Category Archives: Charles Stanley

December 29 All Is Vanity

Scripture reading: Ecclesiastes 12:1–8

Key verse: Ecclesiastes 12:1

Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth,

Before the difficult days come,

And the years draw near when you say,

“I have no pleasure in them.”

In Ecclesiastes, Solomon’s words hauntingly draw us into a time vacuum where reality spills over to the imagined, and we find ourselves wanting to push away at the discovery he made. Surely he was wrong. There must be a way for us to indulge in the pleasures of this world and serve God at the same time, but alas, there is not. Solomon is right—all is vanity.

Therefore, his warning is true that we should remember our Creator in the days of our youth, before the years come when you will say, “ ‘I have no delight in them’; before the sun, the light, the moon, and the stars are darkened, and clouds return after the rain; in the day that the watchmen of the house tremble, and mighty men stoop, the grinding ones stand idle because they are few, and those who look through windows grow dim … then the dust will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit will return to God who gave it. ‘Vanity of vanities,’ says the Preacher, ‘all is vanity!’ ” (Eccl. 12:1–3, 7–8 nasb).

God wants us to enjoy His provisions. However, the key to the good things in life is not in doing or having but in living for Jesus Christ. You will find that when your affections are set on material gain, your spirit suffers. Life takes on a hopeless effect. But you avoid all of this when knowing Jesus is your aim and goal.

Dear Lord, I want to set my affections on spiritual things instead of material things. Help me to do that during the coming year.[1]

 

[1] Stanley, C. F. (2002). Seeking His face (p. 380). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

December 29 Taking Risks

Scripture Reading: Acts 9:1–20

Key Verse: Acts 9:17

And Ananias went his way and entered the house; and laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you came, has sent me that you may receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”

Many Christians like playing it safe by gathering as many facts as possible, analyzing the options, and making choices in order to be reasonably certain of the outcome. We have declared uncertainty and risk undesirable because they could end up causing loss. The loss might involve suffering caused by an unwanted result or missing a desired outcome. It might have to do with appearing foolish or incompetent, incurring financial loss, or encountering physical danger.

From a human viewpoint, eliminating uncertainty makes sense. But how does God view uncertainty? Are there times when we’re to take risks? The answer is a resounding yes, when He is the one asking us to take risks. From God’s viewpoint, there’s no uncertainty, because He has control over all things and He will never fail to accomplish His good purposes.

The Bible is full of real people who took risks to obey the living God. One was Ananias, a disciple sent by God to minister to the newly converted Saul. Ananias risked his reputation and his life. Another was Saul himself, who was commanded to preach to the Jews the very gospel he and they had so violently opposed. By focusing upon God, His character, and His promises, both of these men obeyed, despite uncertainty, doubt, and fear.

We’re not going to grow in Christian maturity without learning to live with uncertainty and being willing to take risks. What risk is God asking you to take? Won’t you step out in obedience and face the future in faith?

Lord, make me willing to take risks. Help me focus on You, Your character, and Your promises despite my uncertainties, doubts, or fears.[1]

 

[1] Stanley, C. F. (2006). Pathways to his presence (p. 380). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

December 29 Facing the Future

Scripture Reading: Romans 5:1–2

Key Verse: Romans 5:5

Hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

A popular bumper sticker reads, “No God, no peace. Know God, know peace.” The message is short and simple, but it’s absolutely true.

Thousands of Christian counselors would attest to this fact every day, as hurting people approach them with problems that stem from a lack of peace on the inside. A great many counselees are believers who have never really embraced the security and love of God’s grace. They lack an understanding of how His plan of reconciliation in the Cross bears on their real lives.

The following are some self-diagnostic questions to help you determine your own “peace factor”:

  • Do I feel restless or apathetic about spiritual things or life in general, even when circumstances are going fine?
  • Do I still feel a cloud of guilt hanging over my head for things I did wrong in the past?
  • Am I easily infuriated by the weaknesses of people around me?
  • Do I secretly resent those who seem happy or content, believing they are just faking it?
  • Do I wish I were someone else?
  • Am I afraid that God is going to punish me when I mess up?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may be experiencing a lack of peace. Ask the Lord to show you the root of the problem. He will help you embrace the tender wonder of His love today and give you peace and power to face the future.

