The Morning Watch

Every morning He wakes me. He teaches me to listen like a student. The Lord God helps me learn . . . – Isaiah 50:4-5

The Morning Watch

Each new day is a gift from God, and if you are wise, you will spend a few quiet moments each morning thanking the Giver. When you do, you’ll discover that time spent with God can lift your spirits and relieve your stress.

Warren Wiersbe writes, “Surrender your mind to the Lord at the beginning of each day.” That is sound advice. When you begin each day with your head bowed and your heart lifted, you are reminded of God’s love, His protection, and His commandments. Then, you can align your priorities for the coming day with the teachings and commandments that God has placed upon your heart.

So, if you’ve acquired the unfortunate habit of trying to “squeeze” God into the corners of your life, it’s time to reshuffle the items on your to-do list by placing God first. And if you haven’t already done so, form the habit of spending quality time with your Father in heaven. He deserves it . . . and so do you.

– Steve Arterburn

How paltry must be the devotions of those who are always in a hurry. – William Law

How motivating it has been for me to view my early morning devotions as time of retreat alone with Jesus, who desires that I “come with Him by myself to a quiet place” in order to pray, read His Word, listen for His voice, and be renewed in my spirit. – Anne Graham Lotz

I suggest you discipline yourself to spend time daily in a systematic reading of God’s Word. Make this “quiet time” a priority that nobody can change. – Warren Wiersbe

TODAY’S PRAYER
Lord, help me to hear Your direction for my life in the quiet moments when I study Your Holy Word. And as I go about my daily activities, let everything that I say and do be pleasing to You. Amen

 

Studying God’s Word Builds Character

You will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, constantly nourished on the words of the faith and of the sound doctrine which you have been following. – 1 Timothy 4:6

Studying Gods Word Builds Character

God’s promises are found in a book like no other: the Holy Bible. The Bible is a road map for life here on earth and for life eternal. We are called upon to trust its promises, to follow its commandments, and to share its Good News. We are instructed to study the Bible each day and meditate upon its meaning for our lives. Otherwise, we deprive ourselves of an invaluable, character-building gift from the Creator. God’s Holy Word is, indeed, a transforming, life-changing, one-of-a-kind treasure. And, a passing acquaintance with the Good Book is insufficient for those who seek to obey God’s Word and to understand His will.

God has made promises to mankind and to you. God’s promises never fail and they never grow old. You must trust those promises and share them with your family, with your friends, and with the world.

Are you standing on the promises of God? Are you expecting God to do wonderful things, or are you living beneath a cloud of apprehension and doubt? The familiar words of Psalm 118:24 remind us of a profound yet simple truth: “This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it“(KJV). Do you trust that promise, and do you live accordingly? If so, you are living the passionate life that God intends.

For passionate believers, every day begins and ends with God’s Son and God’s promises. As we face the inevitable challenges of life, we must arm ourselves with the promises of God’s Holy Word. When we do, we can expect the best, not only for the day ahead, but also for all eternity.

Trust God’s Word: Charles Swindoll writes, “There are four words I wish we would never forget, and they are, ‘God keeps his word’.” And remember: When it comes to studying God’s Word, school is always in session.

– Steve Arterburn

Reading news without reading the Bible will inevitably lead to an unbalanced life, an anxious spirit, a worried and depressed soul. – Bill Bright

God gives us a compass and a Book of promises and principles’ the Bible, and lets us make our decisions day by day as we sense the leading of His Spirit. This is how we grow. – Warren Wiersbe

George Burns | It’s Nice to be Anywhere

No man has power over the wind to contain it; so no one has power over the day of his death. – Ecclesiastes 8:8

Its Nice to be Anywhere

When it comes to the length of your life, what do you consider long enough?

On March 9, 1996 comedian and actor George Burns passed away at the age of 100. He was still performing live comedy, until just a few years before his death. At his 98th birthday celebration, he addressed his guest in true “George Burns style“, saying “It’s nice to be here . . . at 98, it’s nice to be anywhere.”

At 98 years-old, George Burns considered every day a gift and he was right! Whether you’re twenty-two years old or ninety-two, life is precious and should never be taken for granted. None of us are born with a guaranteed number of days on this earth. We have no promise that we will be here tomorrow and should realize that each moment is priceless. In acknowledging each day as an irreplaceable gift, we will be more likely to make the most of the time that we are given.

Start each morning by thanking the Lord for the day He has given you. Then spend that day, as if you meant what you said.

