Charles Stanley – Brokenness: The Protest


Jonah 1

The children’s story about Jonah and the big fish presents the prophet in a rather rosy light: After three days in the fish’s belly, he relents and goes merrily on to Nineveh. End of story. The narrative in the Bible has the same components (storm, big fish, repentant Ninevites) but the context is totally different. From the moment Jonah chose to flee from God’s plan until the end of the book, his heart was rebelling against God.

The inhabitants of Nineveh were Assyrians, a people known for their aggression and cruelty to others. Since they were the sworn enemies of Israel, Jonah had good reason to despise them. But God loved the Ninevites and desired their repentance. The task of ministering to them carried an additional purpose: breaking Jonah’s unloving spirit—an attitude so strong that he preferred to die rather than see the enemy saved (Jonah 4:3).

God longed to mold the prophet’s character to reflect His own—He wanted a willing, loving servant. But Jonah resisted at each and every turn. Pride and hatred drove him ever deeper into rebellion and away from the Lord. The Lord wasn’t fooled; He knew Jonah’s heart remained hard, even after the people repented. While the Ninevites rejoiced over deliverance, their minister stewed in his bitterness. Emotional and mental anguish were high prices to pay for resistance.

What keeps you from serving the Lord fully? You likely know the area of your life that He is trying to break. Though the process may be painful, it’s done for your good and His glory. Give in to Him.

Bible in One Year: 1 Thessalonians 1-5

Our Daily Bread — Paradogs


Read: Psalm 143:7-12

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

In You do I trust; cause me to know the way in which I should walk. —Psalm 143:8

I am amazed by the story of the World War II paradogs. In preparing for D-Day (June 6, 1944), the Allied troops needed the sharp senses of dogs to sniff their way through minefields and to warn troops of approaching danger. And the only way to get these dogs to troops behind enemy lines was by parachute. But dogs are instinctively afraid of doing this—and let’s be honest, they are not alone. Yet after weeks of training, the dogs learned to trust their masters enough to jump at their command.

I wonder if any of us trust our Master enough to do challenging things we would never instinctively do or things that might make us fearful. We may not be instinctively generous or forgiving or patient with those who annoy us. Yet Jesus commands us to trust Him enough to do things that may be difficult but that will advance His kingdom. To say, “In You do I trust; cause me to know the way in which I should walk” (Ps. 143:8 nkjv).

Paradogs often received medals for their bravery. I believe we too will someday hear “well done” because we have trusted our Master enough to jump when He said, “Go!” —Joe Stowell

Is God asking you to do something that you are afraid to do? Will you trust Him to lead you and walk with you?

Trust Jesus to show you how you can be used by Him.

INSIGHT: Psalm 143 is the last of seven penitential psalms (Pss. 6, 32, 38, 51, 102, 130) that express deep sorrow over sin. The authors affirm that as forgiven people they have come into God’s presence because of His mercy. Today’s psalm is a prayer for deliverance, protection, and guidance. David, pursued and in grave danger from a powerful enemy (vv. 3-4), desperately cried out to the Lord (v. 7). He likely wrote this psalm when fleeing from the murderous Saul. He prayed for God’s mercy (v. 1), rescue (v. 9), guidance (v. 10), preservation (v. 11), and deliverance (v. 12). His prayer is not based on his own merits (v. 2) but on trust in God’s mercy, faithfulness, righteousness, and unfailing love.


Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Story Hour


Frank Boreham’s childhood brimmed with storytelling. They called it “The Hassock Hour,” which came on Sunday evenings and commenced at their mother’s feet. Kneeling on hassocks beside her, Frank and his nine siblings heard storytelling as children that rivaled everything they heard as adults. Their favorite story was one their mother told of herself at seventeen.

She had made plans with her cousin, Kitty, to spend the afternoon at Canterbury Cathedral. Neither had been there before and they were excited about the adventure. But when the time came for their meeting, Kitty was no where to be found. Ten a.m. turned to half past eleven, and Kitty had still not arrived. “I was just about to turn away,” said Mrs. Boreham, “dejected and disgusted, when an elderly gentleman approached me.” He seemed to notice she had been waiting for someone, and proceeded to ask if she would like a tour. “I am deeply attached to the place,” the man said, “and happen to know something of its story.”

