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REFUSE TO BE DISCOURAGED
Dr. Jonas Salk, one of the world’s foremost microbiologists, was the first person to discover and develop a vaccine against polio. It was not an easy process and took years.
Once he said, “Ideas come to me as they do to everyone else. But I take each one of them seriously, consider them carefully, examine them thoroughly and study them endlessly. I do not allow anyone to discourage me, though many try.”
For the Christian, discouragement overcomes us when we are no longer aware of the presence of God in our lives, become unconcerned for the plans He has for our lives, refuse to believe that He will provide for our every need and doubt that He will fulfill the promises He has made in His Word.
God told Moses to “be strong and very courageous…to study and obey His law…” and then, and only then, could he count on being successful. Why? Because then, and only then, could he count on God to be with him, protect him and empower him wherever he went.
God wanted Moses to know, understand, believe and accept the fact that it was important for him to be obedient and follow “all that is written.” He also wanted him to know that faithfulness to God is not a guarantee that he would be successful in the eyes of the world. God did, however, assure Him that He would be successful in His eyes and that type of success lasts throughout eternity.
Prayer: Thank You, Heavenly Father, for assuring us of Your presence and power in our lives if we obey Your Word. Give us strength and courage as we follow You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Joshua 1:9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
LUNCH BOX RELIGION
In a “Peanuts” comic strip, Linus carefully listened to Lucy as she boasted about her religious zeal. She wanted him to think that she was all about witnessing to others.
“You know, Linus,” she bragged, “I could be a terrific evangelist. Do you know the kid that sits behind me in school? I convinced him that my religion was better than his religion!”
“How did you do that?” he asked.
“I hit him with my lunch box until he gave in,” she replied.
Jesus said, “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” Jesus knew that love would work better than a lunch box!
Biblical love must never be confused with warm, fuzzy feelings or emotional ups and downs. Biblical love is a love that would open ones lunch box to someone who is hungry and in need of food even though the lunch box owner would have to do without food. It is a love that may cause us to give until we ourselves have to do without. It is a love that will, at times, drain us of energy and finances to help those who are victims of wrongdoing through no fault of their own. It is a love that absorbs the hurts of others without complaining or holding back when we think that we are being taken advantage of. It is a kind of love that is hard to do. But it is the kind of love we see revealed in the life of Jesus.
Prayer: We see in Your Son, Father, the ultimate definition of love – a love that had or has no limits or draws no lines. Fill our hearts with a love like Your Son. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: John 13:35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
YOU CAN’T STAY WHERE YOU ARE
Someone once described life as an “incline.” If we are not continually going up, we will certainly slip downward. We can never stay where we are. And when we falter and fall, it is what we do that makes a difference.
Years ago I heard of a tombstone that contained the words, “He died climbing.” What a profound statement a loved one had made about him. Imagine what we might all accomplish for God if our lives were invested in moving upward and forward in love and service to Him!
When Jesus was telling His disciples about His return He said, “Stand straight and look up for your salvation is near!” He wanted His followers to focus on what they had to look forward to – not what was going on around them. Focusing on what is going on around us will cause us to lose sight of what is before us – the hope of being with our Savior in heaven!
If we only focus on the tragedies and troubles that surround us, we will find a cause of worry and fear, doubt and despair. But if we embrace the joy of living in and through our Savior and Lord, we will find a peace that passes all understanding and the comfort that come from knowing that God is in control.
As believers we can look forward to the return of our Lord and His reign of justice and peace. Rather than fearing what is going on around us, we must constantly, continually and confidently look forward to Christ’s return and the hope we have of being with Him forever!
Prayer: Heavenly Father, help us to keep our eyes and minds on You and not the things in this world. Give us strength and courage to go forward every day of our lives. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Luke 21:28 Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.”
HOW TO BE HAPPY ALWAYS
Long time comedian Jimmy Durante was rushing from one performance to another. He had only a few minutes to spare, but a friend asked him to “take a moment” and say a few words to a group of veterans in a hospital.
Walking into a ward, he went through a brief routine of his favorite jokes. The crowd applauded loudly and cheered for more. He told a few more jokes and the applause and cheers became louder and longer. The soldiers were thoroughly enjoying every word he spoke and every joke he shared. Instead of a greeting and “taking a few moments,” he ended up staying for thirty minutes. Finally, he had to leave.
