June 3

Today is…

a great day to understand why things are allowed to happen as they do.

“The Lord is slow to anger and great in power, And the Lord will by no means leave the guilty unpunished.”  Nahum 1:3a NASB

It is very likely that most of us have experienced times in our lives in which we have felt frustration with God over things that we see around us, read about in the newspaper, or see on television.

Great harm befalls innocent victims. People are slaughtered by a deranged gunman or are systematically eliminated by vicious dictators or rulers. Crimes of unspeakable horror are wrought upon children, women, and even men and we sit and cry, asking God for answers.

As difficult as it is to accept sometimes, we must not allow ourselves to ever think that God’s silence is approval for evil.

The Bible makes it very clear that, “The Lord is good, a strong refuge when trouble comes. He is close to those who trust in Him. But He will sweep away His enemies in an overwhelming flood. He will pursue His foes into the darkness of night.” (Nahum 1:7-8 NLT).

In other words, no evil act, or sin, escapes God’s notice, nor does God forget them.

It is important that we try to understand that even the life of the most despicable, hateful, murderous individual on earth is but a brief moment in time to the One who has seen all that has transpired since before time began.

In the end, those who prey upon the innocent and wreak havoc wherever they go will face an eternity of unbelievable pain and punishment. Our humanity demands justice now, but that is not always God’s plan, and it really is not our place to question His plan.

We are instructed to believe in Him and we are required to trust Him.

Unfortunately, there are those of us who fail to realize this and sometimes adopt an attitude that is not wise. Some may think that if God can allow horrible things to happen, He must not care. And if He doesn’t care, then, “It doesn’t matter what I do.”

Do not fall into this evil trap.

It does matter, and we all need to have faith that it matters. It may be very difficult sometimes, but we must remain trusting and faithful to God and we must resist temptation in spite of anything that takes place around us because God never lets the guilty go unpunished.

*******

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

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June 2

Today is…

the perfect day to stop at the crossroads.

“This is what the Lord says: ‘Stop at the crossroads and look around. Ask for the old, godly way, and walk in it. Travel its path, and you will find rest for your souls.’ But, you reply, ‘No, that’s not the road that we want!’”  Jeremiah 6:16 NLT

From the time we are small, we are confronted with choices we must make.

Most are relatively unimportant, but we must train ourselves to recognize when we are at the crossroads of a decision that can have an effect not only on our life here on earth, but also on our fate when our time here is done.

The right way to go, of course, is the way of God – the way of righteousness, peace, love, and joy. Many of us have made the wrong choices at some point in our lives only to discover much later that we have spent a tremendous amount of time and expense – as well as an enormous amount of energy – moving in the wrong direction, following a path that clearly is not one God has marked out for us.

In an age of “new” and “improved” and “better,” it is sometimes difficult to understand that some things don’t change.

For instance, “Jesus Christ (is) the same yesterday, and today, and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8 KJV).

We must always remember this. As much as the superficial things in the world change: fashion, furniture, cars, hairstyles, food preferences and on and on – no matter what transpires in politics or world events, the Lord can be counted on to be the same, and the path that God wants us to take will always be the right one.

We will never have to worry about God’s path going out of style or somehow not fitting. No matter what changes take place in the world around us, God wants us to always be aware of the path He wants us to take.

There are those who think that public displays of faith are a way of forcing God, and God’s way, upon them. The truth is that God sets all of us squarely in the middle of the crossroads and allows us to make our choices.

He does not force Himself on any of us.

He simply makes it clear that there is an eternal price to pay for following the wrong path, and there is an eternal reward to be received for following the right one.

God’s path is the one – the only one – that leads to rest for our souls and eternal rewards.

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

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June 1

Today is…

a fine day to think about giving and receiving advice.

“The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man is he who listens to counsel.” Proverbs 12:15 NASB

The president of the United States surrounds himself with trusted advisors, as most world leaders do. No matter how learned we are, no matter how educated, no matter how confident we may be in our ability to make decisions, it is always wise to consider the advice of those around us.

It is as important to consider carefully whom we choose to advise us as it is to seek the counsel of others in the first place. King Rehoboam had an opportunity to listen to advice from older, wiser men on the subject of relaxing some of the harsh labor and tax demands of his father, but he didn’t care for that advice, so he asked people he grew up with.

“What is your advice?’ he asked them. ‘How should I answer these people who want me to lighten the burdens imposed by my father?’” (1 Kings 12:9 NLT).

Their response was to suggest even harsher treatment. His friends told him to say, “Yes, my father laid heavy burdens on you, but I’m going to make them even heavier! My father beat you with whips, but I will beat you with scorpions.” (1 Kings 12:11 NLT).

Rehoboam took the advice of others and it turned out poorly. He sought counsel but it was provided by individuals who obviously were not very wise.

So, perhaps it is best to not seek out advice in the first place, right?

Wrong.

First, it is important to have some idea of the heart of those from whom we seek counsel. It is important that God figure highly into the equation.

“The plans of the godly are best; the advice of the wicked is treacherous.” (Proverbs 12:5 NLT).

When confronted with situations that require advice, do these things: Pray for God to guide you; search the Bible for answers; talk with someone you feel has your best interests in mind and is guided by God in their hearts. Also, make sure they have some knowledge or experience in the matter at hand before considering what they have to say regarding it.

When it comes time for someone to seek counsel from you, always ask God to guide you, and if you know nothing about what you are being asked, offer this advice: “Find someone who knows more about the situation than me.”

Because no advice is better than bad advice, whether it is advice we are giving or advice we are receiving.

*******

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

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May 31

TODAY IS…

a wonderful day to remind ourselves of God’s promise of eternal life.

“This truth gives them confidence that they have eternal life, which God – who does not lie – promised them before the world began.”  Titus 1:2 NLT

Many of us have seen the sign that proclaims: “In God We Trust – All Others Pay Cash!”

Of course we can trust God. He is, after all, the One who gave us life. He is the creator of all we can see and hear and touch and smell and He absolutely, positively cannot – and does not – lie.

We can all trust God.

Just as God is love, God is truth, and God has given us all the promise of an eternal life with Him. The cost of this promise is both nothing – and everything. There is no real out-of-pocket expense involved. It cannot be bought, nor can the promise be sold. It was offered to each one of us and whether we want it or not it is our choice to make.

There are many unfortunate individuals who scoff at the idea of eternal life. They reject the notion and refuse to give what is required to receive the promise. Many feel confident that this life is all that there is and it is here and now, that it is to be lived and “enjoyed”.

Many don’t care what happens because they falsely believe that when we are dead, we are dead.

Thankfully there are vast numbers of us who know the Truth and have willingly, lovingly, and gratefully accepted the promise that was made even before life, as we know it, began.

We have accepted Jesus as our savior and we thank God for the tremendous sacrifice that enabled those of us who know the Truth to spend an eternity in the loving presence of our Lord.

God will never lie to us. He has no reason to. While the thought of an eternal life may be a difficult concept for some, the thought of a lie coming from the mouth of God is an impossible one.

In God we can always trust. Today, tomorrow, and forever.

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

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May 30

TODAY IS…

a fine day to take that first step.

“So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia and from there they sailed to Cyprus.”  Acts 13:4 NASB

From the time Paul first left the Port of Seleucia, his three missionary journeys and his final trip to Rome covered a span of over 13 years. The journeys traveled thousands of miles and Paul passed through some of the most rugged country on earth. He encountered numerous setbacks, harsh weather, resistance – including violence – to his message, and generally unfavorable traveling conditions.

After returning to the safety of home the first time, one would think he might have decided to stay there. But he left again, two more times on even longer trips – and then again for a final time to travel to Rome. Paul was a well-traveled individual at a time when travel was slow, unpleasant, and dangerous.

But Paul’s focus was on the task before him, and no matter how long and difficult the journeys proved to be, each one began by taking that first step.

Each one of us has journeys that lay before us.

