Charles Stanley – Jesus’ Offering of Peace


Romans 5:1-9

If you’re brave enough, stand on a sidewalk and ask passersby the question, “What gives you peace?” The answers you receive will most likely have one thing in common: peace defined as dependent upon circumstances—a solid relationship with a spouse, a well-paying job, or good health. What happens, then, if a couple fights, the company lays off employees, or sickness saps the body? Peace rooted in good situations isn’t really peace at all; it’s a brittle kind of harmony between man and the world. It crumbles very easily.

Jesus Christ is the only One who offers true peace—a lasting contentment that is unbreakable, no matter what missiles Satan may hurl. However, a sinful life makes peace impossible because a person cannot experience assurance of God’s care when he or she acts in defiance of His will. When a believer expresses faith in Jesus, the battle for self-rule is won. Submission to the Lord allows His peace to permeate one’s life.

When the Holy Spirit lives within us, we can approach life confidently and serenely. The only way to get this lasting peace is through a relationship with the Savior. Paul explains in Romans 5:1 that to be justified—that is, declared no longer guilty—we must accept the sacrifice Christ made in our place. Justification makes us right with God and opens our hearts to peace.

If you haven’t yet acknowledged to God that you recognize His Son’s loving sacrifice made on your behalf, then you don’t have real peace. Now is the right time to surrender to Him.

Bible in One Year: 2 Corinthians 9-13

Our Daily Bread — Worry-Free


Read: Psalm 37:1-9

Bible in a Year: Ezekiel 47-48; 1 John 3

Do not fret because of those who are evil. —Psalm 37:1

Trying to stay aware of current events has its downside because bad news sells better than good news. It’s easy to become overly concerned about the criminal acts of individuals, crowds, or governments over whom we have no control.

Psalm 37 gives perspective to the daily news. David begins by saying, “Do not fret because of those who are evil” (v. 1). Then he proceeds to outline for us some alternatives to becoming overly anxious. In essence, David suggests a better way of thinking about negative news in our world.

What would happen if, instead of worrying about events beyond our control, we chose to trust in the Lord? (v. 3). Wouldn’t we be better off to “take delight in the Lord” (v. 4) rather than fret without limits? Imagine the freedom from worry we could have if we would “commit [our] way to the Lord” (v. 5). And how calm we could be by learning to “be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him”! (v. 7).

News of trouble we cannot change offers us an opportunity to set boundaries for our concerns. As we trust God, commit our ways to Him, and rest in Him, our outlook brightens. The struggles and trials may not disappear, but we will discover that He gives us His peace in the midst of them. —Dave Branon

Lord, we see danger and trouble all around us. Help us not to worry but instead to trust and rest in You. Show us the peace that comes from waiting patiently on You.

Obstacles give us the opportunity to trust God.

INSIGHT: The invitation of Psalm 37 is not simply to lay down our anxiety but to replace it with something far better—trust and delight in the Lord (vv. 3-4). Replacing worry with trust is also a concern of the apostle Paul when he tells the Christians in Philippi, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:6-7).

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Waiting for Hope


In the process of moving and reorganizing some bookshelves in the middle of October, I recovered something long out of place. Carved out of olive wood, a small nativity had been left behind from last year’s Christmas. I held it in my hand and cringed at the thought of digging through boxes in the garage long buried by post-Christmas storage. At this point, it seemed better to be two months early in setting it up than ten months late in packing it away.

Strangely enough, my decision then coincided with a friend’s mentioning of a good Christmas quote. Advent was suddenly all around me. In a Christmas sermon given December 2, 1928, Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “The celebration of Advent is possible only to those who are troubled in soul, who know themselves to be poor and imperfect, who look forward to something greater to come. For these, it is enough to wait in humble fear until the Holy One himself comes down to us, God in the child in the manger. God comes. The Lord Jesus comes. Christmas comes. Christians rejoice!” To be early with my Nativity scene suddenly seemed a wise, but convicting thought. I had kept it around for the sake of convenience, what about for the sake of waiting? If Advent reminds us that we are waiting in December, what reminds us that we are waiting in October or February?

