May 14

TODAY IS…

a superb day to keep our promises.

“But all the leaders said to the whole congregation, ‘We have sworn to them by the Lord, the God of Israel, and now we cannot touch them.’”  Joshua 9:19 NASB

Joshua, and those who advised him, discovered shortly after making a treaty with the Gibeonites that they had been duped into believing that the Gibeonites were from a distant land. The Gibeonites were seeking to avoid being destroyed by Joshua’s armies in battle, so they engineered a detailed deception. Joshua failed to consult with God before making his decision to enter into a treaty with the people of Gibeon to protect them. He consulted only with his advisors and they were fooled.

To say that Joshua and those who encouraged and advised him to make the treaty were angry at being tricked is probably an understatement, but they had given an oath to protect the Gibeonites and there was no way out of it.

A promise is a promise.

No promise should be made lightly. If there is doubt that we will be able to keep our promise, then we should not make a promise in the first place. Particularly with our families, it is important that we are as good as our word. This teaches our children to be reliable, responsible, and honorable. Nothing is worse to a child than to have a mother or father promise to be at a recital, sporting event, concert, or some other event that is important to them and not show up. We do not want to be responsible for that level of hurt and disappointment. If we cannot do something or are not positive that we can, the truth may cause sadness, but we at least have taught them to be honest.

It is no different with spouses, other family members, friends, or co-workers. When we promise something, it should be a guarantee. It is important in all our relationships that people are able to take us at our word.

Our word should be a bond. Giving our word – fulfilling a promise – shows good character, so remember: If you can’t do something, just say so, but a promise is a promise.

*******

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

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

May 13

TODAY IS…

the perfect day to think about “everything”.

“’What do you mean, what’s the matter?’ Micah replied. ‘You’ve taken away all the gods I have made, and my priest, and I have nothing left!’”  Judges 18:24 NLT

When the stock market crashed in 1929, there were numerous stories of people committing suicide, many by jumping out of the windows of tall buildings. Why did they do it? The reason given is the same in every instance: they killed themselves because they had lost “everything”.

Oh, really? Everything?

When our lives are built around the wrong things, it is possible to feel that way. If money is what we live for, is what we “worship”, then it is understandable that a stock market crash that takes it all away could be mistakenly viewed as having taken ‘everything’ from us.

But those who live only for money, gold, jewelry, cars, houses and whatever other material possessions money can buy are living for the wrong reasons and are definitely worshiping at the wrong altar.

The simple fact of the matter is that as long as we worship only God; as long as we keep Him in our hearts; as long as we do all that we can to demonstrate our faith and our love, there is no way that anyone or any situation can take “everything” from us.

God can never be taken from us.

If we are unwise; if we are foolish; if we believe the wrong things, we can reject God, but He can never be taken from us.

Obviously losing a job or a dramatic downturn in the stock market could create serious problems for us financially, but these are all only temporary problems of this world. Bad financial news is not worth a life. Our secure relationship with the Lord will see us through any difficult period in our life – financial or otherwise, and it is of the utmost importance that when life turns against us, we turn immediately to God.

When we have a good relationship with God, we have everything we really need, and it is nice to be able to live each day in confident assurance that no one can ever take “everything” away from us.

*******

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

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

May 12

TODAY IS…

a fine day to go treasure hunting.

“I rejoice in Your word like one who discovers a great treasure.”  Psalm 119:162 NLT

If we were to be digging in our backyards and discovered a chest full of gold buried there, we would undoubtedly be overjoyed, celebrate, and tell everyone we know about our good fortune. It is simply human nature to want to share the news of our good fortune with others.

The Holy Bible could be our “spiritual backyard” even though there is a huge difference between the Bible and the dirt that lies behind our houses. While one may contain buried treasure, the other definitely has treasure within and discovering it is a lot easier than digging holes in the dirt with a shovel.