This turned out to be quite true. As they moved from point to point, the stories came alive. The man recreated in words the arrival of Augustine in the sixth century, the first archbishop of Canterbury. He described the pilgrims of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, and the Danes’ disfiguring attack on the noble building. Beside the shrine of Thomas Becket, the grim martyrdom of 1170 came to mind as never before. Mrs. Boreham had discovered adventure after all: “Concerning every pillar and arch, every cranny and crevice, my eloquent guide had some thrilling tale to tell.”

We often speak of the influence of story in our lives. The influence of a storyteller is equally profound, I think. This seems especially clear as the story of Christmas quickly approaches and brings with it childhood favorites, Handel’s Messiah, and traditions with origins we often sense matter deeply even if we can’t identify them. F.W. Boreham long cited his mother’s masterful storytelling as the tool God chose to most shape his own writing and imagination. Her storytelling made visible the wonders of God at work. “The Hassock Hour” brought past and future, story and faith to life for Boreham—much in the way the guided tour brought Canterbury Cathedral to life for his mother. Through the eyes of one who knew the story by heart, both learned to see.

The early church is full of similar testimonies. As Philip ran beside the chariot of the Ethiopian official, he heard a fragment of a story. The official had been in Jerusalem worshiping at the temple, and on his way home he was reading from the book of Isaiah. Hearing this, Philip asked the man if he understood what he was reading. “How can I,” he replied, “unless someone explains it to me?” and he invited Philip into the chariot. So Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the rest of the story: The one whom Isaiah foretold, the one who would be “led like a sheep to the slaughter,” was crucified in Jerusalem and resurrected to life. With this storytelling now before him, the man stopped the chariot and asked Philip immediately to baptize him: “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God,” he said decidedly.

Storytelling is profound because we live our lives in the midst of story. Mrs. Boreham’s encounter at Canterbury invited her to live among a great history of belief and story. In that cathedral, she realized she was simply one among countless pilgrims to stand in awe before the Lord. Likewise, the Ethiopian official found himself a part of the same grand story, invited to life as it reached far beyond the words of Isaiah himself—from Eden to Nazareth to Ethiopia. The stories we tell remind us continually that life is first a story.

They also remind us that there is first a Storyteller. When at long last the cathedral tour was finished and they were heading out the great doors, Mrs. Boreham’s guide suggested they exchange cards. She thanked him sincerely for his time and courtesy and tucked the card in her pocket. On the train ride home, she pulled it out. It simply read: Charles Dickens.

Christians tell the story of Christmas, Advent tells the story of Christmas because there is a story to tell. Faith comes through hearing the story, says Paul, and the story is heard through Christ. Faith comes forth by the Spirit because the Father has assured us there is a story to hear. Faith comes, because where there is a story, there is a Storyteller. Into our small world, there is one who speaks, one who comes, one who is born, one who is among us: a Light that shines in the darkness, which even the darkest nights will not overcome.

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

Alistair Begg – Jesus, The Great Guarantee


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.”

Family Bible Reading Plan

  • 2 Chronicles 11, 12
  • Revelation 2

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

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


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

Through a deft use of the Old Testament, the writer proves that Christ is the mediator of a greater covenant.

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 – Set Your Mind Ahead of Time


If then you have been raised with Christ [to a new life, thus sharing His resurrection from the dead], aim at and seek the [rich, eternal treasures] that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. And set your minds and keep them set on what is above (the higher things), not on the things that are on the earth. —Colossians 3:1-2

Colossians 3:2 tells us to set our minds and keep them set. To “set your mind” means you make a firm decision about how to handle a situation and you keep your mind set in that direction. It means to be single-minded, not double-minded. We can prepare ourselves to handle a difficult situation properly by setting our minds ahead of time—telling ourselves no matter what comes, we can do it. If you’re in a less than desirable situation, but you know it is where God wants you to be, don’t drift off into thinking that can weaken you. Instead, think, I am strong in Christ, and I can do whatever He leads me to do.

Power Thought: I set my mind and keep it set for victory.

From the book the book Power Thoughts Devotional by Joyce Meyer.

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. – Love Gifts


When people celebrate Christmas every year, it’s easy to fall into the trap of buying gifts out of obligation. You might think you have to buy someone a present because they bought you one, or they’re a relative, or you bought something for someone at work, so you need to buy gifts for all of your coworkers. When you feel pressured to give beyond what you are able at Christmas, it’s easy to feel disgruntled.

There is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.

Acts 4:12

Think about the greatest gift of all. Jesus. Salvation. Eternal life. “For God so loved the world he gave His Son.” He didn’t do it out of obligation or because He wanted to make a good impression. He did it out of love.

