May 23

TODAY IS…

a good day to get back on course.

“’My people have forgotten how to do right,’ says the Lord. ‘Their fortresses are filled with wealth taken by theft and violence.’”  Amos 3:10 NLT

God selected Amos, who was a shepherd in the southern part of Israel, to see a vision of the Lord’s judgment that was to be passed on the people in the northern part of the country. Amos proved he was a man of God by traveling to the north and warning them of what was to come if they didn’t correct their ways.

Many of the people Amos spoke to had been doing the wrong things for so long, they had forgotten what the right thing was.

In many ways, things are not so different now than they were those many centuries before the birth of Christ. Just as they grew complacent in their faith, so have many of us. For many, rather than look honestly at themselves, defensive walls go up and indignation sets in at the mere suggestion of complacency on their part. This is nothing to be embarrassed about, or to get defensive over. It happens to many people more often than we may think.

In a world that moves faster and faster every day, it sometimes becomes easy to forget what the right thing is.

“Not for me!” many of us claim, and for some this may be true. But far too many of us fall into patterns of behavior, or thought, that are in direct violation of the things that God teaches, and we do so with no evil intent and often times no real purpose. We just “drift off course.”

As a ship moves through the ocean, currents will pull at it and if the captain of the ship does not pay attention and make corrections as he goes along, he will find the ship winding up in a totally different place than originally intended.

We must all avoid the “currents” of temptation that will attempt to pull us off course without our even being aware of it. We must avoid complacency and stay focused on our destination. Each one of us needs to take out our Bible, which is our ‘map,’ and see if we have drifted off course.

If we have, we need to take the steps required to correct it so that we arrive at the correct destination.

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Taken from “TODAY IS….A Gift From God”, (C) 2013 Tony Casson

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May 22

TODAY IS…

a terrific day to pray for others.

“I urge you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in my struggle by praying to God for me.”  Romans 15:30 NIV

Prayer is a gift from God.

It is the ability to communicate directly with Him and seek comfort, ask for help, and – hopefully – to give thanks to the One who makes so much of value available to us. It is an opportunity for reflection, and a way to ask for guidance and direction in our lives. Prayer is also the first place we should turn when we are confronted with temptation.

And we will be confronted with temptation.

But prayer is also a great way to fulfill the Lord’s instruction that we love one another and look out for one another. We can accomplish this by using prayer for the benefit of others.

Asking God to help us heal in times of great sadness or sorrow is perfectly alright, but asking God to help someone else find the strength to deal with a terrible loss or tragedy is a powerful way to help someone at times when we may feel powerless to do anything. God can get to places in a person’s heart that we cannot, and He loves to hear our voices imploring Him to help.

We also need to consider the many people throughout the world that we don’t even know who work tirelessly, sacrifice much, and risk their very lives to share the Word of God with others so that they may experience the joy of a life that has been changed by knowing, and accepting, Christ Jesus.

In their struggles to spread the Good News, these brave men and women need our prayers of support. Just as Paul reached out to others in his day to pray in support of his struggle, we should all pray for the many thousands who continue that struggle today.

There are many good reasons to pray and our personal problems are among them. But it is also a beautifully Christian thing to take time to pray for all who need God’s help.

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Taken from “TODAY IS….A Gift From God”, (C) 2013 Tony Casson

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May 21

TODAY IS…

a wonderful day to encourage young people.

“Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith, and in purity.”  1 Timothy 4:12 NIV

God makes it clear that it is never too late to look to Him for the answers that we seek for our lives. The well-known saying, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks” simply does not apply when it comes to discovering the joy of salvation and eternal life with God that can be ours when we accept Jesus Christ as our savior. This certainly is wonderful to hear for any of us who might be arriving late in life at the simple truth that our time on earth should be lived with God’s purpose for us in mind.

By the same token, while it is never too late to learn, it is also never too early. For those among us who waited until later in life to find our way, we know how much richer and fuller our lives would have been if we had discovered the joys of knowing Christ at an earlier age. We know how much happier we would have been and we know how much good we could have done for those around us.

We must encourage those who are young to take advantage of their youth and to experience the love, grace, and blessings that are a part of knowing God and to share all of that with others.

