Charles Stanley – Forgiveness and Relationship With God

 

Matthew 6:9-15

When someone wrongs you, what is your biggest concern? Most of us would have to admit we are concerned mainly for ourselves or loved ones. We’re filled with anger or hurt, and forgiveness is the last thing on our minds. But how often do we consider that the way we respond will affect our relationship with God?

Sometimes as we say the Lord’s Prayer, we may quickly recite, “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” (Matt. 6:12) without giving the words much thought. But the two verses that follow this prayer remind us how serious forgiveness is. If we don’t move past our hurt and anger toward forgiveness, then God will not forgive us. For those of us who have repented of sin and by faith received Jesus Christ as our Savior, all our sins have been forgiven, based on Christ’s substitutionary payment on the cross (Col. 2:13-14). Therefore, these verses in Matthew cannot mean a loss of salvation. They instead refer to the barrier unforgiveness causes in our fellowship with God.

Holding on to grievances is a sin. If we allow that to continue, our communion with the Lord will be disrupted until we confess our attitude and forsake it. We understand what this is like when a child refuses to obey his parents. Although their love for him hasn’t diminished, there’s an unresolved conflict in their relationship.

As God’s children, we are called into intimate fellowship with Him. Let’s not be like disobedient children who remain under the Father’s discipline and therefore miss out on blessings He wants us to have.

Bible in One Year: Malachi 1-4

 

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Our Daily Bread — God’s Brand

 

Read: Zechariah 3:1–7 | Bible in a Year: Isaiah 14–16; Ephesians 5:1–16

I have taken away your sin, and I will put fine garments on you. Zechariah 3:4

Scooping up the smallest children, a frantic maid raced out of the flaming house. As she ran, she called loudly to five-year-old Jacky.

But Jacky didn’t follow. Outside, a bystander reacted quickly, standing on the shoulders of a friend. Reaching into the upstairs window, he pulled Jacky to safety—just before the roof caved in. Little Jacky, said his mother Susanna, was “a brand [stick] plucked from the burning.” You might know that “brand” as the great traveling minister John Wesley (1703–1791).

Susanna Wesley was quoting Zechariah, a prophet who provides valuable insight into God’s character. Relating a vision he had, the prophet takes us into a courtroom scene where Satan is standing next to Joshua the high priest (3:1). Satan accuses Joshua, but the Lord rebukes the devil and says, “Is this not a brand [burning stick] plucked from the fire?” (v. 2 nkjv). The Lord tells Joshua, “I have taken away your sin, and I will put fine garments on you” (v. 4).

Then the Lord gave Joshua this challenge—and an opportunity: “If you will walk in obedience to me and keep my requirements, then you will govern my house” (v. 7).

What a picture of the gift we receive from God through our faith in Jesus! He snatches us from the fire, cleans us up, and works in us as we follow His Spirit’s leading. You might call us God’s brands plucked from the fire.

Father, we give You our thanks for rescuing us and making us right with You. We humbly ask for Your Spirit’s guidance as we serve You today.

God rescues us because He loves us; then He equips us to share His love with others.

By Tim Gustafson

INSIGHT

At the end of their Babylonian exile (Jeremiah 29:10), the Jews were allowed to return to Jerusalem to rebuild their temple (2 Chronicles 36:22–23). Only 50,000 returned (Ezra 2:64–65), led by Zerubbabel their governor and Joshua their high priest (Haggai 1:1). Because of opposition (Ezra 4:1–5) and economic hardships, coupled with low morale and spiritual lethargy (Haggai 1:2–11), the temple rebuilding stalled for twenty years (Ezra 4:24). God raised two prophets, Haggai and Zechariah, to encourage the returnees to repent and complete the temple rebuilding (6:14–16). Zechariah was both a prophet (Ezra 5:1; Zechariah 1:1) and a priest (Nehemiah 12:16). Through eight visions, Zechariah reminded the Jews that God is faithful and would restore and bless the nation (Zechariah 1:7–6:15). This fourth vision (3:1–10) pictures a court scene involving Joshua, the high priest, signifying God would remove their guilt, cleanse them, and make them ready to serve Him (vv. 1–5).

  1. T. Sim

 

 

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – A Philosophy of the Good

Not long ago, I conducted an internet search on the tag “What is the good life?” and I was amazed at what came up as the top results of my search. Most of the top entries involved shopping or consumption of one variety or another. Some entries were on locations to live and still others involved self-help books or other media touting five easy steps to the good life. Other entries provided the names of stores selling goods to promote “the good life.”

