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 entrance was a poorly dressed man with his hat pulled down over his eyes and his collar held tightly around his neck as he tried to keep warm. His clothes were shabby and his shoes well worn. He appeared destitute, hopeless, and to those entering the church, 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, and stand silently. 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.
 Opportunities create obligations. To refuse to help others is to refuse to help God. 
 Prayer: Help us, Father, to see what You see, to feel what You feel, and then do what You would have us to do when we see others who need help. Open our hearts! In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 
Scripture For Today:  Matthew 25:42-46  And he will answer, “I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.”
What words best “describe” God? Are there some that are more precise, or accurate, to talk about Him? Is it more appropriate to use some words and not others to describe Him?
Throughout the Psalms, from beginning to end, David uses many different words to describe the various acts of God. While some of them are “high and lofty,” most of them are practical and helpful. He speaks of God as his deliverer, protector, friend, savior, refuge, and stronghold. All words we could observe if we were to see God walking along a path with David.
In bringing Psalm 62 to a conclusion he speaks of his relationship with God as “strong” and “loving.” He had experienced God’s compassion and care, protection and presence and power – as we have. He also enjoyed God’s love, grace and mercy as we, too, have. And then he adds something that is most interesting: “You reward everyone according to what they have done.”
David enjoyed God’s goodness. He mentions it again and again. He spoke often of those who wanted to kill him, defeat him, steal from him, embarrass him and even ruin his reputation. But through it all he survived and prospered. He was deeply grateful for the mercy and grace of God and recognized them as “God’s reward” for his faithfulness in spite of his failures.
David speaks bluntly of those who are evil and do evil things to harm and hurt His beloved. They will not endure. But the righteous will be rewarded lavishly.
Prayer: Thank You, Father, for rewarding us with so many of Your gifts. May we shout Your praises forever. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 62:12 “and with you, Lord, is unfailing love”; and, “You reward everyone according to what they have done.”
Centuries ago, a king had a group of his soldiers place a large stone in the middle of a road during the night. They worked in silence following his orders because he wanted no one to see them place a sack beneath the stone.
The next day he sat in a balcony where no one could see him and watched as the people passed by. All of them looked at the stone, paused a moment and then walked around it. Some became angry and wanted to know who could possibly have a reason to interrupt their lives with such a horrible inconvenience. Others cursed the stone thinking that their oaths would make a difference and the stone would move under its own power.
Finally an elderly peasant paused, looked at the stone and then summoned all of his strength and pushed it out of the way. To his surprise he discovered a purse beneath the stone. When he opened it he discovered many gold coins and a note from the king. The note read: “Whoever moves this stone is entitled to the coins in this purse.”
God works “in everything,” according to Paul, “for our good.” It does not mean that whatever happens to us is good. But that “good” will come to us if we fulfill His purpose for our lives and grow into His likeness.
Prayer: Give us, Dear Father, the vision to see every obstacle in life as an opportunity to use the strength You have given us to grow into Your likeness. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Romans 8:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
The James family gathered together for a quiet time and discussion. Albert climbed into his father’s lap and hugged him with all his might. Teasingly, he asked, “Well, son, what do you want now?”
“Nothing now,” he answered. “All I want is you!”
How unfortunate for us that we rarely go to our Heavenly Father unless we want something. It seems that when we approach Him it is for something that contributes to our well-being, our health, family problems, issues at work, our financial needs or a friend. Too often we are more interested in the gifts that the Giver has to give us than the Giver.
We ask rather than adore and we prey rather than praise and we want rather than worship.
It is true that our Lord has invited us to ask if we want to receive and to come to Him for anything and everything – no matter when or what. For most of us it is a long standing habit that might be hard to break.
Perhaps it would change the nature of our relationship with God if, on occasion, we simply said to Him in a prayer of gratitude, “All I want is You!”
Prayer: Lord, we truly love You! Forgive us for hearts and minds that only focus on our wants and needs. Help us to also express our love and praise. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Matthew 6:33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.

An elderly couple walked slowly to the desk in a hotel. They were exhausted from their travels and wanted to retire as quickly as possible. When they asked for a room, the clerk politely said, “I’m sorry, but we have no vacancies.” However, when he saw the look of despair on their faces, he said, “But I can’t send you away in such horrible conditions. You may have my room.”
Hesitatingly, they accepted his offer and settled in for the night. As they were leaving the next morning the gentleman said to the clerk, “You are the kind of manager who should be the boss of the best hotel in the United States.”
Two years later that clerk, George Boldt, received a letter from the gentleman. It contained a ticket to New York. Leading Mr. Boldt into a new hotel named the Waldorf-Astoria, the gentleman said, “I built this hotel for you to manage. My name is William Waldorf Astor.”
Solomon wrote, “Give generously, for your gifts will return to you later.” Giving involves risk and opportunity, trust and adventure. But God demands it and will always reward it.
Prayer: Help us, Father, to reach out to those in need, knowing that You will honor our efforts and reward our deeds. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
Scripture for Today: Ecclesiastes 11:1 Cast thy bread upon the waters, for thou shalt find it after many days.
He was a sickly child. Learning to read and write was a difficult task. But as he grew older, he wanted to learn everything he could. So, he forced himself to master difficult subjects. In fact, he is respected and honored as a theologian, philosopher, organist, physician, medical missionary, founder of a hospital in Africa and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1952.
When he announced to his friends that the Lord called him to become a missionary to Africa, they were shocked. “Don’t waste your life,” they begged. But Dr. and Mrs. Albert Schweitzer refused to let their pleas of their friends overcome God’s call and His plan for them. They labored as missionaries for fifty years, accomplishing much for God.
In Mark’s Gospel Jesus assured His disciples that anyone who gave up anything for His sake would be repaid a “hundred times over” in this life, including a new family – the family of God and His children! What we gain by following the call of Jesus may not be more of what we once had, but the satisfaction of knowing Him and receiving His blessings and serving Him far outweigh any earthly loss.
And He continues by saying, “And you will also have eternal life.” Imagine, if you can – His presence, peace and promises now and being with Him in health in the life to come.
Prayer: We thank You, Lord, for calling each of us to a life of service. May everything we do bring others to You. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
Scripture for Today: Mark 10:29-31 So Jesus answered and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife  or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel’s, who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time...

