November 28

TODAY IS…

a fine day to remember that it is not what you think.

“Haven’t you heard? Don’t you understand? Are you deaf to the words of God – the words He gave before the world began? Are you so ignorant?”  Isaiah 40:21 NLT

Do you think that you are too old for God to use you in a significant way?

Do you think that you have lived your life so sinfully that God has no use of your talents and abilities?

Do you think you don’t have talents and abilities that God can use?

If anyone answered “yes” to any of these questions, then they should know that the real problem is that you think! How can any among us place what we think ahead of what the Word of God says?

So what, exactly, does the Bible have to say on each of those subjects?

For anyone who may think they are too old to be of any use to God, David makes it very clear that, “They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green, proclaiming ‘The Lord is upright; He is my rock, and there is no wickedness in Him.’” (Psalm 92:14-15 NIV).

No matter how old we may be, at the very least we can teach other. We can use our voice and the wisdom of our years to help others find their way to God and to the salvation He gave us all through Jesus Christ. There may be some physical limitations that accompany increasing years, but we will never be too old to “bear fruit” for God.

For those who question exactly what their talents and abilities may be – or that they even exist, the Bible says, “A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other.” (1 Corinthians 12:7 NLT).

There are those who have the gift of leadership, the gift of teaching, the gift of gathering clothing and food for the needy. There are those who can help with mailing things, building things, there are those who can sing in church choirs. Big things, little things, it doesn’t matter as long as we use what abilities we have to serve the Lord and to help each other.

Finally, there are those who may think that they have sinned “too much.” Perhaps the feeling is that “bad” people are not worthy of serving God. For those of us who may think this way, God made the strongest statement of all when He sent His Son to suffer and be sacrificed for us. When we accept Jesus Christ as our Savior and we show repentance for the sins we have committed, we are made worthy. In fact, in his Letter to the church in Southern Galatia, Paul reminds us all of just how bad he was before he became one of the greatest voices Christianity has ever known.

“For you have heard of my former manner of life in Judaism, how I was to persecute the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it…” (Galatians 1:13 NASB).

So always remember that it doesn’t matter what you think.

It is what the Bible says that is important.

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

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November 27

TODAY IS…

an excellent day to pump a little “Spiritual Iron.”

“He remembered us in our time of weakness. His faithful love endures forever.”  Psalm 136:23 NLT

Most of us are familiar with Arnold Schwarzenegger. He was a Governor of California after having been a major star in action movies. His formidable physique made him difficult to beat. Many of us are also aware that before Arnold became a movie star, he was known around the world as a major body building champion. He has an incredible build composed of muscles, many of which are in places most of us don’t even know we have places.

Of course, Arnold was not born that way.

His development took place over time as the result of a lot of hard work “pumping iron.” Arnold lifted weights for hours every day to exercise his different muscles and his hard work paid off with three phenomenal careers as bodybuilder, movie star, and governor.

Our faith is like those muscles Arnold worked to develop. His muscles started out weak, as does our faith. We must exercise our faith by pumping some “spiritual iron” to build it up so that our spiritual “physique” is as formidable as Arnold’s body. It is important that we take note of the fact that the process is on-going and takes a lifetime. We don’t work on it for a little while, build it up, and then forget about it.

If Arnold did not continue to exercise his muscles, they would atrophy – they would get smaller and he would grow weaker.

The same principle applies to our faith. We must constantly exercise it to ensure that it remains as strong as possible.

The Israelites were always forgetting their “exercise program,” whereupon their faith would weaken. Even though they had the Law of Moses to guide them, “The Law of Moses was unable to save us because of the weakness of our sinful nature.” (Romans 8:3a NLT).

Our faith can save us, and it is incumbent upon us to do all that we can so that we are able to be like the woman who anointed Jesus’ feet with rare perfume.

“And He said to the woman, ‘Your faith has saved you; go in peace.’” (Luke 7:50 NASB).

