Saint Francis is remembered for his greatness and goodness in spreading the Gospel of Christ – His Lord. His writings still inspire people today. One day he said to a fellow “brother” who lived with him in the monastery, “Let’s go to town and preach to the people.” As they walked the dusty road, they stopped to talk to people and play games with the children. Tired and hungry, St. Francis turned to his young companion and said, “Let’s return to the monastery.” “But,” protested his young colleague, “when do we preach to the people?” “Every step we took,” said St. Francis, “and every word we spoke and every smile we shared with the people and everything we did was our sermon. We have been preaching all day!” The only sermon some people will ever hear are the words that come from our lips, and the only preaching that many will “listen” to is what they see in our lives. For many, we are what we say, and our lives demonstrate we believe. John wrote, “Those who say they live in God should live as Christ did.” To live as Jesus did, we must obey His teachings and follow His example and do as He did – show others God’s love. Years ago, a hymn writer asked most effectively: “Can others see Jesus in you?” Prayer:Father, may the disturbing words of that hymn trouble our minds and hearts and force us to examine our lives and then make changes that will please You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. Scripture For Today: Those who say they live in God should live as Christ did. 1 John 2:6
My Dad’s lack faith was always a problem for me. He was hardworking and honest, thoughtful and compassionate, would do anything for his family. But church? That was an entirely different matter. He refused to go to church or have anything to do with anyone who did. That puzzled me.
Our home was always open to those who served the Lord. Missionaries and evangelists and musicians were frequent guests at our evening meal. And although “Pa” would not talk with them as we ate together, he did not interfere with our guests. He did not oppose them nor treat them unkindly. He was simply indifferent to them.
Once, during a revival, my heart was burdened for his salvation. I wanted to know if he was born again. I came home and found him sitting in his favorite chair listening to the news. Fearful of angering him I asked as politely as I could, “Pa, why don’t you come to church with me and Ma?”
Turning the radio off he looked at me and said, “I work with those people you go to church with. They do things I would never do. They lie, they cheat, and they steal. No one trusts them. Why would I want to be with them if I do not have to be with them?” He would have nothing to do with “contaminated Christians” unless work dictated it.
The Psalmist wrote, “May I wholeheartedly follow Your decrees, that I may not be put to shame.” We face that same problem today. Christians do not “walk their talk” and as a result shame themselves and their Savior.
Prayer: What a tragedy, God, that many who represent You do not do so “wholeheartedly.” Please, revive us now! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 119:80 May I wholeheartedly follow your decrees, that I may not be put to shame.
During an inspection of his soldiers prior to a parade, Alexander the Great said to one of them, “Your name is Alexander. My name is Alexander. Either change your name or change your way of living!”
Another leader spoke of a Name and the honor it deserved. King David wrote, “He guides me along right paths bringing honor to his name.”
Names are important for many reasons. In Scripture the word name or words that have the same meaning as name occur nearly 1,100 times. Slightly half of that number refer to the name of God or God’s Son. But the use of the word name in the Bible always carries with it one’s identity or reputation.
Luke writes, “It was there at Antioch that the believers were first called ‘Christians’” or Christ-ones – emphasizing the fact there was something very different, yet something very similar, about those who were believers in Christ. This young church in Antioch included a mixture of Jews and Gentiles whose languages were Greek and Aramaic. And though their languages were different they had one thing in common: Christ. Yet together they lived Christlike lives that reflected His unending and always obvious love. Their lives were so different because of Christ that they had to be given a new name.
Question: Do you qualify for a new name? Do you qualify to be called Christian?
Prayer:Lord, we often falter and fail in our lives that bear the name of Your Son. Forgive us for those times when our lives do not reflect Your love and Your life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Acts 11:26 …and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.
A nervous witness sat before the judge and jury. Everyone could see his fear. He could not hide it. The attorney turned to him and asked, “Tell me, did you see the accident?”
“Yes sir, I did,” he answered.
“How far away were you?” asked the lawyer.
“Twenty-two feet and two inches,” he replied.
“How can you be so specific?” came the next question.
“I knew some lawyer would ask me,” he said, “so I measured it.”
The motto of the Coast Guard it “Semper Paratus” – which means “Always Prepared.”
Writing in his first letter, the Apostle Peter said, “If someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it.”
Some Christians believe that faith is such a personal matter that it should never be discussed publicly. However, when the opportunity arises we must always be prepared to speak for our Lord. We need not be offensive or obnoxious, but gentle, sincere and able to share our message of salvation and hope.
Prayer:Help us, Lord, to realize that, ready or not, we are Your witnesses in the world. May we prepare today to speak Your truth tomorrow. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: 1 Peter 3:15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear;
The late Bishop Sheen was shopping in a New York department store going from one floor to the next. After he finished looking at all of the items on the fifth floor, he got on the elevator and pushed the button for the sixth.
As the door was closing, a lady rushed on to the elevator and smiled at him. When the elevator stopped and he made his way to the door, she looked at him with a frown and said, “I did not want to go up, I wanted to go down!”
“Madam,” he said with a grin, “I only take people up, not down!”
Often we are not aware of how our behavior is affecting others. We do what we do because it brings us pleasure, happiness or satisfaction. We may not realize that others may be watching what we do and then imitate our behavior – whether right or wrong. They may be looking for someone to follow.
Paul said, “So if what I eat causes another believer to sin, I will never eat meat again as long as I live – for I don't want to cause another believer to stumble.” He was ever conscious of the example he set knowing others were watching. We must do the same.
Prayer:Father, may we never forget that we are a living example of what it means to be a Christian and always represent You well. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: 1 Corinthians 8:13 Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never again eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.
