June 28

Today is…

a superb day to live.

“Lord remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered – how fleeting my life is.”  Psalm 39:4 NLT

Paul cautions the Romans that, “The night is almost gone; the day of salvation soon will be here. So remove your dark deeds like dirty clothes, and put on the shining armor of right living.” (Romans 13:12 NLT).

For any Christian, “right living” is the only way to live. Granted, when immorality, indecency, and sexual promiscuity are found on all most every television program we see, and in every newspaper and magazine we open up, it is sometimes hard to convince ourselves that what we see is not the way we are all supposed to live our lives.

Paul was very clear when he went on to say, “Because we belong to the day, we must live decent lives for all to see. Don’t participate in the darkness of wild parties and drunkenness, or in sexual promiscuity and immoral living, or in quarreling and jealousy. Instead, clothe yourself with the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. And don’t let yourself think about ways to indulge your evil desires.” (Romans 13:13-14 NLT).

Unfortunately, there will be those who find it very difficult to “live” without indulging themselves in some, or all, of these activities. Some of us have wandered so far off the path of “right living” that all we know is the wrong way. If this is the case, it is alright, as long as we can admit it and say, “That is me!” If we can identify ourselves as needing to discard some “dirty clothes,” then we can begin to focus on living in a manner that is pleasing to God and provides service to those around us.

Just as David asked God to remind him in Psalm 35, we all need to be reminded of the briefness of our time on earth.

Life is short.

In fact, many of us use that fact as an excuse to “live it up!” not realizing how much our behavior hurts God.

When we are truly living our life as God intends, we will spend our days reaching out to those around us. We will use our time to help those in need and to comfort those in pain. We will encourage laughter where there are tears and we will promote joy where there is sadness.  We will help to clothe those who are naked and provide a place to live for those who are homeless.

When we clothe ourselves with the presence of the Lord, we can expect to live busy, happy lives that will fulfill us in ways we never thought possible. We will set wonderful examples for our children, and we will make the One who watches everything smile with the satisfaction of a loving father.

Each and every day that God gives to us is a beautiful gift that can be lived to its fullest by living for God.

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

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June 27

Today is…

a fantastic day to learn about using prayer for others.

“And pray for me, too. Ask God to give me the right words so I can boldly explain God’s mysterious plan that the Good News is for Jews and Gentiles alike.”  Ephesians 6:19 NLT

As Christianity was developing, no one understood the power of prayer quite like Paul. He knew that the sacrifice of Jesus Christ gave us the ability to communicate with God and summon His awesome power to give us strength, courage, and wisdom.

While imprisoned in Rome, Paul sent a letter to the Church at Ephesus. It was a letter of encouragement, and at the end of the letter Paul reminds them to “Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.” (Ephesians 6:18 NLT).

Then Paul did something truly remarkable.

He did something that should give us all pause as we try to imagine the circumstances he was in. Paul asked for the prayers of the members of the church of Ephesus, but he did not ask them to pray for his release, or any improvement to his personal circumstances. Instead, he asked them to pray so that God would give him the right words to use to spread God’s message even in prison.

It is difficult for many of us to understand or appreciate the Christ-like selflessness of that humble request. It was a request for help, but it was a request to “help me to help others.”

Of all of the beauty that the Bible contains, this is truly one of its more beautiful moments. Of all of the lessons taught within its pages, this is certainly one we should all learn.

Prayer is a powerful tool provided to us by God, and while He wants to hear from us when we have personal problems that require His help, He wants to hear us call out to Him on behalf of others.

He wants us to pray for each other.

If we know someone who is sick, who is lost, who needs God in their lives, He wants to hear us call out to Him on their behalf. He also wants us to ask others for their prayers on our behalf when we are sick, or when we are facing tragedy or difficult times.

God wants us to use the power of prayer that the sacrifice of His only Son affords us. Don’t be afraid to pray or to ask others to pray for you.

Remember Paul’s request and learn from that perfect example.

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

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June 26

Today is…

a great day to ask God to identify our faults and ask Him to help us fix them.

“Point out anything in me that offends You, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.”  Psalm 139:24 NLT

Faults? I don’t have any faults, and I am sure there isn’t anyone reading this who has any faults, right?

Right.

Now that we have concluded that fantasy, let’s all get back to reality. We all have faults. Every person, every personality, every character, is flawed. We all have our share of dents, dings, scratches, and other imperfections in our hearts and in our minds. They are a part of being human, but acknowledgement of their presence does not have to equate to acceptance.

We all have a pretty good idea of who we are, but we sometimes fail to see the negative aspects of our personality. We may also harbor thoughts we know to be improper, but we may feel that since no one knows about them it is alright. Perhaps a few of us are blind to how negative some things about ourselves really are. David points out very clearly, very eloquently, and quite beautifully in the entirety of Psalm 139 that no one will ever know us as completely as God does – not even ourselves.

God can see not only what everyone else can see, He can look deep into our hearts and thoughts. He can see things that others cannot possibly see, and that we may refuse to see. God takes it even further, because He knows what we are going to say before we say it, and where we are going to go before we go there.

