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Here’s is today’s devo:
An Eternal Perspective
So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.
—2 Corinthians 4:18
When you are younger, you think certain things are always good, while other things are always bad. For example, success is always good, and hardship is always bad. But when you have lived life for awhile, you can look back and realize that success actually can be bad for some. And hardship actually can be good for others. You begin to see things differently. And sometimes the things you thought were really good things turned out to be bad things. And the things that you thought were bad things turned out to be good things.
We must realize as Christians that God is in control of all circumstances surrounding our lives. God takes all of the events of life, the good things and the so-called bad things, and works them “together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them” (Romans 8:28).
We must also realize that God loves us and is always looking out for our eternal benefit—even if what we are presently going through is difficult. We are told in 2 Corinthians 4:17–18, “For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.”
Are you thankful for what God has blessed you with? Have you given thanks recently for your health? For the freedom to worship openly? For the clothes on your back and the roof over your head? We need to give thanks to God—because there is so much to give thanks for.
Have you ever felt as though you were all alone and nobody cared?
You might be surprised to know that the great apostle Paul felt this way too.
In his final epistle, he wrote, “Everyone abandoned me” (2 Timothy 4:16).
Know this: God has not abandoned you! He can compensate by His own loving presence for every earthly loss.
C.H. Spurgeon wrote:
If all else forsook him, Jesus was company enough.
If all others despised him, the smile of Jesus was approval enough.
If the good cause seemed to be in danger, in the presence of his Master, victory was sure.
The Lord who had stood for him at the cross now stood for him in the prison.
It was a dungeon, but the Lord was there;
It was dark, but the glory of the Lord lit it up with Heaven’s own splendor.
Listen: Better to be in a jail with the Lord than to be anywhere else without Him. Jesus is with us as well, in the “good” and “bad” times of life.
God reminds us in His Word, “When you go through deep waters, I WILL BE WITH YOU. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown! When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you” ( Isaiah 43:2).
When Jesus hung on the cross, He cried out the words “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” Those were not delusional words. They were factual. Jesus, at this point, was most likely bearing the sins of the world.
Here is the good news: Jesus was forsaken for a time that you might enjoy God’s presence forever.
Know this: Jesus will never forsake you. You have have His Word on that. Jesus said, “ I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5). Or from the Greek it would translate out more like, “ I will never, no never, NO NEVER leave you nor forsake you.”
Have you ever been really hungry? My stomach is like a clock. By 10:00 A.M., I am hungry for lunch. By 11:00, I know we are closing in. At 11:30, I am thinking that we will hopefully be eating any time now. And at 12:01, I will say to my wife, “I am starving to death.” In reality, I am not starving to death at all. But I am hungry.
How’s your spiritual appetite? You should be hungry for a daily helping of God’s Word just like you get hungry for food each and every day.
Sometimes, when we ignore our hunger, it will go away for a little while. But ignoring our appetite is not the best thing for our body. When the hunger comes back, it comes in full force, and we end up eating all of the readily-available junk food at our disposal.
In the same way, neglecting our spiritual food—daily Bible study—is not healthy, and if
we don’t feed ourselves the good stuff, we will reach for spiritual junk food.
God gave us the desire to eat so that our bodies would have the energy we need to get through the day. In Scripture, King David declared God’s Word to be sweeter than honey (see Psalm 19:10), and Job said that he treasured God’s Word more than his necessary food (see Job 23:12).
So, as we begin a new year, I have a spiritual diet plan for you: Feed your appetite daily! And if you don’t have an appetite for the Word, develop one through daily reading and study of the Bible.
To help you get on track, or stay on track, with daily Bible reading, I offer a link to read through the Bible in each of my daily devotions, or you can get the daily readings on your iPhone/iPad/Android by using the Harvest app. Click here to download.
The plan we are using this year (2011) is provided by Life Journal and allows you
to read through the Old Testament once, and the New Testament twice, in the course of one year.