The story of the Nativity, though beautiful and familiar, and admittedly far-reaching, is as easily put out of our minds as Christmas decorations are put in boxes. On certain sides of the calendar, a nativity scene looks amiss. Sitting on my mantle in the fall or the spring, it seems somehow away from home, far from lights and greenery, longing for Christmas fanfare. But looking at it with thoughts of Advent near, I am struck by the irony that longing is often precisely the sentiment I am holding amidst the burgeoning lights, greens, and fanfare of Christmas.

As Bonhoeffer continues, “When once again Christmas comes and we hear the familiar carols and sing the Christmas hymns, something happens to us… The hardest heart is softened. We recall our own childhood. We feel again how we then felt, especially if we were separated from a mother. A kind of homesickness comes over us for past times, distant places, and yes, a blessed longing for a world without violence or hardness of heart. But there is something more—a longing for the safe lodging of the everlasting Father.”(1)

Unlike any other month, December weighs on my soul the gift and the difficulty of waiting. In the cold and dead of winter, tragedies seem to sting further, healing for the broken parts of my life and for the people I love seems harder to reach. When it comes to things that are deep and important, peace and goodness on the earth, freedom from suffering, waiting is hard, even painful. But in these moments, I am remembering that I am troubled in soul and looking for something greater. In the familiar hymns that play wherever I go, I remember that I am poor and imperfect and waiting for the God who comes down to us, and I hear again the gentle promise of a knock at the door. Like the Nativity scene on my mantle in June or October, I embody a strange hope in this sense of waiting. I see a home with tears and sorrow, but I also see in this home the signs of a day when tears will be wiped dry. Advent is about waiting for the one who embraced sorrow and body to show us the fullness of being home, present, and real. It is not December that reminds us we are longing for God to come nearer, but the Nativity of God, the Incarnation of Christ. For each day is touched by the promise that in this very place Jesus has already done so, and that he will again come breaking through, into our world, into our longing, into our sin and deaths.

Every day, despite its location on the calendar, or the headlines on the news, a still, small voice answers our cry persuasively here and now, “Behold. I stand at the door and knock.”

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

(1) Edwin Robertson, Ed., Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Christmas Sermons (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2005).



Alistair Begg – God Has an Elect People


I have many in this city who are my people.

Acts 18:10

This should be a great encouragement in proclaiming the Gospel, since among the people in our communities-the disinterested, the rebellious, the careless-God has an elect people who must be saved. When you take the Word to them, you do so because God has ordained you to be the messenger of life to their souls, and they must receive it, for so the decree of predestination runs.

They are as much redeemed by blood as the saints before the eternal throne. They are Christ’s property, and yet perhaps they are lovers of selfish pleasures and haters of holiness; but if Jesus Christ purchased them, He will have them.

God is not unfaithful to forget the price that His Son has paid. He will not suffer His substitution to be in any case an ineffectual, dead thing. Tens of thousands of redeemed ones are not regenerated yet, but regenerated they must be; and this is our comfort when we go to them with the quickening Word of God.

More than this, the ungodly are prayed for by Christ before the throne. “I do not ask for these only,” says the great Intercessor, “but also for those who will believe in me through their word.”1 Poor, ignorant souls, they know nothing about prayer for themselves, but Jesus prays for them. Their names are on His breastplate, and before long they must bow their stubborn knee, breathing the penitential sigh before the throne of grace.

The predestinated moment has not struck; but when it comes, they will obey, for God will have His own. They must, for the Spirit is not to be resisted when He comes with the fullness of power-they must become the willing servants of the living God. “Your people will offer themselves freely on the day of your power.”2 He will “make many to be accounted righteous.”3 “Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied.”4 “I will divide him a portion with the many, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong.”5

