Our Loving God

DEVOTIONAL BY BILLY GRAHAM – HOPE FOR EACH DAY

Our Loving, Compassionate God

I am the bread of life. – JOHN 6:35

Jesus came to the world so we could know, once and for all, that God is concerned about the way we live, the way we believe, and the way we die.

God could have told us in other ways, of course—and He had, throughout the pages of the Old Testament and in the lives of His people. By His written Word He declared His love.

But Jesus was the Living Word. By His life, death, and resurrection, Jesus demonstrated God’s love in a way we could never deny. Paul wrote, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8). Every time He fed the hungry, He was saying, “I am the bread of life.”

Every time He healed a suffering person, He was saying, “It hurts Me to see you in pain.” Every move He made, every miracle He performed, every word He spoke was for the purpose of reconciling a lost world to the loving, compassionate God.

 DEVOTIONAL BY CHARLES STANLEY – ON HOLY GROUND

The Broken Man

The Lord upholds all who fall, and raises up all who are bowed down. – Psalm 145:14

The minute seed corn that was buried in the ground burst forth into a cornucopia of grain.  Likewise, the Christian stripped of self-sufficiency and entered into a new dimension of life In Christ, is positioned for maximum fruitfulness in the kingdom of God.

The broken man enjoys a new measure of power in the Holy Spirit.  He looks to the Spirit of God to work in and through him, putting no confidence in the flesh.  He is charged with the life and thee energy of the Holy Spirit.

The submitted man is joyful in the Lord.  He is no longer hostage to changing circumstances, riding the ups and downs of emotions or happenings.  The joy of the Lord is his strength.

The yielded man is alert to the needs of others.  God uses him to minister to other hurting people because he is not consumed with his own problems.  He has wisdom and insight to share, not his own futile reasoning.

He still must deal with the trials and ordeals of daily life; but there is a lift to his countenance, a surety about his ways.  He relies wholly on Christ.  He has freedom, liberty, and new devotion to Jesus and His work.

 DEVOTIONAL FROM POSTCARDS FROM HEAVEN – CLAIRE CLONINGER

I Am Here For Your Hurt

My dear child,

Are you hurting today?  Under all the coping mechanisms you’ve set up to keep your life in motion, is there a place I you that is bruised and aching, a hidden place in need of healing?

I know.  I can see.  I want to heal you.  It is to the downtrodden and the broken that I come.  Let me in.  Don’t hide the wounded places.  Don’t show me only the shiny achievements and the competent areas of your life.  I am here for the hurt in you too.  I want to bring health to every part of you.  I want to see you flourish.  I want to make you whole.  So when the wick of your candle is smoldering and almost out, cry out to me.  I will send the gentle wind of my Holy Spirit to stir up that flame of life in you.

Compassionately yours. – God

 Matthew 25:34-40

34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

 Psalm 45:14-20

The Lord is trustworthy in all he promises and faithful in all he does.[c] 14 The Lord upholds all who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down. 15 The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food at the proper time. 16 You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing.

17 The Lord is righteous in all his ways and faithful in all he does. 18 The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. 19 He fulfills the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cry and saves them. 20 The Lord watches over all who love him, but all the wicked he will destroy.

DEVOTIONAL BY OSWALD CHAMBERS – MY UTMOST FOR HIS HIGHEST

Test of Faithfulness

We know that all things work together for good to those who love God . . . —Romans 8:28

It is only a faithful person who truly believes that God sovereignly controls his circumstances. We take our circumstances for granted, saying God is in control, but not really believing it. We act as if the things that happen were completely controlled by people. To be faithful in every circumstance means that we have only one loyalty, or object of our faith— the Lord Jesus Christ. God may cause our circumstances to suddenly fall apart, which may bring the realization of our unfaithfulness to Him for not recognizing that He had ordained the situation. We never saw what He was trying to accomplish, and that exact event will never be repeated in our life. This is where the test of our faithfulness comes. If we will just learn to worship God even during the difficult circumstances, He will change them for the better very quickly if He so chooses.

Being faithful to Jesus Christ is the most difficult thing we try to do today. We will be faithful to our work, to serving others, or to anything else; just don’t ask us to be faithful to Jesus Christ. Many Christians become very impatient when we talk about faithfulness to Jesus. Our Lord is dethroned more deliberately by Christian workers than by the world. We treat God as if He were a machine designed only to bless us, and we think of Jesus as just another one of the workers.

The goal of faithfulness is not that we will do work for God, but that He will be free to do His work through us. God calls us to His service and places tremendous responsibilities on us. He expects no complaining on our part and offers no explanation on His part. God wants to use us as He used His own Son. 

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Hope and Love

DEVOTIONAL BY BILLY GRAHAM – HOPE FOR EACH DAY

Compassion and Love

Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. – 1 John 4:11

Charles Allen once made this statement: Some people seem to have such passion for righteousness that they have no room left for compassion for those who have failed.”

I pray that would never be true for us.  God, our Father, has shown us such great kindness and gentle mercy.

May we ever reach out to the lost in compassion and love to bring them gently to Jesus Christ.  Jesus, “when He saw the multitudes … was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd” (Matt. 9:36).

Let me share these lines from an unknown poet:

Just to be tender, just to be true,

Just to be glad the whole day through,

Just to be merciful, just to be mild,

Just to be trustful as a child:

Just to be gentle and kind and sweet,

Just to be helpful with willing feet,

Just to let love be our daily key,

That is God’s will for you and me.

DEVOTIONAL BY CHARLES STANLEY – ON HOLY GROUND

The Worth of Weakness

He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”  Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distress, for Christ’s sake.  For when I am weak, then I am strong. – 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

In our society, physical strength is the hallmark of success and power. It doesn’t take long to figure out the messages behind countless advertisements for fitness centers, health clubs, and exercise equipment.

Of course, staying in shape and taking good care of your body are worthy, healthful goals with the right perspective (1 Tim. 4:8).  But the underlying assumption of people who value physical training as an ideal in itself is that weakness is shameful.  For them, physical weakness represents who you are as a person: pathetic and helpless and unattractive.

In spiritual terms, weakness carries a far different message.  It says, “I have a problem, and I need a savior who can fix it.”  Weakness becomes an opportunity for God to demonstrate His power on your behalf.