When I was a boy the Dead Sea was only sick. – George Burns

Expect the Unexpected

In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps. – Proverbs 16:9

Expect the Unexpected

Have you ever calculated and carefully planned something . . . only to find that the results were not what you expected?

In January of 1996, a Los Angeles based radio station awarded a pair of Superbowl tickets to the winner of their “Crazy Stunt” contest. For his stunt, finalist Mike Garcia intended to remove his glass eye, swallow it, bring it back up, and replace it in the socket . . . all before a live audience. In preparation, Garcia consumed a massive quantity of food, followed by a 6-pack of beer. Once onstage, the first half of his stunt went according to plan; Garcia effortlessly removed his glass eye and swallowed it. The second half, however, took an unexpected turn.

The gluttonous portions of food and ale had their anticipated effect. But despite his best efforts, Garcia could not retrieve the eye that he had swallowed. He heaved upon stage for more than fifteen minutes and then left the stage tired, disappointed, and missing one eye. Had he known the outcome in advance, he probably would have opted to buy tickets, which probably would have been cheaper than what he spent to replace his prosthesis.

Be careful when you find yourself thinking that you have it all figured out. You could be headed for trouble. We need God’s input and direction every moment of the day. Remember that even though we are reading the map, He is at the wheel. Look to the Lord when making the smallest, and seemingly most insignificant decisions.

Prayer should be the key of the day and the lock of the night. – George Herbet

Focusing on God

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:34

Focusing on God

All of us may find our courage tested by the inevitable disappointments and tragedies of life. After all, ours is a world filled with uncertainty, hardship, sickness, and danger. Trouble, it seems, is never too far from the front door. When we focus upon our fears and our doubts, we may find many reasons to lie awake at night and fret about the uncertainties of the coming day. A better strategy, of course, is to focus not upon our fears, but instead upon our God. God is as near as your next breath, and He is in control. He offers salvation to all His children, including you. God is your shield and your strength; you are His forever. So don’t focus your thoughts upon the fears of the day. Instead, trust God’s plan and His eternal love for you. And remember: God is good, and He has the last word.

Whether our fear is absolutely realistic or out of proportion in our minds, our greatest refuge is Jesus Christ.  – Luci Swindoll

Fear and doubt are conquered by a faith that rejoices. And faith can rejoice because the promises of God are as certain as God Himself. – Kay Arthur

Today’s Prayer
Your Word reminds me, Lord, that even when I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I need fear no evil, for You are with me, and You comfort me. Thank You, Lord, for a perfect love that casts out fear. Let me live courageously and faithfully this day and every day. Amen

The Fever of Guilt

He restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness… Psalm 23:3a

The Fever of Guilt

Guilt is the fever of the soul. Like a warning light on your dash­board, your guilt alerts you to the fact that you’ve acted against God, yourself, and maybe even against others. When this happens, you might descend into depression, wallowing in feelings that will leave you discouraged, spiritually drained, and isolated.

But you have a brother who can relate. King David understood the fever of guilt. Yet he also knew the recovery that could come with forgiveness. Both of these experiences are described in Psalm 32: Oh, what joy for those whose rebellion is forgiven…When I refused to confess my sin I was weak and miserable, and I groaned all day long. Day and night your hand of discipline was heavy on me. My strength evaporated like water in the summer heat. Finally, I confessed all my sins to you and stopped trying to hide them…And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone.

Guilt doesn’t take care of your sin—you can’t make up for your wrong choices by suffering from a guilty conscience. As with a fever, you rid yourself of guilt by dealing with the cause. Once you’ve treated the root cause, the fever, or guilt, takes care of itself. In this way, guilt can draw you into the arms of your loving God—where you will find forgiveness and restoration. Hiding your sins only gives them increasing power over you. Break sin’s power by confessing it to God and those you’ve hurt.

– Steve Arterburn

“How tedious is a guilty conscience!” – John Webster

“So full of artless jealousy is guilt, it spills itself in fearing to be spilt.” – William Shakespeare

Love-Hate Relationships

As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.  Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.  Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. – Ephesians 4:1-3

Love-Hate Relationships

Almost every person has at least one—a person you love, but also deeply resent or hate.  It could be a parent, spouse, sibling, boss, a rebellious child, neighbor, friend or even God.

Living in a love-hate relationship isn’t easy.  It requires some very complicated and refined coping skills.  The problem, however, is that too many people go on, day after day, merely coping with the situation.  Either they’re unaware that they can do more than cope, or they are unwilling to do it.

Those resigned to merely cope with the situation are not happy people.  Whether they stay in the relationship or leave, they render themselves powerless to change. They lose faith in the power of God to change the situation.  They give up on prayer as a means to facilitate change.

