April 15

TODAY IS…

a good day to ask yourself, “When did I last spend some quiet time with God?”

“Be still and know that I am God…”  Psalm 46:10a NIV

Finding quiet time to spend with God can be a challenge in these busy times.

We are all in a hurry to get here or go there; to run this errand or fulfill that obligation; rushing to work and even rushing off to play. We find it difficult to find time for our spouses, our children and ourselves.

We all should be aware of the consequences of not finding time for ourselves and our families. When we don’t find time to spend with those we love, those relationships suffer tremendously. Husbands and wives become unhappy, disgruntled, and may harbor feelings of resentment or abandonment. Divorce may follow, which is not good for anyone.

When we neglect our children they are going to have only the influence of their friends to guide them, and not ours, and the gap between us and them grows wider.

When we don’t find time to interact with those we love, the relationship suffers, affecting everyone. Time to play, time to work, and time to just sit quietly and enjoy the presence of those we love are all extremely important.

A family needs to share all that life has to offer in order to be healthy.

God needs quiet time with us as well.

Can’t find the time? Everything we have or have available to us we have because of God. Our very lives and the lives of our spouses and children are possible because of God. How can we possibly deny something that costs us nothing to the one who gives us everything?

Don’t have the time?

How much time will we spend today playing computer games? How much time will we spend today reading an entertainment magazine? How much time will we spend today letting people we don’t even know become aware of every little thing we do? How much time will we spend today engaging in idle gossip?

Hopefully, we are all becoming aware that we really do have time in our days for everyone we love, and God should certainly be included in that group.

God gives us everything and asks so little in return. Use God’s gift of this day and spend some time 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

April 14

TODAY IS…

the day to acknowledge that Father Knows Best.

“Who is this that questions My wisdom with such ignorant words?”  Job 38:2 NLT

Some of us are old enough to remember an old television show called “Father Knows Best.” While the head of that TV family may not have really always known what was best for all concerned, the Father of us all certainly does!

It is relatively easy to obey God when we agree with Him.

How many of us have found it harder to obey when the issue at hand involves denying ourselves something that we have enjoyed for many years? How many of us have indulged in habits or behaviors that we have told ourselves, “Don’t hurt anyone,” or “Don’t bother anyone,” or “Doesn’t hurt anyone but myself.”?

These situations are more likely to be encountered in those of us who have only recently come to the Lord or who have lived lives outside the teachings of our youth for many years, but they can apply to anyone. The saying “Old Habits Die Hard” is very true for many of us, and in our struggle to maintain a tenuous grip on some of our “old habits”, we might make the mistake of trying to justify what we are doing or fool ourselves that what we are doing is alright with God because we are such good people in all other respects.

We are kidding ourselves, because we certainly are not kidding God.

If we think we know better, or we feel that it is acceptable to question God, we might want to think back to when God confronted Job with, “Brace yourself like a man, because I have some questions for you, and you must answer them.” (Job 38:3 NLT).

That is not a position we should want to put ourselves in, for as Job found out, there is absolutely no way that we can prove to the One who created us that we know what is best.

Some of us may think, “Well my only vice is pornography and they are just pictures and I am not hurting anyone.”

And yet, how many who think this way are married, have children, and have responsibilities that should not include taking time away from our families and responsibilities to look at pictures that should not have been taken in the first place?

The truth is that anything we could possibly do under the banner of, “It doesn’t hurt anyone” actually does.

It hurts our lives because time spent in sinful pursuits could be better spent praying, reading the Word of God, or helping someone less fortunate than ourselves; it hurts our families because it takes away time from them and sets a bad example; and it hurts God, because He knows what is best for us.

We may be the mothers and fathers of our children, but God is our Father, and Father always knows best.

*******

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

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

April 13

TODAY IS…

an outstanding day to seek the help of others.

“I am in chains now, still preaching this message as God’s ambassador. So pray that I will keep on speaking boldly for Him, as I should.”  Ephesians 6:20 NLT

Even while imprisoned, Paul’s focus was on serving others and teaching them the path to God led through Jesus Christ.

In his humanness, Paul reached out to others for help. Did he want help getting out of prison? No. He simply wanted others to pray to God on his behalf for the continued strength he needed to focus boldly on delivering God’s message.

For God, creating the world was effortless. For God, wielding the paintbrush of life that gave His world personality, beauty, and character was not tiresome or challenging.

But for those of us created by the brush strokes of the master, daily life as children of God can, indeed, be taxing, frustrating, and difficult.

God places people all around us for a number of reasons.

A very significant one is so they are available for us to reach out to for help. Perhaps we need their physical help in performing some task around the house. Maybe we need help getting to work because our car is in the shop. Perhaps what we need is more important, but less demanding physically: perhaps we need their prayers as we go through a difficult time or to help us cope with a significant loss.

