February 20

TODAY IS…

a great day to be confident, even without all the answers.

“So they said to him, ‘What did He do to you? How did He open your eyes?’”  John 9:26 NASB

The man whose sight Jesus had restored could not answer those questions put to him by the Pharisees.

How could he?

He only knew that he had been blind since birth and now could see. The man knew that Jesus had healed him and he was not afraid to tell others about it. His heart told him that, “If this man were not from God, He could do nothing.” (John 9:33 NASB).

And so it is with each of us. Not knowing all of the answers should not deter us from sharing with others the peace and joy that was unlocked when we opened our hearts to Jesus Christ. Many of the questions that we will ask ourselves, or others may ask of us, can be answered by looking in the Bible and examining what God had inspired to be written on the subject.

There will be times, however, when the only answer will be that there is no answer; that God has not revealed it to us yet. In time we may understand why a particular thing happened or why a particular event occurred.

But that knowledge may not be revealed to us until much later in this life, if at all.

To possess all of God’s knowledge would be a burden that none of us would truthfully like to bear. It is best to trust Him and to know that He loves us and is always doing for us what is right. Even when we may ask Him, “Why is this happening to me?”

While we may not understand why something is happening, we can be confident that God will use it to His purpose if we trust Him with all our heart.

When we are speaking with someone who is a new believer or not a believer at all, we must not allow ourselves to be shaken by questions that we do not immediately know the answers to. We can tell them cheerfully that we will look in the Bible with them for the answer and see what God’s Word is on the subject.

If anyone ever seems put out by us not knowing it all, we can simply respond, “I know I love God and I trust Him. I know where to look for answers, but I also know that there are some questions that only He knows the answers to.”

No matter what our level of knowledge may be, it is confident faith in God that is the answer to every question.

*******

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

Posted in "TODAY IS....A Gift From God" | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

February 19

TODAY IS…

a good day to practice humility.

“For the Lord takes delight in His people; He crowns the humble with victory.”  Psalm 149:4 NIV

When God decided it was time to fulfill His promise to offer salvation to the world through His Son, Jesus Christ, He could have introduced Him in any manner He chose, for He is the creator of all that we see. Producing a “king” riding in a chariot of fire, throwing lightning bolts and demanding submission and obedience under threat of immediate death would have been a simple matter for the One who created everything and would have been quite something to see, wouldn’t it?

We all know that this is not the way it happened.

Although many wished that it was, God instead selected a peasant girl of pure heart to deliver His beloved Son to the world. He was raised simply until it was time for Him to begin His work and to fulfill His purpose.

He remained humble. He was gentle. He was kind. He exhibited a love for humans that far exceeded the love they showed one another or themselves.

Since God could have given the world a king who better fit the image of a king, why do you suppose He didn’t?

Because “The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God…” (Hebrews 1:3 NLT).

Therefore God’s very own character, the essence of our Creator, is that He is loving, kind, gentle and humble. It would only stand to reason that He would want all of us to be that way as well.

Humility is not the act of making oneself less than everyone else. It is simply the act of not making oneself more.

Humility is recognizing that whatever talents or abilities we have that are unique to us are gifts from God and should be used for the betterment of those around us.

Humility is service to others and it is the ability to see the image of God in every man and woman we meet.

Jesus said, “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:29 NIV).

In the church at Ephesus, Paul urged them to “…live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” (Ephesians 4:1-2 NIV).

And so, we should all take heed of what the two most powerful teachers in the history of Christianity had to say: Being humble does not make you less of a person.

It makes you more like Jesus Christ.

*******

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

Posted in "TODAY IS....A Gift From God" | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

February 18

TODAY IS…

the perfect day to make time for a one-on-one with God.

“But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private.”  Matthew 6:6a NLT

It is important that we all set aside time to pray with our families, friends and members of our church. It pleases God for people to come together in all different combinations to worship, pray and practice the fellowship that is a big part of being a Christian.

