Charles Stanley – No Work for God Is Unimportant

Charles Stanley

Colossians 4:7-18

The final lines of Colossians seem to have little theological impact. Most of the names listed, except for Luke and Mark, are unfamiliar. We could easily skip these verses and jump to 1 Thessalonians. But Paul’s closing words to the Colossians carry the subtle message that no ministry is unimportant.

It isn’t hard to recognize Paul’s amazing contributions to the faith—much of the New Testament is made up of his divinely inspired letters. The people mentioned in his Colossian missive seem to pale in comparison, but the apostle considered all of them important enough to include. For instance, Tychicus, the first mentioned, played a big role—wherever he appears in Scripture, he is running errands for Paul (Acts 20:4, Eph. 6:21, 2 Tim. 4:12). Thanks to this man, the Colossian letter traveled over 800 miles to its destination, then moved from church to church to be read repeatedly and copied. Tychicus’s job was important in spreading the gospel; without his assistance to Paul, modern believers might not have this valuable letter.

We tend to judge types of service as important or unimportant, and too often pride prevents our approval of a particular ministry. We want a big, impressive job to prove to everyone how much we love the Lord. But God desires the exact opposite: He wants our love for Him to motivate us to do anything He asks, no matter how insignificant or unnoticeable it may seem.

What is God asking you to do that you are resisting? Repent of your pride, and humble yourself to do all that He desires. None of His work is unimportant.




Our Daily Bread — A Giving Competition

Our Daily Bread

READ: 2 Corinthians 9:6-15

Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift! —2 Corinthians 9:15

A television commercial I enjoy at Christmastime shows two neighbors in a friendly competition with each other to see who can spread the most Christmas cheer. Each keeps an eye on the other as he decorates his house and trees with lights. Then each upgrades his own property to look better than the other’s. They then start competing over who can give the most extravagantly to other neighbors, running around cheerfully sharing gifts.

God’s people aren’t in a competition to see who can give the most, but we are called to be “ready to give, willing to share” (1 Tim. 6:18). The apostle Paul instructed the church at Corinth: “Let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Cor. 9:7).

At Christmastime, as we share gifts with others, we remember the generosity of God toward us—He gave us His Son. Ray Stedman said, “Jesus set aside His riches and entered into His creation in a state of poverty in order to enrich us all by His grace.”;

No gift-giving could ever compete with the Lord’s extravagance. We thank God for the indescribable gift of Jesus! (v.15). —Anne Cetas

Sing praise to the Father, Creator and King,

Whose mercy has taught us a new song to sing;

Who made us, and loved us though rebels and lost,

And planned our redemption at infinite cost.

—Margaret Clarkson. © 1966 Hope Publishing

No gift is greater than the gift of Christ Himself.

Bible in a year: Hosea 1-4; Revelation 1


Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Out of the Depths

Ravi Z

Dr. Gabor Maté is a controversial figure in the world of medicine. Maté, a private family practice physician for over twenty years, and the coordinator of the Palliative Care Unit at Vancouver hospital, now helps addicts as a staff physician at the infamous Portland Hotel. The Hotel is the only supervised, safe injection site in North America for IV drug users. Many of his patients, in addition to being hard-core drug addicts suffer from mental illness and HIV. For their care, nurses supervise their drug use by providing antiseptic, clean needles, water, showers and other basic services. He has written about his experiences working with addicts in his book In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts.

On first glance, many might find his work unethical. How could he assist drug users in perpetuating their addictions? In a recent interview, Maté discusses why he provides a safe space for those who are the most hopeless and helpless: “Childhood trauma is the universal template for severe addiction. These drug addicts all began life as abused children. Finally they have a place where they feel accepted and safe for the first time in their lives, so it’s a beginning of the possibility of treatment.”(1)

Maté provides what many consider a more holistic model for treating addicts because he believes their underlying emotional and psychological damage fuel their addictions. Attending to these needs—even in the midst of addiction—provides a crucial key for long-term healing. The Portland Hotel, in Maté’s view, is often the first place for which attending to the emotional and psychological needs occurs for many. “The essential point to grasp,” Maté argues, “is that in neither case are we dealing with conditions that are written in genetic stone. Therefore they are reversible. We have to ask ourselves what conditions we need to provide in order for people to develop…If you’re a gardener and your plant is not developing properly, you ask yourself what condition does that plant require? It’s the same thing with human beings.”(2)

Regardless of how one might view Maté’s unconventional treatment philosophy, his deep concern for the entire emotional landscape of these hard-core addicts should not escape notice. In addressing the deepest emotional wounds of his patients, he is able to recognize their humanity even as most of these addicts seek to destroy themselves. He is able to honor dignity and worth even as these addicts view themselves as worthless. By seeing their addiction as a symptom of a larger emotional neglect, he gets to the heart of what human beings require to thrive: to be recognized, to be known and to be loved as unique human beings.

