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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Abide in God

DEVOTIONAL BY BILLY GRAHAM – HOPE FOR EACH DAY

Trust Crowds Out Worry

Commit your way to the LORD … and He shall bring it to pass. – PSALM 37:5

You cannot stop a baby’s cry by giving him a rattle when he is hungry. He will keep on crying until his hunger is satisfied by the food his little body demands. Neither can the soul of a mature person be satisfied apart from God. David described the hunger of every human being when he said: “As the deer pants for the water brooks, so pants my soul for You, O God” (Ps. 42:1).

Two conflicting forces cannot exist in one human heart. When doubt reigns, faith cannot abide. Where hatred rules, love is crowded out. Where selfishness rules, there love cannot dwell. When worry is present, trust cannot crowd its way in.

In the same way, God will not share His rightful place in our lives with anything or anyone less than Himself. Is anything crowding God out of your heart today? Don’t give first place to anything less than Christ, but “commit your way to the LORD.”

DEVOTIONAL BY CHARLES STANLEY – ON HOLY GROUND

Abiding in Christ

These things I command you, that you love one another. – John 15:17

In John 15, Jesus instructed us to abide in Him. The visual picture is one of a branch abiding in a vine. Christ taught that God is the Vinedresser, pruning and shaping the branches so that they will bear much fruit. Abiding means “remaining and continuing.” It is an active word, even though from a worldly perspective we often view it as a word of passivity. However, nothing is farther from the truth. When we abide in Christ, we are in a process of growth unlike anything we have known before.

Notice how the young tender shoots of the grapevine appear in the spring and begin running along the arbor. God tenderly watches over His branches and with the greatest of care and skill cultivates the vine so that it produces a maximum harvest.

The sole purpose of the branches is to bear fruit. They are not destined to live on their own apart from the vine, nor are they allowed to grow wild. They maintain, they continue,and they rest in the vine.

We live under the grace of God and are given full access to His infinite peace as we abide in Him. When turmoil comes, we can go to a place of refuge. It is a place of abiding contentment in the inner chamber of our hearts. You need never fear when you are abiding in Christ. His peace and rest are yours.

DEVOTIONAL FROM JESUS CALLING – SARAH YOUNG

Do Not Resist Difficulty

We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. – 2 CORINTHIANS 1 : 8 – 9

Do not resist of run from the difficulties in your life. These problems are not random mistakes; they are hand-tailored blessings designed for your benefit and growth. Embrace all the circumstances that I allow in your life, trusting Me to bring good out of them. View problems as opportunities to rely more fully on Me.

When you start to feel stressed, let those feelings alert you to your need for Me. Thus, your needs become doorways to deep dependence on Me and increasing intimacy between us. Although self-sufficiency is acclaimed in the world, reliance on Me produces abundant living in My kingdom. Thank Me for the difficulties in your life, since they provide protection from the idolatry of self-reliance.

John 15:1-17

The Vine and the Branches

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes[a] so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. 17 This is my command: Love each other.

Psalm 61 

Hear my cry, O God;     listen to my prayer.

From the ends of the earth I call to you,     I call as my heart grows faint;     lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For you have been my refuge,     a strong tower against the foe.

I long to dwell in your tent forever     and take refuge in the shelter of your wings.[b] For you, God, have heard my vows;     you have given me the heritage of those who fear your name.

Increase the days of the king’s life,     his years for many generations. May he be enthroned in God’s presence forever;     appoint your love and faithfulness to protect him.

Then I will ever sing in praise of your name     and fulfill my vows day after day.

DEVOTIONAL BY OSWALD CHAMBERS – MY UTMOST FOR HIS HIGHEST

The Faith to Persevere

Because you have kept My command to persevere . . . —Revelation 3:10

Perseverance means more than endurance— more than simply holding on until the end. A saint’s life is in the hands of God like a bow and arrow in the hands of an archer. God is aiming at something the saint cannot see, but our Lord continues to stretch and strain, and every once in a while the saint says, “I can’t take any more.” Yet God pays no attention; He goes on stretching until His purpose is in sight, and then He lets the arrow fly. Entrust yourself to God’s hands. Is there something in your life for which you need perseverance right now? Maintain your intimate relationship with Jesus Christ through the perseverance of faith. Proclaim as Job did, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him” (Job 13:15).

Faith is not some weak and pitiful emotion, but is strong and vigorous confidence built on the fact that God is holy love. And even though you cannot see Him right now and cannot understand what He is doing, you know Him. Disaster occurs in your life when you lack the mental composure that comes from establishing yourself on the eternal truth that God is holy love. Faith is the supreme effort of your life— throwing yourself with abandon and total confidence upon God.

