Jerry and Joan took their daughter Jill to church to enjoy a night of music. The crowd was larger than usual and Jill became separated from her parents. Frightened, they went to the pastor and told him their predicament. He went to the pulpit and announced, “Jill Williams has been separated from her parents and is lost. If you hear me, Jill, will you please come to the front where your parents are waiting?”
Nothing happened. In great fear the parents went to the police and reported their daughter missing. Then after a time of prayer, the musical concert began. At the end of the concert, and as he was about to pronounce the benediction, the pastor noticed Jill sitting on the front row. Bursting with excitement, he shouted, “We’ve found Jill! Let’s thank the Lord.” He then went to Jill and said, “Why didn’t you come to the front and let your parents know you were here?”
Looking surprised she said, “Did you mean me? You said Jill Williams was lost. I’m Jill Williams but I’m not lost. I’m right here. I knew where I was all the time so I thought it was some other Jill Williams you were looking for!”
Jill did not consider herself lost. She felt safe and secure where she was. Unfortunately, there are many others like her thinking they are safe and secure even though they are traveling through without the Lord. The Psalmist wrote, “I have strayed like a lost sheep.” He was aware of his condition and recognized that he was lost. Knowing this, he wanted to get back to his “Shepherd.”
Prayer: Lord, we often think we are where You want us to be. May we take time to make sure we are with You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 119:176 I have strayed like a lost sheep. Seek your servant, for I have not forgotten your commands.
Betsy ended her prayer and was about to get in bed. With a puzzled look on her face she turned to her Dad and asked, “Daddy, did I leave anything out? I have so many things to thank Jesus for. I sure don’t want to forget any of them. Jesus is really good to us, isn’t He Daddy?”
The author of Psalm 116 was also aware of God’s goodness. Betsy wanted to make sure that she thanked God for being so good to her. She must have itemized her list in her mind like she had been to a grocery store and wanted to make sure that she remembered everything.
However, the Psalmist must have had a balance sheet in mind when he asked, “How can I repay the Lord for His goodness to me?” How different from Betsy. She simply wanted to offer her thanks for the gifts that He gave her. But the Psalmist looked at what God gave him from a different perspective: He wanted to pay God for what He had done for him. However, it is impossible to repay God! If we could somehow pay God for His gifts they would not be gifts.
This brings us to the very heart of the Bible - a loving God who gives. “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son.” God gives and we are to receive.
Suddenly, the Psalmist realized that the Lord is not a salesman who has anything to sell - but a Giver who gives His salvation freely. Rejoicing he said, “I will lift up the cup of salvation and call upon the name of the Lord.”
There is nothing that delights our Creator more than for those who He created to accept the Gift of His Son.
Prayer: Thank You, Lord, for the many gifts You lavish on us each day. But we are most thankful for saving us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 116:13 I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord.
A youth pastor and his “Win One Now” team were passing out tracts and talking to a group of young people in New York one Saturday evening. A gang leader went up to him and shouted, “I’m sick and tired of you people talking about love. I’ve never seen love so if you’ve got it let me see it!”
How many others want to see “it?” We talk about love, sing about love, preach about love but the world is still trying to find out what love looks like. Someone once said they wanted to see “love with skin on it.” And that’s what God’s love is all about. He did not speak of an empty, greedy love - but a love that passes all human understanding.
The Psalmist said that “The Lord has made His salvation known.” By God’s faithfulness to protect and provide for the well-being of the Children of Israel “He made His salvation known and revealed His righteousness to the nations.” He made His salvation known by His faithfulness and the fulfillment of His covenant with His children. That was then.
This is now. Years ago God sent His only begotten Son to be born in a manger, live a sinless life, die on a cross and then be resurrected from a borrowed tomb. Once again He made “His salvation known.” This is His love that we can see: it is “love with skin on it.”
If the world cannot see this love, we who are His disciples have only ourselves to blame. All around us are people waiting and wanting to see “love with skin on it.”
Prayer: Forgive us Christians, Father, if we have failed to show Your love. May we live Your “love with skin on it.” In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 98:2 The Lord has made known His salvation; His righteousness He has revealed in the sight of the nations.
