Category Archives: Salvation

As Long As It Takes

As Long As It Takes                    

As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness (Ezekiel 34:12).

Scripture: Ezekiel 34:11–16

Song: “Rescue the Perishing”

We’d just finished loading the camp gear into the truck when the park ranger approached our now empty campsite. “Have you guys seen a small boy in a blue T-shirt and white shorts?” the ranger asked. “Well, he’s wandered off and his parents are worried.”

Sadly, we all shook our heads “No.” But as the ranger jogged to next campsite, he noticed the L.A. County Fireman’s sticker on my dad’s Chevy Suburban. Even before he returned to ask, Dad had tightened his boots, grabbed a flashlight, and was heading down the canyon.

They both understood the urgency. In a few hours, temperatures would drop to near freezing. In the pitch darkness and rocky terrain, the little boy’s chances of survival were slim. As Dad disappeared into the night, Mom called out, “How long will you be gone?” Dad yelled back, “As long as it takes.”

Likewise, whenever we wander away from the flock, our faithful shepherd, Jesus, will find and rescue us—no matter how long it takes.

Precious Shepherd, sometimes clouds of discouragement sweep over my soul, causing me to feel lost, isolated from the flock. Please rescue me, Lord; bring me back to the fold and into Your loving embrace. In the name of Jesus, I pray.

“As Long As It Takes” by Charles Earl Harrel. First published in Devotions® © 2011 Standard Publishing. Reprinted with permission from the publisher.

Purchase current printed issue of Devotions or 365 Devotions.

 

We Must Be Broken

Working ClayWe Must Be Broken

Read Matthew 21:28–46

“He who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces, but he on whom it falls will be crushed” (Matthew 21:44).

Wheat must be ground before becoming bread. Grapes are pressed to make wine. With hardened clay, artisans must pound it until pliable; only then can they mold it into pottery. In each case, the breaking process is arduous but necessary.

Jesus understood the spiritual application better than anyone. If we are not broken voluntarily, by falling on the stone, then the stone will crush us on Judgment Day. Jesus Christ becomes either the cornerstone of our salvation or the divine rock of judgment (see Psalms 118:22, 23).

When we fall upon Christ, we surrender to His mercy. Brokenness ensues. This life-changing process is God’s way to make us useful. Likewise, when pottery shatters, it creates potsherds. In biblical times, these broken shards served as plates, vessels for scooping water, writing tablets, or trays for carrying hot coals. Ironically, a vessel was more useful after being broken. The same is true for us.

Thought for Today: We have two choices in this life—be broken or be crushed. Please choose the first way.

Quicklook: Matthew 21:42–44

—Charles Earl Harrel

God’s Word for Today © 2007 Gospel Publishing House. Used by permission.

Order God’s Word for Today devotional guides.
Visit Gospel Publishing House.

Given the Right

read-me

GIVEN THE RIGHT

Read 1 Chronicles 1:1 through 2:55; John 1:1–18

Instead of talking with friends at the Rosemont Middle School, Chuck rushed home after the final dismissal bell. He flopped into his chair, tossed his homework aside for the moment, and reached for the devotional magazine in the top desk drawer. Flipping to the marked page from the previous day, he started reading. He had never experienced anything like this before—the words seemed alive, jumping off the page and piercing his heart. The tears flowed as he realized Jesus was knocking at the door to his life. As Chuck walked to school the next morning, he wondered if his schoolmates would notice that Jesus had entered his life.

To all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God (John 1:12).

When we believe that God’s Word is true, it opens our spiritual heart to receive Jesus. For those who believe in His name, God offers adoption into His eternal family. We now have the right to become God’s children, yet we do not earn this incredible privilege. Jesus has earned it for us. It is a gift, freely given to all who ask. How are you treating God’s incredible gift?

Challenge for Today: Find someone who needs God’s adoption service.

—Charles Earl Harrel (Chuck)

God’s Word for Today © 2004 Gospel Publishing House. Used by permission.

