Devotional 2017-09-22T22:01:58+00:00

MORNING DEVOTIONAL

MORNING DEVOTIONALS

Amazing FactsBelieve His ProphetsBible UniverseConflict and CourageEvery Word

AMAZING FACTS DEVOTIONAL ARCHIVES

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An Amazing Fact: Our Milky Way Galaxy is part of what astronomers call the “Local Group,” which also includes the Andromeda Galaxy, the Triangulum Galaxy, and approximately 30 smaller galaxies. The Andromeda Galaxy, also known as M31, is our nearest neighboring spiral galaxy and is close to 2,500,000 light-years away. It can be seen from Earth’s Northern Hemisphere.

One of the greatest blessings on Earth is the ability to look up into the night sky and gaze upon the beautiful, creative masterpiece that we call the universe. But when we do this, we really have a very weak concept of what we are looking at (even the astronomers among us). There are more mysteries about the cosmos, it seems, than there are stars. Even of our home galaxy we know very little. Nevertheless, stargazing is an awe-inspiring activity. Our hearts are drawn to the Creator as we marvel at such stunning work.

A well-known psalm of David says, “When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained, what is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit him?” (Psalm 8:3, 4). It’s mind-blowing to realize that the God who knows every intricate detail of such a massive universe cares for us. He who placed and maintains each star and planet and galaxy—and knows them all by name—this same Creator God is very interested in the details of each of our lives because He loves us so much.

KEY BIBLE TEXTS
Ye are blessed of the LORD which made heaven and earth. The heaven, even the heavens, are the LORD’s: but the earth hath he given to the children of men. Psalms 115:15-16

An Amazing Fact: The word “crucifixion” comes from the Latin meaning “fixed to a cross.” It was an ancient method of execution in which the victim’s hands and feet were bound and nailed to a cross. It was one of the most horribly painful and disgraceful methods of capital punishment, and as such was primarily reserved for traitors, captive armies, slaves, and the worst of criminals.

Many Christians carry the symbol of the “cross” stamped on their Bibles or hanging around their necks. But few have explored the depths of the horror of this form of execution. Crucifixion most likely began with the Persians, but later spread to the Assyrians, Scythians, Carthaginians, Germans, Celts, and Britons. Under Alexander the Great, Roman crucifixions became commonplace.

The Romans usually had the victim beaten and tortured, and then they forced the captives to carry their own cross to the crucifixion site. After binding the hands and feet and nailing the criminal with crude iron nails to the wooden cross, a small platform was placed under the feet to allow the victim to lift himself up for an agonizing breath, thus prolonging suffering and delaying death. Unsupported, the victim would hang entirely from nail-pierced wrists, severely restricting breathing and circulation. At times mercy would be shown by breaking the victim’s legs, causing death to come quickly. As a deterrent to crime, crucifixions were usually conducted in highly public places, with the criminal charges posted on the cross above the victim’s head.

Jesus was crucified with these posted words: “THE KING OF THE JEWS” (Mark 15:26). He was executed in a highly visible place. People mocked him. They laughed at Him, scorned Him, and wagged their heads. “He saved others,” they said, “Himself He cannot save” (v. 31). How true. Jesus chose to stay on that wooden cross in order to “save others.” Will you receive Him as your Savior?

KEY BIBLE TEXTS
I am crucified with Christ: neverthless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20

An Amazing Fact: Steve Jobs, the founder and former CEO of Apple, was adopted as a baby.

From Aristotle to Johan Sebastian Bach to Gerald Ford, many famous people have been adopted. Perhaps no adoptee is more relevant to today’s culture, however, than Steve Jobs. As the founder and former CEO of one of America’s most valuable companies, Jobs is widely considered around the world as the leading innovator.

But it wasn’t always easy for him. His unwed birth parents were both graduate students in California—his dad Syrian and his mom American. Unable to take care of him, his mother made arrangements for him to be adopted during her pregnancy by a lawyer and his wife. When plans fell through shortly before he was born, because the first couple decided they wanted a girl instead, Jobs’s birth mother was forced to hand him over to another couple, neither of whom had a college degree. In fact, his dad didn’t even have a high school education. His mother agreed to give him to Paul and Clara Jobs, contingent upon them promising to send Steve to college some day. They made good on their promise, and 17 years later Steve enrolled in college—only to drop out six months later.

The rest is history. Along with a close friend, Steve went on to start Apple Computers at age 20. Apple is the leading technology brand in the world and flirts with the title of most valuable company in America—switching back and forth with Exxon-Mobile. And all this has been accomplished by a man who was put up for adoption by a mother who couldn’t take care of him.

One of the Bible’s favorite salvation themes is adoption. Though we were once in bondage and estranged from Christ, Paul says that we have been adopted into the family of God and we are now His sons and daughters. (See Galatians 4:1–7.) And since we are adopted into God’s family, we can attain to even greater heights than Steve Jobs!

