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Make A Difference

Posted in Daily Devotions

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us. (Ephesians 5.1-2)

Paul writes, “Be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us.” But what does this mean, to be “imitators of God”? How are we to live in love?

Well, in a very practical way this teaching reminds us to treat other people, the everyday people we come in contact with throughout our lives, in the same way that God treats them. It means treating others fairly, and being honest in all of our relationships, whether personal or professional. And most importantly, we must be as forgiving of others as God is of us.

Tony Campolo had a hard time sleeping one night, so he got up at three thirty in the morning and went searching for an all-night coffee shop. He had found one and had ordered a donut and a cup of coffee when two prostitutes came in. They were loud and crude, and quite disagreeable company. Tony was ready to leave when he overheard one of the women say that the next day was her birthday.

Her friend sneered, “So what do you want from me? a birthday party?” To which the woman replied, “Why should you give me a birthday party? I’ve never had a birthday party in my whole life.” Now when Tony heard that, something clicked inside. He went over to the waiter and asked if the women came in every night, which they did. Then he asked if he could hold a birthday party for the one woman, Agnes. Well, the waiter thought it was a wonderful idea, and agreed.

Tony was back at the diner the next morning at two-thirty to decorate. He brought some crepe paper decorations and made a big birthday sign out of pieces of cardboard. He covered that diner from one end to the other. Somehow word of the party must have gotten out, because pretty soon the diner began to fill up with Agnes’ friends.

At three thirty, Agnes and the other woman entered the diner. Everyone shouted, “Happy Birthday, Agnes!” and began singing happy birthday. Well, she was stunned. Her mouth fell wide open. By the time the waiter brought in the cake she was crying.

A little later Tony Campolo led the group in prayer. He prayed for Agnes and her salvation, and her friends. He prayed that her life would be changed and that God would be good to her. Do you want to know the worst part about this whole story? No one had ever treated that woman like a child of God before.

And when Tony accepted that woman, when he accepted her for the sake of her soul, he made a difference in her life. A real difference.

God of love, with your holy love, may I labor to make a real difference.  In Jesus Name,Amen.

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A Word of Encouragement

Posted in Daily Devotions

I have indeed received much joy and encouragement from your love, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you, my brother. (Philemon 1.7)

Writer Norman Mailer entered Harvard as an engineering student because his mother, who had been through the Great Depression, wanted her son to have a marketable degree. But in his freshman year, Mailer took English 101, a basic course in which students were expected to learn how to write well. A number of well-known writers taught at Harvard at the time. Mailer found the atmosphere stimulating. Although he was an engineering student, he spent many hours reading and writing fiction.

For the final exam in English that semester, the students had to write a novella, and Mailer received an A+, a grade seldom given and one that made his name known all over campus. That one grade was the real beginning of his career as a writer, giving him both the self-confidence and the recognition that he needed. To please his mother, Mailer finished his degree in engineering, but from his freshman days Mailer pursued a life of writing.

Sometimes one positive word of encouragement can make all the difference. And the whole purpose of Christianity is to lead others to spiritual success.

Give a word of encouragement today.

Heavenly Father, you have encouraged me with many words of love. May I share those words of encouragement to those who need it today.  In Jesus Name, Amen.

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Here Is My friend

Posted in Daily Devotions

And the king will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.” (Matthew 25.40)

Walt Whitman once said, “In the faces of men and women I see God.” In the face of every forsaken pilgrim stranded along the side of life’s road, we perceive the presence of our Lord. Thus, mere acquaintances are turned into friends. Why? Because a man from Nazareth once befriended us.

Frederick Douglass approached the front door of the White House, seeking admission into Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Ball. Just as Douglass was about to knock on the door, two policemen seized him, barring the black man’s entrance. Douglass, a large, powerful man, brushed the officers aside and stepped into the foyer. Once inside, two more officers grabbed the uninvited guest, all the while uttering racial slurs.

As Douglass was being dragged from the hall, he cried to a nearby patron, “Just say to Mr. Lincoln that Fred Douglass is at the door!” Confusion ensued. Then suddenly the officers received orders to usher Douglass into the East Room. In that beautiful room, the great abolitionist stood in the presence of the esteemed President. The place quieted as Lincoln approached his newly arrived guest, hand outstretched in greeting, and speaking in a voice loud enough so none could mistake his intent, the President announced, “Here comes my friend Douglass.”

The President had called Frederick Douglass friend. Who dared demean Douglass if he was a friend of the President?

Jesus Christ, the Lord of the universe, has called us his brothers and his sisters. God has called us His own children. But not only us. Also the person who lies stripped and beaten by the side of the road. He–or she–is our friend, our neighbor. So we pause and we help, because once there was a man who paused on a cross for us.

Dear God, may I pause as your Son has paused for me. In Jesus Name, Amen.

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Pure Religion

Posted in Daily Devotions

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world. (James 1.27)

Mother Teresa once said, “The biggest disease today is not leprosy or cancer. It’s the feeling of being uncared for or unwanted, of being deserted and alone. The greatest evil is the lack of love and charity, and an indifference toward one’s neighbor who may be the victim of poverty or disease or exploited and at the end of his or her life, left at a roadside.”

