Charles Stanley – A Small Matter of Obedience


Luke 5:1-11

Yesterday we learned that obeying God in small matters is essential to receiving His thrilling rewards. What He asks us to do is never insignificant—though we may not always recognize the importance of saying yes to His requests. Peter couldn’t have imagined the impact a simple boat trip would have in his life. He could have said to Jesus, “I’m too tired, Teacher. Take the other boat.” Instead, his obedience opened the door for God to bless Peter with a revolutionary ministry.

As God’s children, we should ask Him what He wants us to do in daily situations—“What would You have me say?” or “What is the best decision, Lord?” We must learn to listen to our heavenly Father and be sensitive to the quiet voice prompting us throughout the day. When we keep our minds attuned to Him, we begin to understand the significance of some decisions we might otherwise barely notice. Ultimately this awareness leads to a life-style of walking with the Lord and receiving His best for us.

One thing I know for certain is this: Every time I’ve obeyed God, He’s blessed me. When I disobey, it costs me. We’re talking about a God who loves us unconditionally and who has a perfect plan. Obeying Him will never prove disappointing. Looking at 2015, can you see His wisdom in leading you to make right decisions? Hindsight is fantastic for recognizing God’s blessings.

Make 2016 a year of obedience. When we obey God, our hearts open wide to let His power pour in. Won’t you say yes to His next request?

Bible in One Year: Revelation 18-22

Our Daily Bread — On the Wing


Read: Matthew 10:27-31

Bible in a Year: Malachi 1-4; Revelation 22

So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. —Matthew 10:31

In his book On the Wing, Alan Tennant chronicles his efforts to track the migration of the peregrine falcon. Valued for their beauty, swiftness, and power, these amazing birds of prey were favorite hunting companions of emperors and nobility. Sadly, the wide use of the pesticide DDT in the 1950s interfered with their reproductive cycle and placed them on the endangered species list.

Interested in the recovery of this species, Tennant attached transmitters to a select number of falcons to track their migration patterns. But when he and his pilot flew their Cessna behind the birds, they repeatedly lost signal from the transmitters. Despite their advanced technology, they were not always able to track the birds they wanted to help.

It’s good to know that the God who cares for us never loses track of us. In fact, Jesus said that not even one sparrow “will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. . . . So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows” (Matt. 10:29-31).

When we face difficult circumstances, fear may cause us to wonder if God is aware of our situation. Jesus’ teaching assures us that God cares deeply and is in control. His tracking of our lives will never fail. —Dennis Fisher

Father, I’m putting my longings and burdens on You at the end of this year because I know You care for me and can work powerfully. Thank You that I and my loved ones are in Your care.

If God cares for birds, will He not care for His children?

INSIGHT: Jesus’ words in Matthew 10:27-31 must be seen in their context. Matthew 9 closes with Jesus calling His followers to pray for laborers to enter the harvest (v. 38). Then in Matthew 10 the chapter opens with Jesus calling out laborers—His twelve disciples (vv. 1-4). He then sends the disciples out into the harvest fields of their day with a series of instructions (vv. 5-15), followed by words of comfort (vv. 16-31). He concludes by describing the characteristics of a disciple, both in terms of commitment and service (vv. 32-42).


Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Too Good to Be True?


You may have heard it said that religion only survives because people desperately want it to be true, because they can’t come to terms with their own mortality (or that of loved ones). It was Sigmund Freud who helped to popularize this idea, as he suggested that the concept of a loving Creator was simply a psychological projection of a person’s innermost wishes:

“We tell ourselves that it would be very nice if there was a God who created the world and was a benevolent Providence and if there were a moral order in the universe and an after-life; but it is the very striking fact that all this is exactly as we are bound to wish it to be.”(1)

This kind of argument would seem to ring true, at least on a superficial level. You would expect it to be more likely for people to believe in something that they like than something that they don’t, and it is clear that Christianity is powerfully compelling. In fact, the argument itself is an admission of this, as it acknowledges the innate desire in us all that is fulfilled by God. Who wouldn’t want to be in a relationship with a loving deity who not only wants the best for those he has created, but who is offering eternity in a place that is more wonderful than can be imagined? Yet the Bible also contains some very hard-hitting passages, which would seem to contradict the notion that religious belief is simply a projection of our wishes. C. S. Lewis pointed out that scripture also teaches that believers should fear the Lord, but you would not then suggest that this meant faith was some kind of “fear fulfillment”!(2)

Continue reading Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Too Good to Be True?