KEY BIBLE TEXTS
For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. Romans 8:15

An Amazing Fact: The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the developed world. The most recent statistics (2009) show 743 inmates for every 100,000 people. According to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, 7.2 million people were on probation, in jail or prison, or on parole—or about 3.1 percent of all adults.

At the end of 2009, there were about 2.3 million inmates in the United States. The three states with the lowest ratio of prisoners per population were Maine, Minnesota, and New Hampshire. The states with the highest ratio were Louisiana, Mississippi, and Oklahoma.

There are different types of facilities to hold inmates. Local city and county jails hold less serious offenders. Prisons hold more serious offenders and range from minimum security to supermax facilities, which house the most dangerous criminals. Prison population charts look fairly level with moderate increases from the 1920s to the 1970s. But in the 1980s until today, the graph spikes upward very quickly.

At Jesus’ trial before Pilate, a prisoner named Barabbas was brought out. This hardcore criminal did not forget to pay a parking meter; he had been incarcerated for murder and was likely a member of the violent Jewish party called the Zealots. Pilate felt the pressure of the crowd, who wanted him to unjustly convict Jesus. He remembered the Jewish custom of releasing a prisoner during Passover, and he gave the mob a choice between Jesus and Barabbas.

The guilty man was set free, and the righteous Man was condemned. The true prisoner was unchained, and the One without fault was bound. The murderer got off and the Life Giver got put in. The one who truly deserved death, Barabbas, represents you and me. He was released so that the One who did not deserve death could take on the penalty of sin so that we could be set free.

KEY BIBLE TEXTS
And so Pilate, willing to content the people, released Barabbas unto them, and delivered Jesus, when he had scourged him, to be crucified. Mark 15:15

An Amazing Fact: According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, about 925 million people in the world are undernourished—that’s one in seven. Poor nutrition kills at least 5,000,000 children every year.

Starvation is only one of the heart-wrenching problems that affect the poor and the needy. Clean drinking water and proper medical care are two more critical needs, and there are many others.

Psalm 113 says that God “raises the poor out of the dust, and lifts the needy out of the ash heap, that He may seat him with princes” (vs. 7, 8). This shows the great value God places on the poor. The Bible says, “Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He hath promised to those who love Him?” (James 2:5). The people who suffer in poverty are as important to God as the rulers of the nations. They are just as surely His children.

It’s easy to be overwhelmed by the sad statistics, even to be stunned into inaction. After all, what can one person do against such widespread tragedy and desperation? The truth is we can all do something, at least in some small way, to alleviate the suffering in the world.

Love for God obligates us to act. As ambassadors for Christ, we must continue His work of lifting up the needy with our love.

KEY BIBLE TEXTS
Who is like unto the LORD our God, who dwelleth on high, Who humbleth himself to behold the things that are in heaven, and in the earth! He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth the needy out of the dunghill; That he may set him with princes, even with the princes of his people. Psalms 113:5-8

An Amazing Fact: Roosters do not always crow at the crack of dawn. Some will crow any time during the day. A rooster crows to protect his hens and ward off enemies, and they are very territorial. Since they are active during the day, they are most rambunctious in the morning when their testosterone level is highest.

“Cock-a-doodle-doo” is the phrase we often think of when a rooster jumps up on a fence post at the crack of dawn to welcome the new day. But lots of other things can set off a rooster to crow, such as a train passing by or a car starting. A cockerel (another name for rooster) is also very protective of his hens and will be quick to fight off any intruders.

Crowing roosters can sometimes be such a bother to neighbors that people look for ways to quiet their “fowl” talk. Locking him up at night, sealing off the cracks in the henhouse that let light in, or using blackout curtains are a few ways to fool him into holding back the crowing. Caponizing (neutering) a rooster will also sometimes help.

There is a familiar story in the Bible about a rooster crowing. Peter was told by Jesus in the upper room that he would deny Christ three times. Peter vehemently rebuked Jesus, saying, “If I have to die with You, I will not deny you!” (Mark 14:31). But it happened in the courtyard of the high priest—Peter denied Christ. “A second time the rooster crowed. Then Peter called to mind the word that Jesus had said to him, ‘Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny Me three times.’ And when he thought about it, he wept” (Mark 14:72).

How sensitive are we to God’s call to our hearts when we sin or deny Christ? How tuned in are we to the Holy Spirit’s whisper? Would we hear the Lord wooing us if we heard a rooster crow?

KEY BIBLE TEXTS
And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice. John 10:4

An Amazing Fact: By the time the average American turns 65, he or she will have spent nine years watching television.

The numbers are astounding. People in America watch a lot of TV. The research is quite extensive. The average American watches about four hours of television a day, which amounts to about two months of straight TV watching each year.

