Category Archive : Daily Devotional

Daily Devotional: Christmas Encouragement By Greg Laurie

Devotional Overview:

Don’t let the busyness and pressure of this holiday season rob you of the joy and true celebration of our Savior Jesus this December! Receive daily encouragement through Pastor Greg Laurie’s special Christmas devotions, as he reflects on the true meaning of this most celebrated time of the year. Harvest Ministries with Greg Laurie

Key Scriptures:

  • Matthew 2:2

Devotional:

Let’s Worship

The very word “Christmas” has been emptied of its meaning, drug through the gutter, and given back to us, minus its power. Some prefer to use the more politically correct terminology at this time of year, like “Happy Holidays,” “Merry Xmas,” or even “Happy Winter Solstice.” But I actually think those things are not as bad as the person who says, “Merry Christmas” with no idea whatsoever of what Christmas really means.

I think we should cancel the version of Christmas that is filled with hype and endless activity leading to exhaustion, the version that gives little to any thought of Christ. We should cancel Christmas and instead celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. I still believe in Christmas, but not in the holiday as our culture celebrates it. I believe in the real message of Christmas, which is the birth of our Lord.

Maybe you are bracing yourself for a tough Christmas. Maybe you think Christmas won’t be as good this year as it was before. But what if this Christmas were better than any Christmas you have ever experienced, because you have been freed from the pressure of having to get stuff? That could be a really good Christmas. It could actually be the most wonderful Christmas of your life.

The primary message of Christmas is this: God is with us. Isaiah 7:14 tells us, “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.” Immanuel means, “God is with us.”

So the message of the season is not, “Let it snow” or even, “Let us shop.” The real message of Christmas is, “Let us worship.” That is what the wise men came to do. And that is what we should be doing as well.

Copyright © 2011 by Harvest Ministries. All rights reserved.Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Daily Devotional: Christmas Encouragement By Greg Laurie

Devotional Overview:

Don’t let the busyness and pressure of this holiday season rob you of the joy and true celebration of our Savior Jesus this December! Receive daily encouragement through Pastor Greg Laurie’s special Christmas devotions, as he reflects on the true meaning of this most celebrated time of the year. Harvest Ministries with Greg Laurie

Key Scriptures:

  • Romans 1:2-3

Devotional:

The Promise of Christmas
I have always believed in the promise of Christmas. There is something very special, wonderful, even magical (in the best use of that word) at this time of year. And that goes back to my earliest childhood.

With Christmas, we have a sense of wonder, beauty, and anticipation. We look forward to being with loved ones, family and friends, and eating incredible food. It is a wonderful time of the year. It is also a time that is marked, for the most part, by an absence of meanness. There is a kindness that people will demonstrate toward one another, even strangers.

But here is the question: Does Christmas really deliver on its promises? It does sometimes—a little bit here and a little bit there. But for the most part, Christmas doesn’t really deliver. In fact, what it does deliver is a lot of difficulty. If you are a man, your blood pressure will go up dramatically at this time of the year. A study was done by a British psychologist who found that Christmas shopping is actually hazardous for men’s health, due to its elevating effects on blood pressure. The same study also revealed that women’s blood pressure remained unaffected by the holiday shopping ritual.

So what is Christmas at its worst? It is a crass, commercial, empty, exhausting, and very expensive event that drags on for months at a time. And what is Christmas at its best? It is a glimpse of something that is coming: the beauty . . . the wonderful music . . . the adoring angels . . . the love . . . the warmth . . . the promise . . . the hope. Because when you get down to it, Christmas is a promise. It is a promise of things to come.

Copyright © 2011 by Harvest Ministries. All rights reserved. Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996, 2004. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

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Daily Devotional: Christmas Encouragement By Greg Laurie

Devotional Overview:

Don’t let the busyness and pressure of this holiday season rob you of the joy and true celebration of our Savior Jesus this December! Receive daily encouragement through Pastor Greg Laurie’s special Christmas devotions, as he reflects on the true meaning of this most celebrated time of the year. Harvest Ministries with Greg Laurie

Key Scriptures:

  • Luke 2:12

Devotional:

Simply Wrapped
Some people will go to great lengths to wrap a Christmas gift. They will create beautiful, ornate packages. I have no wrapping ability whatsoever. My wrapped packages look horrible. For men, wrapping paper is merely an obstacle to keep us from what we really want. We don’t care about wrapping paper. We just want to know what’s inside the package.

