Tag 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.

 

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Both Good and Bad

many people invited

Both Good and Bad

Read Matthew 22:1–22

“Then [the king] said to his servants . . . ‘Go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.’ So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, both good and bad, and the wedding hall was filled with guests (Matthew 22:8, 9, 10).

Inviting our friends and neighbors to church is a great idea. They might appreciate the Sunday sermon and enjoy the potluck after the service. Pastors welcome these efforts, but the command from Jesus goes deeper than just giving out invitations or persuading people to try our church. We need to invite them to eternal life.

We must reach out to nonbelievers, extending the invitation to nonfriends, even to the outcasts of this world. We should gather the unrighteous as well as the righteous. Both the good and the bad are invited to God’s kingdom. Both need His free gift of salvation.

It’s all too easy to let a busy schedule distract us from the all-inclusive call of the harvest. Don’t allow that to happen.

Thought for Today: God wants heaven filled, but He needs our help getting the invitations out.

Quicklook: Matthew 22:8–14

—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.

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.

Merry Christmas

Wishing Everyone a Merry and Blessed Christmas

Lately, I’ve been on an Immanuel journey of sorts (Matthew 1:21–23; Isaiah 7:14–16). According to Matthew, Immanuel refers to Jesus Christ. The Hebrew, עִמָּנוּאֵל‎, means God with us.

The O Come, O Come Emmanuel music video below is from Anna Hawkins’ latest album, Divine, filmed in the deserts of Israel and the streets of Jerusalem.

Anna Hawkins' Oh Come EmmanuelThis version is solemn, breathtaking, reflective.

Click on the picture to listen and enjoy.

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.

Looking Ahead

jesus-returnLooking Ahead           

So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him (2 Peter 3:14).

Scripture: 2 Peter 3:14–18
Song: “When the Roll Is Called Up Yonder”

I met Smeedy at the Carpenter Shop, a teen outreach ministry in Reedley, California. He rarely missed a service or function. Smeedy was the first to arrive and the last to leave. He always carried a paperback Good News for Modern Man, which he folded in half and tucked into the right back pocket of his jeans. When not reading this Bible, he was praying. Sometimes you had to interrupt him if you wanted to speak with him.

A few kids thought Smeedy’s behavior a little strange. And yes, he was a unique personality. But to me, he seemed like the real deal—the kind of Christian mentioned in the book of Acts. I respected his dedication and faith in God.

judgment-daySmeedy believed Jesus could return at any time. So he’d often ask people whether they were ready to stand before God and give an account of their lives. The approach didn’t endear him with everyone. But we know that the disciples shared the same concern. In today’s verse, Peter looks forward to a future day in eternity called the Day of the Lord. Since this day of reckoning is approaching, Peter exhorts us to conduct our lives accordingly.

Lord, help me live in expectation of what lies ahead in eternity. Until then, may my conduct be acceptable in Your sight. In Jesus’ name, amen.

“Looking Ahead” by Charles Earl Harrel. First published in Devotions® © 2010 Standard Publishing. Reprinted with permission from the publisher.

Purchase current printed issue of Devotions or 365 Devotions.

 

But YOU…O Lord

A most encouraging post—and true. Take a read.

Beholding Him Ministries

Psalm 3.3

Psalm 3
Lord, how many are my foes!
    How many rise up against me!
Many are saying of me,
    “God will not deliver him.”
But You, Lord, are a shield around me,

    my glory, the One who lifts my head high.
I call out to the Lord,
    and He answers me from His holy mountain.

It is believed that David wrote this Psalm when on the run from Absalom, his son.

He begins by sharing with the Lord that the number of enemies he is facing is many. We should certainly relate to this because there have been times that life has pressed in on us and it seems like there is trouble on every hand. The trouble becomes our focus. The enemy comes in many shapes and sizes…if it is not this, it is that or perhaps both…

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