Alistair Begg – Wonder of Wonders


On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink.” John 7:37

Patience had her perfect work in the Lord Jesus, and until the last day of the feast He pleaded with the Jews, even as on this last day of the year He pleads with us and waits to be gracious to us. The long-suffering of the Savior is truly admirable as He bears with some of us year after year despite our insults, rebellions, and resistance to His Holy Spirit. Wonder of wonders that we are still in the land of mercy!

Mercy expressed herself most plainly, for Jesus “cried,” which implies not only the loudness of His voice, but the tenderness of His tones. He entreats us to be reconciled. “God making his appeal through us,” says the apostle, “we implore you on behalf of Christ . . .” What earnest, pathetic terms are these! How deep the Father’s love that causes Him to weep over sinners and, like a mother, to tenderly call His children to Himself! Surely at the sound of such a cry our willing hearts will come.

Provision is made most generously: Everything that man needs to quench his soul’s thirst is available. To his conscience the Atonement brings peace; to his understanding the Gospel brings the richest instruction; to his heart the person of Jesus is the noblest object of affection; to the whole man the truth as it is in Jesus supplies the purest nourishment. Thirst is terrible, but Jesus can remove it. Even if the soul were utterly famished, Jesus can restore it.

Proclamation is made most freely, that every thirsty one is welcome. No other distinction is made but that of thirst. Whether it be the thirst of greed, ambition, pleasure, knowledge, or rest, he who suffers from it is invited. The thirst may be bad in itself, and not be a sign of grace, but a mark of inordinate sin that longs to satisfy itself with deeper lust; but it is not goodness in the creature that brings him the invitation-the Lord Jesus sends it freely and without respect of persons.

Personality is declared most fully. The sinner must come to Jesus-not to works, ordinances, or doctrines but to a personal Redeemer who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree. The bleeding, dying, rising Savior is the only ray of hope to a sinner. Oh, for grace to come now and drink, before the sun sets upon the year’s last day!

No waiting or preparation is even hinted at. Drinking represents a reception that has no special requirements. A fool, a thief, a harlot can drink; our sinfulness is no barrier to the invitation to believe in Jesus. We need no golden cup, no fine china, in which to convey the water to the thirsty; the mouth of poverty is welcome to stoop down and drink of the life-giving stream. Blistered, leprous, filthy lips may touch the stream of divine love; they cannot pollute it but will themselves be purified. Jesus is the fount of hope. Dear reader, listen to the dear Redeemer’s loving voice as He cries to each of us, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink.”

Family Bible Reading Plan

  • 2 Chronicles 36
  • Revelation 22

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

John MacArthur – Our Sympathetic High Priest


“Assuredly He does not give help to angels, but He gives help to the descendant of Abraham. Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted” (Heb. 2:16-18).

Jesus came to sympathize with us, so He could be our merciful and faithful High Priest.

In his letters to Timothy, Paul counseled and encouraged his young associate about many things—his health, his critics, his moral and spiritual warfare. His counsel is well summed up in these words: “Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descendant of David” (2 Tim. 2:8).

Like Timothy, we need to be reminded of Christ’s humanity, especially when life becomes particularly tough. Then we can pray, “Lord, You know what You endured while You were here. I’m going through it now.” We can be sure He knows and will encourage us.

Jesus came not only to save us but also to sympathize with us. He experienced what we experience so He could be a “merciful and faithful high priest.” After all, “we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin” (Heb. 4:15).

Jesus felt everything we will ever feel—and more. Most of us will never know the full degree of any given temptation because we usually succumb long before we reach it. But since Jesus never sinned, He took the full measure of every temptation.

Ours is not a cosmic God, powerful and holy, but indifferent. He knows when we hurt, where we are weak, and how we are tempted. Jesus is not just our Savior, but our loving Lord who sympathizes with us. Rejoice in the greatness of His love for us.

Suggestion for Prayer

Ask God to remind you of your need of Him at all times, not just when times are tough.

For Future Study

Memorize 1 Corinthians 10:13 for quick recall whenever you are faced with any trial.

