Charles Stanley – Those Who Hurt

Charles Stanley

Mark 10:46-52

When in pain, we may question whether God cares or even knows about what we’re going through. Our adverse circumstances can give us a wrong view of Him.

Scripture teaches that our triune God is omniscient. In other words, He knows all things. No action, person, or situation—past, present, or future—is hidden from Him (Ps. 33:13-15; Heb. 4:13). The Lord “searches every heart and understands every desire and every thought” (1 Chron. 28:9 niv). Because of His perfect knowledge, He knows us intimately and understands what we really need (Matt. 10:29-30). What’s more, God’s love and concern for us do not change, even if our pain has resulted from our own sinful actions.

Jesus repeatedly demonstrated His Father’s care for people. He met with Nicodemus, one of the religious leaders, and without condemnation or accusation, showed him the way to the Father (John 3:3). Another time, the Lord visited Zaccheus, a man whose dishonesty had hurt many financially. And Jesus even initiated conversation with the Samaritan woman, a social outcast. He also delayed His journey in response to the cry of a blind beggar—He showed compassion to Bartimaeus and affirmed his faith. Because of Jesus’ life, we can be certain that our heavenly Father cares about us.

God’s love extends over us, and He wants us to come to Him with our questions and pain. Don’t allow trials to cloud your thinking about God’s deep concern for you. Accept Jesus’ invitation and bring your burdens to Him (Matt. 11:28).

Our Daily Bread — Hope For Skeptics

Our Daily Bread

Isaiah 55:6-13

So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please. —Isaiah 55:11

As a workplace chaplain, I’m privileged to be in conversation with many different people. Some are skeptics of the Christian faith. I’ve discovered three major hurdles that keep them from trusting in Christ for salvation.

The first barrier, surprisingly, isn’t an unwillingness to believe that God exists; instead some doubt that they’re important enough for God’s attention. Second, some believe they are unworthy of His forgiveness. People are often their own harshest judges. The third hurdle? They wonder why God is not communicating with them if He is out there.

Let’s work backward through the hurdles to see what God’s Word says. First, God doesn’t play head games. He promises that if we read His Word, He will make sure it accomplishes His purpose (Isa. 55:11). In other words, if we read it we will discover that God is communicating with us. This is precisely why the Bible speaks so often of His grace and mercy toward all (v.7). His willingness to forgive surpasses our own. Once we learn that we can hear God in the Bible and once we see the emphasis on His mercy, it becomes easier to believe we have His attention when we cry out to Him.

God’s story is amazing. It can give hope for all of us. —Randy Kilgore

There can be times when one’s mind is in doubt,

Times when one asks what the faith is about;

But we can believe Him, we know that He cares—

Our God is real, as the Bible declares. —Fitzhugh

Honest skepticism can be the first step to a strong faith.

Bible in a year: Hosea 5-8; Revelation 2



Ravi Zacharias Ministry – A God Who Descends

Ravi Z

The first time I walked through the crowded, pungent streets of Bethlehem, I was struck by the disparity between what I was seeing and “the little town of Bethlehem” I had spent my life imagining in manger scenes and songs. The harsh reality of God becoming a child—not in a sweet and sentimental village somewhere far away, but in the midst of this cold and dark world I knew myself—suddenly seemed a blaring proclamation indeed. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. It is little wonder that some of the most theology-rich hymns are Christmas carols that have at heart the Incarnation. In a darkened world not unlike this one, two thousand years ago, God came in person.

Almost immediately after his Christian conversion, Charles Wesley took to hymn writing as a way to capture the hope of God’s nearness persistently stirring in his mind. Though a few of the words have long since been changed, one of his 6,000 hymns is a widely beloved declaration of this Incarnation. Seeking to convey in pen and ink a Christmas story both familiar to our hearts and startlingly unfamiliar in its wonder, Wesley wrote:

Hark, how all the welkin rings,

“Glory to the King of kings;

Peace on earth, and mercy mild,

God and sinners reconciled!”

Joyful, all ye nations, rise,

Join the triumph of the skies;

Universal nature say,

“Christ the Lord is born to-day!”

The Christ child in the manger is forever an indication of the great lengths God will go to reconcile his creation, a savior willing to descend that we might be able to ascend with him. “Welkin” is an old English term meaning “the vault of heaven.” In this dramatic word, Wesley illustrates the crux of Christian theology: All of heaven opened up for the birth of a king and the rebirth of humanity. The vault of God was thrown open to make way for the one who was coming and all that would come as a result of it.