Many young people already have found the Lord, accepted Christ, and live lives of service. Individuals like that must be encouraged to speak even if they may be reluctant because of their youth. Like Paul encouraged Timothy, we must encourage young believers to set an example for those around them.

God has a use for each of us and we only need make ourselves available to Him to discover what that use is. It is easier for young people to council other young people that a relationship with God, and service to others on His behalf, is a much more rewarding way to live than to spend all of their time playing video games, watching television, or engaging in behaviors that can only lead to pain and suffering.

Reach out to those who are young and encourage them to reach out to others. Help others find what you have found, and show them how it can change their lives for good.

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Taken from “TODAY IS….A Gift From God”, (C) 2013 Tony Casson

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May 20

TODAY IS…

the ideal day to heed God’s warnings.

“Noah did everything just as God commanded him.”  Genesis 6:22 NIV

Millions of people claim to have accepted Jesus Christ as their savior and further claim to believe that He is the light that will lead us to life everlasting if we follow simple rules of decency and morality.

And then we go on with our daily lives as if we never spent one minute reading the word of God.

We approach a homeless person on the sidewalk or in our car and we cross the street or roll up the window so we don’t have to deal with them. We search the internet for juicy tidbits of wrongdoing by someone we know and then gossip about them with others. We hide secrets of sinful behavior from our friends, our families, and our spouses. We ignore opportunities to do the right thing, we engage in inappropriate conversations, we sin in a lot of little ways and maybe a few big ways. But sin is sin and not heeding God’s admonishments to avoid sin is not wise.

Has it really become so difficult for us to live decent, moral, loving lives? Has the world become so decadent that immorality is the accepted norm? Do the repeated instructions issued by God fall on deaf ears?

Do we think God is making it up when He tells us that the final judgment on the way each one of us lives our life is coming?

Sometimes we act like we don’t believe that we will be judged, but God makes it very clear throughout the Bible that this will happen. So why do we ignore His warning? Are we so spiritually immature that we think God’s warnings apply to everyone but us?

Disobedience to God might be understandable in some way if God’s instructions to us were complicated or unreasonable. But how complicated is the instruction to love each other and treat each other as we would wish to be treated? And how unreasonable is it to ask people to exhibit maturity and decency in their words and their actions?

God’s instructions to us are neither unreasonable nor complicated. If there are complications in our lives, we probably put them there or invited them in.

Live happier, healthier lives with fewer complications and a lot more joy by heeding God’s warnings and following His instructions and today is the ideal day to start.

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Taken from “TODAY IS….A Gift From God”, (C) 2013 Tony Casson

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May 19

TODAY IS…

an excellent day for company.

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.”  Revelation 3:20 NASB

Well? Are we just going to leave Him standing there on the doorstep, or are we going to swing the door open wide and welcome Jesus into our lives?

Some of us have welcomed Him into our hearts, our minds, and our lives and are living happier, more fulfilling lives as a result. But far too many of us either have not heard Him knocking and calling out to us or we are afraid to let Him in.

Perhaps we feel we do not need Him.

If any of us are in the group that does not hear, we need to start listening more closely, because Jesus calls to us constantly. He wants to come in and be a part of our lives. He wants to help us and to teach us. He wants to help that which is good within us totally supplant anything that is bad within us. He wants us to be spiritually healthy, wealthy, and wise. If we are faithful in prayer and in our reading of the Bible, we will hear Him knocking and we will hear Him calling to us. And then all we need do is open up our hearts and invite Him in.

If we are afraid, we need only know that He knows. For some of us, opening up and allowing Jesus to come in can be a frightening thing. It truly shouldn’t be, but accepting Christ into our homes and our hearts can be scary because change is scary to many of us. But accepting Christ is the best kind of change and there is no need to fear. He is gentle and He is kind, and He will help us be the same way.

Some of us simply do not feel that we need Him because life is wonderful and we have everything we want: we mistakenly feel that all we have gotten we have gotten on our own, through our own efforts, and we are just too busy. Well, only this can be said: standing on the other side of the door, knocking and calling out to us is the epitome of patience and persistence. He will wait as long as it takes for us to realize that the talent we used to accumulate our wealth, material possessions, and good fortune came as a gift from God. He will wait as long as it takes for us to discover that it was His blessing that gave us our fortune. He will wait patiently while we figure out that He has a use for us and He gave us our talents to benefit others and not only ourselves.

