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SAY IT ISN’T SO
A deacon phoned his pastor who was on vacation in a distant city. When he answered the call, the deacon blurted out, “Pastor, a cyclone just came through our county and destroyed my house and barn.”
“I’m not surprised,” replied his pastor. Then he continued, “The punishment for unconfessed sin is inevitable! Sooner or later, God will judge all sin and sinners!”
“But Pastor,” continued the deacon, “it destroyed your house as well.”
“It did?” exclaimed the pastor. “The ways of the Lord are past human understanding.”
There are times when it is difficult to offer love and kindness to those whom we feel do not deserve it. Our responses to another person’s trials and tragedies, unfortunately and often, come from a distorted view of God’s love. We are inclined to look at what happens to others from a normal, distorted, human response and believe that “they got what they deserved.”
When we realize the loving-kindness of God to us and His blessings on us, and then realize how undeserving we are of anything and everything, perhaps we may begin to see things differently. If God does not withhold anything good from us, we should treat others the same!
Prayer: Lord, may we look at others the way You look at us – with love, care and compassion. May we realize that we are all equal when we stand before You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: 1 Corinthians 16:14 And do everything with love.
The great American novelist, Sinclair Lewis, was invited to give a lecture to a group of college students who wanted to become writers. As they sat quietly and waited expectantly, he opened his remarks by asking, “How many of you intend to become successful writers?”
Immediately, everyone in the audience held up a hand to declare their intentions.
“In that case,” said Lewis, “my advice to you is to go home immediately and write.”
Shortly after creating Adam, God directed him to care for and tend to the Garden that He had created for him. And, ever since then, man has been responsible to work with God and take care of His creation. Each day we are to accept every task that comes our way and do it as “though we are working for the Lord.” Why? Because He has tasked us to care for His creation!
“Remember,” said Paul, “the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward” if we “work hard and cheerfully” for Him. We must accept every task and each responsibility He offers us and recognize it as an opportunity to worship and serve Him every day. “Whatever we do – in word or deed – we are to do it for the glory of God!” We work for the Creator of the universe!
Prayer: Father, may we always remember that whatever we do, we are to do as an act of worship. We do this from hearts full of love because of Your salvation. In Christ’s Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Colossians 3:23-24 Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ.
PREPARING FOR TEMPTATION
It was a very hot summer day. All the boys in the neighborhood decided to go swimming but there was no adult to go with them. Recognizing the danger that might occur, Johnny’s mother forbade him to go with them. Later that day, he came home with wet hair.
“What happened?” asked his mother.
“I fell in the pond,” came his reply.
“Well, why aren’t your clothes wet?” she asked.
“I had a feeling I was going to fall in,” he explained, “so I took them off.”
The world has been, is, and always will be full of temptations and pressure to sin. So, Paul gave us a warning and an escape route. First, he said that we would be tempted, and then second, that God would always provide a way for us to escape temptation and to be victorious over sin. But we must do our part if we expect Him to do His. We must first prepare ourselves with His Word, and to recognize and avoid people, places and things that will lead us to sin. Then, if we are tempted, look to Him for strength to resist the temptation before we are overpowered and fall into sin.
Prayer: Grant us, Father, the courage to avoid situations that tempt us to sin. Empower us to ask for Your strength and power to turn from sin and live for You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: 1 Corinthians 10:13 The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.
GRACE THAT IS SUFFICIENT
A pastor was visiting a member of his church who had been hospitalized for many weeks. She was suffering from excruciating pain. After praying with her, he offered her a book and said, “This book brought me much comfort while I was ill a few years ago. You will enjoy it greatly, and it will bring you much peace. It will be most helpful!”
“Thank you,” she answered. “I’m well acquainted with its contents.”
“Have you read it?” he asked.
“More than that,” she replied. “I wrote it.”
It is always comforting to be able to talk with someone who has experienced pain or problems that are similar to our own. They have been where we are and know and understand our pain or suffering, sadness or sorrow, fears and doubts, questions and concerns. There is a sense of understanding that brings a closeness or connection, a bond and a blessing.
