God’s Blessings

DEVOTIONAL BY BILLY GRAHAM – HOPE FOR EACH DAY

God’s Hand of Blessing

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above.  – James 1:17

In the midst of the Lord’s Prayer are these familiar words: “Give us this day our daily bread” (Matt. 6:11). They remind us that we are dependent on God for everything, and He is the giver of every blessing. “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights” (James 1:17).

Some people say, “Why should I pray for my daily bread? I can take care of my own needs!” But listen: If it weren’t for God’s love and grace, you wouldn’t have anything. We need to pray this prayer every day, because we need to be reminded to trust God in everything.

This prayer reminds us also of Jesus’ words: “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger” (John 6:35). Thank God for all His gifts—especially Christ, the greatest gift of all.

DEVOTIONAL BY CHARLES STANLEY – ON HOLY GROUND

The Faithfulness of God

Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have.
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?” – 

At times in our spiritual walk we feel as though all of heaven is shut up before us. We find ourselves wondering whether God has forgotten us or we have done something to disappoint Him. But nothing we do surprises God. He is omniscient and perfectly in tune with our every thought.

God has chosen to love you, even in sin, with an unconditional love. His love is based not on your performance but on His grace. You could never in your own strength perform up to God’s standards. He loves you just as much when you stumble and fall as He does when you closely follow Him. This is not an excuse for sin but an opportunity to learn to love Him better.

Along the pathway of faith each of us can expect to face times of trials and difficulty when it appears that God is distant and removed from us. Yet we walk not by sight but in the reality of the promise that He will never leave or forsake us (Heb. 13:5–6). Faith always looks beyond the immediate to the eternal.

The times you feel God is doing nothing in your life are usually the very times He is doing His greatest work. Be of good courage; He may simply have you protected under the cover of His hand while He works out the necessary details for your advancement. Trust Him, and you will find Him faithful.

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 25:14-30

The Parable of the Talents

 14 “Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his property to them. 15 To one he gave five talents of money, to another two talents, and to another one talent, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. 16 The man who had received the five talents went at once and put his money to work and gained five more. 17 So also, the one with the two talents gained two more. 18 But the man who had
received the one talent went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.

 19 “After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. 20 The man who had received the five talents brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five talents. See, I have gained five more.’

21 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

 22 “The man with the two talents also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two talents; see, I have gained two more.’

 23 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

24 “Then the man who had received the one talent came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not
scattered seed. 25 So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’

26 “His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? 27 Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.

 28 “‘Take the talent from him and give it to the one who has the ten talents. 29 For everyone
who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. 30 And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

Psalm 123

1 I lift up my eyes to you,to you whose throne is in heaven.

2 As the eyes of slaves look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a maid look to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the LORD our God, till he shows us his mercy.

 3 Have mercy on us, O LORD, have mercy on us, for we have endured much contempt.

4 We have endured much ridicule from the proud, much contempt from the arrogant.

DEVOTIONAL BY OSWALD CHAMBERS – MY UTMOST FOR HIS HIGHEST

The Undetected Sacredness Of Circumstances

All things work together for good to them that love God. — Romans 8:28

The circumstances of a saint’s life are ordained of God. In the life of a saint there is no such thing as chance. God by His providence brings you into circumstances that you cannot understand at all, but the Spirit of God understands. God is bringing you into places and among people and into conditions in order that the intercession of the Spirit in you may take a particular line. Never put your hand in front of the circumstances and say – I am going to be my own providence here, I must watch this, and guard that. All your circumstances are in the hand of God, therefore never think it strange concerning the circumstances you are in. Your part in intercessory prayer is not to enter into the agony of intercession, but to utilize the common-sense circumstances God puts you in, and the common-sense people He puts you amongst by His providence, to bring them before God’s throne and give the Spirit in you a chance to intercede for them. In this way God is going to sweep the whole world with His saints.

Am I making the Holy Spirit’s work difficult by being indefinite,or by trying to do His work for Him? I must do the human side of intercession, and the human side is the circumstances I am in and the people I am in contact with. I have to keep my conscious life as a shrine of the Holy Ghost, then as I bring the different ones before God, the Holy Spirit makes intercession for them.

Your intercessions can never be mine, and my intercessions can never be yours, but the Holy Ghost makes intercession in our particular lives, without which intercession someone will be impoverished.

