get all the credit for all of my accomplishments?

Perhaps the first truth we need to understand is the impact of our behavior on others. Many things that we can do may not bring harm to ourselves. But we must not ever, under any conditions, do anything that may or will bring harm to other Christians or non-Christians. There is nothing more wonderful than the Christian’s freedom. But that freedom must be used to help – not hurt others.

We also need to consider the important fact that we as disciples are responsible to disciple others. It is not enough to live right, we must be involved in sharing the insights, knowledge and wisdom God has given us with those who want to grow into the likeness of Christ. We need to strengthen the weak and lift up the fallen. When we, in our lives, do as Jesus did with His life, we will not be concerned about “being recognized.” We will do what we do because we love our Father!

Prayer: Heavenly Father, may we be conscious and considerate of everything we do and say. May we also work with You to equip those who are struggling. 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.

Devotional for 3-22-2017

GREAT HANDS AND GREATER HEART

Our Lord has hands that give and a heart that forgives. The closing words of David in Psalm 23 exclaim, “Surely your goodness and unfailing mercy shall pursue me all the days of my life!”

The word goodness in this verse refers to all of the gracious gifts that God will lavishly bestow on those who are His own. It includes kindness, love and loyalty as well as the fact that He will meet our every physical need.

Mercy in this verse assures us that the Lord will forgive our sins when we call on Him. It leaves no doubt that our God is the “God of mercy.” He alone is responsible for providing the gift of His salvation to those who call upon Him. And furthermore, it assures us that He will forgive us for those times when we fail Him and sin as we strive to grow into the likeness of His Son and, unfortunately, fail.

This goodness and mercy that David writes about are neither conditional nor temporary. It is with us today and will be with us as long as we live – “all the days of our lives” – that is, until we enter His house and dwell with Him forever more.

How wonderful it is to know that our Lord goes before us and is always alongside of us waiting to meet our every need – spiritually, emotionally and physically.
What a wonderful Shepherd is ours!

Prayer: Lord, we rejoice in the greatness of our salvation, knowing that we need fear nothing or no one because You are with us all day, every day! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 23:6 Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

Devotional for 3-21-2017

NEEDS AND WANTS

Two merchants in a small community were fierce competitors. Their stores faced each other on opposite sides of the street. Drake’s Store was much larger than Albert’s Merchandise Mart. Each fought for the same customers.

One day Drake put up a sign in his store that read, “If you want it, we’ve got it!” Not to be out done, Albert hung a larger sign across the entrance to his store that read, “If we don’t have it, you don’t need it!”

There is a vast difference between “a need” and “a want.” A “need” refers to the essentials in life, the things that we cannot do without. A “want” is something quite different. It is something that is not really essential. Think of the importance of water and the pleasure of a soft-drink. We can do without soft-drinks, but water is essential.

Jesus said, “Your Father knows what you need and He will give you what you need if you live for Him and make the Kingdom of God your primary concern.” When we make the Kingdom of God our primary concern, it means that God is first and foremost in our lives and that He is at the center of all that we do.

If we make His thoughts our thoughts, His desires our desires, His priorities our priorities and His ways our ways, He will meet our every need every day!

Prayer: Our Father, may we give You the place of honor that You deserve in our lives. May we always place You first in our lives and honor You in all that we do. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Matthew 6:31-34 …Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Devotional for 3-20-2017

THE “IN” IN WINNERS

It was the end of the football season and Ryan received a trophy for rushing for over 1,500 yards – the most in the history of his high school. On the way home his father said, “I’m proud of you, Son. I never won a trophy!”

“Dad,” he asked softly, “did you ever try?”

Some never win anything in life because they never begin anything in life that is worthwhile. They wander aimlessly from one interest to another because they are unwilling to do what is necessary or make the sacrifice to become a winner.

Others do not win anything because they give in to doubts and difficulties. They lack the determination to seek help or advice from others who faced the same problems but refused to give in and persevered until they achieved their goals.

If we want to win, we need to begin where the Bible begins – with God. Moses wrote, “In the beginning God…” When we begin any project or attempt to achieve any goal we can count on God to be with us to guard us and guide us, to uphold us and sustain us.

Before we begin a task or work toward any goal we need to stop and pray earnestly and sincerely asking God to keep us from making mistakes, follow His will and give us His wisdom and strength. If we rely on Him in all things for all things, He will lead us from one victory to another.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, we know that we can do all things through You and for You, if we remain in You. May we overcome all obstacles in life as we follow You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

Devotional for 3-19-2017

PRACTICING THE PRESENCE OF GOD

Lord Moynihan is recognized as one of the world’s greatest surgeons. Physicians came from distant places to observe his techniques and procedures.

One day after he finished operating before a gallery of other surgeons a reporter asked, “How can you work so calmly with such a famous crowd present?”

After pausing for a moment, he calmly replied, “There are just three people in the operating room when I operate – the patient, myself and God.”

In Joshua we read, “I will not fail you or abandon you.” In Hebrews we read, “I will never fail you, I will never forsake you!”

One thing is certain: Wherever Christians find themselves they can know with certainty that God is with them, will never fail, abandon nor forsake them!

How marvelous is that.

When we learn to accept the reality of God’s presence in our lives and come to depend on His strength and power rather than our own, we will begin to recognize the sufficiency of His grace and mercy. Once we make the transition from depending on ourselves to complete dependency upon God, our fears will be relieved, our anxieties overcome and our lives endowed with a “peace that passes all understanding.”

God wants to do more than care for us, He wants to take care of us. And He will if we trust Him!

Prayer: We are grateful Lord, for Your promises and presence, Your power and protection and Your desire to give us whatever wisdom we need if we use it to honor You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Hebrews 13:5  Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you;  never will I forsake you.”

Devotional for 3-18-2016

HOW TO GET DOWN TO WORK

He rose from slavery to become one of the greatest scientists of the twentieth century. He discovered hundreds of uses for various crops, including 300 products from peanuts, 100 products for the sweet potato, 75 for pecans and introduced crop rotation for plant nutrition and many products for cosmetics.

Quite a legacy for one man.

As the son of a slave he understood one problem that the farmers of the South faced: How to expand the number of crops they could grow. He first thought about peanuts – but realized that there was no market for them. He soon recognized his need for God’s help.

So, he prayed: “Mr. Creator, why did You make the peanut?”

One day he said, “God gave me a handful of peanuts and went with me to the laboratory and together we got down to work.” That was the beginning of a career that was founded on a simple prayer, a man who honored God and brought great things to the world.

“If you need wisdom,” James wrote, “if you want to know what God wants you to do, ask Him and He will gladly tell you!”

The word wisdom means practical, insightful discernment. It begins with recognizing the power of God, respecting His power and depending upon Him to show us what we can do with the gifts He has given us.

Prayer: How blest we are, Heavenly Father, that we do not have to waste time and worry about what to do with our lives. May we look to You for Your guidance every day. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: James 1:5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.

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