TODAY IS… an excellent day to avoid the crush. By Tony Casson

Time for another excerpt from the book, “Today Is….A Gift From God.”

December 19


an excellent day to avoid the crush.

“Though we are overwhelmed by our sins, You forgive them all.”
Psalm 65:3 NLT

This time of year is a difficult one for millions of people. Certainly many people simply feel the crush of the season as “the day” approaches. Shopping, parties, family, friends – all good things, certainly, but each one adds to the burden that we carry. The good news for all of these people is that Christmas Day acts as a safety valve, and once it arrives, the pressure is off and many people relax and enjoy the peace and goodwill that seems to settle over the world, if only briefly.

Millions of others feel the weight of the season in an entirely different way. Millions dread the arrival of this time of year and many of us face severe bouts of depression and loneliness. Many are overcome with negativity and bring their self-worth into question. Many of us feel the weight of our sins and do not know how to keep from being crushed under that weight. There is no time that is good to feel the burden we feel when we are overwhelmed by our sins, but this time of year seems to make us more aware of the oppressive weight on our souls that comes as a result.

If we fall into the first group, there is not much that can help beyond patience – it will all be over soon. If we fall into the second group we need to turn to God and ask for His help. We also need the prayers of those in the first group.

Sometimes we feel that we have nowhere to turn. Our actions have caused us to dig ourselves deeper and deeper into darkness. We see no way out, other than to fill the hole in on top of ourselves, and the ability to see any light at the end of our personal tunnel has long since left us. We have forgotten that this season of joy, which we have allowed to become an additional weight on us, signifies the birth of the very One who can remove that weight from our shoulders and lift us up out of the hole that we have dug.

There is no problem that we have that is too big for our Lord. There is no sin too great that cannot be forgiven if we accept Christ into our life, repent of our sins, and ask forgiveness. There is no darkness that cannot be thrown into comforting light by the grace and glory of God if we will only reach out and ask God to take our hand.

Many, many people choose this time of year to pronounce a death sentence upon themselves. Pray for those who would take their life with their own hand and ask God to help them reach out for His hand instead so He may lift them up from under their burden.


TODAY’S GIFT by Tony Casson

Time for another excerpt from the upcoming book, “Today Is….A Gift From God.” Today’s devotional is from December 25.


an awesome day to thank God for the greatest gift of all.

“Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord.”  Luke 2:11 NIV

As the title of this book reminds us, each day is A Gift From God. The days of our lives are precious, each and every one. They hold out promise and hope. The days of our lives are among the most valuable of all gifts that God gives us, and there are many, as the devotionals in this book have attempted to demonstrate.

But the most precious gift ever given by the One who gave us this world in which to live, and our very lives with which to enjoy it, was the gift of His Son Jesus Christ, the One whose birth would change the world forever.

Zechariah used these beautiful words to describe the gift that the world would soon be given: “Because of God’s tender mercy, the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, and to guide us to the path of peace.” (Luke 1:79 NLT). The morning has broken, and it is surely a beautiful day!

Jesus came to occupy our hearts, but it is not a forced occupation. We must want Him there, and we must seek the light that He will shine upon those dark areas of our souls that we would like to say good-bye to. We must desire the life that will come when we learn the savior’s lessons that will teach us to die to ourselves. We must volunteer to serve and be willing to sacrifice all that we are and all that we have in order to receive all that He came to give.

Hopefully we are all aware that we must thank God each and every day for all of His grace, all of His love, and all of His mercy. But on this day that has been set aside to mark the arrival of the most valuable gift ever given, we must all be sure to give special thanks to God.

With this gift in our possession, we can feed those who are hungry, clothe those who are naked, house those who are homeless, and heal those who are sick. With this gift we can refuse to fall prey to the temptations of Satan and those he has corrupted on this earth. With this gift we can live in a significant manner and we can understand the concept of humble service to our brothers and sisters.

By accepting this remarkable, priceless gift of love, we can be better spouses, better parents, better friends, and better neighbors.

Let us all humbly, gratefully, joyfully, and tearfully accept this gift and say “Thank You” to Almighty God.


TODAY’S GIFT by Tony Casson

Time for another excerpt from the upcoming book, “Today Is….A Gift From God.” Today’s devotional is from September 10.


an excellent day to thank God for your tears. 

“Arise, cry out in the night, as the watches of the night begin; pour out your heart like water in the presence of the Lord.”   Lamentations 2:19a NIV

One of the greatest gifts that God has given us is the gift of our tears. Many will wonder how tears can be a gift, but how else can we present ourselves to God and ask for forgiveness if we are not weeping as we do so? Crying has a way of helping us to wash away our sins. But it serves many more purposes than that and has much greater significance in our lives.

For many people tears flow freely during times of joy. Men and women alike will get all misty-eyed at the birth of a child. While it is true that sad movies make people cry, the same holds true for some that end joyously. Tears through our joy produce rainbows in our hearts in much the same way as sun through the rain produces rainbows in the sky.

Weddings produce tears from many different people: fathers, mothers, maids of honor, guests, and the brides themselves – perhaps even the grooms.

