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Popular or True?

Posted in Daily Devotions

Jesus said to them, “Give to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” (Mark 12:17)


On a can of room freshener there appeared these words: “Bring the clean, natural freshness of a country meadow indoors. Freshens the air in your home with a clean, back-to-nature scent–as refreshing as the summer grass and fragrant flowers of a country meadow.” Following were these words: “WARNING: Inhaling the contents can be harmful or fatal.” Just a reminder: that which smells sweet is not necessarily healthy. That which is popular is not necessarily true.

If you were to assess the situation in Jesus’ day, wouldn’t you say that Caesar had all the glory and Jesus had all the pain? Caesar had power, prominence, palaces. Jesus had no place to lay his head. Caesar could pass laws that would drastically affect the lives of men and women throughout his empire. Jesus could but tell stories and hope his listeners understood. With a wave of his hand Caesar could have a person put to death. Jesus died at the hands of the state. Yes, Caesar had the glory, and Jesus had the pain. But wait. That’s not the end of the story. Caesar is in the grave. Jesus has been resurrected. Yes, Caesar was popular, but Jesus brought the truth. May we live in that truth!


God of all things, may I live in the truth of my savior, Jesus Christ. In His Name, we Pray, Amen.


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Unconditional Love

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But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)


Paul’s conversion brought him the joy of unconditional love. That has to be one reason Paul was so content in his new faith. He discovered what it is to be loved unconditionally. Nothing in this world is more pitiful than the person who is unsure he or she is loved.

It has been observed that most emotional problems can be summed up in the kind of behavior where a person walks around screaming, “For God’s sake, love me.” Such feelings are formed in the earliest years of our lives. As children we are constantly seeking approval from the significant people in our lives. If those significant people show their approval for us only when we do things right, then the message we get is that when you are good, you are lovable. When you are not good, you are not lovable. Love, then, is something you earn. If you have to live up to my expectations to win my love, that’s conditional love.

Rigid obedience to the Law makes God’s love appear to be conditional. The message of such faith is, “I love you only when you are obedient, only when you are sinless, only when you measure up to My standards.” Can you imagine what a giant leap of understanding it represented when Paul was able to write in his letter to the Romans, “But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us.” That’s a special kind of love, isn’t it? It’s unconditional love. There is life-changing power in such love.


Lord God, help me to give unconditional love like you have given to me, to all my family and friends. In Jesus name, Amen.


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Goals

Posted in Daily Devotions

I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:14)


For many of us, our hopes and dreams in life center around our jobs. That’s not surprising. That’s where we spend most of our time. Our jobs give us the resources for achieving our goals in life. It is natural that we should have dreams concerning our work. Research shows, however, that around age 45, those dreams begin to change. By then men begin to have some idea whether they are going to keep growing in their work or whether they have gone as far as they will go. If they conclude they have reached their limit–that there is no dream out there for them to pursue–they shift their dreams toward retirement. In fact, some of them retire then and there in their minds. That is why some men in the middle years of life, when they ought to be in their prime, become somewhat listless and begin feeling tired all the time. The problem is not physical. It’s mental. They’ve lost their dream. Meanwhile women who have spent most of their adult lives as care givers are beginning to taste freedom for the first time. So while their husbands are winding down, many women are thinking about going back to school or starting their own business. How you feel about life is related to your sense of purpose.

Now, listen to Paul’s words: “Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.”

Paul discovered there is no ceiling on discipleship. We can be better followers of Jesus at seventy than we are at forty. We can be more loving, more joyous, more focused. The mistake many of us have made is taking our identity from our career rather than from Christ. If your dream is to be like Christ, you will never reach the point where you say, this is it. This is far as I can go.


Dear God, help me to press on to the goal you have given me. In Jesus name, Amen.


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A Thanksgiving Reminder

Posted in Daily Devotions

My good friend Johnny Price has blessed us with this Thanksgiving message:

Just up the road from YOUR home is a field, with two horses in it.

From a distance, each horse looks like any other horse. But if you stop your car, or are walking by, you will notice something quite amazing. Looking into the eyes of one horse will disclose that he is blind. His owner has chosen not to have him put down, but has made a good home for him.

This alone is amazing. If you stand nearby and listen, you will hear the sound of a bell. Looking around for the source of the sound, you will see that it comes from the smaller horse in the field.

Attached to the horse’s halter is a small bell. It lets the blind friend know where the other horse is, so he can follow.

As you stand and watch these two friends, you’ll see that the horse with the bell is always checking on the blind horse, and that the blind horse will listen for the bell and then slowly walk to where the other horse is, trusting that he will not be led astray. When the horse with the bell returns to the shelter of the barn each evening, it stops occasionally and looks back; making sure that the blind friend isn’t too far behind to hear the bell.

Like the owners of these two horses, our mates don’t throw us away just because we are not perfect or because we have problems or challenges. They watch over us and even bring others into our lives to help us when we are in need. Sometimes we are the blind horse being guided by the little ringing bell of those who are placed in our lives. Other times we are the guide horse, helping others to find their way.

Good friends are like that… You may not always see them, but you know they are always there.

Please listen for my bell and I’ll listen for yours, and remember…

Be kinder than necessary. Everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.