God ventured His all in Jesus Christ to save us, and now He wants us to venture our all with total abandoned confidence in Him. There are areas in our lives where that faith has not worked in us as yet— places still untouched by the life of God. There were none of those places in Jesus Christ’s life, and there are to be none in ours. Jesus prayed, “This is eternal life, that they may know You . . .” (John 17:3). The real meaning of eternal life is a life that can face anything it has to face without wavering. If we will take this view, life will become one great romance— a glorious opportunity of seeing wonderful things all the time. God is disciplining us to get us into this central place of power.

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Palm Sunday Blessings

DEVOTIONAL BY BILLY GRAHAM – HOPE FOR EACH DAY

The Promise Is Ours

I am with you always, even to the end of the age. – MATTHEW 28:20

When David Livingstone returned to his native Scotland after sixteen difficult years as a missionary and explorer in Africa, his body was emaciated by the ravages of some twenty-seven fevers that had coursed through his veins during the years of his service. His left arm hung useless at his side, the result of his being mangled by a lion.

Speaking to the students at Glasgow University, he said, “Shall I tell you what sustained me during the hardship and loneliness of my exile? It was Christ’s promise, ‘Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”’

That promise is ours as well. No matter what trials we face, Christ never leaves us. He is with us every step of the way! Keep that promise before you today—and always.

DEVOTIONAL BY CHARLES STANLEY – ON HOLY GROUND

God’s Answer to Sin

Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” – John 3:3

God’s only answer to the problem of sin is Jesus Christ. No one can save himself; no person is “good” enough to get into heaven. One day each of us will stand before God and give an account of why He should allow us to enter His kingdom. What will your answer be?

Reasons such as being good and trying not to hurt anyone won’t work. Jesus told Nicodemus, a man known for his extreme knowledge of the Jewish law and his sensitivity to spiritual matters, that he had to be born again to enter the kingdom of God (John 3:3). This “born again” phrase often evokes cynicism from nonbelievers, but God does not apologize for His Word.

The new birth Jesus talked about in John 3 is not physical but spiritual in nature. W. E. Vines explained, “Born again is used metaphorically in the writings of the Apostle John, of the gracious act of God in conferring upon those who believe the nature and disposition of ‘children,’ imparting to them spiritual life.”

Only God’s saving grace through a personal experience with Jesus Christ is the answer to mankind’s sin. God does not want anyone to miss heaven’s wonder and perfect love. His greatest desire is that you would experience the love and forgiveness of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, for eternity. Have you placed your trust in Him?

DEVOTIONAL FROM POSTCARDS FROM HEAVEN – CLAIRE CLONINGER

Look At My Son, Then Turn To Me

In your lives you must think and act like Christ Jesus.  Christ himself was like God in everything.  But he did not think that being equal with God was something to be used for his own benefit.  But he gave up his place with God and made himself nothing.  He was born to be a man and became like a servant.  And when he was living as a man, he humbled himself and was fully obedient to God, even when that caused his death – death on a cross. – Philippians 2:5-8

Jesus answered, “I have been with you a long time now.  Do you still not know me, Philip?  Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.  So why do you say, ‘Show us the Father’?” – John 14:9

Dear one,

What do you know of a love like mine?  A love that stoops to conquer?  A love that reaches to redeem?  Look at the life of my Son, and you will see my heart.  I am the center and the soul of who he is, for he and I are one.

Look at him, the One who was willing to leave crowns and thrones and angels’ praises to become a baby laid on straw.  Look at him, the One who bowed to be baptized though he had never sinned.  Look at him, the One who faced his own accusers, wordlessly accepting their sentence on his life.  The One who bore abuse and torture, who bled and finally died so you could live to laugh and love and be reconciled to me.

All that you need to know of me, you will find in him.  Look at him.  Look at my Son, your Savior.  Now, turn to me.

His Father and Yours, God

Mark 11:1-11

The Triumphal Entry

1 As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage and Bethany at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples, 2 saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and just as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. 3 If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ tell him, ‘The Lord needs it and will send it back here shortly.’”

4 They went and found a colt outside in the street, tied at a doorway. As they untied it, 5 some people standing there asked, “What are you doing, untying that colt?” 6 They answered as Jesus had told them to, and the people let them go. 7 When they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks over it, he sat on it. 8 Many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread branches they had cut in the fields. 9 Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted,

“Hosanna![a]

“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”[b]

10 “Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!”

“Hosanna in the highest!”

11 Jesus entered Jerusalem and went to the temple. He looked around at everything, but since it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the Twelve.

Psalm 46

1 God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
3 though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.

4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
5 God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.
6 Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
he lifts his voice, the earth melts.