And televisions aren’t little boxes anymore! Whereas TVs used to be 18 inches, 20 inches, or maybe 30 inches, the average size of a TV these days is 46 inches—with some people estimating that by 2015 the average TV will be 60 inches! And it’s all in high definition now, so everything looks so real.

This means that by the time a child departs elementary school and has witnessed 8,000 murders on TV, and the 200,000 acts of violence by the time they’re 18, every single scene will have been as about as realistic as it can get—in true-to-reality, high-definition 60-inch television.

This is not meant to scare you into throwing out your TV. It’s a simple reality check. Paul writes in positive terms: “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Corinthians 3:18).

Thus, we are encouraged to spend our time—maybe even more than nine years—looking into the face of Christ. Because when we look at Jesus through the Word of God, we are transformed into His beautiful, compassionate, and loving image.

KEY BIBLE TEXTS
Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus; Hebrews 3:1

An Amazing Fact: Zoosemiotics, the study of animal communication, is a growing field of study of different forms such as gestures, facial expressions, gaze following, vocalization, and olfactory communication. Male humpback whales sing the longest and most complex songs in the animal kingdom. Each song lasts for more than half an hour. These messages can be heard underwater from more than a thousand miles away!

Gestures are one of the most common forms of animal communication. For instance, the herring gull will present its bill to the chicks followed by a tapping on the ground. The babies see the red spot on the mother’s bill and peck at it, which in turn causes the parent to regurgitate food for the young. Dogs have many facial expressions that communicate things like anger, through baring their teeth, for instance.

Vocalizations communicate warnings, conveying food sources, mating rituals, and more. But you can be fooled by animal communication if you are not careful to pick up metacommunication signals. These signals modify certain messages given by the animal. One of the most common examples is when dogs “fight” playfully. Initial “play face” signals and the position of the dog’s tail indicate that what follows is more fun than aggressive.

In the garden of Gethsemane, Judas greeted Jesus with a kiss. But his communication was deceptive. On the surface he appeared to be happy to see Christ, but underneath he was sending a signal to the soldiers. “Now His betrayer had given them a signal, saying, ‘Whomever I kiss, He is the One; seize Him and lead Him away safely’” (Mark 14:44). Judas likely hoped Christ would display His power and escape. But that didn’t happen.

Our Lord allowed Himself to suffer and die in order to communicate a clear message of love and hope to us. His meaning was to the point. “I love you and want you to be with Me in My kingdom forever.” Will we receive His gesture of love?

Can we also become so familiar with the sacred that we lose our respect for the things of God?

An Amazing Fact: The apostle Paul’s 35 years of travels took him through Turkey, Greece, Rome, and, of course, Israel and Palestine. Sometimes he journeyed by ship (he was shipwrecked three times!) and sometimes by foot. During his five missionary trips, he traveled a total of 13,000 miles.

When Paul wrote his letter to the Galatians, he told them plainly that if anyone tried to preach a different gospel to them, that person should be “accursed”—even if it was him or an angel. That was strong language, but Paul needed to get their attention. He had taught them salvation by faith in Christ alone, but someone had been teaching the Galatians something quite different, telling them they needed to do certain other things in order to be saved.

The gospel Paul had preached, he reminded them, was not something he had made up. No human taught or gave him the gospel. He says, “It came through the revelation of Jesus Christ.” After Paul’s conversion, Jesus Himself revealed the gospel to him.

There is only one gospel. At its core are Jesus Christ and His sacrifice, which reconciles us to God through faith. Nothing we can do could ever earn the salvation that He gives to us as a free gift.

KEY BIBLE TEXTS
But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. Galatians 1:8But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ. Galatians 1:11-12

An Amazing Fact: U.S. National Park Ranger Roy Sullivan has the record for being struck by lightning the most times. Sullivan was struck eight times during his 35-year career. He lost the nail on one of his big toes and suffered multiple other injuries to the rest of his body.

Lightning is an atmospheric electrostatic discharge between rain clouds or between a rain cloud and the earth seen in the form of a brilliant arc—sometimes several miles long. The discharge creates a sound wave that is heard as thunder. Some strokes might even move from ground to cloud, particularly from mountain peaks and tall objects such as radio towers. Lightning flashes from a cloud to the earth can be less than 3,000 feet in length, while flashes from one cloud to another have been recorded at more than 20 miles long. Only one lightning flash in a hundred ever strikes the earth.

However, contrary to the belief that lightning never strikes the same spot twice, it has been known to strike one object or person many times during an intense electrical storm. During one such storm, the Empire State Building was struck 15 times within 15 minutes. Lightning is also fast and hot. A bolt of lightning can travel up to 140,000 miles per hour and can reach temperatures approaching 54,000 degrees. An estimated 24,000 people are killed by lightning strikes each year around the world.

