Charles Stanley – The Challenges of Forgiving Ourselves

 

Psalms 32:1-2

Yesterday, we considered why people fail to forgive themselves for wrongdoing. Today, let’s look at seven questions to ask yourself when you struggle with self-condemnation.

  1. Why should I continue to condemn myself when the Lord no longer condemns me?
  2. Is my self-condemnation drawing me into a closer relationship with God, or is it driving me further from Him?
  3. What good am I doing by refusing to forgive myself?
  4. Does self-condemnation help or hurt my relationships with others?
  5. Does my refusal to forgive myself impress God? Does He find me more devout because of my guilt and shame?
  6. Is there any biblical basis for withholding self-forgiveness?
  7. How long do I intend to condemn myself? What will be the end result?

Normally, the answers to these questions are obvious. However, if you’re in the throes of self-condemnation, the truth may seem hazy.

Often the only way to work through times of self-doubt and remorse is to focus on the basics of who God is and what He wants for your life. If you are struggling with an inability to forgive yourself, prayerfully consider the seven questions above. Read them aloud, and let them work through your spirit. You may even want to open a journal or take out a sheet of paper to record your thoughts as the Lord speaks to you. Don’t be surprised by some intense wrestling in your heart as you consider these points—and as God reorders your thoughts about yourself.

Our Daily Bread — Heart Of Joy

 

 

Read: John 15:1-11
Bible in a Year: 1 Kings 19-20; Luke 23:1-25

These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. —John 15:11

While waiting in the gate area of Singapore’s Changi Airport to board my flight, I noticed a young family—mom, dad, and son. The area was crowded, and they were looking for a place to sit. Suddenly, the little boy began loudly singing “Joy to the World.” He was about 6 years old, so I was pretty impressed that he knew all the words.

What captured my attention even more was the look on the boy’s face—his beaming smile matched the words he was singing as he proclaimed to everyone at the gate the joy of the Christ who has come.

This joy is not limited to exuberant children nor should it be confined to the Christmas season. The overflowing joy of knowing Christ’s presence in our lives was one of the themes of Jesus’ final teaching with His disciples the night before He died on the cross. He told them of His extravagant love for them—that He loved them as the Father loved Him (John 15:9). After sharing what this eternal relationship looks like, Jesus said, “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full” (v.11).

What a promise! Through Jesus Christ our hearts can be filled with joy—real joy! —Bill Crowder

Lord, You have chosen me and redeemed me, crowned me with love and compassion. I can do nothing less than overflow with joy at Your great love for me, for those I love, and for the world.

In every season of life we can know joy in Christ.

INSIGHT: Jesus often spoke in picturesque language to help people understand what He was saying. In today’s passage, He explains the relationship between Himself and His followers by talking about a vine. The key word in this passage is “abide,” which is used 10 times. We stay connected to (abide in) Him (the vine) by the power of the Holy Spirit, through the reading of His Word, and through prayer. In this way (the branches) remain in fellowship with Him and know true joy.

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – To Be Known

 

There is something about knowing and calling a person by name that gives dignity and worth to that individual. To be able to look someone in the eye and say his or her name communicates knowledge, oftentimes warmth, and a sense of value: I care enough to know your name.

Several years ago, my late husband and I worked among the nameless homeless in Boston. Like so many other homeless individuals all around our country, they were merely faces in a crowd, a nuisance to be avoided, or simply another panhandler asking for money. One gentleman in particular, sprawled against a building in a self-induced alcohol coma became a fixture for me and the other passers-by in Boston’s financial district. He was stepped over and generally regarded as simply another facet of the building against which his stupefied body slumbered. He had no name or value to me, or to anyone who daily passed him by on those cold streets; in fact, at times he seemed barely human.

That is until we began to be involved in this ministry that made a point out of calling people by name. As we participated in this ministry that saw the nameless among us, we learned their names: Bobby, Jim, Fred, John, Daniel, and Carl. We ate meals together and talked with each other. We listened and shared. We asked them to come in off the streets and into a place of warmth and solace. Soon, we couldn’t walk the streets of Boston without seeing these as persons we knew by name, these same ones who were formerly without. Now, I saw Bobby and Jim, Fred and John; they were known to me, and I to them.

