July 19

Today is…

a good day to teach others where to go for help.

“Those who look to Him for help will be radiant with joy; no shadow of shame will darken their faces.”  Psalm 34:5 NLT

Hospital emergency rooms all over the world are open 24 hours a day, ready to receive those who need help with a physical emergency. Ambulances, too, are available to transport victims of accidents or those who suffer major medical problems. Police and fire departments stand ready to respond when someone threatens our safety or fire breaks out and threatens our homes and our lives. 24 hour hotlines are also available to help us in times of emotional crisis.

Millions of people around the world make themselves available and put themselves at risk, to help and protect us around the clock. Each one of us owes all of these people our thanks and appreciation. The world is a safer, better place for their efforts on our behalf.

It is important that we teach our children, as well as our elderly relatives, how to reach out for help in situations that require the services of those listed above.

Most important, for our spiritual well-being, we have God.

When someone is in spiritual crisis, it is equally as important that they know where to turn. We may know to turn to God through prayer and reading the Bible when looking for help for our specific problem, but it is important that we teach others as well. The Bible itself contains a bounty of wisdom, words of comfort, encouragement, and support for any situation that might arise at any time, night or day.

A wonderful source within the Bible is the book of Psalms. For instance, when we feel afraid, we can turn to Psalms 3, 4, 56, 91, and others.

“Lord, how many are my foes! How many rise up against me! Many are saying of me, “God will not deliver him.” But you, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high. I call out to the Lord, and he answers me from his holy mountain.” (Psalm 3:1-4 NIV)

If we are facing temptation, Psalms 38, and 141 stand ready to fortify us with encouragement such as, “Don’t let me drift towards evil or take part in acts of wickedness. Don’t let me share in the delicacies of those who do wrong.” (Psalm 141:4 NLT).

If we feel depressed, Psalms 27, 42, 88 and 143, stand ready to come to our aid.

“Come quickly, Lord, and answer me, for my depression deepens. Don’t turn away from me, or I will die.” (Psalm 143:7 NLT).

No matter what we are facing, be it persecution, old age, sorrow, criticism, verbal cruelty, the book of Psalms stands ready and waiting. It can also help us to offer prayers to God. Prayers of confession can be found in Psalms 6 and 51. Prayers of faith in Psalms 16 and 23.

“I said to the Lord, ‘You are my Master! Every good thing I have comes from You.’” (Psalm 16:2 NLT).

Knowing where to find help for our spiritual needs is as important as knowing to call 911 when we have a physical emergency.

Sharing the knowledge of where to go for help is something that is an obligation, but it should also be our great joy.

Use the gift of today to teach someone where to find the help they need.

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

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July 18

Today is…

the ideal day to seek significance in our lives.

“Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.”  Proverb 19:21 NIV

God created each one of us for a reason.

Since we do not come into this life with a certificate engraved with that purpose, we must look to God for help in discovering what it may be.

In his gospel, John said, “God created everything through Him, and nothing was created except thru Him.” (John 1:3 NLT).

This means that we only exist because God created us. If we spend any time at all reading the Bible, as we should, we know that God put each one of us here with the full expectation that our lives would have significance. Just as He placed His Son among us who lived a life that was full of significance, He placed each one of us here to follow His example.

Can any of us live a life as significant as that of Christ?

Of course not. However, if we take advantage of every opportunity to spread the Good News to others; if we fill our lives with purpose and meaning, like Christ; if we spend our time trying to make life better for someone who has nothing to eat, no clothes to wear or nowhere to live; if we devote the talents and abilities that God has given us – no matter how great or how seemingly small they may be – to the care and comfort of others, like Christ; then we will leave this earth knowing that we have succeeded in our search for significance.

“But I have lived a long, sinful life and I think I may be too old to live a life of significance.”

If this statement sounds like it could be coming from you, it is important for you to understand that if your heart is pulling you to seek a purpose; to find meaning; to discover a path that will lead to a more self-less, less self-indulgent life, then the time is not too late.

