Charles Stanley – The Foundation of Praise


Psalms 40:8-10

Every time David and other writers penned a song of worship, they spoke about the Lord’s specific attributes or actions. When the songs were compiled into the book we now call Psalms, the collection became like a biography of God—one that relies upon the language of praise and adoration to tell His story.

The ability to worship grows out of a love for the Lord. Because genuine love is always cultivated by learning about the other person’s character, the true root of praise is knowledge. That’s why God instilled in every believer a longing to know more of Him. We satisfy that desire by spending time with the Lord and by fellowshipping with other Christians. We also observe how the Father works in our lives to meet needs and provide blessings. Discovering each new facet of His character deepens both our knowledge of Him and our understanding of why He deserves praise.

Experiencing God in our lives makes us fall in love with Him. A person in love cannot help praising the one he or she cherishes. So we gratefully honor Jesus Christ with words, songs, dance, or whatever else appropriately expresses our delight in Him.

Our devotion does not have to stay private or remain confined within the church community. Each believer has a “biography” of the Lord to share. It’s a story of accumulated praise not only for how He has intervened in chaos, comforted in tragedy, and blessed abundantly, but also for the lessons learned. We share our adoration with the world so that others might come to know, love, and praise the Savior.

Bible in One Year: 2 Corinthians 1-4

Our Daily Bread — Glass Beach


Read: 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24

Bible in a Year: Ezekiel 42-44; 1 John 1

“On the day when I act,” says the [smallcaps]Lord[/smallcaps] Almighty, “they will be my treasured possession.” —Malachi 3:17

Early 20th-century residents of Fort Bragg, California, disposed of their trash by throwing it over a cliff and onto a nearby beach. Cans, bottles, tableware, and household garbage accumulated in huge, disgusting piles. Even when residents stopped depositing trash on the beach, it remained an embarrassment—a dump seemingly beyond reclamation.

Over the years, however, wave action broke up the glass and pottery and washed the rubbish out to sea. The pounding surf rolled and tumbled the glass fragments in the sand on the ocean floor, frosting and smoothing the surface and creating gemlike “sea glass,” which it then deposited back onto the beach. The surf created a kaleidoscopic beauty at which visitors to Glass Beach now stare in wonder.

Perhaps you feel as though your life has become a dump—a mess beyond hope. If so, you need to know that there is someone who loves you and waits to redeem and reclaim you. Give Jesus your heart and ask Him to make you pure and clean. He may tumble you a bit, and it may take time to smooth away the rough edges. But He will never give up on you. He will make you into one of His jewels! —David Roper

Lord, when we have nothing left but You, we are right where You want us. You can use any situation for Your glory and our good. You never give up on us. Help us to relax in Your love.

God loves us too much to let us remain as we are.

INSIGHT: Paul wrote the letter of 1 Thessalonians to assure the believers that Jesus is indeed coming back, even though we don’t know when. Everyone who believes in Him—both the living and the dead—will meet Him in the air and be with Him forever. After assuring us of this wonderful truth (see ch. 4), Paul reminds us in today’s reading that while we eagerly wait for Christ’s return, God is working in us to prepare us to be in His presence.


Ravi Zacharias Ministry – A Kingdom for Faint Hearts


“The kingdom of God is for the gullible,” I read recently. “You enter by putting an end to all your questions.”

It is true that Jesus moved all over Judea pronouncing the reign of God and the kingdom of heaven as if it were a notion he wanted the simplest soul to get his mind around. But simplicity never seemed what crowds walked away with. With looming paradox in every statement, he made it clear that this kingdom was approaching, that it was here, that it was among us, that they needed to enter it, that they need to wait for it, that they desperately need the one who reigns within it. He insisted, the kingdom “has come near you” (Luke 10:9). Yet he pled to the Father, “Thy kingdom come” (Matthew 6:10). Even in his metaphors, the contrast of so many different and dynamic realities turned the clarity of any individual picture into a great and ambiguous portrait. He assigned the kingdom imagery such as a mustard seed, a treasure in a field, a great banquet, yeast and pearls, among others.