7 The LORD Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.

8 Come and see the works of the LORD,
the desolations he has brought on the earth.
9 He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth;
he breaks the bow and shatters the spear,
he burns the shields[b] with fire.
10 “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”

11 The LORD Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.

DEVOTIONAL BY OSWALD CHAMBERS – MY UTMOST FOR HIS HIGHEST

The Supremacy of Jesus Christ

He will glorify Me . . . —John 16:14

The holiness movements of today have none of the rugged reality of the New Testament about them. There is nothing about them that needs the death of Jesus Christ. All that is required is a pious atmosphere, prayer, and devotion. This type of experience is not supernatural nor miraculous. It did not cost the sufferings of God, nor is it stained with “the blood of the Lamb” (Revelation 12:11). It is not marked or sealed by the Holy Spirit as being genuine, and it has no visual sign that causes people to exclaim with awe and wonder, “That is the work of God Almighty!” Yet the New Testament is about the work of God and nothing else.

The New Testament example of the Christian experience is that of a personal, passionate devotion to the Person of Jesus Christ. Every other kind of so-called Christian experience is detached from the Person of Jesus. There is no regeneration— no being born again into the kingdom in which Christ lives and reigns supreme. There is only the idea that He is our pattern. In the New Testament Jesus Christ is the Savior long before He is the pattern. Today He is being portrayed as the figurehead of a religion— a mere example. He is that, but He is infinitely more. He is salvation itself; He is the gospel of God!

Jesus said, “. . . when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, . . . He will glorify Me . . .” (John 16:13-14). When I commit myself to the revealed truth of the New Testament, I receive from God the gift of the Holy Spirit, who then begins interpreting to me what Jesus did. The Spirit of God does in me internally all that Jesus Christ did for me externally.

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God’s Will

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. 26 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 theright, 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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God’s Love

DEVOTIONAL BY BILLY GRAHAM – HOPE FOR EACH DAY

Love Demonstrated

He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. – 1 JOHN 4:10

The word love is used to mean many different things. We say that we “love” the house that we have just bought or that we “love” a particular vacation spot or that we “love” a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. We also “love” a certain television program, and we “love” our husband or wife. Hopefully we don’t love our spouse the same way we love a peanut butter and jelly sandwich!

The greatest love of all, however, is God’s love for us—a love that showed itself in action. A friend once observed, “Love talked about is easily ignored, but love demonstrated is irresistible.” The Bible says “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8). Now that is real love! How will you respond to His love today?

DEVOTIONAL BY CHARLES STANLEY – ON HOLY GROUND

Unconditional Love

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.  – 1 John 4:7

God’s love for you stands unmatched by anything this world has to offer. Only His love can:

  • calm the restlessness of your soul.
  • heal any hatred you have experienced.
  • change worry and doubt to hope and security.
  • resolve the anger and bitterness that come from disappointment.
  • give you a sense of purpose, self-worth, and hope.

God never grows tired of you. He sees the span of your life. His eye is on the potential that your life holds.

He spends each moment completely absorbed in thoughts of you—developing you, molding you, and blessing you.

So often we miss His blessings because we worry about what we should or should not do. Questions fill our minds: Did I do it right? Is God pleased with me?

God loves you, and His love will never change. He has a plan for your life, and you will succeed. The key is to remain focused on Him and not on who you think you should be.

Don’t waste time comparing yourself to others. Many who are single wonder why God has not answered their prayers for a husband or wife. He has. He has given you Himself, and in His timing He will satisfy the longing of your heart in the way that is best for you.

DEVOTIONAL FROM POSTCARDS FROM HEAVEN – CLAIRE CLONINGER

I Will Wait For You

Dear Child,

You think you understand my love.  But I wonder.  Do you know just how much I love to be with you?  Do you know how much I miss you when you’re gone?  You can turn your back on me and walk away; I’ll wait for you.  You can move to a foreign country; I’ll watch the road for your return.  You can ignore my wishes and wander from my ways.  You can make the wrong choices and listen to the wrong voices and waste every treasure I’ve placed in your hands.  Still my ear will listen for your knock on the door.

Is it you?  I will wonder, and my heart will leap.  Is it my child at last?  And on that day when I see you from a long way off, weary and broken and headed for home, I will rush pout to meet you.  I’ll cover your shame with a cloak of righteousness.  I’ll cook a meal and call my friends and plan a celebration.  And as I look into your face, which is so dear to me, tears will fill my eyes, and I will say, “My child was lost, but now is found!  My child was dead, but now is alive again!

With open arms! – God

John 3:1-21

Jesus Teaches Nicodemus

1 Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council. 2 He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him.”

3 In reply Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.”

4 “How can a man be born when he is old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb to be born!”

5 Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. 7You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”

9 “How can this be?” Nicodemus asked.

10 “You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things? 11 I tell you the truth, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. 12 I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? 13 No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man.14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15 that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.

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 he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. 19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.”

Psalm 100

A psalm. For giving thanks.

1 Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth.
2 Worship the LORD with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs.
3 Know that the LORD is God.
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.
5 For the LORD is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations.