Within the pages of the Bible is a wealth of the wisdom of God. Easily discovered within the words written there are precious gems in the form of instructions on how to live our lives in a manner that is pleasing to God. We don’t have to dig very long or very hard to uncover the sparkling radiance of the Truth. Our hands don’t need to become soiled as we reveal the gleaming nuggets of wisdom, joy, happiness, and love that are scattered everywhere we look.

The value of the treasures that are within the pages of this wonderful discovery is beyond calculation. Mere humans could never count high enough to determine the ultimate value of what we discover with a little digging.

Many treasure hunts turn out to be a wild goose chase as men and women trace bits and pieces of history trying to locate valuable gold, jewelry, or other items lost or buried centuries ago.

Not so with the Bible.

Each and every individual who picks up this wonderful “treasure chest” is guaranteed to discover wealth beyond their wildest dreams inside. All that is required is an open heart instead of a sharp shovel. All we need is a little of our time each day instead of our sweat and our aching muscles.

And when we make discoveries, as we will each day, we should rejoice and share the wealth with those around us.

*******

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

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

May 9

TODAY IS…

an ideal day for spiritual supplements to help our faith grow.

“The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  2 Peter 1:8 NLT

The nutritional supplement industry is massive, taking in many billions of dollars a year as we purchase vitamins, minerals, liquids, and pills with which to supplement our diets and improve our overall physical health. Nutritional supplements are also used widely to help our children grow up strong and healthy. Used wisely, these products can be very beneficial in promoting strong growth and vibrant health.

We should want our faith to grow strong and vibrant as well and if we look to Peter, we can find guidance to help us do exactly that. Peter said, “Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone.” (2 Peter 1:5-7 NLT).

The list may appear long and intimidating, but look at the label of ingredients on your bottle of multi-vitamins. Our bodies require a considerable variety of nutrients to remain healthy, and so it is with our faith. There are many things needed to help it to grow, flourish, and help us be stronger in our faith.

Unlike vitamins, however, there is no pill that contains all of these “spiritual supplements.” These are things which require effort and hard work on our part. But the end result will be a Christian who is strong in faith, abndwhose knowledge will be useful to God in making others aware of the great promises He has made.

For your physical growth, go ahead and pick up your bottle of multi-vitamins.

But for your spiritual growth, pick up your Bible. It contains all of the supplements your faith needs.

*******

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

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

May 8

TODAY IS…

a fine day for patient endurance.

“Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that He has promised.”  Hebrews 10:36 NLT

God has made us some wonderful promises and there are not a lot of burdensome conditions. Of course, we must accept Christ as our savior, we must worship only God, and we must love one another, but nowhere in there are any requirements that cost us any money or inflict any pain.

Unfortunately for many of us, His promises do require the patience of faith. Patient endurance is our way of showing God that we trust in Him without equivocation. It is our way of demonstrating that our belief is unshakeable, undeniable, and unchangeable.

There are times in our lives that this may be difficult for some of us. There are times when we allow negativity to nibble at the edges of our faith and create an opening through which the darkness of doubt can enter and cast a shadow over the light of God’s promises. In times of stress or trouble we may allow ourselves to entertain the notion that we require proof of God’s promises.

If we should discover that this scenario fits us at times, we need to dig in and stand fast and stretch our faith so that it covers the cracks created by momentary lapses in our patient endurance. We must never allow the darkness of doubt to totally block out the light of God’s promises.

Times of trial may test our patience, but a strong relationship with God and faithful reliance upon prayer will help us remain strong during those times when we need to be strong the most.

When we turn to God first, the ability of our patience to await God’s promises will last. Patient endurance is a commitment to our belief, and a powerful statement of our faith.

Negativity may nibble, but we must all strive to make sure it is never well fed. Patient endurance will always deny it the sustenance it needs to live.

*******

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

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

May 7

TODAY IS…

a good day to teach our children to accept responsibility.

“O Lord, do not rebuke me in Your anger or discipline me in Your wrath.”  Psalm 38:1 NIV

Part of being a good parent is teaching our children that our behavior carries with it consequences.