Do weaknesses prompt you to hide or attempt to make changes by yourself? They should be your signal to ask the Lord for the help that only He can give.

Precious Lord, there is intrinsic value in weakness. Help me embrace it, realizing that therein lie dormant strength and unlimited potential for greatness.

DEVOTIONAL FROM POSTCARDS FROM HEAVEN – CLAIRE CLONINGER

Someone Understands

Dear Child,

Sometimes you feel that no one understands what you are going through. Even those closest to you don’t seem to comprehend or care.  I want you to know today that you are not alone.  For I have given you more than a savior, more than a distant and ethereal high priest who exists above all human experience.  I have given you a friend who has walked through his human life before you.

How well he understands your breaking heart!  How well he knows what it is to be beaten back by fatigue, plagued by enemies, misunderstood by friends.  Whatever you are struggling with today, he has struggled with that same emotion or feeling.  Whatever your temptation, he was tempted that way, too.  Wherever your feet are on the journey, his footprints are in the road ahead of you.

Never again do I want you to say that no one understands.  Jesus Christ understands, and because he sits at my right hand, day and night interceding for you, I am constantly being reminded of your plight.  I encourage you, my child, to come into my presence with boldness and confidence. Tell me what’s going on.  I have mercy for your sins and grace to uplift you when you are hurting.

You see, I understand, too.  God.

MATTHEW 20:1-16

 “For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. 2 He agreed to pay them a denarius for the day and sent them into his vineyard.

 About nine in the morning he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing. He told them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ So they went.

“He went out again about noon and about three in the afternoon and did the same thing. About five in the afternoon he went out and found still others standing around. He asked them, ‘Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?’

Because no one has hired us,’ they answered.

“He said to them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard.’

“When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.’

 The workers who were hired about five in the afternoon came and each received a denarius. So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius. When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner. ‘These who were hired last worked only one hour,’ they said, ‘and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.’

 But he answered one of them, ‘I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you. Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’ 

“So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

PSALM 145:1-8

 I will exalt you, my God the King; I will praise your name for ever and ever.

Every day I will praise you and extol your name for ever and ever.

Great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom.

One generation commends your works to another; they tell of your mighty acts.

They speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty— and I will meditate on your wonderful works.

They tell of the power of your awesome works— and I will proclaim your great deeds.

They celebrate your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of your righteousness.

The LORD is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love.

DEVOTIONAL BY OSWALD CHAMBERS – MY UTMOST FOR HIS HIGHEST

The Never-forsaking God

He Himself has said, ’I will never leave you nor forsake you’ — Hebrews 13:5

What line of thinking do my thoughts take? Do I turn to what God says or to my own fears? Am I simply repeating what God says, or am I learning to truly hear Him and then to respond after I have heard what He says? “For He Himself has said, ’I will never leave
you nor forsake you.’ So we may boldly say: ’The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?’” – Hebrews 13:5-6

“I will never leave you . ..”— not for any reason; not my sin, selfishness, stubbornness, nor waywardness. Have I really let God say to me that He will never leave me? If I have not
truly heard this assurance of God, then let me listen again.

“I will never . . . forsake you.” Sometimes it is not the difficulty of life but the drudgery of it that makes me think God will forsake me. When there is no major difficulty to overcome, no vision from God, nothing wonderful or beautiful— just the everyday activities of life— do I hear God’s assurance even in these?

We have the idea that God is going to do some exceptional thing— that He is preparing and equipping us for some extraordinary work in the future. But as we grow in His grace we find that God is glorifying Himself here and now, at this very moment. If we have God’s assurance behind us, the most amazing strength becomes ours, and we learn to sing, glorifying Him even in the ordinary days and ways of life.

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God’s Presence

DEVOTIONAL BY BILLY GRAHAM – HOPE FOR EACH DAY

God’s Presence

I will be with you always, to the very end of the age. – MATTHEW 28:20, NIV

These words are Christ’s promise to all His disciples, and it is a promise that is marvelously inclusive. No situation is excluded; no challenge is omitted.

Dr. Handley Moule, the noted Greek scholar and Anglican Bishop of Durham (England) in another generation, maintained that the word always could be paraphrased to mean, “I am with you all the days, all day long.” That means we can count on Christ’s presence not only every day, but every moment of every day.

Of the fact of His presence there can be no doubt, for His Word cannot fail. What we need is to cultivate the sense of His presence, every day, every hour, every moment. This happens as we speak to Him in worship and prayer, and listen to Him speak to us through His Word, the Bible.

DEVOTIONAL BY CHARLES STANLEY – ON HOLY GROUND

Be Still And Know

Be still, and knowthat I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth! – Psalm 46:10

The writer of Psalm 46 knew what it meant to face turmoil and tragedy. Wars and violence were very much a part of Old Testament life. Entire nations were wiped out without warning. Imagine the fear and dismay of such perilous times. You may know personally how it feels to abide in the instability of pain and suffering. At times you find yourself longing for something or someone to anchor and steady your hurting heart. Jesus is your anchor. He is your sure hope. The psalmist told us that even though our world appears disjointed, turned upside down, and on the brink of desolation, God is with us. He never abandons His omnipotent station. He is our hiding place when the storms of life lash out at us. He is our abode of trust, covering us with His divine veil of protection when powerful forces attack. Martin Luther captured this thought in the words: “A mighty fortress is our God.” God is our refuge, and He cannot be shaken. How do you tap into His sovereign watchcare? Verse 10 of Psalm 46 (NASB) holds the answer: “Cease striving [be still] and know that I am God.” Lay aside your human effort, and call out to your Eternal Hope—Jesus Christ.

DEVOTIONAL FROM POSTCARDS FROM HEAVEN – CLAIRE CLONINGER

You Will Find Me

Dear Child,

I am not difficult to find.  I am not trying to elude you or hide myself from you.  I am here, and when you are ready to find me, you will.  You will find me when you seek me with all that you are.  When you are through playing intellectual games and spiritual hide-and-seek.  When you stop trying to create me in your image.  When you stop giving me ultimatums and deadlines and telling me how God should act.