Joining hands in thanks at the dinner table with our family, praying with a friend who is in poor health or in need, time spent with our Bible study group and celebrating the grace and glory of God with fellow members of our church are all excellent opportunities to praise God, to ask for His help and to worship Him and offer thanks for all He gives us. Even though the chaos of daily living can make it seem as if we don’t have time for any of that, it is imperative to our spiritual health as members of God’s family to incorporate prayer with others in our lives.

It is equally important that we all recognize how much we need private moments with our spouses, our children, our parents or other important people in our lives; moments we can use to tell them how much we love them; to let them hear from our lips how much we appreciate them and moments in which we can share our concerns, fears, joy, sorrow, our hopes and our dreams. During these times, we need to listen to them as well. We can never know their hearts if we don’t take the time to listen to what they have to say.

And so it is with our personal relationship with God. We need to set aside time to be alone with Him. We need this time to express our thanks, to ask for wisdom and to seek direction for our lives.

Then we must wait quietly and listen for Him.

If we have truly humbled our hearts, we know that God often makes Himself known in a gentle whisper. His message to us is more likely to be heard when we are patient; when we are silent; and when we are still. While He will be present at the table, in the church or wherever else we may gather to worship Him, praise Him and ask His blessing, He needs us to listen for Him in private moments to ensure that His message is heard loud and clear, even though it may be delivered very quietly.

Our spiritual health will be improved greatly with a little regular one-on-one with the Father. Our objective will be clearer and our ability to add to the spiritual well-being of those around us will be increased significantly.

Elijah stood on the mountain listening for God.

He wasn’t in the wind. He wasn’t in the earthquake and He wasn’t in the fire.

“And after the fire came a gentle whisper.” (1 Kings 19:12b NIV).

And now Elijah was ready for his one-on-one with God. Follow Elijah’s example, take the time and get ready for yours.

*******

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

Posted in "TODAY IS....A Gift From God" | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

February 17

TODAY IS…

the ideal day to embrace your suffering.

“…for I will show him how much he must suffer for My name.”  Acts 9:16 NASB

The subject of suffering comes up a lot in the Bible. It is a significant theme and it plays an important role in many of the lessons we must learn in order to grow in our faith. No one escapes unscathed. Suffering is present in everyone’s life to some degree. How it is viewed and how it is dealt with are important matters to consider in a Christian’s life.

Sometimes it is allowed to be a cause of doubt that creeps into our minds, casting a dark shadow on our hearts. “Why me, Lord?” some of us may ask. Or we may think that if God were truly kind and loving, He would not allow us to suffer at all.

The importance of rejecting these and other negative thoughts cannot be stressed enough.

The truth of the matter is, regardless of what we experience in this life, it can be used for good; it can strengthen our faith and it can prepare us for a life of service to God. Rather than feel sorry for ourselves or doubt the Lord, our God, we should embrace our suffering, pray to God for strength to see us through it and ask Him to give us wisdom to learn from it and use what we have learned in service to Him.

We have all suffered. Some have suffered more than others and sometimes it is difficult for us to understand why we, in our faith, experience so much suffering while others of little or no apparent faith at all seem to experience none. We cannot always understand why God does what He does. It is not always possible to fully appreciate why He allows certain things to occur in one life or another.

One of the most important people in the history of Christianity was the apostle Paul. His efforts to spread the Word of God are an amazing testament to his unwavering faith in Jesus Christ. Paul endured indescribable persecution, pain and suffering as he traveled extensively, trying to show the way to the salvation Christ gave the world when He died on the cross.

Paul was stoned and left to die.

He was whipped several times, beaten with rods, set adrift at sea and was shipwrecked three times.

He spent time in prisons, was faced with robbers, dangerous weather and was often thirsty, hungry, cold and tired.

He asked for nothing material from anyone. All he wanted for the suffering that he embraced in Jesus’ name was for the people he spoke with to open their hearts to Jesus Christ.

“…I don’t want what you have – I want you…” (2 Corinthians 12:14b NLT).

