Charles Stanley – Forgiving Hurts We Don’t Deserve

 

Colossians 3:12-14

It is truly amazing how some people attempt to justify an angry, unforgiving heart. They may think, God knows what that person did to me, so He understands why I feel this way. Well, He certainly understands, but that doesn’t mean He approves.

Jesus faced appalling betrayal and abandonment, so He knows human emotions inside and out. Yet the Lord does not agree that we should feel justified about an unforgiving attitude. The Savior had a God-centered view of forgiveness that withstood the vilest torture. This is something we should thank God for every morning. Why? Because we are the ones who betray the Lord daily.

We have wronged Jesus in ways no one has ever wronged us. We’ve denied Him His rightful place in our lives. We have doubted His Word, ignored His instructions, and left Him out of our day-to-day lives. We’ve sinned against Him and shamed Him by sinning against others.

What is Jesus’ response to this abuse? “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). Now, do you really believe He will justify your unforgiveness under any circumstances? No, He won’t.

When you look to God to excuse your unforgiving heart, you’ll hear Him answer, “Look at the cross.” There, you’ll discover the price that was paid for your own forgiveness. Colossians 3:13 spells out our solemn responsibility: “Forgive as the Lord forgave you” (NIV, emphasis added). Just as we have been forgiven, so we must now become forgivers.

Our Daily Bread — Stuck In The Mud

 

Read: Psalm 40:1-5

Bible in a Year: 1 Chronicles 19-21; John 8:1-27

He . . . brought me up out of . . . the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock. —Psalm 40:2

We were absolutely stuck! While I was laying the wreath in place on my parents’ grave, my husband eased the car off the road to allow another car to pass. It had rained for weeks and the parking area was sodden. When we were ready to leave, we discovered that the car was stuck. The wheels spun, sinking further and further into the mud.

We weren’t going anywhere without a push, but my husband had a damaged shoulder, and I had just come out of the hospital. We needed help! At a distance I saw two young men, and they responded cheerfully to my frantic waves and shouts. Thankfully, their combined strength pushed the car back onto the roadway.

Psalm 40 recounts God’s faithfulness when David cried for help. “I waited patiently for the LORD to help me, and he . . . heard my cry. He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire” (vv.1-2 NLT). Whether this psalm refers to an actual pit or to challenging circumstances, David knew that he could always call on God for deliverance.

God will help us too when we call on Him. Sometimes He intervenes directly, but more often He works through other people. When we admit our need to Him—and perhaps to others—we can count on His faithfulness. —Marion Stroud

I praise You, heavenly Father, that You can rescue me from any pit, no matter how deep. Help me to accept the help of others and to be ready to offer it to those in need.

Hope comes with help from God and others.

INSIGHT: David wrote about his struggles to trust God during difficult times, but he persisted in praying for His help (vv. 11-17). Despite his prolonged and uncertain waiting (vv. 13,17), David testified that God hears and answers prayers (vv. 1-2) and is worthy of our trust (vv. 3-4). In response to God’s faithfulness, David committed himself to obeying God’s Word and doing His will (vv. 6-8), and he calls on all who seek and long for God to join him in praising God (v. 16).

Alistair Begg – He Begins and Completes

 

The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me.
Psalm 138:8

It is clear that the confidence that the psalmist expresses is a divine confidence. He did not say, “I have enough grace to perfect that which concerns me–my faith is so steady that it will not falter–my love is so warm that it will never grow cold–my resolution is so firm that nothing can move it.” No, his dependence was on the Lord alone. If we display a confidence that is not grounded on the Rock of ages, our confidence is worse than a dream; it will fall upon us and cover us with its ruins, to our sorrow and confusion.

The psalmist was wise; he rested on nothing less than the Lord’s work. It is the Lord who has begun the good work within us; it is He who has carried it on; and if He does not finish it, it never will be completed. If there is one stitch in the celestial garment of our righteousness that we must insert ourselves, then we are lost; but this is our confidence–what the Lord begins, He completes. He has done it all, must do it all, and will do it all. Our confidence must not be in what we have done, nor in what we have resolved to do, but entirely in what the Lord will do.

Unbelief insinuates: “You will never be able to stand. Look at the evil of your heart–you can never conquer sin; remember the sinful pleasures and temptations of the world that beset you–you will be certainly allured by them and led astray.” True, we would certainly perish if left to our own strength. If by ourselves we navigate the most frail vessels of our lives over so rough a sea, we might well give up the voyage in despair; but thanks be to God, He will complete that which concerns us and bring us to the desired haven. We can never be too confident when we confide in Him alone, and never too eager to have such a trust.