Graduations, recitals, concerts, plays, sports competitions and on and on. Milestones in our lives and the lives of those we love all produce tears that signify happiness or extreme joy.

And, of course, tears also signify our pain. Tears at the loss of a loved one wash the grief from our hearts. Men and women alike signify their sorrow by shedding tears. We console each other, and we weep together.

Tears show our humanity. How unfortunate are those individuals who are raised to believe that tears, especially tears from men, are a sign of weakness. How sad that people go through life without rainbows in their hearts; without washing away sin or pain; or without being able to express that depth of joy that only tears can reveal.

Sadly, many young men are raised to believe that “real” men don’t cry. Jesus Christ was the greatest man to ever walk this earth, and not least among all of the gifts His Father gave Him was the gift of tears. When told that Lazarus had died and had been placed in a tomb, “Jesus wept.” (John 11:35 NASB).

There are gifts to thank God for each and every day of our lives. Today is an excellent day to thank God for the gift of our tears.


TODAY’S GIFT by Tony Casson

Time for another excerpt from the upcoming book, “Today Is….A Gift From God.” Today’s devotional is from January 6.


a good day to thank God for the gift of freedom. 

“Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” Galatians 5:1 KJV

A carpenter from Nazareth changed the world. His life gave the world Hope, and His death gave the world Life. His teachings instill within us the basic Christian values that provide us with the foundation for social morality and human decency.

Jesus died to set us free, but it is important to understand that the freedom He gave us is not the freedom to do whatever we wish. Rather, He gave us the freedom to do the RIGHT thing; the freedom to live unselfishly and with purpose; the freedom to live without sin; the freedom to serve.

Chiseled in a low wall on the grounds of Penn State University is the following message:


Wise words indeed, and if we look to the Bible, we find Paul explaining exactly what those words mean:

“For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love.”  (Galatians 5:13 NLT).

How completely this sums up our responsibility to the One who gave His life so that we may live ours free from sin! And how perfectly this demonstrates why we should give thanks to God who is “…so rich in kindness and grace that He purchased our freedom with the blood of His Son and forgave our sins.”  (Ephesians 1:7 NLT).

While it is true that we should praise the Lord and say “Thank you!” it would be a far more meaningful way of showing appreciation if we reject the bondage that accompanies sin and rejoice in our freedom by serving one another in love. Just as any parent experiences a warm feeling when a child of theirs is observed in an act of kindness, generosity or love, God is also pleased when His children act towards one another in a similar manner.

A better way to thank God for our freedom simply does not exist than to be kind, to help another human being, and to serve one another in love.

TODAY’S GIFT by Tony Casson

Time for another excerpt from the upcoming book, “Today Is….A Gift From God.” Today’s devotional is from August 13.

TODAY IS… a great day to teach what you don’t know.

“The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”              Philippians 4:9 NASB

How can we possibly teach what we don’t know? Teaching another person about Christ is one of the greatest things that we can do while on this earth. Unfortunately, for so many of us think that our knowledge is too limited to be of much use to another person. We have read about the importance or memorizing scripture, but we can’t seem to memorize easily. Perhaps that holds us back. We have only been living in the Word of God for a short time. Perhaps that holds us back. If we wait until we become the perfect teacher, we will never teach.

While the Bible itself can be somewhat overwhelming to us at first, the willingness to explore it makes someone a student. The joy in helping someone explore it makes us a teacher, even if we cannot quote chapter and verse.

If we know that the answer to any question that we can ask about how to live our life can be found in the Bible, we can be a teacher. If we trust God to help us help another person find the truth that they seek, we can be a teacher. If we don’t mind saying, “You know, I’m not sure, but let’s see what we can find together” you have demonstrated the qualifications to teach what you do not know.

The simple reality is that if God were to depend on “certified” scholars to spread His message, it would never have spread very far. Teaching others about the salvation that Christ offers each one of us is something that comes from our hearts, and not from a diploma or a degree.

The study of the Holy Bible is a life-long personal commitment. It is not a two year or a four year degree. It is a daily program for problem solving. It is a treasure chest that can be reached into without looking with the knowledge that whatever we grab will be valuable beyond measure.

We are better teachers than we allow ourselves to believe. Our knowledge is first hand, heartfelt, and deeply personal. Teaching about Christ helps us to learn about ourselves. Seeing the changes we help instill in another brings about remarkable changes within ourselves. We teach by being an example for others to follow and we discover that not only are we good at it, but our desire to teach still more people grows.

Teach without fear of what you don’t know and you’ll be amazed at what you do know.



TODAY’S GIFT by Tony Casson

Time for another excerpt from the upcoming book, “Today Is….A Gift From God.” Today’s devotional is from January 20.

TODAY IS… a good day to avoid self-sufficiency.

“The Lord said to Gideon, ‘The people who are with you are too many for Me to give Midian into their hands, for Israel would become boastful, saying ‘My own power has delivered me.'” Judges 7:2 NASB

When God convinced Gideon that it was he who God wanted to rescue Israel from the armies of Midian, Gideon’s own army numbered some 32,000 men. God had assured Gideon a victory, but was concerned that once the victory was won, Gideon and his army would attribute the victory to their own strength and not God’s. God called upon Gideon to send all but 300 of his warrior’s home. With an army so small, victory could only come with God’s help. “The Lord said to Gideon, ‘I will deliver you with the 300 men…'”  (Judges 7:7 NASB).