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – A Solid Foundation


“All who listen to My instructions and follow them are wise, like a man who builds his house on solid rock. Though the rain comes in torrents, and the floods rise and the storm winds beat against his house, it won’t collapse, for it is built on rock. But those who hear My instructions and ignore them are foolish, like a man who builds his house on sand. For when the rains and floods come, and storm winds beat against his house, it will fall with a mighty crash” (Matthew 7:24-27).

What a wonderful promise for supernatural living to know that no matter what happens – the greatest tragedies, adversities or losses – your house will stand. You will not only survive, but mature, grow and become more like Jesus.

As you listen to and follow His instructions, you will observe that He has been speaking to the multitudes in what is frequently referred to as the Sermon on the Mount. Review chapters 5, 6 and 7 of Matthew. List all the things that He commands us to do, and then by faith claim those instructions in your life. For there is nothing that God ever commands that He will not enable us to do if we seek His help.

Remember, too, His promise recorded in Matthew 22:37-40, that all of the commandments in the sermon on the Mount are fulfilled when we love God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength, and when we love our neighbor as ourselves. So the instructions that He is giving are not difficult, for He who gives the command will enable us to build on a sure foundation of solid rock.

Note, however, the admonishment for those who ignore His instructions. For those foolish people who build their houses on sand, collapse of those houses is the certain consequence. One need only look around to see evidence of the fulfillment of God’s warning in the lives of numerous loved ones, neighbors and friends. God loves us, and He wants to bless us, but He cannot if we ignore Him.

Are you following the instructions of the Lord Jesus Christ? If not, I encourage you to begin today, with the assurance that He will bless you, your family and all who are dear to you.

Bible Reading: 1 John 2:3-9

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I will meditate upon our Lord’s instructions as contained in the Sermon on the Mount, as well as the Ten Commandments and the Golden Rule. I will meditate upon 1 Corinthians 13 and other commandments of our Lord on love. Through the enabling of the Holy Spirit, I will obey His instructions for supernatural living.

Presidential Prayer Team; J.R.  – Regeneration Over Resolutions


You are one day from a new beginning. It’s probably not the time for pessimism – but according to research published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology, 25 percent of Americans fail to keep their New Year’s resolutions for a full two weeks. The long-term success rate is eight percent. Change is difficult.

Truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.

John 3:3

Jesus was talking about something much more profound in John 3 in His conversation with Nicodemus, a Pharisee. You may or may not maintain your new exercise regimen, diet, reading plan, or other resolution because it’s largely a matter of willpower. But regeneration – being “born again” – is the work of the Holy Spirit. It is immediate, supernatural, permanent and irreversible. Spirit-inspired resolutions can’t fail.

The best resolution for 2016 may be found in Proverbs 3:5-6. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” This is the formula for success – for you and for America.

Recommended Reading: John 1:1-13

Greg Laurie – The 3 Things we can give to God in 2016


“Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also”—Matthew 6:21

As we enter into a new year, here is something to remember: When it’s all said and done, we have three things we can offer God—our treasure, our talent, and our time. Each of these is given to us by God, and each of them should be given back in generous portions.

First, there is our treasure. I urge you to commit yourself to give faithfully and generously to the Lord in this coming year. Jesus said, “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:21 NKJV). Whenever we put our money into something, we develop a vested interest in it. It makes sense to us that we would place our treasures where our hearts are. If we love reading books, or being entertained, or the latest technology, we spend our treasure on those things. And if our heart’s desires change, that changes where we put our treasure.

But it works the other way too: Where we put our treasures, our heart will follow. Do you want your heart to be in the things of God? Then put your treasures in the things of God! Develop a vested interest in God’s kingdom.

The second thing we can give to God is our talent. God has gifted each believer in different ways. Everyone has something to offer for the work of the kingdom. Romans 12 says, “Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are all parts of his one body, and each of us different work to do” (NLT).

Finally, there is our time. Let’s say that one day your phone rang and it was the president of the bank that you use. He told you that an anonymous donor who loved you very much had decided to deposit 86,400 pennies into your bank account each and every morning. At first, maybe that didn’t seem like a lot. But then you figured out that it was $864 a day. At seven days a week and 52 weeks a year, those pennies add up to almost $315,000 each year! But the bank president added one thing: “The anonymous giver said you must spend all of the money on the day you receive it! No balance will be carried over to the next day. Each evening the bank must cancel whatever sum you failed to use! Remember, what you don’t spend is lost.”