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

Charles Spurgeon – Looking unto Jesus

 

“They looked unto him, and were lightened: and their faces were not ashamed.” Psalm 34:5

Suggested Further Reading: 1 Timothy 2:1-7

See there he sits in heaven, he has led captivity captive, and now sits at the right hand of God, for ever making intercession for us. Can your faith picture him today? Like a great high priest of old, he stands with outstretched arms: there is majesty in his demeanour, for he is no mean cringing suppliant. He does not beat his breast, nor cast his eyes upon the ground, but with authority he pleads, enthroned in glory now. There on his head is the bright shining mitre of his priesthood, and look you, on his breast are glittering the precious stones whereon the names of his elect are everlastingly engraved; hear him as he pleads, hear you not what it is?—is that your prayer that he is mentioning before the throne? The prayer that this morning you offered before you came to the house of God, Christ is now offering before his Father’s throne. The vow which just now you uttered when you said, “Have pity and have mercy,”—he is now uttering there. He is the Altar and the Priest, and with his own sacrifice he perfumes our prayers. And yet, mayhap, you have been at prayer many a day, and had no answer; poor weeping suppliant, you have sought the Lord and he has not heard you, or at least not answered you to your soul’s delight; you have cried unto him, but the heavens have been as brass, and he has shut out your prayer, you are full of darkness and heaviness on account of this, “Look to him, and be lightened.” If you do not succeed, he will; if your intercession be unnoticed, his cannot be passed away; if your prayers can be like water spilt on a rock which cannot be gathered up, yet his prayers are not like that, he is God’s Son, he pleads and must prevail.

For meditation: The prayers of the true seeker and of believers are not a waste of effort; they are not like letters lost in the post, but reach the throne of God (Acts 10:4; Revelation 5:8). But only praying in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ is accepted; prayers addressed to saints, to false gods or to the dead are always turned away—“not known here.”

Sermon no. 195
23 May (1858)

John MacArthur – Marveling at God’s Forgiveness (Matthew)

 

The twelve apostles included “Matthew the tax-gatherer” (Matt. 10:3).

Never lose your sense of awe over Christ’s forgiveness.

Matthew describes himself as “Matthew the tax-gatherer” (Matt. 10:3). He is the only apostle whose name is associated with an occupation. Apparently Matthew never forgot what he had been saved from, and never lost his sense of awe and unworthiness over Christ’s forgiveness.

This is how he set the scene of his own conversion: Matthew 9:1-8 tells us Jesus forgave the sins of a paralytic man and then healed him of his paralysis. When the Jewish scribes accused Him of blasphemy for claiming to have the authority to forgive sins, He said to them, “Why are you thinking evil in your hearts? For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, and walk’?” He wanted them to know His miracles testified of His deity. As God, He could as easily forgive sins as He could heal diseases.

Immediately after that account, Matthew gave the account of his own call. It’s as if he wanted his own salvation to serve as an illustration of Christ’s ability to forgive even the vilest of sinners. Matthew 9:9 says, “As Jesus passed on from there, He saw a man, called Matthew, sitting in the tax office; and He said to him, ‘Follow Me!’ And he rose, and followed Him.”

When the Pharisees questioned Jesus’s practice of associating with tax-gatherers, He said to them, “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick. . . . I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners” (vv. 12-13). The Pharisees were sick with sin but thought they were healthy. Matthew and his associates knew they were sinners who needed a Savior.

Do you share Matthew’s humility and sense of awe at receiving Christ’s precious gift of forgiveness? I pray that you do and that you are continually praising Him for it.

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Thank God for the wonder of forgiveness.
  • If you have lost your sense of awe over God’s forgiveness, perhaps you’re taking His grace for granted. Confess your apathy and ask Him to give you a deep appreciation for the enormous price He paid for your salvation.

For Further Study

As a reminder of what Christ endured for you, read Matthew 26:17—27:56, which chronicles the events of His betrayal and crucifixion.

 

Joyce Meyer – Step Out

 

Arise [from the depression and prostration in which circumstances have kept you—rise to a new life]! Shine (be radiant with the glory of the Lord), for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you! Isaiah 60:1

“Step out and find out” is my slogan. I hate to see people shrink back in fear and be so afraid of making a mistake that they never try to do anything.