The consequences of good behavior are recognition and rewards. Conversely, the consequences of bad behavior include discipline. While we never want to discipline our children in anger, we do want to teach them that they must accept responsibility for all of their actions, and that includes those that carry with them the need for some form or discipline or punishment.

David cried out to God in the same way a child cries out to a parent. David knew he had done wrong, he just didn’t want God to discipline him while he was angry, and this is a good lesson for us as we raise our children: do not discipline a child in anger. Discipline should be used as a tool to teach a child, not simply as punishment, and never as a way of venting our anger or demonstrating our dissatisfaction.

Our objective should be to teach our children to accept responsibility for the things they do. If we can get them to do that, we have a better chance of getting them to think before they act. We must instill in them a love of God, and respect for themselves and other people and start from an early age making sure they understand their responsibility to God, themselves, us, and people around them.

David knew that he had done wrong and knew that God was angry. Just the anticipation of punishment and his feelings of guilt caused him to be physically ill. “Because of Your anger, my whole body is sick; my health is broken because of my sins. My guilt overwhelms me – it is a burden too heavy to bear.” (Psalm 38:3-4 NLT).

Through conscious effort and the Bible’s help, we can teach our children to recognize for themselves when they have done wrong, accept responsibility for it, and ask God’s forgiveness.

Teach your children that being responsible means being accountable and being accountable includes being accountable to God.

*******

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

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

May 6

TODAY IS…

a great day to think about the problem with prayer.

“The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.”  James 5:16b NIV

It is not difficult to imagine many of us reading the title of today’s message with alarm.

Problem with prayer?”

There is no problem with prayer, right? Prayer is a gift from God. It is among the greatest of all gifts because the ability to take our hopes, dreams, requests, and our problems directly to God is a gift that was paid for with the blood of Jesus Christ.

What a remarkably exceptional gift it is, too. The results of our communion with God through prayer can be so much greater than anything we could possibly imagine.

So where is the problem?

The problem with prayer is that far too often, and for far too many of us, it is the last thing we do instead of the first. Many of us “resort” to prayer only when all of our woefully inadequate human efforts fail. It is important to not misunderstand. God will never turn a deaf ear to one of His children crying out for help. He has brought many of us back from the brink of self-destruction or even death because of our cries of help when everything else has failed.

But He wants us to learn that there is a better way to pray.

How do we pray “better”? Pray first, pray often, and pray with faith.

Pray first.

Give your life over to God and ask for His guidance before creating anything resembling a “last resort.” When we ask God what we should do and how we should do it, and then wait for His instruction – which will come – we will often be amazed at the results.

Pray often.

Prayer is a wonderful way to begin and end a day, but it is also very easy to take mere moments throughout the day to thank Him, to ask for continued help, or just to say hello.

Pray with faith.

When we ask God for help, advice, or guidance we can be assured of His attention to our problem when we pray with faith. Our belief that God hears us must be beyond question. Our understanding that He may not reply or show us the way to go as quickly as we may like, is important. Asking for things that we know in our hearts are the right things to ask for demonstrates our love for God and the faith we have that He will hear us and, when it is His will, we shall know His answer.

So the question we must ask ourselves is this: “Do I have a problem with prayer?”

If the answer is “yes”, then just remember these three things: Pray first. Pray often. Pray in faith.

*******

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

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

May 5

TODAY IS…

the day to realize that you can run, but you can’t hide.

“And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden.”  Genesis 3:8 KJV

How often have we done something that we know is wrong and attempted to solve the problems created as a result of our action by running away from them?

Perhaps we don’t literally run away, but we turn from our difficulties and pretend they don’t exist. This is the same thing as running away, and while we can simply ignore our problems, we cannot hide from them. They are not going anywhere unless we deal with them. When we finally open our eyes to them, they will still be right there.

Unfortunately, the time we spent ignoring them generally has allowed them to become worse.

When Adam and Eve hid as God approached, they did it out of embarrassment over their nakedness. The ability to instinctively know that they had done wrong was due to the conscience that God placed inside them.