As he was exiting the ward his manager asked, “What happened? You said you only had a few moments and you stayed for half an hour.”
“I really needed to leave,” said Durante. “But I want to show you the two men in the front row. See those two men? Look carefully at them.”
When his manager looked at the two men, he noticed that one had lost his right arm and the other had lost his left arm in combat. But, working together they were able to clap: one’s right hand reached out to the other’s left hand and together they were able to register their delight for the entertainer taking time to be with them.
Happiness does not spring from an empty heart. It comes from sharing the gifts God gives us with others!
Prayer: Help us, Father, to be as generous to others as You have been to each of us. May we always share the gifts You have given us with others. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 106:3 Blessed are those who keep justice, And he who does righteousness at all times!
DO IT RIGHT THE FIRST TIME!
The class was excited to meet their new art teacher. Waiting expectantly for their first assignment, the teacher stood before the class and said, “I want each of you to draw a square, a triangle and a rectangle. And I want you to do your best.”
After a few minutes she began to walk among the students and observe their work. Pausing to look at the work Bobby was doing she noticed that his lines were not straight.
“Look, Bobby,” she said, “that line isn’t straight.”
“I know,” he admitted, “but I can straighten it later.”
“Bobby,” she replied, “a straight line never needs to be straightened. Do it right the first time!”
The Psalmist wrote, “I have chosen to be faithful; I have determined to live by your law.” In this psalm the author reveals two critical decisions: first, to be faithful to God’s laws and, secondly, not be deterred from being faithful by being fully committed to keeping God’s laws. He said, “I am determined!”
God has given each of us the wonderful gift of choice. In this psalm, the author said that he made a decision that would guide every decision he would ever make.
If our decisions are based on the teachings of God’s Word, we will not need to go back and “straighten the lines.” May His Word light our paths and guide our steps.
Prayer: We pray, Lord, that we will surrender our lives completely to You and think the truth, speak the truth, live the truth and do things right the first time. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 119:30 I have chosen the way of truth; Your judgments I have laid before me.
NO ENEMIES YET, PASTOR
Six-year-old George listened very attentively to his pastor’s sermon. As he and his father were leaving church he said, “Pastor, I heard you say that I should love my enemies. I’m only six and I don’t have any. But I hope to have some next year when I’m seven.”
Individuals tend to become enemies when they cannot agree on an issue or a course of action or a goal. The differences become insurmountable, positions harden and opinions become set in stone. We might say with certainty that we “make” our enemies. Unfortunately once we “make” an enemy that “enemy” usually lasts a lifetime.
On the other hand, friendships are formed when individuals have common likes and dislikes, goals and values. There are “common denominators” that draw them together and a sense of mutual trust. And we read in Proverbs, “A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in times of need.”
Perhaps the greatest part of friendship is loyalty – standing with or alongside of someone when they are enduring times of distress or disappointment, sickness or struggles that never seem to end. When there are “calm seas and gentle winds” carrying us along life’s journey, we can pretty much make it on our own.
But when the waves are crashing and the winds are howling – that’s when we discover the true meaning of friendship and loyalty. There seems to be nothing as valuable as a friend. We need to make more – not enemies!
Prayer: Help us, Lord, to reach out and make friends with those who are our sisters and brothers in Christ so that we may grow together in loyalty and service. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Proverbs 17:17 A friend loves at all times, And a brother is born for adversity.
ANYONE CAN BE A QUITTER
His lifelong ambition was to play professional football. Finally the day was scheduled for him to try out before the coaches of the San Diego Chargers. But on the day before the try out, Dale lost both of his legs and several fingers in an explosion.
Sixty long days after the explosion, he was discharged from the hospital. As he was wheeled from his room to a waiting car, he looked at the two “stubs” that were now his legs and his right hand that had only a thumb and little finger remaining.
He could have given up in disappointment, gone on welfare and received a lifelong disability. But he didn’t.
He could have focused on everything he lost in the explosion and chosen to live a life of anger and hatred. But he didn’t.
