We are reminded throughout God's Word that He has given us the gift of choice and its consequences. Nowhere are we told that we cannot choose our destinies. But we are told that our choices determine our destinies.
Even a casual reading of the New Testament tells us that there were those who followed Jesus because they wanted to get something from Him for selfish reasons. We read that when things looked horrible at His trial those who had been with Him for years fled for their lives. In His days of glamour and glory they were close by His side. There were others who wanted to be with Him but they refused to make any sacrifices and went their own way.
A graduate of a Midwestern university was just an average student. He played sports but never made any of the varsity teams. He was never elected to any office and did not make it far up the corporate ladder. When war broke out he was among the first to volunteer. After completing basic training he was sent to a war zone in France.
One day in combat he was serving alongside a soldier in the French army. His comrade was severely wounded and with no thought of himself, he made a decision to get him help. Unfortunately, he did not succeed and was killed on his way to find a medic.
The French Government learned of his act of bravery and awarded him The Croix de Guerre – Cross of War. And his alma mater posted a plaque in his honor that read, "He played with the scrubs for four years – but never quit."
The psalmist said, "We will not turn away from You" by quitting.
Prayer:Give us courage, Father, to stand with You and for You when we are tempted to turn from You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 80:18a Then we will never abandon you again.
The endless questions of growing children often become boring and frustrating. There are times when no answer will do and no explanation is ever sufficient. The child persists, refuses to be satisfied with our best answers. The questions never stop.
Perhaps David had times in his life, as we all do, when it seemed as though his “King” would not answer his questions. It seemed as though the Lord stood far beyond and above him, unavailable, unable and unwilling to answer when he called. So, what did David do? He thought that he understood God, did what he knew God expected of him to the best of his ability. Yet we see him standing there in wonder – wanting and waiting to hear a voice, unable to bear the silence.
What was his problem? And do we have this same problem today? Perhaps.
Instant gratification and sudden success do not breed faith in God. But patient expectation and utter dependence on Him does. Perhaps our “fast-food-lanes” and “any-time-bank-tellers” have eroded the importance of waiting and watching and wondering. Hopefully, deep within us we believe that He will answer our prayers and meet our needs. We know that His power is beyond our imagination. David realized this, too.
David had an intimate knowledge of God and knew Him personally. Yet, he asked the who question twice as though His power was not available. But it was! God wanted David to wait and trust and grow.
Prayer: We know, Lord, that Your power is more than sufficient to meet our needs. Increase our faith and trust. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 24:8 Who is this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle.
Charlie Brown struck out for the fourth time in the same game. In deep despair he cried out, “Lucy! I’ll never make it. All of my life I’ve dreamed of playing in the big leagues. But I know now I’ll never make it!”
“Charlie,” she answered, “choose an immediate goal. When you go out to pitch, see if you can walk to the mound without falling.”
What’s in a goal?
GUIDANCE: Establishing goals provides a process that enables us to accomplish worthwhile projects in life. Great things can be achieved when we know what we want to do. Goals enable us to make plans, solve problems, make decisions and set priorities. Then, at the end of the day, we can sit, review our progress or lack of it, redirect our steps and move forward.
OBJECTIVITY: We all have days when we feel like giving up. But if we have a goal in front of us, we will be able to see progress and see that the struggle is really worth the effort.
ACCOUNTABILITY: If we truly want to make a difference in this world we can find an accountability partner who will work with us to encourage us to “get where we want to go.” Being accountable is difficult without someone looking over our shoulder.
LABOR: Anything that has value and worth will require our hard work, patience, perseverance and prayer.
Prayer:Father, You have given each of us a reason for living and a purpose to accomplish. May we use the talents You have given us to achieve great things for You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Philippians 3:13-14 …Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
Have you ever eaten a Twinkie? Those moist cakes filled with creamy vanilla? Do you know how they got to the grocer’s shelf?
Jimmy Dewar is the creator of the delicious little treats. He never planned on baking Twinkies. The idea for them came to him out of frustration.
He began by making strawberry shortcakes but ran into a problem. At the end of the season, he had pans but no strawberries. He then decided to create a banana filling which was well received in the stores. But he ran into another problem.
One year there was a shortage of bananas and he was forced to try something else. He thought and worked and experimented and came up with the idea of a vanilla filling. It was and still is a delicious treat and enjoyed by many every day. Besides, the creamy vanilla filling has no season.
That’s the way God works in our lives. When he closes one door He willingly opens another if we are faithful, work diligently and look to Him for guidance. Unfortunately, many Christians look upon difficult days as a reason to become despondent – not dependent upon God.
God’s Word declares, “I have opened a door for you that no one can shut.” Trust Him. He wants you to succeed.
Prayer:Open our eyes, Lord, to see the opportunities that You set before us. May we look to You each day with excitement for the challenges You will bring us! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Revelation 3:8 I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.
For years Thomas Edison tried to perfect a long lasting storage battery. During this time he conducted thousands of experiments that were unsuccessful. One day one of his employees came to him and said, “Isn’t it a shame that you have wasted all of this time? All of the tremendous labor and time that you have spent on this project has not achieved any results that will work.”