Paul embraced his suffering because he knew what he was suffering for. He knew that the salvation of his soul and an eternal life in the presence of God was worth infinitely more than the inconvenient pain or sorrow of mere human suffering.

Embrace your suffering, even though it may be difficult to do so.

Use your suffering as a tool to help you serve the Lord and you will turn that suffering into a gift of love for God. In so doing, you will thank Him for the suffering that Jesus endured as a gift for eternal peace, joy and happiness for you.

*******

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

Posted in "TODAY IS....A Gift From God" | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

February 16

TODAY IS…

a good day to accept the gift of God’s peace.

“And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 4:7 NASB

World peace would be a nice thing to experience, wouldn’t it? A world without conflict is difficult for us to imagine. A world where the rights of others are respected and everyone looks out for each other would be – well, it would be heaven, wouldn’t it?

Heaven, indeed, for until satan no longer rules the world, the above scenario cannot exist. Until the day evil is removed from the picture, sin will continue to tempt all of us and mankind’s weakness will lead to selfish pursuits that will most assuredly cause others to suffer or create tension that results in war or strife somewhere on this planet.

So what, then, is God’s gift of peace?

It is the gift that Christ promised His disciples that they would receive after He was gone and they were filled with the Holy Spirit.

“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27 NIV).

This same gift is offered to each of us and if every one of us accepted it, we would have peace throughout the world. Unfortunately, far too many of us allow the forces of evil to rule our hearts and our minds, making the acceptance of this gift impossible.

Those of us who do accept Christ and His gift of peace have His assurance that we can “…be content whatever the circumstances.” (Philippians 4:11 NIV).

We have His assurance that we need not fear today or any day in the future.

We have His assurance that the peace we will have in our hearts and minds will give us the strength to fight those forces which create doubt, uncertainty and apprehension within.

And we have the assurance that God is in control.

If God is in control, we are safe. That does not mean that we will be exempt from the pitfalls of life, but when filled with the gift of God’s peace, we shine the light of God on those pitfalls and we can then accept them, deal with them, learn from them and grow as better Christians as a result.

All of this springs from the acceptance of the gift that was offered to the world when it was offered to the disciples by Christ. At the time, it is likely that none of them were fully able to comprehend the importance, or the significance, of the gift itself. Nor could they completely appreciate the love with which it was promised.

But once Christ had risen and they were filled with the Holy Spirit, they surely must have felt the love and the strength that God’s peace instilled in them, for it enabled them to face rejection, ridicule, ignorance, hostility, persecution and even death as they worked tirelessly to share that gift of peace with the world.

Take time today to thank God for this gift and make every effort to share it with others.

*******

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

Posted in "TODAY IS....A Gift From God" | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

February 15

TODAY IS…

a good day to ask, “What does God want from me?”

“With what shall I come to the Lord and bow myself before the God on high? Shall I come to Him with burnt offerings, with yearling calves?”  Micah 6:6 NASB

God was angry with Israel and Judah.

Very angry.

Micah listed the reasons for God’s anger: fraud, murder, corruption, loving evil, stealing. Yes, God was very angry and He had good reason to be. The people of Israel talked about ways to appease Him.

“Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of olive oil? Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?” (Micah 6:7 NIV).

Sometimes the tendency of humans is to make a bad situation worse by adding insult to injury. As Micah told the people of Israel and Judah, “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8 NASB).

What does God want from us?

Decency.

Morality.

Kindness.

Compassion.

Love.

Are any of these things any less than we would expect from Him? Is it so hard for us to be fair in our dealings with others? Is it so difficult to respect ourselves and those around us? Is it unreasonable for God to expect us to put others before ourselves? Is that so hard to do?

God does not want us to sacrifice calves or any other animals; He doesn’t want a river of olive oil; and He certainly doesn’t want the sacrifice of our first born or any other child.

He wants us to love one another and look out for one another.

In other words, He wants us to live for one another and not just for ourselves. In doing this, we become living sacrifices in service to God.

“And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all He has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice – the kind He will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship Him.” (Romans 12:1 NLT).