The most sacred object in Israel was the Ark of the Covenant. When David had the Ark moved to Jerusalem, Uzzah reached out to steady ark when the oxen stumbled, and he instantly died. Uzzah might have had become so familiar with the sacred that he no longer respected God’s requirements about touching it. Later, instead of moving the Ark on an oxcart (Philistine-style), it was carried by the priests using poles as God had commanded.

Can we also become so familiar with the sacred that we lose our respect for the things of God?

KEY BIBLE TEXTS
And when Aaron and his sons have made an end of covering the sanctuary, and all the vessels of the sanctuary, as the camp is to set forward; after that, the sons of Kohath shall come to bear it: but they shall not touch any holy thing, lest they die. These things are the burden of the sons of Kohath in the tabernacle of the congregation. Numbers 4:15

An Amazing Fact: For $215,000, you can buy the world’s most expensive perfume. That money will buy a 16.9-ounce bottle of Clive Christian’s Imperial Majesty.

With only 10 bottles of Imperial Majesty in the world, it’s not the perfume itself that makes it so expensive—though even the perfume alone at $2,150 an ounce would be more expensive than any other. Instead, what makes Clive Christian’s perfume so outrageously expensive is its bottle. The 16.9 ounces of perfume is poured into a Baccarat crystal bottle, complete with a five-carat diamond mounted onto an 18-carat gold collar.

Talk about an expensive Mother’s Day gift!

Mark 14 tells of another tale of expensive perfume. While Jesus dined in Bethany at Simon the leper’s house a few days before His crucifixion, the dinner party was interrupted by the smell of a distinguished fragrance. Looking all around the room in search of the scent’s origin, everyone’s eyes settled upon a sinful woman who was washing Jesus’ feet with the ointment. It didn’t take long for Judas to rally the other disciples in protest of the woman’s supposed wastefulness. After all, Judas exclaims, the perfume might have been sold for more than 300 denarii (a year’s worth of wages) and given to the poor.

But much to the audience’s utter surprise, Jesus commanded everyone to leave her alone, for “she has done a good work for Me” (Mark 14:6). Why the positive response from Jesus—who was ever concerned about the poor? Because the costly ointment being poured out was a picture of His precious, priceless blood that He was about to pour out for the entire world.

KEY BIBLE TEXTS
Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: 1 Peter 1:18-19

An Amazing Fact: Where is the best place in the world to live? According to an annual survey of the Economist Intelligence Unit, Vancouver, British Columbia, has hit the top for the fifth year in a row. Cities are rated in five areas: stability, healthcare, culture and environment, education, and infrastructure. Second place went to Melbourne, Australia, and third to Vienna, Austria.

But wait a minute! The United Nations listed Norway as the most desirable country in the world in which to live, followed by Australia and Iceland. At the bottom of its list are Niger, Afghanistan, and Sierra Leone, especially because of war and AIDs epidemics. Except that CNN reports that International Living magazine voted France, for a fifth year in a row, the best place in the world to live! You can get 12 months of paid maternity leave in France, guaranteed by law. Finally, Forbes shares the research of international human resource consulting company Mercer, which puts Vienna, Austria, at the top. In fact, not one place in the United States makes the list.

So where is paradise? Where is the perfect place to live? It depends. Most people are pretty happy right where they are at this moment. The environment is certainly nicer in some parts of the world than others, though toxins have touched our entire planet wherever you go. The biggest problem with finding the perfect place to live is that any place that has a human being will be imperfect, including your own home—that includes the person who looks back at you from the mirror every morning.

Paul writes about an acquaintance who apparently had a vision of paradise (2 Corinthians 12:4), also known as the garden of Eden. This special place was our first home, but our planet has undergone some changes since God first created the perfect place for us to live. Someday Eden will be restored (Revelation 2:7). When that day comes, we will have no doubts about the best place in the world to live.

KEY BIBLE TEXTS
And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed. Genesis 2:8

An Amazing Fact: In the 19th century, at least five public figures claimed to be Jesus Christ or another messiah. In the 20th century, the number of individuals making similar claims more than quadrupled.

Ever since Jesus returned to heaven, there have been “false christs” and “false prophets.” Knowing this would happen, Jesus specifically warned us about them. Their aim is deception. Jesus told us these imposters would “deceive, if possible, even the elect.” It sounds like we need to pray for alertness and wisdom!

How will we recognize the real Jesus Christ when He comes back to Earth? We will be able to tell by the manner of His return. Jesus gives us these details: “Then they will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory” (Mark 13:26). “For as lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be” (Matthew 24:27). The Apostle John tells us, “Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him” (Revelation 1:7).

During this earth-shattering event, it will be obvious to everyone that it’s the end of the age. Some will mourn. But for those who belong to Him, it will be an awesome experience of joy as we realize that the fulfillment of all our hope—our Savior—has arrived!

