April 22

TODAY IS…

a terrific day to get on the right side of the Lord.

“…and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left.”  Matthew 25:33 NASB

Does someone’s race, social status, education level, or job determine how we treat them?

Does someone have to be ‘worthy’ of our kindness?

The eyes of God see only the hearts of His children. What does He see when He looks at yours?

Throughout the many beautiful pages of the Holy Bible, the need to show kindness and concern for each other is repeated often, and in many different ways. Christ used several examples and took advantage of many different opportunities to teach the supreme importance of this.

When Jesus was teaching on the Mount of Olives, He told a powerful story about the final judgment.

“But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne.” (Matthew 25:31 NASB).

When we are all gathered in His presence, He will separate us as a shepherd separates the goats from the sheep. He will place the sheep on His right and He will tell those He places there that they have been blessed by God and have been chosen to inherit His kingdom as promised. Jesus then tells them why they have been selected.

“For I was hungry and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.” (Matthew 25:35-36 NASB).

He said that the good people He would be saying these things to would be confused, for they would have no recollection of feeding Jesus or clothing Him, taking care of Him when He was sick, or any of those things that He was referring to, so they would ask Him when they were supposed to have done all of those kind and generous things.

Jesus told the crowd, “The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’” (Matthew 25:40 NASB).

Christ is in all of us, so nothing else should matter. We should be kind to one another because of our love for God through Jesus Christ. We should do for everyone we meet as we would do for Christ, and in doing we will show the world our love for Christ and ensure that when we face judgment before the King, we will be on His right side.

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

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April 21

TODAY IS…

the ideal day to search for wisdom.

“Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding.”  Proverbs 4:7 NIV

Searching for the wisdom of God is the key to a rich, productive, and significant life as a servant of the Lord.

Being a servant of the Lord does not mean we must all be priests, pastors, or ministers. Being a servant of the Lord means that we attach maturity, significance, and seriousness to our time on this earth as we prepare for God’s promise of life everlasting.

Wisdom gives us the knowledge and understanding, coupled with the ability to use them, which helps us to mature as Christians and lead lives that are full of purpose and meaning. In a world that seems to always be caught up in the moment; in a world that is self-indulgent, selfish, self-centered, and materialistic, actively searching for the wisdom of God is more important than ever before.

Life is not as slow, and not as simple, as it once was. At the same time, our ability to help others is greater than at any time in our history. Therefore, so is our responsibility to our fellow man. How best to serve a useful purpose in our short time on earth is easier to determine with wisdom.

The search is never-ending, but it is all too important, especially if we have children who are also trying to find their way in this world. We cannot teach what we do not know, so we must search the Bible constantly for knowledge and show our children where to find it and how to use it.

When we were young, 70 or 80 years seemed like such a long time. Those of us who are older know that it goes by quickly. If we use our time searching for God’s wisdom and applying what we learn to our daily lives, to the way we treat others, and to how we seek out opportunities to serve God and glorify His name, we will spend more of those years with smiles on our faces and the glow of the Holy Spirit in our hearts.

One of the wonderful things about the wisdom that God has to offer us, is that no matter when we come to the realization that our lives can be so much better with it, we can be secure in the knowledge that it is never too late to start searching for it.

If you have not experienced the joys of God’s wisdom, pick up the Bible today and begin searching for it. If you already know those joys, then you also know that you must never stop searching for more of the wisdom of God.

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

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April 20

TODAY IS…

a great day to choose a good first impression.

“Choose a good reputation over great riches; being held in high esteem is better than silver or gold.”  Proverbs 22:1 NLT

We are all probably familiar with the expression, “You only get one chance to make a first impression.” We should certainly all want it to be a good one. Not very many people would knowingly, and intentionally, set out to make a bad impression. Our reputation precedes us in many aspects of life. For many individuals, their only impression of us is our reputation.

So we must ask ourselves what sort of first impression is our reputation giving others?

If we are seeking employment and are approaching someone we have never met for an interview, we have probably sent out a resume ahead of us and something about that resume caught the eye of the one making decisions. So far so good. First look is a good one, so we show up for the interview on time, properly groomed, positive, confident, and upbeat. The second “first look” is good. The interviewer checks into your background and things start to go downhill. Perhaps there is a past history of legal problems that we were not forthright about. Perhaps they check with a previous employer and, while it is not acceptable for a previous employer to speak poorly of someone, saying nothing at all, or simply stating that we are not eligible for rehire, speaks volumes in a negative sense.

