Devotions
  • Cradled in Comfort

    Our Daily Bread Mar 22, 2017 | 19:00 pm

    Cradled in Comfort My friend entrusted me with the privilege of holding her precious, four-day-old daughter. Not long after I took the baby into my arms, she started to fuss. I hugged her closer, my cheek pressed against her head, and began to sway and hum in a gentle rhythm to soothe her. Despite these earnest attempts, and my decade and a half of parenting experience, I couldn’t pacify her. She became increasingly upset until I placed her back into the crook of her mother’s eager arm. Peace washed over her almost instantaneously; her cries subsided and her newborn frame relaxed into the safety she already trusted. My friend knew precisely how to hold and pat her daughter to alleviate her distress.God extends comfort to His children like a mother: tender, trustworthy, and diligent in her efforts to calm her child. When we are weary or upset, He carries us affectionately in His arms. As our Father and Creator, He knows us intimately. He “will keep in perfect peace all who trust in [him], all whose thoughts are fixed on [him]” (Isa. 26:3 nlt).When the troubles of this world weigh heavy on our hearts, we can find comfort in the knowledge that He protects and fights for us, His children, as a loving parent. Kirsten HolmbergLord, help me to look to You for my comfort in times of distress.For help in finding God’s comfort, read The Lord Is My Shepherd: Rest and Renewal from Psalm 23 at discoveryseries.org/hp952.God’s comfort soothes us perfectly.  

    Read more...
  • What Are You Known For?

    Our Daily Bread Mar 21, 2017 | 19:00 pm

    What Are You Known For? A memorial stone stands in the grounds of a former Japanese prison camp in China where a man died in 1945. It reads, “Eric Liddell was born in Tianjin of Scottish parents in 1902. His career reached its peak with his gold medal victory in the 400 metres event at the 1924 Olympic Games. He returned to China to work in Tianjin as a teacher. . . . His whole life was spent encouraging young people to make their best contributions to the betterment of mankind.”In the eyes of many, Eric’s greatest achievement was on the sports field. But he is also remembered for his contribution to the youth of Tianjin in China, the country where he was born and that he loved. He lived and served by faith.What will we be remembered for? Our academic achievements, job position, or financial success may get us recognized by others. But it is the quiet work we do in the lives of people that will live long after we are gone.Moses is remembered in the faith chapter of the Bible, Hebrews 11, as someone who chose to align himself with the people of God instead of enjoying the treasures of Egypt (v. 26). He led and served God’s people by faith.

    Read more...
  • Refreshing Spring Rains

    Our Daily Bread Mar 20, 2017 | 19:00 pm

    Refreshing Spring Rains Needing a break, I went for a walk in the nearby park. As I headed down the path, a burst of green caught my attention. Out of the mud appeared shoots of life that in a few weeks would be cheerful daffodils, heralding spring and the warmth to come. We had made it through another winter!As we read through the book of Hosea, it can feel in parts like an unrelenting winter. For the Lord gave this prophet the unenviable task of marrying an unfaithful woman as a picture of the Creator’s love for His people Israel (1:2-3). Hosea’s wife, Gomer, broke their wedding vows, but Hosea welcomed her back, yearning that she would love him devotedly (3:1-3). So too the Lord desires that we love Him with a strength and commitment that won’t evaporate like the morning mist.How do we relate to God? Do we seek Him mainly in times of trouble, searching for answers in our distress but ignoring Him during our seasons of celebration? Are we like the Israelites, easily swayed by the idols of our age, including such things as busyness, success, and influence?Today, may we recommit ourselves to the Lord, who loves us as surely as the flowers bud in the spring.

    Read more...
  • Running and Rest

    Our Daily Bread Mar 19, 2017 | 19:00 pm

    Running and Rest The headline caught my eye: “Rest Days Important for Runners.” In Tommy Manning’s article, the former member of the U.S. Mountain Running Team emphasized a principle that dedicated athletes sometimes ignore—the body needs time to rest and rebuild after exercise. “Physiologically, the adaptations that occur as a result of training only happen during rest,” Manning wrote. “This means rest is as important as workouts.”The same is true in our walk of faith and service. Regular times of rest are essential to avoid burnout and discouragement. Jesus sought spiritual balance during His life on Earth, even in the face of great demands. When His disciples returned from a strenuous time of teaching and healing others, “He said to them, ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest’” (Mark 6:31). But a large crowd followed them, so Jesus taught them and fed them with only five loaves and two fish (vv. 32–44). When everyone was gone, Jesus “went up on a mountainside to pray” (v. 46). If our lives are defined by work, then what we do becomes less and less effective. Jesus invites us to regularly join Him in a quiet place to pray and get some rest.