Most of us wouldn’t think twice about asking a neighbor for help moving a piece of furniture or with some other physical chore. But it might not ever occur to us to ask for their help in more important ways. When we remind ourselves that helping each other is a requirement of God, it becomes easier to turn to them in times of our greatest need and ask for their prayers.

Seeking the help of others to petition God for support and strength on our behalf should be as easy to us as asking for a lift to the store.

Use the resources God has placed around you and seek the help of others. Whether you need a lift, an ear, a hand, or a prayer, use what God placed all around us to help us.

Use the gift of each other.

*******

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

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

April 12

TODAY IS…

a great day to realize that grace is amazing!

“The angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God.’”  Luke 1:30 NASB

Grace is God bestowing favor upon a sinful humanity.

We cannot earn it, He gives it freely. We can thank Him for it, in fact, we should do so. We can ask for it, and we will receive it, but sometimes He picks people to bestow His grace upon, as was the case with the choice of Mary as the mother of the Messiah.

It would be years before the enormity of that honor would become evident. At first, Mary had much to endure: those around her would reject and ridicule her; her fiancée would come to the brink of leaving her in disgrace; and the child she gave birth to would grow up to be rejected by many and, ultimately, be murdered by those who did not believe His message.

But in the end, through her Son would come salvation for the world. Through her pain would come the one who could help the world ease its pain. Through the grace God bestowed upon Mary, the entire world was given hope.

One of the world’s most enduring and recognizable spiritual songs is “Amazing Grace.”

It is a beautiful song and was written by John Newton who used to be a captain on brutal slave ships. Newton not only found favor with God, he thanked Him by writing one of the most recorded pieces of music in history. He also encouraged William Wilberforce, as a member of the English House of Commons, to fight to end the slave trade in England.

Maybe our individual purpose in this life is not as remarkable as that of the mother of Christ or the man who gave us beautiful music. But God’s grace is available to us all, and today is a great day to realize just how amazing His grace can be.

*******

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

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

April 11

TODAY IS…

the ideal day to let it all go.

“Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead…”  Philippians 3:13 NASB

There is probably no better example of God’s ability to transform a person’s life than the example of Saul’s transformation to Paul. As Saul, he stood by and watched the coats of the men who stoned Stephen to death.

“When they had driven him out of the city, they began stoning him; and the witnesses laid aside their robes at the feet of a young man named Saul.” (Acts 7:58 NASB).

Following Stephen’s death, Saul was a dedicated persecutor of anyone proclaiming to be a follower of Christ. After his encounter with Jesus, Saul… now Paul… would go on to be second only to Christ Himself in importance to Christianity.

“Who are You, Lord?’ Saul asked. ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,’ He replied.” (Acts 9:5 NIV).

Talk about a wake up call.

Hopefully, none of us has been as bad as Saul, but many of us have done things that we are ashamed of and some of us may find it difficult to let go of the past so that we can move forward. This is, in fact, a common struggle, especially for those who have good hearts and are essentially kind, gentle souls. Those who have hardened hearts are not nearly as troubled as those who do not.

Regardless of where any of us fits in, each one of us has a part to play in the transformation of humanity.

If you have sinned and have trouble moving forward, you must study closely the transformation of Paul. If God can overlook his past and use him as His most ardent supporter, then surely He can overlook anything you or I have done.

Those who think they have lived decent Christian lives and have had a good relationship with God through Jesus Christ, must encourage, support, and forgive those who are trying to find their way to the Lord, for we are all sinners. Far too many of us look at another individual’s transformation with skepticism, cynicism, and doubt. We must remind ourselves that if God can forgive and fill someone with His spirit, who are we to doubt, ridicule, or stand in the way?

And all of us must pray for God to work to soften the hearts of those whose hearts are hardened and resisting transformation. We must all work to let it all go so we can move forward on the path God wants us to walk.

*******

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

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

April 10

TODAY IS…

a good day to agree with God.

“Then I acknowledged my sin to You and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord’ – and You forgave the guilt of my sin.”  Psalm 32:5 NIV

Why do we need to confess if God is already aware of everything that we do?

Is it even necessary that we confess our sins to the Lord?

The answer is an emphatic, “Yes!”

Confessing our sins to God is not revealing to Him something that He already knows. It is acknowledging that we have sinned and it is confirming our agreement with Him that what we did was wrong. When we do this, we are also acknowledging our awareness and understanding of God’s desire to forgive us and our need for that forgiveness.

When we confess, we are also asking God to help us strengthen our resolve to forsake sin and follow Him. We are admitting to being human and seeking the Lord’s wisdom, strength and courage in resisting sin in its many forms.