God’s gift did not come to us in elaborate wrapping; it came in simple wrapping. Jesus was born in Bethlehem in a very humble environment. Think how difficult the journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem was for Mary and Joseph. Then when they arrived, they had to stay in a little stable or cave where the animals were kept. The manger was just a feeding trough for the animals. And I think that place was very cold that night. I think it smelled like any other stable. It was a very unsanitary environment in which to bring a child into the world.

I don’t say that to detract from the beauty of Christmas. Rather, I say it to add to the beauty of what God did for us. The Creator of the universe, the Almighty God who spoke creation into existence, came and humbled himself to become a little baby, born in a stable in Bethlehem.

He was not laid in the manger in satin sheets, but in rags. He was not laid in a bed of gold, befitting a king, but in a feeding trough for animals. There He was—the greatest gift of all—in simple wrapping. Jesus took His place in a manger so that we might have a home in heaven.

Copyright © 2011 by Harvest Ministries. All rights reserved.Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Bible text from the New King James Version is not to be reproduced in copies or otherwise by any means except as permitted in writing by Thomas Nelson, Inc., Attn: Bible Rights and Permissions, P.O. Box 141000, Nashville, TN 37214-1000.

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Daily Devotional: Christmas Encouragement By Greg Laurie

Devotional Overview:

Don’t let the busyness and pressure of this holiday season rob you of the joy and true celebration of our Savior Jesus this December! Receive daily encouragement through Pastor Greg Laurie’s special Christmas devotions, as he reflects on the true meaning of this most celebrated time of the year. Harvest Ministries with Greg Laurie

Key Scriptures:

  • 1 John 2:28

Devotional:

Are You Prepared?
When the first Christmas came, when Jesus was born, most people missed it. Of course, there were no telltale signs like reindeer on front lawns. No Christmas songs had been written. There were no colorful, twinkling lights or sales at the downtown market. Children did not find it hard to sleep that night, because it was a night like any other night.

But the first Christmas was not without its signs, which dated back a few centuries. The Hebrew prophets had predicted the Messiah was coming, and they were very specific in pointing out that he would be born of a virgin in the little village of Bethlehem: “ ‘But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be Ruler in Israel, whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting’ ” (Micah 5:2).

On the first Christmas, it was pretty much business as usual. Things had been bleak for the Jewish people for some time. There had been an icy silence from heaven. Four hundred years had passed, and there had not been a single prophet to speak for God. There had been no miracles performed. They were under the tyranny of Rome. Things were very dark. It was time for the Messiah.

Yet when He finally arrived, so many missed it: The innkeeper. The people of Bethlehem. The scholars. Herod. All of Rome. Only a handful of people got it and were ready.

Jesus Christ is coming back to this earth again. The question is, have we done more to prepare for the celebration of a past event than we have for a future one? We may all be ready for Christmas, but are we ready for the return of Christ?

Copyright © 2011 by Harvest Ministries. All rights reserved.Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Daily Devotional: Teach Us To Pray

Devotional Overview:

Do you struggle with prayer? This study will help you turn your prayer life from obligation to a delight so that it becomes so much more meaningful and joyful. Join Rob White on this exciting new discovery as you journey into prayer

Key Scriptures:

  • Matthew 7:11
  • Matthew 7:21
  • Matthew 18:19

Devotional:

Jesus tells his disciples that the way to pray is to our Father. And by Father, he doesn’t mean just another title, but a relationship. So the context in which we pray is the context of family, where we as children approach a loving father. I realise as I write that for some the word ‘father’ falls as a hollow thud, because your experience of earthly fatherhood was not a good one. However, apart from finding release from the grip of that limitation you can, I trust, at least recognise that there is such a thing as good fathering, and that if the Bible is right about God being a father, then he would be a perfect one.  Fatherhood means access. In other words, I’m invited. It also means acceptanceI’m welcomed. Furthermore, it means attentionI’m heard. Do you see how praying in the context of the child–Father relationship puts the whole thing on a different footing? 