1) John 17:20

2) Psalm 110:3

3) Isaiah 53:11

4) Isaiah 53:11

5) Isaiah 53:12

Family Bible Reading Plan

  • 2 Chronicles 3, 4
  • 1 John 3

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

Charles Spurgeon – Dilemma and deliverance


“Thou, Lord, hast not forsaken them that seek thee.” Psalm 9:10

Suggested Further Reading: Psalm 23

If we could but once believe the doctrine that the child of God might fall from grace and perish everlastingly, we might, indeed, shut up our Bible in despair. To what purpose would my preaching be—the preaching of a rickety gospel like that? To what purpose your faith—a faith in a God that cannot and would not carry on to the end? To what use the blood of Christ, if it were shed in vain, and did not bring the blood-bought ones securely home? To what purpose the Spirit, if he were not omnipotent enough to overcome our wandering, to arrest our sins and make us perfect, and present us faultless before the throne of God at last? That doctrine of the final perseverance of the saints is, I believe, as thoroughly bound up with the standing or falling of the gospel, as is the article of justification by faith. Give that up and I see no gospel left; I see no beauty in religion that is worthy of my acceptance, or that deserves my admiration. An unchanging God, an everlasting covenant, a sure mercy, these are the things that my soul delights in, and I know your hearts love to feed upon them. But take these away, and what have we? We have a foundation of wood, hay, straw, and stubble. We have nothing solid. We have a fort of earthworks, a mud hovel through which the thief may break and steal away our treasures. No, this foundation stands sure —“The Lord knoweth them that are his;” and he will certainly bring them all to his right hand at last in glory everlasting.

For meditation: If the truly converted man can be lost, Jesus must have meant “lend” when he said “give”, “temporary” when he said “eternal” and “perhaps” when he said “never” (John 10:28). Uncertainty is the hallmark of man-made religion.

Sermon no. 287

4 December (1859)

John MacArthur – Progressive Revelation


“God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son” (Heb. 1:1-2).

The Old Testament is but a sample of what is revealed in the New Testament.

When Jesus said, “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets [the Old Testament]; I did not come to abolish, but to fulfill” (Matt. 5:17), He was affirming that Scripture progressed from promise to fulfillment, from partial to complete. We call that progressive revelation.

For example, the Old Testament anticipated Christ’s coming; the New Testament records His coming. The Old Testament writers didn’t understand everything they wrote because it didn’t always apply to their day. That’s why Peter said, “As to this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful search and inquiry, seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow. It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but you, in these things which now have been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit” (1 Pet. 1:10-12).

Progressive revelation doesn’t at all imply that the Old Testament is inaccurate. The distinction isn’t in the rightness or wrongness of the revelation, but in its completeness. Just as a child progresses from letters to words to sentences, so God’s revelation progressed from types, ceremonies, and prophecies to final completion in Jesus Christ and the New Testament.

Though incomplete by New Testament standards, the Old Testament is nonetheless fully inspired by God. That’s affirmed often in the New Testament. Peter tells us that no human writer of the Old Testament wrote of his own will, but only as he was directed by the Holy Spirit (2 Pet. 1:21). Paul added that “all Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, [and] for training in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16, emphasis added).

The Old Testament isn’t all of God’s truth, but all of it is true. And as you progress from the Old to the New, you see God’s character and redemptive plan unfolding in greater detail.

Suggestion for Prayer

Praise God for the fullness of revelation you enjoy in Scripture.

For Further Study

Memorize 2 Timothy 3:16-17.

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – He Cannot Disown Us


“Even when we are too weak to have any faith left, He remains faithful to us and will help us, for He cannot disown us who are part of Himself, and He will always carry out His promises to us” (2 Timothy 2:13).

Have you ever run out of faith? I have – in times of great testing and trial, especially in earlier years as a young Christian. But as I have learned more and more about the many attributes of God, I have come to understand why the apostle Paul was so convinced of the faithfulness of God – that He still remains faithful to us and will help us, even when we are our weakest.

The meaning seems clear, though perhaps controversial to some. If we have truly been born again by the Spirit of God, and thus have become “part of Himself,” Paul asserts that He cannot disown us. We need not argue or discuss the point of eternal security, for God’s Holy Spirit, that great Teacher of spiritual truths, will reveal true meanings to each one of us individually.

We can be more certain of unanimous agreement on the latter part of the verse: “He will always carry out His promises to us.” At least we all believe that theoretically, if not experientially.

Have you, for example, laid hold of one of God’s promises, and not yet having seen the answer, begun to wonder and even doubt if He is indeed carrying out His promise? It might help each one of us to remind ourselves constantly that God has His own time-table. He need not be bound by ours.

Someone has well said, “God’s timing is always perfect.” Let us not try to improve on that perfection.

Bible Reading: Romans 3:3,4; Numbers 23:19

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: “Dear Lord, because You are always faithful despite my faithlessness at times, I will depend on You to fulfill your promises.”