“I’ve got plenty of results,” said Edison. “You see, I’ve discovered several thousand that won’t work!”
To his credit, Edison was able to look at what he was doing as a way of learning and solving problems. When he failed he did not look at it as final. He looked at it as a stepping stone to something else. How fortunate is that person who can see beyond the moment of defeat to the joy of victory!
Often we fail to see God at work in what we are doing. We look for the approval of others believing that our rewards come from them. Scripture reminds us, however, to define success in terms of being faithful to God and what He has called us to do. God rewards us for being faithful to Him, for doing what He calls us to do even when we fail in the eyes of the world.
Struggling through difficult days and trying times proves that our trust is in God and that we look to Him for our rewards. “Fear not, I will strengthen and help you.”
Prayer:It’s natural, Lord, to want the approval of those around us. Often we think that they are the final authority. Remind us, however, that we labor for You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Isaiah 41:10 So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
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.”
Grover Cleveland Alexander is recognized as one of the greatest baseball pitchers of all time. His record of ninety shutouts still stands and his 373 recorded victories has been achieved by only one other pitcher. In 1938 he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
From his earliest days on the farm his only desire was to play baseball and be a pitcher. He actually began his career by throwing apples and stones at fence posts between chores to sharpen his throwing skills.
One day he bought a few baseballs and nailed an old catcher’s mitt to the chicken coop. He would spend every available moment throwing baseballs at the mitt and finally became successful at hitting the mitt nine times out of ten.
During his pitching career reporters piled heaps of praise on him as his record grew and fame spread. But none of them were ever aware of the many hours he practiced with no one watching or helping him develop the skills that would eventually bring him world recognition.
Fame never comes unless one is willing to pay the price it requires. Hard work is God’s plan for all of us. Those who work diligently are the recipients of many benefits in their own lives and the lives of others. God blesses those who develop the skills He gives them.
Prayer:Help us, Lord, to take the gifts You give us with great humility and work with all of our might to develop them to bring honor and glory to You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12 Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.
Someone said that the average man has sixty-nine pounds of muscle, forty-one pounds of bones but only three pounds of brain. (Now that may explain many things!)
Henry Spangler was not average. He was alert.
He worked as a janitor but had problems with dust. Whenever he swept the floor, the dust would rise, causing him to sneeze and cough. His eyes would run and it even caused him to have serious headaches. But he did not quit. He began to think about the dust – not himself. He began to search for ways to suck up dust rather than scattering it through the air. If only, he thought, there would be a way to capture the dust in a container. He asked God to help to solve his problem.
His search finally led him to the idea of a vacuum cleaner. After much thought, he shared his idea with an old friend and asked him to finance the idea and work with him. It resulted in the Hoover Vacuum Cleaner and his old friend was H. W. Hoover.
James wrote, “If you want to know what God wants you to do, ask...He’ll tell you.” God can solve any problem we have if we look to Him for His solution.
It’s never the size of our problem but our faith and perseverance.
Prayer:Lord, help us to look beyond ourselves when we have a problem and know that You already have the solution if we simply ask for Your help. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: James 1:5-8 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.
Thomas Edison worked many years to develop a light bulb. The day finally arrived when his first one was ready to be tested. He turned to his lab technician and said, “Take this downstairs and let’s turn it on!”
The technician was filled with excitement as he left the laboratory. As he ran down the stairs, he slipped, fell and broke the bulb.
Discouraged but not defeated, Edison went on to make his second bulb. When it was finished, he turned to the same technician and said, “Take this downstairs and let’s turn it on!” With the same amount of excitement, but more cautious, he carefully took the bulb downstairs and the experiment was completed successfully.
More often than not, it is easy to give up when things do not turn out as we expect them to. In a moment of despair we find it easier to turn our backs on projects that fail or goals that crumble. But even though we may make a mess of things, God has not nor ever will give up on us. The Lord, speaking through Joshua, said, “Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go!”
What a gracious promise of His presence and power!
Prayer:Lord, may we always work with You to turn every tragedy into triumph and every disaster into a delight that honors You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Joshua 1:1-9 Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
Tamerlane was an oriental warrior who had defeated and conquered many armies. His many victories included the conquests of the Mongols, the Turks and the Persians.
Once when it appeared that his army would be defeated by an enemy whose strength he had underestimated, he hid in a manger to avoid being captured. As he lay quietly, discouraged and desperate, he noticed an ant struggling to carry a large kernel of corn over a steep wall. The ant tried the first time and failed. Then the second time – and failed again. Again and again the ant tried with the same result. Each time the ant tried and failed Tamerlane would make a mark in the dirt. The ant tried and failed sixty-nine times. Once again for the seventieth time the ant tried and was finally successful – making it over the top.
Tamerlane was amazed and encouraged at the persistence of the ant. His courage returned, he regrouped his army, engaged the enemy once again and won!
The book of Proverbs warns against giving in to the temptation of laziness. It says, “Take a lesson from the ants. Learn from their ways and be wise!” God used the ant as an example to encourage us to be industrious.
Prayer:Help us, Lord, to take each moment that You give us as a gift of Your grace to be used wisely and thoughtfully for Your glory. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
Scripture for Today: Proverbs 6:1-11 Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise!