June 20

Today is…

the day to turn away from worthless things.

“Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to Your word.” Psalm 119:37 NIV

How much of what we do each day is worthless in God’s eyes?

None of us likes to think in those terms, but it is important that we constantly be evaluating the things we do, how we spend our money, and how we spend our time. Let’s take a look at how we spend our time since the things we do take time and the money we spend is usually spent on things that occupy our time.

Time is one of the biggest barriers between many of us and God.

We don’t have more time to give to Him, to the Bible, or to other people in service to humanity. Our days are booked up from the moment our feet hit the floor till the instant they are placed back between the sheets.

But how are we using our time?

Suppose we all kept a daily log of all our activities. Not forever; a week should be sufficient. Nothing fancy, just a little pocket notebook. Every time we commence a new activity, we jot the start time, the activity, and the time we are finished, regardless of what it is or how insignificant it seems.

What would our daily log reveal to us about our relationship with God? How much time would be shown spent on pursuits that are worthless – and in some cases, sinful?

How much time do we spend playing games on the computer or some other device?

How much time do we spend keeping up with what celebrities we will never meet are doing, how they are living, or how often they go to jail?

How much time do we spend looking at pornography or engaging in inappropriate ‘conversations’ on the internet?

How much time do we spend watching ‘reality’ shows that reflect the reality of only those individuals who are paid to let us see how shallow they are or how they live their lives without any degree of decency, self-respect, or morality?

Getting the idea? Care to speculate how much more time we could find for worship, prayer, fellowship and service to God?

We may think that the time spent on this earth is our own, to do with as we like.

“But on the judgment day, fire will reveal what kind of work each builder has done. The fire will show if a person’s work has any value.” (1 Corinthians 3:13 NLT).

Get rid of the things that are worthless and find the time for things that are worthwhile. Important things, like building a stronger relationship with the Lord, and helping those around you.

Many of us will discover there is a lot of time in the day for things that are meaningful in God’s eyes, and today is the day to make that discovery.

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

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June 19

Today is…

a fine day to think about giving and receiving advice.

“The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man is he who listens to counsel.” Proverbs 12:15 NASB

The president of the United States surrounds himself with trusted advisors, as most world leaders do. No matter how learned we are, no matter how educated, no matter how confident we may be in our ability to make decisions, it is always wise to consider the advice of those around us.

It is as important to consider carefully whom we choose to advise us as it is to seek the counsel of others in the first place. King Rehoboam had an opportunity to listen to advice from older, wiser men on the subject of relaxing some of the harsh labor and tax demands of his father, but he didn’t care for it, so he asked people he grew up with.

“What is your advice?’ he asked them. ‘How should I answer these people who want me to lighten the burdens imposed by my father?’” (1 Kings 12:9 NLT).

Their response was to suggest even harsher treatment. His friends told him to say, “Yes, my father laid heavy burdens on you, but I’m going to make them even heavier! My father beat you with whips, but I will beat you with scorpions.” (1 Kings 12:11 NLT).

Rehoboam took the advice of others and it turned out poorly. He sought counsel but it was provided by individuals who obviously were not very wise.

So, perhaps it is best to not seek out advice in the first place, right?

Wrong.

First, it is important to have some idea of the heart of those from whom we seek counsel. It is important that God figure highly into the equation.

“The plans of the godly are best; the advice of the wicked is treacherous.” (Proverbs 12:5 NLT).

When confronted with situations that require advice, do these things: Pray for God to guide you; search the Bible for answers; talk with someone you feel has your best interests in mind and is guided by God in their hearts. Also, make sure they have some knowledge or experience in the matter at hand before considering what they have to say regarding it.

When it comes time for someone to seek counsel from you, always ask God to guide you, and if you know nothing about what you are being asked, offer this advice: “Find someone who knows more about the situation than me.”

Because no advice is better than bad advice, whether it is advice we are giving or advice we are receiving.

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

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June 18

Today is…

a super day to let God work within you.

