June 18

Today is…

a super day to let God work within you.

“For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases Him.”  Philippians 2:13 NLT

Paul was in prison in Rome and had no way of knowing if he would ever leave there alive. Here was a man who had enjoyed great freedom when he was persecuting Christians, who was now uncertain if he would leave prison alive because of his decision to follow Christ’s teachings and spread the Good News of salvation.

Prisons in those days could not have been very pleasant places. The food was probably not very good, sanitation was more than likely nonexistent, and the aura of sickness, and the possibility of death most assuredly constantly hung over him.

And yet, in spite of these things, Paul’s letter to the people of Philippi was joyful, upbeat and encouraging.

What power could have such a profound effect on a person? What power could possibly give Paul the courage to stand by his convictions even at the risk of death? What power could enable someone to express love, hope, trust and optimism when faced with what Paul was facing?

Hopefully, we all know that the answer is. “The power of God.”

God gave Paul the strength to face the worst that life had to offer at that time and still encourage others with a positive attitude because he invited God to work within him and he submitted all of his problems and fear, along with his own will, to God and said, “Here take all of this. I don’t want it. I can’t live with it. I need You, Lord to guide me, to keep me safe, and to show me how I can make my life significant for You.”

There are many people whose “perfect” lives are simply comfortable prisons that lack any real joy and have no real purpose. Do not let this happen to you. Invite God into your life and let Him work within you.

*******

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

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

June 17

Today is…

a good day to be hospitable.

“Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.”  Romans 12:13 NIV

When we invite people into our home for a party or a celebration of some kind, we want everything to be perfect. We want the house to be clean, the food to be tasty and served in an attractive and appetizing manner, and we generally want our guests to feel welcome and have a good time.

For social gatherings this type of hospitality is fine. That is why we call it entertaining, since that is exactly what we are doing.

The hospitality of which Paul wrote in his letter to the Romans is of a spiritual nature and, as such, its requirements are a little different. There are no theatrics and there is no show. We can be hospitable to fellow Christians and not worry that all of the children’s toys are picked up and put away. When we open our doors and extend our Christian hospitality to our friends, fellow members of our church, or even neighbors, Christian hospitality is about being ready to focus on another person’s needs, problems and issues.

Showing spiritual hospitality to another human being is the same as being hospitable to Jesus Christ, and our genuine warmth and welcoming nature will stand out and be remembered when we stand before Him in final judgment, for Jesus Himself said, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me.” (Matthew 25:40 NIV).

And Isaiah tells us that God wants us to “Share your food with the hungry, and give shelter to the homeless. Give clothes to those who need them, and do not hide from relatives who need your help.” (Isaiah 58:7 NLT).

Remember that Christian hospitality is not just about opening our homes to those in need. It is also about opening our hearts as well.

*******

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

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

June 16

Today is…

a great day to realize our importance to the team.

“The body is not one member, but many.”  1 Corinthians 12:14 NASB

Paul wrote at length about spiritual gifts and how they are to be put to use.

He stressed a point that is important to us all: no gift; no talent; no individual ability, is more important to God than any other. Each person’s contribution to the church, to the family, or to the brotherhood of man, is as important and necessary as any other.

All followers of Christ must work together to achieve our common goals. On the surface there may be those who display more talent than others. These areas of expertise or enhanced ability do not make the one who possesses the expertise or ability a better person. If we are the ones who possess this talent, care must be taken that we do not boast, become proud, or display arrogance. What we should do is thank God for giving us our abilities and pray for Him to show us how He wants them used to help others.

No matter how great, or seemingly insignificant, our talent or ability to contribute may be, each one of us must constantly seek God’s guidance in working with everyone around us, as a team, to accomplish God’s will.

Because of a perceived lack of any great skill or talents, many individuals hang back and withhold their involvement in the church. “If the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body’ it would not, for that reason, cease to be a part of the body.” (1 Corinthians 12:15 NIV). Every single one of us has a place on Christ’s team and a role to play. We dare not refuse a big part – nor do we dare to refuse a small one!