Maybe you’ve always wondered how other people manage to pray with purpose and passion. You’ve heard them, seen them, but your prayer life seems rather sterile in comparison. By praying aright, we can find that purpose and passion ourselves.  So here we have opened our hearts to our Father and renewed, as it were, the relationship with him. 

When we pray, ‘Our Father in Heaven’, we are talking to one whose power operates from the ground up or the highest point of the heavens down. In other words, there is not one part of the universe we know (and that which we don’t know) that is outside of the involvement and influence of our Father. That must have great bearing on our faith as we pray, realizing that nothing is beyond our Father’s scope. 

Notice that there are no singular personal pronouns in the prayer. It’s all ‘our’, ‘we’ and ‘us’. Many of us were brought up with a very individualistic view of faith and Scripture. It was all about me—that Jesus died for me, God has forgiven me, I’m bound for heaven, etc. When we read Scripture in the light of community, we realize that most of it is addressed to us corporately. Obviously that doesn’t take away from the personal, because the corporate is made up of individuals, but it should affect the way we believe, live and pray. 

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Daily Devotional: Teach Us To Pray

Devotional Overview:

Do you struggle with prayer? This study will help you turn your prayer life from obligation to a delight so that it becomes so much more meaningful and joyful. Join Rob White on this exciting new discovery as you journey into prayer

Key Scriptures:

  • John 17:1-5
  • Luke 11:2-4
  • 1 John 5:14-15

Devotional:

Some could be thinking, ‘Hey, that’s good, it’s a short prayer so I can do that easily.’ Not so fast! Do we really think that Jesus taught us to pray with something that can be rattled through in a few seconds? The problem is that this prayer is well known to most of us, and is said or sung in many places with no further thought. It is often used like a kind of mantra. So it becomes fairly meaningless. 

Here’s what Jesus was doing. The rabbis in Jesus’ day taught people ‘index praying’. You know what an index is—it appears, usually at the beginning of a book, giving chapter numbers and titles. Imagine using a large book for any study or work you’re doing and finding there’s no index. How would you find your way around? On the other hand, what if there were just an index and no substance to the book? The point of the index is to act as a pointer to the substance. 

That’s exactly what index praying was all about. The rabbis would provide the points for prayer, like an index, and the people would fill in the substance—their own prayers. This is the method Jesus was teaching in this prayer. Can you now see the Lords Prayer is like that? And what an index of titles! 

1. Worshiping the Father 

2. God’s kingdom 

3. God’s will/guidance 

4. Our daily needs 

5. Forgiveness/relationships 

6. Spiritual warfare 

I challenge you to find one subject, broadly speaking, that’s not covered in this prayer. No wonder Jesus taught it! Hopefully you can begin to see why it’s such a great prayer to pray and how it can help you in your prayer life. 

Why is praying in this way so helpful?  Because we’re obviously praying according to God’s will— and that’s something with which I often struggled as I read the verse that says, ‘This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears uswhatever we askwe know that we have what we asked of him.’ (1 John 5: 14–15). How could I be sure that what I was praying was according to his will? Surely I must have been praying according to his will if I was praying the prayer he gave. 

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Daily Devotional: Teach Us To Pray

Devotional Overview:

Do you struggle with prayer? This study will help you turn your prayer life from obligation to a delight so that it becomes so much more meaningful and joyful. Join Rob White on this exciting new discovery as you journey into prayer

Key Scriptures:

  • Matthew 6:5-8
  • 1 John 5:3
  • Luke 11:1

Devotional:

Prayer can be showy. You’ve probably been in prayer gatherings where someone prays a long prayer using flowery language. Prayer is not entertainment; it’s a time of fellowship with God.

I know you can pray anywhere but there is something about having a place where we pray regularly. As I grew in my new-found zeal for prayer I began to find myself really looking forward to my prayer times sensing I was really meeting with the Father. The room in which I prayed became synonymous with those times and I would go to the room expectant that I was going to meet with God. The result was that I approached my personal prayer times with faith.

Praying for a long time, using many words or repetition doesn’t mean we are more likely to get God’s attention. I really don’t know why we feel that God will hear us more clearly like that. This Scripture makes it clear that it’s not about words, length or repetition, because God knows anyway. It’s about quality—the right heart attitude, concentrating on what we’re doing, trying to live a life that doesn’t contradict our prayer life—not quantity. 