KEY BIBLE TEXTS
And then if any man shall say to you, Lo, here is Christ; or, lo, he is there; believe him not: For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect. Mark 13:21-22And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory. And then shall he send his angels, and shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from the uttermost part of the earth to the uttermost part of heaven. Mark 13:26-27

An Amazing Fact: When it comes to disguise, octopuses are the ultimate chameleons. Thanks to special cells in their skin, they have the ability to change color and texture, assuming a thousand combinations. In the blink of an eye, they can fade into the sea floor, appearing to be just another bumpy rock.

One Pacific Ocean octopus has earned its name from its incredible ability to transform its shape. The mimic octopus has been known to imitate everything from giant crabs and fish to sea snakes. One clever species will even take up residence in a vacant clamshell and use the suction cups on its tentacles to slowly open and close the shell. It will then wiggle the tip of one tentacle like a little worm to attract hungry fish—and whoosh!—the octopus will jet out and seize the unsuspecting victim.

Among the most flexible and versatile of all God’s creatures, an octopus can squeeze into amazingly small spaces to hunt or avoid predators. They’ve been known to hide themselves in soda cans and aspirin bottles! This ability to fit into tight spots pays off when hunting, as octopuses can chase small crabs, shrimp, and fish into tiny cracks, coaxing them out with their long tentacles.

The Bible tells us that when Jesus’ disciples asked about signs of the end of the age, Jesus said, “Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am He,’ and will deceive many” (Mark 13:5, 6). One of the signs of Christ’s soon coming is the work of the deceiver, Satan, who will pretend to be the Messiah and call people to follow him. If we study our Bibles carefully, we will watch and be ready for it. God will give us eyes to spot the master of deception no matter what shape or color he makes himself into. We need not fall into his traps.

KEY BIBLE TEXTS
Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; 2 Thessalonians 2:3

An Amazing Fact: The same night that John Wilkes Booth assassinated President Abraham Lincoln, assassinations were also attempted against Secretary of State William Seward and Vice President Andrew Johnson.

Most people don’t realize that Booth, when he took the life of Abraham Lincoln, also sought to wipe out Lincoln’s entire leadership. On the same night, Lewis Powell attempted to assassinate Secretary of State Seward in his home. Powell was able to gain entry into Seward’s home by claiming he was delivering medicine to the ailing man. When he gained entry to his room, he made his attempt.

Though Seward was critically injured by Powell’s knife, he did survive. While recovering, he was not told about Lincoln’s assassination in fear that it might send him into shock and derail his recovery. While looking out the window from his bed a few days later, however, Seward noticed the American flag flying at half-mast. He said to his attendant, “The president is dead.” When the young man tried to deny it, Seward said, “If he had been alive he would have been the first to call on me.”

Vice President Andrew Johnson was a little more fortunate. The man who was supposed to kill him at his hotel decided against the plan 15 minutes before he was to carry it out. “I enlisted to abduct the President of the United States,” the man later claimed, “not to kill.”

Young David, after he was anointed by Samuel to be king but before he did become king, had the chance to take the life of King Saul on two occasions. But David, learning from the ways of his merciful God, refused to do so, saying, “I will not stretch out my hand against my lord, for he is the Lord’s anointed” (1 Samuel 24:10). Saul was anything but righteous at that point, yet David felt convicted by God that He had no business taking the life of the king.

KEY BIBLE TEXTS
Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:21

AN AMAZING FACT:  For 26 years after the surrender of Japan in 1945, Japanese soldier Shoichi Yokoi hid in the remote jungles of Guam living on berries, nuts, rats, and frogs. Following the creed of soldiers loyal to imperial Japan, he refused to surrender because he did not believe the war was really over. Two local hunters discovered him in January 1972 in a remote jungle. He was wearing a pair of burlap pants and a shirt that he had made from tree bark.

When found, Yokoi was expecting the worst from his American captors. Instead, they gave him a first-class trip back to Japan. His first words to his people were, “It is with much embarrassment that I return.” But instead, the Japanese people welcomed him back as a national hero. He became a popular commentator on survival and even ran for parliament. You can even tour his little cave home in the remote outback of Guam. Yokoi died in September 1997.

When David was being pursued by King Saul, he hid in the mountains with a small army of loyal men. Saul tried repeatedly to capture David but could never lay a hand on him. The wilderness strongholds provided the perfect defense for David’s quick and nimble army. Hiding is not an easy thing to do, especially for Yokoi, who initially hid with 10 other Japanese soldiers. Seven of them moved away, and the remaining three were together for several years before they separated. Yokoi later found them dead, apparently from starvation.

In 1 Samuel 23 we read how Saul’s army finally encircled David in the wilderness of Maon. Providentially, a messenger called Saul away to fight the Philistines, who had just invaded the land. David was spared, and the place was called “the Rock of Escape.”

We too may find a Rock in the wilderness in which to hide from the enemy. Jesus Christ is our sure Protector.