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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’s body.  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!   I am 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 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

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Trusting God

DEVOTIONAL BY BILLY GRAHAM – HOPE FOR EACH DAY

Unload Your Distress

Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. 1 PETER 5:7

I’ve been told that the French translation of this phrase, “Cast all your care upon Him” is “Unload your distresses upon God.” Have you ever seen a dump truck get rid of its load? The driver simply pushes a button or pulls on a lever and the heavy load is discharged at the prescribed spot. The truck would be of no use if it carried its burden forever.

We were never meant to be crushed under the weight of care. We can push the button of faith or pull the lever of trust, and our burden is discharged upon the shoulder of Him who said He would gladly bear it. Unload the anxieties of the present moment upon Him, for He cares for you. If He loved you enough to take away the burden of your sins, can’t you trust Him to take away every lesser burden as well?

DEVOTIONAL BY CHARLES STANLEY – ON HOLY GROUND

Trusting God

Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. – Hebrews 4:14

The Hebrew Christians were wavering in their faith, and thoughts of returning to their former ways of worship were both tempting and inviting. Along with that came the enticement to return to Jerusalem to offer sacrifices. There they could see the priest performing the ritual duties of the priesthood, which were the very tangible elements they missed in their new faith.

Those people were facing the same temptation we face each day, and that was to place their trust in what was visible rather than invisible. But faith is not a matter of seeing and then believing. It is a matter of trusting God, regardless of whether or not He shows us something.

The great men and women of the Bible trusted God not because He provided material evidence of His existence, though He did that on many occasions, but because He was faithful and true in His nature. A benefit of faith is watching God work in the circumstances of our lives to bring about the answers to our prayers. He is ever mindful of those who follow Him.

An even greater benefit of trusting God is developing an intimate relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the foundation of our faith. He is our great High Priest, and because of His death at Calvary, there is no longer a need to travel anywhere other than to Him in prayer.

DEVOTIONAL FROM POSTCARDS FROM HEAVEN – CLAIRE CLONINGER

Leave Tomorrow In My Hands

Dearest Child,

There are two ways you can go about the business of our life.  You can be stressed and anxious and crippled with worries.  Or you can trust that I am in control, working in your circumstances, and you can be free!

Why is trust so difficult for you?  Why do you worry about menus and calories and grams of fat?  Why do you fret about styles and fashions and pulling together the right wardrobe?  Life is so much more than food.  Your body is so much more important than the clothes you put on it every morning.

Look up.  See the birds?  They have never made a grocery list or counted a calorie, and yet they are fed.  Find a field filled with flowers.  Spend an hour gazing at their beauty.  Do you think they are worried about what’s in style this year or what goes with what?  Now, if I take care of birds and flowers, can’t you believe that I will take care of you?  It is the godless person who worries about these things.  But you are my own child.  Seek my kingdom, and I’ll provide for you.  Leave tomorrow in my hands.

I love you. – God

Matthew 6:25-34

Do Not Worry

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?

28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Psalm 25:1-7

To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul;
in you I trust, O my God.
Do not let me be put to shame,
nor let my enemies triumph over me.
No one whose hope is in you
will ever be put to shame,
but they will be put to shame
who are treacherous without excuse.

Show me your ways, O Lord,
teach me your paths;
guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my Savior,
and my hope is in you all day long.
Remember, O Lord, your great mercy and love,
for they are from of old.
Remember not the sins of my youth
and my rebellious ways;
according to your love remember me,
for you are good, O Lord.

DEVOTIONAL BY OSWALD CHAMBERS – MY UTMOST FOR HIS HIGHEST

Dependent On God’s Presence

Those who wait on the Lord . . . shall walk and not faint —Isaiah 40:31

There is no thrill for us in walking, yet it is the test for all of our steady and enduring qualities. To “walk and not faint” is the highest stretch possible as a measure of strength. The word walk is used in the Bible to express the character of a person— “. . . John . . . looking at Jesus as He walked. . . said, ’Behold the Lamb of God!’ ” (John 1:35-36). There is nothing abstract or obscure in the Bible; everything is vivid and real. God does not say, “Be spiritual,” but He says, “Walk before Me. . .” (Genesis 17:1).