This Christmas, determine to give out of love. Pray about the gifts you purchase. What would make the person on your list feel loved? Pray that this nation will focus on God and people, not things. Intercede, too, for protection for all of the shoppers, and that the needs of those going through difficult times will be supplied.

Recommended Reading: I Corinthians 13:1-7

Greg Laurie – The Conflict of Christmas


“Do you think I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I have come to divide people against each other!”—Luke 12:51

This may come as a shock to you, but the real Christmas story is not about love, peace, harmony, and gathering with family around a crackling fire. The real Christmas story is actually about conflict. It always has been, and it always will be.

One of the unexpected passages in the Bible that deals with the subject of Christmas is found in Revelation 12, where we have the picture of a woman being pursued by a powerful dragon who seeks her death. As she is preparing to give birth to a child, the dragon hovers over her, wanting to destroy the baby. The woman is a picture of Israel, the child is Jesus Christ, and the dragon is Satan.

That is Christmas from a heavenly perspective, and it gives us the big picture of what was really happening when God sent His Son into the world. The Devil opposed it and wanted to stop His birth. And really, you can take that story and see how it is still in play today.

Hostility toward Christmas seems to escalate a little more every year. More nativity scenes are being removed from public places, Christmas carols have been prohibited in many places, and atheists have put up billboards attacking the Christian faith. What’s more, many today don’t even want the word Christmas used. These are all symptomatic of the conflict of Christmas.

Jesus did not come to bring a mind-numbing peace on Earth that is devoid of truth. The message to the shepherds on the night Christ was born was, “Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased” (Luke 2:14).

What does that mean? It means the only way we will have peace on Earth is when we are pleasing to God.

Max Lucado – Pray!

When a believing person prays—great things happen! You might say, I worry so much about how I should pray—I don’t get around to actually praying!  Exactly!

If you want to deepen your prayer life—pray! Don’t prepare to pray. Just pray. Don’t read about prayer. Just pray. Don’t attend a lecture on prayer or engage in discussion about prayer. Just pray! James 5:13 says anyone who’s having troubles should pray. Anyone who’s happy should sing praises! Posture, tone, and place–these are personal matters. Do what works for you. Just don’t over-think it! In other words, don’t be so concerned about wrapping the gift that you never give it! Better to pray awkwardly than not at all. And if you feel you should only pray when you’re inspired, that’s okay! Just see to it that you’re inspired every day!

From Grace for the Moment

Night Light for Couples –The Girl with the Apple


by Herman and Roma Rosenblat

It is bitter cold on this dark, winter day in 1944. But it is no different than any other day in the Nazi concentration camp. Back and forth I pace, trying to keep my emaciated body warm. I am just a boy, and hungry. I have been hungry for longer than I want to remember. Edible food seems like a dream. Each day, as more of us disappear, the happy past seems also like a dream, and I sink deeper into despair.

Suddenly, I see something moving in the field beyond the camp’s two barbed wire fences. Families are working in the field; near the outer fence is a young girl. With an eye out for the guards, I hurry to the inside fence.

The girl stops working and looks at me with sad eyes—eyes that seem to say she understands. I ask, across twenty feet and two fences, if she has something to eat. She reaches into her pocket and pulls out a red apple. A beautiful, shiny red apple. She looks to the left and to the right and then with a smile of triumph, throws the apple over the fences. I pick it up, holding it in trembling, frozen fingers, then run away as fast as I can. If the guards see us, we will both be shot.

The next day, I cannot help myself—I am drawn at the same time to that spot near the fences. Am I crazy for hoping she will come again? Of course. But in here, I cling to any tiny scrap of hope.

She comes. And again, she brings an apple, flinging it over the fences with that same sweet smile. This time I catch it and hold it up for her to see. Her eyes twinkle. And for the first time in so long, I feel my heart move with emotion.

For seven months we meet like this. Sometimes we exchange a few words. Sometimes, just an apple. But she is feeding more than my belly, this angel from heaven. She is feeding my soul. And somehow, I know I am feeding hers as well.

One day I hear frightening news: We are being shipped to another camp. The next day when I greet her, my heart is breaking. I can barely speak. “Do not bring me an apple tomorrow,” I say. “I am being sent to another camp. We will never see each other again.” Turning before I lose all control, I run away. I cannot bear to look back. If I did, I know she would see tears streaming down my face.