Our faith can save us as well, but it requires regular exercise in order to be ready for anything that might require it. The only way to exercise our faith is to rely upon God for everything, to worship Him, pray to Him, and search the Bible daily, for by reading the Word of God we are “pumping Spiritual Iron.”

We may never be known the world over as Arnold is, but we will be known to God, and that is recognition of inestimable worth.

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

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November 26

TODAY IS…

a terrific day to let it go.

“I – yes, I alone – will blot out your sins for My own sake and I will never think of them again.” Isaiah 43:25 NLT

After the Titanic sinks in James Cameron’s epic film by the same name, the movie’s two stars are adrift. Unfortunately there is only room on the piece of debris they found for one of them. Of course, “Jack” lets “Rose” lie above the water while he floats alongside, holding onto their makeshift “raft” in the frigid North Atlantic. Before too long, the temperature of the water finally gets the best of Jack and he cannot hold on any longer.

In a scene that had many eyes brimming with tears in theaters everywhere, Jack lets go and sinks down and away from his beloved Rose.

Letting go is sometimes painful and poignant. There are, however, times when letting go can be uplifting, unshackling, liberating, and joyful. When we reach out to God with a repentant heart and ask for His forgiveness, we are able to “let go” of the burden of pain, shame, and guilt, that has been holding us back and pulling us down.

The lesson the Lord is teaching us in Isaiah 43:25 is this: “Once I forgive your sins, I forget them. I do not hold on to them or hold them against you. I let them go.”

And we must do the same.

This is not a license to sin, be sorry, and repeat. This is not an automatic dismissal of our sins. Repentance is required, and it must be sincere. Of course, this also does not mean that God will not forgive us more than once for the same transgression.

We are weak, and we are human.

The Israelites repeatedly turned away from God and back again. Each time they repented, however, they could always count on God’s forgiveness, and they demonstrated this understanding when they prayed, “You will again have compassion on us; You will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.” (Micah 7:19 NIV).

At the same time, if we find ourselves repeatedly going to God asking forgiveness for the same thing (or things) then we know where the focus of our prayers for strength needs to lie.

It is important to remember that any sins for which we have been truly repentant and have received God’s forgiveness have been forgotten by the only one who matters. If we are constantly nagged by the burden of guilt or shame for those sins, we are succumbing to an act of Satan – not a reminder from God.

Turn to God for strength to resist temptations, but when it comes to forgiven sins, we must do what God does, and “Let It Go.”

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

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November 25

TODAY IS…

the day to get God in your corner.

“O Lord, oppose those who oppose me. Fight those who fight against me.”  Psalm 35:1 NLT

Many of us often feel as if it is us against the world.

Somehow we allow ourselves to become self-sufficient and begin to rely on ourselves instead of on God, and it usually doesn’t take us long to figure out that we simply cannot fight our battles alone.

If this is the case with any of us it is time to get God back in our corner.

We must reach out to Him and ask Him to,“Put on your armor, and take up your shield. Prepare for battle, and come to my aid.” (Psalm 35:2 NLT).

How do we allow ourselves to slip from relying fully on God to self-sufficiency that usually ends in a distress call to God? Since God’s work is silent and unseen, we allow ourselves to forget that we had asked God to help us and when He answers our prayer, it then is just a short step to taking credit for something we didn’t do. Before too long, we forget to ask God for His advice or His help and we wind up calling out to Him in a panic when it suddenly becomes crystal clear that we cannot get through life without getting God in our corner.

We must keep God in our corner by drawing close to Him. We must do everything we can to make sure our loyalty and reliance is on God and not ourselves or anything of this world.

“Come near to God and He will come near to you.” (James 4:8a NIV).

Drawing near to God – getting Him in our corner – means getting Him involved in our lives. We cannot possibly ask Him to help us and get close to us without getting Him involved in our plans.

“Otherwise you are boasting about your own plans, and all such boasting is evil.” (James 4:16 NLT).