When we go through difficult times and are comforted by our Heavenly Father, we must realize that “God comforts us that we can comfort others who need comforting.” Often the “unwanted gifts” of pain and sorrow come from God as a “special gift” that equips us to understand, care for and help others who “are going through their valley with dark shadows.”
Prayer: Help us, Father, to care for others the way You care for us. May we be open and accepting of Your love, mercy, and grace so we can share it with others. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: 2 Corinthians 1:3-11 Even when we are weighed down with troubles, it is for your comfort and salvation! For when we ourselves are comforted, we will certainly comfort you. Then you can patiently endure the same things we suffer.
One day Winston Churchill was informed that he was to address the United Kingdom in one hour. He called a taxi and said to the driver, “Drive me to the British Broadcasting Corporation just as fast as you can.”
“Sorry, sir,” he responded, “I can’t do that. Sir Winston is to broadcast at six o’clock. I want to get home to hear him, and if I drive you to the BBC, I’ll miss him. I cannot do that!”
The answer thrilled Churchill so much that he reached in his pocket and gave him a large sum of money.
“The devil with Churchill,” said the driver. “Hop in!” and off they rode.
There is nothing wrong with having money or enjoying the things that money can buy. But there is something wrong if wanting money causes us to do the wrong things, do things poorly, or if we compromise our values, to get money.
Jesus said that if power or possessions, position or priorities have first place in our lives they will become worthless and ultimately destroy us. What we have in this world will be left in this world – we cannot take anything from this world into the next. Everything we have now is temporary and cannot be exchanged for anything eternal. The “things” of this world cannot purchase salvation or eternal life. As Christians, we are obligated to make the pursuit of God and building His Kingdom on earth the most important goals of our lives.
Prayer: Help us, Father, to live lives that demonstrate to others that You are Lord of our lives. May we seek first Your righteousness and then Your Kingdom. Through Christ our Lord, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Mark 6:36-37 But Jesus said, “You feed them.”
LOVE AND RESPECT
One evening a husband returned from work and found his home cluttered and un-kept. Calling his wife he asked, “What on earth happened today?”
“So,” she responded thoughtfully, “every evening when you arrive home you ask, ‘What did you do all day?’ Well, now you know. I didn’t do it.”
When a man and woman become husband and wife, a unique relationship is formed: the two become one. And when the two are merged into one, a unique union is formed. From then on, whatever affects one certainly affects the other. It is as if there is no seam or separation.
Paul said that “each man must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.” We know that a man “loves himself” if he takes care of himself as one who was created in God’s image and for God’s glory. If a man takes his obligation to God seriously, he will be concerned about his spiritual, mental and physical well-being. How? By developing his relationship with God, putting “good things” into his mind, and caring for his body. These are the “right” things to do. And, as he cares for himself, he must – willingly and consistently – also care for his wife the same way. A wife knows that her husband cares for her if he cares for himself as God intended him to. He will also want the same – what is best in God’s sight and teachings – for her. Respect for the husband comes easily and naturally and freely and consistently when the wife knows she is being cared for the way God intended.
Prayer: Lord, we pray that in our homes and in our lives we will live the true love that comes only from You. Help us to live love and show love as Your Son did. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Ephesians 5:33 So again I say, each man must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
KNOWING AND DOING
In 1927 many businesses had financial difficulties that forced them to close. One was an insurance company in Savannah, Georgia. There were more than 500 stockholders who lost hundreds of thousands of dollars. The owner, a man named Mercer, and his son, promised to repay each one of them.
Twenty-eight years later the final debt was paid. Even though the father had died, the son paid each debt in full.
The son had become a famous songwriter, and it was one of the songs he wrote that enabled him to pay the debts. The songwriter was Johnny Mercer and the song that paid the debt was, “Accentuate the Positive and Eliminate the Negative.”
Choosing to do the right thing is often difficult, sometimes painful. There are times when it may mean the loss of money or some valued object. It may cost a friendship with someone who is destroying us and our walk with the Lord. It may mean giving up a job that would cause us to compromise our values. Honoring God always forces us to choose to do what He has asked us to do: obey His teachings. Knowing what is right is rarely the problem. Doing what is right, however, is. Remember: “I can do all things through Him who gives me His strength!”