If we have good reputations in our personal and professional lives, it is of the utmost importance that we live our lives making a conscious effort to keep it intact. A good relationship with God can help us do that.

But what if we have made mistakes? What if some of them are serious errors in judgment? God has assured us of His forgiveness, but what about the forgiveness of our neighbors, our friends, our families and our employers? Can we ever overcome a bad reputation and get a second opportunity to make a good first impression?

The answer is an emphatic, “Yes!”

Do not be discouraged and do not give up. The first thing to do is to look to God’s Word for guidance.

“All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.” (2 Timothy 3:16 NLT).

We must ask God to give us all that we need to be forthright with people about our mistakes, and to give us the patience we will require to rebuild our reputation.The process can be a long, and sometimes discouraging, one.

But it can be done.

Whether this is our first or second “first impression”, look to God for help in choosing to make it a good one.

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

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April 19

TODAY IS…

a super day to think again.

“But you thought your fame and beauty were your own. So you gave yourself as a prostitute to every man who came along. Your beauty was theirs for the asking.”  Ezekiel 16:15 NLT

We are all aware that God bestows different gifts, talents, and abilities upon different individuals. For the myriad ways in which humans differ from one another, we all share the fact that whatever talents we have, they all came from God.

Ezekiel’s message to the exiles in Babylon was relatively simple and is one we should all heed. If we have forgotten the source of all that is ours and have come to think that our achievements are the result of our own human abilities, we had better think about it again.

Our artistic abilities that have earned us prominence and have made our work popular; our astute business acumen which allows us to capitalize on opportunities that others cannot see; our ability to throw a football farther or run faster than anyone else: all of these gifts, talents, and abilities were given to us by God and are to be used, first and foremost, for God. The rewards realized from these talents should be used to help others and spread God’s message.

Of course God wants us to enjoy the fruits of our labor as well, and He has nothing against us having nice homes, cars, clothes, or other material possessions. But He expects us to use the gifts He has given us to assist those less fortunate than we are, and in return, He will reward us with even more good fortunes.

“After Job had prayed for his friends, the Lord made him prosperous again and gave him twice as much as he had before.” (Job 42:10 NIV).

God wants our love, our trust, our faith, and our recognition that all we have comes from Him.

Are there selfish, self-centered, boastful people who deny credit that is due the Lord and keep it for themselves? Absolutely. Do many of them surround themselves with incredible wealth and luxury and claim it as their own and not God’s? Of course.

But for them, when they die, that is where it all ends. For those who praise God for all they are and all they have, God will multiply their blessings in this life, and it does not end with death.

If you think you are successful just because you are special, perhaps you need to think again.

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

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April 18

TODAY IS…

the right day to consider your choices.

“But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”  Joshua 24:15 NIV

Some of us may have faced times in our lives when we have thought about turning away from the Lord. Perhaps life hadn’t been going our way, or something happened to us or someone we love that we are angry about. Maybe we blamed God.

Maybe we questioned His very existence.

Joshua was a very capable leader and he willingly accepted his role as successor to Moses and successfully led the Israelites into the Promised Land. He did not become leader of the Israelites in spite of his faith in God. He became leader because of his faith.

That faith gave him the courage and the wisdom needed to do what he knew God wanted done.

We all make choices, and the most important choice we can make is whether to follow God, or whether to follow our own human instincts, thoughts, and desires. If not God, in all His wisdom, power, grace, and glory, then who? How can we possibly think we can negotiate the highway of life on earth without God’s help? And without God, what awaits us when the bloom of our life withers and dies?

What is it that is so unattractive about everlasting life with God that makes any of us reject it? How could we possibly choose ‘nothing’ that non-believers say await us when we die over the ‘something’ that awaits us when we follow the teachings of Christ and live for service to others as God so desires?

We can be pushed and pulled in a multitude of directions as we go through life. We can encounter tragedy that causes us to call God’s leadership to question. We can encounter smooth talking individuals who seem to have it made and have all the answers.

But if the answer doesn’t include God, then it is really not an answer. Certainly not an answer that will lead us to a joyful everlasting life with God.

No matter what we are facing in our lives, it is easier to face it with God. No matter how attractive some misguided souls may make a life without God seem, we must all realize that choosing that particular option will not have the eternal peace and joy we will have if we choose to follow God.

Choose wisely. Your life, and your everlasting life, depend upon it.