In a restaurant, who is more important: the one who cooks the food or the one who cleans the dishes? The one who takes your order, or the one who cleans the floors?

The simple truth is, a restaurant does not meet all of its customers’ needs unless there are capable individuals performing all of the tasks required. While some tasks may appear to be more glamorous, no task is more important than another. All parts of the team are crucial to the attaining of the goals, and we need to realize that.

*******

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

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

June 15

Today is…

a wonderful day to give back the donkey.

“If you come across your enemy’s ox or donkey wandering off, be sure to take it back to him.”  Exodus 23:4 NIV

Doing something nice for someone who doesn’t like us is a particularly challenging concept for many of us.

When considering how to deal with our enemies, revenge and ‘getting even’ jump to the forefront of our thoughts. Hopefully these thoughts are fleeting. We are more than likely to just ignore such people. Most of us don’t take the bait and let our tempers rise which lowers us to their level, but we don’t hold out an ice cream cone on a hot day either. While this type of behavior doesn’t make the situation worse, it doesn’t contribute to making it better.

Isn’t it our responsibility to do our best to let others see how wonderful being a servant of God can be?

For instance, maybe we have a particularly unreasonable neighbor who has called animal control on us because our dog got loose and went into his yard. With grim faces, we go get the dog, pay whatever fees there are and go home, angry at the neighbor, but controlled enough to not say anything. Sometime later, we see the neighbor’s dog down the street. We have a choice: we can get even, or we can take a small step towards demonstrating a better way to live to those who wrong us. We return the dog, make no reference to what transpired when the shoe was on the other foot, cheerfully say, “Have a blessed day,” and leave. Do not wait for a “thank you,” but don’t be surprised if you are stopped and given one.

Of course, be prepared to receive none and do not expect one.

Will every situation result in a changed person? Of course not. Many people in this world who have not found the peace that comes from having a good relationship with the Lord will be difficult to change. But consistent pleasantness on our part in the face of anger, hate, dislike, and hostility can have more of an impact then we know.

Returning a donkey can be a thankless task. We cannot do it for the thanks. We must do it because God wants us to, and because it is the right thing, not the easy thing. We must do all we can to change the hearts of those who need it. After all, Jesus said, “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those that are sick.” (Matthew 9:12 NASB).

There are many ways to ‘give back your neighbor’s donkey’ and today is a wonderful way to find one.

*******

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

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

June 14

Today is…

a terrific day to decide how we will earn our White Stone.

“I will also give him a white stone with a new name on it, known only to him who receives it.”  Revelation 2:17c NIV

When John was exiled to the Island of Patmos, he had a vision of the glorified Christ. In that vision, Jesus said that we are to listen to what is being foretold to the Seven Churches. Jesus said the faithful will receive the rewards they have been promised. Each person who is victorious will receive a “white stone.”

In ancient times, athletes who were victorious were given a white stone which was their admission to the winner’s circle for the celebrations after the last race was run.

When the end comes, we want to be able to say, like Paul said to Timothy, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2 Timothy 4:7 NIV).

How will we run our race? How will we earn our admission to God’s “winner’s circle”? How will we live our lives that will justify the placing of a White Stone in our hands?

It is not enough to sit and observe as life passes by. God provides us with ample opportunities on a daily basis to become engaged in the art of living on earth as a child of God.

Perhaps we think that we have no talent or gifts that can significantly change another person or help them to find their way through the “mine fields” of sin. Maybe we have very little money to offer as a way of contributing to the betterment of another human being’s existence on earth. Money is not the most important way to serve.

We must all, somehow, become willing, active participants in the lives that surround us.  If we have nothing at all, we still have ourselves, and if we have ourselves, we have all we need to do our part to change the world around us. If we all do one good thing every day of our lives, think of the impact we can have.

To run a good race, and to earn your “White Stone,” God wants to see you engaged in improving the lives around you.

So decide today what you will do, focus on the prize, finish the race, and receive your “White Stone.”