Presidential Prayer Team; C.P. – A Long-term Plan


Today’s verse speaks of Jesus. Jesus was a descendent of Judah. Judah was one of the 12 sons of Jacob, the patriarch of the Jewish people. As these brothers gathered around their dying father, could they imagine that he was predicting the coming of the Savior?

The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler‘s staff from between his feet, until tribute comes to him.

Genesis 49:10

When Jacob gave his prophetic blessing, if his sons were expecting to hear about their great futures, some of them were disappointed. Jacob believed in telling it like it is and some of their futures were not good because of past behavior. He predicted Reuben’s failure, Simeon and Levi’s dispersion throughout Israel, and Issachar’s enslavement. Jacob gave the rest of them more promising prophecies. Concerning Judah’s future, Jacob prophesied not only for his son, but for all people through all time.

God knows the span of history from beginning to end. Praise Him for His beautiful plan of salvation in His Son, and the opportunity you have to come before Him in confidence. Knowing that your persistent prayer will be answered, bring this nation before the Father and ask for His mercy and grace to be extended to its leaders and citizens.

Recommended Reading: Matthew 22:31-45


Greg Laurie – Joseph, the Unsung Hero


Joseph, her fiancé, was a good man and did not want to disgrace her publicly, so he decided to break the engagement quietly. —Matthew 1:19

Joseph is the unsung hero of the Christmas story. For the most part, there are no Christmas songs about Joseph. Yet he really is a hero. The Bible tells us that Joseph was a “good man” (Matthew 1:19). Deeply in love with Mary, he was no doubt jolted by the news that she was pregnant.

Joseph and Mary were engaged, which, in their culture, was like being married. Once a couple entered into this engagement, or espousal, period, it was like being married, although they lived in separate houses. It was during this time that Mary became pregnant.

Yet Joseph loved Mary, and the Bible tells us that he “did not want to disgrace her publicly, so he decided to break the engagement quietly” (Matthew 1:19). In other words, Joseph was thinking, I’m going to say that I can’t marry her now, but I’m certainly not going to publicly shame Mary, either.

While he was pondering this, an angel appeared to Joseph and told him, “Do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins” (verses 20–21).

That was all Joseph needed to hear. He could have walked away, even after he knew the truth. But he stood by Mary. And just as surely as God chose Mary to be the mother of the Messiah, he chose Joseph to be a father figure on Earth for Jesus.

When God uses a person, there is a sacrifice to make. It won’t be an easy path, but it will be a fruitful one—and you will look back later in life and be glad that you took it.

Max Lucado – God’s Thoughts



God’s thoughts are not our thoughts—we aren’t even in the same neighborhood!  Psalm 92:5 sets the standard!  “Lord you have done such great things! How deep are your thoughts!”

When we’re thinking preserve the body, God is thinking save the soul. When we dream of a pay raise God dreams of raising the dead. We avoid pain and seek peace while God uses pain to bring peace. I’m going to live before I die, we resolve. But God instructs, Die so you can live. We love what rusts but God loves what endures. We rejoice at our successes but God rejoices at our confessions.

We show our children the Nike star with the million-dollar smile and say, “Be like him!” God points to the crucified carpenter with bloody lips and a torn side and says, “Be like Christ!”

From Grace for the Moment

Night Light for Couples – What About Bob?


by Phil Callaway

Thanksgiving weekend began the way Bob and Audrey Meisner had planned. Piling a full‐size van high with mattresses, sleeping bags, and children, they drove a thousand miles through the flatlands of Manitoba to the in‐laws in Michigan. It was a beautiful trip. Patchwork prairies sprinkled with lakes stretched toward the horizon. Bare poplar branches held up their arms in surrender to winter. The children counted columns of Canadian geese deserting their homeland and heading for Florida. Neither Bob nor Audrey knew that the beauty of the first leg of their trip would stand in sharp contrast to the journey home.

The weekend was filled with relatives, turkey, and laughter. On Sunday night the Meisners said their good‐byes and headed for home. Leaving at 11:00 P.M., they drove through the night, arriving in Minneapolis about 8:30 the next morning. Though Mom and Dad were tired, the Mall of America beckoned, and it was many hours before they watched the skylines of the Twin Cities disappear in the rearview mirror as they drove toward the setting sun.

