Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Success--God's Way

Have you ever been in this situation? You’re in band, and for your fund-raiser, you have to sell at least ten boxes of candy. There’s only one problem: you hurry home every day to care for your mom, who’s recovering from some surgery. You also watch your little sister and cook supper. There’s little time to go door to door, selling candy. Two days before the deadline, you’ve only sold one box—to your dad. “Lord, I really need help here,” you pray. “I trust you to show me what to do." You put your box of candy by the front door to remember to take it back to school on Monday.

But on Sunday, two ladies from church visit your mom, and when they leave, one lady asks about the candy. You explain about the fund-raiser, and the lady buys two boxes. That night, about an hour before bedtime, the doorbell rings again. Four people from church stand there. “We understand you’re selling candy,” one of the men says. “Do you have any left?” You nod, too surprised to speak. When they leave fifteen minutes later, your box is empty.

God will make a way for you to succeed, even where there seems to be no way. “Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.” (Proverbs 16:3 TNIV) Whatever job you need to do, give it to God. Trust that he will give you his ideas to reach your goals.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Baaa, Baaa, Black Sheep

Sheep aren’t very smart—and neither are we sometimes. Sheep wander off, get lost, and fall off cliffs. They require constant watching. Each of us has drifted away like a silly sheep. We have left God’s well-marked paths to follow our own wrong ways.

Maybe you were raised in a Christian home, went to church faithfully, and were home-schooled until sixth grade. Then you go to public school. You expect the kids to make fun of you, but instead they invite you to games, parties and movies. You know your parents wouldn’t approve of the movies you’re seeing, but you don’t want to look judgmental. Anyway, the movies are pretty funny. Like a wandering sheep, you stray off a godly path.

At one party, when someone produces some pills and other drugs, you nearly fall off the cliff. You come to your senses, though, and call your dad to pick you up. “I have wandered away like a lost sheep; come and find me, for I have not forgotten your commands.” (Psalm 119:176 NLT) He’s there in ten minutes. Sobbing in the car on the way home, you tell your dad what happened. At home, your dad leans over and hugs you hard. “I’m so glad you called,” he says.

If you’ve wandered off the right path, it’s never too late to go home.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Believing God

Can you identify with Jamie? She had a hard time believing anyone. She’d heard her older brother declare he never took drugs—then watched him be arrested for drug abuse. Her dad had promised he’d be there forever—just a month before he walked out without explanation. So when her mom promised one weekend that she’d take Saturday off and go with Jamie to an amusement park, Jamie muttered, “Yeah, I’ll believe that when I see it.” Her mom was hurt that Jamie didn’t believe her. It didn’t seem fair. She hadn’t done anything to lose Jamie’s confidence or make Jamie distrust her.

Even more so, God deserves our trust, and he wants us to believe him. “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6 NIV) You don’t just have faith (or trust) by itself. You have faith IN something or someone. The most reliable place to put our faith is God.

People will let you down. Sometimes it’s on purpose, and they make promises they don’t intend to keep. Most often, people don’t mean to disappoint you—they’re just imperfect human beings. Put your trust in God instead of people. He will never let you down.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Scatter Some Seed Today

Have you ever felt like Amber? Her grandma fell and broke her arm. Grandma loved a clean house, and Amber knew she’d appreciate having someone clean it for her. With her cast, it was too hard for Grandma to drag the vacuum around or scrub out the tub. To be honest, Amber wished she didn’t have to spend her Saturday cleaning Grandma’s house. However, because she cared, she went anyway.

Several hours later, with the house sparkling, Grandma and Amber sat in her porch swing eating ice cream and laughing about things Amber had done when she was younger. Grandma also shared some stories about her own childhood, things that surprised Amber. By the time Amber had to leave, she hated to go. The joy and laughter far outweighed the energy she’d spent cleaning.

When you give to someone in need—whether it’s money, your time, or your talents—you are planting a seed. If you give just a little, the blessings you get back will be little as well. If you give a lot, the harvest of gratitude, joy, and peace will be huge. “Remember this—a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop.” (2 Corinthians 9:6 NLT) Be generous—scatter your seed far and wide! Then enjoy your bumper crop of blessings.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Power-Packed Words

Morgan’s mom used words as weapons, and Morgan often felt the sting. Sometimes she was called stupid or lazy. At other times, her mom made nasty predictions about her. “You’ll never amount to anything,” her mom said, “and I knew it from the moment you were born.” But Morgan made two decisions. (1) With God’s help, she wouldn’t be like her mom. She’d learn to speak kind words and be encouraging. (2) She’d concentrate on her teacher’s words instead: “You have such a lovely smile, Morgan.” “You worked very hard on this lesson, Morgan.” “I look forward to seeing you every day, Morgan.” Morgan soaked it in.

“The tongue has the power of life and death.” (Proverbs 18:21 TNIV) Morgan decided to “choose life” by taking in the life-giving words of her teacher and trying to be like her. Remember, “Gentle words bring life and health.” (Proverbs 15:4 NLT) You—and you alone—control what comes out of your mouth. Choose your words to bless others.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Fooled by Flattery

You have been best friends with Sara for three years, but when Britney moves in next door to you, things change. Every time Sara calls you, Britney is there. Britney now rides to school with you too. You wish you could be best friends with them both. Britney is so sophisticated, and she thinks you’re the cutest girl in your class. She also gushes about your parents being cool, your house being neat, and your baby brother being adorable. Soon Britney is running in and out of your house as if it were her own. However, a month later things began to disappear from your home: your dad’s watch, money from your mom’s purse, a DVD. You are horrified to realize that things turn up missing after Britney has visited. You were so flattered by Britney’s praise that you didn’t see the real reason behind it.

Unfortunately, there are some phony people in the world. Like Britney, such people are looking for people to use. “These people . . . boast about themselves and flatter others for their own advantage.”(Jude 16 TNIV) Sincere compliments from a friend are wonderful! But wise up—and don’t be fooled by phony flattery.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Settle Down!

You pace back and forth across the living room, muttering under your breath. You can’t believe it. Both your best friends have been chosen for pep squad, but not you! Your cheers at tryouts were just as good as theirs! Why weren’t you chosen? Weren’t you pretty enough? Had you looked awkward or stupid? The more you fume, the worse you feel.

Not being chosen for pep squad is disappointing—but you’re allowing yourself to get emotionally troubled by keeping your mind stirred up. Two hours later, when you have a headache and upset stomach, you decide to get a grip. You pour your heart out to God, giving him your frustration and disappointment—and fear that your friends will now leave you behind. You let it go and allow Jesus’ peace to fill your heart, calm your emotions, and settle your thoughts.

Yes, it’s disappointing. But tryouts are over, and you still have all the good things in your life that you had before. God is in control, and he knows more about the situation than you do. Remember, “The LORD will give strength to His people; The LORD will bless His people with peace.” (Psalm 29:11 NKJV)