“What is the good life?” is a question as old as philosophy itself. In fact, it is the question that birthed philosophy as we know it.(1) Posed by ancient Greek thinkers and incorporated into the thought of Socrates through Plato, and then Aristotle, this question gets at the heart of human meaning and purpose. Why are we here, and since we are here, what ought we to do? What is our meaning and purpose? As my internet search revealed, there were no immediate entries on Plato, Aristotle, or the philosophical quest that originated in that question. There were no results on wisdom or the quest for knowledge lived out in a virtuous life. Instead, the entries involved purely material pursuits and gains. Sadly, this search may reflect the substance of our modern definition of what is good.

Out of the early Greek quest for the answer to this question emerged two schools of thought. From Plato emerged rationalism: the good life consists of ascertaining unchanging ideals—justice, truth, goodness, beauty—those “forms” found in the ideal world. From Aristotle emerged empiricism: the good life consists of ascertaining knowledge through experience, what we can perceive of this world through our senses.(2) For both Aristotle and Plato, rational thought used in contemplation of ideas is the substance of the good life.

Despite the obvious emphasis by both on goodness emerging from the contemplative life of the mind (even though they disagreed on the source of rationality), both philosophers saw the quest for the good life as benefiting society. For Plato, the quest for the good life—that of justice, truth, goodness, and beauty—leads to the ideal society. For Aristotle, virtue lived out in society is the substance of the good life and well-being arises from well-doing.

Continue reading Ravi Zacharias Ministry – A Philosophy of the Good

Joyce Meyer – The Antidote for Doubt

 

No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God. — Romans 4:20

Adapted from the resource Love Out Loud Devotional – by Joyce Meyer

You may know the story of Abraham (see Genesis 12:1–721:7). Basically, God promised Abraham a son, but at the time he was 100 years old, and his wife was 90, so their childbearing years were long gone!

But Abraham knew God had spoken and was determined not to focus on the natural impossibility that he and Sarah could have a child. Instead, he planted his faith in God’s promise and held on to that promise by praising God. His story is so remarkable that Paul made reference to it in Romans 4:18–21.

Abraham had absolutely no reason to hope. In fact, if any situation has ever been beyond hope, it would be the possibility of two people past 90 being able to have a biological child.

Nevertheless, Abraham kept hoping; he kept believing God’s promise. He did not waver in his faith or question God’s promise. Instead, “he grew strong and empowered by faith” as he praised God.

The same thing will happen when you praise God. You gain more and more strength, your faith increases, and the things that are coming against you to defeat you are dissipated as you praise Him.

That’s why it’s important to be diligent to listen to praise and worship music. I encourage you to play it in your home and in your car; learn songs and sing them; thank God and praise Him!

Love God today: God never responds to complaining, but He does respond to praise and an attitude of gratitude.

Prayer Starter: Father, I choose to praise You today! I believe You are able to do the impossible in my life. Help me to see my circumstances with the “eye of faith.” In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

 

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Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Greater Works Than He Does

 

“In solemn truth I tell you, anyone believing in Me shall do the same miracles I have done, and even greater ones, because I am going to be with the Father. You can ask Him for anything, using My name, and I will do it, for this will bring praise to the Father because of what I, the Son, will do for you” (John 14:12,13).

For many years, during and after seminary, I asked leading theologians, pastors and students, “What does this passage mean? How can I and other believers do the same miracles that our Lord did when He was here in the flesh – and even greater ones?”

Surely there had to be some mistakes in the translation of this passage, for I saw little evidence of this supernatural power in the lives of the Christians around me or in my own life.

But I had wrongly interpreted what Jesus said. I was thinking only of the miracles of physical healing. God still heals the sick, and almost daily I pray that He will touch the ailing bodies of ill ones. God sometimes heals them miraculously, though mostly He works through the skill of surgeons and the miracle of modern medicine.

Yet, while physical healing is certainly valid and very desirable, I realize more and more that a greater miracle is the miracle of new birth. For the body that is healed will one day die, but the person who is introduced to Christ and experiences salvation will live forever. The main reason our Lord came to this earth was to “seek and save the lost,” not primarily to perform miracles of physical healing. Frequently, we are privileged to experience the reality of our Lord’s promise as He enables us to “seek and save the lost” in greater numbers than He did while He was here in the flesh.

For example, in 1980, during the Korean Here’s Life World Evangelization Crusade we saw more than one million people indicate salvation decisions during the week.

Bible Reading:Matthew 21:21-22

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Beginning today, I will claim, in the name of Jesus, that He who dwells within me, who came to seek and to save the lost and is not willing that any should perish, will do even greater miracles in and through my life than He did while here in the flesh. By faith, I will experience and share the Supernatural life of Christ with others.

