Charles Stanley – Let the Spirit Control Your Mind


Romans 8:5-8

A spiritual battle rages for control of our minds because the way we think determines how we will behave. If we want to conquer our sinful tendencies, we must learn to see ourselves as God sees us—new creations no longer under the mastery of sin. Because of the presence of Christ’s Spirit, we have the capacity to be “more than conquerors,” regardless of our previous sins (Rom. 8:37 NKJV).

We also need to recognize the enemy’s lies that tell us we are weak and will fail again. We are to fight back with God’s truth that declares Christ’s Spirit is greater than Satan (1 John 4:4). We are to focus our minds on spiritual things (Phil. 4:8) so we will learn to distinguish between what fits us as believers and what doesn’t. Finally, we must choose what’s suitable (Matt. 5:3-11) and reject what’s ungodly (Gal. 5:19-21). The longer we’re Spirit-led, the more sensitive we’ll become to His warnings about temptation and the greater our strength will be to win the battle for our thought lives.

The Spirit-filled life starts with the gift of the Holy Spirit to all who receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. It becomes a reality as we place ourselves under the Spirit’s control. It’s best lived out by using the divine power He releases into our lives. It also requires diligence on our part to resist temptation and to maintain our surrendered state.

Going into the new year, give yourself a gift. Trade in your “independent mind,” and experience the victories that God gives to those who are Spirit-filled.

Bible in One Year: Revelation 1-4

Our Daily Bread — Diamond Dust


Read: Isaiah 1:18-20; Psalm 51:7

Bible in a Year: Zechariah 1-4; Revelation 18

Wash me and I will be whiter than snow. —Psalm 51:7

During a bitterly frigid winter in our part of Michigan, there were many mixed emotions about the weather. As the snowy winter season pressed on into March, most people had long before fallen out of love with snow and were bemoaning long-range forecasts of low temperatures.

Yet the majestic beauty of the snow continued to amaze me. Even as I threw endless shovelsful of it from my driveway onto the over-my-head snowbanks, I was enthralled with the white stuff. One particular day, ice crystals filtered down from the sky to fall atop old snow. As my wife and I took a walk through this sparkling scene, it looked as if diamond dust had been sprinkled across the landscape.

In Scripture, snow seems to have varied purposes. God sends it as an indicator of His creative greatness (Job 37:6; 38:22-23). Snow-capped mountains irrigate the arid valleys below. But more significantly, God gives snow as a picture of our forgiveness. The gospel of Jesus provides a way for us to be cleansed of our sins and for our hearts to be made much “whiter than snow” (Ps. 51:7; Isa. 1:18).

The next time you see snow—in life or in photos—thank God for the forgiveness and the freedom from sin’s penalties that this beautiful, natural gift pictures for all who have put their trust in our Savior. —Dave Branon

Thank You for forgiving us and for turning our filthiness into the beauty of forgiveness. Help us to display the beauty of our forgiveness to all we encounter.

When Christ forgives us, our hearts are as clean as new-fallen snow.

INSIGHT: The prophet Isaiah, whose name means “the Lord saves,” warned an unrepentant Judah of God’s impending judgment (Isa. 1-12) through the Babylonian exile (39:6-7). He spoke of God’s grace (chs. 40-55) and a future glorious restoration for all who would repent (chs. 11; 56-66). Here in Isaiah 1, God calls His people to consider carefully their sinfulness (vv. 2-15). He assures them that no matter how tainted and sinful they are (v. 18), God will cleanse, forgive, and bless them if they “are willing and obedient” (v. 19). But He also warns of severe punishment if they fail to repent (v. 20). God is merciful, and He forgives those who submit to Him.

Alistair Begg – Flourish Even in Drought


Can reeds flourish where there is no water? Job 8:11

The reed is spongy and hollow, and so is a hypocrite; there is no substance or stability in him. It is shaken back and forth in every wind, just as the outwardly religious yield to every influence; for this reason the reed is not broken by the storm, neither are hypocrites called to face persecution. I would not willingly be a deceiver or be deceived; perhaps the text for today may help me to test myself to see whether I am a hypocrite or not.

The reed by nature lives in water and owes its very existence to the mire and moisture in which it has taken root; let the water drain away, and the reed withers very quickly. Its greenness is absolutely dependent upon circumstances; a continuous supply of water makes it flourish, and a drought destroys it at once.