DEVOTIONAL BY OSWALD CHAMBERS – MY UTMOST FOR HIS HIGHEST

God’s Total Surrender to Us

For God so loved the world that He gave . . . —John 3:16

Salvation does not mean merely deliverance from sin or the experience of personal holiness. The salvation which comes from God means being completely delivered from myself, and being placed into perfect union with Him. When I think of my salvation experience, I think of being delivered from sin and gaining personal holiness. But salvation is so much more! It means that the Spirit of God has brought me into intimate contact with the true Person of God Himself. And as I am caught up into total surrender to God, I become thrilled with something infinitely greater than myself.

To say that we are called to preach holiness or sanctification is to miss the main point. We are called to proclaim Jesus Christ (see 1 Corinthians 2:2). The fact that He saves from sin and makes us holy is actually part of the effect of His wonderful and total surrender to us.

If we are truly surrendered, we will never be aware of our own efforts to remain surrendered. Our entire life will be consumed with the One to whom we surrender. Beware of talking about surrender if you know nothing about it. In fact, you will never know anything about it until you understand that John 3:16 means that God completely and absolutely gave Himself to us. In our surrender, we must give ourselves to God in the same way He gave Himself for us— totally, unconditionally, and without reservation. The consequences and circumstances resulting from our surrender will never even enter our mind, because our life will be totally consumed with Him.

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Faith In God

DEVOTIONAL BY BILLY GRAHAM – HOPE FOR EACH DAY

A Sure Supply

My God shall supply all your needs. – PHILIPPIANS 4:19

One lesson that Jesus would teach us is to have confidence that God answers every true petition. Skeptics may question it, humanists may deny it, and intellectuals may ridicule it. Yet here is Christ’s own promise: “If you abide in me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you” (John 15:7).

Does this verse mean God gives us a blank check (so to speak) when we pray? Does He promise to give us anything we want, if we just keep asking? No. God loves us too much to answer prayers that are foolish or might harm us. But the closer we get to Him—the more we abide in Him and His word abides in us—the more we will desire what He desires, and the more our prayers will reflect His will.

The Bible promises, “No good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless” (Ps. 84:11, NIV). Trust that promise with all your soul.

DEVOTIONAL BY CHARLES STANLEY – ON HOLY GROUND

Growing Your Faith

Jesus said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.” – Matthew 17:20

How do you respond when presented with a challenge that calls for a surge of faith in God? Hesitantly? Tentatively? Fearfully? Optimistically?

The key to breaking the faith barrier and anchoring our trust in God is an exalted view of God Himself.

“But I thought to have more faith, I had to work at it more,” you say. You do, but your work is to see God for who He really is, not to struggle to obtain more faith or have a more positive mind-set.

When the disciples thirsted to have more faith, Jesus told them all that was necessary was faith the size of a mustard seed. “Use what you have,” Jesus was saying, “and your faith will grow in the process.”

We use what faith we have, as little as it may seem, by magnifying the heart’s view of God. When Moses was scared to go to Pharaoh, God exploded Moses’ worries with the revelation of Himself: “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you’” (Ex. 3:14 NASB).

We grow in faith by seeing God in a new light. Our faith is as big as our God. If your notion of God is grand, your faith will soar. If it is little, your faith will sag. How big is your God? See Him as He is, and the faith barrier will shatter before you.

DEVOTIONAL FROM POSTCARDS FROM HEAVEN – CLAIRE CLONINGER

Cry Out To Me

Dear child,

Cry out to me.  Ask me what you will.  Do not let others discourage you or dissuade you from seeking what you need from me.  Be specific.  Tell me exactly what you want me to do for you.  And ask in the name of Jesus, my Son.  Ask believing.  Don’t put your faith in faith, for faith in and of itself cannot help you.  Instead, pout your faith in me – in my willingness to heal and my power to change things.

Cry out boldly.  Ask specifically.  Use the name of Jesus.  Have faith in me.  And like the blind man of Jericho, you will receive what you need.

Mercifully, God

Mark 1:21-28

Jesus Drives Out an Evil Spirit

21 They went to Capernaum, and when the Sabbath came, Jesus went into the synagogue and began to teach. 22 The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law. 23 Just then a man in their synagogue who was possessed by an evil spirit cried out, 24 “What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!”

25 “Be quiet!” said Jesus sternly. “Come out of him!” 26 The evil spirit shook the man violently and came out of him with a shriek.

27 The people were all so amazed that they asked each other, “What is this? A new teaching—and with authority! He even gives orders to evil spirits and they obey him.” 28 News about him spread quickly over the whole region of Galilee.

Psalm 111

1 Praise the LORD.

I will extol the LORD with all my heart
in the council of the upright and in the assembly.