I know a young man who quit a good job to go into music ministry. It was a bold step, and he did everything he could to make it work, but it just didn’t (at least not at this time).

However, I am proud of him that he was bold enough to try. At least now he won’t spend the rest of his life wondering what could have been if only he had tried. Unless you listen to God and follow your own heart, you will live an unfulfilled and frustrated life. Anyone who allows other people to control her and guide her destiny will eventually become bitter and feel used and taken advantage of. I think it is better to try and fail than never to try at all. Sometimes the only way we can discover what we are supposed to do with our lives is to try different things until we see what works and what fits right in our heart.

Lord, I don’t want to live with regrets. Help me to be bold and step out and follow what I believe You’ve put in my heart to do. Amen.

 

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Practicing the Presence of God

 

“How precious it is, Lord, to realize that You are thinking about me constantly! I can’t even count how many times a day Your thoughts turn towards me. And when I waken in the morning, You are still thinking of me!” (Psalm 139:17,18).

Our sons, Zac and Brad, have helped me to understand, in some small measure, the truth of this promise, for in the course of a single day, I will lift them up in prayer many times. I am finite, but God is infinite. My love for our sons is limited, but his love is inexhaustible and unconditional. It is because of God’s love in my heart that I am able to love my sons unconditionally, even as He loves me.

What a comforting, encouraging thought, that the omnipotent Creator, God, who possesses all power and control of creation, loves me enough that He is constantly thinking about me. When I allow Him to do so, He talks to me, expressing His love, wisdom and grace from His Word, through divine impressions and the counsel of wise and godly friends. His eyes run to and fro throughout the whole earth to make Himself strong and mighty in my behalf (2 Chronicles 16:9).

Just as He is constantly thinking about me, I have been admonished to pray without ceasing. To talk to Him, to think about Him all the time – as difficult as it may sound – is a joyful reality to those who practice the presence of God, is that the kind of relationship you are experiencing day by day? If not, it can be.

Bible Reading: Psalm 139:1-10

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Mindful that God loves, cares and thinks about me constantly, I shall seek to live the supernatural life by practicing His presence, by praying without ceasing and by claiming His supernatural power by faith.

Greg Laurie – God Is Looking for a Few Good Men (And Women!)

 

“I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?’ Then I said, ‘Here am I! Send me.'” —Isaiah 6:8

If you were God, and you wanted to touch the world, how would you go about it?

You could raise up an army of mighty angels, who would gladly do your bidding. Or you could just roll back the heavens and speak audibly to Planet Earth and say something like, “Hello everyone. I’m God and you’re not, and I want you to believe in me, now!”

But no, that is not how the Lord has decided to impact our planet. He chooses to use people—and flawed people at that.

When Jesus came to this earth, He chose 12 men: Peter, James, John, Matthew, Andrew, Thomas . . . we know their names well. But do we really know them? It’s a good idea to learn what we can about them, because they turned their world upside down.

They didn’t have modern technology to help them. No iPhones, iPads, Internet, texting, or e-mailing. They didn’t even have fax machines (which once were very high-tech). No MP3s, DVDs, CDs, cassettes, or even 8-tracks. Not even the printed page.

No, Thomas did not tweet, Peter did not have a Facebook page, and Andrew did not Instagram.

It was all done by “word of mouth,” person to person. Yet these hand-picked disciples, in a relatively short amount of time, shook the ancient world.

You know what? God is still looking for men and women to shake the world today.

Will you make yourself available?

Streams in the Desert for Kids – Lazy Is as Lazy Does

 

Hebrews 6:12

Sometimes it’s interesting to look up a word in the dictionary and see what it really means. “Lazy” means “not easily aroused to activity.” A lazy person just doesn’t want to try very hard. For example, lazy students don’t make much effort in school; they don’t study very hard or do their homework well. They might even try to get someone else to do it for them!

There is something inside all of us that wants to be lazy. But the Bible teaches that we must not be lazy when it comes to our faith. Instead, we need to be willing to make an effort. We are to follow the examples of people in the Bible who demonstrated faith and patience, even when they had problems. That’s how they grew strong spiritually. It’s good advice because being lazy—especially being lazy about prayer and reading our Bibles—in the long run doesn’t feel good. There’s nothing like jumping in, doing a task well, and then feeling the satisfaction of a job well done.