In all likelihood, none of our journeys will come close to the reality of even the shortest of Paul’s. But that doesn’t give us comfort when we look at the long road that stretches before us. We may be facing divorce; the death of a loved one; financial difficulties; legal problems – the list of possibilities is endless and each one takes on the enormity of a thousand mile walk over mountains and through the blazing desert. Sometimes we are terrified of what lays before us and we may have a tendency to become immobilized with fear.

Whenever we find ourselves afraid of the journey before us, we must listen to God.

“Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with My victorious right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10 NLT).

There is no greater assurance available to us than that promise.

“I will strengthen you and help you.”

With these words, God has promised to be with us every step of the way.

Now it is up to us to take the first step.

*******

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

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May 29

TODAY IS…

the day to understand that nothing is hopeless with God.

“From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the Lord his God.”  Jonah 2:1 NIV

It would be difficult to imagine anyone with a better reason to view a situation as hopeless more so than Jonah when he suddenly found himself inside a great fish.

Jonah was like many of us. God wanted him to do something, but Jonah had a different idea. Disobeying God did not work out so well for Jonah, as is usually the case in our lives today. But when Jonah was in what many would consider to be a hopeless situation, what did he do?

He turned to God for help.

“As my life was slipping away, I remembered the Lord. And my earnest prayer went out to You in Your holy Temple.” (Jonah 2:7 NLT).

Imagine that.

When Jonah thought the situation was hopeless he turned to the One he had turned away from in the first place. And what happened? Did God turn away from Jonah? Did God say, “Tough luck, buddy. You made your bed, now sleep in it.”?

Of course not. God doesn’t work that way, and that is very good news for those of us who seem to think we know better than God what we should do, how we should live, and how we should act.

The truth is, if God were as quick to reject us as we are to reject Him, the human race would have ended long, long ago.

But God is so full of love for us that He will allow us to be disobedient; He will allow us to get ourselves in bad situations; He will allow us to ignore His commandments. And when we suddenly look around and realize what a mess we have made of things, He is standing right there waiting for us to call out for help.

Obviously, all situations in our lives that we may view as hopeless are not of our own doing. Sickness and tragedy; disease and death; dilemmas brought on by the actions of others – all of these things can create situations that we may feel are hopeless.

We only need to remember Jonah and do what he did.

Turn to God.

For with God, nothing is hopeless.

*******

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

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May 28

TODAY IS…

a good day to appreciate friendship.

“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.”  Proverbs 17:17 NASB

The bond between friends is sometimes stronger than the bond between family members, yet we often have difficulty expressing our feelings toward these stalwart individuals who seem to always be standing there, ready to pick us up when we fall.

Just think for a moment about those who will sit with us when we are heartbroken over the loss of a loved one; who will bring us food and make sure we eat it when we are confronted by tragedy; who will take time from their busy lives and their own familial obligations to help us through a particularly rough time in our lives – who are these people and whatever did we do to deserve their kindness, love, and loyalty?

They are our friends, and sometimes it is a lot less complicated than we tend to make it.

Friends are people who know that there is extra space in their hearts for deep feelings for special people; friends are people who know that they can always make room among their burdens to help you carry yours; friends are people who are aware that even with their busy schedules there is always time to listen to our cries for help.

Good friends do not judge us. They may get in our faces and tell us when we are about to make a mistake, but they will pick us up and dust us off when we go ahead anyway and then fall flat on our face.

Friendship is a demanding position that often does not pay well. Being a good friend is sometimes thankless but can also be among life’s most pleasant experiences.

Today is a good day to let our friends know how much we appreciate them.

Take time to say “thank you” to those who help carry your load when it is too heavy to carry alone.

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

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May 27

TODAY IS…

a great day to stop, look, and listen.

“When the master of ceremonies tasted the water that was now wine, not knowing where it had come from (though, of course, the servants knew), he called the bridegroom over.”  John 2:9 NLT

Coming upon railroad crossings that do not have signals, it is always a good idea to stop, look, and listen. Failure to do so could cause us to fail to see or hear a train coming, and that would have disastrous consequences.