This is something that we should all be willing to do with a joyful attitude. After all, did God not sacrifice His son for us?

Obedience from our hearts, love for one another and love for the One who gives us so much. That’s what He wants from us and we should give it humbly,  joyfully, and with thanks.

*******

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

Posted in "TODAY IS....A Gift From God" | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

February 14

TODAY IS…

the perfect day to celebrate God’s gift of love.

“Three things will last forever – faith, hope and love – and the greatest of these is love.”  1 Corinthians 13:13 NLT

In many ways in today’s society, the meaning of love has been diminished.

Far too often lust is mistaken for love. The word itself seems overused and undervalued. If any of us have found ourselves struggling to understand its meaning, its importance and its place in our lives, we need only open our Bibles to Chapter 13 of the Apostle Paul’s first letter to the Church in Corinth.

“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-6 NLT).

These are incredible truths that make clear what love should mean to each and every one of us.

“Love is patient and kind.”

Say those words to yourself when you quietly observe your spouse.

“Love is patient and kind.”

Say those words to yourself when you watch your children sleeping.

“Love is patient and kind.”

Say those words to yourself when you see a friend or neighbor.

“Love is patient and kind.”

Five words that should speak volumes to us about how we should view ourselves, our families, our friends and neighbors, members of our church – virtually everyone we meet.

As if he isn’t sure he has been succinct enough, Paul continues with “Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” (1 Corinthians 13:7 NLT).

For a man who had approved of, and witnessed, the stoning to death of another man, and who had originally set out to destroy Christianity by persecuting Christians, Paul certainly had a major change of heart. Jesus changed his heart on the road to Damascus and created the greatest influence on the shaping of Christianity the world has ever known, apart from Jesus Himself.

Allow Jesus to come into your heart and enable you to see the meaning, importance and place of love in your life.

Celebrate the gift of love with the people around you today and every day and praise God, the One who gives it to us.

And remember, “Love never gives up.”

*******

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

Posted in "TODAY IS....A Gift From God" | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

February 13

TODAY IS…

an ideal day to recognize the true value of what Jesus offers us.

“Then Peter said, ‘Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.”  Acts 3:6 NIV

Imagine yourself begging beside the gate to the Temple in Jerusalem. People carried you there, as they did every day, in order that you could seek the charity of others to survive. Unable to walk since birth, you were dependent upon others for the means with which to live. There were no government programs to fall back on. There was just the good will of those going into that Temple.

Two men appear that you have never seen before and you ask them for money. One of them tells you he has no money to give you, but he has something better: A gift from Jesus Christ of Nazareth.

And suddenly, you can walk!

Undoubtedly, the use of his legs was a truly remarkable gift for the man who had never known what it was like to use them. Giving him that ability was done to garner people’s attention, which it obviously did, for “While he was clinging to Peter and John, all the people ran together to them at the so-called portico of Solomon, full of amazement.” (Acts 3:11 NASB).

Now that he had their attention, Peter proceeded to tell those gathered that the power to do what they did was not his, but came from Jesus of Nazareth, who was the long-awaited Messiah. He then told them of the greater gift of salvation and restoration that would be theirs if they accepted Jesus as their savior.

Peter and John went to jail for teaching others the value of what Jesus offers us all. The Sadducees were upset with what they were preaching.

“But many who heard the message believed; so the number of men who believed grew to about 5,000.” (Acts 4:4 NIV).

The value of what Jesus offers us is beyond calculation in mere monetary terms. The restoration of our souls and the promise of everlasting peace and joy have no price. It cannot be bought nor can it be sold. It is given to us freely if we will only accept it and we can give it to others by sharing the Good News with them and leading them to their own realization and acceptance of this incredible gift.

The ability to walk was a wonderful gift for the beggar who asked for gold or silver. The greater gift, for all of us, is the offer to walk in the light of the Lord for eternity.

And that is priceless.

*******

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

Posted in "TODAY IS....A Gift From God" | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

February 12

TODAY IS…

a great day to become a peacemaker.