It seems ironic to me, in light of this experience, that we know the names of Donald Trump, Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey, Liliane Bettencort, Charles Koch, Mark Zuckerberg, Paul Allen, and Ted Turner. Individuals that we will never know personally become synonymous with power, success, and renown. As a result, they are known and valued by most in our society simply because their names make the Forbes magazine billionaire list year after year.

In the Kingdom of God, though money and power can both be used for kingdom purposes, we aren’t known because of either of them. While we often recognize the names of those who are rich and powerful in our society, Jesus turns our society’s values on their head. He tells us the name of Lazarus, the poor man who lay at the gate of the rich man, who remains the nameless one in this parable. In this story, the rich man is the one not known to God despite all his worldly renown and power. Instead, Lazarus is known and received by God into Abraham’s bosom.

In our culture, our worth is largely determined in monetary measures and buying power. They are the things that our society teaches us to value, and we can name the names of those who attain high levels of both. But to experience the kingdom Jesus offers, to be known and called by name has nothing to do with what we can offer. Human dignity and worth are not defined by what one has or the power one holds. Rather, humanity is redefined by a God who serves, and a willingness to follow in his service. This is the humanity Jesus sets before us. The human Son of God comes in service and offers dignity and worth to those who might otherwise remain nameless. In a world that values status, power, and prestige it is indeed a daring act to follow. But to be known by the one “who came not to be served but to serve and offer his life as a ransom” is humanizing at its very fullest.

Margaret Manning Shull is a member of the speaking and writing team at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Bellingham, Washington.

Alistair Begg – “My People”

 

I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

2 Corinthians 6:16

What a sweet title: “my people”! What a cheering revelation: “their God”! What a wealth of meaning is couched in those two words, “my people!”

Here is speciality. The whole world is God’s; the heaven, even the heaven of heavens, is the Lord’s, and He reigns among the children of men. But of those whom He has chosen, whom He has purchased to Himself, He says what He says not of others–“my people.”

In this word there is the idea of proprietorship. In a special manner “the LORD’s portion is his people, Jacob his allotted heritage.”1 All the nations upon earth are His; the whole world is in His power. But His people, His chosen, are more especially His possession, for He has done more for them than for others. He has bought them with His blood; He has brought them to Himself; He has set His great heart upon them; He has loved them with an everlasting love, a love that many waters cannot quench and that the revolutions of time will never in the least degree diminish.

Dear friends, can you by faith see yourselves in that number? Can you look up to heaven and say, “My Lord and my God: mine by that sweet relationship that entitles me to call You Father; mine by that hallowed fellowship that I rejoice to enjoy with You when You are pleased to show Yourself to me as You do not to the world”? Can you read the Bible and find there the guarantee of your salvation? Can you read your title written in precious blood? Can you, by humble faith, lay hold of Jesus’ garments and say, “My Christ”?

If you can, then God says of you, and of others like you, “My people;” for if God be your God and Christ your Christ, the Lord has a special interest in you; you are the object of His choice, accepted in His beloved Son.

1) Deuteronomy 32:9

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

Charles Spurgeon – The Sunday School teacher —a steward

 

“Give an account of thy stewardship.” Luke 16:2

Suggested Further Reading: 2 Chronicles 34:1-3

I see nothing in the Bible that should lead me to believe that the office of the preacher is more honourable than that of the teacher. It seems to me, that every Sunday School teacher has a right to put “Reverend” before his name as much as I have, or if not, if he discharges his trust he certainly is a “Right Honourable”. He teaches his congregation and preaches to his class. I may preach to more, and he to less, but still he is doing the same work, though in a small sphere. I am sure I can sympathise with Mr Carey, when he said of his son Felix, who left the missionary work to become an ambassador, “Felix has drivelled into an ambassador;” meaning to say, that he was once a great person as a missionary, but that he had afterwards accepted a comparatively insignificant office. So I think we may say of the Sabbath-school teacher, if he gives up his work because he cannot attend to it, on account of his enlarged business, he drivels into a rich merchant. If he forsakes his teaching because he finds there is much else to do, he drivels into something less than he was before; with one exception, if he is obliged to give up to attend to his own family, and makes that family his Sabbath school class, there is no drivelling there; he stands in the same position as he did before. I say they who teach, they who seek to pluck souls as brands from the burning, are to be considered as honoured persons, second far to him from whom they received their commission; but still in some sweet sense lifted up to become fellows with him, for he calls them his brethren and his friends.