Maté’s work came to my attention as an unusual coalescence with the Ignatian practice of the conscious examen. In this traditional Christian practice, a person simply reviews the events of the day to see where God was present. But it goes beyond factual recounting to examine feelings and desires that bring both consolation and desolation. The conscious examen invites the individual to look beyond “symptoms” of daily events to see the ways in which God was present in the deepest aspects of one’s life. All that which produces joy or sorrow are fertile places for God’s activity. Ignatius expected that God would be revealed in our consolation and our desolation because he believed that God would speak through our deepest feelings and yearnings.

This gave me great hope as I wrestled with those parts of my story that are filled with desolation. How can it be that plumbing the depths of despair could actually produce consolation? Not the kind of consolation that covers over dark feelings in an attempt to supplant them, but a consolation that emerges as a result of knowing that God can be found in the depths of my own despair? Just as Dr. Maté understands that exploring the deep wounds of emotional and physical abuse hold the key for the treatment of drug addiction, so too the possibility of discovering God in the midst of our complicated humanity.

Scholar Walter Bruggemann says it this way: “[T]he way God’s word impinges upon human history is concrete talk in particular circumstances where the large purposes of God for the human enterprise come down to particulars of hurt and healing, of despair and hope.”(3) In the same way that Dr. Maté believes the emotional and psychological story of his clients holds the key to treating their addictions, so too our deepest longings and desires, our lived experience in this world, no matter how mundane or seemingly trivial, no matter how awful and dark, no matter how joy-filled and hopeful open a door to the presence of God. Nothing is excluded from telling the story of who we are and of how God is at work in the events of our lives.

Oh God, unto whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hid. Oh God, you have searched me and known me….You know it all. Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I hide from your presence?

Margaret Manning is a member of the speaking and writing team at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Seattle, Washington.

(1) Terrence McNally, “Why Do People Become Addicts?” Interview with Dr. Gabor Mate, AlterNet, October 19, 2011.

(2) Ibid.

(3) Walter Brueggemann, Texts That Linger, Words That Explode (Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Fortress Press, 2000) 44, emphasis mine.


Alistair Begg – Gazing Forever on Christ


Alistair Begg

So we will always be with the Lord.

1 Thessalonians 4:17

Even the sweetest glimpses of Christ are short-how transitory they are! One moment our eyes see Him, and we rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory; but then the moment passes and we do not see Him, for our beloved withdraws Himself from us. Like a roe or a young hare He leaps over the mountains of division; He is gone to the land of spices and no longer feeds among the lilies.

If today He deigns to bless us

With a sense of pardoned sin,

He tomorrow may distress us,

Make us feel the plague within.

How sweet the prospect of the time when we will no longer see Him from a distance but rather face to face-when He will not be like a traveler staying only for a night but will enfold us in the bosom of His eternal glory. We will not see Him for a little while, but

Millions of years our wondering eyes,

Shall o’er our Savior’s beauties rove;

And myriad ages we’ll adore,

The wonders of His love.

In heaven we will not be interrupted by care or sins; no weeping will dim our eyes; no earthly business will distract our happy thoughts. We will have nothing to prevent us from gazing forever on the Sun of Righteousness with tireless eyes. If it is so sweet to see Him now and then, how wonderful to gaze on that blessed face forever, and without a cloud rolling between, and never have to turn one’s eyes away to look on a tired and sinful world. When will this blessed day dawn? Rise, unsetting sun! If to die is to enter into uninterrupted communion with Jesus, then death is swallowed up in a sea of victory and is definitely gain.

Charles Spurgeon – The wailing of Risca


“Suddenly are my tents spoiled, and my curtains in a moment.” Jeremiah 4:20

Suggested Further Reading: Luke 12:35-48

Live while you live; while it is called today, work, for the night cometh wherein no man can work. And let us learn never to do anything which we would not wish to be found doing if we were to die. We are sometimes asked by young people whether they may go to the theatre, whether they may dance, or whether they may do this or that. You may do anything which you would not be ashamed to be doing when Christ shall come. You may do anything which you would not blush to be found doing if the hand of death should smite you; but if you would dread to die in any spot, go not there; if you would not wish to enter the presence of your God with such-and-such a word upon your lip, utter not that word; or if there would be a thought that would be uncongenial to the judgment-day, seek not to think that thought. So act that you may feel you can take your shroud with you wherever you go. Happy is he that dies in his pulpit. Blessed is the man that dies in his daily business, for he is found with his loins girt about him serving his Master; but, unhappy must he be to whom death comes as an intruder, and finds him engaged in that which he will blush to have ever touched, when God shall appear in judgment. Power supreme; thou everlasting king; permit not death to intrude upon an ill-spent hour, but find me rapt in meditation high; singing my great Creator; proclaiming the love of Jesus, or lifting up my heart in prayer for myself and my fellow-sinners.

