A friend of Clark Gable took her young son to his home for a visit. As they were about to leave, the boy pointed to the Oscar that Gable had won and asked, “May I have this?”
“Sure,” answered Gable, giving it to the child.
“Give it back immediately,” shouted the mother in shock.
“Oh, no,” said Gable. “Keep it. Having the Oscar around doesn’t mean anything to me. Earning them does.”
Focusing on the future has many benefits. Paul boldly declared that “I am still not all I should be! But I am focusing all my energies on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead I strain to reach the end of the race.”
Paul had great reasons to want to forget the past – he persecuted Christians and even had them killed. He held them in great contempt creating fear and anxiety among them. But, he also had accomplished many outstanding things for Christ when he wrote these words. In all reality he could have “stayed stuck” for one reason or another: either the wrongs he had done from feelings of guilt or false pride for his service to his Lord.
These are two traps every Christian faces: our failures and our successes. Either one can destroy what God has called us to do. We must always move forward!
PrayerHelp us, Father, not to ruin the present or the future by staying stuck in the past. You have called us to do great things through Christ. May we be faithful. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Philippians 3:13-14 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Lord Nelson was England’s most famous naval officer. He was highly esteemed for his inspirational leadership and brilliant grasp of naval strategies and unconventional tactics. His supreme knowledge of warfare at sea enabled him to win many significant victories for England. In fact, in one battle, with only 27 small vessels he destroyed 33 large battleships of Napoleon.
In spite of his brilliant career as a naval officer, he suffered from seasickness all of his life. Yet, he refused to allow this serious condition to become an excuse from what he believed he was called to do.
This is a significant lesson for each of us. All of us can find excuses not to do something whenever we want to. Whether we “talk” ourselves into a headache or turn a small task into an overwhelming, mountain-sized, life-threatening project, we can always – if we want to – find a way out of doing what God calls us to do.
Imagine standing before our Lord someday and hearing Him ask: “Do you remember when I asked you to teach Sunday school and you said you were too busy?” Or: “Can you explain why you didn’t have time to help with Vacation Bible School...sing in the choir...volunteer to work at the homeless shelter...feed the poor...go to camp with the youth...contribute more…or…?”
Prayer: Help us, Heavenly Father, to serve You as You deserve. May we not look for excuses to refuse Your call, but to look for opportunities to serve You constantly. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Romans 12:11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.
A drill sergeant, wanting to get his recruits in shape, was pushing them harder and harder. Yelling at them loudly he said, “Fall on your backs. Now get your legs in the air. Now, make them go in circles like you’re riding a bicycle. Higher! Faster!” he shouted. But one recruit was lying quietly with his legs in a “V” position.
Walking over to where he was lying, he glared at him and demanded, “What are you doing? You are supposed to be riding a bicycle!”
“I am, Sir,” said the recruit. “But right now I’m coasting downhill!”
Paul once said, “I am focusing my energies on one thing...and...I am straining to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us up to heaven.” He was totally consumed with becoming who God wanted him to be so he could do what God called him to do. This took all of his energies. With the single-mindedness of an athlete in training he set aside everything that would distract him or destroy him from being an effective witness for Christ. There was no place in his training program for “coasting downhill” even if the wind was at his back.
As “saints in training” we, like Paul, must stay focused, be diligent, work earnestly, live obediently and strive constantly to receive the “prize” God has for us.
Prayer: Father, we call upon You to make us alert and aware of temptations that would limit our effectiveness. May we live disciplined, determined lives always. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: But one thing I do: …straining toward what is ahead…I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Jesus Christ. Philippians 3:13-14
It was a difficult semester in school for little Tammy. Her grades were very low and her fear of being punished very high. Thinking about a way out of her dilemma she asked her Dad, “Can you write your name with your eyes closed?”
“Yes, I think so,” he replied.
“Great!” So, she had him sit at the table, got a pen and said, “Sign here!” as she guided his hand.
When he opened his eyes, he realized that he had signed her report card. Needless to say, he was not pleased and made some appropriate adjustments.
Although we may think that we are hiding things from God, Solomon reminds us that “God will judge us for everything we do, including every secret thing, whether good or bad.”
We are reminded by Solomon that we are to enjoy life and everything that God has given us. But this does not excuse us or exempt us from obeying God and what He has commanded us to do. We must train ourselves to recognize what is right or wrong according to God’s Word and then live a life that is in agreement with His demands. He has the final say.
No excuses! No exemptions! No explanations!
Prayer: May we live our lives, Lord, with a clear understanding of the fact that one day we will stand before You in judgment for all we’ve done. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Ecclesiastes 12:14 For God will bring every work into judgment, Including every secret thing, Whether good or evil.
Have you ever wondered what good might come from an act of kindness?
Looking for something to drink in place of wine, Thomas Welch began to make grape juice in his kitchen. He shared it with some of his friends. They enjoyed it so very much that they asked him to make enough of it for them to take home and share with others. From his kindness came the company that bears his name to this day: Welch’s Grape Juice.
Elliott Handler enjoyed making doll furniture in his garage for his many friends. His miniature products were so attractive, contained so much detail and were made so well that he could not meet the many requests for his products. Because of his many acts of kindness and the fine quality of his products, he became the head of Mattel, one of the largest toy companies in the world.
It is almost impossible to walk past the loaves of bread in a super market without noticing Pepperidge Farm products. Years ago Margaret Rudkin began baking bread in her kitchen to share with her neighbors and the rest of the story is history.
Paul said, “Don’t get tired of doing what is good. Don’t get discouraged and give up, for we will reap a harvest of blessings at the appropriate time. Whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone.”