2 Great are the works of the LORD;
they are pondered by all who delight in them.
3 Glorious and majestic are his deeds,
and his righteousness endures forever.
4 He has caused his wonders to be remembered;
the LORD is gracious and compassionate.
5 He provides food for those who fear him;
he remembers his covenant forever.
6 He has shown his people the power of his works,
giving them the lands of other nations.
7 The works of his hands are faithful and just;
all his precepts are trustworthy.
8 They are steadfast for ever and ever,
done in faithfulness and uprightness.
9 He provided redemption for his people;
he ordained his covenant forever—
holy and awesome is his name.

10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom;
all who follow his precepts have good understanding.
To him belongs eternal praise.

DEVOTIONAL BY OSWALD CHAMBERS – MY UTMOST FOR HIS HIGHEST

Then What’s Next To Do?

Everyone who asks receives . . . —Luke 11:10

Ask if you have not received. There is nothing more difficult than asking. We will have yearnings and desires for certain things, and even suffer as a result of their going unfulfilled, but not until we are at the limit of desperation will we ask. It is the sense of not being spiritually real that causes us to ask. Have you ever asked out of the depths of your total insufficiency and poverty? “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God . . . ” (James 1:5), but be sure that you do lack wisdom before you ask. You cannot bring yourself to the point of spiritual reality anytime you choose. The best thing to do, once you realize you are not spiritually real, is to ask God for the Holy Spirit, basing your request on the promise of Jesus Christ (see Luke 11:13). The Holy Spirit is the one who makes everything that Jesus did for you real in your life.

“Everyone who asks receives . . . .” This does not mean that you will not get if you do not ask, but it means that until you come to the point of asking, you will not receive from God (seeMatthew 5:45). To be able to receive means that you have to come into the relationship of a child of God, and then you comprehend and appreciate mentally, morally, and with spiritual understanding, that these things come from God.

“If any of you lacks wisdom . . . .” If you realize that you are lacking, it is because you have come in contact with spiritual reality— do not put the blinders of reason on again. The word ask actually means “beg.” Some people are poor enough to be interested in their poverty, and some of us are poor enough spiritually to show our interest. Yet we will never receive if we ask with a certain result in mind, because we are asking out of our lust, not out of our poverty. A pauper does not ask out of any reason other than the completely hopeless and painful condition of his poverty. He is not ashamed to beg— blessed are the paupers in spirit (see Matthew 5:3).

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Discipleship

DEVOTIONAL BY BILLY GRAHAM – HOPE FOR EACH DAY

The Call to Discipleship

Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me. – MATTHEW 11:29

A generation ago, Jim Elliot went from Wheaton College to become a missionary to the Aucas in Ecuador. Before he was killed, he wrote, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”

The Christian faith brings its own “blood, sweat, and tears” to those who would follow Jesus Christ. Christ calls us to discipleship. When we come to Him, He takes away one set of burdens—the burden of sin, the burden of guilt, the burden of separation from God, the burden of hopelessness.

But He also calls us to follow Him, to renounce our selfish desires, and seek His will above all else. He calls to us: “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me.”

So are we simply exchanging one burden for another—the burden of sin for the burden of obedience ? No! It is no burden to follow Christ. Instead, we become the bearers of joy—because now we are yoked to the very Son of God. Nor is it too heavy to bear, for Christ bears it with us: “My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matt. 11:30).

With whom are you yoked—the world or Christ?

DEVOTIONAL BY CHARLES STANLEY – ON HOLY GROUND

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

Don’t Look Back

Child of mine,

This journey we are on together is forward looking.  The destination is ever before you.  You have not arrived, but you are on your way.  Press on.  Take hold of the glorious purpose for which Jesus Christ has taken hold of you.  His purpose is that you know him, that you become like him, that your life becomes a channel through which his love can flow to others.  His purpose is that you spend eternity enjoying me, starting now!

Many have traveled this road before you, and you can learn from them.  Consider Paul.  Suppose he had taken time out from his journey to dwell on past failures.  He could have looked back and become paralyzed by the guilt and shame of a life spent persecuting the church of Jesus Christ.  Why, Paul even held the coats of murderers who stoned my servant, Stephen!  He stood by watching in approval.  But once he was forgiven, Paul did not waste time or spiritual energy looking back.  He knew that the past had been put under the blood of Jesus, and he was free to press on toward the goal.

Do you know these things about your past?  Come be forgiven, once and for all, and then look back no more.  Instead, look ahead to the glory that lies out before you.

And press on! – God

Mark 1:14-20

The Calling of the First Disciples

14 After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. 15 “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!”

16 As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 17 “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” 18 At once they left their nets and followed him.

19 When he had gone a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat, preparing their nets. 20 Without delay he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him.

Psalm 62:6-14

6 He alone is my rock and my salvation;
he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.
7 My salvation and my honor depend on God;
he is my mighty rock, my refuge.
8 Trust in him at all times, O people;
pour out your hearts to him,
for God is our refuge.
Selah

9 Lowborn men are but a breath,
the highborn are but a lie;
if weighed on a balance, they are nothing;
together they are only a breath.
10 Do not trust in extortion
or take pride in stolen goods;
though your riches increase,
do not set your heart on them.