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

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April 17

TODAY IS…

the perfect day to turn your prison into paradise.

“So Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘I hereby put you in charge of the whole land of Egypt.’”  Genesis 41:41 NIV

Have any of us experienced the level of difficulty in our lives that was experienced by Joseph? What a remarkably perfect example of how to handle adversity!

While it is true that his initial arrogance born of his youthful pride caused Joseph’s brothers to conspire against him, the way Joseph conducted himself from that point forward should be an example each one of us should strive to replicate.

Joseph was sold into slavery by his own brothers, resold to the captain of the guard for Pharaoh, was thrown into prison, and was forgotten by those he helped. Despite all of that Joseph always responded to negative situations with a positive attitude.

In the end, it became apparent to everyone, including Pharaoh that God was watching over Joseph. “So Pharaoh asked them, ‘Can we find anyone like this man, one in whom is the spirit of God?’” (Genesis 41:38 NIV).

Joseph went on to become second only to the king of Egypt in importance and, ultimately, was in a position to reconcile with his brothers and show them that he loved them and harbored no ill will.

The question we must ask is this: Did Joseph have a positive attitude because God was watching over him, or was God watching over him because he had a positive attitude and always did what was right in God’s eyes?

Joseph always made the best of a bad situation, turning the prison of his adversity into a paradise of positive thought, positive action, and a life guided by God. It could not have been easy for Joseph. How great his faith must have been that he always knew the Lord was with him and would always stay with him if he never gave up, never gave in, and never stopped believing in the goodness of the Lord.

None of us would like to be treated in the manner in which Joseph was treated. None of us would want to go to prison for doing the right thing after being sold into slavery by our own family. But each one of us can find inspiration in the story of Joseph and how he turned prison into paradise.

No matter what trials and tribulations are before us, each one of us can do the same thing.

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

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April 16

TODAY IS…

a fine day to keep your eyes open.

“Let your eyes look directly ahead and let your gaze be fixed straight in front of you.”  Proverbs 4:25 NASB

It is easy to become distracted sometimes in today’s world.

There is so much going on around us that sometimes we may be tempted to become sidetracked by something we have seen or heard, causing us to stumble off the path of sin-free living and wander onto the path of sinful living.

It is not that it is so difficult to tell the difference between right and wrong, but sometimes those who ‘package’ the wrong do such a good job that they make us forget our true purpose and make us look away from our righteous destination.

When Solomon wrote the Proverbs, he was well aware of the influence that our hearts had over us. If we have filled our hearts with the spirit, we should always be getting the correct messages, but sometimes we allow ourselves to be fooled into just following sinful impulses. The consequences from closing our eyes to what we know is right can be seemingly very small, but they can also be extremely unpleasant. Life is full of forbidden fruit, so to speak. Unfortunately, we do not have God to tell us specifically which choices are forbidden, but with daily prayer and reading of the Bible, our eyes will be opened wider to the dangers that seem to be everywhere.

In an age of rampant permissiveness, it is more difficult than ever to stay focused on living life in a decent, moral manner, observant of God’s guidelines for our behavior.

We must set the boundaries for our behavior and our thoughts, then we must keep our eyes open so we can be on guard against temptations and also to see the beauty and joy that can come from living as a good Christian.

Obviously we must close our eyes to sleep, but we should never close them to excuse bad behavior. When we were children, hiding under the covers worked. If we couldn’t see the monster, the monster wasn’t there, but we all know that was childish.

Come out from under the covers, open your eyes, and watch where you are going.

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

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April 15

TODAY IS…

a good day to ask yourself, “When did I last spend some quiet time with God?”

“Be still and know that I am God…”  Psalm 46:10a NIV

Finding quiet time to spend with God can be a challenge in these busy times.

We are all in a hurry to get here or go there; to run this errand or fulfill that obligation; rushing to work and even rushing off to play. We find it difficult to find time for our spouses, our children and ourselves.

We all should be aware of the consequences of not finding time for ourselves and our families. When we don’t find time to spend with those we love, those relationships suffer tremendously. Husbands and wives become unhappy, disgruntled, and may harbor feelings of resentment or abandonment. Divorce may follow, which is not good for anyone.

When we neglect our children they are going to have only the influence of their friends to guide them, and not ours, and the gap between us and them grows wider.

When we don’t find time to interact with those we love, the relationship suffers, affecting everyone. Time to play, time to work, and time to just sit quietly and enjoy the presence of those we love are all extremely important.