When we are in an unhealthy condition either physically or emotionally, we always look for thrills in life. In our physical life this leads to our efforts to counterfeit the work of the Holy Spirit; in our emotional life it leads to obsessions and to the destruction of our morality; and in our spiritual life, if we insist on pursuing only thrills, on mounting up “with wings like eagles” (Isaiah 40:31), it will result in the destruction of our spirituality.

Having the reality of God’s presence is not dependent on our being in a particular circumstance or place, but is only dependent on our determination to keep the Lord before us continually. Our problems arise when we refuse to place our trust in the reality of His presence. The experience the psalmist speaks of— “We will not fear, even though . . .” (Psalm 46:2)— will be ours once we are grounded on the truth of the reality of God’s presence, not just a simple awareness of it, but an understanding of the reality of it. Then we will exclaim, “He has been here all the time!”

At critical moments in our lives it is necessary to ask God for guidance, but it should be unnecessary to be constantly saying, “Oh, Lord, direct me in this, and in that.” Of course He will, and in fact, He is doing it already! If our everyday decisions are not according to His will, He will press through them, bringing restraint to our spirit. Then we must be quiet and wait for the direction of His presence.

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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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Ask-Seek-Knock

DEVOTIONAL BY BILLY GRAHAM – HOPE FOR EACH DAY

Ask and Receive

Whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them. – MARK 11:24

Someone has said that before our prayers can mean anything to God, they must first mean something to us. Mindlessly repeating a prayer we memorized in childhood, or vaguely asking God to bless everyone, everywhere—that isn’t authentic prayer. Prayer is speaking to God about the deepest concerns of our hearts.

What is the source of true prayer? It is a heart attuned to God. It is a life lived in loving obedience to the Father. The Bible says, “And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight” (1 John 3:22).

God delights in the prayers of His children—prayers that express our love for Him, prayers that share our deepest burdens with Him. Don’t pray casually or thoughtlessly, but “come boldly to the throne of grace, that you may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:16).

DEVOTIONAL BY CHARLES STANLEY – ON HOLY GROUND

Through Troubled Waters

Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. – 1 Peter 5:6–7

You lose your job. Your spouse files for divorce. You discover that one of your children is on drugs. A loved one is diagnosed with cancer and given only six months to live. Such times are extremely disorienting. They strike with such intensity that emotions can be buried beneath a tide of fear and anxiety.

Yet these pillars of truth can help you endure and triumph:

God knows your problems. Your woes have not taken God by surprise. He is aware of every detail of your troubles: “Your Father knows what you need, before you ask Him” (Matt. 6:8 NASB). God cares about your problems.

God loves you without limit. As the Good Shepherd, He will protect and defend you: “Do not fear or be dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours but God’s” (2 Chron. 20:15 NASB).  God is able to deal with your problems.

God has the power to handle your problems. Because He knows and cares, He will act according to His wisdom and will: “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety upon Him, because He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:6–7 NASB).

DEVOTIONAL FROM JESUS CALLING – SARAH YOUNG

Immeasurably More

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.  – EPHESIANS 3: 20– 21

I am able to do far beyond all that you ask or imagine. Come to Me with positive expectations, knowing that there is no limit to what I can accomplish. Ask My Spirit to control your mind, so that you can think great thoughts of Me. Do not be discouraged by the fact that many of your prayers are yet unanswered. Time is a trainer, teaching you to wait upon Me, to trust Me in the dark. The more extreme your circumstances, the more likely you are to see My Power and Glory at work in the situation. Instead of letting difficulties draw you into worrying, try to view them as setting the scene for My glorious intervention. Keep your eyes and your mind wide open to all that I am doing in your life.

Matthew 7:7-9

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 27:1-5

The Lord is my light and my salvation—     whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life—     of whom shall I be afraid?

When the wicked advance against me     to devour[a] me, it is my enemies and my foes     who will stumble and fall. Though an army besiege me,     my heart will not fear; though war break out against me,     even then I will be confident.

One thing I ask from the Lord,     this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord     all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord     and to seek him in his temple. For in the day of trouble     he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent     and set me high upon a rock.

DEVOTIONAL FROM MY UTMOST FOR HIS HIGHEST – OSWALD CHAMBERS

And After That What’s Next To Do?

