Charles Stanley – God’s Gift of Forgiveness


Colossians 3:12-14

Motivated by love, God provided a way for our sins to be forgiven: He sent Jesus to be our Savior. When we trust in the Lord’s substitutionary sacrifice on our behalf, we receive the gift of forgiveness.

Before placing faith in Christ, we were dead in our sins and objects of divine wrath (Ephesians 2:1-3). But our merciful heavenly Father sent His Son Jesus to redeem us. At the cross, the Savior took our sins upon Himself and experienced God’s fury for our sake. His death secured a pardon for us; there was nothing we ourselves could do to acquire God’s acceptance. We are saved by grace—through faith in Christ and what He accomplished (Ephesians 2:8-9). Our salvation is a free gift from the Father.

God’s will is that we, as forgiven people, show mercy to those who wrong us—to the same degree that He forgave us in Christ. But the human tendency is to attach conditions when extending mercy. We think, I will forgive you only if you apologize. Or, You must fix the problem, and then I’ll stop being angry. Or even, You must make restitution before I will let this go. That’s not what our Savior did. Romans 5:8 expresses it this way: “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

Depending on how much hurt we’ve experienced, we may require time and healing before we can truly forgive. But we are to remember that showing mercy is God’s will. We’re called to pardon those who have caused us pain. Through reliance on God’s Spirit, we can become Christlike and forgive.

Bible in One Year: Jeremiah 51-52

Our Daily Bread — Coming Alongside


Read: 2 Corinthians 1:3-11

Bible in a Year: Psalms 116-118; 1 Corinthians 7:1-19

>Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, . . . who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble. —2 Corinthians 1:3-4

When my sister Carole was diagnosed with breast cancer, our family worried. That diagnosis, with its surgeries and treatments, caused us to fear for her well-being, which drove our family to prayer on her behalf. Over the ensuing months, Carole’s updates were honest about the challenges. But we all celebrated when the report came back that the surgery and treatments had been successful. Carole was on the road to recovery!

Then, less than a year later, my sister Linda faced the same battle. Immediately, Carole came alongside Linda, helping her understand what to expect and how to prepare for what she would face. Carole’s experience had equipped her to walk with Linda through her own trial.

This is what Paul calls for in 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, where we read, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”

Thankfully, the Lord doesn’t waste anything. Our struggles not only give us an opportunity to experience His comfort, but they also open the door for us to share that comfort with others in their struggles. —Bill Crowder

Today, how can I be an encouragement to others whose hearts are weighed down by the cares of life?

God’s presence brings us comfort; our presence brings others comfort.

INSIGHT: This passage demonstrates how our personal pain can help others who suffer. Paul uses the word comfort both vertically and horizontally. God extends comfort to us. We experience His comfort. Then we can offer comfort to others. In this way, our pain can become a conduit of care for those in distress and lead to gratitude in the midst of pain. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort” (v. 3). Dennis Fisher

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Blindness, Delusion, Lies, or Logic


In cities across the world, the blind are leading the blind, quite literally. In an exhibit that hopes to promote understanding between people with and without eyesight, Dialogue in the Dark takes small tour groups through a variety of environments in complete darkness, inviting them to rely on senses they are far less used to trusting. For approximately one hour, visitors are led by visually impaired guides like George Pinon, who has been blind since age 3. Along the way, visitors can ask questions of their visually impaired guide, whose face remains unseen until the end.(1) In a similar worldwide exhibit, Dinner in the Dark, participants are served a four-course meal in complete darkness by blind waiters, challenging taste buds and table manners alike.

In each scenario, the turn of phrase “the blind leading the blind” challenges every negative connotation associated with it. The idiom is, of course, not meant to depict actual visual impairment like Pinon’s, but the far more common impairment of insight, knowledge, or vision of reality. Typically, the saying is applied in situations where the person (or people) in charge knows no more than those whom he or she is leading. The phrase is one used in antiquity, most notably used by Jesus in Matthew 15:14 and Luke 6:39. “Let them alone,” Jesus said of the Pharisees; “they are blind guides of the blind. And if one blind person guides another, both will fall into a pit.”

