Afternoon Devotional

Expensive Consequences

But Jonah rose up to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord…

[Jonah 1:3]

Do you know Jonah’s story? He was told by God to go to Nineveh, and to speak a word of warning there. But he didn’t want to go to Nineveh, or to speak of judgment to the Ninevites. So he went in the opposite direction. He was running from God. The rest of this verse says that he got to Joppa, and paid the fare for a boat to Tarshish. When we sin—insist on living life on our terms—there is always a fare to be paid. It costs us something to run from God.

I know a married woman who fell in love with another man. She left her husband, and went off with this man for three weeks. At the end of that time, she could not bear her guilt any longer, and she came home to her husband and daughter. Her husband, like a modern-day Hosea, took his wayward wife back and forgave her. But she is still struggling in her relationship with the daughter she abandoned. “I’ve lost her,” she said. “She’s angry and rebellious, and she won’t listen to a word I say. I’m afraid my sin has cost me my daughter.” It’s expensive to live life on our own terms, with no regard for God and His commands. He will forgive us when we repent, and remember our sin no more, but He does not erase the consequences. It costs something to run from God, and sometimes the price tag is higher than we ever could have imagined.

~ Dr. Edwin Young ~

Evening Devotional

The Power of No’

“How then could I do this great evil and sin against God?”

[GENESIS 39:9]

Negativity has gotten a bad rap. Sometimes a negative word is just what’s needed. A traveling salesman went into a local diner one morning and ordered breakfast. He was feeling a little lonely, so he said to the waitress, “Bring me a poached egg on toast and a good word.” She came back a few minutes later with his plate, set it down and began to walk away. “Wait a minute,” he said. “What about that good word?” She leaned down to his ear and whispered, “Don’t eat the egg!”

It’s important to observe some negatives in life. When Joseph was serving in Potiphar’s household, he experienced some serious sexual harassment from Mrs. Potiphar. Day after day she propositioned him, and it would have been easy to say “yes.” But Joseph said no. And he kept saying “no” until Potiphar’s wife grabbed him and he fled. He literally left his cloak in her hands and ran! When temptation comes to us (and it will!) we need to learn the power of “no.” We are not victims of circumstance or passion. We can choose to obey God and say “no” to Satan, and the best way to become good at it is to practice! We must take it a step further, however, and not only to say “no” to temptation, but to say “yes” to greater things: righteousness, faith, love and peace. Will you practice your yes’s and no’s today?

~ Dr. Edwin Young ~

Morning Devotional

That Still, Small Voice

“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.”

[JOHN 10:27]

A seasoned news commentator took a much-needed vacation to a working ranch in a western state. He learned to ride, rope, mend fences and herd cattle. During his stay, a ranch hand’s horse was injured, and turned out to pasture to heal. Wild horses entered the pasture one night, and the stallion ran away with them. The newsman asked to tag along the next day when the hand went to try to catch his horse—and it was an experience he said he’d never forget. They found the horse running with the wild herd, and the ranch hand wasted no time trying to woo him back. He got close enough for the horse to hear him, and began to whistle softly and call his name. When he did this, the wild horses bolted and headed for a canyon, leaving the young stallion torn between two desires. He would trot toward the canyon, then move back toward the young man. He was caught in a cross-pull: he wanted to follow his master, but the lure of the wild herd was strong. Neither man could tell which way the horse would go until he finally lowered his head and began walking toward his master.

“As I watched this drama,” the newsman said, “I realized I was like this stallion. I hear the voices of the world, and I sometimes long to run with them, but the voice of my Master, Jesus Christ, never fades away.” What he had witnessed strengthened his resolve to resist the pull of the world. “I prayed that day that I would never lose my sensitivity to that still, small voice of God.” How about you? Have you felt the cross-pull? Whose voice will you follow?

~ Dr. Edwin Young ~

Evening Devotional

That Still, Small Voice

“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.”

[John 10:27]

A seasoned news commentator took a much-needed vacation to a working ranch in a western state. He learned to ride, rope, mend fences and herd cattle. During his stay, a ranch hand’s horse was injured, and turned out to pasture to heal. Wild horses entered the pasture one night, and the stallion ran away with them. The newsman asked to tag along the next day when the hand went to try to catch his horse—and it was an experience he said he’d never forget. They found the horse running with the wild herd, and the ranch hand wasted no time trying to woo him back. He got close enough for the horse to hear him, and began to whistle softly and call his name. When he did this, the wild horses bolted and headed for a canyon, leaving the young stallion torn between two desires. He would trot toward the canyon, then move back toward the young man. He was caught in a cross-pull: he wanted to follow his master, but the lure of the wild herd was strong. Neither man could tell which way the horse would go until he finally lowered his head and began walking toward his master.