Far too often we pray to God for His help with a particular problem or situation then take the credit for ourselves when it is resolved or taken care of. We seem to forget that we asked God for help and somehow conveniently seem to think we were the source of the solution. We must never allow self-sufficiency to cause us to believe that we can do what must be done without help from God.

Before entering into the land promised to the Israelites by God, Moses cautioned them to “…then watch yourself, that you do not forget the Lord who brought you from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.”  (Deuteronomy 6:12 NASB).

Moses feared what would happen when the Israelites discovered the prosperity of the Promised Land. “…a land with large, flourishing cities you did not build, houses filled with all kinds of good things you did not provide, wells you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves you did not plant…” (Deuteronomy 6:10-11 NIV). He was afraid that they would then feel self-sufficient and fall prey to the desire to obtain more of everything except God, who had delivered them to that land of plenty.

As creations of God, we should all be thankful to Him for each new sunrise, for each breath that we take, and for everything that we have, yet we often get caught up in feelings of pride. Self-importance leads to self-sufficiency and that leads us away from God.

It is impossible for us, as humans, to love God as much as He loves us. But if we love Him with all that we are, and thank Him daily for His love and for all that He is, we will avoid any temptations to take credit away from God and claim it for ourselves. We must always give credit to God and thank Him for everything. Without Him we are nothing, but with Him we have everything we need.


“TODAY’S GIFT” by Tony Casson

Time for another excerpt from the upcoming book, “Today Is….A Gift From God.” Today’s devotional is from May 22.


a terrific day to pray for others. 

“I urge you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in my struggle by praying to God for me.”  Romans 15:30 NIV

Prayer is a gift from God. It is the ability to communicate directly with Him and seek comfort, ask for help, and – hopefully – to give thanks to the One who makes so much of value available to us. It is an opportunity for reflection, and a way to ask for guidance and direction in our lives. Prayer is also the first place we should turn when we are confronted with temptation. And we will be confronted with temptation.

But prayer is also a great way to fulfill the Lord’s instruction that we love one another and look out for one another. We can accomplish this by using prayer for the benefit of others.

Asking God to help us heal in times of great sadness or sorrow is perfectly alright, but asking God to help someone else find the strength to deal with a terrible loss or tragedy is a great way to help someone at times when we may feel unable to do anything. God can get to places in a person’s heart that we cannot, and He loves to hear our voices imploring Him to help.

We also need to consider the many people throughout the world that we don’t even know who work tirelessly, sacrifice much, and risk their very lives to share the Word of God with others so that they may experience the joy of a life that has been changed by knowing, and accepting, Christ Jesus.

In their struggles to spread the Good News, these brave men and women need our prayers of support. Just as Paul reached out to those who believed in his day to pray in support of his struggle, we should all pray for the many thousands who continue that struggle today.

There are many good reasons to pray. Our personal problems are among them. But it is also a beautifully Christian thing to take time to pray for all who need God’s help.


“TODAY’S GIFT” by Tony Casson

Time for another excerpt from the upcoming book, “Today Is….A Gift From God.” Today’s devotional is from October 14.


the ideal day to be thankful for the breath of God. 

“And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.”   Genesis 2:7 KJV

It was not enough for God to form man. He also had to give him life with His own breath. With the breath of life, He also gave us the ability to become the vessel through which life is created again, and again, and again. From that very first breath, the world has increased in population until the number of people exceeds a staggering seven billion inhabitants of the world God created.

There is no person who walks this earth who is not alive as a result of that first breath of God and that is something we should all be thankful for. Every breath we take is a gift of love from God made possible with that first breath of man.

The breath of God not only gave us life, it has saved the lives of those who follow Him. As the Israelites were pursued by the army of Pharaoh, God intervened. In their Song of Deliverance, Moses and the people of Israel sang, “At the blast of Your breath, the waters piled up! The surging waters stood straight like a wall; in the heart of the sea the deep waters became hard.” (Exodus 15:8 NLT)

God did not create us to abandon us. Those who obey His simple instructions for life will always be able to count on the breath of God. Just as the Israelites saw the power of God’s breath when he parted the Red Sea so they could escape Pharaoh’s army, they saw His breath destroy those who would harm those who obeyed Him. “But you blew with your breath, and the sea covered them. They sank like lead in the mighty waters.” (Exodus 15:10 NIV)

When He sent His son to suffer and die so that our sins could all be forgiven and we could look forward to eternal life, He gave Him the power to fill His disciples with the Holy Spirit. Jesus told them He was sending them out as His Father had sent Him. “And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’” (John 20:22 NASB)

It was the breath of God that gave life to all of mankind. It is the breath of God that fills us all with the Holy Spirit. It is the breath of God that saves us when we are in danger.

Every single time we take a breath, it is a gift from God, and we should take every opportunity to tell Him how thankful we are.