    Read more...
  • A Small Fire

    Our Daily Bread Mar 18, 2017 | 19:00 pm

    A Small Fire It was a Sunday night in September and most people were sleeping when a small fire broke out in Thomas Farriner’s bakery on Pudding Lane. Soon the flames spread from house to house and London was engulfed in the Great Fire of 1666. Over 70,000 people were left homeless by the blaze that leveled four-fifths of the city. So much destruction from such a small fire!The Bible warns us of another small but destructive fire. James was concerned about lives and relationships, not buildings, when he wrote, “The tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark” (James 3:5).  But our words can also be constructive. Proverbs 16:24 reminds us, “Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” The apostle Paul says, “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone” (Col. 4:6). As salt flavors our food, grace flavors our words for building up others.Through the help of the Holy Spirit our words can encourage people who are hurting, who want to grow in their faith, or who need to come to the Savior. Our words can put out fires instead of starting them.

    Read more...
  • Something’s Wrong

    Our Daily Bread Mar 17, 2017 | 19:00 pm

    Something’s Wrong The morning after our son, Allen, was born, the doctor sat down in a chair near the foot of my bed and said, “Something’s wrong.” Our son, so perfect on the outside, had a life-threatening birth defect and needed to be flown to a hospital 700 miles away for immediate surgery.         When the doctor tells you something is wrong with your child, your life changes. Fear of what lies ahead can crush your spirit and you stumble along, desperate for a God who will strengthen you so you can support your child.         Would a loving God allow this? you wonder. Does He care about my child? Is He there? These and other thoughts shook my faith that morning.         Then my husband, Hiram, arrived and heard the news. After the doctor left, Hiram said, “Jolene, let’s pray.” I nodded and he took my hand. “Thank You, Father, for giving Allen to us. He’s Yours, God, not ours. You loved him before we knew him, and he belongs to You. Be with him when we can’t. Amen.”         Hiram has always been a man of few words. He struggles to speak his thoughts and often doesn’t try, knowing that I have enough words to fill any silence. But on a day when my heart was broken, my spirit crushed, and my faith gone, God gave Hiram strength to speak the words I couldn’t say. And clinging to my husband’s hand, in deep silence and through many tears, I sensed that God was very near.

    Read more...
  • After You

    Our Daily Bread Mar 16, 2017 | 19:00 pm

    After You In some cultures a younger person is expected to permit his elder to enter a room first. In others, the most important or highest ranking individual enters first. No matter what our traditions, there are times when we find it difficult to allow someone to choose first on important matters, especially when that privilege rightfully belongs to us.  Abram (later called Abraham) and his nephew Lot had so many flocks, herds, and tents that the land could not support both of them as they traveled together. To avoid conflict, Abram suggested they part company and generously gave Lot first choice of the land. His nephew took the fertile Jordan Valley, leaving Abram with the less desirable land.Abram did not insist on his rights as the elder in this situation but trusted his future to God. “So Abram said to Lot, ‘Let’s not have any quarreling between you and me . . . . Is not the whole land before you? Let’s part company. If you go to the left, I’ll go to the right; if you go to the right, I’ll go to the left” (Gen. 13:8–9). Lot’s choice eventually led to dire consequences for his entire family (see Gen. 19).Today, as we face choices of many kinds, we can trust our Father to guide us in His way. He has promised to care for us. He will always give us what we need.

    Read more...
  • Spilling Through My Fingers

    Our Daily Bread Mar 15, 2017 | 19:00 pm

    Spilling Through My Fingers After I clumsily knocked over my glass on the restaurant counter, the spilled beverage began to cascade over the edge and onto the floor. Out of sheer embarrassment, I tried to catch the waterfall with cupped hands. My efforts were largely unsuccessful; most of my beverage rushed through my fingers. In the end, my upturned palms held little more than a meager tablespoon each, while my feet stood in puddles. My life feels similar on many days. I find myself scrambling to solve problems, oversee details, and control circumstances. No matter how hard I try, my feeble hands are incapable of managing all the pieces and parts. Something invariably slips through my fingers and pools on the floor at my feet, leaving me feeling overwhelmed. No amount of contorting my hands or squeezing my fingers more tightly together makes me able to handle it all. Yet God can. Isaiah tells us that God can measure the globe’s waters—all the oceans and rivers and rain—in the hollow of His hands (40:12). Only His hands are large enough to hold them all. We needn’t try to hold more than the tablespoon He’s designed our hands to carry. When we feel overwhelmed, we can entrust our cares and concerns into His capable hands.

    Read more...
  • A Good Inheritance

    Our Daily Bread Mar 14, 2017 | 19:00 pm

    A Good Inheritance Grandpa and Grandma Harris didn’t have a lot of money, yet they managed to make each Christmas memorable for my cousins and me. There was always plenty of food, fun, and love. And from an early age we learned that it was Christ who made this celebration possible.We want to leave the same legacy to our children. When we got together last December to share Christmas with family, we realized this wonderful tradition had started with Grandpa and Grandma. They couldn’t leave us a monetary inheritance, but they were careful to plant the seeds of love, respect, and faith so that we—their children’s children—might imitate their example.In the Bible we read about Grandma Lois and mom Eunice, who shared with Timothy genuine faith (2 Timothy 1:5). Their influence prepared this man to share the good news with many others.We can prepare a spiritual inheritance for those whose lives we influence by living in close communion with God. In practical ways, we make His love a reality to others when we give them our undivided attention, show interest in what they think and do, and share life with them. We might even invite them to share in our celebrations! When our lives reflect the reality of God’s love, we leave a lasting legacy for others.

