There once was a jockey who lost his first race and felt humiliated. But he did not give up. In fact, he lost his next 250 races before he enjoyed victory. His name? Eddie Arcaro and he became one of the most famous jockeys of his day.
There once was a baseball player who struck out 1,330 times. But he is not remembered for striking out. He is remembered for being one of the greatest home run hitters of all time. His name? Babe Ruth, a true legend in the history of “the game.”
There once was a man who once failed 99 times while doing the same experiment before it turned out right. But he is not remembered for his failures. Thomas Edison is remembered for being one of the world’s greatest inventors and is credited with 1,093 patents and his famous “trial and error” or Edisonian Approach to research: work until “you get the results you are seeking.”
Failure need not be fatal. It can be an important part of our learning process and lead us to ultimately discover the plan that God has in store for each of us.
There once was a man who denied his Lord. He often spoke without thinking, was brash and impulsive, turned his back on Jesus at His trial and even denied Him three times. Yet, he became the recognized leader among the disciples, was one of the “inner three” and became one of the greatest voices of the Gospel Message.
Prayer:We are grateful, Lord, that You will not give up on us as long as we stay close to You and seek Your will for our lives. May we never do less than our best for You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Proverbs 3:1-6 My son, do not forget my law, But let your heart keep my commands For length of days and long life And peace they will add to you.
One story of the Church in Russia has been relayed from one generation to the next. It occurred one Sunday as believers met in a house church. The small fellowship gathered together and began to sing their favorite hymns quietly but fervently. Suddenly, two soldiers walked into their midst with loaded weapons.
“If you wish to renounce your commitment to Christ,” shouted one, “leave now!”
Two left. Then another. Finally, two more.
Closing the door the officer snapped with the voice of a commanding officer, “Keep your hands up – but this time in praise to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. We too are Christians.”
The other officer then added, “We’ve learned by our experiences that unless people are willing to die for their faith, they cannot be fully trusted.”
Nearing the end of his life Paul often spoke of his loyalty and commitment to his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Through shipwrecks and imprisonments, disappointments and being abandoned by his friends and followers – even when facing death – he remained focused. He had achieved great status in the world but one day realized that it offered nothing in comparison to what he discovered in Christ. He was willing to suffer and die for Christ because he knew what awaited him. That’s faith.
Prayer:Our Father, we may never be called upon to suffer for You, nor we may never be asked to sacrifice anything we value for You, but help us to be willing. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: 2 Timothy 4:5-8 For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and time has come for my departure. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day – and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.
An upscale jewelry store in New York had an exhibit of crosses in their display window. They were anxious to attract shoppers to a sale that was going on. Prominently displayed in the middle of the crosses was a sign that read: “EASY TERMS!”
However, there are no easy terms associated with the cross of Christ. Certainly not for Him. And neither for us if we take our calling to be His disciples seriously.
Jesus said that “A student is not greater than the teacher...and a slave shares the master’s fate.”
Our commitment to Christ carries with it a cost. A sure sign of those who follow Him is the conflict and disagreement that surround them for doing His will and following His teachings. Christian commitment may even separate us from our family, friends and loved ones. How? As we take up our cross and follow Him our eternal values will certainly generate differences of opinions and lifestyles. Our goals will be different. Our vision of right and wrong will bring about separation of what to do with our time, treasures and talents. When we take up His cross and follow Him, He becomes our priority and passion and purpose for living.
Jesus does not call us to a life of peace, pleasure and prosperity. He calls us to live a life like He lived, doing as He did even though we may loose everything we have when we share in the reality of His cross.
Prayer:Give us courage, Lord, to take up our crosses each day knowing that it costs nothing to become a Christian but costs everything to be a Christian. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: The disciples were even more amazed, and said to each other, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.” Mark 10:24-40
During the Revolutionary War, General George Washington was leading his army toward Boston. At that time it was under the control of the British. He was well aware of the fact that he could not recapture and gain control of the city without destroying most of the houses and shops. Facing this difficult, if not impossible, decision to make on his own, he asked Congress for their advice.