“You know what I am going to say even before I say it, Lord.” (Psalm 139:4 NLT).

There is no one who knows better than the Lord just how imperfect we are, so who better to turn to than God Himself for help in identifying our faults and providing us with guidance to improve? Obviously, there is no one better suited to that task.

Our friends, our spouses, and even our children, will usually be happy to point out some of our faults. Unfortunately, none of them can see them all, and more unfortunately, these individuals do not always approach the situation with gentleness. God, on the other hand will be pleased we turned to Him for help, and not only will we get help from the most capable and qualified source imaginable, we will learn, through the Word of God, how to improve ourselves and we will learn it in an atmosphere of complete love.

Perhaps you don’t have any faults. But just in case you do, remember to seek God’s help to work on them.

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

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June 25

Today is…

a good day to let your conscience be your guide.

“With Christ as my witness, I speak with utter truthfulness. My conscience and the Holy Spirit confirm it.”  Romans 9:1 NLT

Our conscience is a wonderful gift from God.

At least, it is for most of us. Our conscience is that “inner voice” that tells us we have done the right thing. Conversely, it also tells us we have done the wrong thing, and it usually does so in a loud enough “voice” that no matter how much we try to convince ourselves otherwise, we are able to “hear” it.

Every year, thousands of people travel to the Florida Keys to go fishing. Whether it is for off-shore fishing, to go after the Marlins and other “big” fish, or in-shore, around the many small islands, people head out on the water to try their hand at some of the best sport fishing the world has to offer. The Atlantic Ocean or Gulf of Mexico are vast bodies of water, and even the largest fish is tiny in comparison. Not knowing the best places to go can make it difficult to have a fruitful day of fishing. That is why many visitors to the Keys hire experienced guides. It follows that the more seasoned one of these individuals is, the better the chances that they will know exactly where to go.

Of course, we must then follow our guide’s instructions.

Our conscience will guide us in much the same way, and we must listen to it when it speaks to us. With our minds on God, He will help our conscience to always attempt to block us from doing the wrong thing.

God has provided us with a guide for our lives.

The problem is that far too many of us ignore what our conscience is telling us. We may do it once or twice, but it is important to remember that each time we fail to listen when our conscience tells us we are doing wrong, it becomes easier to do so. If we ignore our conscience too often, we run the risk of damaging our relationship with the Lord. We put our faith in jeopardy.

When Paul wrote to Timothy, he was very emphatic regarding the relationship between our faith and our conscience. “Cling to your faith in Christ, and keep your conscience clear. For some people have deliberately violated their consciences; as a result, their faith has been shipwrecked.” (1 Timothy 1:19 NLT).

None of us wants to go through that, so it is best to plan our journey with the safety of a guide. Of course, having a guide is one thing- we must also listen and do what our guide tells us.

Learn to listen to your conscience and then do what it tells you to do.

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

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June 24

Today is…

a splendid day to install some lighting along your path.

“Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.”  Psalm 119:105 KJV

We have all seen lighting that lines walkways or paths through lawns or gardens. The lights themselves come in a wide variety of styles with varying degrees of installation difficulty. The fastest ones to install are solar powered. They have no wiring so installation is pretty simple – just stick them into the ground in the daylight and wait for the sun to go down. Convenient and fast, but this type is more decorative than functional as the light is not very bright at all, leaving the pathway outlined, but not very well lit.

The other types are connected by electrical wires and require an outside source of electricity. While the wires do not need to be buried deeply, a small trench still needs to be dug along the route the lights are going to follow. If there is no convenient electrical source, one will have to be installed. A one or two day job, perhaps, but one which will have a much more noticeable effect and will achieve the purpose to a much higher degree.

The purpose, of course, is to light our way in the dark and we all understandably prefer that the paths we walk be well lit.

We should all endeavor to ensure that the paths our lives follow are well lit too. The possibility of getting where we are going without harm coming to us is greatly enhanced when we can see the path clearly.

The Bible is the ultimate source of light for the walkways of our lives. When we are unsure of where we stand, we need only “turn on the light” by opening it and searching for the appropriate words that will illuminate our steps. Like the lights for our walkways and gardens, the amount of effort put into reading the Bible will determine how well lit our path is. A brighter light will result in a more trouble-free walk through life, but will require more time and effort on our part.

The time and effort required to light up the walkways of our lives with the intensity of a sports stadium at night is a small price to pay for the security afforded us. Those who spend no time lighting their paths are not exhibiting much concern for their own well-being or the well-being of those around them. “These men turn from the right way to walk down dark paths.” (Proverbs 2:13 NLT).

The Holy Bible, in a translation that we are comfortable with, will illuminate the walkways of our lives and help to provide safety and security for our souls. Install some lighting along your path today, and remember, the more time spent “installing” them, the better the results and the clearer the path.

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

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June 23

Today is…

a good day to consider what God has chosen you for.

“Take heed now; for the Lord hath chosen thee to build a house for the sanctuary: be strong, and do it.”  1 Chronicles 28:10 KJV

History has shown us that kings did not always pass down teachings of moral value to their children. Quite often, the opposite was true. In many cases, the child who was to take the place of the king merely inherited the power, but had never been taught about the responsibilities which accompany that power.