    Read more...
  • Open Arms

    Our Daily Bread Mar 13, 2017 | 19:00 pm

    Open Arms The day my husband, Dan, and I began our caregiving journey with our aging parents, we linked arms and felt as if we were plunging off a cliff. We didn’t know that in the process of caregiving the hardest task we would face would be to allow our hearts to be searched and molded and to allow God to use this special time to make us like Him in new ways.On days when I felt I was plunging toward earth in an out-of-control free-fall, God showed me my agendas, my reservations, my fears, my pride, and my selfishness. He used my broken places to show me His love and forgiveness.My pastor has said, “The best day is the day you see yourself for who you are—desperate without Christ. Then see yourself as He sees you—complete in Him.” This was the blessing of caregiving in my life. As I saw who God had created me to be, I turned and ran weeping into His arms. I cried out with the psalmist: “Search me, God, and know my heart” (Ps. 139:23).This is my prayer for you—that as you see yourself in the midst of your own circumstances, you will turn and run into the open, loving, and forgiving arms of God.

    Read more...
  • Am I Carnally Minded?

    RSS | My Utmost For His Highest Mar 23, 2017 | 00:00 am

    Where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal…? —1 Corinthians 3:3The natural man, or unbeliever, knows nothing about carnality. The desires of the flesh warring against the Spirit, and the Spirit warring against the flesh, which began at rebirth, are what produce carnality and the awareness of it. But Paul said, “Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill…

    Read more...
  • The Burning Heart

    RSS | My Utmost For His Highest Mar 22, 2017 | 00:00 am

    Did not our heart burn within us…? —Luke 24:32We need to learn this secret of the burning heart. Suddenly Jesus appears to us, fires are set ablaze, and we are given wonderful visions; but then we must learn to maintain the secret of the burning heart— a heart that can go through anything. It is the simple, dreary…

    Read more...
  • Identified or Simply Interested?

    RSS | My Utmost For His Highest Mar 21, 2017 | 00:00 am

    I have been crucified with Christ… —Galatians 2:20The inescapable spiritual need each of us has is the need to sign the death certificate of our sin nature. I must take my emotional opinions and intellectual beliefs and be willing to turn them into a moral verdict against the nature of sin; that is, against any claim I…

    Read more...
  • Friendship with God

    RSS | My Utmost For His Highest Mar 20, 2017 | 00:00 am

    Shall I hide from Abraham what I am doing…? —Genesis 18:17The Delights of His Friendship. Genesis 18 brings out the delight of true friendship with God, as compared with simply feeling His presence occasionally in prayer. This friendship means being so intimately in touch with God that you never even need to ask Him to show you His will. It is…

    Read more...
  • Abraham’s Life of Faith

    RSS | My Utmost For His Highest Mar 19, 2017 | 00:00 am

    He went out, not knowing where he was going. —Hebrews 11:8In the Old Testament, a person’s relationship with God was seen by the degree of separation in that person’s life. This separation is exhibited in the life of Abraham by his separation from his country and his family. When we think of separation today, we do not mean to be…

    Read more...
  • Will I Bring Myself Up to This Level?

    RSS | My Utmost For His Highest Mar 18, 2017 | 00:00 am

    …perfecting holiness in the fear of God. —2 Corinthians 7:1“Therefore, having these promises….” I claim God’s promises for my life and look to their fulfillment, and rightly so, but that shows only the human perspective on them. God’s perspective is that through His promises I will come to recognize His claim of ownership on me. For example, do I…

    Read more...
  • The Servant’s Primary Goal

    RSS | My Utmost For His Highest Mar 17, 2017 | 00:00 am

    We make it our aim…to be well pleasing to Him. —2 Corinthians 5:9“We make it our aim….” It requires a conscious decision and effort to keep our primary goal constantly in front of us. It means holding ourselves to the highest priority year in and year out; not making our first priority to win souls, or to establish churches, or to have…

    Read more...
  • The Master Will Judge

    RSS | My Utmost For His Highest Mar 16, 2017 | 00:00 am

    We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ… —2 Corinthians 5:10Paul says that we must all, preachers and other people alike, “appear before the judgment seat of Christ.” But if you will learn here and now to live under the scrutiny of Christ’s pure light, your final judgment will bring you only delight in seeing the work God has done…

    Read more...
  • The Discipline of Dismay

    RSS | My Utmost For His Highest Mar 15, 2017 | 00:00 am

    As they followed they were afraid. —Mark 10:32At the beginning of our life with Jesus Christ, we were sure we knew all there was to know about following Him. It was a delight to forsake everything else and to throw ourselves before Him in a fearless statement of love. But now we are not quite so sure.…

    Read more...
  • Yielding

    RSS | My Utmost For His Highest Mar 14, 2017 | 00:00 am

    …you are that one’s slaves whom you obey… —Romans 6:16The first thing I must be willing to admit when I begin to examine what controls and dominates me is that I am the one responsible for having yielded myself to whatever it may be. If I am a slave to myself, I am to blame because somewhere in the…

    Read more...