Tag Archives: spiritual encouragement

When Tomorrow Comes

The Ninth Life

There have been times when I thought I wouldn’t make it. Times when I thought I didn’t have enough strength left within me to take whatever I was going through any longer. Times when life didn’t seem fair. Times when I wanted to throw in the towel, walk out of the door, and give up. Times when all I could do was cry out to my Heavenly Father, “Help me! I need you!”

But as I reflect, it was during the difficult times that God showed me His compassion and wisdom. Although I could not physically see His presence, He dried every one of my tears with the warmth of His Holy Spirit. He listened with open ears when no one else seemed to care or understand. And, He would always ask me the same question, “If you give up now, what will you do when tomorrow comes?”

My heartfelt…

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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.

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.

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!

Faithful to the Fragmented

Those who have been broken by situations and circumstances will find spiritual encouragement in this author’s post.

A Necessary Pain

Putting refurbished praise to rest, I shovel through the negative emotions, deceptive devices of the enemy, laziness, and distractions and excavate authentic praise. God desires to flow through each of us. He instructed that we are as carboniferous limestones, in that we have permeability. In a spiritual sense, God sees us porous, readily available for Him to permeate through. He is shaping and forming our spiritual selves in the shallow but exceedingly deep waters of our lives.The Author of the Universe desires to flow freely through His people. Researching geology, I was intrigued with the uses and composition of these stones. Interestingly, limestones are comprised of dead aquatic life particles, namely the shells of tiny ocean dwellers.  God already knows that our beings are teeming with dead weight; however, He has various uses for us. These amazing stones are compressed, scorched, produced, and grounded for a myriad of purposes.

“But…

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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.

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