King David fought many battles and shed much blood. So much so, that God didn’t want him to build the temple that would honor the Lord. He wanted it built by a man of peace so He chose the king’s son, Solomon.

What an honor! To be chosen by God to build the temple in which to worship Him. One would think that King David might have been upset, or insulted, by being passed over for that honor but he was not. Since Solomon was still young and inexperienced, David discerned that the purpose God had chosen him for was to prepare things for the time that would come when Solomon would take over as king and oversee the actual construction of the temple.

It took much planning, and many years to assemble all of the cut stone, the cedar, the bronze and all the other materials that would be necessary. There is no record of complaint by King David for being delegated to these seemingly unimportant tasks, because King David knew that this was what God’s purpose for him was.

It is not likely that the majority of us will be called to build a place of worship of the magnitude of the temple Solomon built. But we may be called upon to help build, restore or repair our own church, in our own neighborhood.

We may be called upon to help build homes for those who need them. Perhaps our purpose will be to raise money or prepare food to feed those doing the work.

Salvation does not require us to physically do any of these things, but the changes brought about by our faith will most assuredly cause us to want to know how God wishes to use us while we live on earth.

Pray for guidance, and ask the leader of your church how you can be of assistance. We will not all be chosen to direct the building of a great temple, but in the eyes of God, every task is as important.

God has chosen each one of us.

Today is a good day to consider what He chose you to do.

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

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June 22

Today is…

a good day to think about the effects of gossip.

“The words of a whisperer are like tiny morsels, and they go down into the innermost parts of the body.”  Proverbs 18:8 NASB

Lots of people love to be in possession of a “juicy piece of gossip.” We like to pass along information that we didn’t get first hand and even if we did who are we helping? Yes, helping, for that is what God expects of us. He expects us to help one another and when we spend time talking about other people, or digging for information about other people we are wasting valuable time that could be spent in constructive ways.

Often, we feel entitled to information, particularly in regards to new neighbors. We feel that we have a right to know all about people who are going to be in close proximity to us. Sometimes, our investigation leads us to a revelation of something in the person’s past that we consider a threat to ourselves and to those we love. When we make a discovery, we feel the need to share it, and in the process of sharing information, decisions are made and judgment is passed, and in many, many unfortunate instances, an error in personal judgment or lapse in morality turns a neighborhood against a newcomer.

Before the individual has an opportunity to prove themselves, or demonstrate what is in their heart, we have taken it upon ourselves to do something that Jesus Himself said we should not do: “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.” (Matthew 7:1 NIV).

We can offer up all of the justification for demanding information that we want and it will not change what Jesus said. People do make mistakes in their lives. Some of them, in the eyes of the law, are worse than others. But when an individual has dealt with a legal problem to the satisfaction of proper authorities, it is not our right, our duty, or our responsibility to pass further judgment. Only God knows a person’s heart. We should, instead ask God to reveal this person’s heart to us.

No matter what it may be we discover about another person, we must always remember to look within ourselves before we begin to speak ill of another. It is always easy to call another person’s morality into question; to criticize another person’s behavior; or to even ‘simply’ make fun of a person’s accent, clothing or hairstyle.

Jesus did not say, “Judge not unless it is something serious.” He simply said, “Judge not.”

How can we do some of the things we do and claim our right as followers of Christ?

We must all consider the effects our gossip has not only on the individual in question, but we must also consider the effect it has on our relationship with the Lord.

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

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June 21

Today is…

an excellent day to think about heaven.

“Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.”  Colossians 3:2 KJV

The goal is a lofty one, indeed. The prize is one of indescribable peace, joy, love, and beauty. We are talking about the place that awaits us all when we have finished serving God on earth.

“And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” (Revelation 21:4 KJV).

The place called heaven, our home for all of eternity, if we have accepted Christ as our savior. How often do we think about it?

Most of us probably don’t think about it often enough, seriously enough, or honestly enough. This is something that we all need to change. If we are spending more time wondering how we are going to get enough money for a new car than we spend thinking about heaven, we need to change. If we spend more time thinking about who is going to be on our fantasy football team than we do about being on God’s team in heaven, we need to change. If we spend more time thinking about what we are going to wear to go out to dinner than we do thinking about the road that will lead us to eternal life with God, we need to change.

We need to change the things we do, and the way we live our lives. “So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust and evil desires. Don’t be greedy, for a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world.” (Colossians 3:5 NLT).

Replace those things with kindness, love, patience, mercy, gentleness, humility. If we are to spend an eternity without all of those other things, why “on earth” would we want them to be a part of our lives now, during our short time here?

We cannot seek an eternal life in the light of the Lord while living in darkness and while pursuing things that are shallow, sinful, and meaningless. If we like the darkness, we will not love Heaven for “There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.” (Revelations 22:5 NIV).

Many of us take great care when planning a trip. We give it a lot of thought, and with good reason.

Perhaps it’s time we all gave a little more thought to Heaven, and today is an excellent day to start.

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

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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. Things like God, and helping those around you.

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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 someone asks for your counsel andyou 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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