An unhappy skeptic said to Benjamin Franklin, “The Constitution is a mockery! Where’s the happiness that it guarantees?”
“My friend,” said Franklin, “it only guarantees the pursuit of happiness.”
Our word for happiness can be misleading. The “root” hap means chance. Human happiness is something that is dependent on the chances and the changes of life, the daily “things” – events or circumstances – that may or may not give us “happiness.”
Consider the beatitudes. They are not about some hope for a future, blissful state in heaven. They are for the now which belongs to the Christian in this present life. The way the beatitudes are written assures the Christian of the presence of God, the joyous thrill of His presence and the hope of the Christian life.
The word blessed that is used in each of the beatitudes is a very special word. It describes a joy that has its secret within ourselves - a joy that is peaceful and untouchable and self-contained. It is a joy that is above and beyond and independent of all the circumstances of life. It is a joy that comes from God Himself. “No one,” said Jesus, “will take your joy from you!” Walking daily with Him assures us of a joy no one or nothing can disturb.
Prayer:Give us, our Heavenly Father, a peace that passes this world’s understanding, a joy that comes from Your presence and a hope that assures us of our home with You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Matthew 5:1-12 …Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Abraham Lincoln spent years as a circuit riding lawyer. On one of his trips he and a friend were faced with crossing the dangerous Fox River. While traveling through a small village he decided to ask a minister about the best place to cross it.
“Well,” said the minister, “it’s always pretty bad. I am familiar with all its dangers. But I have one fixed rule that I never change: I never cross it until I reach it.”
Planning for tomorrow is time well spent. But worrying about what might happen tomorrow is a foolish use of our time. When we worry we close our eyes and ears and cannot see or hear our Heavenly Father at work in our lives. So what do we do?
First, we must release the problem to the Lord in prayer. We must hand the problem to Him as a quarterback hands off the football to a running back. The football can only get to its final destination when it is let go.
Second, we must fix our thoughts on the power of God to solve the problem. We must allow His Spirit to guide us and give us insight to solve the problem.
Third, we must activate our faith and believe that God will lead us to the solution that He has for us – not necessarily the solution we want. To combat worry and anxiety we must take God’s promises at face value.
Prayer: Help us, Father, to believe that You will solve our problems and take away our anxieties when we look to You in faith and accept Your will in our lives. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Matthew 6:33-34 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
My mother was a most wonderful Christian who always taught her children by example. She taught Sunday school, child evangelism classes, ladies Bible study groups and weekly prayer services for missionaries. Each Thursday was a day of fasting and prayer.
I remember overhearing her pray on one occasion. She was praying for her children: “Oh God,” she cried, “don’t ever let my children have an easy life. Let them experience sorrow and suffering, pain and problems.”
That prayer shaped all of us children. It has given us a heart for those who are broken-in-heart. As a result of her prayers when we see the tears of others we want to dry their eyes because we can understand their pain. When others go through a time of grief we can identify with them because we’ve been there. When others are in need it motivates us to help them because we have been without. When we see the unsaved we are encouraged to pray: Lord what can I do to win them to Christ.
We must also remember that Jesus went through these very same experiences. He was beaten and spit upon, abandoned and betrayed, went through hours of excruciating pain – even death itself. Now, in heaven He remembers these feelings and through His ever sufficient grace will give us hope, help and healing.
Prayer:We are grateful, Father, that You know first-hand what we go through in the dark hours of pain and suffering which assures us of Your compassion and care. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Matthew 9:36-38 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd…
It was a bitterly cold Sunday morning. People were walking as fast as they could from the parking lot to the steps that led into the sanctuary. Standing next to the steps was a poorly dressed man with his hat pulled down over his eyes and his collar held tightly as he tried to keep warm. His clothes were shabby and his shoes well worn. He appeared destitute, hopeless and unimportant. No one stopped to offer help.
The church members filled the pews, the choir took their seats and the organist started the prelude. As the people sat waiting for the service to begin, they suddenly let out a gasp as they saw “that man” who was outside the church walk down the aisle, stand behind the pulpit and remove his tattered clothes. It was their pastor.
Opening his Bible he read, “I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me.”
Every day God places opportunities to serve Him before us and around us. These opportunities do not require wealth or skills, intelligence or power. They simply require eyes that are open, a mind that is alert and a heart that is sensitive to the needs of others.
To refuse to help others is the same as refusing to help God.
Prayer:Help us, Father, to see what You see, to feel what You feel and then do what You would do when we see others who need our help. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Matthew 25:42-46 “I will tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for the least of these, you did not do for me.”
Eric Severide was a news journalist who achieved much recognition and fame. In fact, he was considered to be an “elite correspondent.”
When he graduated from high school a local newspaper sponsored him and a classmate, Walter Port, to travel by canoe from Minneapolis to York Factory – a journey of 2250 miles. When they came to the last leg of their journey, they were overwhelmed with what they faced – 450 miles through the rugged wilderness.
As they faced what seemed to them to be overwhelming odds, an old fur trader helped them by offering a few words of simple advice: “Just think of the last mile.”
Great advice for them. Great advice for Christians.
We do not know what the journey before us may be. In fact, as we face today or tomorrow or next week, we do not know what we will face. Sometimes we look back and recall unpleasant memories that have left us scared and scarred, perhaps fearful and frightened.
But we are here today and have the promise of Jesus for the rest of our lives: “Be sure of this, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
When we place our trust in the Lord, we have a Guide who has never strayed from the way and a Guard who has never lost or abandoned one of His children.
Prayer:Thank You, Lord, for the guarantee that You are and always will be with us no matter what. May we trust You always knowing that Your grace is sufficient. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Matthew 28:20 “Teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
“Grandma,” said little Josie, “did you know that God created the world with His left hand?”