When it’s really me that you want and not some deity of your own design, then you will surely find me.  My name is I AM – the God of power and majesty, the God of justice and mercy.  I am Jehovah – the God of the garden, the flood, the wilderness, and the mountaintop.  I am Abba – the God of Jesus, the God of the cross and the grave, the Resurrection and the Life.  Seek me; you will find me.

I AM WHO I AM. – God

Matthew 7:7-12

Ask, Seek, Knock

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! 12 So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.

Psalm 95:1-7

Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord;
let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come before him with thanksgiving
and extol him with music and song.

For the Lord is the great God,
the great King above all gods.
In his hand are the depths of the earth,
and the mountain peaks belong to him.
The sea is his, for he made it,
and his hands formed the dry land.

Come, let us bow down in worship,
let us kneel before the Lord our Maker;
for he is our God
and we are the people of his pasture,
the flock under his care.

DEVOTIONAL BY OSWALD CHAMBERS – MY UTMOST FOR HIS HIGHEST

The Spiritual Search

What man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? —Matthew 7:9

The illustration of prayer that our Lord used here is one of a good child who is asking for something good. We talk about prayer as if God hears us regardless of what our relationship is to Him (see Matthew 5:45). Never say that it is not God’s will to give you what you ask. Don’t faint and give up, but find out the reason you have not received; increase the intensity of your search and examine the evidence. Is your relationship right with your spouse, your children, and your fellow students? Are you a “good child” in those relationships? Do you have to say to the Lord, “I have been irritable and cross, but I still want spiritual blessings”? You cannot receive and will have to do without them until you have the attitude of a “good child.”

We mistake defiance for devotion, arguing with God instead of surrendering. We refuse to look at the evidence that clearly indicates where we are wrong. Have I been asking God to give me money for something I want, while refusing to pay someone what I owe him? Have I been asking God for liberty while I am withholding it from someone who belongs to me? Have I refused to forgive someone, and have I been unkind to that person? Have I been living as God’s child among my relatives and friends? (see Matthew 7:12).

I am a child of God only by being born again, and as His child I am good only as I “walk in the light” (1 John 1:7). For most of us, prayer simply becomes some trivial religious expression, a matter of mystical and emotional fellowship with God. We are all good at producing spiritual fog that blinds our sight. But if we will search out and examine the evidence, we will see very clearly what is wrong— a friendship, an unpaid debt, or an improper attitude. There is no use praying unless we are living as children of God. Then Jesus says, regarding His children, “Everyone who asks receives . . .” (Matthew 7:8).

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God Never Gives Up

DEVOTIONAL BY BILLY GRAHAM – HOPE FOR EACH DAY

God’s Good Promise

Blessed be the LORD …. There has not failed one word of all His good promise. – 1 KINGS 8 : 56

When we purchase something of great value—a house, for example—we are usually required to put down a deposit to indicate our sincerity and to promise that our intentions are serious. That deposit is a form of insurance, a guarantee that adds substance to our word.

God has made some incredible promises to us—promises that stagger our imaginations. He has promised that we might have a relationship with Him through His Son. He has promised never to leave us or forsake us and to be with us always. He has promised to take us to Heaven when we die. The Bible is full of God’s promises.

Someone might ask, “What insurance do we have that God is serious? How do we know His promises can be trusted?” God’s deposit is the most precious investment anyone could make: His Son, who by His death and resurrection purchased our salvation—completely and fully. Not only is Jesus Christ a sufficient “down payment” on God’s promises, He is, in fact, payment in full!

DEVOTIONAL BY CHARLES STANLEY – ON HOLY GROUND

God Never Gives Up

He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love. – Colossians 1:13

When Christ told Peter of his coming denial, Peter stiffened and protested, “Even though all may fall away because of You, I will never fall away” (Matthew 26:33 NASB).  But Jesus knew the truth.  Peter would deny Him, not once but three times.

Peter’s robust personality vowed never to leave Jesus’ side.  But within a matter of hours he was reduced to fear and hiding form Jewish and Roman officials.  The encouraging message of the Resurrection is that God never gives up on us.

Among Christ’s last words to Peter before His death were words of restoration: “But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail.  And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers” (Luke 22:32 NIV).  Jesus knew Peter would fall, and He loved him anyway.  He gave His zealous disciple hope of future service when He said, “Strengthen your brothers.”

God takes our weaknesses and turns them into points of strength and honor for Himself.  Jesus was totally committed to Peter.  He knew Peter would suffer a bitter defeat, but there was an event coming that would revolutionize his thinking – the Resurrection.

Imagine Peter’s amazement as Jesus stepped into the Upper Room the night of His resurrection.  The joy Peter experienced was there because of the love and acceptance Christ portrayed.  This same love is yours today.

DEVOTIONAL FROM POSTCARDS FROM HEAVEN – CLAIRE CLONINGER

I Am Drawing Good From Bad

Dearest Child,

Everything in your life can be used as a part of my plan for good.  Yes, even the bad things.  Even the very situation that you think is intolerable or hopeless or unredeemable.  Trust me.  This thing, too, will work together for your good and my glory.

How is that possible?  It is possible because you love me, because you have been called to walk in my ways, and you have answered yes to that call.  Even now I am in the process of drawing good from the bad.  I am committed to taking whatever evil comes into your life and bringing good out of it.

All things will work together for good.  Not just some, but all.  Even your own failures and faults are areas of sin are opportunities for me to work.  Commit them to me.  Confess them.  Put them under the blood of my Son.  Even these things will give you cause to praise me.

Trust me in this. – God.

Matthew 5:1-12

The Beatitudes

Now when he saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them, saying:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called sons of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Psalm 145:13-20

13 Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
and your dominion endures through all generations.

The Lord is faithful to all his promises
and loving toward all he has made.[a]
14 The Lord upholds all those who fall
and lifts up all who are bowed down.
15 The eyes of all look to you,
and you give them their food at the proper time.
16 You open your hand
and satisfy the desires of every living thing.

17 The Lord is righteous in all his ways
and loving toward all he has made.
18 The Lord is near to all who call on him,
to all who call on him in truth.
19 He fulfills the desires of those who fear him;
he hears their cry and saves them.
20 The Lord watches over all who love him,
but all the wicked he will destroy.