Being alert to what is going on around us and paying close attention to the things that are influencing our decisions and driving our actions is always a good idea. Many of us ask the Lord for help in our lives through prayer, but then fail to do the important part: we fail to stop, look, and listen for the answer. Failure to do this could result in negative consequences in our lives. They may not be as disastrous as not seeing that train, but if we miss God’s instruction, then we are left only with our own ability to direct our lives.

Why is it important to stop, look, and listen?

Because God sometimes provides us with the answers we are looking for in ways that might not be immediately apparent. It is not as if He makes an announcement or taps us on the shoulder each time He fulfills a request.

Just as evidenced at the wedding, many times the work of the Lord is done quietly and without fanfare.

If we examine all of the things that are taking place around us, we can tell which things are results of God’s influence. It requires patience and concentrated effort, but many of us would probably be surprised how many times we have missed the message because we did not heed the warning and, “Stop, look, and listen.”

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

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May 26

TODAY IS…

the day to accept that which we cannot comprehend.

“Look up into the heavens. Who created the stars? He brings them out like an army, one after another, calling each by its name. Because of His great power and incomparable strength, not a single one is missing.”  Isaiah 40:26 NLT

Those who have grown up in the large cities of the world cannot fully appreciate the obvious presence of God that is displayed each night as the stars are marched out and lined up across the infinite expanse of the sky. The lights, the buildings, and the pollution combine to negate much of the awesome beauty and power that stretches out before us.

But if we were to take someone from the city and place them in the middle of the desert, far from any source of man-made light; if we were to blindfold them until that moment when God had finished closing the shade to block out the sun; if we were to wait until He had marched out all of the stars and prepared His show; if we were to remove the blindfold at that moment, the look on the face of the person whose eyes were finally opened would be the look of a person who suddenly has seen the incredible power, majesty, and beauty of God.

Proof that God is real is something that many people seek their entire lives. Much like the lights, buildings, and pollution of the city, skepticism, doubt, and even fear keep us from seeing the definitive proof that is all around us.

“Look up into the heavens,” Isaiah said.

“Who” – yes, who? – “created all the stars?”

God did, and He wants us all to see them and believe in Him. He gets frustrated and angry when we ignore Him, yet He waits – patiently – for each one of us to open our eyes and see.

The “proof” that some of us seek is right in front of us. We only need to open our eyes and look up to the heavens.

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

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May 25

TODAY IS…

an awesome day to think about the goodness of Christ.

“When the devil had finished tempting Jesus, he left Him until the next opportunity came.”  Luke 4:13 NLT

As Jesus lived His life, He was exposed to temptation time and time again, just as we are today. But at no time was the onslaught of temptation as intense as it was when He was led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness north of the Dead Sea.

For 40 days, Jesus was tempted by Satan. For 40 days Jesus ate nothing. Satan’s offers became increasingly more appealing. He offered Him food; he offered Him riches; he challenged His birthright and pressured Jesus to test God’s love. Jesus turned to God instead for strength to resist the temptations before Him during His time in the Judean wilderness and at the temple back in Jerusalem.

When the devil was finished – when he had given the temptation of Jesus his best shot – he left Him. But he would come back time and time again throughout Jesus’ life. And time after time, the goodness of Jesus would help Him to resist temptation.

Every time.

How many of us can make the same claim? The answer is simple: none of us has resisted temptation every time. There are most definitely those who are better at it than others, but we have all given in. The results of our giving in to temptation have probably not been as devastating as the results of Eve’s bite of the apple, but every time we give in to temptation, Satan wins a little victory.

It is outside the scope of our power as human beings to deny Satan every victory. But it is our responsibility as Christians to do our best and deny him as many times as we can. We must strive for the incredible goodness of Jesus and we must turn constantly to God for strength to fight back when we are attacked.

Only Christ is perfect.

The rest of us are sinners. Looking to the goodness that is Jesus can help us to deny victory to Satan. It will never be easy, and sometimes denying victory to Satan will require sacrifice on our part.

But through it all, God will help us stand strong, if we follow the example of Jesus and turn to Him when faced with temptation.

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

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