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – The Sinless and Perfect High Priest

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

Jesus is the sinless and perfect high priest.  When he speaks, all of heaven listens! Hebrews 7:25 promises, “Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.” Unshakable hope is the firstborn offspring of this promise.  We’d prefer to have every question answered, but Jesus has, instead, told us this much:  “I will pray for you through the storm.”

Are those prayers answered?  Of course.  You might disagree.  If Jesus was praying, why did the storm even happen at all?  Well, that storm-free life will be inaugurated in the eternal kingdom.  Between now and then, since this is a fallen world and since the devil still stirs doubt and fear, we can count on storms.  But we can also count on the presence and prayers of Christ in the midst of them!

Read more Unshakable Hope

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

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Denison Forum – Is a skull-shaped asteroid headed for Earth this Halloween?

Asteroid 2015 TB145 passed our planet three years ago. It missed us by just 300,000 miles and was visible to those with good telescopes. Eerily, it visited us on Halloween and looked very much like a skull.

This time around, however, the asteroid will not be in a Halloween mood. It will be twenty-five million miles away and will appear as a “dot of light,” according to NASA. Its shape may have changed due to collisions with other celestial objects. And it won’t be at its closest to us until November 11, well after Halloween.

A neighborhood our Founders envisioned

While the asteroid won’t be celebrating Halloween, my neighbors will. One already has “ghosts” hanging from their trees and a giant inflatable dragon breathing fire at those who pass by. If history holds, there will soon be dozens of houses in our area displaying a variety of goblins, ghosts, and ghouls.

It’s apparently not too early for Thanksgiving, either. A home in our neighborhood is displaying the word Thankful for passersby to see. Personally, I prefer their decoration to the lawn dragon.

As the November elections draw closer, we’re seeing more and more homes with yard signs supporting one or the other of our senatorial candidates. Campaign signs for state offices are proliferating as well.

While our Founders may not have imagined lawn dragons, this kind of opinionated diversity is just what they intended.

A parable made of bricks

In a monarchy such as the English system our Founders rejected, the king retains authority because his subjects fear his power and hope he will serve their interests. Governments in China, North Korea, Cuba, and Russia stay in power through the same means.

It is different in a republic like America, a system built on consensual self-interest. We elect those leaders we believe will best meet our needs. We support our country and trust that our country will serve us.

How is that working for us these days?

I was walking in our neighborhood yesterday and came upon a brick mailbox that appeared to be intact from the front but was falling apart in the back. Bricks were lying on the lawn, victims of decaying mortar.

I wondered if the mailbox is a parable for our day.

The mortar that holds us together

The mortar that holds our democracy together is trust in democracy. Are we seeing an erosion in such trust?

Curated news feeds expose us only to the reports and opinions we choose. I know people who only listen to Fox News or CNN and would never consider changing.

In addition, our 24/7 news cycle is starved for content and has given more people a platform than ever before. The more strident their voices, the more profitable their shows.

And support for the institutions that bind our nation together has been declining for decades. The Vietnam War and Watergate undermined trust in our government. Corporate corruption such as the Enron scandal has damaged trust in business. Moral failures by clergy members have eroded confidence in denominational and religious leaders.

It’s not surprising that trust in our government, once at nearly 80 percent, is now below 20 percent, a historic low. Fifty percent of Americans were members of a Protestant church in 2003; the number has fallen to 36 percent today while the number with no religion has nearly doubled from 12 percent to 21 percent.

Our unique contribution to culture

I don’t know if Americans can or will regain the trust in institutions that has historically held us together. But I do know that Christians must not be identified primarily with these institutions.

Perhaps we’re seeing a decline in religious affiliation today because we’re offering the wrong value proposition. Too many people think we’re inviting them to join and support just another institution, political party, or social cause.

Our only unique contribution to culture is our invitation to a personal relationship with our Lord. Nothing else we do matters as much. Everything else we do, others can imitate.

For people to believe that they need a personal relationship with Jesus, however, they must first see that such a relationship has been transforming for us. They will know we are Christians by the “fruit of the Spirit” we display (Galatians 5:22-23). They will be attracted to Jesus when they see Jesus making a difference in us.

I became a Christian because I wanted what I saw in Christians. Forty-five years later, I remain grateful for believers who lived so authentically and joyfully that their faith was contagious.

Julian of Norwich: “The greatest honor we can give Almighty God is to live gladly because of the knowledge of his love.”

Will your life and influence honor God today?

 

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