After his letter was read aloud to the members of congress, there was a long silence as the decision was being considered. Finally, John Hancock said, “Nearly all of the property I have in the world is in Boston. But if the liberties of our country require their being burned to ashes, give the command immediately.” He recognized the difference between worldly possessions and what Washington was fighting for.
As Christians we have dual citizenships. Our citizenship in our nation requires that we submit to its rules and regulations, pay taxes and show respect to our leaders. Our citizenship in the Kingdom of Heaven requires that we pledge to God our obedience and commitment. Jesus made this clear when He was questioned about the issue of paying taxes to Caesar. He said “give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.”
There is a distinction between the two citizenships. Jesus made this distinction obvious: He stated that loyalty to God does not necessarily mean that we are to be disloyal to our governing authorities. But He made it abundantly clear that if a choice has to be made, the Kingdom of Heaven has priority.
As Christians, our obedience and commitment, first and foremost, is to God. What we treasure reveals our priorities.
Prayer:Help us, Lord, to commit ourselves to seek Your Kingdom more than anything else in life and to be willing to make any sacrifice to put You first. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Matthew 22:15-22 Then he said to them, “So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”
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 them.
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 whole heartedly.” He challenged the people to declare their allegiance to God because He had proven His trustworthiness to them.
From simple to significant, we make many choices each day. Not being able to see the future or knowing which direction our lives may take, we must put our trust in the One who does. We must listen to the Lord as He speaks to us through His Word. When we do, it will be easier to make the right choices. Especially if we are on the Lord’s side and draw upon His strength.
Prayer:Lord, may we live our lives letting those around us see the depth of our commitment to You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Joshua 24:14, 15 But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
Throughout the Book of Proverbs, Solomon does not allow “wiggle” room. It is either “this is the way” or “that is the way” or “do not forget the way.” It’s like a visit to a physician: “If you want to be healthy, you must follow these directions and take this prescription.” If anyone has a desire to honor God, live a life that is pleasing to the Lord, avoid doing what is wrong, walk in ways of the Lord, Solomon leaves no doubt about what we are to do. He is also very clear about the dangers and consequences of following our own ways and selfish ends.
“Evil men do not understand justice, but those who seek the Lord understand it fully.” There is little doubt about who Solomon had in mind when he wrote these words: Evil men are those who are committed to doing evil things. When we examine the lives of “evil men” we find evidence of evil thoughts, evil deeds and evil friends. Their lives are so centered on acts of evil that they have lost their understanding of justice. Their lives are so corrupt, so devious and so unjust that they cannot see or even recognize “right from wrong.”
On the other hand, those who “seek the Lord” are fully capable of making the right choice when facing a difficult decision. From his own experience as a leader and from following the advice of his father, King David, Solomon learned that if anyone has a commitment to do what God will honor, God will grant that request. When our thoughts are God’s thoughts, choices become clear.
Prayer:Empower us, Father, with the strength and courage that comes from Your Word, to do what is right. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Proverbs 28:5 Evildoers do not understand what is right, but those who seek the Lord understand it fully.
A young man stopped by my office to inform me that he had been called of God to become a minister of the Gospel. It thrilled me! After praying together he said, “I'm going to the Chapel and I'm going to pray all day - maybe through the night as well - and worship God.”
“Great,” I replied. “If you need help, come get me.”
“Oh no,” he replied, “I want to be alone with God and speak only with Him. You see, I have this tablet with me and I'm going to write down on every page the things I'm going to do for God. Then I'm going to sign it.”
“It would be better,” I said, “if you signed each page at the bottom and then asked God to fill in the pages with the things He wants you to do for Him.”
God has a perfect plan for each of us. It is a plan that He has designed and will be revealed to us plainly as we surrender our lives to Him. As we willingly become available to Him, He will transform us to become individuals with transformed minds - minds that are sensitive and open to the direction of His Spirit and lives that live to honor and obey Him.
God only wants what is best for us but we cannot know His best until we are willing to sacrifice ourselves to Him. We know that we are “willing sacrifices” when we sign the page and allow Him to fill in the details. Then we will know what “His good, pleasing and perfect will” is for us.
Prayer:Oh Lord, it is so difficult to realize how easy it is to do what we want to do and consider it as Your will for our lives. May we learn to give You “blank pages.” In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Romans 12:2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.