11 One thing God has spoken,
two things have I heard:
that you, O God, are strong,
12 and that you, O Lord, are loving.
Surely you will reward each person
according to what he has done.

DEVOTIONAL BY OSWALD CHAMBERS – MY UTMOST FOR HIS HIGHEST

Coming to Jesus

Come to Me . . . —Matthew 11:28

Isn’t it humiliating to be told that we must come to Jesus! Think of the things about which we will not come to Jesus Christ. If you want to know how real you are, test yourself by these words— “Come to Me . . . .” In every dimension in which you are not real, you will argue or evade the issue altogether rather than come; you will go through sorrow rather than come; and you will do anything rather than come the last lap of the race of seemingly unspeakable foolishness and say, “Just as I am, I come.” As long as you have even the least bit of spiritual disrespect, it will always reveal itself in the fact that you are expecting God to tell you to do something very big, and yet all He is telling you to do is to “Come . . . .”

“Come to Me . . . .” When you hear those words, you will know that something must happen in you before you can come. The Holy Spirit will show you what you have to do, and it will involve anything that will uproot whatever is preventing you from getting through to Jesus. And you will never get any further until you are willing to do that very thing. The Holy Spirit will search out that one immovable stronghold within you, but He cannot budge it unless you are willing to let Him do so.

How often have you come to God with your requests and gone away thinking, “I’ve really received what I wanted this time!” And yet you go away with nothing, while all the time God has stood with His hands outstretched not only to take you but also for you to take Him. Just think of the invincible, unconquerable, and untiring patience of Jesus, who lovingly says, “Come to Me. . . .”

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God’s Workmanship

DEVOTIONAL BY BILLY GRAHAM – HOPE FOR EACH DAY

Living Stones

You also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house. 1 PETER 2:5

I have a friend who lost his job, a fortune, his wife, and his home. But he tenaciously held to his faith in Christ—the only thing he had left. Like Job in the Old Testament, he would not abandon God, no matter what happened. And yet like Job, he couldn’t help but wonder why.

One day he stopped to watch some men doing stonework on a huge church. One of them was chiseling a triangular piece of stone.

“What are you going to do with that?” asked my friend.

The workman said, “See that little opening away up there near the spire? Well, I’m shaping this down here so it will fit in up there.”

Tears filled my friend’s eyes as he walked away, for it seemed that God had spoken through the workman to explain the ordeal through which he was passing, “I’m shaping you down here so you’ll fit in up there.”

DEVOTIONAL BY CHARLES STANLEY – ON HOLY GROUND

God’s Workmanship

On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets. – Matthew 22:40

Some evangelicals espouse the warped view that loving ourselves is selfish and wrong.

While Christians obviously are called to love God and others, loving ourselves in a biblical, non-narcissistic fashion fosters a healthy spiritual balance. We love ourselves properly when we see ourselves as God sees us.

God declares His children to be His workmanship. He views us as men and women of inestimable worth—valuable enough to execute His own Son on our behalf.

Your clothes, home, car, work, and friends do not determine your worth. God does. He values you so much that He desires to spend eternity with you.

We also love ourselves rightly when we treat ourselves properly. As God’s masterpieces, we should take care of ourselves. Our bodies need balanced nutrition and exercise. Our personal grooming should be neat. We polish our furniture and wax our cars because they are objects of worth to us. Are we not worth more than they?

You are God’s good and lovely creation. The more you affirm God’s evaluation of yourself, the more you will adore Him and love others.

DEVOTIONAL FROM POSTCARDS FROM HEAVEN – CLAIRE CLONINGER

Why Do You Question My Design?

Dear child of mine,

There are still some things about yourself that you have not accepted.  You view your abilities and assets with harsh and critical eyes and keep a constant record of your “limitations.”  You murmur and say, “I was made this way, but I should have been made that way!” or “If only I could be like this person or that person!”

Why do you insist on being your own worst enemy?  Why do you question the judgment of God who made you as you are?  Does the clay say to the potter, “What are you doing?  How dare you shape me this way?”  No, the clay does not give advice to the potter.  And neither are you to resist my design for your life.

I, your God and your Creator, have fashioned you for my purposes.  Humble your heart.  Embrace my way.  Give thanks.

Your own, God.

John 1:43-51

Jesus Calls Philip and Nathanael

43 The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, “Follow me.”

44 Philip, like Andrew and Peter, was from the town of Bethsaida. 45 Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”

46 “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael asked.

“Come and see,” said Philip.

47 When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, “Here is a true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false.”

48 “How do you know me?” Nathanael asked.

Jesus answered, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.”

