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Unto the Hills
A Daily Devotional
By Billy Graham
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2010 Billy Graham
All rights reserved.
A Clean Slate
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Psalm 51:10
Did you ever have the experience in a school of erasing an entire blackboard? When the slate has been wiped clean, it is as if nothing at all had ever been written on it.
This is what God does for us when we come to Him confessing our sin. First John 1:9 says, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
How many times in your life have you wished you could start all over again with a clean slate, with a new life? Resolve right now to allow God to wipe your slate clean by confessing your sins and letting Him give you a brand-new start.
The apostle Paul did this when he said, "Forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3:13–14 RSV).
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Our Father and our God, I come to You conscious of my sins and failures but confident in Your love and mercy toward me. Thank You for giving Your wonderful grace and forgiveness to me and for wiping the slate of my life totally clean. Let me start all over with You and live in Your purpose for my life, now and forever, through Jesus Christ my Savior. Amen.
Lost and Found
I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me. John 14:6 RSV
Recently, while returning to my hotel in a major city, the driver turned left when he should have turned right, and it took him awhile to figure out how to get to our destination. He had to stop and check his road map.
Often in life just one wrong turn, just one wrong decision can take us where we do not want to go or, more importantly, can keep us from going where we do want to go.
There is an ancient saying that "all roads lead to Rome." When one is lost on a road to Rome or anywhere else, all that is needed to find the way is a good road map or directions from someone who knows the way.
Not all roads lead to God, as some suggest. There is a roadblock which keeps man from reaching God, no matter what road he takes. That roadblock is sin. But God has provided a map—the Bible—and He has provided One who knows the way and can give directions—Jesus Christ.
Christ said, "No man comes to the Father but by me." Not only does Christ give directions to the Father through Himself, but He also gives us daily directions as to His Father's will for our lives. Like directions from a map or a person in our travels, we can follow them and get to our desired destination, or we can ignore them and become lost.
Remember, Jesus did not say, "I am one of the ways, or one of the roads you can take to get to the Father." What He said was, "I am the way." Determine to follow Christ and never be lost!
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Our Father and our God, wrong choices and dead ends have often blocked my ability to live my life fully for You. Take away my sin and lead me toward full acceptance of the leadership and guidance that You provide through the Holy Spirit. I will follow Jesus as the way, truth, and life. In His name I pray. Amen.
The Ultimate Protection
For he has said, "I will never fail you nor forsake you." Hence we can confidently say, "The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid." Hebrews 13:5–6 RSV
Some years ago when our son Ned entered a new school, he met some boys from the city who thought they were pretty tough. Ned had never had to confront boys from the streets who had much experience in defending themselves and who witnessed fights as a regular occurrence. The boys from the city soon began picking on him.
Another boy, who had befriended Ned, saw that in order for our son to survive, he would have to learn to defend himself; so he taught Ned a few basics of karate and some of the other martial arts. After much practice, Ned demonstrated his new skills on one of the boys who had been harassing him, and the bullies stopped picking on him.
God wants to teach us how to defend ourselves against sin. Satan, the ultimate bully, attacks us at our weakest points and wants to defeat us so that we will not be effective for God.
In the Bible God offers us some spiritual "training," which builds us up inside in much the same way as physical exercise and discipline can build us up on the outside. But, like exercise or training in martial arts, we must be consistent in our reading of Scripture and diligent in its application to the situations and circumstances around us. God has not promised to shield us from trouble, but He has promised to protect us in the midst of trouble.
Nothing can touch us apart from God's will. If something does touch us, we can be sure that it is for the purpose of building us up into a stronger and more effective witness so that God can use us to do battle with the evil bully of history, the devil.
Remember, God will never fail you or forsake you!
* * *
Our Father and our God, thank You for Your extraordinary love and concern that accompany me daily. Teach me that You are in control of everything that happens in my life. I'm comforted to know You're always there. Help me apply the truth of Scripture, the fellowship of prayer, and commitment to You in my life daily. Through Jesus, amen.