Dear Lord, Help me to be faithful to my work, both at home and in school and help me to remember to pray and read the Bible so that I can be everything you want me to be. Amen.

Discovering God’s Design – Portable Praise

 

Psalm 98:4–9

Making a joyful noise to the Lord sounds good and right, doesn’t it? It’s a no-brainer—so much so that it’s easy not to engage our brains all that actively over a praise passage. We’re inspired and uplifted when we read such words. Our gait may even be livelier and our gaze focused higher for a while afterward.

The trouble is, our days are often characterized by an operative word other than praise. Despite our best intentions, that word too easily morphs into busyness. Author Cynthia Heald reflects on this issue:

One day when I was reading Oswald Chamber’s My Utmost for His Highest, I was struck by his insight about a rather obscure and easily overlooked verse in Genesis: “[From there he (Abram) went on toward the hills east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. There he built an altar to the LORD.]” Chambers writes, “Bethel is the symbol of communion with God; Ai is the symbol of the world. Abraham pitched his tent between the two. The measure of the worth of our public activity for God is the private profound communion we have with him. Rush is wrong every time; there is always plenty of time to worship God. Quiet days with God may be a snare. We have to pitch our tents where we shall always have quiet times with God, however noisy our times with the world may be.”

As I meditated on these thoughts, I concluded that I needed a tent! Since my journey usually takes me into Ai (the world) or to Bethel (which literally means “house of God”), I realized that I needed to pitch my tent (spend time with God) between the world and my times in church. Because I was in church only once or twice a week, I knew that if I wanted to keep my hand in God’s, I needed to spend time alone with him, one-on-one, every day. In order to do this, I found a “tent” and put my “altar” in it. My tent is a cloth bag in which I have placed my altar: my Bible, a journal, and a devotional book. I usually include a Bible study book or a current book that I am reading. A tent can be a cloth bag, a backpack, or a briefcase—anything that is portable and can be taken with you whenever you leave your home.

My tent stays near my chair in my study, and it’s ready to be pitched early in the morning. But if circumstances keep me from spending time with the Lord at the beginning of the day, I pick up my tent and take it with me when I leave the house. (In fact, I take it with me even if I already have had time with the Lord.) Then throughout the day, I look for pockets of time when I can pitch my tent—unplanned times of waiting or having a few extra minutes before a commitment. I can set up my tent in an airport, a doctor’s waiting room, a coffee shop, a library, a park … I have found that I am much more consistent in spending time with the Lord because I always have my tent with me.

Think About It

  • How much time would it take for you to benefit from a meditation on Psalm 98:4–9?
  • What difference would it make if you were to reflect on these words several times during the course of a single day or week?
  • In terms of your worship tent, does the “stow and go” method sound like a possible aid for you as you steward your God-given mandate (and privilege) to praise?

Pray About It

Lord, let me rejoice before you! Let me praise you and worship you!

Night Light for Couples – Just Waitin’ For You, Dad

 

In you our fathers put their trust; they trusted and you delivered them. Psalm 22:4

A husband and wife on vacation at a lake didn’t notice their three‐year‐old son Billy wandering toward the dock to investigate a boat. He tried to stretch his short legs from the dock to the boat, but didn’t quite make it—and fell into six‐feet‐deep water. The splash brought Dad running. He dove into the murky water, groping with his arms and legs trying to find Billy. His lungs nearly bursting, he pushed toward the surface—and touched Billy, whose arms were locked around a piling four feet underwater. Dad pried him loose, and they hit the surface together, gasping for air. When they had recovered,

Dad asked little Billy what he was doing hanging onto that piling. Billy’s answer: “Just waitin’ for you, Dad.” When his life was on the line, Billy knew his dad would come through. It’s true that fathers bear heavy responsibility for the welfare and protection of their children. We parents have a tough assignment, but most of us wouldn’t have it any other way. The most difficult, important, and wonderful task of all is to teach our kids to trust their heavenly Father even more than they depend on Dad.

Just between us…

  • Did you as a child ever have a close call like Billy’s?
  • Was your father there for you?
  • Are we teaching our kids to depend on the Lord? How can we learn to trust God as much as Billy trusted his dad?

Father, we praise You that You are strong and trustworthy at all times. We say with the psalmist—“The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?” May our words, attitudes, and behavior model complete trust in You as a way of life in our home. Amen.

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