Just as Jesus seems to say here of the scribes and Pharisees of his day, the non-religious sometime describe every religious person in such terms. They reason that the anatomy of faith in general promotes a culture of the blind leading the blind. Moreover, Christianity in particular, some argue, is founded on such a blindness. The deluded disciples, blind by their love for Jesus or perhaps simply their need to be right, perpetuated a story that continues to delude the world. In his Letter to a Christian Nation, Sam Harris writes that nonbelievers like himself are thoroughly dumbstruck by the pervasiveness of Christian blindness, by the Christian “denial of tangible reality,” by the suffering these Christians create “in service to religious myths” and their wholehearted “attachment to an imaginary God.”(2)

While blindness to reality is a common accusation among the nonreligious, their accusations typically extend well beyond the charge of blindness. Charles Templeton, for instance, describes the resurrection story as a fable put forward by followers hoping to keep the dream alive. He insists that resurrection is first of all implausible, and that the story must be false because there are no secular histories which mention it. What’s more, he describes the discrepancies within the gospel accounts themselves as evidence of dishonesty or tampering of the storyline. Like many, he ends with the sharp conclusion that though Christians embrace it with blind eyes, “the entire resurrection story is not credible.”(3) In such a scenario, however, it would be far more accurate to accuse Christians of being “the deluded following the liars” than “the blind following the blind.”

In fact, I think most Christians would vigorously agree that the resurrection is indeed unfathomable. In the same way that Mary and Joseph understood that pregnancy among the virginal does not make sense, the resurrection flies in the face of what we know to be true of dead bodies: they do not rise. On this point, no one is blind. If by some way a body did happen to rise, it would have been a miracle unparalleled in history. On these details, I think most Christians and atheists can, in fact, agree!

But the claim that resurrection is implausible cannot be accurately bolstered by the claim that secular histories make no mention of it. Secular writers of the time, including Pliny, Josephus, and the Roman historian Tacitus, in fact affirm the biblical accounts in matters of historic detail. Christ’s life, his reported miracles, his sentence under the Roman procurator Pontius Pilate, his crucifixion, and his reported resurrection are all well documented by the historians of the era. Templeton’s insistence that a miracle of resurrection proportions would have convinced the entire population in a matter of hours is optimistic at best; there are far too many who prefer to watch from afar or to keep their eyes closed entirely.

Further, the oft-mentioned claim of discrepancies in the biblical accounts of the resurrection story cannot be used to logically discount the story itself. First, error must not be confused with imprecision. It makes sense that Paul mentions men as the first witnesses of the risen Christ because in that historical context women (who are named as the first witnesses in other accounts) were not considered valid witnesses. Second, falsity must not be confused with perspective. The minimal differences between the gospel accounts actually assure there was legitimate conveying of perspective going on and not simply a memorized story they needed to keep straight.

Finally, the theory that the story was conjured up by disciples who simply believed what they wanted to believe is not quite plausible. If the disciples had agreed to propagate a story, it serves to follow that they would have known to conceive something far less remarkable, a story that would accommodate the arguments they would undoubtedly face. With even the slightest bit of intelligence, one could see the claim that Jesus had only “spiritually” or “figuratively” risen again would have been much harder to prove false by antagonists. Furthermore, when standing up for these falsified claims was a matter of life or death, it seems likely that at least one of them would have buckled—far more likely than an entire group (and many others) being willing to die for a lie. A far cry from “the blind leading the blind,” such a scenario would call for “the liars following the liars.”

On the contrary, the disciples took the dangerous and difficult road—the inconceivable road—and they went to great lengths to proclaim it. Unlike those who might call them “blind” for conceding to the unfathomable, I find it far more difficult to examine the bigger picture and yet refuse to see.

Jill Carattini is managing editor of A Slice of Infinity at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia.

(1) Elizabeth Landau, “Being blind, ‘You Have to Be Adventurous,’”, May 12, 2009, accessed May 12, 2009.

(2) Sam Harris, Letter to a Christian Nation (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2007), 91.

(3) Charles Templeton, Farewell to God: My Reasons for Rejecting the Christian Faith (Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1996), 122.

