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Posted in Daily Devotions

Jesus said, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves.” (Luke 9:23)

Many self-help books tell us that denial is good. Self-denial is the path to success. If you delay gratification, if you work hard, if you put your money into savings, if you wait to have your needs met until a time when you can afford it, if you cut down on your cholesterol and get plenty of exercise, then you can be successful. We all recognize the wisdom of that advice. To gain control over our desires–to subjugate them to some greater and higher goal–this is the path that leads to fulfillment. Everyone of us at some time or another has followed this advice.

Do you remember the cartoon that showed a little boy attempting to lead a huge Saint Bernard dog on a leash? The dog was dragging the boy along behind and obviously in a different direction from which the boy wanted to go. The young fellow was bracing his feet and turning to the dog and angrily shouting, “Let’s get this straight! You are my dog. I’m not your boy.” Denying ourselves of some things in life is a lot like this boy; they can pull us in the opposite direction we want to go, but we must preserver.

We all recognize that somehow we must, if we are going to be successful, control our desires. How else can we be everything that God created us to be?

Dear Lord, guide me in controlling my desires, so that I can experience Your destiny for me. In Jesus Name, Amen.

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Equiped For Ministry

Posted in Daily Devotions

Because Paul was of the same trade, he stayed with them and they were working, for by trade they were tent-makers. (Acts 18:3)

A speaker was presenting Christ to a large audience on one of the great university campuses. One of the professors in the audience was stricken by the power of the message and the calm and peaceful appearance of the speaker. Leaving the auditorium, the professor said to a fellow professor walking beside him, “I suppose that preacher spends most of his time in study and preparation of sermons, away from the tension and strain of this busy world of ours.”

“Would you like to meet the speaker?” the fellow professor asked. “I know him well.” The professor said he would, so a meeting was scheduled for lunch the next day.

How shocked the professor was when he was taken to a snack room in one of the local factories. Sitting there at the table with the speaker, he asked him about his profession. “My occupation is to do the will of God and to love people while I wait for Christ to return to earth, the speaker replied. “Meanwhile, I operate one of the machines here at the factory.”

A person does not have to be a great preacher to be in the will of God. Your profession is to do the will of God and be a strong witness for Christ no matter where He places you.

Heavenly Father, help me to stay humble, and do Your will. In Jesus Name, Amen.

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Posted in Daily Devotions

So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up. (Galatians 6:9)

On a dairy farm there were two frogs. One day they were sitting by a bucket of milk. The bucket of milk had a lot of foam on top, and there were lots of flies hovering over it.

One frog said to the other one, “Those flies up there sure look good for lunch. I am going to jump up and grab a hold of the edge of the bucket and have a feast.” So that frog jumped up and misses the edge of the bucket and goes curr-plunk right into the milk. Now, it had been a long time since his tadpole days, so he couldn’t swim every well. So he starts yelling for help. The other frog thinking that she was smarter than her friend also jumps up to grab a hold of the edge of the milk bucket. But, she also goes curr-plunk right into the milk bucket.

Both of the frogs are now paddling in the milk for their life. The first frog gets tired and sinks to the bottom of the milk bucket and drowns. The second frog says a prayer and keeps on paddling.

She paddles all day and night. Then the next morning, as the sun began to shine, you could see that little frog sitting on a pallet of butter that she had churned all night.

We can learn some important lessons from this story. First, we should never give up. The challenges of life serve to remind us of our need for Christ. Secondly, with God’s help through Jesus Christ, we can be better people, we can better realize our goals, and we can be closer to God.

Heavenly Father, help me to never give up on You or myself. In Jesus Name, Amen.

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Deny Yourself

Posted in Daily Devotions

Jesus said, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” (Matthew 8:34)

In the comic strip, BEETLE BAILEY, the general looks at his office staff, who are leaning on their elbows at their desks, and immediately changes a wall sign from THINK to ACT.

Jesus had done much to teach his disciples. Now it was time to act. Jesus said, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” My good friend Dr. Johnny Price, Pastor of Life Family Church wonders if it’s even possible to speak about self-denial. After all, we live in a society where ME comes first. We say things like, “I’ve got to find myself. I’ve got to do my own thing. I will buy only the finest, because after all, ‘I’m worth it.’” We are the ME generation. We want what we want and we want it now.