No matter where we fit in this picture, we must all open the door and allow Him to come in. Jesus is excellent company and today is an excellent day for company.

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Taken from “TODAY IS….A Gift From God”, (C) 2013 Tony Casson

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May 18

TODAY IS…

the right day to ask, “How do I see things?”

“To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure. In fact, both their minds and consciences are corrupted.”  Titus 1:15 NIV

We are all familiar with the question, “Is the glass half full or half empty?”

No matter who is looking at the glass, the amount of water in the glass is the same, so what could possibly account for people seeing things differently? Is not the human eye basically constructed the same in all humans? The color of our eye doesn’t change what we see; the shape of our eye doesn’t change what we see; nor does the gender of our eye change what we see.

What, then, does cause us to see what should be the same thing, in different ways?

Obviously the difference must come from within. Our education definitely influences our perception, but so does the environment in which we were raised. How we were raised spiritually also affects how we see things.

Some of us look around at the world and manage to see good things everywhere, in spite of the evil that exists. Some of us look at the same thing and see mostly that which is evil. When Paul wrote his letter to Titus instructing him how to organize the churches on the Isle of Crete, he pointed out that people see with their eyes, but what they are looking at is determined by what is in their hearts.

This is not to say, necessarily, that if we see only evil, or mostly evil, that we are evil. This only points out that the negative things in the world are what we focus on internally.

With Christ in control of our lives and with our focus daily on the lessons He taught, we can learn to fill our hearts with the things that are required to see more of what is right with the world. Of course, we don’t want to be blind to the pain of others or the needs of those less fortunate than ourselves, but we must focus our “…thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” (Philippians 4:8 NLT).

This will enable us to see more of what is good in the world and it will also enable others to see the good in us. And with everyone seeing more good, the world can slowly become less evil.

The question for today is, “How do you see things?” Ask Jesus Christ to help you answer in the right way.

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Taken from “TODAY IS….A Gift From God”, (C) 2013 Tony Casson

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May 17

TODAY IS…

the day God gives us the freedom to forget.

“And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.”  Hebrews 10:17 KJV

How many of us have felt as if we are being restrained from moving forward? Like there is a ball and chain around our ankle? Some would say that they are carrying around a lot of “baggage.”

Sometimes the promise of tomorrow eludes us because we simply cannot seem to get out of the past.

There are many reasons we may feel this way. Our own guilt is very often a primary cause of inability to get on with our lives. Frequently we will find that we are our own biggest obstacle. Even when we feel that the opinion other people may have of us or something we did in the past is keeping us from making progress in our lives, if we examine it closely, it comes back to us. Sometimes we give those around us incredible power over us.

But let us be realistic about whose opinion is truly important, and who has real power over us. The answer is the same in both instances.

Only God.

The Bible assures us that past sins are forgiven and forgotten. When we ask for forgiveness, what do we get? Forgiveness. And along with that forgiveness comes the freedom to forget, because that is what God does. He forgives and forgets, and allows us to unchain ourselves from our guilt and move on.

Whenever we see another believer who appears to be wrapped up in the past, we must reach out to them and help them remove the blinders from their eyes that keep them from seeing that God has removed the ball and chain from their leg or emptied their excess baggage so now they can set the bags down and move on.

If it is ourselves who are the ones afflicted, we need to read God’s Word for reassurance that with our sincere repentance and our request for forgiveness comes freedom given by God: the freedom to move forward and the freedom to forget.

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Taken from “TODAY IS….A Gift From God”, (C) 2013 Tony Casson

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May 16

TODAY IS…

an awesome day to follow the example set by Jesus.

“I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you.”  John 13:15 NLT

We are all familiar with the lesson taught by Jesus that instructs us to “Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you.” (Matthew 7:12a NLT). We all know this, and teach this to our children as “The Golden Rule.” Some may consider what Jesus said to His disciples after He washed their feet as simply another way of saying the Golden Rule, but it is far more than that.