49 Then Nathanael declared, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.”

50 Jesus said, “You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You shall see greater things than that.” 51 He then added, “I tell you the truth, you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”

Psalm 139:1-5, 12-17

1 O LORD, you have searched me
and you know me.
2 You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
3 You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
4 Before a word is on my tongue
you know it completely, O LORD.

5 You hem me in—behind and before;
you have laid your hand upon me.

12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.

13 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,
16 your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be.

17 How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!

DEVOTIONAL BY OSWALD CHAMBERS – MY UTMOST FOR HIS HIGHEST

Prayerful Inner-Searching

May your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless . . . —1 Thessalonians 5:23

“Your whole spirit . . . .” The great, mysterious work of the Holy Spirit is in the deep recesses of our being which we cannot reach. Read Psalm 139 . The psalmist implies— “O Lord, You are the God of the early mornings, the God of the late nights, the God of the mountain peaks, and the God of the sea. But, my God, my soul has horizons further away than those of early mornings, deeper darkness than the nights of earth, higher peaks than any mountain peaks, greater depths than any sea in nature. You who are the God of all these, be my God. I cannot reach to the heights or to the depths; there are motives I cannot discover, dreams I cannot realize. My God, search me.”

Do we believe that God can fortify and protect our thought processes far beyond where we can go? “. . . the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). If this verse means cleansing only on our conscious level, may God have mercy on us. The man who has been dulled by sin will say that he is not even conscious of it. But the cleansing from sin we experience will reach to the heights and depths of our spirit if we will “walk in the light as He is in the light” (1 John 1:7). The same Spirit that fed the life of Jesus Christ will feed the life of our spirit. It is only when we are protected by God with the miraculous sacredness of the Holy Spirit that our spirit, soul, and body can be preserved in pure uprightness until the coming of Jesus-no longer condemned in God’s sight.

We should more frequently allow our minds to meditate on these great, massive truths of God.

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Merry Christmas!

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

Do Not Grow Weary

As for you, brethren, do not grow weary in doing good. – Thessalonians 3:13

At various points throughout history, some Christians have been accused of being too teleological in focus. That is, they emphasized the life to come and their ultimate destination of heaven to the exclusion of concern for this present world. You have probably heard this comment: “He is so heavenly minded, he is no earthly good.”

In Paul’s day in the church at Thessalonica, many believers took this warped emphasis to the extreme. They were convinced that Jesus was returning at any moment, so they ceased working and waited for Him. You can imagine what chaos the imbalance caused within the early church, with some believers working harder and carrying the load for the others.

Second Thessalonians 3:12–13 (NASB) contains this reproof: “Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to work in quiet fashion and eat their own bread. But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary of doing good.”

It is all right to look forward to spending eternity with Jesus after we die and leave this earth; He wants us to eagerly anticipate His generous blessings to come. Yet the here and now matters to Jesus too. He wants you to grow in His fellowship, maturing and strengthening and becoming a better-equipped representative of His grace to a lost world.

DEVOTIONAL FROM POSTCARDS FROM HEAVEN – CLAIRE CLONINGER

Cry Out To Me

Dear child,

Cry out to me.  Ask me what you will.  Do not let others discourage you or dissuade you from seeking what you need from me.  Be specific.  Tell me exactly what you want me to do for you.  And ask in the name of Jesus, my Son.  Ask believing.  Don’t put your faith in faith, for faith in and of itself cannot help you.  Instead, pout your faith in me – in my willingness to heal and my power to change things.

Cry out boldly.  Ask specifically.  Use the name of Jesus.  Have faith in me.  And like the blind man of Jericho, you will receive what you need.

Mercifully, God

Luke 1:26-38

The Birth of Jesus Foretold

 26 In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”

29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. 31You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. 32He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.”

34 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. 36Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. 37 For nothing is impossible with God.”

38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said.” Then the angel left her.

Psalm 89:1-4, 19-26

I will sing of the LORD’s great love forever;
with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known through all generations.
2 I will declare that your love stands firm forever,
that you established your faithfulness in heaven itself.

3 You said, “I have made a covenant with my chosen one,
I have sworn to David my servant,
4 ‘I will establish your line forever
and make your throne firm through all generations.’”

19 Once you spoke in a vision,
to your faithful people you said:
“I have bestowed strength on a warrior;
I have exalted a young man from among the people.
20 I have found David my servant;
with my sacred oil I have anointed him.
21 My hand will sustain him;
surely my arm will strengthen him.
22 No enemy will subject him to tribute;
no wicked man will oppress him.
23 I will crush his foes before him
and strike down his adversaries.
24 My faithful love will be with him,
and through my name his horn will be exalted.
25 I will set his hand over the sea,
his right hand over the rivers.
26 He will call out to me, ‘You are my Father,
my God, the Rock my Savior.’

