Charles Stanley – The Foundation of Forgiveness

 

Matthew 18:21-35

For followers of Christ, the goal is to become increasingly like Him, and one of the best ways to reflect His character is through forgiveness. Yet sometimes this is a quality we are reluctant to demonstrate because it seems so unfair, especially if the wrong done to us is ongoing or particularly painful. To forgive appears to diminish the offense and counteract justice.

Let’s correct several misperceptions about this aspect of our faith:

The foundation for our forgiveness of others is God’s forgiveness of us. Today’s passage contains a parable in which a man is forgiven a sum too exorbitant to repay. Yet he turns around and demands immediate payment from someone who owes him a small amount. That’s what we are like when we think others’ wrongs against us must be avenged even though God has forgiven us.

Unforgiveness torments us, not the wrongdoer. It’s a caustic poison within us that corrupts our emotions, stunts us spiritually, and stresses our bodies. When we don’t release the offender, we end up imprisoned in bitterness, resentment, and hostility—and that is sin.

Forgiveness doesn’t negate the wrong done to us. It doesn’t deny the offense or the resulting pain but lets go of the right to get even. Vengeance is God’s responsibility, not ours (Romans 12:19). We don’t have all the facts, nor can we know the offender’s true motive. Only God can judge accurately and fairly.

When Jesus suffered the ultimate injustice of the cross, He entrusted Himself to the Father (1 Peter 2:21-24). Can you follow His example and trust God with wrongs done to you?

Bible in One Year: Zechariah 11-14

 

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Our Daily Bread — For Our Friends

 

Read: John 15:5–17 | Bible in a Year: Isaiah 11–13; Ephesians 4

My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. John 15:12

In Emily Bronte’s novel Wuthering Heights, a cantankerous man who often quotes the Bible to criticize others is memorably described as “the wearisomest self-righteous Pharisee that ever ransacked a Bible to rake [apply] the promises to himself and fling the curses to his neighbours.”

It’s a funny line; and it may even bring particular people to mind. But aren’t we alla bit like this—prone to condemn others’ failures while excusing our own?

In Scripture some people amazingly did the exact opposite; they were willing to give up God’s promises for them and even be cursed if it would save others. Consider Moses, who said he’d rather be blotted out of God’s book than see the Israelites unforgiven (Exodus 32:32). Or Paul, who said he’d choose to be “cut off from Christ” if it meant his people would find Him (Romans 9:3).

As self-righteous as we naturally are, Scripture highlights those who love others more than themselves.

Because ultimately such love points to Jesus. “Greater love has no one than this,” Jesus taught, than “to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13). Even before we knew Him, Jesus loved us “to the end” (13:1)—choosing death to give us life.

Now we are invited into the family of God, to love and be loved like this (15:9–12). And as we pour into others Christ’s unimaginable love, the world will catch a glimpse of Him.

Lord, thank You for showing us what it means to love. Help us to love like You.

When we love Christ, we love others.

By Monica Brands | See Other Authors

INSIGHT

The important idea of love for one another found in John 15:12–14 is rooted in one of Jesus’s most enduring teaching images—the vine and the branches (vv. 1–8). Our life so completely flows from being connected to Christ that everything we do, including our ability to love one another, is drawn from His life and power.

Bill Crowder

 

http://www.odb.org

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – New Robes

Hans Christian Andersen tells of the emperor who loved new clothes. This emperor so admired modeling his new robes that he spent all of his time in his dressing room. In fact, he had little concern for anything else in his kingdom.

One day two swindlers came to town announcing they were weavers of the finest clothes imaginable. Their royal colors and fabrics, they claimed, were exceptionally stunning. In fact, they were of such quality that they were only visible to the finest few! Those who were unfit for their office or were hopelessly stupid would not be able to see them at all.

The emperor was immediately taken by this description and provided the weavers with large amounts of money. He wanted to know those who were unfit for their posts; he also wanted to see the foolish and the clever within his empire. Yet when the emperor went to try on the garments, he was most distraught to realize that it was he who saw nothing at all. But the king would not admit his stupidity or incompetence; he would not let anyone think him a fool. He announced that the cloth was very beautiful, and all the courtiers rapidly agreed. In a great procession the next day, everyone spoke in admiration of the emperor’s new clothes. They loved the detail! The colors were beautiful! The garments were like no other, they said. But then from the back of the crowd a child spoke up, observing what the rest would not: The emperor was wearing nothing.

Imagine finding out that the one thing you have desperately attempted to keep veiled in secrecy was not actually veiled at all. The thought bears the unsettling sense of finding yourself unclothed before a crowded room. Would you feel foolish? Would you run and hide? Or would you insist the veil was still there? Andersen ends with a glimpse into the mind of the king: “[The words of the child] made a deep impression upon the emperor, for it seemed to him that they were right. But he thought to himself regardless, ‘Now I must bear up to the end.’” Idols are not easy to own up to; how much more so, when what we idolize is not really there in the first place.

Continue reading Ravi Zacharias Ministry – New Robes

Joyce Meyer – God Says, “You Can Trust Me”

 

…Blessed is the man who fears the Lord…He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord. — Psalm 112:1, 7

Adapted from the resource Hearing from God Each Morning Devotional – by Joyce Meyer

God sometimes speaks by giving us peace deep inside our hearts. You may face situations in which everyone around you is telling you to trust God and be at peace, but the “how to” evades you.

