August 12

TODAY IS…

the day to trust God in our suffering.

“Therefore, those also who suffer according to the will of God shall entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right.”  1 Peter 4:19 NASB

God does not want us to suffer. He wants us to trust Him in our suffering. God is not a sadist. He does not take pleasure in our pain, but at the same time, He wants us to use our pain to learn, to grow, and to become more trusting of Him.

Many people use the suffering of innocent children as “proof” that God is less than benevolent and loving. These same people point to atrocities around the world and claim that He can stop them and put an end to all pain and suffering. God wants us to trust Him. He wants us to work together to end pain and suffering. He wants us to learn from the mistakes we have been taught in the Bible. He wants us to follow a very simple code of conduct as His children that will put an end to much of the pain and suffering in the world but we refuse.

It is always easy to point a finger at God and blame Him for our mistakes and our shortcomings. Each and every day people come to their own realization that most of their own suffering was brought on by themselves. How much pain, sorrow, and suffering do we bring upon ourselves and others because we drink too much? Because we take drugs? Because we are unfaithful to our spouses? Because we give in to the temptation of Satan who loves nothing more than to have us bring pain, loss, and suffering into our own lives because we gave into temptation instead of asking God for help? Much of our personal suffering can be avoided if we trust and rely on God.

God allowed Jesus to suffer horribly at the hands of men who were cruel. He did not make those individuals torment, torture, and kill His Son. Did He allow it? Yes He did. But Jesus trusted the Father and was rewarded with a life that will never experience pain and suffering again.

It is always easier to blame God than it is to accept responsibility. It is always easier to turn away because we feel abandoned than it is to step closer because we trust. We can pray for those who suffer without mercy and without reason at the hands of others. We can trust in God who sees those who cause the suffering and we can trust in God who welcomes home those who have been harmed by others. The power of evil on earth can only be broken by the power of trust in God.

Pray for those who suffer at the hands of others and trust God who will always do the right thing.

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

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August 11

TODAY IS…

the ideal day for reminding ourselves of our own imperfections.

“At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another.”  Titus 3:3 NIV

Our efforts to follow Christ have borne fruit and we feel good about the progress we have made in our lives. We are thankful to God for His patience, compassion, and understanding. We are also grateful for those individuals He has blessed us with who have helped us in our struggle with our former selves as we have broken the bonds that once held us captive to a life of sin.

We are refreshed, renewed, and restored. We have accepted Christ and received our free gift of salvation. We can look comfortably in the mirror and be pleased with the image looking back at us. We can feel clean and know that we emit a glow of contentment when we walk among others.

The journey to this point has not always been an easy one. There have been rough spots in the road and we have stumbled, perhaps repeatedly, but each time that happened we knew to look to the Lord for a steady hand and an abundance of love and forgiveness. No matter what we have come face to face with, God has never left our side.

What a wonderful feeling we have and how blessed we are that we have learned that using our freedom to do the right things is what makes us truly free. It is suddenly so wonderful to be alive!

“Praise God!” we say, “Praise God!”

And we mean it, and we do love Him, but then we do something that is very human, very easy to do, and very wrong: we judge someone else and look down upon them for what they do, say, or believe.

This is very common. In no way does that make it right. It is simply another obstacle in the path that we must walk if we are to be righteous in the eyes of God. We must overcome this obstacle, so what must we do? We must remind ourselves that not only are we not better than the one we are looking down on, but we must also remind ourselves we were that person and without God’s steady influence in our daily lives, we could be that person once again. We must avoid, at all costs, the “holier than thou” position that so many seem to take.

Instead of looking down on other sinners, we must embrace them and encourage them. We must be a beacon of light for them and to do this we may have to share with them how we came into possession of that light. We must not be afraid to show others, or to remind ourselves, that we are not perfect, but with God’s help we are better every day.

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

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August 10

TODAY IS…

a superb day to notice that we are noticed.

“O Lord, what are human beings that You should notice them, mere mortals that You should think about them?”  Psalm 144:3 NLT

Who are we that God should care what happens to us?

Let’s face it, in today’s world there are so many human beings inhabiting the earth, why should the Lord take notice of “me”? How can He take notice of me with all that is going on around this vast planet?

Sometimes it seems as if people think God is so busy that He doesn’t notice what we do. It is almost as if an attitude has been adopted of, “If He doesn’t care how I act, why should I?”

And yet, the Bible is quite clear on that very subject. God does notice each and every one of us and He does care. In fact, Jesus told His disciples God would know if even one tiny sparrow fell from the sky, “So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” (Matthew 10:31 NIV).

Since God makes it clear that we are valuable to Him, should we not then act as if we understand that? Perhaps we think that God is only aware of us when we pray. Who among us acts badly while talking with God? Is that not when we are on our best behavior?