For meditation: Life contains a final moment when it will be impossible to explain away or cover up something inappropriate.

note: This sermon was occasioned by a mine explosion, in which some two hundred or so miners were killed, at Risca, near Newport in South Wales. Spurgeon had often gone to the Vale of Risca to rest and preach.

Sermon no. 349

10 December (Preached 9 December 1860)



John MacArthur – The Sacrifice and Exaltation of Christ

John MacArthur

“When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Heb. 1:3).

The Bible makes it perfectly clear that the wages of sin is death (Rom. 6:23). Jesus Christ went to the cross, died the death we deserved, and consequently freed us from the penalty of sin by our faith in Him.

The writer of Hebrews goes on to say that Christ “does not need daily, like those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins, and then for the sins of the people, because this He did once for all when He offered up Himself” (Heb. 7:27). In the Old Testament, the priests had to make continual sacrifices, but Jesus made only one. And not only was He the priest, but also the sacrifice! He made a tremendously potent sacrifice, for He forever purged our sins–something the Old Testament sacrifices could never do.

When His sacrifice was complete, “He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Heb. 1:3, emphasis added). That is significant because the Old Testament priests never sat down–there were no seats in the sanctuary because they offered sacrifices day in and day out. But Jesus offered one sacrifice, finished it, and then went to the Father and sat down. What the Old Testament sacrifices couldn’t accomplish Christ’s did for all time.

As a result, God exalted Him to His right hand, the seat of honor and rule and rest. But perhaps most important, it is the place where Christ intercedes to the Father on our behalf (Rom 8:34).

Don’t ever forget what Jesus accomplished for us–and what He still does for us: “If anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 John 2:1).

Suggestions for Prayer:

Thank Jesus for His sacrifice on your behalf. Also thank Him for the salvation He has given you and the access you now have to God.

For Further Study:

Read Hebrews 9:1–10:18 to gain a deeper understanding of Christ’s ultimate fulfillment of the Old Testament priestly system. In what specific ways did He fulfill it?


Joyce Meyer – Knowing God

Joyce meyer

And this is eternal life: [it means] to know (to perceive, recognize, become acquainted with, and understand) You, the only true and real God, and [likewise] to know Him, Jesus [as the] Christ (the Anointed One, the Messiah), Whom You have sent.

—John 17:3

Today’s scripture emphasizes the importance of knowing God. There is a big difference between knowing about God and really knowing God. Knowing God is a lifelong pursuit, something that happens progressively throughout our lives, not something that happens over the course of a few days or weeks. Attaining the true knowledge of God doesn’t come through reasoning or logic or through reading books for intellectual knowledge. It must be God-given, and it comes through revelation. It comes as we seek God and gain experience with Him through trusting His promises.

If we have a true knowledge of God, we are not disturbed by things like scientific theories that seek to disprove His existence. We have come to a perfect rest in the fact that God is, and knowing that, then we know that nothing else matters. We do not feel a need to explain things because we know something that cannot be explained with words. People often want to explain God, but if we truly know Him, then the first thing we give up is trying to understand or explain Him. God is deep enough that we will never know all there is to know.

Knowing God goes beyond what we think, see or feel. It is an inner knowledge of God that cannot be taken from us. When we have this inner knowledge, nothing outward can sway us from our belief in God. We no longer need evidence to protect our faith. We trust God just as much if He does not give us what we want as we do when He does.

I encourage you to pray daily for a spirit of wisdom and revelation (see Ephesians 1:17), that you may know God and Jesus, the Messiah, the Anointed One. Appreciate and celebrate the fact that you are an eternal being and that you are progressively coming to know Him better with every passing day.

Love God Today: To know God we must be hungry for the type of knowledge that can only come from God Himself through revelation.



Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – The Same Father


“We who have been made holy by Jesus, now have the same Father He has. That is why Jesus is not ashamed to call us His brothers” (Hebrews 2:11).

