November 24

TODAY IS…

a wonderful day to be thirsty.

“As the deer longs for streams of water, so I long for You, O God.”  Psalm 42:1 NASB

How wonderful it is to have a relationship with God that always has us longing for more. How truly blessed we are when we can honestly say, “My soul thirsts for God, for the living God…” (Psalm 42:2a NASB).

Those of us who are parents know that the dependence our children have on us diminishes with time. Their growth, maturity, and need for independence all take over at some point and while we will always play an important part in their lives, our role will change and will surely grow smaller.

Not so with our relationship with God.

If we are truly following Christ, our need for God never diminishes. In fact, it will actually grow. Paul wrote about the tremendous difficulties he faced in Asia. His letter to the Corinthians indicated that he, and those with him, thought they would not live through it.

“In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raised the dead.” (2 Corinthians 1:9 NLT).

When we learn to rely on God, we will find ourselves constantly turning to Him over and over again. As Paul went on in his letter, “And He did rescue us from mortal danger, and He will rescue us again. We have placed our confidence in Him, and He will continue to rescue us.” (2 Corinthians 1:10 NLT).

But more than His ability to help us out of bad situations, we will discover a thirst for the wisdom and knowledge that can only be quenched by actively pursuing a relationship with God.

If we are truly letting God direct our lives, we will not be able to get through an entire day without spending time in prayer, worship, and meditation. We will wake up and God will be in our thoughts and as we go through the day, we will constantly look to Him for guidance. At the end of each day, as we lie down to sleep, we will thank Him for the day He has given us.

The salvation that comes with knowing Christ is available for all who are thirsty for it. “And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.” (Revelation 22:17b NKJV).

There is no charge no matter how thirsty we may be. There is no limit to how much we can drink. The thirstier we are, the more God likes it, and we can rest assured that no matter when we are thirsty, there will always be something to drink.

*******

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

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November 23

TODAY IS…

a great day to get comfortable.

“For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.”  Psalm 1:6 NIV

Today there is some good news, and there is some bad news.

The good news is that God is always watching over us.

The bad news is that God is always watching over us.

OK, maybe that is not really bad news. But the truth is that many people are uncomfortable with the knowledge that God is always watching.

Don’t be shy. He has seen it all before. There is nothing any of us can do that will surprise Him or shock Him. He knows the heights, and the depths, of mankind all too well.

If we are uncomfortable with the knowledge that God is always watching us, perhaps we should ask ourselves why.

What is it about the way we conduct our lives that we are uncomfortable with God seeing? If this knowledge makes us more acutely aware of what we are doing, how we are acting, and how we are living our lives, perhaps we will be less likely to live, act, or do things in a manner that is contrary to the will of God.

If that is the case, then the “bad” news has suddenly become very good indeed.

We should welcome the fact that He is always watching and, being aware that He is, when we are about to do something questionable, we need to ask ourselves, “What is God going to think?”

When we really give it some thought, this little exercise could save many of us a lot of pain, trouble, money, heartache, loss, aggravation – well, you get the idea.

The fact that the Lord is always with us, watching over us should never make us uncomfortable. It should bring us only comfort to know that He is always there. As a matter of fact, many of the reasons that we should feel comfortable with God always being with us and watching over us can be found in David’s Psalm 23:

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: He leadeth me beside still waters. He restoreth my soul; He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff comfort me. Thou preparest a table for me in the presence of mine enemies: Thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” (Psalm 23 KJV).

God’s watchful eye may make you uneasy when you do something you know doesn’t meet with His approval. But the knowledge that He will always be right there when you need Him should make you very comfortable.

So use the gift of today and make yourself comfortable.

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

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November 22

TODAY IS…

an ideal day to give yourself a wonderful gift.

“We should help others do what is right and build them up in the Lord.”  Romans 15:2 NLT

The greatest gift that we can give ourselves is to help another person get to know God.

Perhaps some were hoping that it would be something different, such as treating ourselves to a nice meal, or a quiet weekend at a spa, or a cruise, or even a new car, and while all of these things would be nice, every one of them is temporary. They are short-lived and, while momentarily pleasurable, fairly meaningless in the grand scheme of a Christian life.

But teaching another human being about God and the salvation that can be had through Jesus Christ; opening the doors for another individual through which lie endless possibilities for peace, joy, love, and contentment; sharing what God put in our heart with someone who hasn’t discovered it on their own yet, and watching their face light up as they realize it is in them too – these are gifts we can give to ourselves that will last forever.

We all know someone who is struggling with life itself. How can we stand by with knowledge that can help them and not share it?

“I just am not comfortable preaching,” you say.

Then don’t preach.

Share.

Give.

If it is a friend, sit them down and say, “I just want to give you something that might help you to be as happy, peaceful, joyful, and content within yourself as I am.”