DEVOTIONAL BY OSWALD CHAMBERS – MY UTMOST FOR HIS HIGHEST

The Overshadowing of God’s Personal Deliverance

. . . I am with you to deliver you,’ says the Lord —Jeremiah 1:8

God promised Jeremiah that He would deliver him personally— “. . . your life shall be as a prize to you . . .” (Jeremiah 39:18). That is all God promises His children. Wherever God sends us, He will guard our lives. Our personal property and possessions are to be a matter of indifference to us, and our hold on these things should be very loose. If this is not the case, we will have panic, heartache, and distress. Having the proper outlook is evidence of the deeply rooted belief in the overshadowing of God’s personal deliverance.

The Sermon on the Mount indicates that when we are on a mission for Jesus Christ, there is no time to stand up for ourselves. Jesus says, in effect, “Don’t worry about whether or not you are being treated justly.” Looking for justice is actually a sign that we have been diverted from our devotion to Him. Never look for justice in this world, but never cease to give it. If we look for justice, we will only begin to complain and to indulge ourselves in the discontent of self-pity, as if to say, “Why should I be treated like this?” If we are devoted to Jesus Christ, we have nothing to do with what we encounter, whether it is just or unjust. In essence, Jesus says, “Continue steadily on with what I have told you to do, and I will guard your life. If you try to guard it yourself, you remove yourself from My deliverance.” Even the most devout among us become atheistic in this regard— we do not believe Him. We put our common sense on the throne and then attach God’s name to it. We do lean to our own understanding, instead of trusting God with all our hearts (see Proverbs 3:5-6). 

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The Good and the Best

DEVOTIONAL BY BILLY GRAHAM – HOPE FOR EACH DAY

God’s Kind Of Strength

They shall walk and not faint. – Isaiah 40:31

Never in history have the nations of the world possessed so many lethal armaments, so many ways to bring death and destruction to the human race. Some of our most brilliant minds spend their entire lives developing new and more sophisticated ways to destroy life.
But have all our weapons brought us lasting security?  On the contrary; if anything, they have made the work less secure.  At any one time at least thirty wars rage in various parts of the world, in addition to countless instances of civil unrest.  I am reminded of the false
prophets of Jeremiah’s day: “’Peace, peace’, they say, when there is no peace” (Jeremiah 8:11, NIV).

In the midst of an uncertain and threatening world, however, we can have peace.  It comes from putting our trust in the living God.  Isaiah’s words – written in a time of great upheaval – still speak to us today: “Those who wait on the lord shall renew their strength; … they shall walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31).

DEVOTIONAL BY CHARLES STANLEY – ON HOLY GROUND

Good: An Enemy Of The Best

“In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:6).

During the fifties, a television program aired called “The Life of Riley.”  You may remember watching it.  The idea was to portray a life that anyone would want to live.  During the opening credits, the start of the show was shown lying back in a hammock with is arms folded behind his head, while others hurriedly cut grass and cleaned the yard behind him.  However, as the story unfolded, viewers quickly saw how unpredictable life  can be.

The tragedy is that many people spend a lifetime trying to live the life of Riley.  They opt for what appears fun and pleasurable rather than God’s best.

Life at its best is not a lifetime void of trouble and pain, but a lifetime of joy and peace.  The experiences we encounter along the way lead to deep wisdom and personal knowledge of divine hope and grace.

Dear heavenly Father, good is good, but best is better.  I don’t want
to settle for anything less than the best. You chose what is right for me.

DEVOTIONAL FROM POSTCARDS FROM HEAVEN

I Made You For A Reason

The Lord spoke his word to me, saying: “Before I made you in your mother’s womb, I chose you. Before you were born, I set you apart…” – Jeremiah 1:4-5

You made my whole being; you formed me in my mother’sbody.  I praise you because you made me in an amazing and wonderful way. – Psalm 139:13-14

My dear child, I created you for a purpose.  There is a specific reason for your life.  You are important to me.  When circumstances or people in your life make you feel insignificant, remember that you are of great value and significance to me.  I knew who you would be before you were even born.  While you were still in the womb, I was putting you together according to my own design.  I formed you exactly as you are.
Don’t you see?  I didn’t make any mistakes when I made you.  You are wonderfully made!   Iam filled with pride over you, my precious one!  Be at peace with yourself.  I love you as you are.
You are you.  You are mine!

Love, God

WEEKLY GOSPEL AND PSALM READING

Matthew 16:21-28

Jesus Predicts His Death

From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.
Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!”

Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.

“Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”
Psalm 26

Vindicate me, LORD, for I have led a blameless life; I have trusted in the LORD and have not faltered. Test me, LORD, and try me, examine my heart and my mind; for I have always been mindful of your unfailing love and have lived in reliance on your faithfulness.
I do not sit with the deceitful, nor do I associate with hypocrites. I abhor the assembly of evildoers and refuse to sit with the wicked. I wash my hands in innocence, and go about Your altar, LORD, proclaiming aloud your praise and telling of all your wonderful deeds.
LORD, I love the house where you live, the place where your glory dwells.

DEVOTIONAL BY OSWALD CHAMBERS – MY UTMOST FOR HIS HIGHEST

The Good Or The Best?

If you take the left, then I will go to the right; or, if you go to the right, then I will go to the left —Genesis 13:9

As soon as you begin to live the life of faith in God, fascinating and physically gratifying possibilities will open up before you. These things are yours by right, but if you are living the life of faith you will exercise your right to waive your rights, and let God make your choice for you. God sometimes allows you to get into a place of testing where your own welfare would be the appropriate thing to consider, if you were not living the life of faith. But if you are, you will joyfully waive your right and allow God to make your choice for you. This is the discipline God uses to transform the natural into the spiritual through obedience to His voice.

Whenever our right becomes the guiding factor of our lives, it dulls our spiritual insight. The greatest enemy of the life of faith in God is not sin, but good choices which are not quite good enough. The good is always the enemy of the best. In this passage, it would seem that the wisest thing in the world for Abram to do would be to choose. It was his right, and the people around him would consider him to be a fool for not choosing.

