Category Archives: Devotionals

Opportunities to Minister

Opportunities to Minister 

When Joseph came to them the next morning, he saw that they were dejected. So he asked Pharaoh’s officials . . . “Why are your faces so sad today?” (Genesis 40:6, 7).

Scripture: Genesis 40:1–8
Song: “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” (by Joseph M. Scriven)

While her brother rested, Lonora wandered out into the waiting area at Portland VA Medical Center, looking for a quiet place to sort out her thoughts. Anguish filled her heart. Her brother, Ken, lay nearby in the critical care unit. Just weeks before, her other brother had died tragically.

Lonora located a vacant seat and sat down. She needed solitude. Instead, she heard loud, crude remarks being directed at an already distraught woman. Like Lonora, this woman was deeply concerned about a loved one. Comments from insensitive relatives had only made the situation worse. Moved by compassion, Lonora approached her. She spoke words of comfort, offered a short prayer, and then gave her a tender hug. The embrace released tears of healing for both women.

In today’s passage Joseph encounters jailed servants who had offended Pharaoh. Thankfully for them, providence had placed Joseph in the same jail to offer encouragement. And God will put needful people in our paths as well. Discouraging circumstances provide the perfect opportunity for ministry.

Spirit of the Living God, many people today face difficulties in their lives. Please lead me to those who need Your encouragement. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

“Opportunities to Minister” by Charles Earl Harrel. First published in Devotions® © 2012 Standard Publishing. Reprinted with permission from the publisher.

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In Whom the Spirit Dwells

In Whom the Spirit Dwells  

Can we find anyone like this man, one in whom is the spirit of God?” (Genesis 41:38).

Scripture: Genesis 41:37–46, 50–52
Song: “By My Spirit” (by Almeda Herrick)

My son, Christopher, grew sicker by the hour. I decided to skip the last service of our citywide crusade at the Portland Coliseum, even though I held a reserved seat with the evangelist on the platform. My wife drove the fully loaded church van in my stead. After the group left, I felt sad, then desperate when I checked my son’s temperature: 101 degrees and rising. I strapped him into the car seat and headed to store for a bottle of children’s aspirin.

At the store my line stalled as a couple counted out quarters to buy a handful of groceries. Obviously, they were experiencing hard times. The Holy Spirit tugged at my heart, so I offered to pay for their purchase. He stood speechless; she wept. Now realizing the Spirit had led me there, I shared God’s plan of salvation.

When we returned home, I rechecked Christopher’s temperature—no fever, no flu symptoms either. That day was providential. For me, ministering to a needy couple proved a higher priority than sitting on the platform with a famous evangelist. When we follow the Holy Spirit’s gentle guidance, miracles can happen—and people will find eternal life.

Dear Spirit of God, Your indwelling has many purposes. You lead me each day and help me reach out to others in need. Thank you, Holy Spirit, for giving me wisdom, anointing, and discernment to carry out Your ministry. In Jesus’ name, amen.

“In Whom the Spirit Dwells” by Charles Earl Harrel. First published in Devotions® © 2012 Standard Publishing. Reprinted with permission from the publisher.

Purchase printed issue of Devotions or 365 Devotions.

The Duplication Factor

The Duplication Factor

The reason the dream was given to Pharaoh in two forms is that the matter has been firmly decided by God, and God will do it soon (Genesis 41:32).

Scripture: Genesis 41:25–36
Song: “Wonderful Words of Life” (by Philip P. Bliss)

After opening our ministerial meeting with prayer, the ministers in Dayton, Oregon, took five minutes to share about last month’s ministry. Five ministers were present that day, each one representing a different church denomination. As part of our reports, we shared the title and text of our previous Sunday’s sermon. To our amazement, we had all used the same Scripture text, and although our sermon titles were different, the messages we preached were much the same.

As we read our Bibles, we find that certain passages, stories, words, and prophetic dreams are purposely repeated. Many theologians believe something revealed or stated twice in Scripture is God’s way of drawing attention to it, like putting an exclamation point at the end of a sentence. The Bible contains numerous examples, including today’s passage. Pharaoh’s dream came in two forms: seven cows and seven heads of grain. Yet each version held the same warning of an approaching famine.

God still uses repetition to emphasize an important truth. This gives us an opportunity to change our ways and avert a catastrophe. God is merciful and wants us to know His plan for our lives. Besides being expedient, repetition gets our attention.

Father, I appreciate Your loving concern for my soul. Repetition of important truths helps me follow You closer. May I always be attentive. In Jesus’ name, amen.

“The Duplication Factor” by Charles Earl Harrel. First published in Devotions® © 2012 Standard Publishing. Reprinted with permission from the publisher.

Purchase printed issue of Devotions or 365 Devotions.

God Has the Best Answers

God Has the Best Answers                 

“I cannot do it,” Joseph replied to Pharaoh, “but God will give Pharaoh the answer he desires” (Genesis 41:16).