The Value of a Man
What is man, that thou art mindful of him? Psalm 8:4
A certain rich man died and the question was asked at his funeral, "How much did he leave?"
"He left it all," came the reply.
Often, I hear someone introduced this way: "This is Bob, and he works for ...," as if where a person works determines his or her value. I have noticed that it is usually only the well-to-do or those who are thought of as "successful" who are introduced this way.
Yet God does not judge us by success. He loves each person the same because your value and mine does not come from what we do or have, the clothes we wear, the house in which we live, or the type of car we drive. Our value comes from the fact that God made us and Christ died for us. And so, whether we have things or not, we are just as valuable to God.
God gave all that He had—His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ—because He valued us so highly, even when we did not value Him. Since God thought this much of us, shouldn't we show that we value Him by putting Him first in all that we do—our family life, our business life, our spiritual life?
There is a song which says, "Put Jesus first in your life, let Him handle all the problems that come your way ... you have searched in vain for something; now you don't want that something you've found. Put Jesus first in your life, and turn your life around."
The actual value of an object is that which is placed on it by the owner or buyer.
God has shown the value He has placed on you by sending His Son to redeem you.
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Our Father and our God, I bow humbly before You, remembering my total dependence on You. Without You I am nothing, but because of Your Son I am sanctified, I am justified, I am saved. Thank You for valuing me enough to sacrifice Jesus in my place. I am Yours because of the blood of Your blessed Son, Jesus. Amen.
God Is a Person
It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is thy faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22–23
When I was a small boy, I thought of God as an old man with a long white beard. After all, hadn't Michelangelo painted Him that way?
Later, as I read the Bible, and after I had accepted Christ as my Savior, I realized that God is a spirit, yet He has the attributes of a person: He thinks; He speaks; He communicates; He loves; He becomes angry; He grieves.
Because God is a person, He feels that which we feel. After all, we are made in His image, so it is to be expected that we would be able to communicate our deepest feelings and emotions to God.
God communicates with us in two ways. First, He communicates with us through His written Word, the Bible. It tells us who God is, who we are, and why we need a Savior so that we might have that relationship with God which sin has broken.
Second, God communicates with us through His Son. Jesus said that no man can come to the Father except through Him. We have that access to Jesus, and thus to God, through salvation.
God is the same yesterday, today and forever. He never changes.
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Our Father and our God, sometimes I can't express my deepest emotions. But I know that Jesus can express my very heart to You and that You understand. Thank You, Father, for Your great compassion and faithful love. In the name of Christ, amen.
Freedom of Choice
Choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your father served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. Joshua 24:15 RSV
We hear a lot about "freedom of choice" these days. But think about it. The very word choice presupposes at least two alternatives.
When Joshua asked the Israelites to "choose this day whom you will serve," the choice he gave them was between God and the false god, Baal. Before waiting for their reply, Joshua announced his choice, "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord."
Choices are offered throughout the Bible as they are throughout our lives. Repeatedly throughout the Scripture, choices are made by God and man.
God commands man to make those choices, but only after providing him with sufficient information so that his choices will be informed ones. Because of truth in lending and truth in labeling laws, one cannot apply for a loan or buy a product in a supermarket without being furnished with certain information.
This information is necessary in making intelligent choices. God has given us information about Himself, including His holiness, man's sinfulness, God's provision for that sin, Jesus Christ, and scores of promises to man about what will happen if he accepts God's promises and what will happen if he does not. Galatians 6:6–8 says, "Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things. Be not deceived; God is not mocked; for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting."
Some time ago there was a television show called Truth or Consequences. The host of the program used to say to the contestants, "If you don't tell the truth, you will have to pay the consequences." It is the same with choices. If you make the wrong choice, you will have to pay the consequences. But if you make the right choice, you receive all of the benefits. So it is best to choose wisely, as Joshua did, because the choices we make have the potential for affecting our lives for better or for worse.