How strange these words of Jesus seem in this context. “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves.” Deny yourself. How out of place those words may seem, but that is exactly what our Savior is calling us to do.

Dear God, may I act rightly today by denying myself, as I pick up the cross of Jesus Christ. In Jesus Name, Amen.

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Well Done

Posted in Daily Devotions

They were astounded beyond measure, saying, “He has done everything well; he even makes the deaf to hear and the mute to speak.” (Mark 7:37)

In a Peanuts cartoon, Charlie Brown, Linus, and Lucy are on their way to school. It’s show and tell day. Lucy asks Linus if he has remembered to bring anything for show and tell.

“Yes,” Linus answers, “I have a couple of things here to show the class.” He then unfolds some papers. “These are copies I’ve been making of some of the Dead Sea scrolls,” he says. Holding them up for Charlie Brown and Lucy to inspect he continues. “This is a duplicate of the scroll of Isaiah, chapters 38-40. It was made from 17 pieces of sheep skin and was found in a cave by a Bedouin shepherd.”

Pulling out another piece of paper he says, “Here I have made a copy of the earliest known fragment ever found. It’s a portion of I Samuel 23: 9-16. I’ll try to explain to the class how these manuscripts have influenced modern scholarship.”

Lucy responds, “Very interesting, Linus,” and she turns to Charlie Brown and asks, “Are you bringing something for show and tell Charlie Brown?”

“Well,” says a dejected Charlie Brown, “I had a little red fire engine here but I think I’ll just forget it.”

Do we, sometime, feel like Charlie Brown in trying to live out the Christian life? The truth is – we don’t have to do it better or try harder. Jesus has already paid the full price for our human sin and situation. God simply calls us to step out in obedience.

Our theme for the day comes from words spoken about Jesus. After he had taught and after he had healed, the people said, “He has done everything well; he even makes the deaf to hear and the mute to speak.” What more can anybody ask of us than to do our simple best at being obedient to God?

Heavenly Father, your obedience led your son to the cross to cover my sins. Help me to simply be obedient to you in heaven, so that others will see your love through me. In Jesus Name, Amen.

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Living Example

Posted in Daily Devotions

For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. (John 13:15)

Choosing great persons for models is good advice for anybody. But who would be on your list? A few of us might choose Mother Teresa. Some may choose Martin Luther King, Jr., the Pope, or Billy Graham. But if you want to find someone who has done all things well our list would be mighty short.

Who shall we choose to follow? There is only one who achieved excellence in every area of life and that one was Jesus Christ. He lived well, he taught well, he died well. Beyond that, he rose triumphantly and lives with God forever. Christ is the one we celebrate today. Christ is the one we should model our lives after.

In a Peanuts cartoon, Snoopy sat droopy-eyed at the entrance of his dog house. He lamented, “Yesterday I was a dog. Today I’m a dog. Tomorrow I will still be a dog. There’s so little hope for advancement!”

We are who we are, but we can be so much more by modeling our lives after Jesus Christ.

Dear God, how wonderful is the example of your son. May I do all I can to allow him to live through me. In Jesus Name, Amen.

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Posted in Daily Devotions

O God, do not remain quiet; Do not be silent and, O God, do not be still. Psalm 83:1

An old preacher spoke something in reply to a question from a young man, something so hushed it was indistinguishable. The young man, therefore, stepped across the room in order to hear better.

“What did you say?” he asked. The preacher repeated himself, but again in a tone as soft as a whisper. So the young man moved closer until he was leaning on the preacher’s chair.

“Sorry,” he said. “I still didn’t hear you.” With their heads bent together, the old preacher spoke once more.

“God sometimes whispers,” he said, “so we will move closer to hear him.”

We all want God’s voice to thunder through the air with the answer to our problem. But often God’s voice is the still,small voice – the gentle whisper.  Perhaps there’s a reason. Nothing draws human focus quite like a whisper. God’s whisper means I must stop my ranting and move close to Him, until my head is bent together with His. And then, as I listen, I will find my answer. Better still, I find myself closer to God.