Many of us do not continue to grow spiritually because we prefer to choose on the basis of our rights, instead of relying on God to make the choice for us. We have to learn to walk according to the standard which has its eyes focused on God. And God says to us, as He did to Abram, “. . . walk before Me. . .” (Genesis 17:1).

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Pass It On

DEVOTIONAL BY BILLY GRAHAM – HOPE FOR EACH DAY

Pass Along Comfort

Blessed be the God… of all comfort. –  2 CORINTHIANS 1:3

A dear friend and trusted counselor once told me that sometimes the greatest test comes to us when we ask God the question, “Why?”

As Charles Hembree has pointed out, “In the full face of afflictions it is hard to see any sense to things that befall us, and we want to question the fairness of a faithful God. However, these moments can be the most meaningful of our lives.”

Alexander Nowell once said, “God does not comfort us that we may be comforted but that we may be comforters.” We are to pass along the comfort with which God has comforted us.

Look around you. There are countless opportunities to comfort others, not only in the loss of a loved one, but also in the daily distress that so often creeps into our lives. One of Paul’s companions on some of his missionary journeys was named Joseph, but “the apostles called [him] Barnabas (which means Son of Encouragement)” (Acts 4:36, NIV). Will you be a Barnabas to someone today?

DEVOTIONAL BY CHARLES STANLEY – ON HOLY GROUND

The Cost of Discipleship

Whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. – Luke 14:27

Jesus certainly knew how to drive away a crowd. When He spoke of wholehearted commitment and absolute surrender to His mission, the multitudes melted away. The only ones left were those who recognized that He spoke the words of life, uncompromising yet loving truth about what it means to really know Him.

Oswald Chambers wrote in My Utmost for His Highest about the kind of total absorption Christ wants us to have:

There is no such thing as a private life, or a place to hide in this world, for a man or woman who is intimately aware of and shares in the sufferings of Jesus Christ.

God divides the private life of His saints and makes it a highway for the world on one hand and for Himself on the other. No human being can stand that unless he is identified with Jesus Christ. We are not sanctified for ourselves. We are called into intimacy with the gospel, and things happen that appear to have nothing to do with us.

But God is getting us into fellowship with Himself. Let Him have His way. If you refuse, you will be of no value to God in His redemptive work in the world, but will be a hindrance and a stumbling block.

Jesus wants all of your devotion, not just a portion. You cannot have other priorities plus Jesus. He is the priority.

DEVOTIONAL FROM POSTCARDS FROM HEAVEN – CLAIRE CLONINGER

I’ll Give You The Right Words

My own child,

Trust me today for the words you need to say.  Rely on me, and I will supply you with the right words for every situation.  Dwell in me, and I will dwell in you.  Dwell in the wisdom of my Word, and my wisdom will dwell in you.

Then, when you are called upon to speak, you will know what to say.  The words will come from your heart – words of comfort or words of confrontation, whatever you need.  Whatever situation arises, you will be able to go to the well of my wisdom and draw form the living water of my Word.

Be bold!  I am with you, now and always.

Your Strength and Supply, God

Luke 10:25-37

The Parable of the Good Samaritan

25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”

27 He answered: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”

29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”

Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

Psalm 40:1-5

I waited patiently for the Lord;
he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.
He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear
and put their trust in the Lord.

Blessed is the man
who makes the Lord his trust,
who does not look to the proud,
to those who turn aside to false gods.
Many, O Lord my God,
are the wonders you have done.
The things you planned for us
no one can recount to you;
were I to speak and tell of them,
they would be too many to declare.

DEVOTIONAL BY OSWALD CHAMBERS – MY UTMOST FOR HIS HIGHEST

The Compelling Majesty of His Power

The love of Christ compels us . . . —2 Corinthians 5:14

Paul said that he was overpowered, subdued, and held as in a vise by “the love of Christ.” Very few of us really know what it means to be held in the grip of the love of God. We tend so often to be controlled simply by our own experience. The one thing that gripped and held Paul, to the exclusion of everything else, was the love of God. “The love of Christ compels us . . . .” When you hear that coming from the life of a man or woman it is unmistakable. You will know that the Spirit of God is completely unhindered in that person’s life.

When we are born again by the Spirit of God, our testimony is based solely on what God has done for us, and rightly so. But that will change and be removed forever once you “receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you . . .” (Acts 1:8). Only then will you begin to realize what Jesus meant when He went on to say, “. . . you shall be witnesses to Me . . . .” Not witnesses to what Jesus can do— that is basic and understood— but “witnesses to Me . . . .” We will accept everything that happens as if it were happening to Him, whether we receive praise or blame, persecution or reward. No one is able to take this stand for Jesus Christ who is not totally compelled by the majesty of His power. It is the only thing that matters, and yet it is strange that it’s the last thing we as Christian workers realize. Paul said that he was gripped by the love of God and that is why he acted as he did. People could perceive him as mad or sane-he did not care. There was only one thing he lived for— to persuade people of the coming judgment of God and to tell them of “the love of Christ.” This total surrender to “the love of Christ” is the only thing that will bear fruit in your life. And it will always leave the mark of God’s holiness and His power, never drawing attention to your personal holiness. 

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An Everlasting Love

DEVOTIONAL BY BILLY GRAHAM – HOPE FOR EACH DAY

Everlasting Love

I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you. – JEREMIAH 31:3

Who can describe or measure the love of God? Our Bible is a revelation of the fact that God is love. When we preach justice, it is justice tempered with love. When we preach righteousness, it is righteousness founded on love. When we preach atonement for sin, it is atonement necessitated because of love, provided by love, finished by love.

When we preach the resurrection of Christ, we are preaching the miracle of love. When we preach the abiding presence of Christ, we are preaching the power of love. When we preach the return of Christ, we are preaching the fulfillment of love.

No matter what sin we have committed, no matter how black, dirty, shameful, or terrible it may be, God loves us. We may be at the very gate of hell itself, but God loves us with an everlasting love. The proof? Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, went to the Cross for us. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

DEVOTIONAL BY CHARLES STANLEY – ON HOLY GROUND

Unworthiness

I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake; and I will not remember your sins. – Isaiah 43:25

God never ridicules us or makes us feel unworthy. Instead, we read these words of Jesus:

Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. (John 15:9 NASB)

If you abide in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. (John 8:31–32 NASB)

I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you. (John 15:15 NASB)

Love and truth. God is love and the source of all truth. The love He has for you is the same love He has for His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. He gives you this love through His grace and mercy. It is a pure love, not tainted by guilt or obligation.