But our challenge goes beyond prayer.  The beginning of a solution rests in your decisions—your decision to do something—to take action.  Set boundaries.  See a counselor.  Join a group.  Confront in love.

Remember, “no decision” is a decision.

– Steve Arterburn

“The man who rolls up his sleeves seldom loses his shirt.”Stephen Covey

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

Guarding Your Thoughts During Difficult Times

Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable—if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise—dwell on these things. Philippians 4:8

Guarding Your Thoughts During Difficult Times

Are you an optimistic, hopeful, enthusiastic Christian? You should be. After all, as a believer, you have every reason to be optimistic about life here on earth and life eternal. As English clergyman, William Ralph Inge observed, “No Christian should be a pessimist, for Christianity is a system of radical optimism.”  Inge’s words are most certainly true, but sometimes, you may find yourself pulled down by tough times. If you find yourself discouraged, exhausted, or both, then it’s time to ask yourself this question: what’s bothering you, and why?

If you’re worried by the inevitable challenges of everyday living, God wants to have a little talk with you. After all, the ultimate battle has already been won on the cross at Calvary. And if your life has been transformed by Christ’s sacrifice, then you, as a recipient of God’s grace, have every reason to live courageously. Are you willing to trust God’s plans for your life, in good times and difficult times? Hopefully, you will trust Him completely. Proverbs 3:5-6 makes it clear: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths” (NKJV).

So make this promise to yourself and keep it—vow to be a hope-filled Christian. Think optimistically about your life, your profession, your family, your future, and your purpose for living. Guard your thoughts and the things that you allow your mind to dwell on and trust your hopes, not your fears. Take time to celebrate God’s glorious creation. And then, when you’ve filled your heart with hope and gladness, share your optimism with others. They’ll be better for it, and so will you.

Attitude is all-important. Let the soul take a quiet attitude of faith and love toward God, and from there on, the responsibility is God’s. He will make good on His commitments.” – A. W. Tozer.

These words should serve as a reminder that even when the challenges of the day seem daunting, God remains steadfast. And, so should you.

– Steve Arterburn

Today’s Prayer
Dear Lord, I will focus on Your love, Your power, Your promises, and Your Son. When I am weak, I will turn to You for strength; when I am worried, I will turn to You for comfort; when I am troubled, I will turn to You for patience and perspective. Help me guard my thoughts, Lord, so that I may honor You this day and forever. Amen

Burnout

For six days work is to be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of rest, holy to the Lord. Exodus 31:15a

Burnout

Are you burned out, or in danger of burn out? Has your life gotten so busy that it takes every ounce of energy on a daily basis simply to keep from falling behind? And you’re not doing a very good job of that?

If so, I understand–it’s not a good feeling. Like the dilemma of having a tiger by the tail: let it go and it’ll gobble you up; hold on and you’re in for a wild ride. According to recent polls, the American workforce is burdened by a great deal of stress; 77 percent reported feeling occasional burnout, which, by the way doesn’t discriminate by age, gender, or other common groupings.

The first thing I would recommend this week if you’re feeling burnt out is that you honor that commandment about the Sabbath. Take a day where you spend time worshipping God and the rest of the day away from anything close to your daily grind. Take a walk. Go to a park or the beach. Stop receiving input and give your mind a rest.

Steve Arterburn

Until a man has found God, he begins at no beginning and works to no end.” – H. G. Wells (1866–1946)

Truth and Lies

Kings take pleasure in honest lips; they value a man who speaks the truth. – Proverbs 16:13

Truth and Lies

A ship called the Globe arrived on the shores of Hawaii in 1825. The crew was far outnumbered by thousands of dark-skinned islanders, but amazingly, the native people treated the crew members like gods. The crew’s fair skin, glimmering brass buttons, and huge ship impressed the islanders. In addition, the crew perpetrated a lie, convincing the islanders that they could easily overpower them with supernatural force.

Penned into a journal of the voyage that day was this profound entry: ‘So ready is the human mind to receive for truth, what it cannot comprehend, that it may be at variance with everything in nature or reason.’

Little has changed in the minds of men and women since the Globe’s voyage. Much of what is passed off as truth, or at least knowledge, is a lie.

How do you know what to believe? A piano tuner depends upon a tuning fork that vibrates the precise number of times which defines the perfect note, A, on the musical scale, and against which all other keys on the piano are tuned. We have the Bible, against which all other ‘truths’ of the world are measured.

– Steve Arterburn

Our truth of nowadays is not what is, but what others can be convinced of.” – Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592)