“As I watched this drama,” the newsman said, “I realized I was like this stallion. I hear the voices of the world, and I sometimes long to run with them, but the voice of my Master, Jesus Christ, never fades away.” What he had witnessed strengthened his resolve to resist the pull of the world. “I prayed that day that I would never lose my sensitivity to that still, small voice of God.” How about you? Have you felt the cross-pull? Whose voice will you follow?

~ Dr. Edwin Young ~

Morning Devotional

It Can Make or Break You

“The Lord is my strength and song, and He has become my salvation;…”

[EXODUS 15:2]

Ever heard of Roy Riegels? He picked up a fumble during the 1929 Rose Bowl game and ran as fast as he could…toward the other team’s end zone. His mistake set up the winning touchdown for the opposition. A defining moment.

Ralph Branca may not be a household name, but many will never forget the pitch he threw in the last game of the 1951 National League playoffs.

Bobby Thompson eyed the pitch and pelted “the shot heard round the world,” a home run that won his team the pennant and probably the most famous homer in baseball history.

Chris Webber’s defining moment came when the young basketball star called time-out during the 1993 NCAA finals, only to discover his team had no time-outs remaining.

What happened to Roy Riegels? I don’t know. Perhaps he forgot his blunder, or went on to use it somehow to his advantage. But Ralph Branca turned his defining moment into a turning point. Today he is a major force in an organization called BAT, dedicated to assisting old ballplayers “who have suffered tragedies more permanent than dealing the wrong pitch at the wrong moment.” Chris Webber established Time Out Inc., a non-profit agency to “help kids who need a time out to get going again.” Life is ripe with defining moments…moments that can make us or break us, depending on our perspective. For the Christian there is the assurance that God’s plans for us are good, regardless of the difficulty of our present circumstances.

~ Dr. Edwin Young ~

Morning Devotional

God Knows the Journey

He has also set eternity in their heart, yet so that man will not find out the work which God has done from the beginning even to the end.

[ECCLESIASTES 3:11]

Mark Twain once asked a baggage handler on a passenger train if the man thought his briefcase was strong enough to be placed in the baggage compartment. The baggage handler shrugged, took Twain’s case, and promptly hurled it to the pavement. “That, sir,” he said, “is what she’ll get in Philadelphia.” Then he picked it up and struck it four or five times against the side of the train. “And that,” he continued, “is what she’ll get in Chicago.” Finally he threw the case to the ground and stomped on it vigorously until the author’s books and papers spilled out, saying, “And that’s what she’ll get in Sioux City.” As Twain watched slack-jawed, the handler nodded at his now mangled case and advised, “If you’re going any farther than Sioux City, sir, I’d suggest you carry it on yourself!”

In a sense, Twain was lucky. He saw before he boarded the train what the journey ahead would entail. But the best most of us can hope to do is observe the journey of life from our fast-moving train and attempt—while the scenery whizzes past us—to make some half-ordered sense of it all. Life is full of contrasts and ripe with paradox. It contains full measures of trouble and triumph, of sadness and joy. But at its heart, there is a divine order. Although we long to see it in full and understand it completely, we cannot. We can only trust that God knows the journey, and that His view is bigger and more complete than our own.

~ Dr. Edwin Young ~

Evening Devotional

What To Do With Suffering

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.

[JAMES 1:2-3]

We’re all familiar with the cliché “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” But for many of us that phrase is incomplete. It should continue, “the tough get going in the opposite direction!” So often we retreat from the tough times and question the plan of a God who would allow us to experience pain. But He is neither a wasteful Father, nor a cruel one. Suffering presents us with a personal challenge: we can either use our suffering as a bridge in building relationships with others, or we can view it as a wall that separates us from those around us. The choice is ours. James writes that suffering is actually productive. It produces endurance in us by stretching our faith.

Paul adds that it makes us useful to others, because the God of all comfort “comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” (II Corinthians 1:4) Maybe like Joseph, you are in the pit. Maybe you’re waiting in a dark, windowless place of suffering. Perhaps your personal “pit” is so deep and dark that it has caused you to question the very existence of God. If so, take heart in this basic biblical principle: those whom God would greatly use and bless will always experience a time of suffering. It is not possible to be used significantly by God in any area of endeavor without suffering. You don’t have to consider the suffering itself joy… but joy will be the end of what God will do with it if you trust Him.

~ Dr. Edwin Young ~