DEVOTIONAL BY OSWALD CHAMBERS – MY UTMOST FOR HIS HIGHEST

The Teaching of Adversity

In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world —John 16:33

The typical view of the Christian life is that it means being delivered from all adversity. But it actually means being delivered in adversity, which is something very different. “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. No evil shall befall you, nor shall any plague come near your dwelling . . .” (Psalm 91:1,10)— the place where you are at one with God.

If you are a child of God, you will certainly encounter adversities, but Jesus says you should not be surprised when they come. “In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” He is saying, “There is nothing for you to fear.” The same people who refused to talk about their adversities before they were saved often complain and worry after being born again because they have the wrong idea of what it means to live the life of a saint.

God does not give us overcoming life— He gives us life as we overcome. The strain of life is what builds our strength. If there is no strain, there will be no strength. Are you asking God to give you life, liberty, and joy? He cannot, unless you are willing to accept the strain. And once you face the strain, you will immediately get the strength. Overcome your own timidity and take the first step. Then God will give you nourishment— “To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life . . .” (Revelation 2:7). If you completely give of yourself physically, you become exhausted. But when you give of yourself spiritually, you get more strength. God never gives us strength for tomorrow, or for the next hour, but only for the strain of the moment. Our temptation is to face adversities from the standpoint of our own common sense. But a saint can “be of good cheer” even when seemingly defeated by adversities, because victory is absurdly impossible to everyone, except God.

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God’s Comfort

God’s Comfort

Posted on December 9, 2017by All The Glory Ministry

DEVOTIONAL BY BILLY GRAHAM – HOPE FOR EACH DAY

God Cares for You

God is not the author of confusion but of peace. – 1 CORINTHIANS 14:33

Who of us has not asked in times of affliction and difficulty—does God care for me? The Psalmist said, “Refuge failed me; no man cared for my soul” (Ps. 142:4 KJV). Martha, over-concerned with her workaday duties, said to Jesus, “Lord, do You not care?” How many faithful, loving mothers, overwhelmed by the burdens of motherhood, have cried anxiously, “Lord, do You not care?”

That question is forever answered in those reassuring words of Peter: “He cares for you” (1 Pet. 5:7). This is the Word of God. Even if the world passes away it will not change.

You can be confident God cares for you. If He didn’t, would He have sent Christ into the world to die for you? Of course not! That is why you can always turn to Him for the strength and encouragement you need.

Yes, life can be overwhelming at times. But when it is, remember this: God knows what you are facing, and “He cares for you.”

DEVOTIONAL BY CHARLES STANLEY – ON HOLY GROUND

Do Not Grow Weary

As for you, brethren, do not grow weary in doing good. – Thessalonians 3:13

At various points throughout history, some Christians have been accused of being too teleological in focus. That is, they emphasized the life to come and their ultimate destination of heaven to the exclusion of concern for this present world. You have probably heard this comment: “He is so heavenly minded, he is no earthly good.”

In Paul’s day in the church at Thessalonica, many believers took this warped emphasis to the extreme. They were convinced that Jesus was returning at any moment, so they ceased working and waited for Him. You can imagine what chaos the imbalance caused within the early church, with some believers working harder and carrying the load for the others.

Second Thessalonians 3:12–13 (NASB) contains this reproof: “Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to work in quiet fashion and eat their own bread. But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary of doing good.”

It is all right to look forward to spending eternity with Jesus after we die and leave this earth; He wants us to eagerly anticipate His generous blessings to come. Yet the here and now matters to Jesus too. He wants you to grow in His fellowship, maturing and strengthening and becoming a better-equipped representative of His grace to a lost world.

DEVOTIONAL FROM POSTCARDS FROM HEAVEN – CLAIRE CLONINGER

I Am Here For Your Hurt

Are you hurting today?  Under all the coping mechanisms you’ve set up to keep your life in motion, is there a place in 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

Luke 1:26-38

The Birth of Jesus Foretold

26 In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”

29Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. 31You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. 32He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.”

34 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. 36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. 37 For nothing is impossible with God.”

38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said.” Then the angel left her.

Psalm 89:1-4, 19-26

I will sing of the LORD’s great love forever;
with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known through all generations.
2 I will declare that your love stands firm forever,
that you established your faithfulness in heaven itself.

3 You said, “I have made a covenant with my chosen one,
I have sworn to David my servant,
4 ‘I will establish your line forever
and make your throne firm through all generations.’”

19 Once you spoke in a vision,
to your faithful people you said:
“I have bestowed strength on a warrior;
I have exalted a young man from among the people.
20 I have found David my servant;
with my sacred oil I have anointed him.
21 My hand will sustain him;
surely my arm will strengthen him.
22 No enemy will subject him to tribute;
no wicked man will oppress him.
23 I will crush his foes before him
and strike down his adversaries.
24 My faithful love will be with him,
and through my name his horn will be exalted.
25 I will set his hand over the sea,
his right hand over the rivers.
26 He will call out to me, ‘You are my Father,
my God, the Rock my Savior.’

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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