Giving someone the gift of your help to find God within their heart is not about telling them what will happen if they don’t repent.

It is about opening their hearts, their minds, and their eyes to the beauty of God and all that He created. It is about revealing to someone how the grace of God can help us relieve ourselves of the terrible burdens of guilt or shame that we may carry. It is about guiding someone to the source of light that will, in turn, guide them to eternal life.

When we help another person to know God, we are giving them the incredible power of the Lord to face all of the trials and tribulations that life throws at us. We help them to understand that God loves us as we are and He wants us to love ourselves and each other. Helping someone to know God gives them the ability to be content no matter what might be taking place in their lives, and it shows them where to turn when they have fears or doubts.

When we help others find, and learn to know and love God, we give ourselves an irreplaceable gift of immeasurable value.

So go ahead and use God’s gift of this day to give yourself a wonderful gift.

*******

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

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November 21

TODAY IS…

a splendid day to ask questions.

“But they did not understand this statement and they were afraid to ask Him.”  Mark 9:32 NASB

As our children grow, learning is one of the most crucial aspects of their development. We want them to absorb as much knowledge of the world around them as they possibly can. Hopefully, the act of learning, itself, will become something they enjoy, which will enable them to always want to learn more, even after they are grown up and on their own.

While they are going through the process of learning, one of the most valuable primary lessons we need to teach them and make sure they learn is this: “If you don’t understand something, ask questions.”

Another thing we need to constantly remind our children is this: “Be the one who raises your hand. Do not be afraid or embarrassed because the person sitting next to you probably wants to raise his or her hand as well.”

While those statements are very straightforward, there are many, many among us who simply do not learn them when we are young, which makes it very difficult to apply them in our lives when we get older. This is unfortunate because we miss many of the things that life has to offer us when we don’t understand something and either don’t know that it is alright to ask questions, or are simply afraid to ask them.

We are all God’s children and as such we must be aware that learning how to be a child of God is a process that does not stop as long as we are walking on earth. As a learning process, we must ask questions when we don’t understand something. We cannot be afraid because we think we might be asking a question for which the answer is obvious. If we don’t understand something, we don’t understand it – it is just that simple and we must ask.

As Paul pointed out in his Second Letter to Timothy, God will help us.

“Consider what I say, for the Word will give you understanding in everything.” (2 Timothy 2:7 NASB).

Making sure we ask questions to help us understand things we are having difficulty with is important because with understanding comes rewards.

“The seed that fell on good soil represents those who truly hear and understand God’s Word and produce a harvest of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted.” (Matthew 13:23 NLT).

But Jesus also had this to say about the importance of understanding: “To those who listen to My teaching, more understanding will be given, and they will have an abundance of knowledge. But for those who are not listening, even what little understanding they have will be taken away from them.” (Matthew 13:12 NLT).

So listen to what God tries to teach us, and if you don’t understand something, today is a good day to ask questions.

*******

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

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November 20

TODAY IS…

a good day to ask the question, “Am I giving to God as good as I get?”

“These people honor Me with their lips but their hearts are far from Me.”  Matthew 15:8 NLT

When Jacob deceived his brother Esau, as well as their father, to steal Esau’s birthright, there is no indication that Jacob’s conscience caused him to lose a moment of sleep over the deception.

When Laban deceived Jacob on his wedding night and substituted the older daughter, Leah, for Rachel, whom Jacob had fallen in love with and been promised, Jacob was enraged upon discovering the deception.

“So it came about in the morning that, behold, it was Leah! And he said to Laban, ‘What is this you have done to me? Was it not for Rachel that I served with you? Why then have you deceived me?’” (Genesis 29:25 NASB).

Jacob’s hypocrisy is apparent. It was alright for him to be deceitful, but when deception was used on him, it was a different story.

It is doubtful that there are many of us who would stand up and willfully say, “I am a hypocrite!”

Most who say one thing and do another are either blind to the fact, or simply do not acknowledge that type of behavior as being hypocritical.

How many of us know men who would not hesitate to flirt dangerously with women at work or in bars while “out with the boys,” but would certainly be enraged if they even thought that their wife was engaging in similar behavior? How many marriages are destroyed, and families broken up, over hypocritical behavior?

Pretending, or saying, that we have a certain belief when in fact we do not act in a manner consistent with that belief is hypocritical. It is wrong for us to be that way with our families, our friends, co-workers – in fact, anyone, anywhere.

Now consider our relationship with God. Are we giving God as good as we expect from Him? We pray to God with expectations that He will respond in a positive manner to our requests. We want God to always treat us right.

We want consistency.

But do we give Him the same thing, or do we exhibit hypocrisy in the way we live our lives? Do we honor God with our hearts as well as with our words? Do we ask God to shower us with love and help us with our problems and then turn around and deny our love to those around us and withhold our ability to help from them?