Order God’s Word for Today devotional guides.
Visit Gospel Publishing House.

A Sign from Heaven

bakery storeA Sign from Heaven

Read Isaiah 7–1 through 12:6

homemade breadThe words caught Earl’s attention as he dashed from the plaza toward the parking lot. A sign reading “Homemade Bread” dangled in the bakery window. Smiling, he remembered how his mother’s bread disappeared within hours, while the bread from the grocery store remained in the pantry for ages. The sign reminded him that something homemade is unique because it carries the personal touch of its maker.

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel (Isaiah 7:14).

It’s no surprise that God decided to announce a special event with His own personal touch. The sign of Immanuel—God with us—reveals the Lord’s desire for closeness. God established a unique relationship with humanity by placing Immanuel inside a person for the very first time. Jesus’ conception was nothing less than miraculous. This advent was a type and shadow of the inward, salvation experience that would set the divine pattern for all intimacy: God with us, Christ in us.

Thought for Today: The world offers many signs, but the ones from heaven carry the Master’s touch. They point the way to salvation and a closer relationship with God.

Quicklook: Isaiah 7:10–25

—Charles Earl Harrel

God’s Word for Today © 2005 Gospel Publishing House. Used by permission.

Order God’s Word for Today devotional guides.
Visit Gospel Publishing House.

Crucify Him

Crucify HimCrucify Him

Read 2 Kings 15:13 through 17:41; Luke 23:13–34

They kept shouting, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” (Luke 23:21).

Pilate wanted to release Jesus. He did not see any merit in the accusations of the religious rulers, so he decided to punish Jesus and quietly discharge him. The Jewish leaders, however, were not satisfied. They wanted crucifixion. Pilate felt his idea of punishing and releasing Jesus would be enough. Others had granted this type of pardon before. But the crowds would not have it; they requested a convicted murderer instead. Pilate could feel the anger in their voices. No matter what he offered, they kept shouting, “Crucify him!”

Crucifixion is a horrible, painful death. Only people full of hate or jealousy would wish it upon a person. Nevertheless, they were making the right request. Without the sacrificial death of Jesus on the cross, there would be no forgiveness. Jesus the God-man was the only person who could pay the penalty for sin needed to provide redemption for humanity. We have the gift of eternal life because they crucified Him.

Challenge for Today: As ugly as the act of crucifixion was, it was God’s chosen instrument to bring you redemption. Whom can you share the message of the Crucifixion with today?

—Charles Earl Harrel

God’s Word for Today © 2004 Gospel Publishing House. Used by permission.

Order God’s Word for Today devotional guides.
Visit Gospel Publishing House.

A Better Purpose

Saving the WorldA Better Purpose

God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him (John 3:17, New International Version).

Scripture: John 3:16-21
Song: “Bind Our Hearts with One Great Purpose”

Our meeting with the new store manager for W. T. Grant concerned all of us—especially me. I had been the first employee hired when Grants decided to build this newest store in Reedley, California—as a test case; we were an experiment.

Apprehension filled the room as Mr. Akins walked in. Business was slow, and our jobs were on the line. Did Grants plan to cut their losses, lay off half the employees, or simply close the store? None of us knew what to expect.

The new manager looked around the room, smiled, and then told us his plan. He had come to save our jobs and the company, but he needed our help, our sacrificial help. With a show of hands, we gladly pledged our support.

Jesus also came to save lives, not condemn them to a horrible fate. Salvation is God’s divine plan for the world, but He calls for our help in sharing the good news. When we work together as believers, we show others that God’s true purpose is salvation, not condemnation.

Most precious God, fill me with Your love that I might tell my friends why Jesus was sent into the world. In His name, amen.

“A Better Purpose” by Charles Earl Harrel. First published in Devotions® © 2006 Standard Publishing. Reprinted with permission from the publisher.

Purchase current printed issue of Devotions or 365 Devotions