Our strength to fight off evil comes from God, and He wants to give it to us. To receive that strength from Him we must humble ourselves before Him. James said, “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up.” (James 4:10 NIV).

If it is God who is lifting you up, nothing can knock you down. If it is our own self-sufficiency that holds us up, we can expect to be attacked by temptation, difficulties, problems, and challenges.

Without God in our corner, our ability to withstand any attack for long is doubtful.

But with God in our corner, victory is assured, for, ” If God is for us, who can be against us?” Romans 8:31b NIV

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

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November 24

TODAY IS…

a wonderful day to be thirsty.

“As the deer longs for streams of water, so I long for You, O God.”  Psalm 42:1 NASB

How wonderful it is to have a relationship with God that always has us longing for more. How truly blessed we are when we can honestly say, “My soul thirsts for God, for the living God…” (Psalm 42:2a NASB).

Those of us who are parents know that the dependence our children have on us diminishes with time. Their growth, maturity, and need for independence all take over at some point and while we will always play an important part in their lives, our role will change and will surely grow smaller.

Not so with our relationship with God.

If we are truly following Christ, our need for God never diminishes. In fact, it will actually grow. Paul wrote about the tremendous difficulties he faced in Asia. His letter to the Corinthians indicated that he, and those with him, thought they would not live through it.

“In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raised the dead.” (2 Corinthians 1:9 NLT).

When we learn to rely on God, we will find ourselves constantly turning to Him over and over again. As Paul went on in his letter, “And He did rescue us from mortal danger, and He will rescue us again. We have placed our confidence in Him, and He will continue to rescue us.” (2 Corinthians 1:10 NLT).

But more than His ability to help us out of bad situations, we will discover a thirst for the wisdom and knowledge that can only be quenched by actively pursuing a relationship with God.

If we are truly letting God direct our lives, we will not be able to get through an entire day without spending time in prayer, worship, and meditation. We will wake up and God will be in our thoughts and as we go through the day, we will constantly look to Him for guidance. At the end of each day, as we lie down to sleep, we will thank Him for the day He has given us.

The salvation that comes with knowing Christ is available for all who are thirsty for it. “And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.” (Revelation 22:17b NKJV).

There is no charge no matter how thirsty we may be. There is no limit to how much we can drink. The thirstier we are, the more God likes it, and we can rest assured that no matter when we are thirsty, there will always be something to drink.

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

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November 23

TODAY IS…

a great day to get comfortable.

“For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.”  Psalm 1:6 NIV

Today there is some good news, and there is some bad news.

The good news is that God is always watching over us.

The bad news is that God is always watching over us.

OK, maybe that is not really bad news. But the truth is that many people are uncomfortable with the knowledge that God is always watching.

Don’t be shy. He has seen it all before. There is nothing any of us can do that will surprise Him or shock Him. He knows the heights, and the depths, of mankind only too well.

If we are uncomfortable with the knowledge that God is always watching us, perhaps we should ask ourselves why.

What is it about the way we conduct our lives that we are uncomfortable with God seeing? If this knowledge makes us more acutely aware of what we are doing, how we are acting, and how we are living our lives, perhaps we will be less likely to live, act, or do things in a manner that is contrary to the will of God.

If that is the case, then the “bad” news has suddenly become very good indeed.

We should welcome the fact that He is always watching and, being aware that He is, when we are about to do something questionable, we need to ask ourselves, “What is God going to think?”

When we really give it some thought, this little exercise could save many of us a lot of pain, trouble, money, heartache, loss, aggravation – well, you get the idea.

The fact that the Lord is always with us, watching over us should never make us uncomfortable. It should bring us only comfort to know that He is always there. As a matter of fact, many of the reasons that we should feel comfortable with God always being with us and watching over us can be found in David’s Psalm 23:

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: He leadeth me beside still waters. He restoreth my soul; He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff comfort me. Thou preparest a table for me in the presence of mine enemies: Thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” (Psalm 23 KJV).

God’s watchful eye may make you uneasy when you do something you know doesn’t meet with His approval. But the knowledge that He will always be right there when you need Him should make you very comfortable.