O God, free me from restlessness, apathy, guilt, and resentment. Make me more tolerant of weaknesses of others. Give me peace and power to face the future. Help me embrace Your forgiveness, Lord, and rest in it fully.[1]

 

[1] Stanley, C. F. (1999). On holy ground (p. 380). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

December 29 Using Today for His Glory

Scripture reading: 2 Timothy 2:1–7

Key verse: 2 Timothy 2:15

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

Most of us have heard a grandparent or older person talk of the second coming of Christ. The sense of longing conveyed in his voice reminds us of the deep desire that God has placed within each believer to finally one day behold His perfect love and glory. Yet now we are called to wait, not as forgotten men and women, but as commissioned soldiers (2 Tim. 2:3–4) with one purpose, and that is to tell as many people as possible of His unconditional love and forgiveness.

This is what the apostle Paul instructed Timothy to do: “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed”(2 Tim. 2:15). Because of the violence of his society, no one was more aware of the persecution of the saints than Paul. Nor was there a man more attuned to the probability of discouragement.

When our hearts and minds are set on God’s call and what we can do to accomplish it, we are less likely to get caught up in the hopelessness of our sin-riddled society. Paul’s eyes were eternally focused. He had a sure hope planted within his heart—Jesus Christ would return.

While you wait for the Lord’s return, make it your goal to tell as many as possible of the Savior’s love and care. The rapture may come tomorrow, but as a believer you are given today to use for His glory.

Father, let me use today for Your glory. Show me the work You would have me do, then equip me to accomplish it.[1]

 

[1] Stanley, C. F. (2000). Into His presence (p. 380). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

December 29 Your Time of Preparation

scripture reading: Galatians 1:11–24
key verse: Job 42:2

I know that You can do everything,
And that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You.

Before a house is repainted, long, tedious hours of scraping and sanding are required. Before the seed is sown, dusty days of tilling and plowing are necessary. But if the paint is to adhere and last and the seed is to sprout and mature, preparation is essential.

So it was as God prepared to send Christ the Savior to earth. The Lord endured the rebellion and idolatry of people and nations. He saw His prophets ridiculed, His priests despised, and His laws rejected.

Your time of preparation for usefulness in the kingdom will not be instantaneous. But it is a requirement in order for Christ’s fullness to lodge deep in your life, readying you for fruitfulness that you otherwise may never experience.

Paul noted in Galatians 1:11–24 how the Lord taught him and prepared him for three years after he was saved. Then Christ accomplished through Paul what He wanted: “Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it, that it may bear more fruit.… Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you, unless you abide in Me” (John 15:2, 4 nasb).

O Master, prune my spiritual branches so that I can be more productive during the coming year. Prepare me for fruitfulness.[1]

 

[1] Stanley, C. F. (1998). Enter His gates: a daily devotional. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

December 28 Faith for the Future

Scripture reading: 2 Timothy 1:1–14

Key verse: Psalm 22:4

Our fathers trusted in You; They trusted, and You delivered them.

Timothy was a young pastor whom Paul had left in charge of the believers in Ephesus and in Asia Minor. He had a tough job guiding the new converts in a culture often openly hostile to their faith, and there was not an abundance of “fathers” in the church to encourage him. That’s why Paul spent much of his two letters to Timothy doing just that.

First, Paul reminded him of his faith in the past: “I am mindful of the sincere faith within you, which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois, and your mother Eunice, and I am sure that is in you as well” (2 Tim. 1:5 nasb). Paul wanted Timothy to remember how the Lord brought him to salvation and nurtured him along the way.

Second, Paul gave him a hope-filled vision for the future: “For this reason I remind you to kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline” (2 Tim. 1:6–7 nasb). Timothy faced discouragement from those who felt he was too young for such a daunting task of spiritual leadership, so Paul wanted to make sure his focus was in the right direction. Timothy was strengthened by seeing this larger perspective.

Is this the kind of encouragement you need right now? Review your spiritual story, and ask God to give you a fresh sense of His involvement.

Lord, give me faith for the future. Renew my spirit.[1]

 

[1] Stanley, C. F. (2002). Seeking His face (p. 379). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

December 28 When the Going Gets Rough

Scripture Reading: Isaiah 40:9–12

Key Verse: Isaiah 40:12

Who has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand,

Measured heaven with a span,

And calculated the dust of the earth in a measure?

Weighed the mountains in scales

And the hills in a balance?

Do you know how to receive God’s strength in your life when the going gets rough? Do you know how to rest in Him when all your hope for the future seems in ashes? If you do not know, find comfort in today’s Scripture passage. It provides a wonderful reminder of what we should do, and Whom we can count on in the worst of times.

Isaiah 40:9 contains a simple but powerful statement: “Here is your God!” (nasb). From this, we can deduce an important first step: when troubles arise, we should immediately focus on God. Verse 10 describes His great power. We are aware that God is all-knowing and all-powerful. So we know that everything needed to overcome our circumstances is available in Him.