“My goodness, Honey, wherever did you get that idea? What do you mean He used His left hand?” asked Grandma. “The way I figure it,” she explained, “is that God had to use His left hand because Jesus was sitting on His right hand.”
Josie heard the story in Sunday school and in her childlike faith accepted its truth. How precious is a faith that believes. And although we may not know all of the details, God reveals Himself and His plan for His creation and His children, us, in His Word. But there is another thought we must remember when we think about where Jesus is. His final words to His disciples were, “Be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
What does it mean when He said, “I am with you?” Simply this: Jesus was with His disciples physically as He went about His work while on earth. After His resurrection He ascended into heaven. Now, He is with us through the work of the Holy Spirit. He knew there would be difficult days and trying times for His disciples then and now. So He gave His Word, “I am with you until the end.”
For those who accept Him as Savior there is no need to fear facing life alone. “I,” said Jesus, “am with you!”
Prayer:How blest we are, Father, to know that You are with us every moment of our lives. Give us a peace that comes from Your presence as we faithfully serve You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. Matthew 28:20
Following a terrible earthquake in Japan, an American reporter decided to do a series of articles on the survivors for his newspaper. As he was traveling from one location to another, he discovered an elderly lady who was selling flashlights and batteries for less than she paid for them. Intrigued, he decided to interview her.
After asking a few introductory questions he asked, “Why are you willing to sell the flashlights and batteries for much less than you paid for them?”
Smiling at him, she replied, “I don’t want to profit from their suffering.”
What a Christlike attitude!
Suffering is something we all experience. It is part of everyone’s life. Sooner or later, today or tomorrow - sickness or sorrow, trial or tragedy will find us and threaten us when we least expect it. No one is immune from the problems or perils of life.
Nor is the Christian immune from responding to those in need. Jesus, in speaking of the final judgment said, “When you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.” There are acts of kindness that we can do to help others every day. Jesus expects His followers to give water to the thirsty, clothes to the naked, food to the hungry, hospitality to the homeless and visit those in prison. We will have no excuse to offer Him if we do not do as He did.
Prayer:Father, the least and the lost of this world are of great concern to You. May we take Your words to heart, and share whatever You give us with them. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: …He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ Matthew 25:35-45
Jascha Heifetz had a brilliant career as one of the world's greatest violinists. From his earliest concert at the age of nineteen and throughout his career as a violinist his performances demonstrated his mastery of the violin. He never ceased to command respect and this brought him the highest esteem of those who heard him play.
When his concert career ended, he was invited to become a professor of music at UCLA. Shortly after he accepted this position, a reporter conducting an interview with him asked, “Why did you change careers?”
He answered, “Violin playing is a perishable art. It must be passed on as a personal skill; otherwise, it will be lost.”
Christian living is a perishable art. It is a way of living that reflects “the way, the truth and the life” of Jesus Christ. And because it is perishable it must be passed on or the message of the Gospel will be lost and people will not come to know Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.
When we become Christians, God gives us a new vocation - not an avocation. An avocation is what we do to entertain ourselves to escape the trying demands of life. The word vocation comes from the Latin word vocatio - a calling. All Christians have a calling.
When we become new creations in Christ, we are called to a new profession: to pass on the Good News.
Prayer:Lord, may we realize, recognize, respect and accept our new calling in Christ and be faithful witnesses to always pass on Your salvation to others. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” Matthew 4:19
A vacationer left his beach cottage and was walking along the shoreline. He was amazed when he approached an elderly fisherman who was picking up one starfish after another and throwing them into the water.
Approaching him, he asked, “Why are you doing that?”
“Well,” he replied, “these starfish will die if they are left until the morning sun rises. The heat will kill them.”
“But,” said the vacationer, “the beach goes on for miles and miles and there are hundreds and hundreds of them. What difference will what you are doing make?”
“It makes a difference to this one,” he said, as the vacationer looked on.
Crowds followed Jesus. Multitudes came to hear Him speak. But He never lost sight of the individual who needed attention, hope, healing or salvation.
If there was one individual who needed a drink of water, or a person who needed sight, or one who was lame and could not walk, or another who was mentally disturbed and possessed by demons, He stopped everything and met the need of that person.
Today we are impressed by great attractions that receive worldwide attention and draw large crowds. Not so Jesus. It was the “least of these, my brothers and sisters” that opened His heart and caused Him concern.
Prayer:Heavenly Father, give us tender hearts and sensitive minds that see the needs of those around us. May we show Your love to those who need our help. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: “He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’” Matthew 25:45
Climbing up in her father’s lap, little Nancy asked, “Daddy, did God die?”
Stunned, he responded quickly, “No, of course not! Why on earth would you ask?”
“Well,” she replied timidly, “you never seem to talk to Him anymore and I was just wondering.”
In the Gospels of Matthew and Luke we find two tiny passages of Scripture that are called “The Lord’s Prayer.” Both of them contain a phrase stating that we are to go to God each day for our “daily bread” - our nourishment.
Praying for our bread each day means that we are acknowledging Him not only as our Creator, but as our Sustainer and Provider. It is important for us who acknowledge Him as our Lord to also recognize that He alone is the One who meets our every need.
When we allow “gaps” in our prayer life we begin to think that we are self-sufficient and can go through life without Him. But it is a misconception to think that we can provide for any of our needs on our own. We must always remember that every heartbeat, every breath, every movement, every sensation is a gift from God. Without His grace and goodness we would be without everything that we have.
When we pause, ask for and give thanks for our daily bread, let’s also remember that He gives so much more than the bread we eat. Everything is from “above.”
Prayer:Thank You, Father, for being so generous in meeting all of our needs. May we always be aware of Your grace, mercy, love and presence in our lives. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Give us today our daily bread. Matthew 6:11