So use the gift of today and make yourself comfortable.

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

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November 22

TODAY IS…

an ideal day to give yourself a wonderful gift.

“We should help others do what is right and build them up in the Lord.”  Romans 15:2 NLT

The greatest gift that we can give ourselves is to help another person get to know God.

Perhaps some were hoping that it would be something different, such as treating ourselves to a nice meal, or a quiet weekend at a spa, or a cruise, or even a new car, and while all of these things would be nice, every one of them is temporary. They are short-lived and, while momentarily pleasurable, fairly meaningless in the grand scheme of a Christian life.

But teaching another human being about God and the salvation that can be had through Jesus Christ; opening the doors for another individual through which lie endless possibilities for peace, joy, love, and contentment; sharing what God put in our heart with someone who hasn’t discovered it on their own yet, and watching their face light up as they realize it is in them too – these are gifts we can give to ourselves that will last forever.

We all know someone who is struggling with life itself. How can we stand by with knowledge that can help them and not share it?

“I just am not comfortable preaching,” you say.

Then don’t preach.

Share.

Give.

If it is a friend, sit them down and say, “I just want to give you something that might help you to be as happy, peaceful, joyful, and content within yourself as I am.”

Giving someone the gift of your help to find God within their heart is not about telling them what will happen if they don’t repent.

It is about opening their hearts, their minds, and their eyes to the beauty of God and all that He created. It is about revealing to someone how the grace of God can help us relieve ourselves of the terrible burdens of guilt or shame that we may carry. It is about guiding someone to the source of light that will, in turn, guide them to eternal life.

When we help another person to know God, we are giving them the incredible power of the Lord to face all of the trials and tribulations that life throws at us. We help them to understand that God loves us as we are and He wants us to love ourselves and each other. Helping someone to know God gives them the ability to be content no matter what might be taking place in their lives, and it shows them where to turn when they have fears or doubts.

When we help others find, and learn to know and love God, we give ourselves an irreplaceable gift of immeasurable value.

So go ahead and use God’s gift of this day to give yourself a wonderful gift.

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

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November 21

TODAY IS…

a splendid day to ask questions.

“But they did not understand this statement and they were afraid to ask Him.”  Mark 9:32 NASB

As our children grow, learning is one of the most crucial aspects of their development. We want them to absorb as much knowledge of the world around them as they possibly can. Hopefully, the act of learning, itself, will become something they enjoy, which will enable them to always want to learn more, even after they are grown up and on their own.

While they are going through the process of learning, one of the most valuable primary lessons we need to teach them and make sure they learn is this: “If you don’t understand something, ask questions.”

Another thing we need to constantly remind our children is this: “Be the one who raises your hand. Do not be afraid or embarrassed because the person sitting next to you probably wants to raise his or her hand as well.”

While those statements are very straightforward, there are many, many among us who simply do not learn them when we are young, which makes it very difficult to apply them in our lives when we get older. This is unfortunate because we miss many of the things that life has to offer us when we don’t understand something and either don’t know that it is alright to ask questions, or are simply afraid to ask them.

We are all God’s children and as such we must be aware that learning how to be a child of God is a process that does not stop as long as we are walking on earth. As a learning process, we must ask questions when we don’t understand something. We cannot be afraid because we think we might be asking a question for which the answer is obvious. If we don’t understand something, we don’t understand it – it is just that simple and we must ask.

As Paul pointed out in his Second Letter to Timothy, God will help us.

“Consider what I say, for the Word will give you understanding in everything.” (2 Timothy 2:7 NASB).

Making sure we ask questions to help us understand things we are having difficulty with is important because with understanding comes rewards.

“The seed that fell on good soil represents those who truly hear and understand God’s Word and produce a harvest of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted.” (Matthew 13:23 NLT).