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 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 take every task and do it as “though we are working for the Lord.” Why? Because we care!
“Remember,” said Paul, “the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward” if we “work hard and cheerfully.” We must accept every task and each responsibility He offers us as an opportunity to worship and serve Christ every day of our lives.
Prayer:  Father, may we remember that whatever we do, in word or deed, we are to do to the glory of God whom we love and trust. In Christ’s Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today:  Colossians 3:23-24 And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.
Derek Jeter, formerly a New York Yankee, is acknowledged by some to be one of the greatest shortstops who ever played baseball. One day a reporter asked him, “What’s the best advice your father ever gave you?”
Came the quick reply, “Don’t let anyone ever outwork you!”
It was hard, relentless work over many years that led Jeter to the pinnacle of his profession. And it is the same hard work that kept him there and served as a model that many seek to follow. His efforts have rewarded him lavishly and brought him friends, fame and fortune.
There are some of us, however, who work just as hard but get relatively little recognition. No one sees us and no one knows how hard we labor. We may even wonder if what we do really matters to anyone.
But it does – at least to God. One day He will reward us personally in front of everyone in heaven for the good we have done for others in His Name.
Prayer: Help us, Father, to realize that You will reward each one of us for all that we have ever done. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Ephesians 6:7-8 with goodwill doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men, 8 knowing that whatever good anyone does, he will receive the same from the Lord, whether he is a slave or free.
We had been traveling all night by train, moving rapidly toward our destination. Suddenly things turned upside down. Our passenger train was hit head on by a freight train. It was a frightening experience. Wreckage was all around us, people were screaming in pain. The crew was doing all they could to provide comfort until help arrived.

But God was protecting us and we were uninjured. Fortunately we were able to help others in their distress and were doing all that we could. Shortly after the accident, we discovered a little girl who was crying and we reached out to help her. She was pleading for water. We had none, but a man came along with a container of water and offered to share it with her.

As he gave her a cup of water he said, “I’m sorry I’m not a doctor and cannot bandage your wounds. And I am sorry there is no medicine available to ease your pain. But I am thankful that I can give you some water.”
Jesus emphasized the importance of a cup of water. In fact, He said, “If anyone gives a cup of water in the name of the Messiah, that one will be rewarded!”

Our Lord did not ask us to do great things, just simple things. Jesus never left anyone with a need He could meet. When we see the needs of others, we must help them.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, may our eyes and hearts be open to see the needs of those around us that we can meet by showing Your love. In Your Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Mark 9:40-41  Truly I tell you, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to the Messiah will certainly not lose their reward.

Most individuals want to be recognized and rewarded for doing good. Some dedicate their entire lives to work with the sick and oppressed. Others, who are wealthy, establish trusts or foundations and donate money to what they consider worthy causes. Many give generously to charitable organizations that serve the less fortunate or those overwhelmed by a disaster. Everyone seems to have a “touch point” in their heart that will trigger an urge to share.

But, there is no guarantee that our giving will bring us a reward, or in fact, benefit others. However, as sure as we are that our God is a faithful God and will keep His Word, Solomon, on behalf of God promises us that “Humility and fear of the Lord bring wealth and honor and life.” Certainly, this verse will get the attention of “reward” seekers!

Yet, “seeking” a reward for the sake of a reward is not what this verse is all about. Notice the first word “humility” is followed by the familiar theme throughout Proverbs: “and fear of the Lord.” One can be humble and not fear the Lord. Humility without fearing the Lord is self-serving and an end in itself. To be humble because we “fear the Lord” is rather different. This “fear” grows in the heart of a believer because God is recognized as being sovereign and worthy of worship and reverence, honor and praise.

Perhaps it is difficult to understand that “humility and fear of the Lord” will bring us “wealth and honor and life.” So, can we really expect them as rewards? If we view God as He is and ourselves as we are, we have God’s guarantee that He will bless us materially, socially and personally. How can this be? The “fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom!” Apply it!

Prayer:  It’s easy, Lord, to complicate life with grand schemes and false motives. Cleanse us and make us pure and humble. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 22:4 Humility is the fear of the Lord; its wages are riches and honor and life.
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