Tag Archives: devotional writing

Whom Should You Follow?

Whom Should You Follow?

Read 1 Corinthians 1:10–17

After a two-week vacation with his family, Pastor Dave returned to the pulpit. It didn’t take long for negative reports to filter in. Some members stayed away from services because Pastor Dave was not preaching or they didn’t think his associate should perform the baptismal service during his absence.

Obviously, people have personal preferences and loyalties—there’s nothing wrong with such things—but following one person’s ministry exclusively while rejecting others can lead to divisions in the church.

What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas”; still another, “I follow Christ.” Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized into the name of Paul?” (1 Corinthians 1:12, 13).

We are not saved in the name of a gifted evangelist, nor baptized in the name of our favorite pastor. Although church leaders are important, we should not center our attention upon them. Rather, we should focus on the Lord.

Challenge for Today: [Next Sunday] don’t dwell on the qualifications of the speaker, open your heart to receive from God.

—Charles Earl Harrel

Pray that God would give you a deeper understanding of the Bible.

God’s Word for Today © 2010 Gospel Publishing House. Used by permission.

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DESIGNED WITH PURPOSE

DESIGNED WITH PURPOSE

by Laura Lee Harrel

From Proverbs 6:6 NIV:  “Go to the ant . . . consider its ways and be wise!”

Something caught my attention as I read outside the tent in our campsite. A white morsel moved steadily past me. Curious, I put my book aside and followed, hoping to discover the final destination of the potato chip and the ant that carried it. From his perspective, the course must have looked challenging as he climbed over rough terrain and large boulders. Traversing around tall grass and forging through lush foliage, he struggled to haul an awkward load, three times his size.

My vantage point in life is similar to his. I only see the things just before me. If the ant had seen his course from my perspective, the challenge might have discouraged him, causing him to set his burden aside. However, he didn’t seem to mind the difficulty or the length of his journey. He was on a mission and would not be dissuaded. His determination pushed him on. A driving force placed within, stirred him to persevere until he reached his goal. God created the ant this way—designed with purpose—filled with passion and tenacity.

Our heavenly Father designed us as well. He watches as we sojourn over life’s rugged terrain. His Spirit gives us the same ant-like determination to overcome obstacles in our path. We also have an inward strength that compels us to complete our journey. God created us in that way, with purpose, and when we reach our goal, He is glorified. Therefore, like the ant, we must press on.

Lord, when I face difficulties, help me to remember that You will accomplish Your purpose for my life if I persevere—for when I am weak, You make me strong. Thank You! In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

—Copyright © 2008 by Laura Lee Harrel. Used by permission.

The Best Water of All

The Best Water of All

For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes (Revelation 7:17).

Scripture: Revelation 7:9–17

Song: “Springs of Living Water” (by John W. Peterson)

One afternoon, while hunting for a new camping spot in the Mammoth area of Central California, my father drove his truck into an alpine meadow. It was beautiful. The meadow offered the perfect place for pitching a tent, with level terrain and ponderosa pines to offer shade. However, one essential thing was missing—fresh water. After setting up our campsite, Dad hiked up the canyon to search for a mountain spring. In a few hours, he returned with a grin on his face, carrying a canteen of spring water.

With each new trip, the path to the springs became more established and easier to traverse. In a few years, others were following the trail my father had blazed. Many campers now enjoy this meadow because someone first led the way to water.

One day, Jesus will lead His sheep to a heavenly water source. Much like the tree of life in Revelation, these precious waters have eternal properties. The springs are pure, limitless, and spiritually refreshing. At the springs of living water, we will always find safety, peace, and contentment—no tears allowed.

God and Father, not only is Your Son my shepherd in this lifetime, He will shepherd me throughout all eternity. I can hardly wait to see Lord Christ in person and drink from the springs of living water. A long, satisfying drink will be worth the wait. I pray this prayer in the name of Jesus, my Savior and Lord. Amen.

“The Best Water of All” by Charles Earl Harrel. First published in Devotions® © 2011 Standard Publishing. Reprinted with permission from the publisher.

