August 7

TODAY IS…

a wonderful day to think about the power of our words.

“Gentle words are a tree of life; a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit.”  Proverbs 15:4 NLT

There once was a popular commercial for a well-known pain reliever that had as its catch phrase, “Sure you have a headache, but don’t take it out on the kids!”

Setting aside the fact that it was probably the kids who gave us the headache in the first place, let’s look at the very profound truth in that statement.

Far too often in our lives, the pressures and problems of daily life mount up and are sometimes released with unfortunate consequences. Like a volcano that finally succumbs to the pressures within, it all becomes too much and is finally released in an explosive and destructive way.

There is not much that we can do about a volcano except get out of the way, but we can do something about our sudden explosive outbursts that usually do far more harm than good. More than likely we reserve our “eruptions” until we can release them upon someone we love, and very often the recipient of our outburst is guilty only of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Often, the sources of our pressure come from outside the home, but it doesn’t get released until we are there. This is not only unfair, it is damaging to relationships, it creates more problems than it solves, it hurts feelings, and, in most instances, it is totally preventable.

Is it worth the effort to prevent outbursts that wound those we love? Of course it is, but how many of us still lash out and inadvertently hurt those we love the most?

What can we do?

First of all, we need to keep those who are closest to us always in the forefront of our minds. We must thank God daily for our spouses, our children, and our friends. We must express our love to all of them on a daily basis and make sure we are constantly aware of how important they are to us. This will help to give us pause before we explode verbally with hurtful words that leave us unable to undo the damage those words have done.

We also need to turn to God when things first start to build up inside. We must look to Him for the strength to deal with our problems. We must ask Him ahead of time to assist us in controlling our tongues, for we never want to lash out at anyone in anger, least of all those we love.

Preparing for problems before we have them is like keeping a bottle of aspirin in your medicine cabinet. Sure – you’re going to get a headache.

But before you take it out on the kids, reach for God – the original pain reliever.

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

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August 6

TODAY IS…

a great day to accept the honor of spreading the Good News.

“By God’s grace and mighty power, I have been given the privilege of serving Him by spreading this Good News.”  Ephesians 3:7 NLT

The Apostle Paul proved himself to be a very effective communicator. He humbly accepted the honor of being selected by God to share the Gospel of Christ.

“That’s all well and good,” most of us say, “But I am not an apostle. I’m not even a good public speaker!”

Nervous? Don’t be. When God places someone in front of you who needs to hear about Christ, He will also place the words in your heart that will find their way out of your mouth.

God is not in the habit of putting us in a situation that we are not prepared to handle. We may think that we are not knowledgeable enough to be a messenger for Christ, but if we have studied the Bible and listened to our church leaders; if we have opened our eyes, our minds, and our hearts; if we have truly accepted the gift of salvation, we will amaze ourselves at the depth of our knowledge and the height of our willingness and ability to share with others that which brings us so much joy.

There are many people who have not accepted Christ as their savior primarily because they haven’t really heard what they need to hear. We may assume that everyone knows enough about Christ to make up their minds to follow Him, but is it wise to do that?

Believers know that salvation lies with Christ, “…for, ‘everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved’” (Romans 10:13 NIV).

But if our “assumption” that ‘everyone’ knows this is incorrect, “How, then, can they call on the One they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the One of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?” (Romans 10:14 NIV).

Living a life that reflects the peace, joy, kindness, compassion, and contentment that comes from our relationship with the Lord may be all the catalyst that is needed to prompt someone we know to ask a question. We do not need to stand on street corners threatening fire and brimstone for all who pass by to hear, but if we show ourselves as examples of the changes that can take place when someone opens their heart to God, opportunities will present themselves to us and we will find ourselves in conversations that we may have not thought ourselves capable of carrying on. Trusting God to show us how to accept the honor of spreading the Good News will help us be comfortable doing so.