Is this my case? Do I only serve God when I am in good company or when faith is profitable and respectable? Do I love the Lord only when I am enjoying comforts from His hands? If so I am just a hypocrite, and like the withering reed, I will perish when death deprives me of outward joys.

But can I honestly maintain that when there have been few bodily comforts, and my surroundings have been adverse to grace rather than at all helpful to it, I have still maintained my integrity? Then I have hope that there is genuine vital godliness in me.

The reed cannot grow without water, but the Lord’s plants can and do flourish even when there is a drought. A godly man often grows best when his worldly circumstances are daunting. He who follows Christ for money is a Judas; those who follow for loaves and fishes are children of the devil; but those who stay close out of love to Himself are His own beloved ones. Lord, let me find my life in You, and not in the shifting sands of this world’s favor or gain.

Family Bible Reading Plan

  • 2 Chronicles 32
  • Revelation 18

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

John MacArthur – The Humiliation of Christ


“We . . . see Him who has been made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone” (Heb. 2:9).

In serving as our substitute, Christ humbled Himself supremely.

Jesus’ death on the cross was not easy or costless—it was a horrific death. It was not calm and peaceful; it was accompanied by outward torture and inward agony. The death He tasted was the curse of sin. In a few hours on that cross, He suffered the total agony of every soul for all eternity. He was guilty of no sin, yet He chose to suffer the weight of all sins committed for all time.

God sent His Son, and His Son willingly came to die to redeem mankind. Paul writes, “When the fulness of time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, in order that He might redeem those who were under the Law” (Gal. 4:4-5).

Only by tasting death as a man could He free mankind from death. Historically, kings have had someone taste their food and drink before they consumed it. Christ drained to the dregs the cup of poison rightfully meant for us before it could ever touch our lips. He substituted His death for ours, releasing us from the deadness of sin to life with God.

What moved Jesus to suffer for us? Grace. What we did not deserve (salvation) we received, and what we did deserve (death) we did not receive. Unbounded love prompted Christ’s gracious work on our behalf: “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10).

After He accomplished the work of His substitutionary death, He was “crowned with glory and honor” and exalted to the right hand of the Father, where He will reign forever and ever. He is our great Substitute, whom we can thank and praise throughout all eternity.

Suggestion for Prayer

Ask God to give you opportunities to communicate the gospel to new people, even if you might suffer in the process.

For Further Study

Read Isaiah 52:13—53:12 to understand what the God of the universe had to endure at the hands of men.

Joyce Meyer – Powerful Prayer


The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. —James 5:16

For prayer to be effective it must be fervent. However, if we misunderstand the word fervent, we may feel that we have to “work up” some strong emotion before we pray; otherwise, our prayers will not be effective. At times I experience a great deal of emotion while at prayer, sometimes I even cry. But there are plenty of times when I don’t feel emotional and don’t cry. I am sincere in my praying, but I don’t feel anything out of the ordinary. We can’t base the value of our prayers on feelings. I remember enjoying so much those prayer times when I could feel God’s presence, and then wondering what was wrong during the times when I didn’t feel anything. I learned after a while that faith is not based on feelings in the emotions, but on knowledge in the heart.

Also, James 5:16 states that the fervent prayer of a “righteous” man is powerful. This means a man who is not under condemnation—one who has confidence in God and in the power of prayer. It does not mean a man without any imperfection in his life.

The book of James goes on to talk about Elijah. Elijah was a powerful man of God who did not always behave perfectly, but he still prayed powerful prayers. He loved God and wanted to know His will and fulfill His call upon his life. But sometimes he gave in to human weaknesses and tried to avoid the consequences of that will and calling. In many ways, Elijah was a lot like you and me. In 1 Kings 18, we see him moving in tremendous power, calling down fire from heaven and slaying 450 prophets of Baal at God’s command. Then immediately afterwards, in 1 Kings 19, we see him fearfully running from Jezebel, becoming negative and depressed, and even wanting to die. Like many of us, Elijah let his emotions get the upper hand.

The fact that James instructs us to pray powerful effective prayers like the righteous men and women of God—and then gives a discourse on Elijah and how he was a human being just like us, and yet prayed powerful prayers—should give us enough “scriptural power” to defeat condemnation when it rises up to tell us we cannot pray powerfully because of our weaknesses and faults.

From the book New Day, New You by Joyce Meyer.


Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Mighty Things Through Faith


“And so [Jesus] did only a few great miracles there, because of their unbelief.” (Matthew 13:58).

It was my first visit to Nazareth, and through a series of fortuitous circumstances, I found myself enjoying lunch with one of the city’s prominent leaders. As we talked together in the crowded dining room our conversation turned to Jesus Christ, and ultimately this gentleman bowed his head and began to pray aloud, inviting Christ to be his Savior and Lord.

The change seemed to be immediate and dramatic, and follow-up has proven that God did meet him and change his life. During the course of our conversation, he indicated that what I had shared with him was a new truth. Though he was religious and active in his church, he never had been told that he should receive Christ.

Upon further exploration, I found that, in the entire community of Nazareth, there were but a few in those days who understood the truth of the living Christ indwelling the believer. I was amazed!

Nazareth was the town in which our Lord had spent approximately thirty years of His life. The son of a carpenter, He had walked those winding streets, living, loving and laughing with other young children as they were growing up. He left the town when He entered His public ministry, and went on to perform mighty miracles, die on the cross for our sins and be raised from the dead – and He changed the whole course of history. But 2,000 years have passed since then, and there is still little evidence of the influence of Jesus in the lives of the people of Nazareth.

Then I remembered that it was said of our Lord, He could do no mighty things in Nazareth because of their unbelief. That seems to be true in more than just that city today. Even though there are a billion and a half professing followers of Christ throughout the world, the majority seem to be practical atheists.

And so, our Lord cannot do mighty things in Nazareth, or throughout the world, because of unbelief. The key to releasing His power to accomplish revolutionary, supernatural things in the world – and in individual lives – is faith. “According to your faith be it unto you” (Matthew 9:29, KJV). “Whatsoever is not of faith is sin” (Romans 14:23, KJV). “The just shall live by faith” (Romans 1:17, KJV).

Bible Reading: Mark 6:1-5

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Remembering that Jesus Christ lives within me in all of His supernatural power, waiting to accomplish great and mighty things through me, I will trust and obey Him for a life that is characterized by the supernatural, and I will encourage others to do the same.

Presidential Prayer Team;  C.P.  – Steps


Christmas celebration is past and now the New Year celebration is around the corner. Many will take this time to reflect on the past year: the blessings, the trials, what they accomplished. Are you any closer to the goals you listed last year? Do you even know what they were? Some motivational experts say that to meet long term goals you must start with tiny steps. Do you want to lose weight? Begin by putting on your walking shoes the same time every day. You’re more likely to follow through if you develop a habit of taking that first step.

Your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey.

Zechariah 9:9

God took small steps to save the world by the divine conception and Jesus being born obscurely in a manger. Another small step was the day Jesus rode into Jerusalem humbly riding a donkey, as Zachariah prophesied in today’s verse.

Do you want to pray and read God’s Word more? Set a certain time to merely open your Bible – and then see what happens. As the Bible says, “Who dares despise the day of small things?” (Zachariah 4:10, NIV). Also pray for the leaders of the country to take the next steps toward becoming more godly individuals.

Recommended Reading: Proverbs 16:1-9

Night Light for Couples – Overcommitment


“Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity.” Ephesians 5:15

Overcommitment is a marriage killer. When your week is filled with the demands of fifty, sixty, or even seventy hours at the office, the pressures of a new baby, making meals, night classes, housework, church programs, replacing the broken window, the kids’ band and football practices, Bible studies, painting the house, caring for your aunt with the broken leg… well, you get the idea. How can a husband and wife seek to communicate with each other when they’re too worn out to talk? How can they enjoy praying together when every moment is programmed? How can they enjoy a sexual relationship when they just want to collapse into bed each evening?

A few years ago some friends of ours decided to do something about this dilemma. They sold their house and moved to a less expensive home so they could reduce their hours at work and spend more time with each other and their children. That kind of downward mobility is almost unheard of today. Have they regretted it? Not for a moment.

Just between us…

  • Are you satisfied with the amount of time we have for rest, renewal, and relationship building?
  • Did we overcommit ourselves in the past week or month? How did that happen? How can we prevent it from happening again?
  • What activities most often consume the time we could better spend with each other and with God? Can we give some of them up?

Dear Heavenly Father, we find it so much easier to fill our lives with “doing” instead of “being.” Forgive us for our misplaced values and careless living, and show us how to keep our priorities straight. Amen.

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