An elderly man was sitting quietly in his rocking chair speaking softly to his grandson. “It took me forty years,” he said, “to learn three simple truths. I would like you to learn them at an early age. One – I could do nothing to be victorious over my sins. Two – that God did not expect me to. And three – that Christ has done it all for me.”
David taught those three simple truths centuries ago in one simple verse, “Victory comes from You, oh Lord.”
A story is told of a prisoner, who with the help of his friends, planned an escape. Through careful planning they smuggled a gun into the prison yard and hid it. They informed him that a ladder would be up against the wall where the searchlight would not expose it. And they told him that a vehicle would be awaiting him at a certain hour.
“But,” he asked, “how do I get out of my cell?” “That’s up to you,” they said. Obviously, he did not escape. He remained in his cell because He could not take the first step.
But our Lord has taken the first step in our salvation. He loved the world so very much that He gave His one and only Son to be our Savior. Now, we must do one of two things: receive Him or reject Him.
Our Lord is a seeking Lord who will save us from our sin through His salvation. It does belong to Him, but He willingly extends it to all of us.
Prayer: We thank You, Heavenly Father, for saving us by granting Your love, grace and mercy to us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 3:8 From the LORD comes deliverance. May your blessing be on your people.
When General Ulysses S. Grant lay dying, he called for his pastor. As his pastor stood by his bedside Grant asked, “Tell me, will God receive me?”
“Yes,” he replied, “for the Lord said, ‘him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out.’”
General Grant, at that moment came to the Lord. The pastor, both amazed and grateful for this startling conversation said, “God’s Kingdom had just gained a great man!”
Quietly, but with great sincerity and dignity Grant said, “God does not need great men, but great men need God.”
General Grant put things in the proper perspective. It is not uncommon for those who achieve status and power, prestige and importance to believe that God needs their help. We hear much about the résumés and financial statements of prominent people. We offer our respect and esteem to those who move across the world’s stage attempting to control world events. We speak of their efforts and accomplishments as though they keep the planet in orbit or from spinning out of control.
But in the final analysis they still need God’s grace, mercy and salvation as we do. God without man is still God. But man without God is nothing and is condemned to spend eternity in hell.
Prayer: Father, we thank You with grateful hearts for Your salvation through Jesus Christ, Your Son. May we recognize Your Lordship and serve You with gladness. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: John 6:37 All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.
Janie was having lunch with her friend Margie who had just started a new job. Anxiously, she asked, “How do you like your new boss?”
“Well, he’s O.K.,” said Margie. Then continued, “He’s kind of bigoted, though.”
“What do you mean, bigoted?” she wondered.
“Well,” answered Margie, “he thinks that words can only be spelled one way.”
Being bigoted is not always wrong. Sometimes it is necessary and important, even critical. Though we often think a bigoted person is unreasonable and unwholesome, there are times when it is essential to be fanatical about some things in life.
One of those “things” is the “way to the Father.” Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me!”
Peter was also bigoted when he said, “There is salvation in no one else! There is no other name in all of heaven for people to call on to save them.”
There are those whom we encounter every day that refuse to accept the fact that there is only one Name and one Person who can be called upon for salvation. This one way to eternal life did not come from a church or the disciples but from Jesus Himself.
God designated His Son Jesus to be the Savior of the world. There is no one else or any other way.
Prayer: Lord, help us to realize how important it is to fully accept, believe and declare that You alone are the only way to God and eternal life. May we never waver. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: John 14:1-6 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me.”…” I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
It was Jim’s sixth birthday and his father wanted him to begin to understand continents and nations. So, he bought him a lighted globe. He was fascinated with the way it glowed in the dark and gently lit his room. And he also enjoyed the time his Dad spent in his room telling him stories about the different countries of the world.
One evening his Dad silently slipped into his room thinking that Jim was asleep. He wanted to “borrow” the globe so he could locate the countries that were mentioned during the evening news hour.
As he was leaving, Jim who was not asleep asked, “Dad, what are you doing with my world?”
What a great question for each of us. No doubt God would have us answer a similar question: “What are you doing with My world?”