Months pass, and the nightmare continues. Only the memory of this girl sustains me. And then one day, just like that, the nightmare is over. The war has ended. Those of us still alive are freed. I have lost everything precious to me, including my family. But I still have the memory of this girl, a memory I carry in my heart as I move to America to start a new life.

The years go by. It is 1957. I live in New York City. A friend convinces me to go on a blind date with a lady friend of his. Reluctantly, I agree. But she is nice, this woman named Roma. And like me, she is an immigrant, so we have at least that in common.

“Where were you during the war?” Roma asks me gently, in that delicate way immigrants ask one another such questions.

“I was in a concentration camp in Germany,” I reply. Roma gets a faraway look in her eyes. “What is it?” I ask. “I am just thinking about something from my past, Herman,”

Roma explains in a voice suddenly very soft. “You see, when I was a young girl, I lived near a concentration camp. There was a boy there, a prisoner, and for a long while, I used to visit him every day. I remember I used to bring him apples. I would throw the apple over the fence, and he would be so happy.”

Roma sighs heavily and continues. “It is hard to describe how we felt about each other—after all, we were so young, and we only exchanged a few words when we could—but I can tell you, there was much love there. I assume he was killed like so many others. But I cannot bear to think that, and so I try to remember him as he was for those months we were given together.”

With my heart pounding so hard I think it will explode, I look directly at Roma and ask, “And did that boy say to you one day, ‘Do not bring me an apple tomorrow. I am being sent to another camp’?” “Why, yes,” Roma responds, her voice trembling. “But Herman,

how on earth could you possibly know that?” I take her hands in mine and answer, “Because I was that young boy, Roma.” For many moments, there is only silence. We cannot take our eyes from each other as we recognize the soul behind the eyes, the dear friend we once loved so much, whom we have never stopped loving.

Finally, I speak: “Roma, I was separated from you once, and I don’t ever want to be separated from you again. Now I am free, and I want to be together with you forever. Dear, will you marry me?”

I see that same twinkle in her eye I used to see as Roma says, “Yes, I will marry you.” We embrace—the embrace we longed to share for so many months, but barbed wire came between us. Now, nothing ever will again.

Looking ahead…

This fictional story offers a powerful glimpse of hope in the midst of terror.

Can any of us live without hope? I think not. Without hope, we have no reason to get out of bed in the morning… no motivation to complete our daily tasks at work, home, church… no desire to take on the sometimes dizzying array of problems in our world. A life without hope is a life without meaning.

Yet as Christians, we always have hope. In Jesus Christ, we have a holy protector, friend, confidante, and guide. We have a reserved seat in heaven that promises unimaginable joy. This is what gives us the endurance, patience, and motivation to bring glory to our Creator during this imperfect existence. In the days ahead, we’ll talk more about how hope can strengthen our marriage.

John tells us, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life” (John 3:36). Can you imagine a greater source of hope?

– James C Dobson

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

C.S. Lewis Daily – Today’s Reading


In the earliest days of Christianity an ‘apostle’ was first and foremost a man who claimed to be an eyewitness of the Resurrection. Only a few days after the Crucifixion when two candidates were nominated for the vacancy created by the treachery of Judas, their qualification was that they had known Jesus personally both before and after His death and could offer first-hand evidence of the Resurrection in addressing the outer world (Acts 1:22). A few days later St Peter, preaching the first Christian sermon, makes the same claim—‘God raised Jesus, of which we all (we Christians) are witnesses’ (Acts 2:32). In the first Letter to the Corinthians, St Paul bases his claim to apostleship on the same ground—‘Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen the Lord Jesus?’ (1:9).

As this qualification suggests, to preach Christianity meant primarily to preach the Resurrection. . . . . The Resurrection is the central theme in every Christian sermon reported in the Acts. The Resurrection, and its consequences, were the ‘gospel’ or good news which the Christians brought: what we call the ‘gospels’, the narratives of Our Lord’s life and death, were composed later for the benefit of those who had already accepted the gospel. They were in no sense the basis of Christianity: they were written for those already converted. The miracle of the Resurrection, and the theology of that miracle, comes first: the biography comes later as a comment on it. . . . . The first fact in the history of Christendom is a number of people who say they have seen the Resurrection. If they had died without making anyone else believe this ‘gospel’ no gospels would ever have been written.

From Miracles

Compiled in A Year with C.S. Lewis