. . . seek, and you will find . . . —Luke 11:9

Seek if you have not found. “You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss . . .” (James 4:3). If you ask for things from life instead of from God, “you ask amiss”; that is, you ask out of your desire for self-fulfillment. The more you fulfill yourself the less you will seek God. “. . . seek, and you will find . . . .” Get to work— narrow your focus and interests to this one thing. Have you ever sought God with your whole heart, or have you simply given Him a feeble cry after some emotionally painful experience? “. . . seek, [focus,] and you will find . . . .”

“Ho! Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters. . .” (Isaiah 55:1). Are you thirsty, or complacent and indifferent— so satisfied with your own experience that you want nothing more of God? Experience is a doorway, not a final goal. Beware of building your faith on experience, or your life will not ring true and will only sound the note of a critical spirit. Remember that you can never give another person what you have found, but you can cause him to have a desire for it.

“. . . knock, and it will be opened to you” (Luke 11:9). “Draw near to God . . .” (James 4:8). Knock— the door is closed, and your heartbeat races as you knock. “Cleanse your hands . . .” (James 4:8). Knock a bit louder— you begin to find that you are dirty. “. . . purify your hearts . . .” (James 4:8). It is becoming even more personal— you are desperate and serious now— you will do anything. “Lament . . . ” (James 4:9). Have you ever lamented, expressing your sorrow before God for the condition of your inner life? There is no thread of self-pity left, only the heart-rending difficulty and amazement which comes from seeing what kind of person you really are. “Humble yourselves . . . ” (James 4:10). It is a humbling experience to knock at God’s door— you have to knock with the crucified thief. “. . . to him who knocks it will be opened” (Luke 11:10).

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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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God Is For Us

DEVOTIONAL BY BILLY GRAHAM – HOPE FOR EACH DAY

Rest for the Weary

Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. – MATTHEW 11:28

Few people know how to rest these days. Even on vacation, many people rush to cram in as much as they can before returning to their jobs, where they spend twice as much energy catching up on the work and mail that has piled up in their absence. Many of us need vacations just to rest from our vacations! Perhaps we have been looking for rest in the wrong places.

Jesus said “Come to me … and I will give you rest.” Like peace, rest and contentment can be found only in one place, from one source, and that is the Lord Jesus Christ.

Jesus gives us the ultimate rest, the confidence we need, to escape the frustration and chaos of the world around us. Rest in Him and don’t worry about what lies ahead. Jesus Christ has already taken care of tomorrow.

DEVOTIONAL BY CHARLES STANLEY – ON HOLY GROUND

God’s Message to You

I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.  – Jeremiah 29:11

God’s message to you is always consistent with His Word. Therefore, the apostle Paul instructed the churches to read and study God’s Word, knowing it would produce an abundance of righteousness: “Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs” (Col. 3:16 NASB).

Early believers didn’t have the Scriptures as we know them. They had the Law of Moses and the words of the prophets. Letters (our books of the New Testament) from the apostles were circulated to the churches who taught the words and principles of Christ. Paul knew if the people studied them, they would be equipped to face all temptation and trouble.

Many times we face emergencies that leave us little time to go to the Scriptures and hunt for God’s answer. However, when we study God’s Word, we have the spiritual tools needed to face the conflict.

You may be facing a deep personal loss. God wants you to know He is a God of comfort (2 Cor. 1:3). He has a plan for your life that goes past the immediate hurt (Jer. 29:11). Therefore, do not throw away your confidence, because it will be rewarded (Heb. 10:35).

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 11:25-30

Rest for the Weary

25 At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. 26 Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure.

27 “All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.

28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Psalm 16

1 Keep me safe, O God,
for in you I take refuge.

2 I said to the LORD, “You are my Lord;
apart from you I have no good thing.”
3 As for the saints who are in the land,
they are the glorious ones in whom is all my delight.[b]
4 The sorrows of those will increase
who run after other gods.
I will not pour out their libations of blood
or take up their names on my lips.

5 LORD, you have assigned me my portion and my cup;
you have made my lot secure.
6 The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
surely I have a delightful inheritance.

7 I will praise the LORD, who counsels me;
even at night my heart instructs me.
8 I have set the LORD always before me.
Because he is at my right hand,
I will not be shaken.