KEY BIBLE TEXTS

For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock. Psalms 27:5

An Amazing Fact: A Gallup Poll once found that 94 percent of Americans would like to be forgiving. But 85 percent felt that they could not be forgiving by themselves; in order to forgive, they needed help from God or something outside themselves.

Why do most people find it so hard to forgive? Maybe it has something to do with pride. If someone has wounded our feelings, it doesn’t seem fair to forgive them quickly and easily. Let them suffer guilt, let them grovel … then maybe we’ll consider it.

Aren’t we glad God doesn’t treat us that way when we do something wrong? According to Psalm 103, He doesn’t deal with us or punish us in the way our sins deserve. It says His mercy is as high as the heavens! As soon as we ask for forgiveness from Him, He graciously removes our sins “as far as the east is from the west” (v. 12).

Jesus said, “And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses” (Mark 11:25). The Bible is plain on the subject: We can’t be forgiven unless we are willing to forgive.

Recognizing the undeserved, overwhelming forgiveness we receive every day from God should spark deep gratitude in our hearts and make it easier to extend forgiveness to those who have offended us. If we ask Him, God will give us the power to forgive others.

KEY BIBLE TEXTS
The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy. He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger for ever. He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him. As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us. Psalms 103:8-12

An Amazing Fact: Robert Wadlow (1918 – 1940) was the tallest person in history for whom there is irrefutable evidence. He was known as the Alton Giant (or Giant of Illinois) because he was born in and grew up in Alton, Illinois. He reached a height of 8 feet, 11.1 inches and weighed 485 pounds at the time of his death at age 22.

How did Wadlow grow to be so large? Doctors believe it was caused by hypertrophy of his pituitary gland, which results in an abnormally high level of human growth hormone. Robert showed no end to his growth, even at his death. His shoe size was 37AA. Unfortunately, his height had its drawbacks. He needed leg braces in order to walk and had little feeling in his legs and feet. Ten days before his death, while traveling on a tour, his ankle became infected because of a faulty leg brace. On July 15, 1940, he died in his sleep.

The Bible tells us that David fought against a giant named Goliath, who stood about 9-½ feet tall. His staff was “like a weaver’s beam,” which is the bar to which the long threads are fastened in a cloth-making loom, probably two inches in diameter. The iron spearhead weighed about 15 pounds.

Saul’s army stood shaking in their boots every time Goliath came out and defied the God of Israel. But David knew that while the weapons of man are no match for giants, he also understood that God’s power can save man. That’s true for you as well as you face your own giants.

KEY BIBLE TEXTS
Then said David to the Philistine, Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied. 1 Samuel 17:45

An Amazing Fact: Abolition of the slave trade in England was delayed for more than 10 years because five pro-abolitionist parliamentarians were at the opera when the vote was being taken.

William Wilberforce had been working tirelessly for years toward one goal: the abolition of the slave trade in England. In 1796, he felt as if the tide had finally turned in his favor. When he brought the bill before parliament, as he did every year of his political career, he nervously awaited the vote.

Sadly, the pro-abolition side fell short by four votes. Lamenting later in his diary, Wilberforce wrote, “Enough at the Opera to have carried it.” It turns out those parliamentarians were attending the opening night of the comic opera I Dui Gobi (The Two Hunchbacks). Unfortunately, it would not be until 1807 that the bill finally passed. During that time, hundreds of thousands of slaves lost their lives.

It is no wonder that David wrote in the book of Psalms, “I will set nothing wicked before my eyes” (Psalm 101:3). The Hebrew word for “wicked” is actually a little less extreme than this, however. It literally means “worthless,” or that which doesn’t have any real value. Yet how many times do we, like those parliamentarians, set worthless things before our eyes when people all around us are hurting, dying, and desperately needing our help? How many times do we turn on the TV or watch a movie when there are much bigger issues going on that God wants to involve us in?

God graciously invites us to look “unto Jesus” instead. (See Hebrews 12:2). It is there that we will find all that is lovely and, in response, we will seek to live as He lived.

KEY BIBLE TEXTS
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Philippians 4:8

An Amazing Fact: The water bear, named for its awkward gait, is a tiny animal less than a millimeter long, yet it can withstand the most extreme conditions on earth. Its proper name is a tardegrade, and there are many species found all over the world, from the coldest poles to the warmest jungle. The beast has eight legs, two eyes, a central nervous system, and has piercing mouthparts that it uses to feed on the juices of plants. It is just barely visible to the naked eye.

So how tough are these guys? They normally live in damp places like mosses and lichens, but these habitats often dry out, get baked in the sun, and freeze in winter. So to survive these un-cozy periods, the water bear has a clever trick. It pulls in its legs, loses some water, shrivels up, and transforms into a “tun,” enabling it to withstand all kinds of extremes while hibernating.