There is a little bit of a hypocrite residing in each one of us. How big a part hypocrisy plays in who we are can only be determined by honest introspection. Ask God to help you identify those areas where you may be a little hypocritical.

It takes a lot of work for any of us to say that we give to God as good as we get, and today is a good day to start.

*******

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

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November 19

TODAY IS…

a perfect day for giving thanks.

“The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy, and I will give thanks to Him in song.”  Psalm 28:7 NIV

November is traditionally the month in which a day is set aside specifically for giving thanks. In a way it is a shame that a day has to be set aside specifically for this purpose. At the same time, it can be a blessing that we do have this day to remind us of just how much we have to be thankful for. People should certainly be encouraged to continue to celebrate this traditional time of family togetherness.

But we all need to try to remember the many reasons we have to be thankful every day.

“I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them.” (1 Timothy 2:1 NLT).

If we are to truly be thankful for all that God is, we must be thankful for all of His children. While we recognize that many of them are lost, we should thank God for each and every one of them and ask God to watch over them, and to help us find ways to help them find their way in this difficult world.

Certainly our spouses should be at the very top of our lists of things that we are humbly thankful to God for, and we should let them know that we love them on a daily basis. Equally important is turning to them frequently and reminding them that, “Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God.” (Philippians 1:3 NLT).

The same can, and should, be said to our children. Our spouses and our children alone should prove to us that we need to give thanks every day for them, and not just reserve it for one designated day, or season, each year.

But it does not stop with family.

Each one of us can make lists of people and things that we should be thankful for on a daily basis. If we did this, we would be surprised at how long the list is.

God has given even the poorest of us much to be thankful for. We need to be focused on telling Him how grateful we are.

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” (Philippians 4:6 NASB).

Make today, and every day, a day of thanksgiving to the One who gives us so much to be thankful for!

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

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November 18

TODAY IS…

an excellent day for new shock absorbers.

“Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God…”  Romans 4:20 NIV

Most of us give very little, if any, thought to the importance of the shock absorbers on our cars.

The simple fact is that the ride would be intolerable in some situations without them. Shock absorbers keep our cars riding smoothly by absorbing the bumps, vibrations, and sudden jolts caused by potholes, uneven road surfaces, and other things that would cause us to bounce and waver from side to side if we didn’t have them.

Simply put, shock absorbers keep the ride of our automobiles steady, safe and comfortable.

Faith acts as “shock absorbers” for our lives. If our faith is strong, we will experience a generally smooth “ride” through life. Undoubtedly there will be some bumps in the roads of our lives that faith cannot absorb completely. There are bound to be some “potholes” that will overcome our faith briefly, but strong faith, like new shocks, will recover quickly and will minimize the damage we would experience compared to if we had none at all.

Even new shock absorbers cannot protect us from the jarring effect of some of the potholes we drive through at times. We need to pay attention as well, and be alert to sudden obstacles that can materialize seemingly out of nowhere.

How do we keep our “spiritual shock absorbers” fresh and able to withstand all but the most extreme “road hazards”?

By having faith like Abraham’s.

“And being fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform.” (Romans 4:21 NASB).

Job was another one who had excellent “spiritual shock absorbers.”

God allowed Satan to test Job severely – far beyond what many of lesser faith would have been able to endure. But by keeping his faith strong and fresh, he was able to deal with losing his family, his home, his health, and all of his wealth. Had his “car” had weak – or worse – no shock absorbers at all, the road that Satan laid before Job would have destroyed him. But through it all, Job never gave in.

Did he feel the “jolt” of losing all that he had, including his children, whom he loved dearly? Of course he did.

But his faith was strong so, “The Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning; and he had 14,000 sheep and 6,000 camels and 1,000 yoke of oxen and 1,000 female donkeys. He had seven sons and three daughters.” (Job 42:12-13 NASB).

Pick up the Bible today and put new life into your spiritual shock absorbers for a smoother, steadier ride through life.

*******

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

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November 17

TODAY IS…

a spectacular day to look through the eyes of Jesus.

“When He saw the crowds, He had compassion on them because they were confused and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”  Matthew 9:36 NLT

To look through the eyes of Jesus, one needs to possess compassion that is borne of humility.

Of all the characteristics that enabled Jesus to be who He was, live like He lived, and care for humanity to the degree that He did, the humility with which He gazed out at the world allowed Him to see the needs of each person He looked at. His humility enabled Him to care about other people and it made Him aware that not all pain was visible to the naked eye.

Christ knew that a lot of what we see in a person in a purely physical sense is a result of pain that they have suffered and sins that they have committed and for which they carry the guilt. When people are mistreated as children, when they are neglected instead of being nurtured, when they are hit and never hugged, when they are taught to fight rather than make peace – when any, or all, of these and other negative things occur, what we see as a result is an angry, hateful, arrogant, abusive, uncaring and insensitive adult.