Scripture: Genesis 41:14–24
Song: “Jesus Is the Answer” (by Andrae and Sandra Crouch)

Bob wanted everyone to think he was a prophet. He often told people what God was saying about a certain matter. One Sunday, he decided to comment about the minister’s sermon on the benefits of tithing. After waiting for the closing prayer, he stood up and said, “Thus says God . . .” He paused as if the words had just disappeared from his thoughts. So he started again, “Thus says the Lord . . .” Again, he stopped in mid-sentence. After a third attempt with similar results, Bob sat down with this apology: “I really have no idea what God is saying, so please don’t listen to me.”

In today’s passage, Pharaoh needed someone to interpret a troubling dream. His wise men and magicians were, like Bob, clueless. When Pharaoh called upon Joseph, he gave the king the true meaning to his dream, but made it clear that the answer came from God.

Likewise, we should seek the Lord for answers—not make up ones that are self-serving or otherwise politically correct. Such responses are often doomed to failure because they are not based on God’s plan, nor do they rely on faith. Whether it’s a troubling dream, a financial concern, or an unsolvable family problem, we should always ask God for the answer.

Dear Savior, during times of uncertainty, I will wait in prayer until I receive Your reply. Your answer is the only one I truly need. In the name of Jesus I pray. Amen.

“God Has the Best Answers” by Charles Earl Harrel. First published in Devotions® © 2012 Standard Publishing. Reprinted with permission from the publisher.

Purchase printed issue of Devotions or 365 Devotions.

 

Sunday Devotionals

Every Sunday, which started in March and ends in May, my devotionals are featured in God’s Word For Today. I am the guest pastor for the 2018 spring quarter.


To read online each Sunday, click on the above cover.

Or visit devotionals at God’s Word for Today


May you find inspiration and encouragement,
Charles Earl Harrel

The Correct Interpretation

                          The Correct Interpretation                                 

Now a young Hebrew was there with us, a servant of the captain of the guard. We told him our dreams, and he interpreted them for us, giving each man the interpretation of his dream (Genesis 41:12).

Scripture: Genesis 41:1-13
Song: “The Solid Rock”

I had trouble sleeping that Saturday night. My spirit was troubled—something at the church maybe—I couldn’t put my finger on it. Finally, the tiredness overtook me, and I fell into a deep sleep. I usually don’t remember my dreams, but this night the dream came alive in vivid detail.

Three lions paced back and forth in the backyard of our parsonage. As they drew closer, I could hear them roaring underneath the bedroom windowsill. Then, I saw three sets of paws tearing at the screen. They were forcing their way into our house, intending to harm my family. I could not let that happen. I jarred myself awake and rushed to the window to face them down. When I got there, I saw nothing.

Unnerved, I sat down and prayed for wisdom. In reply, God gave me a sermon about three problems stalking our church. That Sunday morning, three sin issues were uncovered and dealt with. My dream and its warning proved all too real.

Most dreams are triggered by something we’ve read, seen on TV, or eaten the night before. Some dreams, however, are God-sent and inspired. I can personally attest to it.

Lord, when I read my Bible, hear a sermon, or study a daily devotional guide, I hear Your gentle voice talking to me, leading me. Praise to You, through Christ. Amen.

“The Correct Interpretation” by Charles Earl Harrel. First published in Devotions® © 2012 Standard Publishing. Reprinted with permission from the publisher.

Purchase printed issue of Devotions or 365 Devotions.

Sometimes, God uses dreams to speak to His people. But not all dreams are from Him—most are not. If you think you’ve had a spiritual one, you should first pray for discernment and then seek God’s wisdom in the matter.

A Series of Unfortunate Events

       A Series of Unfortunate Events                      

“I was forcibly carried off from the land of the Hebrews, and even here I have done nothing to deserve being put in a dungeon” (Genesis 40:15).

Scripture: Genesis 40:9–15
Song: “Safely, Safely Gathered In”

The newscast that night caught my attention. A man charged and convicted of a ghastly crime would soon be released from prison. The court system and his attorneys had reopened the case after they discovered certain inconsistencies. After evaluating the new DNA evidence, the jury exonerated him of any crime. Such testing methods were not available during his first trial, so he’d spent 15 years behind bars for a crime he didn’t commit. Even so, the man did not appear sad or angry. Instead, he was looking forward to redeeming the time he had lost.

With advances in crime scene investigation, some people wrongly incarcerated are enjoying freedom, a new lease on life. Joseph found himself in a similar situation. A series of events landed him in an underground prison cell. Yet he had done nothing wrong. Still, he didn’t allow his imprisonment to sour his spiritual outlook. He used the situation to tell people about his faith in God.

God often uses adversity to birth a greater purpose for our lives. In Joseph’s case, he earned an Egyptian pardon and became Pharaoh’s highest-ranking advisor. Exercising patience and trusting God worked for Joseph, and it can for us as well.

O Lord, without all the facts, people are prone to misjudge. When that happens, remind me to pray for wisdom and to trust You for the outcome. Through Christ, amen.

“A Series of Unfortunate Events” by Charles Earl Harrel. First published in Devotions® © 2012 Standard Publishing. Reprinted with permission from the publisher.

Purchase printed issue of Devotions or 365 Devotions.