Verse 11 continues with a reminder of God’s gentle and compassionate nature. He is the Good Shepherd, who is intimately involved in the lives of His sheep. And because He loves them, He gathers them close and carries them when they are too weary to walk.

Finally, in verse 12, we are provided with the “big picture.” God is the Supreme Ruler of the universe, the Creator of all things. And His great plans include each one of us. When your problems seem insurmountable, submit your concerns to the one God, who is available, powerful, compassionate, and supreme. There is no one like Him, and no one better in whom to trust.

Lord, You are my God! You are the one who has measured the heavens, weighed the mountains, and designed each person. I give You control of my life and trust Your plan for me.[1]

 

[1] Stanley, C. F. (2006). Pathways to his presence (p. 379). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

December 28 God-Given Goals

Scripture Reading: Philippians 2:13–16

Key Verse: Isaiah 64:4

Since the beginning of the world men have not heard nor perceived by the ear, nor has the eye seen any God besides You, who acts for the one who waits for Him.

Amy Carmichael wrote,

We have often taken the above verse to mean that our God so guides and controls our outward affairs that confusion ends in peace; and this is true, but taken with Philippians 2:13, we find an even deeper comfort.

We want to be sincere. We do earnestly desire to mix salt [our commitment] in our incense of devotion to Christ at all times, but we fear we might fail. However, you have not to do it in your unaided strength: it is God Who is all the while supplying the impulse, giving you the power to resolve, the strength to perform, the execution of His good pleasure.

Amy explained that while our commitment and devotion to Christ are of utmost importance, so is our willingness to trust God for His goodness by acting on the opportunities He places before us.

Many people miss the blessings of God simply because they hesitate and fail to trust God to give them good things. During the coming year, when you have an idea or see an opportunity unfolding, don’t be so quick to dismiss it. Instead, test its validity by going to God’s Word. Does your dream or goal contradict Scripture? Is it in line with God’s will for your life? If it passes the test, pray for God to continue to make His way clear. The impulse, the inner strength, or the peace is evidence of His good pleasure.

Heavenly Father, let me set goals that honor You and are in harmony with Your plan for my life. Give me the impulse, inner strength, and peace as evidence that my plans are approved. Help me set proper goals, then live out their reality by faith.[1]

 

[1] Stanley, C. F. (1999). On holy ground (p. 379). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

December 28 Waiting for His Return

Scripture reading: Luke 12:37–48

Key verse: Luke 12:40

Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.

The second coming of Jesus Christ is fact. However, as for the actual date of His return, only God knows that for sure. Not even the most renowned theologians know when Christ will return to earth.

There are theories. Some even try to set dates. But none of this is God’s goal in telling us to watch for His Son’s return. Throughout history, God has faithfully given promises to mankind so that as His plan of redemption unfolds, there is something of lasting hope to cling to.

The end result of the rapture is to bring the saints of God into a place of eternal fellowship and worship with the Father. There is no way to adequately describe the hope this future event offers to the heart of every believer who ponders its truth. One day soon we will see Him face to face.

However, for now, the words of Christ call us to action. “Take heed, keep on the alert.” How are you watching for Christ’s return? In your waiting, refuse to become complacent but remain alert. While God is using this interlude in time to ready His church for this glorious event, Satan is busy gathering his forces for the final day.

Therefore, guard your heart. Tell others of the hope that is to come. Avail yourself to God and keep one eye lifted toward the eastern sky, because one day very soon He will return for you.

Dear Lord, keep me alert. Make me ready for Your return. Help me keep my spiritual eyes on the eastern sky.[1]

 

[1] Stanley, C. F. (2000). Into His presence (p. 379). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

December 28 Preparation for God’s Purposes

scripture reading: Acts 2:23–28
key verse: Matthew 3:3

This is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah, saying:
“The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord;
Make His paths straight.’”

When the Son of God came in the flesh in a rustic Bethlehem stable around 4 b.c., His birth took place only after faithful, deliberate preparation by God: “This Man, delivered up by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death. And God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power” (Acts 2:23–24 nasb).

God had dealt with nations, preserving His people, the Israelites, through the centuries, despite persecution and captivity. He had dealt with kings and empires, allowing the advanced Roman civilization to standardize transportation and communication throughout most of Europe and Asia. God came to earth at exactly the point in time, like a ripe field of wheat ready for harvest, when His sovereign, perfect mind had planned since the foundation of the earth (Eph. 3:8–12).

Christ’s timing in your life is just as precise. He is preparing you today for His purposes tomorrow.

Your timing is perfect, O Lord. Prepare me today to accomplish Your purposes tomorrow.[1]

 

[1] Stanley, C. F. (1998). Enter His gates: a daily devotional. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.