I challenge you to track along with so many others through this Bible-reading plan. Wishing you a happy New Year.
Thanksgiving is finally upon us. And that means the Christmas is closely following. Often we put so much of our focus on Christmas; we miss this important American Holiday.
I like that fact that thanksgiving is not about buying presents or decorating trees and homes, etc., but it’s about getting together with family and friends and doing what we all love—eating! And more importantly, it’s about giving thanks.
Thanksgiving was established by President Washington on November 26, 1789. It is a religious holiday started by the Pilgrims. The first Thanksgiving lasted three days, during which the Pilgrims feasted with their Indian guests.
The Bible says to us as believers:
Psalm 106:1 – “Praise the LORD! Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.”
Hebrews 13:15 – “By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to his name.”
Yes, praise and worship can sometimes be a “sacrifice” because we don’t want to give it. That may be because we are down or depressed, or things aren’t going all that well. Or it may be that hardship or tragedy has hit your life and you don’t want to thank God.
But the Bible does not say, “Give thanks unto the Lord when you feel good,” but rather, because “He is good!” So, I encourage you to give thanks in this special holiday time.
May God bless you, and I hope that you have a wonderful Thanksgiving with family and friends.
I will be up speaking at Skid Row at the Fred Jordan Mission in L.A. this Thanksgiving. Fred Jordan, now in heaven, was my uncle. Willie Jordan, Uncle Fred’s wife and my aunt, has faithfully continued reaching out to the needy folks of L.A. This is the third year I have done this and we have rejoiced to see the many that come to Christ at this great event, which not only provides food and clothing, but also spiritual hope.
To find out more about the Fred Jordan Mission, go to http://www.fjm.org/.
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. If you do this, you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7 NLT)
One of the first things I remember about the day I put my faith in Christ was the sense of peace filling my heart. It was as though someone had lifted a heavy burden from me.
It wasn’t until later, when I read the Bible, that I learned about God’s promise of peace to every believer. He has given it to us as a gift.
This peace, however, doesn’t come from what or who we are, but from what God has done—how He has justified us in response to our faith. A wonderful byproduct of this reality is a deep inner peace that floods our soul.
You can’t just live as you please
But we can’t have this beautiful effect without the beginning cause. If we are fighting with God—resisting His plan and purpose for our lives—then we won’t experience this supernatural peace.
I think many people would like to have the desirable results and benefits of the Christian life without having to pay the price. In other words, they would like to know that they are forgiven and going to heaven when they die, but they still want to live as they please. They don’t want to put their complete faith and trust in Jesus.
That sort of attitude just won’t fly. We can’t have the pleasing, life-transforming privileges of God’s peace without first meeting God’s requirements. Scripture tells us through Jesus Christ, “God reconciled everything to himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross” (Colossians 1:20 NLT).
The only way
The only way we will experience the peace of God that passes all human understanding is through the blood of the cross, the blood that Jesus shed.
You cannot have the peace of God until you first have peace with God.
For we are God’s [own] handiwork (His workmanship), recreated in Christ Jesus, [born anew] that we may do those good works which God predestined (planned beforehand) for us [taking paths which He prepared ahead of time], that we should walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us to live]. (Ephesians 2:10 AMPLIFIED)
A traveler was visiting a logging area in the Pacific Northwest and was interested in seeing how the logs that would be used for furniture were chosen. As the logs came down the stream, the logger would suddenly reach out and hook one, pull it up, and then set it down. He would sometimes wait for a few minutes before grabbing another. There didn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to his choices.
After a while, the visitor said to him, “I don’t understand what you’re doing.”
“These logs may all look alike to you,” the logger said, “But I can recognize that a few of them are quite different. The ones that I let pass came from trees that grew in a valley. They were always protected from the storms. The grain is rather coarse.
“The logs that I pulled aside are from high up on the mountain, where they were beaten by strong winds from the time they were quite small. That toughens the trees and gives them a fine grain. We save these logs for choice work. They’re too good to be used for ordinary lumber.”