“Oh Lord, thank You!” “Oh, Lord forgive me!” “Oh Lord help me!”

We seem to have no problems remembering to be good, to be repentant, to be humble, and to behave while God is in the forefront of our thoughts, but what about after? We fail to realize that even though we may get caught up in the swirl of life around us and forget about the Lord He never forgets about us.

We should all strive every day to understand that God notices everything we do. Nothing escapes His attention and any doubts or feelings of insignificance should be erased from our minds immediately.

Besides, if we are living our lives in the right way, then we are in constant communication with God, so we can rest assured that we do not escape His notice.

No matter our reason, if we are feeling as if God is too busy to notice “me,” we must alter our way of thinking. If we pretend He doesn’t notice we do things we shouldn’t, we are wrong. If we feel we are too insignificant and small for Him to notice, we are wrong. We are important to the One who gave us life. What we do is important to Him as well.

Use the gift of this day to sit up and take notice that nothing escapes the notice of God.

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

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August 9

TODAY IS…

an excellent day to seek common ground.

“When I am with those who are weak, I share their weakness, for I want to bring the weak to Christ. Yes, I try to find common ground with everyone doing everything I can to save some.”  1 Corinthians 9:22 NLT

The Apostle Paul not only ministered to people that he met in his travels, he spent a lot of time teaching them to minister to others. He said, “Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible.” (1 Corinthians 9:12 NIV).

Someone wrote, “Salvation doesn’t enroll you in a club for the religious elite. It enlists you into the Army of the Lord.” Part of our responsibilities as members of this army is to help enlist others as well. In order to accomplish this, we must do many things, just as Paul taught. One important thing to remember is to never present a know-it-all attitude. Another is to be friendly and easy to approach. Still another is to establish common ground with the person we are talking with or helping.

For instance, if we are volunteering at a place that provides meals for those who are hungry, we would not want to show up expensively dressed or displaying expensive jewelry. We wouldn’t want to distract anyone from what we are attempting to do, nor would we want to create the impression that we are better than they are.

If we are speaking with someone on the subject of sin, we would not want to create the impression that we have never sinned. We would not want to give someone the idea that we are free from temptation. It would be difficult for most people to identify with someone like that.

If we want to bring someone closer to God, we must walk with them and show them we do understand their perspective and we do appreciate their circumstances.

As the Son of God, Jesus was capable of exhibiting awesome power. Although He did perform some wondrous miracles, His humility was an important part of who He was. He tried to show that He was just like us in many ways. He loved the people He came to save. He never failed to connect with common, everyday people.

No matter what situation we find ourselves in, it is always desirable to seek common ground with those around us. It is the surest way to helping others understand what we are trying to share with them, and while we will not be able to save them all, we will certainly be able to save some.

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August 8

TODAY IS…

a good day to understand that a person’s wealth is not a sign of God’s approval.

“Yet they succeed in everything they do. They do not see Your punishment awaiting them. They sneer at all their enemies.”  Psalm 10:5 NLT

The majority of the entire world’s wealth is owned by a very small percentage of its inhabitants. Most of us work hard to make ends meet and do the best we can to support our families. Many others have much less and often have little or nothing to eat whie living in conditions which most of us would find difficult to imagine, let alone to actually endure.

There are probably those who are extremely wealthy who will point to their success as a sign of God’s approval but we all know that material success had nothing to do with it. Jesus Himself spoke on the subject: “And Jesus said to His disciples, ‘Truly I say to you, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.’” (Matthew 19:23 NASB).

As if He wasn’t sure that His statement was clear enough, Jesus added emphasis by saying, “Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” (Matthew 19:24 NASB).

Jesus was not implying that wealthy people could not get into heaven when they died or that they were not welcome there. What He was telling His disciples was that their wealth was no guarantee of entrance into the Kingdom of God and could also be a hindrance, for far too often those who are materially well off somehow seem to give all of the credit to themselves and do not feel the need to thank God or include Him in their lives.

This is a mistake in judgment that, uncorrected, will have tragic eternal consequences.

Does God automatically punish the wealthy?

Of course not. There are many people of substantial means whose lives have been given to God. They have accepted Christ as their savior and they are grateful for all they have. They do their part to share with others and to give back to God for all He has given them.

The same thing applies to those who are poor or of modest means. Again, our financial status is not what determines our worth in God’s eyes. It is what God finds in our hearts, not in our bank accounts that matters and those who are financially barren can be just as barren in their faith.

Simple lives lived in service to God and to others are very valuable to the Lord. When we learn to measure our success by how we demonstrate our love for God and for those around us, we will have learned the true secret for the kind of success that will gain us entrance to the Kingdom of God.

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

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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 real 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 that pressure often 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 may 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 an 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.

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.

In our relationship with God, many of us 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 fail 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 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 his guilt to react to it 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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