Regardless of how deep your past transgression may be, God is near to free you with the truth of His Word. Nothing is stronger than His love. When He forgives, He forgets (Ps. 103:12; Isa. 43:25). Once you have confessed sin, there is no need to beg or plead for His forgiveness. It is a done deal!

You can walk freely in the light of His love because He calls you His child. Your life is inscribed within the palm of His hand.

You are the apple of His eye; all of heaven rejoices at the sight of your name written in the Lamb’s blood.

DEVOTIONAL FROM JESUS CALLING – SARAH YOUNG

Receive My Love

Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. – HEBREWS 4 : 14 – 16

Open your mind and heart—your entire being—to receive My Love in full measure. So many of My children limp through their lives starved for Love, because they haven’t learned the art of receiving. This is essentially an act of faith: believing that I love you with boundless, everlasting Love. The art of receiving is also a discipline: training your mind to trust Me, coming close to Me with confidence.

Remember that the evil one is the father of lies. Learn to recognize his deceptive intrusions into your thoughts. One of his favorite deceptions is to undermine your confidence in My unconditional Love. Fight back against these lies! Do not let them go unchallenged. Resist the devil in My Name, and he will slink away from you. Draw near to Me, and My Presence will envelop you in Love.

John 3:16-21

16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. 19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.

Psalm 103:6-12

The Lord works righteousness     and justice for all the oppressed.

He made known his ways to Moses,     his deeds to the people of Israel: The Lord is compassionate and gracious,     slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse,     nor will he harbor his anger forever; 10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve  or repay us according to our iniquities. 11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,     so great is his love for those who fear him; 12 as far as the east is from the west,     so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

DEVOTIONAL FROM MY UTMOST FOR HIS HIGHEST – OSWALD CHAMBERS

Out Of The Wreck I Rise

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? — Romans 8:35

God does not keep a man immune from trouble; He says – “I will be with him in trouble.” It does not matter what actual troubles in the most extreme form get hold of a man’s life, not one of them can separate him from his relationship to God. We are “more than conquerors in all these things.” Paul is not talking of imaginary things, but of things that are desperately actual; and he says we are super-victors in the midst of them, not by our ingenuity, or by our courage, or by anything other than the fact that not one of them affects our relationship to God in Jesus Christ. Rightly or wrongly, we are where we are, exactly in the condition we are in. I am sorry for the Christian who has not something in his circumstances he wishes was not there.

“Shall tribulation . . . ?” Tribulation is never a noble thing; but let tribulation be what it may – exhausting, galling, fatiguing, it is not able to separate us from the love of God. Never let cares or tribulations separate you from the fact that God loves you.

“Shall anguish . . . ?” – can God’s love hold when everything says that His love is a lie, and that there is no such thing as justice?

“Shall famine . . . ?” – can we not only believe in the love of God but be more than conquerors, even while we are being starved?

Either Jesus Christ is a deceiver and Paul is deluded, or some extraordinary thing happens to a man who holds on to the love of God when the odds are all against God’s character. Logic is silenced in the face of every one of these things. Only one thing can account for it – the love of God in Christ Jesus. “Out of the wreck I rise” every time.

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Freedom in God

DEVOTIONAL BY BILLY GRAHAM – HOPE FOR EACH DAY

A Statue of Liberty

 If the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed. – JOHN 8:36

During the national observance of the one-hundredth anniversary of the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor, I was struck by the great emphasis on the number of immigrants who had often left everything behind. Coming to America with nothing but the clothes on their backs, they risked their lives for something they valued more highly than everything they had left behind: freedom. They did not take their adopted country’s hard-won freedom for granted—and neither must we.

Their experience is a picture of what we must do when we come to Christ. We must forsake our allegiance to this world, leave behind all that it offers, and become citizens of a new kingdom—the Kingdom of God. His statue of liberty is in the form of the Cross.

The statue in New York Harbor lifts her lamp “beside the golden door.” The statue of liberty on that hill outside Jerusalem lights the way into eternal life.

DEVOTIONAL BY CHARLES STANLEY – ON HOLY GROUND

The Message of Freedom

My soul clings to the dust; revive me according to Your word. – Psalm 119:25

We receive all kinds of messages in life. Messages tell us how to live, where to vacation, what to eat, how to cook it, and then how to exercise it all away.

God’s first concern is always toward the spiritual part of a person’s life, not the physical. Because of the relentless spotlight placed on the need to look and act a certain way, depression, eating disorders, and anxiety top the list of problems people are most likely to struggle with.

However, these are only symptoms of a more serious dilemma. When we seek to become something apart from Jesus Christ, we end up chasing a very elusive shadow. Even if we do achieve a certain status, there is always something else on the horizon demanding more from us. Someone is always ahead of us causing us to think we need something other than what we have in order to be happy.

The person who finds his identity in Jesus Christ has freedom and peace. If you are struggling with thoughts of inadequacy, ask God to make His love for you very clear. He will never place unhealthy expectations on you. Nor does He say you have to reach a certain status before He can love you.

The moment you accept His Son as your Savior, He comes into your heart with perfect love and acceptance. He created you and is bound in love to you forever.

DEVOTIONAL FROM JESUS CALLING – SARAH YOUNG

Set Your Mind Free

Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails. PROVERBS 19 : 21

Listen to me continually. I have much to communicate to you, so many people and situations in need of prayer. I am training you to set your mind on Me more and more, tuning out distractions through the help of My Spirit.

Walk with Me in holy trust, responding to My initiatives rather than trying to make things fit your plans. I died to set you free, and that includes freedom from compulsive planning.

When your mind spins with a multitude of thoughts, you cannot hear My voice. A mind preoccupied with planning pays homage to the idol of control. Turn from this idolatry back to Me. Listen to Me and live abundantly.