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Keeping Watch

                                              Keeping Watch                                                   

The hired hand is not the shepherd who owns the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it (John 10:12).

Scripture: John 10:11–16
Song: “Jesus Loves Me”

Several years ago, I met a family who owned a small flock of sheep in the Midwest. Their flock numbered about 400. Although they were modern-day shepherds, with fenced pastures and trained sheep dogs, they still assigned family members to watch the flock during the nights.

One weekend, the family hired two men to take care of the flock while they were away on business. Instead of tending to their duties, these hirelings decided to throw a party. After a bout of drinking, they passed out and fell sound asleep.

Around midnight, three barking dogs entered the pasture. The sheep were terrified as they ran for their lives. These were not wild dogs; yet, by the time they finished, half the sheep lay dead. Some were killed in the fences trying to escape. Others died from exhaustion and fear. In the morning, the men awoke, saw the carnage, and fled the county.

Thank goodness, Jesus is not a hireling! He is the true shepherd who keeps watch over His flock. He never sleeps nor will He abandon us. We can always feel secure in Him.

Lord, I’m so glad to be in Your flock. When You came to me as Savior, You also became my faithful shepherd. How blessed I am! In You, I have salvation, protection, and a loving friend. Through Your precious name I pray. Amen.

“Keeping Watch” by Charles Earl Harrel. First published in Devotions® © 2011 Standard Publishing. Reprinted with permission from the publisher.

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Hungry and Thirsty

            Hungry and Thirsty                         

Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for men, for he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things (Psalm 107:8, 9).

Scripture: Psalm 107:1–9

Song: “Come and Dine” (by C. B. Widmeyer)

At 19 years old, I was a new convert to Christianity, full of vigor but somewhat naive. One Sunday, after reading about the 40-day fast Jesus accomplished in the wilderness, I decided to try a fast of my own. Like Jesus, I would not eat or drink anything for 40 days. That night, I drank lots of water and consumed a huge meal to prepare myself for Monday.

When I arrived at work, the loading dock at W. T. Grants had two semi-trucks, both doubles, which needed unloading. By noon, my mouth had turned dry, and my stomach ached for anything edible. Our stock room crew usually ate lunch together at the food court. And wouldn’t you know it—that day the menu offered one of my favorites—fried clams, all you could eat, including free refills on soft drinks. I just sat at my table, famished, watching my stockroom buddies chow down. I still remember that hungry feeling.

Hunger and thirst are powerful spiritual motivators. They push us toward God’s kingdom and His righteousness. When we hunger after these things, God fills our lives to overflowing. And like nourishment for the body, the good things of God satisfy the soul.

God, Your unfailing love, divine mercy, and wonderful deeds are like food for a hungry spirit and water for a thirsty soul. Give me these things! In Jesus’ name, amen.

“Hungry and Thirsty” 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.

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.

 

Follow the Leader

Follow the Leader

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me (Psalm 23:4).

Scripture: Psalm 23
Song: “He Leadeth Me”

Stretching about 140 miles between two mountain ranges—Sylvania in the north and Owlshead in the south—lies a daunting geographical obstacle: California’s legendary Death Valley. Temperatures in this valley can range from 130 degrees in the summer to below freezing in the winter. Water from the salt flats is undrinkable, rainfall uncommon.

When you add the mountain lions, coyotes, bobcats, rattlesnakes, scorpions, tarantulas—it’s easy to see how this valley earned its name. A foot traveler, facing these elements unprepared, would be in danger from the start. Obviously, a seasoned guide, a few maps, and a pathfinder compass would be helpful.

As Christians, we sometimes face daunting circumstances. These spiritual valleys contain perils and pitfalls that we cannot navigate by ourselves. Thankfully, we have an experienced guide who can lead us through these valleys unharmed. He carries the right equipment too: a shepherd’s staff and hobnailed rod. What assurance and comfort!

Dear Shepherd, thanks for guarding my soul as I venture through the valleys. Most of all, thanks for leading me safely to pastures of eternal life. In Jesus’ name, amen.

“Follow the Leader” 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.