Contrary to putting an end to one’s questions with a childish simplicity, the kingdom of God incites inquiry all the more. What is the nature of this kingdom? Can it be all of these things? Who is this messenger? And what kind of proclamation requires the herald to pour out his very life to tell it? Whatever this kingdom is, it unmistakably introduces to a world far different from the one around us, one we cannot quite get our minds around, with tensions and dynamisms reminiscent of the promise of God to answer our cries “with great and unsearchable things you do not know.”(1) But one thing it absolutely does not do is ask us to stop thinking or to stop trying to reconcile this curious kingdom Jesus describes with the curious world around us. His is certainly a kingdom that challenges any sort of thoughtless, gullible obedience, that compels not blindness or gullibility but sight. It is a kingdom with a king whose very authority exposes present obsessions as wood and reforms numbed minds with great and surprising reversals of life as a gift.

Jesus pointed crowds to a God who opens the eyes of the blind and raises the dead, who claims the last will be the first and the servant is the greatest. But lest we are tempted to leave his statements as hopeful moralisms, his proclamations did not cease with mere words. He put these claims into equally curious action, placing this kingdom before the crowds in such a way that would have absolutely stymied contemporary attempts to dismiss his life as mere religion, abstraction, gullibility, or sentimentality. Even his opposition saw him as a certain and credible threat to their own power and authority:

“Then the whole assembly rose and led Jesus off to Pilate. And they began to accuse him, saying, ‘We have found this man subverting our nation. He opposes payment of taxes to Caesar and claims to be Christ, a king.’

So Pilate asked Jesus, ‘Are you the king of the Jews?’

‘Yes, it is as you say,’ Jesus replied.

Then Pilate announced to the chief priests and the crowd, ‘I find no basis for a charge against this man.’

But they insisted, ‘He stirs up the people all over Judea by his teaching.  He started in Galilee and has come all the way here…’ So with loud shouts they insistently demanded that he be crucified, and their shouts prevailed.”(2)  The way of proclamation led to the way of the passion, the path of commotion to the path of accusation, a road strewn with signs of the authority of another kingdom to a road that demanded death and mocked a king.

It is tempting to lose sight of this revolutionary figure in the sentimentalism of Christmas manger scenes and familiar carols. And yet this is the child born into our world: one who is still subverting nations and threatening our every sense of authority. The kingdom he proclaimed in birth and in death mercifully continues to unravel our own. His is not a kingdom for the gullible, nor for the faint of heart and sight. Yet, both heart and sight he provides for the weary, taking us beyond familiar borders of the world we know to the very threshold of the good and hopeful kingdom of God, where in both our longing to see in fullness and in our relishing here and now, we discover the one who reigns.

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

(1) Jeremiah 33:3.

(2) Luke 23:1-23, emphasis mine.

Alistair Begg – A Beautiful Bride


You are altogether beautiful, my love.

Song of Solomon 4:7

The Lord’s admiration for His Church is very wonderful, and His description of her beauty is very glowing. She is not merely beautiful, but “altogether beautiful.” He views her in Himself, washed in His sin-atoning blood and clothed in His meritorious righteousness, and He considers her to be full of attraction and beauty. No wonder that this is the case, since it is simply His own perfect excellency that He admires; for the holiness, glory, and perfection of His Church are His own glorious garments worn by His well-beloved spouse.

She is not simply pure or well-proportioned; she is positively lovely and fair! She has actual merit! Her deformities of sin are removed; but more, she has through her Lord obtained a meritorious righteousness by which an actual beauty is conferred upon her.

Believers have a positive righteousness given to them when “he chose us in him” (Eph. 1:4). Nor is the church barely lovely-she is superlatively so. Her Lord styles her “most beautiful among women.”1 She has a real worth and excellence that cannot be rivaled by all the nobility and royalty of the world.

If Jesus could exchange His elect bride for all the queens and empresses of earth, or even for the angels in heaven, He would not, for He puts her first and foremost! Like the moon she far outshines the stars. Nor is this an opinion that He is ashamed of, for He invites all men to hear it. He sets a “behold” before it, a special note of exclamation, inviting and arresting attention. “Behold, you are beautiful, my love, behold, you are beautiful!” (Song of Sol. 4:1). He publishes His opinion widely even now, and one day from the throne of His glory He will declare the truth of it before the assembled universe. “Come, you who are blessed by my Father” (Matt. 25:34) will be His solemn affirmation of the loveliness of His elect.