Alistair Begg – Christ’s Victory


He who opens the breach goes up before them. Micah 2:13

Inasmuch as Jesus has gone before us, things are not as they would have been if He had never passed that way. He has conquered every foe that obstructed the way. Cheer up now, you faint-hearted warrior. Not only has Christ traveled the road, but He has defeated your enemies. Do you dread sin? He has nailed it to His cross. Do you fear death? He has been the death of Death. Are you afraid of hell? He has barred it against the advent of any of His children; they shall never see the gulf of perdition. Whatever foes may be before the Christian, they are all overcome. There are lions, but their teeth are broken; there are serpents, but their fangs are extracted; there are rivers, but they are bridged or fordable; there are flames, but we wear that matchless garment that renders us invulnerable to fire.

The sword that has been forged against us is already blunt; the instruments of war that the enemy is preparing have already lost their point. God has taken away in the person of Christ all the power that anything can have to hurt us. Well then, the army may march safely on, and you may go joyously along your journey, for all your enemies are already conquered. What will you do but march on to take the prey? They are beaten, they are vanquished; all you have to do is share the plunder. You shall, it is true, often engage in combat; but your fight will be with a defeated foe. His head is broken; he may attempt to injure you, but his strength will not be sufficient for his malicious design. Your victory shall be easy, and your treasure shall be beyond all measure

Proclaim aloud the Savior’s fame,

Who bears the Breaker’s wond’rous name;

Sweet name; and it becomes him well,

Who breaks down earth, sin, death, and hell.

The Family Bible Reading Plan

  • 1 Samuel 16
  • Romans 14

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

Charles Spurgeon – The comer’s conflict with Satan


“And as he was yet a coming, the devil threw him down, and tare him. And Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, and healed the child, and delivered him again to his father.” Luke 9:42

Suggested Further Reading: 1 John 5:13-21

“There is a sin unto death; I do not say that he shall pray for it.” “There,” says the devil, “the apostle did not say he could even pray for the man who has committed certain sins.” Then he reads that “sin against the Holy Ghost shall never be forgiven.” “There,” he says, “is your character: you have committed sin against the Holy Ghost, and you will never be pardoned.” Then he brings another passage: “Let him alone; Ephraim is joined unto idols.” “There,” says Satan, “you have had no liberty in prayer lately; God has let you alone; you are given unto idols; you are entirely destroyed;” and the cruel fiend howls his song of joy, and makes a merry dance over the thought that the poor soul is to be lost. But do not believe him, my dear friends. No man has committed the sin against the Holy Ghost as long as he has grace to repent; it is certain that no man can have committed that sin if he flies to Christ and believes on him. No believing soul can commit it; no penitent sinner ever has committed it. If a man be careless and thoughtless—if he can hear a terrible sermon and laugh it off, and put away his convictions—if he never feels any strivings of conscience, there is a fear that he may have committed that sin. But as long as you have any desires for Christ, you have no more committed that sin than you have flown up to the stars and swept cobwebs from the skies. As long as you have any sense of your guilt, any desire to be redeemed, you cannot have fallen into that sin; as a penitent you may still be saved, for if you had committed it, you could not be penitent.

For meditation: The devil is the father of lies, a murderer and sinner from the beginning (John 8:44; 1 John 3:8). His attempts to be a Bible expositor are never to be trusted (Luke 4:9,10).

Sermon no. 100

24 August (1856)

John MacArthur – Covering Sin


“[Love] bears all things” (1 Cor. 13:7).

Love confronts sin but protects the sinner.

In 1 Corinthians 13:7 Paul mentions four qualities of love that are closely related: bearing all things, believing all things, hoping all things, and enduring all things. That might sound like love is indiscriminate and accepting of anything that comes along, but “all things” in that verse is qualified by the context. Love rejects jealousy, bragging, arrogance, and so on (vv. 4-6), but it bears, believes, hopes, and endures all things that are within the parameters of God’s Word.

“Love bears all things” speaks of love’s willingness to cover sins and protect sinners from further harm. That’s opposite our tabloid-mentality society in which gossip is big business and people seemingly have an insatiable appetite for exposes and “true confessions.”

Love seeks to protect, not expose. It confronts and disciplines sin but never broadcasts failures or wrongs. It feels the pain of those it loves and is willing to take that pain upon itself when necessary—as Christ did when He suffered for our sins.

In the Old Testament, the mercy seat was the place where the blood of atonement was sprinkled to cover the sins of the people (Lev. 16:14). That covering prefigured the perfect covering of sin that Christ brought through His death on the cross (Rom. 3:25-26). All who trust in Him are forever covered with the mantle of God’s love.