Jesus said that “God loved the world so much that He sent me into the world to save it.” We know that Jesus fulfilled God’s plan for His life; He gave His life on the cross for our salvation. We also know that He is now in heaven with His Father. And we also know that the work that Jesus began is to be carried on by us His disciples.
As His disciples, it is important, no it is critical, that we ask ourselves constantly, “What we are we doing in God’s world today to save the lost for whom my Son, your Savior, died?”
Prayer: Lord, give us an urgency to do Your work in Your world to save the lost. Do not let us rest in Your peace until we bring Your message to someone each day. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
As General Grant lay dying, his heart was troubled and he desired to make things right with God. Turning to someone nearby he asked for a minister to come visit him.
“General,” said the minister, “‘The Son of man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.’ If you’ll sincerely call upon Him from your heart, you’ll receive mercy from Him and abundant pardon.” 
The minister then fell to his knees and prayed for the general and General Grant received Jesus as His Savior. At that moment, he was wonderfully converted.
Thrilled, the minister said, “God’s Kingdom has received a great acquisition in your conversion, General.” 
General Grant, thinking for a moment responded, “God doesn’t need great men, but great men need God.”
On the cross of Christ, God leveled the playing field. No one stands above the crowd. Each time we are reminded of the death of Jesus we must also remind ourselves that the “Son of man has come to seek and to save those who are lost.”
No one is saved as a result of a great heritage or popularity. Our background or previous lifestyle does not matter. God saves us by “His special favor when we believe...in Him...because salvation is a gift from God.”
Prayer: We thank You, Lord, for making it possible for all men everywhere to have equal access to Your grace and salvation and that there are no requirements. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 
Scripture for Today: Ephesians 2:8 For it is by grace that you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.
Lucy and Linus were talking to their coach, Charlie Brown, at home plate. Kicking the dirt in disgust, Charlie Brown said, “Our team is no good. We have lost every game. There is nothing good about our team!”
“But,” protested Lucy, “Schroder almost hit a home run. And we almost won a couple of games. Once we almost made a double play. Don’t forget that you almost made it to first base before the ball, once.”
“If it’s any consolation, Charlie Brown,” interrupted Linus, “we did lead the league in almosts.”
“Almosts” are part of everyone’s life. Some “almosts” work to our advantage. For example, there are times when we almost slipped and fell. Or, we almost had an accident while driving home after a difficult day at work. Then there might have been occasions when we almost got that promotion at work. “Almost” is “very nearly” but “not quite.” So the almosts are the same as it never really happened at all.
On one occasion Paul was witnessing to King Agrippa. He appealed to the facts of Scripture in his conversation with the king and said, “I know these facts are not hidden from you and that you do believe them!”
But sadly the king replied, “Paul, you almost persuaded me to become a Christian.”
Prayer: We pray today, Father, for those who might almost be convinced to become a Christian. We ask for Your grace to work in them through the Holy Spirit. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Acts 26 Then Agrippa said to Paul, “Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?”
George went to confession on a regular basis. He was more faithful than most. But whenever he went his attitude expressed no feelings of remorse and his behavior showed no signs of repentance.
His priest was concerned that there was no sorrow for his sins or shame for his shortcomings. It hurt the priest because he loved George deeply. He had known him from his childhood.
One day in his frustration he said, “George, please go into the cathedral. Near the altar is a statue of Christ on the cross. Get down on your knees, look into the face of our Lord, raise your fist and say, ‘Jesus, you did all this for me but I don’t really care! It’s just not that important to me.’ Will you do that for me?”
Reluctantly he agreed and went into the cathedral. He slowly walked to the cross, dropped to his knees, looked up into the face of Jesus and began to repeat the words of the priest: “Jesus, you did all this for me...Jesus you did all this for me...Jesus you did all this for me.” Suddenly he began to sob loudly and shouted, “Jesus forgive me, please forgive me for my sins. Now that I see You, I really do care.”
Once we finally see and understand what Jesus did for us on the cross of Calvary our lives will change.
Prayer: Lord, may we come to that place in our lives where we will in some small way realize the depth of Your suffering, the price of our salvation and of the debt we owe You by the care we show others. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
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