Let me explain 3D praying to you. The three Ds stand for Desire, Discipline and Delight. First, and you cannot bypass this starting point, there needs to be Desire. Desire to be a person of prayer. Without that desire, nothing will ever change. You can’t force the desire, but you can ask God to plant that in you by his Spirit. 

Second, it requires Discipline. Actually, you could double the D and make it daily discipline. This is the hard part, as you’ve probably already discovered. But I want to assure you that as you face the discipline it gets a lot easier; you’ll find the third D eases it considerably. 

The third D is Delight. Yes, truly prayer has become a delight for me: spending time with the Father, opening up my life with its ups and downs, hearing what he has to say to me. What’s not to like! That means that I can look forward to praying; making my way towards the place where I usually pray I’m actually expectant that I’ll meet God during that time. What a change! It’s delightful. 

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Daily Devotional: The Bible, J.R.R. Tolkien And The Meaning Of Life

Devotional Overview:

Tolkien allowed his imagination to run wild, it was safe to do so, because he was a devout Christian. No wonder whatever he wrote was true, good and beautiful. This devotion reflects on various lessons we can draw from Tolkien’s work to live out our Christian life meaningfully.

Key Scriptures:

  • Ephesians 4:21-24
  • Romans 8:15-16

Devotional:

The Slow Poison of Sin 

Sin has a way of slowly getting to us. It is so attractively packaged that the warning signs can easily be ignored. From our first glimpse of it and every experience thereafter it slowly takes control of us and we are unaware of its effect. We might imagine that we are in control of sin but sin gets the better of us and we are controlled by it. The creature Gollum was once Smeagol – a Hobbit – until he found the ring and was possessed by it and forgot who he really was. 

The experience of sin is a very strange experience; we hate it and love it at the same time. We love it enough to try it repeatedly but at the same time hate it when we realise what it has done to us. We begin to live out two realities. It splits us and we create spaces where these two contraries can exist simultaneously, until it is too late and ‘we have no will in the matter.’

Gollum is only the physical representation of what sin can do to our soul. Sin slowly creeps in and before we realise it our souls have become unrecognizable. Gandalf, unlike the others, is not angry with Gollum, he only feels pity. Though he feels there is no hope for Gollum, he believes that the evil part of him can only be conquered or cured. Conquered and cured by what? Love!

Eventually, Frodo shows Gollum love and he begins to remember that he was once Smeagol. Despite that, Gollum eventually falls to his death clutching the Ring. Any one one of us can turn into Gollum. And we, like Gollum, have been given a chance to be conquered and cured by love. We have a choice too, we must choose to let go of sin and embrace love. 

Jesus is the personification of love. While we are struggling, Jesus meets us and lovingly reminds us of who we were once (Ephesians 4:21-24). When we allow the Holy Spirit to work in us he turns us into characters that will be fit for heaven. The Holy Spirit will slowly tone our spirit into the likeness of its maker (Romans 8:15-16).

If the sight of Gollum makes us cringe, then the influence of sin on our soul must make us cringe just as much. But all is not lost we still remember a bit of the original score. Throughout history, God has been dropping clues and the final piece of the puzzle is complete when we meet love, Jesus. 

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Daily Devotional: The Bible, J.R.R. Tolkien And The Meaning Of Life

Devotional Overview:

Tolkien allowed his imagination to run wild, it was safe to do so, because he was a devout Christian. No wonder whatever he wrote was true, good and beautiful. This devotion reflects on various lessons we can draw from Tolkien’s work to live out our Christian life meaningfully.

Key Scriptures:

  • 1 Timothy 6:6
  • 1 Timothy 6:11-12
  • Matthew 5:1-6
  • Isaiah 53:1-3
  • Luke 9:58

Devotional:

Simplicity is a Fine thing 

In a world that is obsessed with itself – live the dream, dress to kill, travel the world, and make it big – Hobbits can teach us a lot more about the good life. There is nothing inherently wrong with any of those but to imagine that it is ‘the good life’ might be misleading. Cameron Russel a top model says, “If you ever think, ‘If I had thinner thighs and shinier hair, wouldn’t I be happier,’ you just need to meet a group of models. They have the thinnest thighs and the shiniest hair and the coolest clothes and they are the most physically insecure women, probably, on the planet.”