Heavenly Father, help me to listen, help me to be quiet and listen to your voice. In Jesus name, Amen

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The Master’s Hand

Posted in Daily Devotions

Now Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told him about her at once. He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up. Then the fever left her, and she began to serve them. (Mark 1:30-31)

Jesus was visiting in the home of Simon Peter. Simon’s mother-in-law was sick in bed with a high fever. Without anyone saying a word about her illness Jesus went over to her, touched her, and lifted her up. Immediately she was healed. Notice that Jesus never said a word; he just touched her. We are not told how long she was sick in bed, or her condition. All we are told is that Jesus touched her and made her well. It was a miracle. Notice what happened next. Immediately she got up and began serving Jesus and his disciples. Having been sick in bed she must have been weak, but when Jesus touched her she felt a strength she had never felt before. She got up out of bed and began serving him. This was her way of saying thanks. But it began with the Master’s touch. She was touched by God’s love through Jesus Christ. Our happiness also begins for us when we are touched by the Master’s hand.

Dr. JP Price recalls a PEANUTS cartoon years ago in which Lucy asks Charlie Brown if he has ever known anybody who was really happy. Before she can finish her sentence, however, Snoopy comes dancing on tip-toe into the picture, his nose high in the air. He dances and bounces his way across two frames of the cartoon strip. Finally, in the last frame, Lucy finishes her sentence: “Have you ever known anybody who was really happy and was still in their right mind?”

There certainly are times when people may wonder if we, as God’s people, are in our right mind. There is a lot of pressure against the church and our faith, but when we experience Christ’s love and presence in our lives. The world seems to change, and we live with a greater sense of happiness.

God of joy and peace, may I live with a great sense of happiness when I realize the many ways I have been touched by the Master’s hand. In Jesus Name, Amen.

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Burden of Sin

Posted in Daily Devotions

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. John 3:16

Some of us seem to be more comfortable with an impersonal God. The idea of God’s son having nail prints in his hands and feet because of God’s great love for us is an idea many of us are not ready for.

There is a true and beautiful story about the courtship of Moses Mendelssohn, the grandfather of a great German composer. Moses was a small man with a mis-shaped, humped back. One day he visited a merchant in Hamburg who had a lovely daughter. Though Moses admired her greatly, she avoided him, seemingly afraid of his grotesque hump.

On the last day of his visit he went to tell her good-bye. Her face seemed to beam with beauty but when he entered, she cast her eyes to the floor. Moses’ heart ached for her. After some small talk, he slowly drew to the subject that filled his mind. “Do you believe that marriages are made in Heaven?” he asked.

“Yes,” replied the young woman. “And do you?”

“Of course,” Moses answered. “I believe that at the birth of each child, the Lord says, ‘That boy shall marry that girl.’ But in my case, the Lord also added, ‘But, his wife will have a terrible hump.’”

“At that moment I called, ‘Oh Lord, that would be a tragedy for her. Please give me the humped back and let her be beautiful.’” The story ends when the young woman was so moved by his words that she reached for Moses’ hand and later became his loving and faithful wife.

In trying to deal with the meaning of the cross on which Christ died, the early church came to understand that those nail prints in Jesus’ hands and feet have been ours. But God so loved the world that he sent his own Son to bear the burden brought about by our sin.

Dear Lord, thank you for bearing my burden of sin. Thank you God for personally loving me enough to send Jesus. May I invite you to live close to me each day. In Jesus Name, Amen.

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Posted in Daily Devotions

For the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it. (Matthew 7:14)

General George Patton once told about a Chinese national young man who enlisted in the American army in WWII. This fellow’s unit was stationed in Louisiana. As luck would have it this Chinese soldier got lost on one of the Maneuvers. Being unable to speak English he couldn’t ask where his outfit was located. He was stranded at a crossroads where he attempted to hitch a ride with any army vehicle of any unit. The problem was he tried to use his index finger to hitch a ride instead of motioning backward with his thumb.

You can guess what happened. An army convoy approached. The Chinese soldier pointed his index finger down one of the roads at the crossroads. The driver of the first vehicle didn’t stop since he thought the soldier was directing traffic. When the convoy failed to stop, the young Chinese soldier moved to another road and with the next convoy pointed down the new road. According to Patton, in one afternoon, this soldier split army units so badly by pointing down one road and then another that it took them over a week to locate all of the troops! Troops, trucks and tanks were scattered all over Louisiana and Texas!

Some people spend their lives going first down one road and then another. They wander nowhere in particular and then wonder why they never get anywhere. The most important road we need to go down is the one that Christ is on. Then the rest of the pieces of our lives will fall into place.

Loving God, keep me on the road that leads to your heavenly kingdom. In Jesus Name, Amen.

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