It seems as though there are more wrong turns in life than there are right turns. Many start strong, have high ideals, clear goals and objectives and then, for one reason or another, they drop from sight.    

Normally, it is not from a disaster or one single event. It’s usually a combination of things. Foolish ways to manage a business have already been discussed. But, there is one “habit” that is mentioned again and again in Proverbs as a reason for failure: laziness. In fact, it is identified more than ten times as a reason for failure.

And the word used for “laziness” leaves no room to wiggle away from the diagnosis: sluggard. If there is any living thing that most people want to avoid it is a “mollusk” or “slug.” In fact, the very word “slug” brings to the mind’s eye some “thing” that is lazy, sluggish, undirected and listless. Slugs endanger plant life.

But there is something interesting about its use. In this verse, Solomon compared and contrasted the way of the sluggard to an ant. Now, on one hand, few insects in life can be as annoying and bothersome and troublesome as an ant.

On the other hand, however, ants show vivid vision of a work ethic that is worthy of copying. Ants plan and prioritize, are motivated and industrious, disciplined and diligent, self-controlled and self-reliant. Certainly a sign of “applied wisdom” that begins with God.

God’s wisdom is practical, simple and sensible and can lead to our success. The ant is a great example.

Prayer:  Thank You, Father, for illustrating how the little things in life can make such a big difference. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today:  Proverbs 6:6 Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise!
Years ago a “hobo” came to the back porch as my mother sat there “shelling peas.” “Pardon me, Ma’am, but could you spare a meal to a starving traveler?”

Graciously, but firmly, my mother responded and said she would be happy to provide a meal but he would have to do some yard work first. Politely, he declined. He was “too weak” to work before he had something to eat. He then walked away quietly and went next door.

God intended for man to work. As soon as He created man He planted a garden in Eden and gave him a job to do: he was told to cultivate the garden. The Psalmist reminded us of the importance of work when he wrote, “Man goes out to his work, to his labor until evening.”

Perhaps it is good to remember that in the days of His flesh our Lord Jesus worked. He must have gone to His daily tasks with enthusiasm - not because it was easy or financially rewarding. But because He was using the skills His Father gave Him to do His will and honor Him through the work of His hands. On one occasion, early in His life He said, “I always do the things that please Him.” He did what was necessary yet never sinned.

How comforting it is to know that the Carpenter of Nazareth faced every situation that we face today. This fact assures us that He understands us completely. He faced the same trials and temptations that we face so He understands us. Yet He never gave in to any temptation or committed any sin so He could become our Savior.

Prayer: Thank You, Lord, for living a life that sets the example of how we should live so others can see You in us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 104:23 Then people go out to their work, to their labor until evening.

Most of us have a memory or two of family trips we took when we were children. Excitement filled our hearts as we began the trip. Then, after awhile, boredom and restlessness would set in and everyone became anxious and angry and wondered why we ever left home. No matter where we were going or how long it took, someone would ask the question, “Are we there yet?” It is a question that is handed down from one generation to the next and one family to another. It’s part of every journey.

And the answer was and still is the same: “Almost” or “Not yet.” It reminds us of the fact that life is indeed a journey and we are never sure where or when it will end.It is difficult to face the uncertainties of life wondering when there will be some final resolution to the issues that surround us and threaten us constantly. We are troubled when we see injustice and feel deceived. We want to be free from the fear and threat of terrorism and enjoy the reign of peace and joy. We hear of wars and rumors of wars. We are forced to face the fact that conflict and crises pervade our world and disturb our lives. And the peace that the leaders of this world promise us, never comes.

So we call on God and ask, “Are we there yet? Is it time for Your return?” And He answers, “Almost. Not yet. My time has not come. You and I still have work to do.”

As we Christians have His light in this darkness and His hope in the midst of despair, we must share this gift of light and hope with others so they can pray with us...

Prayer: “O Lord, the God Who saved us, day and night we cry out to You. May our prayers come before You; turn Your ear to our cry!” Grant us Your peace through Christ. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 88:1-2 Lord, you are the God who saves me; day and night I cry out to you. May my prayer come before you; turn your ear to my cry.

There was a small huddle going on at home plate. Lucy and Linus of the Peanuts comic strip were having an intense discussion with their coach, Charlie Brown.

“Our team,” said Charlie, “has lost every game this season. There’s nothing good about our team!”

“But,” protested Lucy, “Schroeder almost hit a home run. We almost won a couple of games. Once we almost made a double play.”

Linus interrupted Lucy and added, “If it’s any consolation to you, Charlie Brown, we led the league in ‘almosts.’”

But there is no column in record books listed as “almosts.” There are wins and loses and records set and records that have been broken. But never an “almost!”

“Almost” carries with it the idea that if we had more time, more energy, more opportunities, more money or “more of something” our lives would be completely different. While life may impose limits on us, God does not! Whatever He has He freely gives.

The Psalmist said, “No good thing will the Lord withhold from those who do what is right.” He did not say that God will almost bless us, or almost answer our prayers or almost provide for our needs or almost give us good things. Not at all.

When we do “what is right,” God will give us “good things!” Not almost give, but will give if we do right.

Prayer: Help us, Lord, to follow the example of Your Son and “do what is right” at all times and in all places as He did. May we do what is right, not almost right! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 84:11 For the Lord God is a sun and shield; The Lord will give grace and glory; No good thing will He withhold From those who walk uprightly.
A well-dressed gentleman stepped from a taxi cab in New York whistling half-heartedly as he collected his briefcase and umbrella. A newsboy, just a few feet away, listened for a brief moment and said, “You’re not much of a whistler are you? Listen to how good I am!”