“For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases Him.” Philippians 2:13 NLT

Paul was in prison in Rome and had no way of knowing if he would ever leave there alive. Here was a man who once enjoyed great freedom when he was persecuting Christians, who was now uncertain if he would leave prison alive because of his decision to follow Christ’s teachings and spread the Good News of salvation. Prisons in those days could not have been very pleasant places. The food was probably not very good, sanitation was more than likely nonexistent, and the aura of sickness, and the possibility of death most assuredly constantly hung over him.

And yet, in spite of these things, Paul’s letter to the people of Philippi was joyful, upbeat and encouraging.

What power could have such a profound effect on a person? What power could possibly give Paul the courage to stand by his convictions even at the risk of death? What power could enable someone to express love, hope, trust and optimism when faced with what Paul was facing?

Hopefully, we all know that the answer is the power of God.

God gave Paul the strength to face the worst that life at that time had to offer and still encourage others with a positive attitude because he invited God to work within him and he submitted all of his problems and fear, along with his own will, to God and said, “Here, take all of this. I don’t want it. I can’t live with it. I need You, Lord to guide me, to keep me safe, and to show me how I can make my life significant for You.”

There are many people whose “perfect” lives are simply comfortable prisons that lack any real joy and have no real purpose. Do not let this happen to you. Invite God into your life and let Him work within you.

Today is a super day to do it.

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

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June 17

Today is…

a good day to be hospitable.

“Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.” Romans 12:13 NIV

When we invite people into our home for a party or a celebration of some kind, we want everything to be perfect. We want the house to be clean, the food to be tasty and served in an attractive and appetizing manner, and generally want our guests to feel welcome and have a good time.

For social gatherings, this type of hospitality is fine. That is why we call it entertaining, since that is exactly what we are doing.

The hospitality of which Paul wrote in his letter to the Romans is of a spiritual nature and, as such, its requirements are a little different. There are no theatrics and there is no show. We can be hospitable to fellow Christians and not worry that all of the children’s toys are picked up and put away. When we open our doors and extend our Christian hospitality to our friends, fellow members of our church, or even neighbors, Christian hospitality is about being ready to focus on another person’s needs, problems and issues.

Showing spiritual hospitality to another human being, is the same as being hospitable to Jesus Christ, and our genuine warmth and welcoming nature will stand out and be remembered when we stand before Him in final judgment.

Jesus Himself said, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me.” (Matthew 25:40 NIV).

And Isaiah tells us that God wants us to “Share your food with the hungry, and give shelter to the homeless. Give clothes to those who need them, and do not hide from relatives who need your help.” (Isaiah 58:7 NLT).

Remember that Christian hospitality is not just about opening our homes to those in need. It is also about opening our hearts as well.

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

 

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June 16

Today is…

a great day to realize our importance to the team.

“The body is not one member, but many.”  1 Corinthians 12:14 NASB

Paul wrote at length about spiritual gifts and how they are to be put to use.

In doing so, he repeatedly stressed a point that is important to us all: no gift, or talent, or individual ability is more important to God than any other. Each person’s contribution to the church, to the family, or to the brotherhood of man, is as important and necessary as any other.

All followers of Christ must work together to achieve our common goals. On the surface there may be those who display more talent than others. These areas of expertise or enhanced ability do not make the one who possesses the expertise or ability a better person. If we are the ones who possess this talent, care must be taken that we do not boast, become proud, or display arrogance.

What we should do is thank God for giving us our abilities and pray for Him to show us how He wants them used to help others.

No matter how great, or seemingly insignificant, our talent or ability to contribute may be, each one of us must constantly seek God’s guidance in working with everyone around us, as a team, to accomplish God’s will.

Because of a perceived lack of any great skill or talents, many individuals hang back and withhold their involvement in the church.

“If the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body;’ it would not, for that reason, cease to be a part of the body.” (1 Corinthians 12:15 NIV).

Every single one of us has a place on Christ’s team and a role to play. We dare not refuse a big part – nor do we dare refuse a small one.

In a restaurant, who is more important: the one who cooks the food or the one who cleans the dishes? The one who takes your order, or the one who cleans the floors?

The simple truth is, a restaurant does not meet all of its customers’ needs unless there are capable individuals performing all of the tasks required. While some tasks may appear to be more glamorous, no task is more important than another. All parts of the team are crucial to the attaining of the goals, and today is a great day to realize that.