Prayer: Lord, may we always honor You by accepting, believing, and living Your Word. Help us to take You at Your Word, and live as though we thoroughly believed it! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: 1 Chronicles 29:17 I know, my God, that you examine our hearts and rejoice when you find integrity there. You know I have done all this with good motives, and I have watched your people offer their gifts willingly and joyously.
One Sunday morning, the pastor was visiting the first grade Sunday school class. With a bright smile, he said to a small child, “Who made you, Jimmy?”
“Well,” he said thoughtfully, “God made part of me.”
“What do you mean that God made part of you?” asked the pastor.
“First, God made me real little, and I growed the rest all by myself.”
How insightful! God begins a “good work in us” when we accept Christ as our Savior. We are, so to speak, “real little” like Jimmy. But, He does not expect us to remain “little.” When God started the process of the new birth within us, He did so with the intention of bringing it to completion – for us to grow into the likeness of Christ. This is possible because the Holy Spirit lives with us and is willing and able, with our involvement, to let it happen through prayer, Bible study, and worship. Come, grow with Him. He has great things waiting for each of us.
Prayer: Lord, may we work with You to grow into Christlikeness. May we, with determination and surrender, commit our lives to become who You created us to be. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Philippians 1:6 And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.
ATTITUDE IS EVERYTHING!
A poor widow had two sons. She was extremely consumed with their success and feared that they would fail. Both were self-employed. One sold umbrellas and the other one sold fans.
The first thing she would do each morning was to run to the window to check the weather. If it was raining, she would sigh and say, “Oh, me, no one will want to buy fans today. It’s going to be cool.” And, if it was sunny, she would fret and say, “Oh my, no one will need an umbrella because it’s not raining.”
One day a friend said to her, “Listen, if the sun is shining, someone will buy a fan and if it’s raining, someone will buy an umbrella. The weather is always changing so someone will always buy one or the other.”
Many of us allow the conditions around us to control the attitude that is in us. It’s “what’s out there” that controls “what’s in here.” How unfortunate! We have things backward. When we are “in Christ,” we need to go to Him and ask Him to fill our hearts with thanksgiving and joy for all that we have “in Him.” We have all of His promises available to us in His Word. And, if we accept them and act on them, rain or sun, come what may – God is in control and will give us what we need. “Greater is He who is within you than he who is in the world!”
Prayer: Lord, help us to see things through Your eyes, and believe that Your care for us exceeds every need we will ever have. May we accept Your promises. In Christ our Lord. Amen.
Scripture For Today: 5:16-17 Always be joyful. Never stop praying. 1 Thessalonians
GOOD FOR EVIL
A truck driver went into a café and ordered a hamburger, French fries, a piece of pie, and a cup of coffee. Shortly after he placed his order, a group of bikers came in and surrounded him. When he was served, they ate his food and drank his coffee. Quietly, the trucker stood up, walked to the cash register, paid his bill, said nothing, walked past them, and out the door.
“He’s really not much of a man,” said one of the bikers.
“And he’s really not much of a driver either,” said the cashier. “He just ran over three bikes in the parking lot.”
In Romans 12 Paul describes the central values for Christian living. In particular, he said that if we have truly experienced God’s grace, we will want to share it with others. Forgiveness is a good example of sharing and showing God’s grace to others.
Often we say that we forgive others for the wrongs they have done to us. But, forgiveness is much more than quietly offering kind words under our breath that only God hears. Forgiveness is active, not passive. If we have trouble forgiving someone and the hate remains lodged in our heads and hearts and not expressed with our hands by showing forgiveness, we need to do something that reflects forgiveness – like offering them a small gift. That would certainly demonstrate forgiveness.
And, when we do so, we can begin to think of – in some very small way – the tremendous gift of forgiveness that God gave to us in and through His Son: our salvation!
Prayer: Help us, Father, to be forgiving and loving of those who harm us. We see examples of this in Your Son, even when on His cross. May we follow His example. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Romans 12:17-21 Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.