Rather, consider the life of a Hobbit. They love peace and quiet and good tilled earth. They are shy of the ‘Big folk’. They were not very impressive to look at and were people of very little importance. They handled grief, and bad weather really well. They did not fight wars amongst themselves. They enjoyed the company of each other and family ties were strong. 

In I Thessalonians 4:11 and I Timothy 6:6, 11-12 says, “Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody…. But godliness with contentment is great gain. Now… pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness… and have a good confession before many witnesses.” 

Remember it was people who lived like this that changed the world – no fanfare but a frightful lot! It is probable that the ordinary human is impacting the world a great deal more than the famous men and women put together. Even today you and I ordinary Christians can change the course of this world.

Tolkien once remarked that he has, “…always been impressed that we’re here surviving because of the indomitable courage of quite small people against impossible odds: jungles, volcanoes, wild beasts… they struggle on, almost blindly in a way.” 

Take for instance when the great task of getting rid of the Ring of power came up; the only creature capable of resisting its power was a simple Hobbit, Frodo. A simple life might actually prepare us to take up unexpected adventures or challenges as and when they come up.

Isaiah 53:1-3 and Luke 9:58 is a description of Jesus. Nothing attractive yet he changed the world. That same power is in us so we can change the world too.

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Daily Devotional: The Bible, J.R.R. Tolkien And The Meaning Of Life

Devotional Overview:

Tolkien allowed his imagination to run wild, it was safe to do so, because he was a devout Christian. No wonder whatever he wrote was true, good and beautiful. This devotion reflects on various lessons we can draw from Tolkien’s work to live out our Christian life meaningfully.

Key Scriptures:

  • John 15:15
  • 2 Corinthians 4:8-14

Devotional:

Suffering Friends 

We all have friends who have added tremendous value to our lives. In The Lord of the Rings, Sam and Frodo are two friends on a journey to destroy the Ring of power. Though Frodo, the ring bearer is resisting the power of the Ring over him, it is beginning to wreak havoc on him. The weight of the Ring is too burdensome. Sam cannot bear to see his friend crumble under its influence. Although Sam would have loved to carry the ring for Frodo and relieve him of its affliction, it was only for Frodo to bear. Tolkien writes, 

“Frodo groaned; but with a great effort of will he staggered up; and then he fell upon his knees again. He raised his eyes with difficulty to the dark slopes of Mount Doom towering above him, and then pitifully he began to crawl forward on his hands.

Sam looked at him and wept in his heart, but no tears came to his dry and stinging eyes. “I said I’d carry him, if it broke my back,” he muttered, “and I will!”

“Come, Mr. Frodo!” he cried. “I can’t carry it for you, but I can carry you and it as well. So up you get! Come on, Mr. Frodo dear! Sam will give you a ride. Just tell him where to go, and he’ll go.”

A good friend might not be able to take away the pain but he offers you company and a back to fall on. In John 15:15, Jesus calls us his friends. In our moments of suffering Jesus offers us companionship. Like a true friend, he accompanies us. Jesus does not accompany us from a position of comfort and no pain rather he has suffered immensely too. But he has overcome it and offers us that same hope (II Corinthians 4:8-14). As Samwise Gamgee said, ‘where there is life, there is hope’- Jesus’ resurrection shows us that there is more to life and therefore there is hope!

A walk that changed Lewis’ life

C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien were good friends. They exchanged ideas, discussed philosophy and literature and critiqued each other’s books and opinions. Lewis was an atheist. Tolkien was a devout Christian. Yet their friendship blossomed. They both loved Myths and believed it to be a tool to communicate a culture’s deepest truths. Lewis was slowly beginning to accept God’s existence but was not ready to accept Christ. Things changed one evening, Lewis writes, “I have just passed on from believing in God to definitely believing in Christ, in Christianity… my long night talk with Dyson and Tolkien had a great deal to do with it.” That walk has impacted Christianity immensely today with the books of C.S. Lewis.

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