A family needs to share all that life has to offer in order to be healthy.

God needs quiet time with us as well. Can’t find the time? Everything we have or have available to us we have because of God. Our very lives and the lives of our spouses and children are possible because of God. How can we possibly deny something that costs us nothing to the one who gives us everything?

Don’t have the time?

How much time will we spend today playing computer games? How much time will we spend today reading an entertainment magazine? How much time will we spend today letting people we don’t even know become aware of every little thing we do? How much time will we spend today engaging in idle gossip?

Hopefully, we are all becoming aware that we really do have time in our days for everyone we love, and God should certainly be included in that group.

God gives us everything and asks so little in return. Use God’s gift of this day and spend some time with Him.

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

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April 14

TODAY IS…

the day to acknowledge that Father Knows Best.

“Who is this that questions My wisdom with such ignorant words?”  Job 38:2 NLT

Some of us are old enough to remember an old television show called “Father Knows Best.” While the head of that TV family may not have really always known what was best for all concerned, the Father of us all certainly does!

It is relatively easy to obey God when we agree with Him.

How many of us have found it harder to obey when the issue at hand involves denying ourselves something that we have enjoyed for many years? How many of us have indulged in habits or behaviors that we have told ourselves, “Don’t hurt anyone,” or “Don’t bother anyone,” or “Doesn’t hurt anyone but myself.”?

These situations are more likely to be encountered in those of us who have only recently come to the Lord or who have lived lives outside the teachings of our youth for many years, but they can apply to anyone. The saying “Old Habits Die Hard” is very true for many of us, and in our struggle to maintain a tenuous grip on some of our “old habits”, we might make the mistake of trying to justify what we are doing or fool ourselves that what we are doing is alright with God because we are such good people in all other respects.

We are kidding ourselves, because we certainly are not kidding God.

If we think we know better, or we feel that it is acceptable to question God, we might want to think back to when God confronted Job with, “Brace yourself like a man, because I have some questions for you, and you must answer them.” (Job 38:3 NLT).

That is not a position we should want to put ourselves in, for as Job found out, there is absolutely no way that we can prove to the One who created us that we know what is best.

Some of us may think, “Well my only vice is pornography and they are just pictures and I am not hurting anyone.”

And yet, how many who think this way are married, have children, and have responsibilities that should not include taking time away from our families and responsibilities to look at pictures that should not have been taken in the first place?

The truth is that anything we could possibly do under the banner of, “It doesn’t hurt anyone” actually does.

It hurts our lives because time spent in sinful pursuits could be better spent praying, reading the Word of God, or helping someone less fortunate than ourselves; it hurts our families because it takes away time from them and sets a bad example; and it hurts God, because He knows what is best for us.

We may be the mothers and fathers of our children, but God is our Father, and Father always knows best.

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

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April 13

TODAY IS…

an outstanding day to seek the help of others.

“I am in chains now, still preaching this message as God’s ambassador. So pray that I will keep on speaking boldly for Him, as I should.”  Ephesians 6:20 NLT

Even while imprisoned, Paul’s focus was on serving others and teaching them the path to God led through Jesus Christ.

In his humanness, Paul reached out to others for help. Did he want help getting out of prison? No. He simply wanted others to pray to God on his behalf for the continued strength he needed to focus boldly on delivering God’s message.

For God, creating the world was effortless. For God, wielding the paintbrush of life that gave His world personality, beauty, and character was not tiresome or challenging.

But for those of us created by the brush strokes of the master, daily life as children of God can, indeed, be taxing, frustrating, and difficult.

God places people all around us for a number of reasons.

A very significant one is so they are available for us to reach out to for help. Perhaps we need their physical help in performing some task around the house. Maybe we need help getting to work because our car is in the shop. Perhaps what we need is more important, but less demanding physically: perhaps we need their prayers as we go through a difficult time or to help us cope with a significant loss.

Most of us wouldn’t think twice about asking a neighbor for help moving a piece of furniture or with some other physical chore. But it might not ever occur to us to ask for their help in more important ways. When we remind ourselves that helping each other is a requirement of God, it becomes easier to turn to them in times of our greatest need and ask for their prayers.

Seeking the help of others to petition God for support and strength on our behalf should be as easy to us as asking for a lift to the store.

Use the resources God has placed around you and seek the help of others. Whether you need a lift, an ear, a hand, or a prayer, use what God placed all around us to help us.

Each other.

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

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