But Jesus also had this to say about the importance of understanding: “To those who listen to My teaching, more understanding will be given, and they will have an abundance of knowledge. But for those who are not listening, even what little understanding they have will be taken away from them.” (Matthew 13:12 NLT).

So listen to what God tries to teach us, and if you don’t understand something, today is a good day to ask questions.

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

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November 20

TODAY IS…

a good day to ask the question, “Am I giving to God as good as I get?”

“These people honor Me with their lips but their hearts are far from Me.”  Matthew 15:8 NLT

When Jacob deceived his brother Esau, as well as their father, to steal Esau’s birthright, there is no indication that Jacob’s conscience caused him to lose a moment of sleep over the deception.

When Laban deceived Jacob on his wedding night and substituted the older daughter, Leah, for Rachel, whom Jacob had fallen in love with and been promised, Jacob was enraged upon discovering the deception.

“So it came about in the morning that, behold, it was Leah! And he said to Laban, ‘What is this you have done to me? Was it not for Rachel that I served with you? Why then have you deceived me?’” (Genesis 29:25 NASB).

Jacob’s hypocrisy is apparent. It was alright for him to be deceitful, but when deception was used on him, it was a different story.

It is doubtful that there are many of us who would stand up and willfully say, “I am a hypocrite!”

Most who say one thing and do another are either blind to the fact, or simply do not acknowledge that type of behavior as being hypocritical.

How many of us know men who would not hesitate to flirt dangerously with women at work or in bars while “out with the boys,” but would certainly be enraged if they even thought that their wife was engaging in similar behavior? How many marriages are destroyed, and families broken up, over hypocritical behavior?

Pretending, or saying, that we have a certain belief when in fact we do not act in a manner consistent with that belief is hypocritical. It is wrong for us to be that way with our families, our friends, co-workers – in fact, anyone, anywhere.

Now consider our relationship with God. Are we giving God as good as we expect from Him? We pray to God with expectations that He will respond in a positive manner to our requests. We want God to always treat us right.

We want consistency.

But do we give Him the same thing, or do we exhibit hypocrisy in the way we live our lives? Do we honor God with our hearts as well as with our words? Do we ask God to shower us with love and help us with our problems and then turn around and deny our love to those around us and withhold our ability to help from them?

There is a little bit of a hypocrite residing in each one of us. How big a part hypocrisy plays in who we are can only be determined by honest introspection. Ask God to help you identify those areas where you may be a little hypocritical.

It takes a lot of work for any of us to say that we give to God as good as we get, and today is a good day to start.

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

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November 19

TODAY IS…

a perfect day for giving thanks.

“The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy, and I will give thanks to Him in song.”  Psalm 28:7 NIV

November is traditionally the month in which a day is set aside specifically for giving thanks. In a way it is a shame that a day has to be set aside specifically for this purpose. At the same time, it can be a blessing that we do have this day to remind us of just how much we have to be thankful for. People should certainly be encouraged to continue to celebrate this traditional time of family togetherness.

But we all need to try to remember the many reasons we have to be thankful every day.

“I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them.” (1 Timothy 2:1 NLT).

If we are to truly be thankful for all that God is, we must be thankful for all of His children. While we recognize that many of them are lost, we should thank God for each and every one of them and ask God to watch over them, and to help us find ways to help them find their way in this difficult world.

Certainly our spouses should be at the very top of our lists of things that we are humbly thankful to God for, and we should let them know that we love them on a daily basis. Equally important is turning to them frequently and reminding them that, “Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God.” (Philippians 1:3 NLT).

The same can, and should, be said to our children. Our spouses and our children alone should prove to us that we need to give thanks every day for them, and not just reserve it for one designated day, or season, each year.

But it does not stop with family.

Each one of us can make lists of people and things that we should be thankful for on a daily basis. If we did this, we would be surprised at how long the list is.

God has given even the poorest of us much to be thankful for. We need to be focused on telling Him how grateful we are.

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” (Philippians 4:6 NASB).

Make today, and every day, a day of thanksgiving to the One who gives us so much to be thankful for!

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

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