We all need to know these main points:

  • We have all sinned against God
  • The penalty for sin is death
  • God sent His only begotten Don, Jesus Christ to live the perfect, obedient life God requires of us all
  • Jesus died on the cross in our place, for our sin
  • On the third day, Jesus defeated death, rose bodily from the grave and now reigns in heaven, offering forgiveness, righteousness, resurrection, and eternal blessedness in God’s presence to everyone who repents of sin and trusts solely in Him for salvation

“Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”  John 14:6 ESV

Good News was meant to be shared. Trust God to help you know how, and when, to share it with others.

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

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August 5

TODAY IS…

a fine day for remembering how easy it is to forget.

“They forgot what He had done, the wonders He had shown them.”  Psalm 78:11 NIV

We’ve all heard the term “fair weather friends.” These are people who are our friends as long as things are going smoothly, but tend to disappear as soon as there is trouble. They cannot be counted on and should be avoided.

Many of us, in our relationship with God, are the reverse.

We are “foul weather friends” who look to God for help when things go wrong or when we are faced with trials and tribulations in our lives. For some unknown reason, our reliance on God disappears as soon as the storm has passed, quite often without so much as a “thank You, Lord.” Frequently we even convince ourselves that the problem was solved or the crisis dealt with through our solitary efforts.

We should know better, but we don’t. When the sun is shining in our lives it is very easy to forget the One we call upon when the storms come.

This is why it is important to have daily interaction with the Lord. He should be so very important to us that we would not conceive of doing anything without including Him. God should be as much a part of our daily existence as breathing is, which is only right since He gave us life in the first place.

It is fairly easy for us to imagine how we would feel if we had a ‘friend’ who only came to us when they needed something from us or needed our help in some way.

Certainly God can’t be pleased if the only time we include Him in our lives is when we have made a mess of it and need His help to straighten it out. It shouldn’t surprise us to find out that perhaps some of the negative situations in our lives come to pass in the first place because we failed to take God into consideration or consult with Him before making a decision or embarking on an ‘adventure.’

It is probably safe to assume that some of the things that cause us to cry out for help would not have occurred at all had we first cried out for His advice, wisdom, and guidance.

We should constantly remind ourselves of all God has done for us so that we can tell Him, “I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember Your miracles of long ago.” (Psalm 77:11 NIV).

If we all try to remember what He has done for His children throughout history, we will realize that it is easy to forget, and then perhaps we won’t.

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

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August 4

TODAY IS…

a terrific day to speak as if the microphone is on.

“Accordingly, whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in the inner room will be proclaimed upon the housetops.”  Luke 12:3 NASB

We have all read about things that were said by public figures who thought what they were saying was private. Either in tape-recorded conversations or in settings where microphones were on that were thought to be off, we have been angered, amused, enlightened, and entertained by supposedly private statements that have revealed much more about the character – or lack of it – of someone than they would have preferred.

Think, for a moment, about the things that we say in private that are in direct contrast to what we say in public. When it comes right down to it, why do we talk differently depending upon who we are with or what the social situation is? We say we do this out of consideration because we don’t want to offend a particular person, group, gender, or race.

But if we are saying something that would offend any of the above, are we not offending God?

Perhaps we don’t give it much thought, but where God is concerned, the microphone is always on and the tape is always running. If we are aware that God knows every word that crosses our lips and we still speak offensively, are we not, in reality, speaking volumes about our relationship with the Lord?

The measure of who we are; what we think of ourselves; how we view others; and how strong our relationship with God is should not be arrived at when we are on our “best behavior.” Is it not a truer reflection of someone’s character when they are viewed at their worst?

Politicians, in general, are viewed as being consummate liars. The public’s overwhelming opinion is that we never know what they are really thinking or what they truly believe (unless, of course, the microphone is inadvertently left on). We criticize them at every opportunity, but how many of us are like that, if even only a little?

Self-examination can tell us, if we are willing to see the truth in ourselves. We must remind ourselves, though, that while we may be able to fool those around us, including ourselves, we can never fool God, and we really should not want that. Nor should we want to offend Him.

The bottom line is this – if we think, speak, and act to please God, we will never have to worry if someone is watching, or if someone is listening. So always remember that whether or not people can hear you speaking, where God is concerned the microphone is always on.