Fears are screaming at you, unnerving you, and threatening you. Friends are saying, “Everything will be all right,” but you find that hard to believe until God Himself speaks deep in your heart and says, “You can trust Me; I will take care of this. Everything really is going to be all right.”

In 1989, I went to the doctor for a regular checkup. He discovered a fast-growing type of cancer, and recommended surgery immediately.

As a result of this news, I struggled with tremendous fear. I had trouble sleeping, and there were times when fear hit me so hard I felt I was going to fall down. No matter how many of my family members or friends reassured me, I still battled great fear until very early one morning, about 3:00 a.m., God spoke deep inside my heart and said, “Joyce, you can trust Me.”

After that, I did not experience any sickening fear again. I was apprehensive as I waited for results on tests, but I was not terrified. I knew I was in God’s hands and whatever happened, He would take care of me.

As it turned out, I did not need further treatment. I ended up thankful instead of fearful—and that’s what can happen in any situation when we learn to hear God’s voice.

Prayer Starter: Father, you see everything i’m going through today. Help me to sense your peace deep inside my heart. Help me to trust that you will always take care of me and never let me down. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Because You Believe

“You believed that God would do what He said; that is why He has given you this wonderful blessing” (Luke 1:45).

So much of the life you and I live as Christians depends on simple belief. Do we really trust God to do what He says He will do?

This particular verse, of course, concerns Mary. No doubt she was chosen to be the mother of Jesus because of the faith God knew she possessed. In any case, God honored that faith by bestowing upon her the highest privilege any mother could have.

Even taken out of context, the meaning is the same: If we truly believe God will do what He says, the wonderful blessing He promises will be ours. And that applies to every area of our lives – spiritual, physical, material.

What is your greatest need today? If you are a housewife and mother, it may be for patience and love. If you are a business or professional man or woman, it may be for wisdom or strength or courage. If you are a student, it may be for persistence, commitment, application.

In all probability, you cannot think of a circumstance or situation which is beyond the ability of God to control. The promises of God are both general and specific, so that they will meet the need of every heart and life.

We may expect a great blessing from God today. Why? Because we are going to believe He will do what He said.

Bible Reading:Luke 1:39-44

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: “Dear Lord, I will believe you for supernatural living in every situation and circumstance of my life this day.”

 

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Max Lucado – Jesus Stands Up For You

Listen to Today’s Devotion

Lingering among the unspoken expectations of many Christian hearts is this:  Now that I belong to God, I get a pass on the tribulations of life.  Others face storms.  I live to help them.  But face my own?  No way.

Jesus, however, assures us,  “In this world you will have trouble” (John 16:33).  But ponder this promise:  In the midst of your storm Jesus is interceding for you, calling out to your heavenly Father, urging the help of the Holy Spirit.

When Stephen was about to be martyred for his faith, he “gazed steadily into heaven and saw Jesus standing in the place of honor at God’s right hand” (Acts 7:55).  Jesus stood up for Stephen.  Ever had anyone stand up for you?  The answer is yes.  Jesus stands at this very moment, offering intercession on your behalf!  That is his promise to you; and because God’s promises are unbreakable our hope is unshakable!

Read more Unshakable Hope

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

 

http://www.maxlucado.com

Denison Forum – As FBI probe continues, hope amid the conflict

The FBI is conducting another background check on Judge Brett Kavanaugh this week. Agents can interview his friends from high school, study his calendars from the summer of 1982, and check his records from college as well.

I have heard people say, “I’m glad it’s not me. I wouldn’t want my life from thirty-six years ago to make the national news.”

I understand the sentiment. Some of the political cartoons I have seen in recent days are horrifically deplorable. Tweets and other public comments about Judge Kavanaugh and Dr. Ford have been demeaning in the extreme.

The paradox in our system

Here’s the paradox in our system.

On one hand, it allows us to hold our leaders to a higher standard than we ask of ourselves. As Judge Kavanaugh undergoes his seventh FBI investigation, details from his private life will be on public display.

On the other, in a representative democracy, leaders reflect those who elect them. The bitter rancor of the Senate hearings mirrors the divisiveness of our day.

Joseph de Maistre claimed, “Every nation gets the government it deserves.” I don’t think that’s true of repressive regimes such as I have witnessed in Cuba. But it’s true of a democracy, where we elect people to represent us.

So, if we want character in our leaders, we must first seek it in ourselves. We cannot expect leaders to take us further than we are willing to go.

There was a day when Christians were the conscience of their pagan society. When Romans discarded unwanted babies, Christians rescued them and raised them as their own. In a day when they had no political capital to outlaw slavery or prostitution, followers of Jesus purchased slaves and prostitutes, then set them free. When plague swept Rome and the emperor and wealthy classes abandoned the city, Christians stayed behind to serve the sick and bury the dead.

The first Christians risked their lives to honor their Lord with the boldness of their witness and the compassion of their service. And by Acts 17:6, they had “turned the world upside down.”

My silent retreat Continue reading Denison Forum – As FBI probe continues, hope amid the conflict