In fact, the time is perfect. God has placed no age limit on significance. We are never too young, or too old to begin our search.

So much of what swirls around us in daily life is insignificant. Much of it is frivolous, meaningless, and serves no purpose other than to indulge, entertain and arouse us. When we seek significance in our lives, we add tremendous value to it. We make everything around us more enjoyable because we discover the real joy that comes with purpose. Suddenly we are happy from the inside out instead of pursuing insignificant, self-indulgent, external things that only provide us with a pleasure that is shallow and short-lived.

Ask God daily to help in your search for significance. Ask Him to lead you to His purpose for you. It is never too late to search for significance in our lives.

In fact, today is an ideal day to start.

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

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July 17

Today is…

a perfect day to reflect on the need for honor in marriage.

“Submit to one another out of reverence to Christ.”  Ephesians 5:21 NIV

For many people the word ‘submit’ carries with it negative connotations that convey images of one person being a doormat for another person. This simply does not have to be the case. To “submit” merely means to “yield” and yielding to another is not a sign of weakness, inferiority, or any other negative adjective one may wish to use.

As Christians, we all know we should follow the examples of Christ. We all are aware that Christ submitted to the will of God. That fact in and of itself should remove some of the stigma that we may attach to the word. Submitting to God is something most of us have no problem with (at least, we should have no problem with submitting to God.) Doing so, and knowing why we are doing it should help us understand that yielding – or subordinating our rights – to others is in keeping with God’s wishes, and nowhere is it more important than in a marriage.

Again, it is important to understand that this does not mean we give the other person carte blanche to walk all over us. Notice that Paul’s words are “submit to one another.” This means that two people joined in marriage should endeavor, on a daily basis, to honor God by always placing the other person before themselves.

Consider for a moment, the concept of a man or a woman placing their spouse on a pedestal, so to speak. This phrase refers to placing this person in a position of honor, respect and love and indicates a willingness to do all that is within their power to ensure that person’s happiness.

Of course, if the person on the pedestal doesn’t place their spouse on one as well, then he or she is always in a position of looking down on the other and this is not honoring God or the spouse and is not how God intends marriage to be. Both must place the other on a pedestal and do the things mentioned above, but do them so that they are then looking across at each other, eliminating the one-sidedness of one looking down on the other.

When two people have a strong relationship with Christ, and genuine love and concern for each other, bringing honor to the marriage should never present a problem. Submitting to each other demonstrates this love and concern and honors God. And when our marriage honors God, it stands to reason it is because we honor our marriage.

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

Author’s note: Before anyone else points this out, I will.

I have been divorced twice and have other failed relationships as well, so what makes me an ‘expert’ on marriage?

Well, the truth is, I am not.

I am the last person to give advice on marriage and relationships. However, I am also a person who has discovered the beauty, wisdom, and guidance available when we take the time to read first something that will help make a marriage last – the Bible.

With God’s guidance, our flawed humanity can survive the trials and tribulations of life on this earth, and that guidance can also hold out hope, even to those like myself who have a history of getting it all wrong.

“TODAY Is….A Gift From God” was not written to show how I have lived my life in the past. It was written to demonstrate how I could have lived my life had I submitted to our great God decades ago. But it also helps me to see that there is hope even for those of us who once thought life was hopeless, and it helps to assure me that, should the opportunity present itself again, I might actually get it right.

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July 16

Today is…

a superb day to whistle while you work.

“Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord, rather than for men…”  Colossians 3:23 NASB

It is unfortunate that many people think that we are defined by the type of work we do, how “important” our position is, or how much money we make. Far too often we worry about how others perceive us, and we also spend an inordinate amount of our time concerned about the other person: what they do, whether they make more money or are more “important” than we are.

As Paul wrote to the people of southern Galatia, “Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t have to compare yourself to anyone else.” (Galatians 6:4 NLT).

We are each unique.