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

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June 15

Today is…

a wonderful day to give back the donkey.

“If you come across your enemy’s ox or donkey wandering off, be sure to take it back to him.”  Exodus 23:4 NIV

Doing something nice for someone who doesn’t like us is a particularly challenging concept for many of us.

When considering how to deal with our enemies, revenge and getting even jumps to the forefront of our thoughts. Hopefully these thoughts are fleeting. More than likely, we just ignore such people. We don’t take the bait and let our tempers rise which lowers us to their level, but we don’t hold out an ice cream cone on a hot day either. While this type of behavior doesn’t make the situation worse, it doesn’t contribute to making it better.

Isn’t it our responsibility to do our best to let others see how wonderful being a servant of God can be?

For instance, maybe we have a particularly unreasonable neighbor who has called animal control on us because our dog got loose and got in his yard. With grim faces, we go get the dog, pay whatever fees there are and go home, angry at the neighbor, but controlled enough to not say anything. Sometime later, we see the neighbor’s dog down the street. We have a choice: we can get even, or we can take a small step towards demonstrating a better way to live to those who wrong us. We return the dog, make no reference to what transpired when the shoe was on the other foot, cheerfully say, “Have a blessed day,” and leave. Do not wait for a “thank you,” but don’t be surprised if you are stopped and given one.

Will every situation result in a changed person?

Of course not. Many people in this world who have not found the peace that comes from having a good relationship with the Lord will be difficult to change. But consistent pleasantness on our part in the face of anger, hate, dislike, and hostility can have more of an impact then we know.

Returning a donkey can be a thankless task, but we cannot do it for the thanks. We must do it because God wants us to, and because it is the right thing, not the easy thing. We must do all we can to change the hearts of those who need it.

After all, Jesus said, “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those that are sick.” (Matthew 9:12 NASB).

Look for opportunities to “give back the donkey” today, and every day.

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

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June 14

Today is…

a terrific day to decide how we will earn our White Stone.

“I will also give him a white stone with a new name on it, known only to him who receives it.”  Revelation 2:17c NIV

When John was exiled to the Island of Patmos, he had a vision of the glorified Christ. In that vision, Jesus said that we are to listen to what is being foretold to the Seven Churches. Jesus said the faithful will receive the rewards they have been promised. Each person who is victorious will receive a “white stone.”

In ancient times, athletes who were victorious were given a white stone which was their admission to the winner’s circle for the celebrations after the last race was run.

When the end comes, we want to be able to say, like Paul said to Timothy, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2 Timothy 4:7 NIV).

How will we run our race?

How will we earn our admission to God’s “winner’s circle”?

How will we live our lives that will justify the placing of a White Stone in our hands?

It is not enough to sit and observe as life passes by. God provides us with ample opportunities on a daily basis to become engaged in the art of living on earth as a child of God.

Perhaps we think that we have no talent or gifts that can significantly change another person or help them to find their way through the “mine fields” of sin. Maybe we have very little money to offer as a way of contributing to the betterment of another human being’s existence on earth.

Money is not the most important way to serve.

We must all, somehow, become willing, active participants in the lives that surround us.  If we have nothing at all, we still have ourselves, and if we have ourselves, we have all we need to do our part to change the world around us. If we all do one good thing every day of our lives, think of the impact we can have.

To run a good race, and to earn a “White Stone,” God wants to see us engaged in improving the lives around us.

So decide today what you will do, focus on the prize, finish the race, and receive your “White Stone.”

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

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June 13

Today is…

a fine day to see things in a good light.

“The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light.”  Matthew 6:22 NIV

We must see with the eyes God gave us, not the ones we have grown accustomed to. The eyes that God gave us see the way He wants us to see in ways that will light us from within.

It is easy to cloud our vision and dim the light by seeing temptation as something to welcome rather then something to resist. We can block ourselves from seeing things the correct way by allowing ourselves to become excited or aroused by the immorality that pervades our lives on a daily basis.

God wants us to see things that are broken and work to fix them.