When the newsboy finished, he asked the gentleman, “Can you do better?”

“Indeed I can,” came the reply. The man was an expert whistler who was in New York for a performance. And then he whistled his very best to the astonishment of the young newsboy.

Puzzled, the young boy looked at him and  asked, “Then why were you doing so poorly when you got out of the cab?”

Solomon wrote the book of Ecclesiastes to challenge God’s followers to live lives with meaning and purpose. “Whatever you do,” he wrote, “do well!” He very clearly and convincingly encourages us to enjoy life as a gift from God and to focus on doing our very best - always. If you are a whistler, whistle the best you can all of the time - not only during a “performance” in front of an audience. After all, we are all “performing” everything we do before God our Creator. We are always on “stage” demonstrating our gratitude for the gifts He’s given us.

We must always be aware of the fact that no matter where we are or what we are doing we are living to bring honor and glory to God. We must always “do well.”

Prayer: Lord of our lives, it is never what we have, but what we do with what You have given us. May we do our best with each of the gifts You have given us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Ecclesiastes 9:10 Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the realm of the dead, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.
It began as a day like any other day. James Galway, a brilliant flutist, was happily walking to his morning rehearsal. While crossing a street, a speeding motorcyclist hit him and shattered the bones in both of his legs and one arm.

He was rushed to the hospital and the orthopedic surgeons immediately began a lengthy operation as they attempted to repair the damage.

Unfortunately, the bones did not heal as quickly or properly as they had anticipated. As a result, he had to remain in the hospital for many months. He was once known to have said, “It took quite a while to pick up the pieces.”

Upon his release from the hospital and while he was still recovering from the accident he is quoted as saying, “I decided from this moment on I will play every concert, record every album, give every performance and live every day as though ‘it may be my last.’”

Someone who knew him said that his new goal in life was to “make sure that every time he played, his performance would be as near to perfection as God wanted it to be!”

No doubt that is what Paul had in mind when he wrote, “Whatever you may do, do all to the glory and honor of God!” There is a two-fold implication here: Whatever we do is a choice. And with the choice is an opportunity to bring honor and glory to God. So, not only are our choices critical but that Christ is exalted in the things we do.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, guide us in our choices and make us conscious of whatever we do, knowing that we are always representing You by the way we live. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: 1 Corinthians 10:31 So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
He is a central figure in the success of the New York Yankees. He has led the American League in the most single hits, runs scored and “at bats.” He has over 3,000 hits, stolen more bases than any other player, has five golden glove awards, selected 13 times as an all-star and played more games than any other New York Yankee. Many of his records will stand for many years to come.

A reporter once asked, “What’s the best advice your father ever gave you?”

“Don’t let anyone outwork you,” came the quick reply of Derek Jeter.

We are all compiling a list of accomplishments that will reflect what we have done with the time and talents God has given us. However, beyond that fact we must realize that the time we are allocated and the talents we are given are gifts from God and must be used to His glory.

Paul wrote, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart as though you are working for the Lord rather than for people!” We are all accountable to someone for the work we do here on earth. Ultimately, though, the Christian is accountable to God and will be judged by Him for what we have done with the many opportunities He has given us. We must always remember that we represent Him in all that we do.

Prayer: We thank You, Lord, that You are interested in the work that You have given us to do. May we accept this with thanksgiving and bring You honor in what we do. In Jesus’ 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.
John Tyndall was a nineteenth century physicist who was highly respected and widely recognized for his scientific research in physics. He was the author of seventeen books and his work led to many discoveries that advanced our knowledge about the universe. In fact, many think it was his work that led to the interest of studying the science of physics.

He was once asked by a colleague, “Where did your greatest inspiration come from?”

“A servant,” he replied. “Every morning he’d knock at my door and say, ‘Arise sir! You have great work to do today.’”

We do, too. Paul talks about the attitude and perspective we who are Christians should possess. “Work hard,” he says, “and cheerfully at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than people.”

Ever since the dawn of creation God has given man work to do. And if we view this work as Paul asks us to, it will be done as an act of service and worship to our Creator. Having this view of our daily responsibilities would take away much of the drudgery and dissatisfaction that often make them boring and appear meaningless to us. We might even end our complaining and have less resentment for what we do. Perhaps we might even view our problems as part of the cost of discipleship.

Prayer: Lord, give us thankful hearts, able bodies and sound minds that enable us to work. May we see all that we do as an opportunity to bring You honor and glory. In Jesus’ 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.
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 each of us answer a similar question: “What are you doing in 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 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 only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
It was her first day at work and the manager was carefully going over the responsibilities of his new secretary. After carefully explaining her tasks, he said, “Now I’d like to tell you a few things about myself so you will know what kind of person I am.”

He then began telling her about his college career - how he excelled in academics and athletics. He then started to talk about his accomplishments with the company, how he received one promotion after another and was rewarded with raises and bonuses. He spent a great amount of time bragging about himself.

Finally, in her frustration she asked, “Tell me sir, have you ever had a group photo taken of yourself?”

Many worry about being properly recognized for their position and status. We want others to know what we can do and how well we can do it - whether they are interested or not. We want others to look us to us and stand in awe of our accomplishments.

However, Peter warns us to remember that it is God’s recognition that matters most. Human praise is one thing but God’s approval is all that counts. In His own time, God will bless our efforts and honor our work. We must also remember that the recognition may not come in this lifetime. But if we are faithful to Him and give Him the glory, He will surely reward us in heaven.

Prayer: Lord, whatever we do in life is because of Your grace. The talents and skills, the abilities and strength come to us to give back to You in loving service. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: 1 Peter 5:6 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time,
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