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

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August 3

TODAY IS…

the perfect day to realize that our guilt can make a bad situation worse.

“When the messengers returned to Jacob, they said, ‘We went to your brother Esau, and now he is coming to meet you, and four hundred men are with him.”  Genesis 32:6 NIV

The mind is a powerful weapon for Satan to use against us. He can manipulate the way we think and cause us to see things in a manner other than what actually constitutes the truth. Especially when we know that we were wrong, Satan will use our guilt to make a bad situation worse.

Take the situation that Jacob found himself in. He had stolen his older brother’s birthright many years before and Esau had threatened to kill him. The passage of time had made Esau realize that he missed his brother and that their relationship was more important than any material things that were lost as a result of his brother’s deceit. But Jacob’s guilt caused him to think the worst when his messengers told him that Esau was coming to him with 400 men. He was certain that Esau was coming to destroy him.

He did the right thing, though. He didn’t let his fear cause him to do anything rash. He turned to God and expressed his fear and asked God to look after him and his family. Even though his guilt caused him to initially misinterpret the situation, he did not allow that guilt to cause him to react in a way that would have had disastrous consequences. Looking to God proved to be the right thing to do, and Jacob set aside his fear to face his brother whom he had wronged.

“Then Esau ran to meet him and embraced him, and fell on his neck and kissed him, and they wept.” (Genesis 33:4 NASB).

Thousands of years later, things have not changed; our guilt will be manipulated by Satan as he attempts to make things worse than they need to be. Our mind will tell us that something we have done wrong will get worse if we face up to it. Sometimes we make the mistake of listening and go ahead and make a bad situation worse.

Just think what would have happened had Jacob given in to his initial fear and impulse. He would have met Esau with force, Esau and his men would have reacted in kind, and a disaster that was avoidable would have ensued.

While it is true that Jacob did a terrible thing when he cheated his older brother out of his birthright, he did the right thing in the end when he turned to God for guidance and reassurance.

We all make mistakes, but all mistakes can be dealt with if we turn to God for the courage and wisdom to do so, and doing so can definitely keep us from making a bad situation worse.

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

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August 2

TODAY IS…

a good day for the best form of flattery.

“For you know that you ought to imitate us. We were not idle when we were with you.”  2 Thessalonians 3:7 NIV

Most of us are familiar with the expression, “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.”

Of course, we always want to be sure the behavior being imitated is GOOD behavior. This means, if we are following the behavior of someone else, their behavior should be such that it would meet with God’s approval. The same thing goes for our behavior. We want to make sure the examples we set are good ones.

In 2 Thessalonians, the Apostle Paul was writing to the members of the church of Thessalonica. He wrote on behalf of Timothy, Silas, and himself to remind them of the examples of service the three of them had set while in Thessalonica. He praised those who had learned the lessons they were trying to teach and encouraged them to continue to work tirelessly doing things God would find pleasing and would strengthen the church and their faith. Those who exhibited laziness or unwillingness, he tried to motivate and he reminded them of the examples they had been given.

Leisure time is not something God frowns upon, but laziness is. So many of us feel once we have finished work for the day, the time left is ours. The truth is we need to give some time in service to God by working to help those around us and setting a good example for them to follow.

“But I work hard all day!” we claim.

Perhaps we should remind ourselves that people all over the world spend their entire day just trying to get enough to eat and drink and stay safe from harm. For many people the term “leisure time” does not exist.

Many of us have a hard time pulling ourselves away from our television sets and our computers and other gadgets with all of our connections to other people through “social media.” Hundreds of millions of people go to bed hungry and we sit and fixate on the petty goings on in other peoples’ lives, most of whom we don’t know and will never meet. Somehow, what they have to say in 150 characters or less is more important than living lives of service trying to help other people just trying to live another day.

Somehow, adding our name to their list of followers is more important than following the examples of Jesus Christ.

It is the responsibility of the people who develop these “social media” outlets, video games, and television shows to take your attention away from things you could be doing to alleviate another human being’s pain and suffering. They have a responsibility to their shareholders to sell you shallowness, self-centeredness and self-indulgence.