While stopped at a traffic light, the motorist in the car waiting beside James rolled down his window and motioned for him to do the same. He did, and the driver next to him asked, "Why the license plate with F I D O on it? Is that your dog?"
"No," came the reply. "It's to remind me when a motorist is discourteous or spiteful to me that I am to Forget It -Drive On."
What a great reminder of how we Christians are to behave. Paul sent a letter to the church in Colossae saying that "whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus." This means that no matter where we are or what we are doing, day or night, we are to behave in a way that brings honor to the Lord!
Often in the rush of life and the pressures of the moment, we forget the overwhelming obligation that we have to God as our Father. We get caught up in the events of life, the tight schedules we arrange, the many requirements others make of us each day. So as the pressures mount and the demands escalate, we allow our primary responsibility to slip away from us. At all times and in all places we need to be aware of the impact our behavior has on others.
Prayer:Help us, Father, to be conscious of what we do as Your representatives, remembering that others see Your love in what we do. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Colossians 3:17 And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.
Bud Grant was the legendary head football coach of the Minnesota Vikings and a member of the pro-football Hall of Fame. He was once referred to as the “toughest person on the field.”
The first event at the first practice session of every Viking camp was the same. He personally showed his players how to line up for the playing of our National Anthem. He would remind them that if the other teams slouched or looked disinterested during the playing of the anthem, he was not responsible for their behavior.
However, he said to his men, “You're special. You're winners. Look and act like winners every second you are part of this team!”
We Christians need to realize that we are “special.” We need to look and act like Christians all of the time – no matter where we are or what we are doing. The Apostle John said, “Those who say they live in God should live as Jesus did.” This does not mean that God expects us to have disciples or perform miracles. It means that we are to walk as He walked, talk as He talked, live as He lived, obey God as He obeyed God and follow His example of loving and serving others as He did.
Prayer:Our Father, may we as Your children be and act like Jesus, Your Son, and demonstrate to others that we are members of Your family. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: 1 John 2:6 He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.
The citizens of Italy have a unique way of entering into a new year. Beginning with an extravagant display of fireworks, followed by noise making and dancing in the streets, they end up the celebration by getting rid of the old and embracing the new.
To get rid of the old “stuff” in their lives, they gather all of their worn out clothing, furniture, china, silverware and utensils and throw them out of their windows. It’s dangerous to be outside when the celebration begins! Paul said that the Christian is to “throw off your old evil nature and your former way of life which is rotten through and through...(and replace it with)...a spiritual renewal of your thoughts and attitudes.”
Our behavior is an outward expression of the thoughts and attitudes that we allow to control our minds. And if people see no difference in our behavior after we say that we have become followers of Christ, there is a problem. When we are born again, we receive a new nature that enables us to become new people in Christ. We now live in and through the power of the Holy Spirit. And if we invest time in studying His Word, in meditating on His truth and talking with Him in prayer, we will be constantly changing and becoming more of who God wants to us be. Our lives will reflect the promise that in Him we can become a new creation.
God begins a process of change in our lives that flows from our heads to our hearts and from our hearts to our lives. But unless we plant new thoughts and ideas in our minds that come from His Word, we cannot expect others to see any difference in our lives. Our old way of life becomes a thing of the past.
Prayer:Convict us, Heavenly Father, of those areas in our lives that fail to reflect our new nature. And may Your Spirit work in us to be who You have called us to be in Christ. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Ephesians 4:20-24 Put off your old nature which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your minds,
R. T. Williams was surprised to realize that he was on an elevator with Lee Iacocca who was then the Chairman of Chrysler Corporation. In his excitement over the chance encounter he blurted out, “Mr. Iacocca, I really enjoy your commercials!”
“Sir,” replied Iacocca, “I couldn't care less what you think of my commercials. What I want to know is what kind of car do you drive?”
Iacocca was very aware of the fact that the commercials had no value unless people purchased and drove Chrysler cars. In like manner we need to ask ourselves a similar question. What value are the things we do for our Lord if they do not bring people to Christ as Savior and Lord?
Recall the story of Jesus calling Peter and Andrew. John tells us that they knew about Jesus since He had talked with them previously. When Jesus called them, they knew what kind of a man He was and were willing to give up everything that they had to follow Him.
Here's a question we must answer: Would the people who know us be willing to accept Christ as their Savior because of the difference He has made in our lives? Do they believe our faith matters?
Prayer:Lord, we are living examples of what it means to be Your followers. May our lives be so attractive that they will draw others to You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Matthew 4:18 As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen.
Josiah Wedgewood was the founder of one of the world’s finest pottery businesses. It was his practice to walk through his plant carrying a little hammer. Whenever he detected the slightest defect in any of his earthenware, he would break it and shout, “Only the best is worthy of the name of Wedgewood.” That is why his china has maintained the reputation of being among the world’s finest.
Have you ever considered what it means to be called “Christian?” It means that we are being called by the name “Christ.” What a privilege! But are we worthy?
Often individuals find fault with the way some of us who are called “Christian” behave. It is not that those in question “believe” wrong, it is simply that they do not “behave” right. It is an observation about how they live and what they do. The world finds no fault with Christ, but has difficulty understanding why those who represent Him do not live as they are expected to. Perhaps this is why many do not receive Him.
Too many of those who claim His name find it easier to “talk” as He did than to “walk” as He walked.
Prayer:Father, it is sometimes difficult for me to walk as You walked. Please give me Your strength and courage to live for You: through Christ. Amen.
Scripture for Today: Colossians 3:17 And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father by Him.