*******

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

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

June 13

Today is…

a fine day to see things in a good light.

“The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light.”  Matthew 6:22 NIV

We must see with the eyes God gave us, not the ones we have grown accustomed to. The eyes that God gave us see the way He wants us to see in ways that will light us from within.

It is easy to cloud our vision and dim the light by seeing temptation as something to welcome rather then something to resist. We can block ourselves from seeing things the correct way by allowing ourselves to become excited or aroused by the immorality that pervades our lives on a daily basis.

God wants us to see things that are broken and work to fix them. He wants us to see pain and work to ease it. The eyes God gave us should also see all of the beauty that abounds and point that beauty out to others so they may enjoy it and become closer to God as a result.

God knows better than any of us that there are many things to see in this world that can weaken our resolve to do the right things. It is for that reason we can pray directly to Him for strength to fight the evil things we see before us.

The miracles of life, the beauty of the sky and the earth, the wonders of the ocean – all of these things are gifts from God to be enjoyed with the eyes that He gave us.

He wants us to see the right path when the landscape before us is littered with sin, temptation, sexual immorality and other forms of wrong doing.

God gave us eyes to see the things that are wrong so that we can work to fix them. He gave us Jesus Christ to help us see the way to do the right things and to help us avoid temptation.

Let the eyes God gave us light up our entire being by seeing things the way He wants us to.

*******

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

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

June 12

Today is…

an excellent day to check our progress.

“So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord – who is the Spirit – makes us more and more like Him as we are changed into His glorious image.”  2 Corinthians 3:18 NLT

From the moment we accept Jesus Christ as our Savior and welcome Him into our hearts and our lives, we begin to go undergo change.

The rapidity with which individuals change varies from person to person, of course, since we are all different. It is important that we understand and be patient with ourselves. The transition from a life of sin and living for ourselves, to one of living for God and working to learn how to avoid the pitfalls of our pasts can be a difficult one.

No matter where we may think we are as Christians, it is important to each one of us to sit quietly now and again and check our progress on this wonderful path that we have all chosen.

We need to give ourselves a spiritual progress report, so to speak.

For those who are new to Christ, it is important because it enables them to see how far they have come. It may be that they still have a long way to go, but that is true for all of us.

For those who have traveled further and longer on the road to salvation, a periodic look back will help to keep us aware of the constant need for prayer, Bible study, fellowship, and worship.

Those of us who think we have matured as Christians sometimes need greater reminders that being like Christ means constantly making efforts to live better lives and have more of a positive impact on those around us.

If nothing else, a periodic progress report will reinforce our progress and give us an opportunity to thank God for keeping us moving in the right direction.

Take time to reflect on a regular basis and make sure your relationship with Christ continues to grow and flourish. No matter who we are, or how long we have loved God, a periodic progress report can only benefit our relationship with Him.

*******

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

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

June 11

 

Today is…

the perfect day to be determined to make God our first priority.

“And Samuel said to the whole house of Israel,’ If you are returning to the Lord with all your hearts, then rid yourselves of the foreign gods and the Ashtoreths and commit yourselves to the Lord and serve Him only, and He will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines.'”  1 Samuel 7:3 NIV

Worship.          Faith.          Prayer.

We use all of these words when we talk about our relationship with God. Most of us believe we are sincere when we say we worship only God, that we have unwavering faith, that we believe He will fulfill His promise to us, and we pray for the right things.

Of course God should always be first because everything comes from God, and if we are to know what our role is in the world around us, we must first go to Him. Many people do that faithfully but unfortunately others do not. Sometimes we may think we put God first, but close examination might show us that our attention to God has become more of a habit then it should be. While it is true that doing something over and over, like praying or worshiping the Lord, will become a good habit, we might be mindful to make sure we do these things because they are as important to us as breathing or eating. Our need for God should be the habit, and not the act of prayer or worship.

The world becomes a more confusing place on a daily basis.