We have a responsibility as Christians, to imitate the behavior of Paul, Silas, and Timothy, and work to make God’s world a better place for all to live in.

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

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August 1

TODAY IS…

the day to stop making excuses and recognize the power of sin.

“I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.”  Romans 7:15 NIV

For many of us, the ability to make excuses is far greater than we should be comfortable with.

How often have we cried out, or thought, the same thing that Paul wrote in his letter of introduction to the Romans. Yet, even knowing that we are weak and the power of sin and the pull of temptation are strong, we will often try to make excuses for our behavior.

We can almost see Satan’s footsteps as he leads us into temptation, helps us to succumb to the power of sin, and then tries to cover up his tracks as he slips away by helping us to make excuses.

Paul’s cry is not an isolated one. It is the cry of Christians everywhere, and it is important we all understand that it takes strength to admit we are weak, and the strength to do that comes from our relationship with God.

Each one of us conducts daily battles with temptation. Some of them are small and don’t present us with much difficulty. Others can be enormous and cannot be faced alone. Human willpower is not enough for prolonged exposure to temptation. The power of sin, and the one who holds power over sin, is quite simply more than we can face alone. That is why God gives us the power of the Holy Spirit to call upon to help us resist. The power of the Holy Spirit takes our desire to do the right thing and turns it into the power to actually do it.

Even though Jesus died on the cross to free us from sin, we are still subject to temptation, just as He was.

“Then Jesus was led up by the spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.” (Matthew 4:1 NASB).

Time after time, Satan tempted Jesus, and each time, Jesus used His relationship with God to resist.

“Then the devil left Him; and behold, angels came and began to minister to Him.” (Matthew 4:11 NASB).

It is important to remember that even though Jesus is the Son of God, He was also flesh and blood like us. At the time that He faced Satan, He was tired, hungry, and alone. These are all situations in which we are weak and susceptible, and we can always count on Satan to try to capitalize on our weakness.

It is not enough to simply say, “We must be strong.”

We must look to God for help to be strong and we must rely on the Holy Spirit to remind us from within that it is not sin that makes us happy. It is the goodness that we get from God that does that. We can make excuses if we want to but it is better to recognize the power of sin and call upon God to help us resist the temptation that leads us there.

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

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July 31

Today is…

a great day for asking God to help us tie our shoes.

“Not that I have already obtained all of this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.”  Philippians 3:12 NIV

We have all watched children struggle as they learn a new thing: their first steps; tying a shoe; buttoning a shirt, and so on. We have observed their frustration, and even felt the pain of their tears as they experience repeated failure. We have all encouraged them, wiped away their tears, helped them a little bit perhaps, but we have always stressed the importance of “pressing on.” Even after an initial success, sometimes they miss a step, miss a button, or forget how to make that last loop in a shoe string. And again and again as often as it takes, we encourage them to “press on” to reach their goal. We know they can do it.

But without encouragement -and a little help – they might be inclined to give up.

And so it is with us and our goal to know Christ and to do all we can to be like Him. Our steps are tentative, we sometimes forget the next step in tying the shoe string, and we sometimes miss a button. We can become as easily frustrated as a child as we attempt to grow in our faith. We can fail as often as we succeed until we have fully matured in our faith. And even then we will require a little encouragement, and a little help. We must remind ourselves daily that God is there to give us a hand, or to offer encouragement, but we must avoid frustration and learn to reach out for His hand, and to listen for His voice.

As humans, we all make mistakes.

One of the biggest mistakes we make is in telling ourselves; “I can’t do this.” We forget the lessons we learned as children and the lessons we have taught our own children. As Christians, we can look to those who cleared the way and we can find encouragement in the words they wrote and the words they spoke. We cannot dwell on past failures and mistakes. Paul offered his own view when he wrote to the Christians at Philippi.

“No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing; Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead.” (Philippians 3:13 NLT).

God is patient with us.

“For He knows how weak we are; He remembers that we are only dust.” (Psalm 103:14 NIV).

God knows our hearts, so even if we fall down again and again, if our hearts speak the truth, we can reach out to Him time and time again.