1) Song of Solomon 1:8

Family Bible Reading Plan

  • 2 Chronicles 1
  • 1 John 1

Devotional material is taken from “Morning and Evening,” written by C.H. Spurgeon, revised and updated by Alistair Begg.

Charles Spurgeon – The root that beareth wormwood


‘Lest there should be among you a root that beareth gall and wormwood.’ Deuteronomy 29:18

Suggested Further Reading: 2 Peter 2:4–9

Ask Noah, as he looks out of his ark, ‘Does sin bring bitterness?’ and he points to the floating carcases of innumerable thousands that died because of sin. Turn to Abraham: does sin bring bitterness? He points to the smoke of Sodom and Gomorrah that God destroyed because of their wickedness. Ask Moses, and he reminds you of Korah, Dathan and Abiram, who were swallowed up alive. Turn to Paul, and you do not find Paul speaking with the honeyed phrases of these modern deceivers, who would make people believe that sin will not be punished. ‘He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?’ Listen to James or Jude, or Peter, and you hear them speak of chains of darkness and flaming fire. Hear John as he writes of the wrath of God and of the winepress of it, out of which the blood flows up to the horse’s bridles. Let the Saviour himself speak to you. He cries, ‘These shall go away into everlasting punishment.’ He is the author of those words, ‘Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.’ It is he who speaks of the outer darkness, where there is weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth. The Bible tells you (and O that you might hear it as God’s own voice to you!), not that sin will end in pleasure and joy, but that the wrath of God will abide upon you if you do not turn from sin; that the soul that sinneth, it shall die; that God’s curse is upon the wicked, and that everlasting punishment is the portion of the impenitent.

For meditation: A life of pleasure and sin which has no room for the Lord Jesus Christ can be great fun in the short term, but it will all end in everlasting tears (Ecclesiastes 11:8–9; Luke 12:19–21; 16:19,25). The wise person takes eternity into account (Ecclesiastes 12:1; Hebrews 11:24–26).

Sermon no. 723

2 December (1866)

John MacArthur – Jesus: Our Great High Priest


“The point in what has been said is this: we have such a high priest, who has taken His seat at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens” (Heb. 8:1).

Since Jesus serves as our High Priest, we have access to God.

Access to God was always a problem for the Jewish people. Exodus 33:20 declares that no man can see God and live. Once each year, on the great Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur), the Jewish high priest entered into the Holy of Holies, where God’s presence dwelt in a unique sense, to approach God on behalf of the people.

God’s covenant with Israel was the basis for their communion with Him. And the sacrificial system that accompanied the Old Covenant gave the people an outward act to represent their inner repentance. But their sacrifices were incessant because their sin was incessant. They needed a perfect priest and sacrifice to provide access to God permanently. That’s exactly what Jesus was and did.

Hebrews 10 says that Jesus offered His body as a sacrifice for mankind’s sins once for all, then sat down at the right hand of the Father (vv. 10, 12). That was a revolutionary concept to Jewish thinking. A priest on duty could never sit down because his work was never done. But Jesus introduced a new and wonderful element into the sacrificial system: one sacrifice, offered once, sufficient for all time. That was the basis of the New Covenant.

Our Lord’s priesthood is permanent and perpetual: “Because He abides forever, [He] holds His priesthood permanently. Hence, also, He is able to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them” (Heb. 7:24-25). That’s the central message of the book of Hebrews.

It wasn’t easy for the Jewish people to accept the need for a new covenant. Most rejected Christ outright. Similarly, many people today reject His priesthood, supposing they can gain access to God on their own terms. But they’re tragically mistaken. Jesus Himself said, “No one comes to the Father, but through Me” (John 14:6).

Suggestion for Prayer

Praise God for receiving you into His presence through His Son, Jesus Christ.

For Further Study

Read Hebrews 10:19-25, noting how God wants you to respond to Christ’s priesthood.

Joyce Meyer – Please Don’t Make Me Wait!


I wait for the Lord, I expectantly wait, and in His word do I hope.—Psalm 130:5

Waiting! It’s a big part of our everyday lives, and most of us don’t particularly enjoy it…or have time for it. Especially busy people who usually have way more to do in a day than they can possibly accomplish! But I can tell you from experience that our attitude about waiting can make all the difference in the world.

