Tag Archives: devotional writing

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.

Purchase current printed issue of Devotions or 365 Devotions.

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.

 

God’s Word for Today

I am the featured writer for all the Sunday devotionals in March, April, and May for God’s Word for Today, a devotional magazine put out by Gospel Publishing House.

Here’s the link in case you want to read them online: http://ag.org/top/devotional/

Or click on the magazine cover.

Be Encouraged!

Understanding Truth

Understanding Truth

Read Matthew 22:23–46

Charles was new to Full Gospel Tabernacle. He often heard people praying in different languages. He was not against it, although it annoyed him at times. Speaking with other tongues didn’t fit his doctrine. Besides, what purpose did it serve? He still prayed, right? Wasn’t that good enough?

Jesus replied, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God” (Matthew 22:29).

Phil, a deacon at church, sensed his frustration. He suggested that Charles take a second look at the Scriptures concerning the Holy Spirit, then pray about it for a while. Phil even gave him a list of verses. A few weeks later, something powerful happened. Charles was baptized in the Holy Spirit and began praying in a language he had never learned. Experiencing the power of God firsthand changed Charles’ perspective on tongues.

It helps to know all the Scriptures concerning an issue, but we also need to know the power of God. The Scriptures and the Spirit of God work in harmony to confirm truth. When we leave one of them out, doctrinal errors can occur.

Prayer Suggestion: Take your Bible to prayer. Let God’s Word enlighten you while His power touches you.

Quicklook: Matthew 22:23–32

—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.

 

How Willing?

How Willing?

Read Matthew 23:23–39

When Joshua took possession of the land of Canaan, he left the fortified city of Jerusalem under Jebusite control. It remained that way until the reign of King David. Although David had a ruling city, he saw the advantage of Jerusalem over Hebron. Leading a daring attack, David captured Jerusalem and made it his new capital. The Jewish people still refer to it as the City of David and sometimes as Zion (2 Samuel 5:7).

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing” (Matthew 23:37).

Jesus spoke here of all the Jews. They were special, called of God, but unwilling to come together and follow Him.

God desires to gather all His children in unity. He wants us to lay aside our differences and worship Him, to pray together, to work side by side in the harvest, to serve only Him. The call to Jerusalem echoes to the Church today—how willing are we?

Thought for Today: Only at the cross are we truly made willing.

Quicklook: Matthew 23:37–39

—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.