No one looks, acts, thinks, talks or works quite the same way we do. No one can be us, and we cannot be anyone but us. Nor should we want to be. But we are all the same in the eyes of God, and our duty is to realize that, thank Him for it, and use the knowledge to motivate and inspire us on a daily basis. No matter how mundane we think our jobs, or how incidental and inconsequential the task before us may seem, we should approach them with a joyful spirit, humility, and the commitment to do the absolute best that we can.

Our attitude determines the importance of our job, not another person’s opinion.

When we work to glorify God,reflecting the joy of the Spirit, and put energy and effort into what we do, God will know. The environment we are in may not permit us to physically whistle while we work, but performing our jobs with the right attitude will create the same feeling within us.

Why is this important?

Because those around you will wonder why you are always so positive, happy, and diligent. When they ask, doors are open to tell them our relationship with God is what does it. In this way, everything we do can be seen as working for God.

“So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.” (1 Corinthians 15:58 NLT).

As a matter of fact, when we stop doing what we do for a paycheck, and start doing it for God, our entire presence in the workplace will change and people will hear us whistling while we work, even if all we are doing is smiling.

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July 15

Today is…

the day to know what you are prepared to do.

“I am the good Shepherd: the good Shepherd giveth His life for the sheep.”  John 10:11 KJV

“What are you prepared to do?”

In the movie, “The Untouchables,” Sean Connery and Kevin Costner played dedicated government law enforcement officials fighting against Al Capone and other “bootleggers” during prohibition.

In the film, Sean Connery’s character was marked for death by Capone, was attacked in his home, shot multiple times, and left for dead. Kevin Costner, as Elliot Ness, found him just before he died and Connery’s last words were, “What are you prepared to do?”

In 1963, in Detroit, Michigan, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave the following challenge to the world: “If a man hasn’t discovered something worth dying for, he isn’t fit to live.”

On April 3, 1968, Dr. King was murdered as a result of his fight for the rights of all mankind.

Jesus Christ lived His life knowing how it would end. He is the only person to have ever walked the earth who knew what He was prepared to do from the very beginning of His life: He was prepared to die so that each one of us could live.

People frequently focus on the ways in which society, and the people who make up that society, fail. Certainly, things that can be made better need to be identified; situations that need fixing require attention; areas that can be improved upon have to be brought to light before that can happen.

Yes, those things that are wrong must be part of the public conscience in order that they may be corrected.

Be that as it may, it is equally important, at the very least, that we spend time identifying the things that are right which we can find all around us, and recognizing those individuals who make them so with their sacrifices.

In each of the instances mentioned, the individual at the center of the message died. Not for themselves, and not of natural causes. Each person died in service to others. Each person proceeded on a journey that they knew was dangerous. Each was aware that the potential for harm was very real, and very great. Not only were they aware of the potential for bodily harm, two of them were aware of the possibility of death.

One was aware of the certainty of it.

In light of all of this, and on the subject of service to mankind, what are you prepared to do?

Surely, each one of us can do something.

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July 14

Today is…

a great day to enjoy God’s gift of music.

“Speak to one another with Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord.”  Ephesians 5:19 NIV

The Bible is full of references to music and singing. God gave many of us the ability to play different musical instruments. He gave others the ability to sing beautifully. We all also probably know someone to whom God gave the desire to make music but no talent for instruments or singing. But it is usually someone we love, so we grit our teeth and pretend we are smiling with joy as they sing and play for God.

God loves music, and especially loves to hear us joining together to sing spiritual songs. It demonstrates to the Lord that we are filled with the Spirit and we are “under the influence.” It is easy to get carried away when we are under the influence of the Holy Spirit. It is easy to be filled with a lightness of heart and a happiness that simply needs music in which to be properly expressed. Being under the influence of the Holy Spirit can produce a long term effect on our personalities, unlike being under the influence of alcohol which can make us want to sing as well, but can carry with it very negative consequences.