Ask Peter or Joseph
It was through the trying and testing that the logs were prepared for choice work.
The same could be said of us as Christians. If you were to ask Moses how he became who he was, he would remind you of his trials with Pharaoh and his times of testing in the wilderness. If you were to ask Joseph, he would most likely refer back to his years as a slave, his imprisonment on a false accusation, and his imprisonment in Pharaoh’s dungeon. Talk to Peter, and he would probably point back to his denial and how he learned many difficult yet important lessons.
Maybe you find yourself facing something similar in your life today. Maybe God is preparing you for a choice work.
“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
There are times in our lives as Christians when God will, or won’t, do things or not do things that we want Him to do, and it won’t make a bit of sense to us. And because we don’t see the big picture, we may falsely conclude that God has abandoned us. But we need to trust Him during these times, remembering that Jesus Christ is the author and finisher of our faith. In other words, what God starts, He completes.
Remember that wonderful word from the first chapter of Philippians? “There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears” (Philippians 1:6 THE MESSAGE).
I often forget things
It seems that as I get older, I get distracted and forget things all the time. But what if God forgot about us?
What a frightening thought. Imagine being in the midst of a fiery trial as God is watching and waiting for that moment to take us out of it. Then the phone rings, and He’s gone for a decade!
Thankfully, God never forgets about us. He remains—forever and ever—in full control. He knows exactly what He is doing. He will complete what He has begun.
God is planning for tomorrow
Sometimes, in the middle of that process, we may think that the Lord is missing it. But He isn’t. We’re the ones who are missing it. From our limited human viewpoint, we think of the temporal, but God lives in the eternal. We are thinking of today, but God is planning for tomorrow . . . in fact, He’s already been there.
We are thinking of comfort, but God is thinking of character. We are thinking of an easy time, but God is thinking of how to make us better people.
So let’s trust Him. Whatever our circumstances or hardships, let’s believe His promise to His children . . . . All things are working together.
“Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea.” (Matthew 14:25)
In Matthew 14, we read about the disciples being tossed by the wind and waves in their boat on the Sea of Galilee. Then Jesus came, walking on the water, at the fourth watch of the night.
The fourth watch was the last part of the night, just before dawn. At this point, the disciples had been at sea—their hands probably blistered and bloodied from toil at the oars—for at least nine hours in this fierce storm. So we see that Jesus came to them at the last conceivable moment.
God’s delays are not necessarily His denials
This reminds us that God’s delays aren’t necessarily His denials. Jesus had heard their first cries for help. He knew what He was doing all along.
Why did He wait so long before He intervened? Probably because it took a long time for these men to exhaust their resources and completely trust in Him.
Lifeguards will tell you that often the hardest person to save is the one who is panicking. But when an individual is exhausted, when he or she has no energy left, the lifeguard can pull that person back in to safety.
In the same way, sometimes God will allow us to get to the end of our rope, to the end of our resources, so we will finally cling to Him.
Just before dawn
The disciples were exhausted and afraid, but that was the moment that “[Jesus] said to them, ‘It is I; do not be afraid.’ Then they willingly received Him into the boat, and immediately the boat was at the land where they were going” (John 6:20-21).
For many of us, that is what Jesus is waiting for. He is waiting for us to say, “I can’t row another second. I can’t go another inch in my own strength. Please, Lord, help me. Come on board.”
He will step into your storm-tossed boat and take control, if you will invite Him. He will be there for you . . . even in the darkest night, just before the dawn.
With the Southern California Harvest only two days away, I hope you have already invited someone, or hopefully many people. And if the person who you’ve invited cancels, go find someone to take their place!
Just remember Jesus’ parable about the people who were invited to a wedding feast and canceled at the last minute. The master told his servants to go out “into the highways and hedges and compel them to come in” (Luke 14:23).
In other words, be persistent!