Here’s a sample of some harsh environments that water bears have survived. Left in a bottle with dried moss for 120 years without water or air—when water was added, they sprang to life. Exposed to minus 458-degrees Fahrenheit, the coldest temperature possible (i.e., one degree above absolute zero). When thawed, they started up again. And in September 2007, tardigrades were taken into low Earth orbit on a space mission and exposed to the vacuum of space for 10 days. After the bugs returned, scientists discovered many of them had survived and laid eggs that hatched normally.

Paul speaks in 1 Corinthians 5 of the assurance believers can have in the resurrection. Followers of Christ are exposed to all sorts of harsh conditions and “groan” (or long for) the day they will have new bodies. The water bear gives us a taste of this amazing Bible teaching of coming back to life after being exposed to extreme situations. Someday, when Jesus comes, we will spring to life. No matter how we died, Christ will restore us with strong bodies, even more durable than the water bear’s.

KEY BIBLE TEXTS
For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 Corinthians 5:1

An Amazing Fact: Since much of the persecution of Christians throughout the world is carried out in remote areas, it is impossible to know accurately how many are being persecuted for their faith. Some estimates run as high as 200 million people in 60 countries. It is also estimated that many thousands of Christians are martyred each year.

A boy named Peter lived in a country that was taken over by a communist government. His mother and father were Christians. It was forbidden to talk to others about God, but Peter’s parents continued to do so. Eventually they were caught and put in prison.

Peter was then sent to a special camp where people tried to train him to forget about God. The other children there were cooperative with their teachers, but Peter would not lay aside his beliefs. The other children shunned him and made fun of him. Separated from his family and desperately lonely, he prayed for help. Each day God gave him the strength to resist the “training.”

With Jesus as his best Friend giving him strength, Peter stayed faithful under extreme pressure. Finally, the training camp gave up on him and he was sent back to his family.

Because of his strong belief in “the things which are not seen,” Peter would not give up his faith. And because he knew Jesus so much better through his persecution, his trial became a blessing.

KEY BIBLE TEXTS
For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

ELLEN WHITE DEVOTIONAL LIBRARY

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“We can have what Enoch had.

We can have Christ as our constant companion.”

The Shepherd knows His sheep. When we stumble, He lifts us up, binds our wounds, and leads us on to victory. By daily surrender to His will we can enjoy sweet communion with God. Our trembling hand in His, we walk side by side through trial and tempest into a future bright with promise.

“E’en though the path I may not see, Yet, Jesus, let me walk with Thee.”

Ellen White knew the Shepherd. She has nourished the Spirit of Millions with her deeply spiritual messages. Empasizing a different theme each month, this fresh compilation from her pen calls us into a deeper fellowship with God and equips us for the journey. Each devotional is a moment with the Master—another step in an ever—sweeter journey with Jesus.

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Daily readings— drawn from letters, manuscripts, and other Ellen White sources— pull together to illustrate the background, purpose, and enormity of the great controversy battle. And, as the title suggests, each reading declares the power of God to overcome in the fierce conflict, despite the foreboding circumstances.

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Prophets and priests, kings and apostles, parade though the inspired pages of this daily devotional. Arranged roughly in chronological order, each reading focuses on some decisive moment in salvation history, and shows how the lessons of the past illuminate our future. In the exploits and failures of saints and sinners we find counsel, comfort and hope for today a passing of the torch so that the same faith that blazed in God’s servants of old might burn anew in us.

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This devotional book is devoted exclusively to the subject of Bible doctrines. Providing both inspiration and information, each month focuses on a different topic. The daily readings are selections from Ellen White’s previously published and unpublished writings that relate to the basic truths of Scripture. The book is extensively indexed with Scripture, topical, and outline indexes.

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“As we make Christ our daily companion we shall feel that the powers of an unseen world are all around us; and by looking unto Jesus we shall become assimilated to His image. By beholding we become changed. The characters is softened, refined, and ennobled . . . The soul that turns to God for its help, its support, its power, by daily, earnest prayer, will have noble aspirations, clear perceptions of truth and duty, lofty purposes of action, and a continual hungering and thirsting after righteousness. By maintaining a connection with God, we shall be enabled to diffuse to others, through our association with them, the light, the peace, the serenity, that rule in our hearts” (p. 290).

May you find the serenity that comes from knowing the One whose Spirit inspired these pages.

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This daily devotional book has been compiled largely from unpublished and out-of-print Spirit of Prophecy materials. Each day’s reading is designed to bring you into a closer connection with our Lord and give you a deeper understanding of His character. Sections include insight on Christ’s condescension for humanity, the work of the angels, how to maintain a wholly-devoted heart, and the special relationship God has with His church on Earth.

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These daily readings each focus on the life and character of the Saviour, Jesus Christ. They lift Him up as our Teacher, Healer, King, and Redeemer. Each devotional entry is designed to bring the reader to a deeper, more complete understanding of and relationship with Him who bore our sins. For we know that “by beholding Jesus we become changed into His likeness.”