“I will obey Your decrees. Please don’t give up on me!” (Psalm 119:8 NLT).

Fortunately for us, while we may sometimes be discouraged and feel like giving up on ourselves, God never will. Keep looking to Him for help and one day you will learn how to tie those shoes.

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

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July 30

Today is…

a wonderful day to not get tired of US.

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”  Galatians 6:9 NIV

Serving others rewards us in ways that are sometimes beyond our ability to comprehend, but one thing is certain: God looks for us to help each other and to use our time – and talents –  on earth in service to one another. For many, the concept of service to others takes on intimidating proportions. Sometimes people see service to others as something complex, or complicated and, indeed, some service most certainly is that. An example  would be organizing a mission to a third world country to build a school or a church. That certainly is a complicated endeavor and while that type of service is very much needed and appreciated, let’s face it, the average individual does not have the time to dedicate to something like that.

But there is always time for “US”, which stands for “Uncomplicated Service.” Virtually every man, woman and child has the ability to learn about and perform “Uncomplicated Service.” Never heard of “US?” Sure you have, although maybe you just weren’t aware of it.

Have you ever helped an elderly person carry groceries to their car? Have you ever dropped off a bag of canned goods at the local food bank? Have you ever bundled up old clothes to be picked up by a local charity? These simple things are all examples of just how uncomplicated service to others can be. Remember the story of the little girl throwing the starfish back into the sea to save them? Trying to do it alone made her task complicated (although she was undaunted and did her best). But what if 100 people stopped by and picked up one or two and threw them back? See where this is going?

If we set small “goals of goodness” for ourselves and others to do something simple, uncomplicated and possibly even convenient, we will find that we are always doing little things for others and never tiring because the task is too big or cumbersome.

“Uncomplicated Service” keeps us motivated and energized.

While it may be true that we are not saving the entire world, it is also true that we are making one little part of it better with each act of kindness or generosity we perform. Then others will do the same, and as they do still more will follow. The more “US” there is, the better off the world is.

Start out by making a list for “US” that is just for you. It won’t take long to realize what an impact you can have on those around you and you will be amazed at the impact that has on you.

Spend a little time each day thinking about “US”. You will never get tired of it and it will make quite a difference in you.

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

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July 29

Today is…

an awesome day to say “I love You, Lord!”

“I love You, O Lord, my strength.”  Psalm 18:1 NASB

And then there were the times when David got it perfect from the beginning.

The entirety of Psalm 18 is a beautiful display of David’s gratitude to God for victory over his enemies. We can all learn an important lesson in how our relationship with God should be from that beautiful opening in Psalm 18.

“I love You, Lord; You are my strength.” (Psalm 18:1 NLT).

Perhaps each of us should remember that line and use it every time we speak to the Lord. Some of us may already do that, but it is likely that many of us fall short when it comes to actually telling God that we love Him. Some would even have to admit to feeling a little awkward verbalizing our love for God. We all know that many among us have difficulty expressing feelings to spouses and children, so how can we expect those individuals to say out loud, “I love You, God.”?

If this presents a problem, then this is something that God can help to overcome.

While it may seem unusual to use prayer to ask God to help us learn to tell Him that we love Him, if this is a problem for us then it is exactly the sort of thing that prayer is to be used for. God knows that by helping us express our love to Him, He can help us unlock the ability within that will help us express our feelings and show our love to others. The fact that He can help us learn to express our love should come as no surprise.

After all, He can help us face our enemies, even when the ‘enemy’ is the fear that resides within us.

If this is the perfect way to begin a conversation with God, why didn’t David use it all the time? There is no way to understand it other than to point to the fact that David was, after all, just like us: Human. Unlike God, who is always consistent, human beings often have difficulty. We are tossed about by our daily lives. We are also prone to cry out in despair or distress without stopping to consider how we really want to address Him.

The only thing we can do is practice. All we can do is try to remember that every time we speak to God, try to begin – and end – with four words. “I love You, Lord.”

Even with practice, we can never come close to being perfect, but expressing our love for God on a daily basis could have a profound impact on our daily lives.

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

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