So, “Do not get drunk on wine, which can lead to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speak to one another with Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord.” (Ephesians 5:18-19 NIV).

When should we sing to God?

Pretty simple, really. We can sing to God whenever we want to and no matter what is happening around us. We sing to God when we are happy. We can sing to God when we are sad. Paul and Silas sang in prison.

“But around midnight, Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.” (Acts 16:25 NASB).

Imagine that, singing hymns praising God in prison! Of course, we don’t have to go to prison to sing songs of praise to God, and we can sing to Him without accompaniment, or we can include the sound of musical instruments.

“Make music to the Lord with the harp, and the sounds of singing, with the trumpets and the blast of the ram’s horn – shout for joy before the Lord, the King.” (Psalm 98:5-6 NIV).

Use the gift of today to enjoy God’s gift of music. Sing to yourself, sing to friends and sing to God.

If you are a little (or a lot) off key, don’t worry – it all sounds perfectly fine to God.

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July 13

Today is…

a fine day to equip ourselves to do God’s work.

“God uses it to prepare and equip His people to do every good work.”  2 Timothy 3:17 NLT

Professional football players would not think of going out onto the field for a game without the proper equipment. The players themselves may not always know which type of equipment is best for their particular needs, but they are guided by individuals who are well trained and are a good source of information.

The same thing applies to those of us who participate in all sorts of sports activities, but also in our jobs, as parents, and as productive members of our churches. It is important to be properly trained to do the task before us. We must have a source of information to help us make the best use of our equipment and training.

And, of course, we need the equipment itself.

As Christians, we all know that the Bible is our source of information. Our “training manual,” if you will. As Paul wrote in his letter to Timothy, “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. God uses it to prepare and equip His people to do good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17 NLT).

With our training manual in hand, we turn to our pastors, ministers, preachers, and priests. “Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do His work and build up the church, the body of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:12 NLT).

We are all aware that Christians are all members of God’s army. We have an obligation to fight not only for all that is good in the world, but also against all that is bad, or evil. It is surprising how many of us may not feel up to the task, but we would all be equally surprised how effective we can be as an army if we use the “training manual” God has provided for us, along with the instructors that lead our church.

Together with the proper equipment, the combination is formidable, and properly equipped, even the smallest among us can be a giant for all that is right in God’s eyes. And where do we obtain the proper equipment? Paul tells us, in detail, in his letter to Timothy.

“Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” (Ephesians 6:13-17 NIV).

And with prayer, we are now properly equipped.

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July 12

Today is…

a fantastic day to think about our reflection.

“Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God.”  James 3:9 NLT

Most of us know someone who is exceptionally nice to everyone he or she meets. Whether at home, in the work place, in a store, or at church, their demeanor is always one of kindness, concern, and general happiness. It would be unusual to hear a mean word spoken by them about anyone. No matter what the situation, they always speak kindly about others.

We are also familiar with the reverse side of that coin.

Most of us know someone who is never happy and whose general attitude is one of meanness. These individuals never have anything nice to say about anyone, they always gossip in a malicious manner and go out of their way to create problems.

Their speech reflects their true identity and we can thank God for the first one and pray to God on behalf of the other.

But what about another type of individual?

Consider Eddie on “Leave it to Beaver.”  Perhaps we all know someone like Eddie. Perhaps it is even fair to say we are like Eddie. Eddie speaks very politely and comes across as very well behaved, kind, and considerate in the presence of adults. But outside their presence, we see him as mean spirited, inconsiderate, and a bully who cares about little beyond himself.

Which reflects the true character of Eddie? Is he playing up to the adults when he is nice or is he showing off for his friends when he is not?

Which leads us to the question, “What does our speech and behavior reflect about our character?”

Are we humble, considerate, and respectful when we address God? Are we the same with everyone or does our character reflect something different?

The way we speak to people and the way we act towards people is as much a reflection of who we are as an image we see in a mirror is a reflection of what we look like. We all need to examine our behavior and speech and make sure it is considerate, and it is a reflection of the goodness that comes with our relationship with God.