Confession has the same cleansing effect on our soul as using soap and hot water does in removing dirt and filth from our bodies.

While it is true that the number of rules God wants us to live by is relatively small, those simple rules manifest themselves over and over throughout our daily lives, weaving their way in and out of everything that we think, say, or do. It is only through intense focus on God’s simple truth (and even then it is pretty much impossible) that we are able to get through any 24-hour period without having something that we need to bring to God and confess.

In other words, life in a world in which evil roams presents us with hundreds of opportunities each day in which it is possible to sin. When we are aware that we are doing something that is sinful, we need to acknowledge it to the Lord and agree that we need to work harder and rely more upon Him to help us be better followers.

We wash our hands many times a day. Our souls could use a healthy scrubbing often as well, and that should be something we can all agree on.

*******

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

NOTE FROM AUTHOR: Today is my sister’s birthday, so please join me in saying, “Happy Birthday, Kathy!”

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

April 9

TODAY IS…

the right day to stay away from people like that.

“They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that!”  2 Timothy 3:5 NLT

After being imprisoned for what would be the last time, Paul wrote what would be his last recorded words.

Before he was executed by Emperor Nero as a follower of Jesus of Nazareth, Paul wrote his second, and final, letter to Timothy, encouraging him to continue Paul’s faith and remember his teachings as pastor of the church at Ephesus.

One of the things he wrote about in this impassioned letter was the need for Timothy, and others, to be wary of individuals who would use Christian doctrine and traditions for their own benefit. This danger is as real today as it was then, and Paul’s admonition needs to be heeded now more than ever.

We all know someone who goes to church, knows the words, praises the Lord, and espouses Christian values, but upon close examination we realize this individual is using Christianity and the church for their own selfish purposes. We all have read about individuals and groups that have done the same thing.

Twisting the words of God, they take advantage of people and situations. They have elevated themselves to a lofty position and condemned – even killed – those they have deemed “lesser” than them. These individuals use God’s forgiveness, or out-of-context Bible verses, as a ‘green light’ for bad behavior.

On the surface, they may appear to be stalwart members of the Christian community, but close examination (and sometimes the examination doesn’t even have to be very close) of the way they live their daily lives will reveal them for the deceivers they are.

Do not be fooled, or mislead, by people like this. Smooth talk is a skill they have mastered and with it they will prey upon the weak, disadvantaged, and confused.

Even cloaked in prominent religiosity, they will be easy to spot. They will be a little too attached to their money; a little too boastful of their accomplishments; a little too eager to betray their friends or gossip.

It is important that we not be seduced, swayed, or influenced by these individuals and that we help others avoid the incorrect teachings that will come from them.

Follow the instructions that Paul gave to Timothy when he said, “Work hard so you can present yourself to God and receive His approval. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15 NLT).

Today is the right day to do the right thing in the right way. Avoid anyone who would try to persuade you to do otherwise.

As Paul wrote, “Stay away from people like 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

April 8

TODAY IS…

the perfect day to remind ourselves that anyone can change.

“Before the spies went to sleep that night, Rahab went up on the roof to talk with them.”  Joshua 2:8 NLT

There are many lessons for us all to learn by examining the changes that took place in Rahab, who was a prostitute in the city of Jericho. She was willing to risk her life to help the spies the Israelites had sent ahead before invading the city. She sensed that this ‘God’ that the Israelites relied on was worth trusting, so she allowed them to hide on her roof and lied to the king’s men who came to look for them, risking her very life.

Going up on the roof before the men went to sleep, Rahab talked with them about what she had heard about the power of the God of the Israelites. Her faith that the Israelites were correct proved to be well founded.

“By faith Rahab the harlot did not perish along with those who were disobedient, after she had welcomed the spies in peace.” (Hebrews 11:31 NASB).

Rahab’s life after the fall of Jericho became one of significance. She married Salmon and gave birth to Boaz, who grew to be a man of tremendous character. Rahab was the great-great grandmother of King David, and as such, was in the direct lineage of Jesus Christ.

Most of us would tend to shy away from a prostitute. We would try to maintain distance from people we considered to be of low moral character. We would tend to want to keep criminals and other such “undesirables” separate from those who are “decent”.

But what if every one of us were to embrace all of mankind with the same love that the Lord does?

What if we all viewed the worst that society had to offer as having the potential to be the best that the world has ever seen?

God has taken some of the worst people who have walked the earth and transformed them into hardworking, dedicated individuals who have been filled with His spirit.

“The Spirit of the Lord will come upon you in power, and you will prophesy with them; and you will be changed into a different person.” (1 Samuel 10:6 NIV).