He wants us to see pain and work to ease it.

The eyes God gave us should also see all of the beauty that abounds and point that beauty out to others so they may enjoy it and become closer to God as a result.

God knows better than any of us that there are many things to see in this world that can weaken our resolve to do the right thing. It is for that reason we can pray directly to Him for strength to fight the evil things we see before us.

The miracles of life, the beauty of the sky and the earth, the wonders of the ocean – all of these things are gifts from God to be enjoyed with the eyes that He gave us.

He wants us to see the right path when the landscape before us is littered with sin, temptation, sexual immorality and other forms of wrong doing.

God gave us eyes to see the things that are wrong so that we can work to fix them. He gave us Jesus Christ to help us see the way to do the right things and to help us avoid temptation.

Let the eyes God gave us light up our entire being by seeing things the way He wants us to.

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

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June 12

Today is…

an excellent day to check our progress.

“So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord – who is the Spirit – makes us more and more like Him as we are changed into His glorious image.”  2 Corinthians 3:18 NLT

From the moment we accept Jesus Christ as our Savior and welcome Him into our hearts and our lives, we begin to go undergo change. The rapidity with which individuals change varies from person to person, of course, since we are all different. It is important that we understand and be patient with ourselves.

The transition from a life of sin and living for ourselves, to one of living for God and working to learn how to avoid the pitfalls of our pasts can be a difficult one.

No matter where we may think we are as Christians, it is important to each one of us to sit quietly now and again and check our progress on this wonderful path that we have all chosen.

We need to give ourselves a spiritual progress report, so to speak.

For those who are new to Christ, it is important because it enables them to see how far they have come. It may be that they still have a long way to go, but that is true for all of us.

For those who have traveled farther and longer on the road to salvation, a periodic look back will help to keep us aware of the constant need for prayer, Bible study, fellowship, and worship.

Those of us who think we have matured as Christians sometimes need greater reminders that being like Christ means constantly making efforts to live better lives and have more of a positive impact on those around us.

If nothing else, a periodic progress report will reinforce our progress and give us an opportunity to thank God for keeping us moving in the right direction.

Take time to reflect on a regular basis and make sure your relationship with Christ continues to grow and flourish. No matter who we are, or how long we have loved God, a periodic progress report can only benefit our relationship with Him.

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

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June 11

Today is…

the perfect day to be determined to make God our first priority.

“And Samuel said to the whole house of Israel,’ If you are returning to the Lord with all your hearts, then rid yourselves of the foreign gods and the Ashtoreths and commit yourselves to the Lord and serve Him only, and He will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines.'”  1 Samuel 7:3 NIV

Worship.

Faith.

Prayer.

We use all of these words when we talk about our relationship with God. Most of us believe we are sincere when we say we only worship God, that we have unwavering faith, that we believe He will fulfill His promise to us, and we pray for the right things.

God should always be first because everything comes from God. And if we are to know what our role is in the world around us, we must first go to Him. Many people do that faithfully but unfortunately others do not. Sometimes we may think we put God first, but close examination might show us that our attention to God has become more of a habit then it should be.

While it is true that doing something over and over, like praying or worshiping the Lord, will become a good habit, we might be mindful to make sure we do these things because they are as important to us as breathing or eating.

Our need for God should be the habit, and not the act of prayer or worship.

The world becomes a more confusing place on a daily basis. How tempting all of the things that money can buy quickly become if we are not careful. Is it wrong to have nice things? Absolutely not, provided the attainment of those things does not compromise our relationship with God.

We must also be weary of setting the wrong example for our loved ones. We teach by the way we live, and if our family sees us putting material possessions before God, they could easily be lead down the same path.

Nothing is more important than God.

When we place material things first these become like idols and we don’t want that to happen. If they already have, we must look to Paul’s message to the Corinthians: “So my dear friends,  flee from the worship of idols.” (Emphasis mine) (1 Corinthians 10:14 NLT).

Samuel assured the people of Israel that if they were determined to put God first, God would help them. He will help any one of us as well, no matter what our needs may be.

It is important to get our priorities straight, and today is the perfect day to make sure that God is first before all else.

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

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