Like the Israelites who spent forty years making an eleven-day trip, I was stuck in a modern-day wilderness of my own. I had many wrong attitudes that contributed to the prevention of my progress, but one of the major roadblocks for me was an impatient attitude that made me want to scream: “Please don’t make me wait for anything. I deserve everything immediately!” I had a long and interesting journey before I learned that waiting is part of our walk with God. We will wait—that is a given—but it is how we wait that determines how difficult the wait will be.

When you arrive for an appointment with your doctor or dentist, you have to wait your turn. The first thing the receptionist tells you is, “Please have a seat while you’re waiting.” Being seated indicates that a person is resting, and that’s exactly what we should do, both in the doctor’s office and in the wilderness experiences of our lives. While we’re waiting for God to do the things that we asked for Him to do, we should rest in Him.

Another attitude that prevented me from making progress was “I will do it my way or not at all.” This stubborn attitude is one that many people have to deal with. If it is not dealt with, the Promised-Land living becomes a blurry image and never a reality—something we see off in the future but never experience.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. When we are serious about making some changes in our attitudes and allow the Holy Spirit to help us, we can take a shortcut through the wilderness instead of going the long way around!

Trust in Him: Having a good attitude in a trying situation is at least 90 percent of the battle. There will always be trials in life, but as we trust God and continue to do what He is showing us to do, we will always come out victorious.

From the book Trusting God Day by Day by Joyce Meyer

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – He Gives Richly


“Tell those who are rich not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which will soon be gone, but their pride and trust should be in the living God who always richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment” (1 Timothy 6:17).

Arthur S. DeMoss was a gifted and godly businessman. He had built one of the most successful businesses of its kind in America and in the process had amassed a huge fortune of an estimated half a billion dollars. Then suddenly an economic recession began and stock in his company plummeted. He lost $360 million in a period of only four months – an average of $3 million a day – more than anybody had ever lost in such a short time. One would have thought he would have been devastated. Instead, in order to avoid decreasing his Christian giving, he (personally) borrowed funds, at an incredibly high rate of interest, to enable him to increase his giving. As we talked together during that period, he was rejoicing in the Lord.

“The Lord gave me everything I have,” he said. “It all belongs to Him and if He wants to take it away that’s His business. I don’t lose any sleep. I still have a wonderful family and my life-style remains unchanged. I am prepared to do anything that God wants me to do. If He takes away everything I own and wants me to go to the mission field, I’m ready to do it. All He needs to do is tell me.”

Art had his trust completely in the Lord and not in his vast fortune. God honored his faith and obedience and ultimately restored all that he had lost and much more. Art has gone to be with the Lord, but his fortune is still being used for the glory of God.

Paul’s answer to the believers of his day is just as appropriate to the believers of our time. No person should be unduly impressed with his wealth and look down with pride and arrogance on those whom he considers to be inferior. Riches are uncertain because they can be taken away from us. In the personal emergencies of life one cannot depend upon material possessions for strength and comfort. In times of tragedy – the loss of a loved one, a financial reversal, or some other disappointment – material possessions do not insure peace. Our trust must be in the living God who is able to supply all of our needs and do for us what riches cannot do.

Bible Reading: 1 Timothy 6:6-16

TODAY’S ACTION POINT:> I will not take the blessing of God for granted and will not place my trust in any earthy possession. My confidence will be in Him who is the source of the supernatural life.

Presidential Prayer Team; G.C. – Getting Ready


How are you preparing for Christmas? Some bravely hang off ladders, precariously attaching lights to every corner of the house. Others find tantalizing recipes to delight the taste buds. Whatever your task, success may depend on one surprising secret ingredient – humility. It’s been said that humility is staying teachable regardless of how much you know.

I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way.

Mark 1:2

John the Baptist’s great mission in life was to prepare the world for the coming Messiah…and he did a great job! He was amazingly popular, establishing a large following of dedicated believers. Yet when Jesus arrived on the scene, instead of pride and swagger over his accomplishments, John conveyed an “it’s not about me” attitude. He told his loyal listeners, “He must increase but I must decrease.” (John 3:30) At the pinnacle of his greatest success, John humbly pointed others to Christ.