We must never allow ourselves to think that people cannot completely change their lives with the help of God. After all, if He can create the world and everything in it, surely He can help change a person’s heart.

We must constantly remind ourselves not to judge other people. That is God’s place, not ours.

“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.”  Luke 6:37 NIV

 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”  Matthew 7:1-5 NIV

There are many more examples, but we all know this. The problem enters when we say, “I know I’m not perfect, but I didn’t do that!”

Perhaps not, but to God, sin is sin. It is only when we are in the flesh that we tend to assign different levels of severity to it. This helps us always remind ourselves that, “I am really a good person.”

As difficult as it may be sometimes, our responsibility to others is clear: When we see a human being attempting to change, it is our obligation to them, and to God, to help them, support them, and encourage them, and today is the perfect day to remind ourselves of 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

April 7

TODAY IS…

a wonderful day to enjoy some fresh bread.

“I am the bread of life.”  John 6:48 NIV

Everlasting life.

That is what Jesus offered the world. There was no hinting around about it; the Lord came right out and said it.

“I am the living bread that came down from Heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is My flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” (John 6:51 NIV).

What a remarkable gift was given to us!

Many of us have “eaten” the living bread, which means we have accepted Christ into our lives. We have experienced a tremendous uplifting feeling that comes about from the Holy Spirit flooding into our bodies and sinful desire and immorality flowing out. We have known the joy of feeling safe and secure, confident that the Lord was with us, watching over us constantly. We have read our Bibles daily, taken refuge in the Word of God, and used it to inspire, guide and motivate us.

How glorious has been the feeling that consumes us and how relaxing it has been to be filled with peace, joy, and a desire to be a good person; a desire to help those less fortunate than ourselves; a desire to share, with others, our happiness and our belief in the Lord’s promise of everlasting life.

Yes, how spectacular life on earth became when we accepted Christ and “ate” the bread of life.

And then life got in the way.

We felt good about ourselves and the way things were going. God had blessed us and everything was going our way. Our lackluster lives picked up momentum and as we gained speed moving forward, we found we had precious little time to accomplish all of the things that had come about due to our relationship with God.

Things were going well, but we found that the things of this earth were requiring more and more of our attention. The time had to come from somewhere, so we “borrowed” it from God, figuring we would pay it back later.

But later never came.

In fact, more and more time was needed, so it came from the time we spent reading the Bible and praying; from the time we spent in fellowship with others; and the time we spent helping those less fortunate.

It also came from the time we had to love our spouses and families.

If this sounds like you, today is a wonderful day to enjoy some fresh bread. It is a wonderful day to renew your relationship and reaffirm your commitment to the Lord and to His service.

There is nothing better for us in all of God’s creation than to eat the Bread of Life, and there is no more wonderful day to do it than today.

*******

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

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

April 6

TODAY IS…

a good day to think about the spiritual side of retirement.

“They shall bear fruit in old age; They shall be fresh and flourishing.”  Psalm 92:14 NKJV

Doctors say that staying mentally and physically active is good for our health and is particularly important when we reach retirement age.

For too many of us, our work consumes so much of our time and energy that when we retire, we feel useless and unneeded; lost in ourselves; unable to function. For while we may have planned financially for our retirement, many of us have neglected to plan spiritually for our retirement.

This is truly something that must be done because it will give new breath to older lives as our time, wisdom, patience and spiritual maturity all come together to work for good as we work for God. Not only will we be refreshed, recharged, renewed and restored, the positive impact we can have on others our age, our communities, our churches, and on our children and grandchildren will enhance our remaining time on this earth.

A spiritual plan for retirement may not add years to our lives (although it is quite possible that it could), but it will certainly add life to those years.

“When Joshua was an old man, the Lord said to him, ‘You are growing old, and much land remains to be conquered.’” (Joshua 13:1 NLT).

At the time God said this, Joshua was between 85 and 100 years old! God wasn’t done with him and if we make ourselves available to Him, there will be plenty of work for us to do as well. With people being people, sin being sin, and the devil being the devil, we need not worry about whether or not there will be work for us when we retire.

The only question will be, “Have we spiritually prepared to do the work?”

The answer, of course, will be “Yes!” if we start today building ourselves spiritually.

And how do we do that?

It’s quite simple really: Get involved, be involved and stay involved in the spiritual health and growth of yourself, your family, your friends and your church. Start making “deposits” into your spiritual “bank” today and when your time comes to retire, you’ll be able to make “withdrawals” and use them to do God’s work.

Your regular investments will pay off in your ability to make a positive difference in the lives of those around you and your golden years will prove to be rewarding in ways you had never dreamed.

Retirement should only mean that now we are ready to go to work full time – for God.

*******

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

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