John 8: 31-47

Dispute Over Whose Children Jesus’ Opponents Are

31 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

33 They answered him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?”

34 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. 35 Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. 37 I know that you are Abraham’s descendants. Yet you are looking for a way to kill me, because you have no room for my word. 38 I am telling you what I have seen in the Father’s presence, and you are doing what you have heard from your father.[b]

39 “Abraham is our father,” they answered.

“If you were Abraham’s children,” said Jesus, “then you would[c] do what Abraham did. 40 As it is, you are looking for a way to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. Abraham did not do such things. 41 You are doing the works of your own father.”

“We are not illegitimate children,” they protested. “The only Father we have is God himself.”

42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I have come here from God. I have not come on my own; God sent me. 43 Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. 44 You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45 Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me! 46 Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don’t you believe me? 47 Whoever belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.”

Psalm 119:41-48

May your unfailing love come to me, Lord,     your salvation, according to your promise; 42 then I can answer anyone who taunts me,     for I trust in your word. 43 Never take your word of truth from my mouth,     for I have put my hope in your laws. 44 I will always obey your law,     for ever and ever. 45 I will walk about in freedom,     for I have sought out your precepts. 46 I will speak of your statutes before kings     and will not be put to shame, 47 for I delight in your commands     because I love them. 48 I reach out for your commands, which I love,     that I may meditate on your decrees.

DEVOTIONAL FROM MY UTMOST FOR HIS HIGHEST – OSWALD CHAMBERS

The Worship Of The Work

April 23, 2014

Laborers together with God. — 1 Corinthians 3:9

Beware of any work for God which enables you to evade concentration on Him. A great many Christian workers worship their work. The one concern of a worker should be concentration on God, and this will mean that all the other margins of life, mental, moral and spiritual, are free with the freedom of a child, a worshipping child, not a wayward child. A worker without this solemn dominant note of concentration on God is apt to get his work on his neck; there is no margin of body, mind or spirit free, consequently he becomes spent out and crushed. There is no freedom, no delight in life; nerves, mind and heart are so crushingly burdened that God’s blessing cannot rest. But the other side is just as true – when once the concentration is on God, all the margins of life are free and under the dominance of God alone. There is no responsibility on you for the work; the only responsibility you have is to keep in living constant touch with God, and to see that you allow nothing to hinder your co-operation with Him. The freedom after sanctification is the freedom of a child, the things that used to keep the life pinned down are gone. But be careful to remember that you are freed for one thing only – to be absolutely devoted to your co-Worker.

We have no right to judge where we should be put, or to have preconceived notions as to what God is fitting us for. God engineers everything; wherever He puts us our one great aim is to pour out a whole-hearted devotion to Him in that particular work. “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might.”

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His Hand

Reach for His Hand

The LORD, He is the One who goes before you. He will be with you. – DEUTERONOMY 31:8

Once many years ago when I was going through a dark period I prayed and prayed, but the heavens seemed to be brass. I felt as though God had disappeared and that I was alone with my trial and burden. It was a dark night for my soul.

I wrote my mother about the experience and will never forget her reply: “Son, there are many times when God withdraws to test your faith. He wants you to trust Him in the darkness. Now, Son, reach up by faith in the fog and you will find that His hand will be there.” In tears I knelt by my bed and experienced an overwhelming sense of God’s presence.

Whether or not we feel God’s presence when our way seems dark, by faith we know He is there. You can stake your life on His promise: “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Heb. 13:5).

DEVOTIONAL BY CHARLES STANLEY – ON HOLY GROUND

Your Source of Hope

As the deer pants for the water brooks, so pants my soul for You, O God. – Psalm 42:1

Hope brings an anticipation of blessing. We live in hope of our wedding day, the birth of a child or grandchild. We have hope over graduation from college or the day we can finally place a “Dr.” in front of our names. There are as many reasons to hope as there are people.

To know hope, you must endure times of hopelessness. Hope represents an end to desperate longing—a need that begs to be satisfied and in the end is fulfilled. When hope burns within your heart, it cries out to be heard.

The psalmist declared, “As the deer pants for the water brooks, so my soul pants for Thee, O God… My tears have been my food day and night, while they say to me all day long, ‘Where is your God?’”). What is your hope, your dream, the cry of your heart? Take a moment and go to Jesus with your deepest, most earnest plea. The psalmist cried out, “Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me?”  Nothing is known about the man’s struggle other than that it was critical to him.

Realize that whatever is important to you is even more important to the Lord. Let Him be your Source of hope for the future.

DEVOTIONAL FROM JESUS CALLING – SARAH YOUNG

Always By Your Side

“For I am the LORD, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.” – ISAIAH 41 : 13

I am involved in each moment of your life. I have carefully mapped out every inch of your journey through this day, even though much of it may feel haphazard. Because the world is in a fallen condition, things always seem to be unraveling around the edges. Expect to find trouble in this day. At the same time, trust that My way is perfect, even in the midst of such messy imperfection.

Stay conscious of Me as you go through this day, remembering that I never leave your side. Let the Holy Spirit guide you step by step, protecting you from unnecessary trials and equipping you to get through whatever must be endured. As you trudge through the sludge of this fallen world, keep your mind in heavenly places with Me. Thus the Light of My Presence shines on you, giving you Peace and Joy that circumstances cannot touch.

Matthew 28:16-20

The Great Commission

16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Psalm 42

As the deer pants for streams of water,     so my soul pants for you, my God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.     When can I go and meet with God? My tears have been my food     day and night, while people say to me all day long,     “Where is your God?” These things I remember     as I pour out my soul: how I used to go to the house of God     under the protection of the Mighty One[d] with shouts of joy and praise     among the festive throng.

Why, my soul, are you downcast?     Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God,     for I will yet praise him,     my Savior and my God.

My soul is downcast within me;     therefore I will remember you from the land of the Jordan,     the heights of Hermon—from Mount Mizar. Deep calls to deep     in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers     have swept over me.

By day the Lord directs his love,     at night his song is with me—     a prayer to the God of my life.

I say to God my Rock,     “Why have you forgotten me? Why must I go about mourning,     oppressed by the enemy?” 10 My bones suffer mortal agony     as my foes taunt me, saying to me all day long,     “Where is your God?”

11 Why, my soul, are you downcast?     Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God,     for I will yet praise him,     my Savior and my God.

