The writers of Encouraging.com are celebrating their fifteen year landmark by making their 365 daily devotional book, God Moments, available as a free digital download! A total of thirty-six GABC writers have faithfully captured “moments of God’s presence” in their lives to encourage your own spiritual journey. You can find God Moments on amazon.com, iTunes, and BarnesandNoble.com.

Lamb Over Me

Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain.
Revelation 5:12


In Revelation 1 John saw a vision of the glorified Jesus Christ. He wore a robe and golden sash, His head and hair were white as snow, His eyes were blazing, and He shone brilliantly like the sun. John was so awestruck at Jesus’ majesty that he fell at His feet as though dead.

In Revelation 5 John is given another vision of the glorified Jesus. He is pictured as a Lamb who was slain. That’s a vastly different picture, isn’t it? However, it is a fitting vision. Jesus Christ is the Lamb of God.

Throughout scripture, God connects a spotless lamb with salvation. In Genesis 22 Abraham was instructed to sacrifice his son, Isaac. God provided a ram for sacrifice, and Isaac was saved. In Exodus 12 the Israelite families escaped death by placing the blood of a spotless lamb upon their doorposts. Throughout the ceremonial law given to Moses, the sacrifice of a spotless lamb is connected with atonement of sin and removal of guilt.

These scriptural pictures point to the one true Lamb, Jesus Christ. Jesus was spotless. He lived a sinless life. From the creation of the world, God planned that Jesus would lay down His sinless life for the redemption of man. (Revelation 13:8) You were redeemed…with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect (I Peter 1:18-19). Upon belief in Jesus, His blood cleanses you from sin.

The Chinese word for righteousness is on the tombstone of Ruth Graham. This word, formed 3,600-5,000 years ago, is composed of two Chinese characters: the character for ‘lamb’ over the character for ‘me.’ Righteousness means ‘lamb over me.’ Friend, God’s message of salvation is woven throughout man’s history. Ruth Graham’s tombstone testifies of her belief that righteousness comes only through faith in Jesus. Have you come to personally know Jesus, God’s Lamb?

Praise to You, Lamb.You were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation (Revelation 5:9).


Jan Burkhart

Bargain Roses

    Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
John 15:4


A few months ago I came across a plant sale. Most of the plants on this rack looked a little pathetic. However, some rose trees in the back caught my eye. There were no roses, only some slightly yellowed leaves on a couple of tiny trees. Most people had passed on them because they were not very remarkable. I then remembered a friend’s rose tree.

My friend’s tree is quite outstanding. The roses are gorgeous, and she constantly receives compliments on this wonderful tree. Knowing what her tree looked like, I decided to go ahead and buy a few of these little trees. I knew that my bargain trees would need some special care. But I also knew what they could be!  

I realized that sometimes I feel the way the bargain roses looked. I feel defeated and unproductive. I feel withered and powerless. I listen to the enemy’s lies and allow myself to wallow in my own areas of weakness. I allow myself to disconnect from my spiritual nourishment, from the presence of my Father.

What happens when I drink in the Word of God and be filled with Him? I exchange my weakness for His strength. I allow His beauty to shine through me. There’s really nothing good in me except for the beauty of the Lord. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong (2 Corinthians 12:10).

What happened to my little rose trees? Now they look like a million bucks! With their roots reaching deep into the rich soil and daily nourishment from the sun and water, the dark green leaves are growing, and the trees are covered in roses.

Lord, remind me when I feel defeated that you see me not as who I feel I am, but who I am in you.

Julie                                                                  

Good Gifts

Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours: Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.  
2 Peter 1:1-2


Can you think of a special gift you have received? My husband travels a lot, so he frequently brings me jewelry from his travels. I love looking at each piece remembering from where each originated. These special pieces are important to me because my husband thought of me on the other side of the world and brought them home just for me. The “special-ness” of these gifts comes from the “special-ness” of the giver. 

Peter considers faith a gift. I think it is easy for us to understand that our salvation is a gift from the Lord. We know that there is nothing we can do to deserve our salvation; it is completely free and undeserved. What about faith?

In Ephesians 2:8-9 Paul tells us For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast. The faith is the gift of God. I think we have the tendency to feel that the faith is ours, something we do. You cannot have faith if God had not given it to you.

Not only does Jesus begin the faith, He perfects it. Hebrews 12:1-2 reminds us, Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith . . .

Isn’t it amazing that Jesus is constantly working in and through us? He is changing us more into the image of Him. He is truly the Giver of GOOD gifts!

Lord, help me to fix my eyes on Jesus.

Julie

Do I Know You?

But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen. 
2 Peter 3:18


Have you ever recognized someone, but you couldn’t remember how you knew her? Maybe you knew that person from a particular place, and out of that situation, you couldn’t place her.

In college I was a lifeguard at a country club. I watched many families throughout the summer. Once I ran into a mother who frequented the pool. We both recognized each other, but it took us a few minutes of conversation before we realized that we knew each other from the pool. We laughed because we didn’t recognize each other with clothes on! We clearly did not know each other well.

On the other hand, there are those whom I know very well. I can spot a loved one across the room just by the way he or she moves. Also, I can usually predict my husband’s or my children’s reactions to certain situations. My daughter was once surprised by how much I knew about how she felt or what she was about to say.

There’s a difference between recognizing someone and knowing someone personally. In 2 Peter 1:3 Peter writes, His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. The Greek word used here is epignosis, which is a fuller and deeper knowledge. Peter reminds us that this knowledge goes much deeper than recognition.

It would seem to me that we would not get everything we need for life and godliness just by knowing the facts about Jesus. Those who claim that Jesus was just a good teacher obviously don’t know Him. He is EVERYTHING! Our Lord gives us strength, wisdom, peace . . . This list goes on and on.

Do you really know Him? You can! You can know the Father’s heart by spending time with Him.

Lord, I want to know you more each and every day.


Julie 

What Did You Expect?

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” 
John 16:33


When my son was around two, he thought he saw his daddy from behind. He started running toward the man, and when he rounded the corner, I saw a horrified look on my son’s face. The man was not his daddy – not at all what my son was expecting. The man looked very similar to my husband from behind, from his build to his bald head, but one glimpse of his face revealed the truth. I explained to the man that my son was a little surprised and upset because he was not who my son had expected him to be.

When you became a Christian, did you expect everything to go your way? Did you expect an easy life? Paul says in Philippians 1:29, For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also suffer for him. David Platt, author of Radical, says it this way. “This is not your typical evangelistic invitation. Bow your heads, close your eyes, pray to receive Christ, and you will receive suffering.”

That does not sound inviting. But the truth is clear. Jesus told us what we could expect from this world . . . trouble!  

As we live for Christ, we will most certainly encounter opposition. Living for Christ is the opposite of self-protection. Remember what Jesus says in John 16:33, “in me you may have peace.” Though we live in a world that is full of chaos, we can have the peace that only comes from Jesus.

How do we experience the peace of God? We experience Him! How can we experience Him? Spend time with Him in prayer, in Bible study and meditation, and in worship of Him.

I don’t expect my life to be free of difficulties, but I do expect to have the peace that passes my understanding, because I have Jesus.

Thank you, Father.

Julie