You cannot cover sins in the redemptive sense, but you can help protect and restore its victims. Proverbs 10:12 says, “Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all transgressions.” First Peter 4:8 says, “Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.”

When you hear of someone’s sin, what is your first reaction? Do you think the worst of him or even gloat over his failures? Or do you expect the best and want to protect him from further exposure, ridicule, or harm? Are you willing to confront sin when necessary and even help bear the burden that person might be carrying? How you react indicates the quality of your love.

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Thank God for covering your sins with Christ’s blood.
  • Commit yourself to loving others in a way that truly bears all things.

For Further Study

Read Isaiah 53:3-12.

  • How is Christ pictured?
  • What did He endure on your behalf?

Joyce Meyer – You Can Handle Whatever Life Hands You


Yet amid all these things we are more than conquerors and gain a surpassing victory through Him Who loved us. – Romans 8:37

For years, I have pondered what being “more than a conqueror” means. I’m sure other people have other perspectives, but I have come to the conclusion that being more than a conqueror means having such confidence that no matter what comes up in your life, you know that through Christ you can handle it. You know before you are ever faced with a problem that you’re going to have victory over it.

So therefore, you don’t dread things, you don’t fear the unknown, you don’t live in anxiety about what’s going to happen in uncertain situations. It doesn’t really matter what the specifics of the situation are; you know you can handle it through Christ. For you, defeat isn’t an option!

Begin to think every day, I can handle whatever life hands me. I can do whatever I need to do in life. I am more than a conqueror. I am equal to anything through Him who infuses inner strength into me. Even before you get out of bed in the mornings, let these thoughts roll over and over in your mind, and your confidence will skyrocket and you will find that indeed, you can do whatever you need to do in life.

Right thinking is the first step toward a better life. Wishing won’t work. Being jealous of someone who has what you desire does no good. Self-pity is a waste of time and energy. Discovering God’s will through an accurate knowledge of His Word and beginning to think as He thinks is the beginning of a new life for anyone who desires one.

Trust in Him: In what specific situation do you need to believe you are more than a conqueror? Trust that through Christ, you are equal to anything.

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Reverence Brings Reward 


“If you belong to the Lord, reverence Him; for everyone who does this has everything he needs” (Psalm 34:9).

Roger had a heart for God. He wanted to be everything the Lord wanted him to be. But he was troubled over how to achieve the balance between being what God wanted him to be and doing what God wanted him to do.

As we talked together I reminded Roger that everything flows from our relationship with the Lord – that He has to be primary. In Matthew 4:19, Jesus says, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” As we follow Him, He enables us to become fishers of men.

“If ye abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you” (John 15:7, KJV). “Out of the heart are the issues of life” (Proverbs 4:23, KJV). That which is most on our hearts will be most on our lips. If we love the Lord Jesus with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, it will be impossible for us to remain silent.

At the same time, obedience is a confirmation of our walk with the Lord. Jesus said, “He that hath My commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth Me: and he that loveth Me shall be loved of My Father, and I will love him, and will manifest Myself to him” (John 14:21, KJV).

One of the most important commandments of our Lord is that we lead holy lives. Another is that we be fruitful in our witnessing for Christ. There is no substitute for reverence, worship, praise, adoration.

As we remember to reverence God by enlisting His guiding hand before we get into a predicament, He reaches out in love and extends a protecting hand in the midst of the trouble as we again invoke His divine care. If I am to live the supernatural life today, it will require divine enabling, and I must remain yielded to God’s indwelling Holy Spirit.

Bible Reading: Psalm 34:10-15

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I will worship God today as a demonstration of my love and trust for Him by spending quality time with Him in His word and in prayer, and helping others to understand the importance of reverence for and worship of God.

Presidential Prayer Team; J.R.- Miraculous Relocation


When S. Mark Powell committed suicide in 2013, his death was only the beginning of the bad news. After his passing, Mark’s wife learned that the popular Austin, Texas money manager had been running a Ponzi scheme. More than 90 creditors were bilked out of $30 million. Worse, Powell’s estate assets were seized, leaving his wife and three children to bear the consequences of his fraud.

She set out from the place where she was with her two daughters-in-law…to return to the land of Judah.