“And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness.”  James 3:18 NLT

Jesus Christ is known the world over as the Prince of Peace. God, therefore, must be the King of Peace since “The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God…” (Hebrews 1:3a NLT).

Each one of us is a child of God and as God’s children, we must aspire to reflect the full force of God’s character in ourselves and endeavor to be children of peace.

It is not required that we become statesmen on a quest for world peace, although that would be a blessed thing. Peace begins internally and before we can even think about leading others to peace we must be led ourselves by the Prince of Peace Himself, who came, “To give light to them that sit in darkness in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” (Luke 1:79 KJV).

If we follow the simple teachings of Christ, we will see our path illuminated brightly before us and it will become abundantly clear that peace is found in the Word of God. Prayer and meditation help us to gain wisdom and understanding from His Word and use it to create quiet and calm within our own hearts. When we have obtained peace within ourselves, it becomes easy to reach out to others and help them, “Search for peace, and work to maintain it.” (Psalm 34:14b NLT).

Like the ripples caused when a pebble is dropped into still water, the peace within our hearts will flow outward, affecting those around us in our homes, places of work and worship and in our communities.

Every time we smile at a stranger, show them a small courtesy or assist them in some small way, we plant the seeds of peace.

When we show love and affection to our families, we plant the seeds of peace.

When we refuse to spread gossip or work to resolve conflicts around us, we plant the seeds of peace.

And when the planting is done, we will nourish the seeds of peace with the life-giving water of the Word of God and then we will reap the harvest of righteousness promised by God.

For “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.” (Matthew 5:9 KJV).

Use the gift of this day to let God help you find peace and become a peacemaker.

*******

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

Posted in "TODAY IS....A Gift From God" | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

February 11

TODAY IS…

a fine day to fill your spiritual “basket”.

“They put their faith in the Lord and in His servant, Moses.”  Exodus 14:31b NLT

The people of Israel escaped the Egyptian army by walking through the Red Sea when Moses, using the power God had given him, parted the waters of the sea to make a path. After safely reaching the other side, the people of Israel watched as the waters closed over the advancing Egyptians who tried to follow, wiping out the entire army of Pharaoh.

“Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.”

So goes the old saying and it is probably sage advice when related to a financial portfolio. But when the people of Israel stood in awe and watched their pursuers vanish before their eyes, one can easily understand that they then placed all of their spiritual “eggs of faith” in the “basket” provided by God and the person He chose to lead them.

Safer than any stock, any mutual fund or any bond, “investing” our faith only in God can bring rewards beyond any we could possibly envision.

In one of the most powerful and overwhelming displays of faith to be found in the entire Bible, Abraham is instructed by God to sacrifice his son. As they walk up the mountain to the place God has directed Abraham, one can only imagine the complete trust and reliance on God Abraham must have had. Abraham built the altar, arranged the wood and tied his son, placing him on the altar.

“And Abraham picked up the knife to kill his son as a sacrifice.” (Genesis 22:10 NLT).

If this was Hollywood, this would be the point where the image would be cut to a commercial break. But this was a man who so loved and trusted God and had unbelievable faith in His wisdom and judgment that he was prepared to do something most of us would find impossible to do.

Talk about having all of your spiritual “eggs” in one “basket”.

Of course, we know the Lord did not allow Abraham to go through with killing his beloved son, but because he exhibited such profound faith in God, “…he has become a wealthy man. The Lord has given him flocks of sheep and goats, herds of cattle, a fortune in silver and gold, and many male and female servants and camels and donkeys.” (Genesis 24:35 NLT).

Our material wealth on this earth may never equal that of Abraham. But if we put all of our faith in God, our lives will be full of the richness of God’s love, peace, joy and grace and we will be rewarded with an eternal life of happiness and joy beyond description afterwards.

So gather up the “eggs” of your faith today and place them all in God’s spiritual “basket”.

*******

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

Posted in "TODAY IS....A Gift From God" | Tagged , , | Leave a comment