DEVOTIONAL BY OSWALD CHAMBERS – MY UTMOST FOR HIS HIGHEST

Out of the Wreck I Rise

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? —Romans 8:35

God does not keep His child immune from trouble; He promises, “I will be with him in trouble . . .” (Psalm 91:15). It doesn’t matter how real or intense the adversities may be; nothing can ever separate him from his relationship to God. “In all these things we are more than conquerors . . .” (Romans 8:37). Paul was not referring here to imaginary things, but to things that are dangerously real. And he said we are “super-victors” in the midst of them, not because of our own ingenuity, nor because of our courage, but because none of them affects our essential relationship with God in Jesus Christ. I feel sorry for the Christian who doesn’t have something in the circumstances of his life that he wishes were not there.

“Shall tribulation . . . ?” Tribulation is never a grand, highly welcomed event; but whatever it may be— whether exhausting, irritating, or simply causing some weakness— it is not able to “separate us from the love of Christ.” Never allow tribulations or the “cares of this world” to separate you from remembering that God loves you (Matthew 13:22).

“Shall . . . distress . . . ?” Can God’s love continue to hold fast, even when everyone and everything around us seems to be saying that His love is a lie, and that there is no such thing as justice?

“Shall . . . famine . . . ?” Can we not only believe in the love of God but also be “more than conquerors,” even while we are being starved?

Either Jesus Christ is a deceiver, having deceived even Paul, or else some extraordinary thing happens to someone who holds on to the love of God when the odds are totally against him. Logic is silenced in the face of each of these things which come against him. Only one thing can account for it— the love of God in Christ Jesus. “Out of the wreck I rise” every time.

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Abundant Life

DEVOTIONAL BY BILLY GRAHAM – HOPE FOR EACH DAY

A Healing Word

I have called you friends. – JOHN 15:15

Christ came into a world that had problems much like the ones we grapple with today. Life was short, disease rampant, nations chafed under the heel of Roman rule, slavery was universal. Widows, orphans, the disabled and chronically ill had no social “safety net” to see them through the rough times.

To those without the joy of living, Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly”

To those who bore the chafing burden of the guilt of sin, He said, “Be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you” (Matt. 9:2).

To the friendless He said, “No longer do I call you servants … but I have called you friends” (John 15:15). He had a healing word for each one.

On the surface the world has changed radically since Jesus first came. But deep inside, our problems are the same—for they are problems of the heart. And Christ still comes to us to cleanse our guilt, give us hope for the future, and heal our hurts with His love.

DEVOTIONAL BY CHARLES STANLEY – ON HOLY GROUND

Freedom from Wrong Emotions

The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. – John 10:10

You see a moving television program—tears flow.

A drunken man at the basketball game leans over and spills his drink on you—anger swells.

You drive up to your house surrounded by paramedics and ambulances—fear surges.

Each is an emotion, an intrinsic part of every individual’s personal identity.

We talk of emotional moments. We say that some people are unemotional while others freely express their feelings.

Whether suppressed or inhibited, the emotional makeup of a person is an integral part of his behavior. As such, it can be a problematic area for many Christians.

The good news for the believer is that you are now inhabited by the person of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit searches the innermost parts of your being, seeking to touch every aspect of your personality. Progressively He can heal damaged emotions, control runaway passions, and harness selfish affections.

If your emotions are fragile or volatile, the Holy Spirit can act as the inner healer, providing an unseen source of comfort. Your emotional infirmities are His supernatural specialty.

DEVOTIONAL FROM JESUS CALLING – SARAH YOUNG

Living In Dependence On God

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” – JOHN 10:10

Living in dependence on Me is the way to enjoy abundant life. You are learning to appreciate tough times, because they amplify your awareness of My Presence. Tasks that you used to dread are becoming rich opportunities to enjoy My closeness. When you feel tired, you remember that I am your Strength; you take pleasure in leaning on Me. I am pleased by your tendency to turn to Me more and more frequently, especially when you are alone.

When you are with other people, you often lose sight of My Presence. Your fear of displeasing people puts you in bondage to them, and they become your primary focus. When you realize this has happened, whisper My Name; this tiny act of trust brings Me to the forefront of your consciousness, where I belong. As you bask in the blessing of My nearness, My life can flow through you to others. This is abundant life!

John 10:7-16

Therefore Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.[a] They will come in and go out, and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. 13 The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.

14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.

Psalm 103

Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name.

Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits—

who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases,

who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion,

who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

The Lord works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed.

He made known his ways to Moses, his deeds to the people of Israel:

The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.

He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever;

10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.

11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; 1as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

13 As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;

14 for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.

15 The life of mortals is like grass, they flourish like a flower of the field;

16 the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more.

1But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children—

18 with those who keep his covenant and remember to obey his precepts.

19 The Lord has established his throne in heaven, and his kingdom rules over all.

20 Praise the Lord, you his angels, you mighty ones who do his bidding, who obey his word.

21 Praise the Lord, all his heavenly hosts, you his servants who do his will.

22 Praise the Lord, all his works everywhere in his dominion.

Praise the Lord, my soul.

DEVOTIONAL BY OSWALD CHAMBERS – MY UTMOST FOR HIS HIGHEST

Taking the Next Step

. . . in much patience, in tribulations, in needs, in distresses —2 Corinthians 6:4

When you have no vision from God, no enthusiasm left in your life, and no one watching and encouraging you, it requires the grace of Almighty God to take the next step in your devotion to Him, in the reading and studying of His Word, in your family life, or in your duty to Him. It takes much more of the grace of God, and a much greater awareness of drawing upon Him, to take that next step, than it does to preach the gospel.

Every Christian must experience the essence of the incarnation by bringing the next step down into flesh-and-blood reality and by working it out with his hands. We lose interest and give up when we have no vision, no encouragement, and no improvement, but only experience our everyday life with its trivial tasks. The thing that really testifies for God and for the people of God in the long run is steady perseverance, even when the work cannot be seen by others. And the only way to live an undefeated life is to live looking to God. Ask God to keep the eyes of your spirit open to the risen Christ, and it will be impossible for drudgery to discourage you. Never allow yourself to think that some tasks are beneath your dignity or too insignificant for you to do, and remind yourself of the example of Christ in John 13:1-17 .

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