Hail, the heavenly Prince of Peace,

Hail, the Sun of Righteousness!

Light and life to all he brings,

risen with healing in his wings.

Mild he lays his glory by,

born that man no more may die;

born to raise the sons of earth;

born to give them second birth.

The Incarnation is the jarring reminder that God speaks and the world is moved. While the Christmas story reports the massive hope that God came near, the ordinary and incredible signs of redemption show that God has chosen to remain. Wesley saw this intimate connection between God’s nearness and the transformed likeness of our humanity. Where God comes near, countenances themselves are changed.

Come, Desire of nations, come,

fix in us thy humble home;

rise, the woman’s conquering Seed,

bruise in us the serpent’s head.

Now display thy saving power,

ruined nature now restore;

now in mystic union join

thine to ours, and ours to thine.

The startling hope and mystery of the Incarnation is that it reorders the world we know—visually, physically, restoratively, eternally. Where there is despair, where there is joy, where there is need, Christ is living in its midst. Where there is a heart that prepares him room, the Spirit has already transformed life in his image. Come, Desire of nations, come; fix in us thy humble home. These cries have been heard. The vault of heaven is open.

Jill Carattini is managing editor of A Slice of Infinity at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia.

Alistair Begg – Jesus, The Great Guarantee

Alistair Begg

He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.

1 Thessalonians 5:24

Heaven is a place where we will never sin, where our battle with the evil one will be over; there will be no tempter to ensnare our feet. There the wicked cause no trouble, and the weary are at rest. Heaven is the undefiled inheritance; it is the land of perfect holiness, and therefore of complete security.

But don’t even the saints on earth sometimes taste the joys of blissful security? The doctrine of God’s Word is that all who are in union with Christ are safe, that all the righteous shall keep to the path, that those who have committed their souls to the care of Christ will find Him to be a faithful and unchanging protector.

Sustained by such a doctrine we can enjoy security even on earth-not the high and glorious security that makes us free from every slip, but that holy security that comes from the sure promise of Jesus that none who believe in Him will ever perish but will be with Him where He is. Believer, reflect often and joyfully on the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints, and honor the faithfulness of God by a holy confidence in Him.

May God bring home to you a sense of your safety in Christ Jesus! May He assure you that your name is graven on His hand and whisper in your ear the promise, “Fear not, for I am with you.”

Look upon Him, the great Guarantee of the covenant, as faithful and true and therefore bound and committed to present you, in your weakness, with all the chosen race, before the throne of God; and in such a sweet contemplation you will drink the cup of salvation and taste the fruits of paradise. You will have a foretaste of the enjoyments that ravish the souls of the saints in heaven if you can believe with unwavering faith that “He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.”



Charles Spurgeon – The Minister’s farewell


“Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.” Acts 20:26-27

Suggested Further Reading: Titus 2:7-15

I have seen the young believer, just saved from sin, happy in his early Christian career, and walking humbly with his God. But evil has crept in, disguised in the mantle of truth. The finger of partial blindness was laid upon his eyes, and only one doctrine could be seen. Sovereignty was seen, but not responsibility. The minister once beloved was hated; he who had been honest to preach God’s word, was accounted as the offscouring of all things. And what became the effect? The very reverse of good and gracious. Bigotry replaced love; bitterness lived where once there had been a loveliness of character. I could point you to innumerable instances where harping upon any one particular doctrine, has driven men to excess of bigotry and bitterness. And when a man has once come there, he is ready enough for sin of any kind to which the devil may please to tempt him. There is a necessity that the whole gospel should be preached, or else the spirits, even of Christians, will become marred and maimed. I have known men diligent for Christ, labouring to win souls with both hands; and suddenly they have espoused one particular doctrine and not the whole truth and they have subsided into lethargy. On the other hand where men have only taken the practical side of truth, and left out the doctrinal, too many professors have run over into legality; have talked as if they were to be saved by works, and have almost forgotten that grace by which they were called. They are like the Galatians, they have been bewitched by what they have heard. The believer in Christ, if he is to be kept pure, simple, holy, charitable, Christ-like, is only to be kept so by a preaching of the whole truth as it is in Jesus.