That may sound like fantasy, but here’s the reality: Every morning, Someone who loves you very much deposits into your “bank of time” 86,400 seconds, which represent 1,440 minutes, which of course equals 24 hours each and every day. God gives you that much to use each day. Nothing is ever carried over on credit to the next day. There is no such thing as a 27-hour day. It’s called time, and you can’t escape it. Time is ticking away right now. The Bible tells us to “redeem the time”—to make sacred and wise use of every opportunity.

Offer God your treasure, your talent, and your time. Live this next year as if it were your last, because it could be. Make those minutes count!

Max Lucado – It’s a Choice


I often find it easier to weep with those who weep than I do to rejoice with those who rejoice! (Romans 12:15).

The summer before my 8th grade year, I made friends with Larry. He was new, so I encouraged him to go out for our high school football team. It was one of those good news/bad news things. The good news? He made the cut. The bad news? He won my position!

A few weeks into the season Larry broke a finger. I remember the day he stood at my front door holding up his bandaged hand. “Looks like you’re going to have to play,” he said. I tried to feel sorry for him but weep with those who weep was a lot easier for Paul to write than for me to practice!  I hope you’ll have better success!

From Grace for the Moment

Night Light for Couples – Still the One


We’ve talked this week about the brevity of life and the importance of making the most of the time the Lord has given us. Our journey as marital partners will someday come to an end. First one of us, and then the other, will stand before God, give an account of our days, and begin our eternal journey. Jim and I certainly look forward to that heavenly reward, but we are also enjoying our time together on this earth. Jim has recovered fully from a heart attack and a stroke, either of which could have taken his life. Those experiences have made our relationship all the sweeter and more precious. I will always thank God for bringing us together in a marriage that has continued now for more than four decades.

One of the most delightful experiences during that time came in a Marriage Encounter seminar we participated in years ago. I knew that Jim loved and needed me during the early years of our marriage, but I had begun to quietly wonder if I still held the most prominent place in his heart. On the final day of the seminar, without discussing it ahead of time, we wrote each other letters addressing just this issue. I’ll never forget the moment we came together and shared these thoughts.

Jim concluded his letter to me, in part, with these words:

I love you, S. M. D. (Remember the monogrammed shirt?) I love the girl who believed in me before I believed in myself. I love the girl who never complained about huge school bills and books and hot apartments and rented junky furniture and no vacations and humble little Volkswagens. You have been with me—encouraging me, loving me, and supporting me since August 27, 1960. And the status you have given me in our home is beyond what I have deserved.

If we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. 1 John 4:12

So why do I want to go on living? It’s because I have you to take the journey with. Otherwise, why make the trip? The half that lies ahead promises to be tougher than the years behind us. Autumn is coming. Even now, I can feel a little nip in the air—and I try not to look at a distant, lone cloud that passes near the horizon. With whom, then, will I spend that final season of my life?

None but you, Shirls. The only joy of the future will be in experiencing it as I have the past twenty‐one years—hand‐in‐hand with the one I love, a young miss named Shirley Deere, who gave me everything she had—including her heart. Thank you, babe, for making this journey with me. Let’s finish it— together!

May the Lord continually sustain and enrich your marriage. God’s blessings to you both… and good night.

– Shirley M Dobson

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


C.S. Lewis Daily – Today’s Reading


The thing you long for summons you away from the self. Even the desire for the thing lives only if you abandon it. This is the ultimate law—the seed dies to live, the bread must be cast upon the waters, he that loses his soul will save it. But the life of the seed, the finding of the bread, the recovery of the soul, are as real as the preliminary sacrifice. Hence it is truly said of heaven ‘in heaven there is no ownership. If any there took upon him to call anything his own, he would straightway be thrust out into hell and become an evil spirit.’ But it is also said ‘To him that overcometh I will give a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it’ [Revelation 2:17]. What can be more a man’s own than this new name which even in eternity remains a secret between God and him? And what shall we take this secrecy to mean? Surely, that each of the redeemed shall forever know and praise some one aspect of the Divine beauty better than any other creature can. Why else were individuals created, but that God, loving all infinitely, should love each differently? And this difference, so far from impairing, floods with meaning the love of all blessed creatures for one another, the communion of the saints. If all experienced God in the same way and returned Him an identical worship, the song of the Church triumphant would have no symphony, it would be like an orchestra in which all the instruments played the same note.

From The Problem of Pain

Compiled in A Year with C.S. Lewis