How tempting all of the things that money can buy quickly become if we are not careful. Is it wrong to have nice things? Absolutely not, provided the attainment of those things does not compromise our relationship with God. We must also be weary of setting the wrong example for our loved ones. We teach by the way we live, and if our family sees us putting material possessions before God, they could easily be lead down the same path.

Nothing is more important than God. When we place material things first these become like idols and we don’t want that to happen. If they already have, we must look to the words Paul said to the Corinthians, So, my dear friends, flee from the worship of idols.” (Emphasis Added) (1 Corinthians 10:14 NLT).

Samuel assured the people of Israel that if they were determined to put God first, God would help them.

And He will help any one of us, no matter what our needs may be.

*******

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

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

June 10

Today is…

 

the ideal day to conquer embarrassment.

“When Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong.”  Galatians 2:11 NIV

Many of us have come to Christ from situations and life-styles that were far from Christ-like.

Perhaps we are still acquainted with those who shared that life style. In many instances, we may hide our love of Jesus Christ when we are around those who have not yet made the journey. For some reason we are embarrassed about the feelings that are beginning to grow within us, and we are often afraid of what those who knew us “before” will think of the new and glorious direction we have decided to take in our lives.

As uncomfortable as we may feel, it is important that we ask God for the courage to hold up our faith to all of those around us so they may feel the warmth of its light and in the hope that they, too, will want to share in the joy that comes into us when we accept Christ as our Savior.

It is perfectly understandable that any of us would feel awkward expounding on something in which we feel we have no expertise. We are not expected to run when we haven’t even stopped crawling. However, we do not want to be embarrassed to the point of hypocrisy as Peter was when he refused to eat with the Gentile Christians when some Jewish friends of James were around.

Opening our hearts to the salvation that Christ offers was not an easy task for many of us.

We understand how increasingly hard our hearts had become before we began to chip away at them to reach the soft center. If we, or someone we know, is struggling to become free of a burden which can cause us to be embarrassed or act in a hypocritical manner, it is important to remember that all of the reasons to be strong and secure in our faith can be found in the Bible.

The best day of our lives was – or will be – the day we said – or will say “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20 NIV).

Say that again, and again. Soon you will find that there is no embarrassment and there is no hypocrisy.

There is only the abundant joy that comes from faith.

*******

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

June 9

Today is…

a good day to think about how we should act towards those who do not believe.

“Do I not hate those who hate You, O Lord?  And do I not loathe those that rise up against You?”  Psalm 139:21 NASB

Can any of us think of anyone who needs God more than those who do not believe in Him?

Those of us whose love of the Lord is great instinctively want to stand up for God and defend Him. Perhaps our defense of Him may include hating the one who does not believe or – even worse – hates God.

But is this an acceptable way to act towards individuals who desperately need God in their lives but just have not realized it yet?

If the action we take is to ignore or isolate these individuals then we are helping to spread the negative message that spills from their lips. If we do not act differently, we give them additional power to spread the wrong message. The last thing we want is for others to fall victim to thoughts and beliefs that will deprive them of the promise of the kingdom of God.

We do not have to put ourselves in physical danger or subject ourselves to any verbal abuse by confronting these individuals directly, but we do need to take positive steps that can help either change their hearts, or shield others from the venom of their disbelief.

The first way we help to affect change in the way others act is by setting an example in the manner in which we live our lives and conduct ourselves. A belief in God that is deeply rooted within us, will be evident in the friendly, outgoing, pleasant and helpful way in which we live. Perhaps we cannot influence them directly, but there is always someone whom they are trying to convince who just might sit up and take notice of a better way to live. Our faith can be worn with a smile and a helping hand that can be seen by all.

Another way to act towards those who need God the most is to use the power of our prayers for their benefit. Jesus says “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…” (Matthew 5:44 NASB).

A simple way to do this is to pray, “Father thank You for working in the hearts of those who hate. Please continue to soften them that they may one day accept Jesus Christ as their Savior and join those who have secured a place with You that will be filled with everlasting peace, joy, and love, Amen.”

That is how we should act towards those who do not believe, and today is a good day to start.

*******

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

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