And while our conscience may not be able to prevent us from running away from, or attempting to ignore our sins, it does prevent us from being able to hide from them and, more importantly, it reminds us that we cannot hide our sins from God.

It would be far too easy to lay the blame for all of our troubles at Adam and Eve’s feet. After all, if they had not disobeyed God, we would all be living in paradise, right?

The fact of the matter is that each one of us has pretty much the same choice as Adam and Eve: we can choose to obey the Lord, or not.

Hopefully, we will all strive to make the right choice. Praying for strength to resist temptation is always more preferable than asking forgiveness after the fact. But should we give in to sin, the important thing to remember is to stand before God, admit it, and ask for that forgiveness he so readily gives us.

Ignoring the signals that our conscience sends us will not work.

When it comes to the Lord, as much as we may try to run, we can never hide the truth from the One who is the truth.

*******

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

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

May 4

TODAY IS…

the right day to stop looking for the worst in people.

“There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you – who are you to judge your neighbor?”  James 4:12 NIV

In this day and age, information is at our fingertips. Much of our ability to obtain information can be used to enhance our lives, educate and enlighten, and to help us grow spiritually.

Unfortunately, there is a disturbing trend to utilize our access to information as a means of “digging up dirt” about our friends, neighbors, and even those we love or are interested in getting to know better.

Arguments are presented justifying this activity out of concern for our personal safety, and that is a legitimate concern. The problem is that far too often, the black marks in a person’s past are used to formulate our opinion of someone today.

We become their judge, and we take it upon ourselves to assume a role that we are repeatedly instructed in the Bible is God’s role and God’s alone.

No matter how an individual has lived his or her life; no matter what laws of God or laws of man he or she may have broken: no matter how immoral, promiscuous, or dishonest a person has lived their life in the past, all of these issues are matters for God to consider when passing judgment on a person’s life. As children of God we are specifically forbidden, as James told his audience, from taking it upon ourselves to judge another.

If someone has led a difficult and misguided life and finally comes to know and love the Lord and accept the salvation of Jesus Christ, what right do we have to judge their character and deem them not worthy of our time, our friendship, our fellowship, and our love?

There is a severe penalty to be levied on anyone who would claim to know God and then proceed to pass God’s judgment: the penalty for this hypocrisy will be determined when we stand before the One True Judge.

Our responsibility to God is to love our neighbor. To do this, we must look for something other than their worst. We must look at everyone and find the face of God in them.

*******

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

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

May 2

TODAY IS…

a good day to look closely at the face in the mirror.

“You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like.”  James 1:24 NLT

The Word of God contains powerful messages that we must learn in order to live our lives on earth in a manner that demonstrates our understanding of what we are looking at.

When James was speaking to Jewish Christians residing outside Palestine, he exhorted those who were listening to demonstrate that they were paying attention to God’s Word by obeying. Merely going through the motions of reading the Bible or listening to a sermon in church is of no value if we are just doing it out of habit or obligation.

James told his listeners, “For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like.” (James 1:23-24 NLT).

We should probably all take a look at how and when we study the Bible, pray, meditate, and read daily devotionals. Are we focused on what we are doing? Are we intent on using the time to feel God’s presence and ‘hear’ God’s voice? Do we pause and reflect on what we are reading and look for ways to apply what we are reading to today? Do we take time in the morning to ask God how we may be of service to Him today? Do we turn off the radio and television and seek the things that we will need to make this day a significant one for God?

Serving God requires constant, purposeful, focused attention. Not only is it important that we set aside time just for God every day, we must take a moment several times throughout the day to thank Him or ask for His continued guidance.

Each and every day of our lives is a wonderful gift from God.

Using each day with God’s purpose in mind is pleasing to Him. Applying what we learn through reading the Bible and by listening for His ‘voice’ will show the Lord that we are not just giving a glancing look at what we see.

We will show that we are looking closely and then we can work on what we see until we can also see what we have learned looking back at us.

*******

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

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