It is discouraging to continue to do the right thing and receive no recognition or reward. Often it costs us personally to continue to give and never receive anything in return – perhaps not even a word of thanks. But we are challenged in God’s Word to continue to do good even if we do not receive any recognition or any reward. God will always bless us if we do what we do in His name.
Prayer: Father, we pray that we use whatever talents You have given us to honor You and serve those around us. May we always do our best and leave the results up to You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Galatians 6:9-10 And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.

A famous entrepreneur was once asked, “What's the secret of your success?”
After a moment’s thought he replied, “And then some.”
Curious, the interviewer asked, “What does that mean?”
He replied, “I discovered at an early age that the extraordinary people did what was expected of them – and then some.”
Christians must do more than believe – they must behave. True, deep down belief in our heart will lead us to live and love as Jesus did.
Christians must do more than care, they must share. If we know of someone who is without and needs something we can provide we must share.
Christians must do more than forgive, they must accept. If someone has wronged us, we must reach out to them in love and let them know by words and deeds that we hold nothing against them.
Christians must do more than promise, they must perform. When we give our word, we must honor our word. If we “say it,” we must “do it” if we possibly can. And when we can't, we must admit we made a promise we can't keep – no matter the reason.
Prayer: Help us, Lord, to practice what we preach, to walk our talk, to do it if we say it, to go the second mile and to behave what we say we believe. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Matthew 5:41 And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two.
In a famous Peanuts cartoon, Lucy is shouting from the outfield to Charlie Brown who is pitching, “Let’s win this one for a change, Charlie Brown!”
When he threw the next pitch, the batter hit the ball toward Lucy. Standing there, she watched the ball bounce and made no attempt to catch it.
In desperation Charlie Brown shouted, “If you are interested in winning, Lucy, why didn’t you try to catch the ball?”
“My role is strictly advisory,” she replied.
In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul spoke sternly about roles. “My job was to plant the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but God gave the increase.”
Paul filled many roles in the early church. He was an evangelist, missionary, church-founder, author, educator and mentor to many of the leaders following Pentecost. What he did, he did well. But he knew that he could not do it all. He recognized the need for others to come alongside him and bring to completion the work that he started. It was the responsibility of Apollos to water the seed that Paul planted and to help the believers to grow stronger in their new found faith – to build on the foundation that Paul established.
We recognize the fact that God brings about the growth in Christians, but it involves many different individuals with a variety of gifts and talents to complete the process. Many Christians want to suggest to others what they should do. Few want to serve and share in expanding His Kingdom.
When we face our Lord we will not be asked, “Who have you directed?” but “What have you done?”
Prayer: Help us, Heavenly Father, to turn our saving faith into serving love by accepting our responsibilities to do what we are called to do whether planting, watering or weeding. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: 1 Corinthians 3:6-9 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.
They called him the miracle worker. It was a miracle if he ever worked at all.
But he went to church and was so moved by the message that he went forward during the invitation and professed to be converted. His family and friends were delighted when he prayed: “Dear Lord, save me and use me to Your glory.” Unfortunately, he added: “By the way, Lord, I’ll be available whenever You need me to give you or others need guidance or directions.”
God does not need our advice, He needs our attention. He does not need our suggestions, He needs our service. He does not need our words, He needs our wills. He does not need our heads, He needs our hearts.
More than anything, He wants our love–for if we truly love Him, we will labor for Him and live for Him. He also wants us to worship Him, and if we do, we will gladly and willingly work for Him. It is only when we make a definite decision to follow Him that we will make a daily difference in His world.
Jesus said, “Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.”
PrayerHelp me, Father, to know Your will by studying Your Word that I may do Your work. Help me to live for Thee: through Christ. Amen.
Scripture for Today: John 13:17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.
During a lull in the Spanish-American War of 1898, Colonel Teddy Roosevelt went to a nurse named Clara Barton. Politely he said, “I have men who are sick and wounded in my regiment. They need the delicacies that you of the Red Cross have. I’m ready to pay for them out of my own pocket.”
“Not for a million dollars,” came the reply. “All you have to do is to ask.”
Salvation is like that. We cannot buy it or earn it, work to attain it nor expect to inherit it from a parent or relative.
We must ask for it with sincerity and the simple faith of a small child.
When offered a gift we must accept it to receive it. God’s salvation, through Jesus Christ, is offered to us as His gift. Even the faith to accept His salvation is a gift. But we must ask for and accept it to receive it.
Perhaps the most concise definition of how a person is saved is contained in the words: “By grace are you saved through faith which is a gift from God.” Our salvation comes from God’s grace and our trust in what He did for us through His Son. As Christians we live and die depending on God’s gifts of grace, faith and salvation.
Prayer: Father, we are grateful for Your love, grace and mercy and reach out to You in faith accepting Your salvation. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
Scripture for Today: Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,  not of works, lest anyone should boast.
Two men were enjoying the annual church golf tournament. While waiting for their turn, one said to the other, "There are times when I would like to ask God why He allows hunger and poverty. If He is all powerful, why doesn’t He do something about it."
"Well," asked his friend, "why don't you ask Him?”
"Because," he answered, "I'm afraid He might ask me the same question."
Many believe that we only sin when we do what we know is wrong: by not following the Word of God. Not so, writes James.
He tells us that sin is also not doing what we know to be the right thing to do. We would all agree that it is a sin to speak evil of someone and harm their reputation. But it is also a sin if someone speaks evil of a brother or sister and we remain silent and do not speak up on their behalf. God expects us to do kind acts, serve others, guard their reputation and protect others the way He protects us.
Someday we will be judged by our standard of life not our standard of living.
Prayer: Help us, Lord, to do what we know is right, to avoid what we know is wrong, and always be honest. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: James 4:17 Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.
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