When Audrey offered to drive, Bob clambered into the back of the van, where he disappeared behind some sleeping bags and drifted off to sleep.

An hour and a half later, Audrey pulled into a rest stop as quietly as she could, hoping the family would sleep on. As she let the engine idle, she noticed how it seemed to be missing a cylinder, which made her think of Bob’s snoring coming from the back of the van.

After using the restroom, Audrey climbed back into the van, stirred some coffee, took a long sip, and pulled back onto the freeway. Two hours passed quickly as she tapped her fingers to a country gospel station and spun the dial, sampling talk shows. When she arrived in Fargo, North Dakota, the kids began to wake up. But not Bob. Wow, he’s tired, thought Audrey. Her seven‐year‐old appeared in the rearview mirror, rubbing his eyes.

“Go back to sleep, honey,” said his mom.

Suddenly, the peacefulness of the morning was shattered. “Where’s Daddy?” one of the kids asked.

“Very funny,” said Audrey, adjusting the mirror. “He’s back there sleeping… isn’t he?”

The children began pushing pillows aside, looking for Daddy. “Nope,” said her seven‐year‐old, “he’s not back here.”

“Do you think maybe he got raptured?” another child said. “You know, Mom, like you’ve been talking about when Jesus comes to get us?”

Audrey wasn’t laughing. Panic overtook her as she looked for the next exit. Should she turn around and go back? She had no idea where the rest area was. Was it two hours ago? Three?

Calm down, Audrey, she told herself. Then she prayed, Dear Lord, help me find Bob. And please keep him safe, wherever he is.

Pulling into a truck stop, she picked up a pay phone and called the police. “Um… I… uh… left my husband in Minnesota,” she told the officer. “At… well… at a rest stop.”

There was a moment of silence. “Sorry, could you repeat that?”

After a few minutes punctuated by desperation, Audrey was able to convince the man on the other end of the line that this was no joke— that she had left her husband, but not intentionally, although he might be thinking so.

“Tell you what,” said the officer. “You hang on. I’ll get all the numbers of the rest stops in that area. You don’t go anywhere now, ya hear?”

Audrey didn’t go anywhere.

After thanking the officer for his help, she started down the list. One number after another. Each phone call was met with surprise, but no success. Almost out of hope, she dialed the last number on the list. “Do you have a guy there who—?”

“Yaw, I shore do,” said a thick Norwegian accent. Moments later, Bob was on the phone.

“Honey, I’m so sorry,” said Audrey. “I didn’t mean to—” Audrey started to cry. And Bob started to laugh.

Two hours earlier he had climbed out of the van to use the restroom. But when he came back, the van was gone.

“Ha,” Bob had said. “Very funny.”

He had walked around the service area three times, expecting to find his family grinning around the next corner. But they were nowhere to be found.

“She wouldn’t leave me like this,” said Bob. “Would she?”

To pass the time, Bob washed people’s windshields and prayed that God would speak loudly to his wife, making his absence apparent. He even climbed in with a trucker who needed some spiritual encouragement. “You know,” the trucker told Bob, “this time with you was a divine appointment. I really needed this.”

“Dear God,” prayed Bob, “please, no more divine appointments tonight.”

Early the next morning, Bob watched the headlights of a familiar van pull into the rest stop. He stopped cleaning windshields and breathed a huge sigh of relief. It was a return trip for Audrey. But this time she honked the horn loudly, not caring whom she woke up.

“It’s the first time I ever left him,” she says, laughing now. “Believe me, it will be the last.”

“At first I wondered if the rapture had taken place,” Bob says. “Then it seemed like something out of a horror movie. But I thought, Well, make the most of it.”

Audrey learned a few things, too. “That night I realized the importance of casting all my cares on God. They are His, and He is completely trustworthy…. And I learned that it’s always a good idea to count bodies before you pull out onto the freeway.”

Looking ahead…

It happens to all of us. Just when life seems to be humming along smoothly, something as simple as a trip to the restroom turns into one little surprise after another.

There’s probably no way to avoid such unwanted twists of fate—but we can control our reaction to them. I’ve found that adversity in married life is easier to handle when I choose to face it with a smile instead of a frown. So the next time your spouse leaves you stranded by mistake, remember Bob Meisner. You can stew for hours sitting on the curb—or get up and wash a few windshields.

– James C Dobson

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