For meditation: Doctrine should lead to practice; practice should spring from doctrine (Romans 12:1; Ephesians 4:1). Do you seek to hear and apply the whole counsel of God in your life (James 1:22)?

note: This was Spurgeon’s farewell sermon at the Royal Surrey Gardens Music Hall.

Sermon no. 289

11 December (1859)



John MacArthur – Christ Is Superior to Angels

John MacArthur

“Having become . . . much better than the angels” (Heb. 1:4).

Man is a wonderful and amazing creation–higher than plants, animals, and any other material creation in this world. But there are created beings even higher than man–angels.

Hebrews 2:9 shows this to be the case because when Jesus became a man, He was “made for a little while lower than the angels.” After the fall of the rebellious angels under Lucifer, the angels in heaven were no longer subject to sin. These angels are holy, powerful, and wise. They are special beings created by God before He created man.

The Jewish people understood the exalted position of angels because they knew that the Old Covenant was brought to men and maintained by angelic mediation. Galatians 3:19 says, “Why the Law then? It was added because of transgressions, having been ordained through angels by the agency of a mediator, until the seed should come to whom the promise had been made.”

Because of this high regard for angels by his readers, the writer of Hebrews was faced with a problem. If he was to show that Christ was the mediator of a better covenant, he would have to prove that Christ is better than angels. To do so, he used seven Old Testament passages to verify his claim.

If he had tried to prove from Christian writings that Christ is a better mediator, his unbelieving Jewish readers would have said, “We don’t accept these writings as being from God.” So in effect he wisely replies, “Open up your own Scriptures and I’ll prove my claim from them.” It results in a powerful and irresistible argument.

For the next several days, we’ll see in what ways Christ is superior to angels and how He could mediate a better covenant for us.

Suggestion for Prayer:

Because much of our understanding of the New Testament is based on the writings of the Old Testament, thank God for how He has brought His complete Word to us intact throughout the centuries.

For Further Study:

Read Galatians 3:8, Romans 9:15, and Matthew 4:4.


What Old Testament verses to those passages quote?

What truth does each of them verify?



Joyce Meyer – Take Off the Mask and Behold His Glory

Joyce meyer

Rather, let our lives lovingly express truth [in all things, speaking truly, dealing truly, living truly]. Enfolded in love, let us grow up in every way and in all things into Him Who is the Head…

—Ephesians 4:15

It seems that many people struggle to be real. We act one way on the outside, when really, on the inside, we are someone else. Because we have weaknesses, faults, or fears—things about ourselves that we think make us less likable or desirable—we’d rather hide from other people.

The danger of wearing these masks, of course, is that it misrepresents us. What other people see is a lie. It’s not who we are…who we were born to be. By the time we reach adulthood, we’ve spent so many years hiding we’ve forgotten those things about ourselves that make us different and special.

What a shame! What a waste! Each of us—you, me, and every person—is uniquely created by a loving Father who rejoices in our individuality. In fact, it is those distinctive things about us, not our “sameness,” that make us special to Him. The little girl with freckles, the young lady with the dimples, the beloved gray-headed grandmother with the sweet smile—they all stand out…they’re special! And you’re special, too!

Sure, we all have flaws. We’re all less than perfect and wish we were better. But you need to know that God loves you just the way you are right now, and His love for you will never diminish.

God desires that we walk in truth, because only the truth will set us free (see John 8:32). He will help us to let down the defenses we’ve had up for so long. God knows how badly we want to fit in and be accepted. Trust Him to give you favor with people, instead of feeling that you must hide the real you. Learn to live truly by being genuine and real.

Trust in Him: God loves you, and He wants you to trust Him enough to be fully who you are!


Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Teach You Much


“But when the Father sends the Comforter instead of Me – and by the Comforter I mean the Holy Spirit – He will teach you much, as well as remind you of everything I myself have told you” (John 14:26).

Some years ago, at one of our week-long Lay Institutes for Evangelism, attended by more than 4,000 trainees, I gave a message on how to be filled with the Holy Spirit.

Afterward, a missionary who had just retired after 20 years of service in Africa came to see me. He was very excited as he came to share how, during that meeting, he had finally found what he had sought throughout his entire Christian life.