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The hearts of God’s people, young and old, throb with intense longing for that day of deliverance so near at hand. With fast fulfilling prophecy confirming their faith in the imminence of our Lord’s return, the White Estate Trustees commissioned this compilation of readings clustering about the general theme of eschatology, with emphasis upon the coming of our Lord.

Key statements from Ellen G. White books, as well from many articles in the journals of the church are included. Numerous statements from unpublished manuscripts enrich the presentation.

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A daily devotional book drawn from Mrs. White’s writings, this volume touches every part of the Christian’s life— from spiritual growth, to lessons drawn from the lives of Bible heroes, to our responsibilities to society. Many of the excerpts were taken from unpublished sources and articles, and though they focus on different points of life, they each give the same message of practical Christianity in daily life.

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The Father’s love for humanity provides an endless theme for contemplation and study. This vital topic unfolds on every page of Our Father Cares. From the great sacrifice of giving His Son, to the calling we have as His children on earth, the study of His love for us personally will encourage and guide us on our upward journey.

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This daily devotional classic is a call to holiness and a primer in the Christian virtues.

What is the relationship between faith and feeling? When does temptation become sin? What is God’s part and what is my part in salvation? How does the Christian relate to wealth, unfair criticism, or pain?

Ellen White warns against the pitfalls of the Christian path, explains how to overcome doubt, guilt, and selfishness, and motivates the reader with a golden chain of encouragement and assurance. Most of the material is taken from the unpublished letters and manuscript of the author. Your life will be changed by this inspired summons to a deeper commitment to Jesus Christ.

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A mirror turned away from the sun cannot reflect its rays. And a human being turned away from God’s Son cannot reflect His love to others.

As Christians, our responsibility is to share with others what God has shown to us. Ellen G. White had much to say about this responsibility—and the transforming effect of beholding Christ. This complete change of heart affects not only the spiritual life but also the physical, mental, and social.

“When you remember that Christ has paid the price of His own blood for your redemption and for the redemption of others, you will be moved to catch the bright rays of His righteousness, that you may shed them upon the pathway of those around you.”

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From the inspired pen of Ellen G. White flowed a steady stream of messages of encouragement, counsel, instruction, and enlightenment. The gems in this collection were gleaned from her books, periodical articles, and unpublished letters and manuscripts.

Each reading holds forth the highest possible standard of spiritual attainment, offering to every son and daughter of God “an outlay of heaven’s treasures, an excellency of power” that will place the redeemed “higher than the angels who had not fallen.”

In every paragraph is heard the Spirit’s call to lift the cross—and ”those who lift the cross will find that . . . the cross lifts them.”

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More than half of the book is drawn from the wealth of inspired material in the articles from her pen that appeared during her long lifetime in such periodicals as the Review and Herald, Youth’s Instructor, and Signs of the Times. About one third is drawn from unpublished manuscripts and letters in the custody of the trustees of the Ellen G. White writings, under whose direction the volume has been prepared.

Many of these unpublished items are from personal heart-to-heart messages sent to individuals–messages that come to us today with the same earnest appeal, the same tender admonition and encouragement, as when they were written. Of special interest are several pages which contain extracts from early morning entries in Ellen White’s diary, and give the reader significant glimpses into her personal prayer life.

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The devotional writings of Ellen G. White are a rich source of inspiration to millions of people throughout the world. This volume is unique in that the readings are not clustered around a central theme, but are arranged according to the day on which they were originally written.

They are drawn largely from unpublished letters and manuscripts, and each reading provides the name and position of the individual to whom the message was originally addressed. This collection includes advice to church administrators, counsel to Ellen White’s newlywed son Edson, cautions for the bold, and hope for the discouraged.

Always the author’s purpose is to encourage the reader to aim for the highest standard of Christian discipleship.

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“Looking unto Jesus, not only as our Example, but as the Author and Finisher of our faith, let us go forward, having confidence that He will supply us with all the strength that is needed for every duty.”

Throughout her life Ellen G. White continually pointed to Jesus as our hope and salvation. Whether she was offering messages of reproof for errant believers or providing instruction for the faithful, her recurring theme was Christ—and Christ alone. In these excerpts from her letters and manuscripts, our thoughts are lifted heavenward as we are encouraged to “follow on step by step, with our eyes fixed upon our Leader.” Truly, we are capable of being genuine Christians only when our attention is focused on Christ.

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The promise of the Holy Spirit has been cherished by all generations of God’s people since the time of the apostles. In this daily devotional, Ellen White expounds on the importance of this “most essential gift,” the effects of His presence in our lives, and what we can do to co-work together with Him.

BIBLE READING & AUDIO LINKS

This is a collection of Bible reading & audio links.

If there are any other good links, drop me a line.

READING LINKS

Bible.com

BibleGateway

Biblehub.com

Biblica (the International Bible Society)

AUDIO LINKS

BibleGateway Audio Bibles

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