Eddie never fooled Beaver’s parents.

It is not likely that any of us can fool God, either. Make sure that what people see in you reflects what is pleasing to God.

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July 11

Today is…

a good day to put God first.

“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”  Matthew 6:33 NIV

Putting God first does not mean that we are putting our families, work, or ourselves last.

Quite the reverse is true, actually. We demonstrate heightened love and concern for everyone and everything else in our lives when everything in our lives flows from God.

God’s instruction helps us to develop the sort of character we need to be the best husbands, wives, mothers, fathers, children, friends, employers and employees that we can be.

It is a source of puzzlement why we always seem to take those who are most important to us for granted. Familiarity may or may not breed contempt as the old saying tells us, but it often breeds complacency. We see it all the time in people’s attitude towards their spouses, children, friends, and unfortunately, to God.

When we focus first on God, we will constantly be reminded of the importance of our family.

When we focus first on God, our hearts will never harden towards those for whom it should always be the softest.

When we focus first on God, we will read His instructions on how to be better people, how to be more considerate of others, how to control our temper, how to express our love, and many other aspects of our lives that will enable us to love those around us more and enrich our lives.

Putting God first will also mean that we will pray to Him and search the Bible for answers and guidance when we are confronted with decisions that will affect our lives and the lives of those we love. We will look to Him for comfort when we are faced with tragedy or sorrow.  We will look to Him to help us determine how to live our lives in harmony and with joy, being sure to put our emphasis on things that are truly important.

He will also give us the strength we need to see those things that are detrimental to our physical, spiritual, and emotional well-being.

He will help us avoid becoming like Micah and the other people of Israel at that time, for “In those days there was no king in Israel; every man did what was right in his own eyes.” (Judges 17:6 NASB).

Putting God first will help us see things through His eyes, make better decisions for ourselves and our families, be better friends and co-workers, and live happier, more fruitful lives.

Put God first and see your happiness last.

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July 10

Today is…

a wonderful day to think about how to get even.

“And don’t say, ‘Now I can pay them back for what they have done to me! I’ll get even with them!’”  Proverbs 24:29 NLT

We all know, from reading the Bible, that revenge is not a reaction that is expected of us. When someone wrongs us, we are not to repay wrong with wrong.

No pay backs.

But how about those who do good things for us? How about people who go out of their way to show us a kindness or help us when we need it? Is it alright to pay them back?

Would God approve if we tried to “get even” with kindness, love, fellowship and friendship?

We should already know that God wants us to help people who are in need. But how many of us know that we should do something special for someone who is always thinking of others? How about the leaders of our church? Our priests, pastors, ministers, and elders?

Paul tells us to, “Hold them in the highest regards in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other.” (1 Thessalonians 5:13 NIV).

He was a little more forthcoming in his letter to the Corinthians when he asked, “Since we have planted spiritual seed among you, aren’t we entitled to a harvest of physical food and drink?” (1 Corinthians 9:11 NLT).

The answer of course is, “Yes!”

Invite your spiritual leaders to your homes for dinner, or take them to a nice restaurant now and then. Try to do something to “get even” with them for all they do for others.

And what about those hard working volunteers that give so much of themselves to feed the poor, or work on houses for the homeless or who tirelessly serve the needs of individuals who are less fortunate than themselves? Sometimes it is difficult for us to make the time to help, and we give financially, but how about this: how about doing something nice to “get even” with those who are in the trenches by sending a nice gift basket to their homes, or inviting them out for lunch, or giving them a gift card to a store that you know they like to frequent?

And then there are people who are doing nice things for you specifically: co-workers, neighbors, friends and family.

If we think about it, we could probably spend a lot of time thinking of ways to “get even.” We all need to sit down and make a list of all the various people we know who give so much of themselves to us and to other people.

And then we need to get started “getting even.”

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