For meditation: Never look down on children’s work; it is a serious responsibility to teach them the things of God (James 3:1-2). If it is your responsibility, thank God for the privilege and ask him to make you a faithful steward (1 Corinthians 4:2).

Sermon no. 192
5 May (Preached 4 May 1858)

John MacArthur – The Priority of Spiritual Unity

 

“The names of the twelve apostles are these: The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; and James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax-gatherer; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed Him” (Matt. 10:2-4).

Unity in the Spirit is the key to a church’s overall effectiveness.

Unity is a crucial element in the life of the church—especially among its leadership. A unified church can accomplish great things for Christ, but disunity can cripple or destroy it. Even the most orthodox churches aren’t immune to disunity’s subtle attack because it often arises from personality clashes or pride rather than doctrinal issues.

God often brings together in congregations and ministry teams people of vastly different backgrounds and temperaments. That mix produces a variety of skills and ministries but it also produces the potential for disunity and strife. That was certainly true of the disciples, which included an impetuous fisherman like Peter; two passionate and ambitious “sons of thunder” like James and John; an analytical, pragmatic, and pessimistic man like Philip; a racially prejudiced man like Bartholomew; a despised tax collector like Matthew; a political Zealot like Simon; and a traitor like Judas, who was in it only for the money and eventually sold out for thirty pieces of silver.

Imagine the potential for disaster in a group like that! Yet their common purpose transcended their individual differences, and by His grace the Lord accomplished through them what they never could have accomplished on their own. That’s the power of spiritual unity!

As a Christian, you’re part of a select team that is accomplishing the world’s greatest task: finishing the work Jesus began. That requires unity of purpose and effort. Satan will try to sow seeds of discord, but you must do everything possible to heed Paul’s admonition to be “of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, and intent on one purpose” (Phil. 2:2).

Suggestions for Prayer

Pray daily for unity among the leaders and congregation of your church.

For Further Study

Read 1 Corinthians 3:1-9, noting how Paul addressed the issue of disunity in the Corinthian church.

 

Joyce Meyer – Take Responsibility

 

The man replied, “It was the woman you gave me who gave me the fruit, and I ate it.” Then the LORD God asked the woman, “What have you done?” “The serpent deceived me,” she replied. “That’s why I ate it.” Genesis 3:12–13 NLT

Excuses have been used by humans to avoid responsibility since time began. After Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden, Adam blamed Eve (and God for giving him Eve), then Eve blamed the devil. People make excuses for their sin all the time instead of simply admitting it, confessing it, and asking God to forgive them for it.

Excuses can easily become lies, causing us to break the commandment that tells us not to lie (see Exodus 20:16). When we make excuses, we are lying to ourselves, to God, and to others. You can easily find a reason for every error, but it is better to take responsibility for your actions. Remember: The Truth will set you free (John 8:32).

Power Thought: I do not make excuses; I am honest in my speech and take responsibility for my actions.

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – How to Be Fearless

 

“The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?” (Psalm 27:1).

The psalmist David did not choose words carelessly – but under divine inspiration – when he spoke of lightand salvation.

Of all the memorials in Westminster Abbey, not one has a nobler thought inscribed on it than the monument to Lord Lawrence – simply his name, with the date of his death, and these words:

“He feared man so little because he feared God so much.”

Charles H. Spurgeon gives some helpful insights into Psalm 27:1.

“In the New Testament, the idea which is hinted at in the language of David is expressly revealed as a truth. God does not merely give us His light. He is light, just as He is love in His own uncreated nature.

“God is light, ‘John writes in his epistle,’ and in Him is no darkness at all.’ When John sought to teach us our Lord’s Godhead as clearly and as sharply as possible, he calls Him the ‘light,’ meaning to teach us that as such He shares the essential nature of the Deity.”

How wonderful that we need not live in darkness – in any sense of the word – but that we immediately can have the Light of Life, God Himself, available to us in the person of His indwelling Holy Spirit as well as in His inspired Word. Every prerequisite for the abundant, supernatural life has been made available to us, and access is immediate if we come to Him immediately with our needs.

Bible Reading: Psalm 27:2-6

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: With God’s help, I will follow Him who is my light and my salvation. I will have no fear of men or circumstances.