God of love, may I offer my hand to help and love, as you have helped and loved me. In Jesus Name, Amen.

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Run To Win

Posted in Daily Devotions

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us. (Hebrews 12.1)

If you are going to compete in the race of life, run to win. And that means committing yourself to a life of discipline. It means seeking to be all God has created you to be. It means knowing where you are going–focusing in on the tasks at hand. It means avoiding distractions. It means getting rid of any sin in your life that may serve as a hindrance. And it means running your race with the anticipation that you’re not headed down a dead end street. You’re running to cross God’s finish line. Keep these rules in mind and you will finish a winner in everything you do.

Dear God, help me keep my focus on you, so that I can win the challenges of life for your honor and glory. In Jesus name, Amen.

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A Humble Life

Posted in Daily Devotions

For this reason, since the day we heard it, we have not ceased praying for you and asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of God’s will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding. (Col. 1.9)

Virtuoso violinist Pinchas Zukerman was giving a master class to a group of young artists who had come to the Aspen Music Festival. The young artists were being observed by a large audience of their peers and distinguished teachers and performers. The atmosphere was electric. To each of the talented performers Zukerman offered friendly advice and encouragement. He discussed their playing in detail, and would pick up his own violin to demonstrate finer points of technique and interpretation. Finally came the turn of a young musician who performed brilliantly. When the applause subsided, Zukerman complimented the artist. Then he walked over to his own violin, caressed it, tucked it under his chin, and paused a long moment. Then, without playing a note or uttering a word, he placed it back in its case. This time the applause was deafening, in recognition of a master, who could pay so gracious a compliment.

We all know it’s true. The person who is constantly puffing himself or herself up bragging about exploits, showing off trophies, buying bigger and better things to stay one step ahead of the Jones is at heart very insecure and fearful. Such a person is deathly afraid that he or she really does not measure up. The greater the emptiness on the inside, the greater the need to surround ourselves with the trappings of success on the outside. The more unsure we are about our own self‑worth, the more we need the envy of others. The less sure we are of ourselves, the greater our need to lord it over others. Yet someday we realize it is all a sham. True stature is not measured by how much we puff ourselves up, but by how willing we are to humble ourselves before God and God’s people.

Heavenly Father, help me to be humble and put YOU first. Fill my emptiness with your love and hope.  In Jesus Name, Amen.

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The Simple Life

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Those who are generous are blessed, for they share their bread with the poor. (Proverbs 22.9)

Most of us have too much stuff. The more things we accumulate the more our freedom is restricted. The more stuff we have the more it demands our attention. The more attached we get to our stuff the harder it is to hear the call of Jesus.

Jesus’ call to travel light may be a call to simplify our lives – to become more carefree – so we can regain a kind of singleness of eye and heart.

Summer vacation can be a great teacher about a more carefree life. Ann Morrow Lindberg wrote a profound book entitled Gift From The Sea. In it, Ann describes her alone time at her beach home. She tells how she experiences God’s grace through the simplicity of the life she finds on summer vacation.

Life in our society, she says, is based on ever-widening circles of contact and communication. It involves family demands, community demands, national demands, and international demands. Our mind reels sometimes. It is not a life of simplicity but a life of multiplicity. It can lead to fragmentation rather than unification. If we’re not careful, it can destroy our soul.

Oh, that we might seek and actively receive the gift of simplicity. Then we could learn the art of shedding; discovering how little one can get along with, not how much.

God of love, help me to live simply so that others can simply experience your love. In Jesus Name, Amen.

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A New Dignity

Posted in Daily Devotions

They are to do good, to be rich in good works, generous, and ready to share. (1 Timothy 6.18)

Jesus could have had it all, the Bible tells us, but he gave it all up for you and me. Instead of seeking to gain, he gave. Instead of puffing himself up, he humbled himself unto the cross. And what happened as a consequence? God raised him up and gave him a name above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow…. That’s true greatness.

Follow Jesus’ example. Be as concerned about giving as about gaining. Humble yourself and trust your reputation to God.

One man who took Jesus seriously was Mahatma Gandhi. Gandhi acknowledged that he had been much influenced by the Gospels and touched by the life of Christ. As he once remarked, “I might have become a Christian had it not been for Christians!”

Gandhi did not lead the masses by standing like a monarch above them but by identifying with them and sharing in their circumstances. A part of Gandhi’s greatness was that not even the untouchables of India were beneath him or were made to feel uneasy in his presence. Other Indian leaders lived in mansions, far removed from the masses, going everywhere and doing everything first‑class, but Gandhi would not allow anyone to be lower than he. Other Indian dignitaries, usually of high caste themselves, were no more willing to associate with untouchables than with lepers. Gandhi not only lived and marched with untouchables, he gave them a new dignity and a new name. He called them Harijans, “the people of God.”

In the same way Christ has given us a new dignity and a new name. Such dignity does not come from what we have, but by what we are‑‑those called by his name. Now we are to go out to give that same dignity to others.

Heavenly Father, thank you for the dignity you have given to me. Guide me in boldly sharing it with others. In Jesus name, Amen.

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