9 Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
my body also will rest secure,
10 because you will not abandon me to the grave,
nor will you let your Holy One see decay.
11 You have made[e] known to me the path of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence,
with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

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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Rest In Jesus

DEVOTIONAL BY BILLY GRAHAM – HOPE FOR EACH DAY

Jesus Will Answer

He will give His angels charge of you to guard you in all your ways. – PSALM 91:11, RSV

Once a poor Chinese woman went up to the foothills to cut grass. Her baby was tied to her back and a little child walked beside her.

Just as she reached the top of a hill, she heard a roar. Frightened, she turned and saw a mother tigress springing at her, followed by her two cubs.

The illiterate Chinese woman had never attended school or church, but a missionary once told her about Jesus, “who is able to help you when you are in trouble.” As the tiger’s claws tore into her arm, the woman cried out, “O Jesus, help me!” The tiger, instead of attacking again, suddenly turned and ran away.

What “beasts” are attacking you? Chances are you will never be attacked by a wild tiger, but you will be attacked by doubts, fears, worry, loneliness, or despair.

Cry out to Jesus and He will answer you just as surely as the Chinese woman’s desperate cry was heard and answered.

DEVOTIONAL BY CHARLES STANLEY – ON HOLY GROUND

When in Need

They may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will. – 2 Timothy 2:26

We are likely to think of the obvious—hatred, lust, immorality—as Satan’s primary weapons of temptation and defeat. But our accuser possesses a far more deadly and cleverly disguised agent of spiritual destruction—discouragement.

In times of need, he causes us to dwell on our mistakes, our repeated failures, our constant confession of sins, and our general lack of holiness and unrighteousness. It doesn’t take much on the devil’s part to disillusion us. We are all too well acquainted with our infirmities. Allowed to linger, discouragement breeds despair, which engulfs any sense of godly hope and confidence. Like a battle tank out of gas, we are neutralized on the spiritual battlefield.

If you have experienced this bewildered state, you can disarm the deceiver with this unchanging Bible truth: God’s grace will never fail you.

Christ’s grace saved you. His face smiles upon you even when you stumble. His grace has reserved a place in heaven for every believer that no sin or sins can alter.

His throne is adorned with grace and mercy. As the Son of man, Christ understands your plight. He will never turn you away. The instant you call on Him and thank Him for His forgiveness, discouragement has no room to stand. Go boldly to Him.

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

John 16:17-33

The Disciples’ Grief Will Turn to Joy

17 Some of his disciples said to one another, “What does he mean by saying, ‘In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me,’ and ‘Because I am going to the Father’?” 18 They kept asking, “What does he mean by ‘a little while’? We don’t understand what he is saying.”

19 Jesus saw that they wanted to ask him about this, so he said to them, “Are you asking one another what I meant when I said, ‘In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me’? 20 I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. 21 A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. 22 So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy. 23 In that day you will no longer ask me anything. I tell you the truth, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. 24 Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.

25 “Though I have been speaking figuratively, a time is coming when I will no longer use this kind of language but will tell you plainly about my Father. 26 In that day you will ask in my name. I am not saying that I will ask the Father on your behalf. 27 No, the Father himself loves you because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. 28 I came from the Father and entered the world; now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father.”

29 Then Jesus’ disciples said, “Now you are speaking clearly and without figures of speech. 30 Now we can see that you know all things and that you do not even need to have anyone ask you questions. This makes us believe that you came from God.”

31 “You believe at last!” Jesus answered. 32 “But a time is coming, and has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home. You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me.

33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Psalm 3

1 O LORD, how many are my foes!
How many rise up against me!
2 Many are saying of me,
“God will not deliver him.”
3 But you are a shield around me, O LORD;
you bestow glory on me and lift up my head.
4 To the LORD I cry aloud,
and he answers me from his holy hill.
5 I lie down and sleep;
I wake again, because the LORD sustains me.
6 I will not fear the tens of thousands
drawn up against me on every side.

7 Arise, O LORD!
Deliver me, O my God!
Strike all my enemies on the jaw;
break the teeth of the wicked.

8 From the LORD comes deliverance.
May your blessing be on your people.

DEVOTIONAL BY OSWALD CHAMBERS – MY UTMOST FOR HIS HIGHEST

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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Discipleship

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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