Is America prepared for the future? You can help by praying for leaders in government to be humble and to make room for Jesus in their lives and in their work. Pray, too, for fellow believers during this special season to point only to Christ in their celebration of His birth and in anticipation of His next arrival.

Recommended Reading: Isaiah 40:3-11

Greg Laurie – A Messed-Up Family Tree


“I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things in the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star.”—Revelation 22:16

In the first century, Jesus was not a unique name. Many boys were named Jesus, which meant “Jehovah is salvation.” But there was only one person who has embodied that name in all it was, and that is the Lord Jesus.

The angel Gabriel told Mary, “He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David” (Luke 1:32). That word great is from the Greek word megas, the same word from which we get our English term mega, conveying the idea of bigness and magnitude. Jesus would be the very definition of the word great—mega, if you will.

Gabriel also said that He would come from “the throne of His father David” (verse 32). David is a unique figure in Scripture, described on one hand as the sweet psalmist of Israel and a man after God’s own heart. But we also know of David’s foibles and shortcomings. Two names connected with David sum up his life: Goliath and Bathsheba. Goliath represents David’s greatest victory, while Bathsheba represents his greatest defeat. David was a flawed man, yet Jesus was called “the Root and the Offspring of David” (Revelation 22:16). And as Jesus was engaged in His ministry, He was referred to as the Son of David. Clearly Jesus was connected to this man.

So if you think you have a dysfunctional family, take a look at Jesus’ family tree. Some of the most unsavory characters who made it into the most exclusive genealogy in human history include prostitutes, liars, cheats, adulterers, and even a murderer.

What does this say to us? Even before Jesus was born into that family tree, His ancestry pointed to one thing: Christ came into the world to save sinners.


Max Lucado – God is For You!


God IS for you! In fact, the Bible says, “God will rejoice over you!”  Turn to the sidelines and hear God cheering your run. Look past the finish line; that’s God applauding your steps. Listen for him in the bleachers, shouting your name. Are you too tired to continue? He’ll carry you. Are you too discouraged to fight? He’s picking you up. God is for you!

In Isaiah 49:15 God asks, “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne?” Can you imagine a mother feeding her infant and later asking, “What was that baby’s name?” No. Can a mother forget? No way! And neither can God!

From Grace for the Moment

Night Light for Couples – The Second Time Around


“I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” Jeremiah 31:34

Many of you reading these discussions about the consequences of divorce have already taken that fateful step— willingly or not—and then remarried. You may also be facing the unique challenge of raising children from two sets of parents. We assure you that it has not been our intention to heap additional guilt on you. We have a loving God who offers forgiveness to those who truly seek His will. Only He knows the condition of your spiritual “heart” and the circumstances that led to the end of your first marriage. If you have not dealt with those matters before God, we urge you to do so tonight.

Our hope is that you will reaffirm the sanctity of your present marriage and fight to preserve it with all your heart and soul. With the Lord’s help, you can still forge a marriage that lasts a lifetime. We encourage you to learn from the mistakes of your previous relationships, rely wholeheartedly on God’s principles for marriage, and make the firm decision that nothing will tear you away from your mate.

Remember, there are no second‐class members of God’s family. God still wants to give you His best. And as you seek Him together, He will.

Just between us…

  • What would be (or is) most difficult about a second marriage?
  • Is God willing to forgive those who divorce for the wrong reasons?
  • What do you think is the most painful part of a divorce? How can we use this information to keep our marriage strong?

Father, forgive our sins and selfish mistakes. We cast all our hopes for our marriage on Your truths, and together we wholeheartedly seek to obey Your will for us. Thank You for Your mercies, which are new every morning. Amen.

From Night Light For Couples, by Dr. James & Shirley Dobson

C.S. Lewis Daily – Today’s Reading


On the incarnation

The Second Person in God, the Son, became human Himself: was born into the world as an actual man—a real man of a particular height, with hair of a particular colour, speaking a particular language, weighing so many stone. The Eternal Being, who knows everything and who created the whole universe, became not only a man but (before that) a baby, and before that a foetus inside a Woman’s body. If you want to get the hang of it, think how you would like to become a slug or a crab.

From Mere Christianity

Compiled in Words to Live By