Ruth 1:7

Something similar happened to the biblical heroine Naomi. Her husband took her to a foreign land – apparently, contrary to God’s will – and then he died, leaving Naomi without the means even to put food on the table. But Naomi didn’t stew in her unfortunate circumstances…she took action. With her daughters-in-law, Naomi returned to the place God wanted her to be, and it was there that her Lord orchestrated a miraculous turnaround.

When life sours, your very first move should be to get to the place God wants you to be. It’s not a geographical location, but rather a place of the heart. “In God I trust; I shall not be afraid.” (Psalm 56:11) Let that be your prayer for your life – and for America today.

Recommended Reading: Ruth 5:11-17

Greg Laurie – Someone to Show Them the Way


But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them?—Romans 10:14

In Acts 8 we find the story of a foreign dignitary from Ethiopia. As the queen’s treasurer, he was a powerful man who would have traveled with an entourage. He went to Jerusalem in search of God, but found dead, lifeless religion instead. However, he obtained a scroll of Isaiah while he was there. And as it happened, he was traveling through the desert, reading aloud about the suffering of the Messiah, when God led Philip to go to him and share the gospel.

Philip saw him traveling along, reading from Isaiah’s scroll. So Philip walked up to him and said, “Do you understand what you are reading?” (verse 30). The man said, “How can I, unless someone instructs me?” Philip climbed up into the chariot, took the scroll, told him what it meant, and pointed him to Jesus. And before the day was over, that man had become a believer and left with joy in his heart and a spring in his step. This is what people are still looking for today: someone to show them the way.

There is one thing that Christians and non-Christians have in common: both are very uptight about evangelism. Christians are uptight about evangelizing, and non-Christians are uptight about being evangelized. But I think some of us give up way too easily. When we ask someone if anyone has ever told them about Jesus, or if we invite someone to church and they say no, we give up too easily. Instead, try asking, “Well, why do you say that? Did you have a bad experience in church?”

God has primarily chosen to reach people through people. So engage them, and most importantly, keep praying for them. Give it a try, and you will discover what a joy it is to tell others about Jesus.


Max Lucado – Tender Moments


You don’t have to be brilliant to remember that a child is not an adult. Or a child psychologist to know that kids are “under construction.” Or possess the wisdom of Solomon to realize that they didn’t ask to be here in the first place. And that spilled milk can be wiped up and broken plates can be replaced.

I’m not a prophet, nor the son of one, but something tells me that in the whole scheme of things the tender moments with a child are infinitely more valuable than anything I do in front of a computer or a congregation. Something tells me that the moments of comfort I’ve given my children are a small price to pay for the joy of seeing my daughter do for her daughter what her dad did for her! Moments of comfort from a parent. They are the sweetest moments in a parent’s day! Make sure your child knows of your love and concern.

From The Applause of Heaven

Night Light for Couples – Set Up For Disappointment


“Do not put your trust in princes, in mortal men, who cannot save.” Psalm 146:3

The media continually bombard us with images of broken trust: spouses who cheat on each other; politicians who break promises; corporate chiefs who steal from their employees.

The list goes on and on. People in positions of responsibility should be held accountable to the highest moral and ethical standards. Yet each of these people is a mortal creature with a natural bent toward sin. The minute we begin placing our deepest faith and trust in human beings, we set ourselves up for severe disappointment.

What does this mean for marriage? Even in the best of relationships, husbands and wives may err and break the other’s trust. That’s why we must rely on God’s power—not our own—to lead honorable lives. When husbands and wives commit themselves to live according to God’s ways, a bond of trust develops between them. Though none of us is perfect, we can give our heart confidently to our spouse when we know that he or she is genuinely seeking to follow God and His guidelines.

Just between us…

  • Has someone in a position of responsibility ever broken your trust?
  • Is it ever difficult for you to trust me?
  • Knowing our sinful nature, how can we still earn each other’s trust?
  • How do you think the Lord blesses spouses who trust each other?
  • How might we develop an even deeper level of trust in our relationship?

Heavenly Father, thank You that You are completely worthy of our trust. As my spouse and I commit ourselves to being trustworthy with each other, empower us by Your Spirit. Grant us grace when we fail. And bless us, we pray, with joy and confidence as we make trustworthiness a priority. Amen.

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