“Today, as you spoke,” he said, “I was filled with the Spirit. For 20 years I have tried to serve God on the mission field, but I have served Him in the energy of the flesh and have had very little results. Now, though I have retired and returned to America, I want to go back to Africa.

“This time, I want to concentrate on working just with missionaries, because I know from experience that many of them are still searching for what I have sought all these years. The most important message I can take to them is how they can be filled with the Holy Spirit by faith.

“I want to teach them what you taught me so that they, in turn, will be able to teach the Africans how they too can be filled with the Holy Spirit.”

Dr. J. Edwin Orr, a leading authority on spiritual revival, describes the Holy Spirit as “the Commander-in-Chief of the Army of Christ. He is the Lord of the harvest, supreme in revival, evangelism and missionary endeavor.”

“Without His consent, plans are bound to fail. It behooves us as Christians to fit our tactical operations into the plan of His strategy, which is the reviving of the church and the evangelization of the world.”

Bible Reading: John 14:13-17

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I will look to God’s indwelling Holy Spirit for the spiritual lessons I need to learn today and claim His power to serve the Lord Jesus Christ supernaturally.



Presidential Prayer Team; C.P. – Fully Convinced


Christian leaders often tell the story of tightrope walker Charles Blondin to illustrate the difference between faith and belief. Blondin crossed Niagara Falls on a tightrope and asked the crowd if they believed he could do it. They answered, “Yes.” But when it came to actually climbing in a wheelbarrow to go across with him, no one would. However, in 1859, Blondin carried his manager Harry Colcord across on piggyback, and the next year he repeated the stunt with his assistant Romain Mouton.

The blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works.

Romans 4:6

The apostle Paul says Abraham’s faith was “counted as righteousness.” (Romans 4:3) The Heavenly Father sent the first Christmas present wrapped up in a baby…and He is righteousness. Do you merely acknowledge Jesus, or do you truly trust in Him – not in your works, your clean living, or your family history – to get you into heaven?

Colcord and Mouton must have felt safe with Blondin because they knew him well. The more you know Jesus, the easier it is to trust Him. This Christmas, thank God for the gift of righteousness. Get to know Jesus through Bible study and prayer so you can unquestionably believe Him for everything that matters to you, including this country.

Recommended Reading: Matthew 6:25-34




Greg Laurie – Slow Down, Tune In, Be Still . . .


Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!

—Psalm 46:10

Christmas can be a very hard time for people for many reasons. One reason is that Christmas doesn’t always live up to the hype. In fact, it rarely does. You can be very disappointed. A lot of people turn to alcohol and drugs, and suicide attempts go up at this time of year.

Sometimes there is a deep sadness at Christmas because of family problems. Maybe your parents have divorced. Maybe your wife or husband has left you. Last year you were with them, and this year you are alone. Or maybe you have lost a loved one. They were with you last year, and they are not there this year. There is deep pain.

While some are having fun at Christmas, others are in real pain. They need to know that the real message in all the celebrating is that God came to this earth and was born in a stable, and then He went to a cross and died for the sins of the world. That is the message we don’t want to lose. He was born to die so that we might live. He went to the cross, died, and rose again, and now He stands at the door of our lives and knocks.

Let’s not celebrate the birthday of Jesus and not let Him into his own party. Let’s not say no to Him because we are so busy and have so much going on. Open the door of your life and invite Him in.

Sometimes you may wonder where God is in your life. You wonder whether He has left you. No, He hasn’t. He is there. He is Emmanuel—God with us. In the hype of the season, let’s remember to just slow down, tune in, be still, and know that He is God.



Max Lucado – Seeing Jesus

Max Lucado

In John 14:9 Jesus says, “Anyone who has seen Me has seen the Father.”

Should a man see only popularity, he becomes a mirror, reflecting whatever needs to be reflected to gain acceptance.

Should a man see only power, he becomes a wolf—prowling, hunting, stalking elusive game.  There’s always another world to conquer or another person to control.

Should a man see only pleasure, he becomes a carnival thrill-seeker, alive only in bright lights and titillating entertainment. Driven by passion, willing to sell his soul. Seekers of popularity, power, and pleasure. The end result is the same:  painful un-fulfillment.

Only in seeking his Maker does a man truly become a man. For in seeing his Creator man catches a glimpse of what he was intended to be. It is in seeing Jesus that man sees his Source!

From God Came Near