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Our Father and our God, I want to serve You with all my heart and soul. Help me, Lord, to always make wise choices that lead me into Your presence. Give me wisdom and discernment so that my life will always glorify You. I need Your guidance and help in walking safely through Satan's minefield of temptations and sins. In the name of Jesus. Amen.
God's Power Revealed Through Prayer
Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. 1 Thessalonians 5:17–18
How many times have you heard someone say, "All I can do is pray"?
All I can do is pray?! You might as well say to a starving man, "All I can do is offer you food," or to a sick person, "All I can do is give you medicine that will make you well," or to a poor child, "All I can do is buy the toy you most want for your birthday."
Praying unlocks the doors of heaven and releases the power of God. James 4:2 says, "Ye have not, because ye ask not." And Jesus said, "And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive" (Matthew 21:22).
Many of us want to do a work for God, but few of us want to spend hours in prayer to God. It goes against our natural inclinations to pray, which is precisely why prayer counts so much with God. It is unnatural. It is, in fact, supernatural! And it always gets God's attention.
I am sometimes amused when people tell me, "God answered my prayer." What they mean is that God gave them what they asked for. But if He had not granted their request, He would still have answered their prayer. We forget that "No" and "Wait" are also answers, as is "Yes."
I have answered every request made by my children to me. The answer has not always been what they wanted, but it has always been in accordance with what I have thought was best for them at the time. God is the same way, except that His answers are always right and good and best, while mine may or may not have been.
And remember, whether prayer changes our situation or not, one thing is certain: prayer will change us!
* * *
Our Father and our God, thank You for the incredible blessings You have given me. I praise You for Your great generosity and constant care. Please give me the heart to hear Your answers to my prayers, even when the answer is "Wait" or "No." Help me to accept Your lordship of my life, knowing that You have only my greatest good in mind. Through Christ, my Lord. Amen.
The Storms of Life
Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee. Isaiah 26:3
Once while flying between cities on the African continent, I began to share my faith in Christ with some reporters who were accompanying me. None seemed interested in hearing the Gospel.
Suddenly, the place entered a very turbulent storm. The plane shook and began to bounce up and down.
After we had successfully come through the storm, one of the reporters approached me and said, "What were you saying about life after death?"
When Jesus was on the Sea of Galilee with some of His disciples, a storm came up and began to toss the boat around. His disciples cried out in fear, but Jesus slept at the stern of the boat, unafraid and unintimidated by the weather.
When they awakened Him, He rebuked them for their lack of faith, and then He rebuked the storm. Both the storm and the disciples were silenced!
There is a wonderful old hymn which says, "He gives us peace in the midst of the storm." In life there are all kinds of storms: storms of unbelief; storms of materialism (mostly brought about by those who want more material things than they have); storms of secularism, moral degeneracy, and international tensions.
Jesus was at peace in the midst of that storm because He and His Heavenly Father had a relationship that gave Him peace. It is that type of relationship that God wants to have with us.
Are storms in your life making you afraid? You can have peace despite the storms. Stay close to Jesus Christ. Read God's Word. Pray.
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Our Father and our God, I come to You with these frustrations and stresses on my life. I pray earnestly for Your peace to calm my aching soul and soothe my troubled heart. Remind me of Your power to overcome the world and its stresses. In the name of the One who brings peace. Amen.
The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them. Psalm 34:7 RSV
Years ago there was a television program called Charlie's Angels. These "angels" were three attractive women who were involved in fighting crime. In the theater, people who finance expensive productions are called "angels" because without them, the shows would never get to the stage. These are modern interpretations of the word angel, but the idea is correct, nevertheless.
Angels are beings who help people against evil forces, and they do perform certain duties, without which we could not always be able to achieve a certain goal or station in life.
Excerpted from Unto the Hills by Billy Graham. Copyright © 2010 Billy Graham. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
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