Presidential Prayer Team; G.C. – Tyrant Training

 

In the Bible, Nimrod is first to be singled out as a “mighty man.” He is also called “the great hunter.” However, he was not the “let’s bag a deer for dinner” kind of hunter you may imagine. His name literally translates his character: “we shall rebel.” Nimrod is one of the first great tyrants in recorded history. Ironically, the phrase “before the Lord” is also used when describing Nimrod, but not because he submitted himself to God; rather, he was bold and defiant in the face of the Lord. Eastern legend names Nimrod as the builder of the Tower of Babel, an act of extreme arrogance designed to take him into the very presence of God in Heaven, presumably to take over.

Cush fathered Nimrod; he was the first on earth to be a mighty man.

Genesis 10:8

Many people today set up their lives as little kingdoms, with power to make their own rules and dish out their own versions of justice. The news is saturated with stories of just how far some people will go to gain dominance over others.

Today, pray for men and women in America’s leadership to humbly submit themselves to God and seek His direction rather than their own rule. He will hear those prayers, blessing His people…and America.

Recommended Reading: Proverbs 8:13-21

Greg Laurie – “What Are You Doing Here?”

 

So it was, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave. Suddenly a voice came to him, and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

—1 Kings 19:13

It was a glorious day of victory for Israel and the Lord. Elijah had faced off with the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel, where God sent a stream of fire from Heaven and consumed Elijah’s sacrifice. At God’s command, Baal’s prophets had been slain, and Jezebel, the wife of wicked King Ahab, wanted Elijah dead.

So inexplicably, the courageous Elijah, having just faced all those prophets, ran in terror and hid himself in a cave. Then the Bible tells us there was a mighty, rushing wind, followed by an earthquake and a big fire. After that, God asked Elijah a question: “What are you doing here, Elijah?” (1 Kings 19:13).

I wonder if the Lord would say that to some of us sometimes. Maybe it’s when you’re in a group of people and things are happening that you shouldn’t be around. Maybe people are doing drugs or getting drunk. And the Lord says, “What are you doing here?” Or maybe you’re in a movie and a scene comes on that is not the kind of scene you should be watching. Everyone is enjoying it, and you are feeling a little uncomfortable. The Lord whispers, “What are you doing here?”

When Judas came to betray Jesus, He said, “Friend, why have you come?” (Matthew 26:50). Did Jesus know why Judas came to the garden with a bunch of soldiers and the temple guard? Of course Jesus knew. However, Jesus wanted Judas to say he was there because he had been planning to betray Him, but he wanted to repent. But Judas didn’t repent.

God knows everything that we have done, and He wants us to admit our sins, to confess them. Sometimes God will ask us a question designed to do that. So what question is God asking you today?

Max Lucado – God Never Changes

 

Though he creates, God was never created. Though he makes, he was never made. Though he causes, he was never caused. Hence the proclamation in Psalm 90:2, “Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting, you are God.”

God—an unchanging God, an uncaused God, and an ungoverned God. You and I are governed. The weather determines what we wear. The terrain tells us how to travel. We may challenge these forces and alter them slightly, but we never remove them. God, our Shepherd, doesn’t check the weather; he makes it.  He doesn’t defy gravity; he created it. Unchanging. Uncaused. Ungoverned. These are only a fraction of God’s qualities, but aren’t they enough to give you a glimpse of your Father? Don’t we need this kind of shepherd? Don’t we need an unchanging shepherd?

From Traveling Light

C.S. Lewis Daily – Today’s Reading

 

TO MRS. JOHNSON: On God’s unique way with each soul, even in the pattern of conversion; and on various Christian nonessentials.

2 March 1955

It is right and inevitable that we should be much concerned about the salvation of those we love. But we must be careful not to expect or demand that their salvation should conform to some ready-made pattern of our own. Some Protestant sects have gone very wrong about this. They have a whole programme of ‘conviction’, ‘conversion,’ et cetera, marked out, the same for everyone, and will not believe that anyone can be saved who doesn’t go through it ‘just so’. But (see the last chapter of Problem of Pain) God has His own unique way with each soul.

There is no evidence that St. John even underwent the same kind of ‘conversion’ as St. Paul. It’s not essential to believe in the devil; and I’m sure a man can get to Heaven without being accurate about Methuselah’s age. Also, as MacDonald says, ‘the time for saying comes seldom, the time for being is always there.’ What we practice, not (save at rare intervals) what we preach, is usually our great contribution to the conversion of others.

From The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis, Volume III