Live simply, Love generously, Care deeply, Speak kindly……

FOR WE WALK BY FAITH AND NOT BY SIGHT

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Faith

Posted in Daily Devotions

You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder. (James 2:19)


Being a child of God is about so much more than just believing, at least in the modern world sense of the word “believing”. In both Greek and Jewish cultures, belief had a stronger connotation actually meaning to put one’s complete trust in.

About 100 years ago a tightrope walker was putting on a show at Niagara Falls. He walked back and forth on the tight rope and the crowed cheered. He asked the crowd if they thought he could do it with a wheelbarrow in his hands. The crowd all cheered “We believe you can do it!” So he did, and the crowd cheered again. He then asked the crowd if they believed if he could do it with a person in the wheelbarrow. They all cheered, “We believe you can do it!” Then he asked, “Who wants to get into the wheelbarrow?” No one volunteered!

This is the key difference between belief and faith. Belief is something that is safe from a distance, but faith is actually putting your trust in something or someone.


Dear Lord, I believe – help me with my unbelief. In Jesus’ name, Amen.


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Mission of Love

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You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. (Matthew 22:37)


Now that Jesus had answered the Pharisees question, Jesus had a question for them. “What do you think of the messiah? Whose son is he?” One of them proudly answered, “The Son of David.” “How is it then,” asked Jesus, “that David, by the Spirit, calls him Lord?” The Pharisees had no response for Jesus. They left him without saying another word. From that day on, Matthew reports, no one dared to ask Jesus any more questions.

Jesus was more than the Pharisees and the other religious officials expected. They had a fixed image in their minds of what the messiah would be like. Jesus did not fit that image. Jesus was also more than the people expected a messiah to be. They thought in political terms of a messiah who was a mighty warrior. Again, Jesus did not fit their image. Jesus was more than anyone expected. Jesus was the Son of God. Jesus’ mission and authority came directly from God.

When we truly love God and our neighbors, then we will more fully understand the mission of Jesus Christ and the love God has for each of us.


Lord, your mission has never ended. May I continue your mission of love. In Jesus name, Amen.


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Love Never Ends

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Love never ends. (I Corinthians 13:8)


In a PEANUTS cartoon, Lucy is berating Charlie Brown for losing the baseball game for their team. She says, “You blockhead! You struck out, and we lost the last game of the season!” Then she adds accusingly, “You were standing there thinking about your new girlfriend, weren’t you?”

As Charlie Brown walks away, he mumbles, “I thought being in love was supposed to make you happy.”

Well, love is an important part of happiness. Studies have proven that people in love are much happier. The same is true for people who get involved. They are much happier than people who complain, but never do anything to change the situation. What is your situation?


Dear Lord, may I find true happiness in you. In Jesus name, Amen.


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Call Of Love

Posted in Daily Devotions

And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love. (I Corinthians 13:13)


The average pencil is seven inches long, and the eraser is only a quarter of an inch long – just in case you thought optimism was dead.

The troubles of our world and society may dampen our optimism, but today there is a great need for all of us to listen and follow God’s call of love and peace.

Jesus certainly was saddened by the state of people’s hearts and the condition of people’s relationship with God. However, Jesus was clearly focused on God’s ultimate plan of unconditional love. What greater hope and optimism can we have than when we focus on Christ, as the risen Savior, given in love!


Heavenly Father, help me to show your love each day by doing small acts of kindness. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.


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Our Call

Posted in Daily Devotions

Yet I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him. 1 Kings 19:18


When Elijah cried out that he was the only one left in Israel who cared, God said not true! God showed Elijah 7,000 persons who had not bowed down to Baal. Good people. Concerned people. Dedicated people. All they needed was someone to step out from the crowd and give them some leadership.

We need to recognize that in our own community and world, there are good people, dedicated people who do care about the same problems we care about. They are waiting for someone to step out and provide some leadership.

What is God calling you to do?


Dear God, move me in responding to your call. In Jesus name, Amen.


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Keeping The Law

Posted in Daily Devotions

Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. Matthew 5:17


Paul had spent much of his life trying to save himself through strict adherence to the Law. But somehow, this was not enough. It never is.

Robert Ingersoll was a famous agnostic. He enjoyed arguing, particularly with Christian clergymen. One day Ingersoll was conversing with Charles Horace Talmage, one of the great preachers of the day, about Connecticut’s blue laws – laws forbidding certain activities on Sunday.

“Would you like to live in a community, Mr. Talmage,” Ingersoll asked, “where not one cigar could be smoked and not one drop of liquor could be drunk?”

“Certainly,” said Talmage, “that would be a social heaven.”

“And you would like to live,” Ingersoll continued, “where no one could play on the Sabbath day and where everyone had to go to church?”

“Yes, sir,” Talmage declared, “that would suit me. It would be paradise to live in a community where everyone was compelled to go to church on Sunday, where no one could drink a drop . . . and where the law would make every person good . . .”

“And you think such a person would be a good Christian?” Ingersoll asked, “A better man than I am?”

“Why, of course,” Talmage responded.

“Then,” said Mr. Ingersoll, “I advise you to go to the penitentiary. At Sing Sing there is a community of fifteen hundred men and women governed in precisely that manner. They are all good by law.”

Talmage learned a lesson that day. Being good simply because it is required has no saving power. That was a discovery that Paul also made – keeping the Law by itself would never fulfill his deepest need. Of course, Paul tried to keep the law, but he knew that true salvation comes from faith in Jesus Christ.


Heavenly Father, thank you for saving my soul, so that I may know of God’s incredible love. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.


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