When we look upon these people with the compassionate eyes of Christ, rather than ignore and avoid them, we will try to reach out to them, and into them, by demonstrating our understanding of who Jesus Christ was and what He expects of us. We will try to show people who find it easy to hate that Christ’s humility only allowed Him to see people with love, no matter how badly they mistreated Him or others.

To look at people through the eyes of Christ is to be concerned with each and every one of them. It is to humbly place their needs before our own, because in doing so we know we are demonstrating our understanding of what it means to see things the way that Christ did.

When we look at things through the eyes of Christ our humility will make us do that which is right, and not that which is expected or expedient. We will seek to make another person’s life better rather than trying to make our own easier.

When we view the world through the eyes of Christ, we will see a place filled with God’s children who, like a flock of sheep with no shepherd, are lost and confused and we will use the compassion that arises from our humility to look for ways to calm them and help them find their way safely home.

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

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November 16

TODAY IS…

a fine day to break down barriers.

“Then the leading priests and Pharisees called the high council together. ‘What are we going to do?’ they asked each other. ‘This man certainly performs many miraculous signs.’”  John 11:47 NLT

The correct answer to that question, of course, is “Believe.”

Unfortunately, pride got in the way of many who refused to believe even after witnessing for themselves the incredible power of Christ’s deity. Not satisfied with simply dismissing Him, these same individuals participated in plotting His death.

“So from that day on they planned together to kill Him.” (John 11:53 NASB).

Caiaphas was the high priest at the time and the idea of Jesus as the Messiah was unthinkable. The Sadducees were an elite group of wealthy and educated men and Caiaphas was their leader. Messiah or not, they perceived Jesus as a threat to their lifestyle. The idea of a leader who served rather than being served was something their pride would not allow them to accept.

Even when faced with the proof that Christ had risen from the dead, they refused to accept it and threw up barriers to belief by bribing the guards to cover up Christ’s resurrection.

“When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they gave the soldiers money, telling them, ‘You are to say,’ ‘His disciples came during the night and stole Him away while we were asleep.’” (Matthew 28:12-13 NIV).

Pride not only creates barriers to the facts, it also creates barriers that prevent us from seeing our faults. Pride makes it difficult to admit when we are wrong or when we need help. Both situations can create major problems for us, and for those around us.

God is aware of all of the negative effects of pride.

“The Lord detests all the proud of heart. Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished.” (Proverbs 16:5 NIV).

We all know someone whose pride throws up barriers all around them. They are difficult to talk with, reason with, and refuse to admit or acknowledge any capacity for being wrong. The words, “I was wrong” never seem to quite make it out of their mouths. Perhaps it is someone you work with, go to school with, worship with at church, or live with.

Maybe it is you.

No?

Impossible?

Is that pride talking, or is that truly an honest assessment? Ask those around you if you throw up barriers because of your pride, and if the answer is, “Yes, you do,” ask God to help you break them down today.

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

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November 15

TODAY IS…

a wonderful day to implement a “Neighborhood Watch” Program.

“But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what time of the night the thief was coming, he would have been on the alert and would not have allowed his house to be broken into.”  Matthew 24:43 NASB

We have all seen the signs that have the names of different security companies on them which are posted in peoples’ yards. The homes that have these signs have been equipped with security systems that protect the people inside from harm while home, and protect the home and its contents while the occupants are away. The sign lets those who would cause harm to come to the home or its occupants know that they are prepared. This type of protection requires a commitment to the security company as well as regular payments.

People in neighborhoods throughout the country also get together to form “Neighborhood Watch” programs. Signs are posted letting would-be intruders know that the people in this particular area watch out for one another. While no payments are required, people make a commitment to watch out for each other.

As Jesus pointed out on the Mount of Olives, if a homeowner knew when an intruder was going to come, it would be a simple matter to sit there and be ready for them. Unfortunately those types of incidents are never announced in advance, so the homeowner must be ready at all times.

Christ was using the homeowner protecting his home as an example to impress upon people the fact that we would all face judgment one day.

“But of that day and hour no one knows not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.” (Matthew 24:36 NASB).

In other words, live your life in a manner in which you are ready to stand before God at any time.

One way to help ourselves be prepared is to reach out and help others be prepared as well.

It is good advice to follow Paul’s admonishment to Timothy when he wrote, “In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of His appearing and His kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke, and encourage – with great patience and careful instruction.” (2 Timothy 4:1-2 NIV).

In other words, it is not enough to be prepared yourself – help your neighbor prepare as well.

Consider it a “Neighborhood Watch” Program for your soul and that of your neighbor.

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

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