Think about our relationship with the Lord compared to our relationship with those around us. We probably treat God with more respect than we do our next door neighbor. We are all very likely to fall all over ourselves to please God, but are only mildly concerned with what those around us think. Of course, this makes sense since we ask so much more of God, right?

Actually, this is far from right. What Jesus intended to be learned is that if we are to ask for God’s mercy, then we must show mercy to others. If we are to ask God for His love, then we must take the love He gives us and share it.

How can we ask the Lord to treat us right if we treat others wrong?

Where do we find the nerve to ask God to hold out His arms for us if we are not willing to hold out our  arms for others?

How can we ask God to help us see and then not use our sight to notice another person’s tears?

It is a good thing to treat others the way we want them to treat us. This is important, because Jesus said it was.

But it is even more telling of our understanding of Jesus if we treat those around us the way we want God to treat us.

We must learn for ourselves, and teach our children, that we must never ask the Lord for anything we are not prepared to willingly share with those around us.

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Taken from “TODAY IS….A Gift From God”, (C) 2013 Tony Casson

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May 15

TODAY IS…

a great day to remind ourselves to trust God even when we don’t understand.

“His mother said to the servants, ‘Whatever He says to you, do it.’”  John 2:5 NASB

When Jesus’ mother instructed the servants, she had no understanding of how He could solve the problem – she just believed that He could. She gave the problem over to Jesus and then let Him take care of things. She probably was not expecting Him to perform a miracle, and things undoubtedly worked out better than she had anticipated.

This is something that is very difficult for so many of us. We have the best of intentions when we speak of our faith in God and we give our problems to Him and ask for His help, but we often then sit back and expect Him to do things the way we would do them. It doesn’t always work that way and sometimes we simply cannot understand the approach that the Lord is taking to our problem.

Do we know, better than God, how any situation should be handled? Is it wise to even harbor the notion?

The truth of the matter is that with faithful and diligent reading of the Word of God, we must know in our hearts that whatever God decides is truly what is in our best interests in the long run. It is of the utmost importance that we accept the fact that far too often, we base our decisions on what we think is best for today. God is concerned about tomorrow – and the day after that.

If we are truly paying attention to what the Lord tells us in the Bible, we simply cannot harbor the thought that we are not satisfied with the way He is handling a situation we have given over to Him.

There is no safer place for our problems than in the hands of God. There simply is no possibility that we can know, better than the One who created us and gave us life, what is best for us.

We must all give our problems to God, and then trust in Him even when we cannot understand.

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Taken from “TODAY IS….A Gift From God”, (C) 2013 Tony Casson

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May 14

TODAY IS…

a superb day to keep our promises.

“But all the leaders said to the whole congregation, ‘We have sworn to them by the Lord, the God of Israel, and now we cannot touch them.’”  Joshua 9:19 NASB

Joshua, and those who advised him, discovered shortly after making a treaty with the Gibeonites that they had been duped into believing that the Gibeonites were from a distant land. The Gibeonites were seeking to avoid being destroyed by Joshua’s armies in battle, so they engineered a detailed deception. Joshua failed to consult with God before making his decision to enter into a treaty with the people of Gibeon to protect them. He consulted only with his advisors and they were fooled.

To say that Joshua and those who encouraged and advised him to make the treaty were angry at being tricked is probably an understatement, but they had given an oath to protect the Gibeonites and there was no way out of it.

A promise is a promise.

No promise should be made lightly. If there is doubt that we will be able to keep our promise, then we should not make a promise in the first place. Particularly with our families, it is important that we are as good as our word. This teaches our children to be reliable, responsible, and honorable. Nothing is worse to a child than to have a mother or father promise to be at a recital, sporting event, concert, or some other event that is important to them and not show up. We do not want to be responsible for that level of hurt and disappointment. If we cannot do something or are not positive that we can, the truth may cause sadness, but we at least have taught them to be honest.

It is no different with spouses, other family members, friends, or co-workers. When we promise something, it should be a guarantee. It is important in all our relationships that people are able to take us at our word.

Our word should be a bond. Giving our word – fulfilling a promise – shows good character, so remember: If you can’t do something, just say so, but a promise is a promise.

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Taken from “TODAY IS….A Gift From God”, (C) 2013 Tony Casson

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