He could have become filled with resentment for those who made the team that year and were hailed as heroes. But he didn’t.
Instead of giving up or becoming angry and hateful or filled with resentment, he challenged himself with the realty that “Anyone can become a quitter. But I’m going to become the greatest insurance salesman my company has ever seen!” And he did.
Paul said, “I can really know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised Him from the dead.”
Fortunately, that same power is available today for Christians who choose to use that power to glorify Him.
Prayer: Help us, Heavenly Father, to accept the challenges You bring into our lives as opportunities to trust in Your power to accomplish great things for You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Philippians 3:10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death,
THE GIFTS OF ANCESTORS
It was a luncheon for art collectors in New York City. Only the affluent were invited to attend. One lady sitting next to a rabbi asked, “Did you know that one of my ancestors signed the Declaration of Independence?”
“No, I did not,” he replied. “And did you know that one of mine signed the Ten Commandments?”
Tracing ancestors back hundreds of years has become an interesting hobby for many individuals. The idea of knowing one’s relatives and where they came from is interesting, and at times fascinating. And for some, it is a reason for pride while others are embarrassed.
Many parents take great pride in telling their children about their ancestors; who they were, where they came from and what they accomplished. But, no doubt, there are far more who cannot tell where their children were last night or what they were doing.
The Psalmist said, “How happy are those who fear the Lord – and follow His ways!” This psalm clearly describes the benefits and blessings that God grants a family that follows His teachings and honors Him in all that they do. His values described in this psalm include love, service, honesty, integrity and prayer. They are the essential elements for every healthy relationship – especially family relationships that last into eternity.
The greatest legacy parents can leave their children is one of family Bible-reading, praying and church going.
Prayer: Father, we pray that all families everywhere will place You and Your Word at the center of their home and honor You with family worship and praise. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 128
“Lo, there was a great earthquake, for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled away the stone and sat upon it; his appearance was as lightening and his clothes were as white as snow. For fear of him, the guards trembled and became as dead men.
“And the angel said to the women, “Be not afraid. I know that you seek Jesus of Nazareth who was crucified. He is risen. He is not here. Why seek the living among the dead? Remember how He spoke to you while He was still in Galilee, saying, ‘The Son of Man must be delivered up into the hands of sinful man and be crucified and on the third day rise again.’ Come now and see that place where He lay. (Then they remembered His words.)”
“Go quickly and tell His disciples and Peter that He is risen from the dead, and lo, He goes before you into Galilee. There, you will see Him as He told you.”
“Some went away with fear and trembling and said nothing because they were afraid. Others went away quickly with fear and great joy and ran to tell the disciples.”
Prayer: Father, how grateful we are for Your victory over death and the assurance of eternal life with You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Mark 16, Matthew 28, Luke 24
BELIEVE – EXPECT – RECEIVE
The season was nearly half way over and Pete Rose was on a hitting streak. A reporter asked for an interview following a difficult loss. He said to Rose, “You need 78 hits to break Ty Cobb’s record. How many times at bat will you need to get 78 hits?”
“Seventy-eight,” came his quick reply.
“Come on,” said the reporter. “You don’t expect to get 78 hits in 78 times at bat, do you?”
“Every time I step up to the plate,” said Rose, “I expect to get a hit! If I don’t expect to get a hit, I have no right to step in the batter’s box.”
As he was in playing baseball, so ought we be in our prayer life! Every time we go to the Lord in prayer we must learn to expect results. Otherwise, why pray?
Jesus said, “If you ask anything in my name, I will do it for you so that the Father’s glory will be shown through the Son.” Expecting results in prayer could not be explained more clearly! If we ask in His name, He will grant our requests.
The problem, then, seems to be either/or. Either our prayers are not consistent with what is included in the “name” of Jesus or we are not asking. To “ask in His name” means that our prayer requests are consistent with What and Who Jesus represented. If when I pray, I know that God cannot and will not be able to bless what I am asking for, or if my request will not honor and glorify Him, I cannot expect Him to grant my request when I pray.
Prayer: Help us, Heavenly Father, to understand what it means to “ask in Your name” so that when we pray in faith believing, we can expect Your blessings. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: John 14:13 And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.