Though you and I have been made holy by Jesus, we need to ask ourselves a question: Have we really been set apart, consecrated, devoted to God experientially?

A practical definition of the word consecration would carry the idea that you and I are willing to do anything the Lord asks us to do. Is that really the case? Are we listening closely enough to His still small voice even to know what He really wants us to do?

Once a popular TV commercial asked, “How do spell relief?” We might ask ourselves, “How do you spell commitment?” Too many of us, I’m afraid, spell it C-O-N-V-E- N-I-E-N-C-E. If it is convenient for us to share the good news of the gospel, we will do it; if it is convenient for us to go to Sunday school, church or prayer meeting, we will do it.

True commitment is a rare commodity these days – even among Bible-believing, evangelical Christians. Otherwise our churches would be full; our witnessing would be a normal daily routine; our lives would be more Christlike.

We have already been made holy, but we need to reckon on that fact – and through the enabling of the Holy Spirit, live like holy people. Meditate on this fact: We have the same Father as Jesus, and Jesus calls us His brothers. What a great honor and privilege is ours!

Bible Reading: Hebrews 10:5-14

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I will count on the holiness of Christ within me to make me all that He wants and intends me to be, As a member of God’s supernatural family I shall claim God’s power to live supernaturally.

Presidential Prayer Team; J.K. – Overwhelmed with Thanksgiving


There are many different forms of gifts – just as there are many reasons for giving. A homemade present shows the recipient how important they are to you. Another gift may be given to someone you know out of a sense of obligation.

Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!

II Corinthians 9:15

In today’s verse, the Greek word for “gift” appears only 10 other times in the New Testament…and only when referencing God as the giver! The significance is that it is a reversal of the normal flow of gifts. God, who is the ultimate superior in the universe, gives His special gift to humanity, the inferior. Of course, this extraordinary gift is Jesus Himself.

In II Corinthians 9:1-14, Paul conveys his happiness for the love of fellow Christians for each other and their willingness to give. But their relatively trivial presents, contrasted with the inexpressible gift from God, causes Paul to be overwhelmed with adoration and thanksgiving to the Father for the gift of His Son.

Don’t let the busyness of the season remove your sense of gratefulness and awe for the Lord’s magnificent gift. Let your intercessions be that America and its leaders will come to know God’s love for them through His greatest gift…Jesus.

Recommended Reading: Romans 8:1-11

Greg Laurie – Have You Lost Sight of Jesus?


After the celebration was over, they started home to Nazareth, but Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents didn’t miss him at first.

—Luke 2:43

On one occasion when Jesus was twelve years old, He went missing. Mary and Joseph lost sight of Him, and it took three days of searching to find Him again. They had been in Jerusalem for the Passover, and as they were returning home, He was nowhere to be found. But here is the interesting thing: they traveled an entire day before they missed Him. It isn’t that they lost their love for Him or their faith. They just lost Him.

Can this happen to us? The answer is yes. It is possible to go through an hour, a day, or even a week without a passing thought of Jesus. (That is, until a crisis hits.) This is the easiest thing to do at Christmas. We are so busy celebrating the birth of Christ that we can forget about Christ. This is the time of year when we have all kinds of responsibilities. And God’s only begotten Son can become God’s only forgotten Son.

One way we lose Jesus is when nonessentials displace essentials. When we are busy, often our spiritual lives are the first things to go. We don’t have time to read God’s Word. We don’t have time to pray, even for a moment. We can’t afford to give anything to God because we have so many things to buy. We allow nonessentials to take the place of essentials.

Whenever I lose something, I retrace my steps. Where did I have it last? I go back to that place, and often I will find it there.

If you’ve found that you’ve lost Jesus in the busyness of life, then you need to go back to where you were before. And the good news is that even if we lose sight of Jesus, He never loses sight of us.



Max Lucado – An Eternal Instant

Max Lucado

An eternal instant. An instant in time that had no time. A picture froze in mid-frame, demanding to be savored! A moment that reminds you of the treasures surrounding you. Your home.  Your peace of mind.  Your health. A moment that tenderly rebukes you for spending so much time on temporal preoccupations.  A moment that can bring a mist to the manliest of eyes and perspective to the darkest life.

It was such a moment when the Creator smiled and said, “It is good.”  It was such a moment in the “fullness of time” when a carpenter, some smelly shepherds, and an exhausted young mother stood in silent awe at the sight of the infant in the manger.

Eternal instants.  You’ve had them.  We all have them. But may you have more of them. You are, in a very special way, on holy ground.

From God Came Near