Charles Stanley – The Dangers of Unforgiveness

 

Genesis 50:15-21

One of the most beautiful examples of a forgiving spirit is found in the book of Genesis. Despite being the victim of jealousy, evil intentions, malicious plotting, and selfish disregard, Joseph had an attitude of forgiveness that is uncommon and hard for many of us to imagine. By responding in this way to new hurts, he demonstrated that he was a godly man who understood how to let go of resentment and grab hold of forgiveness.

If we refuse to forgive, we can expect to go through painful consequences:

We will have difficulty dealing with the wrong done to us. Instead of releasing it to the Lord, we’ll rehearse the offense and relive the pain.

Resentment will take root in our heart and mind, allowing bitterness to grow.

Negativity will begin to affect other areas of our life, such as relationships, emotions, attitudes, and even physical health.

Then feelings of discouragement will rob us of joy and contentment. We may look successful to the world, but deep inside, Christ’s peace is absent.

A buildup of ill feelings will start damaging our emotional health, which in turn hampers our ability to love others and accept love in return.

Eventually despair will set in. The inner turmoil may become so great that we might frantically resort to drugs, alcohol, affairs, pleasure, or excessive devotion to a career in an effort to find relief.

The good news is that this downward spiral can be stopped at any point along the way by choosing to forgive. If opening your heart proves difficult, accepting help from a Christian counselor or pastor could be valuable.

Bible in One Year: Joshua 4-6

 

http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread — Return on Investment

 

Bible in a Year:Deuteronomy 1–2; Mark 10:1–31

We have left everything to follow you!

Mark 10:28

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Mark 10:17-31

In 1995 US stock market investors received record-high returns—on average, a whopping 37.6 percent return on their dollars. Then in 2008 investors lost almost exactly as much: a negative 37.0 percent. The years between had varying returns, causing those with money in the market to wonder—sometimes with fear—what would become of their investment.

Jesus assured His followers they would have an incredible return on investing their lives in Him. They “left everything to follow [Him]”—leaving their homes, jobs, status, and families to put their lives on deposit (v. 28). But they grew concerned that their investment might not pay off after watching a wealthy man struggle with the grip worldly goods had on him. Jesus replied, however, that anyone willing to sacrifice for Him would “receive a hundred times as much in this present age . . . and in the age to come eternal life” (v. 30). That’s a far better outcome than any stock market could ever match.

We don’t have to be concerned about the “interest rate” on our spiritual investment—with God, it’s an unmatched certainty. With money, our aim is to maximize the financial gain from our investment. With God, what we get back isn’t measured in dollars and cents, but in the joy that comes from knowing Him now and forever—and sharing that joy with others!

By Kirsten Holmberg

Today’s Reflection

What can you “invest” in God today—including your time, talents, or treasure? How have you experienced joy in your relationship with Jesus?

 

http://www.odb.org

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – The Journey of Dust

The sun bore down on my neck as I walked through neatly laid stones, each row like another line in a massive book. My eyes strained to take in all of the information—name, age, rank, country—and perhaps also death itself, the fragility of life, the harsh reality of war. In that field of graves, a war memorial for men lost as prisoners of war, slaves laboring to construct the Burma-Siam railway, I felt as the psalmist: “laid low in the dust.” Or like Job, sitting among the dust and ashes of a great tragedy. Then one stone stopped my wandering and said what I could not. On an epitaph in the middle of the cemetery was written: “There shall be in that great earth, a richer dust concealed.”(1)

It is helpful, I think, to be reminded that we are dust. We are material.  When we die, we remain material. It is a reminder to hold as we move through life—through successes, disappointments, questions, and  answers. For the Christian, it is also a truth to help us approach the vast and terrible circumstances leading up to the crucifixion of the human son of God. Beginning with the ashes of Ash Wednesday, the journey through Lent into the light and darkness of Holy Week is for those made in dust who will return to dust, those willing to trace the breath that began all of life to the place where Christ breathed his last. It is a journey that expends everything within us.

There is a Latin word that was once used to denote the provisions necessary for a person going on a long journey—the clothes, food, and money the traveler would need along the way. “Viaticum” was a word often used by Roman magistrates. It was the payment or goods given to those who were sent into the provinces to exercise an office or perform a service. The viaticum was vital provision for an uncertain journey. Fittingly, the early church employed this image to speak of the Eucharist when it was administered to a dying person. The viaticum, the bread of Communion, was seen as sustenance for Christians on their way from this world into another. Sometime later, the word was used not only to describe a last Communion, but as the Sacrament of Communion for all people. It is as if to say: our communion with Christ is provision for the way home. The viaticum is God’s answer to Jacob’s vow, “If God will be with me and will watch over me on this journey I am taking and will give me food to eat and clothes to wear so that I return safely to my father’s house, then the LORD will be my God.”(2)  It is what Christ offered when he said, “Take and eat. This is my body.” The journey from dust to dust and back to the Father’s house would be far too great without it—without him.

Today, our humanity is beckoned to face its humble beginnings on this Ash Wednesday. We are given 40 days to journey with this thought, to follow in the vicarious humanity of the Son where he leads us, until we are leveled by the bright sadness of Holy Week. From the invitation to consume his body and blood in the Last Supper to the desolation of that body on the Cross, we are undone by events that began before us and will continue to be remembered long after we are gone. The season of Lent is a stark reminder that we are, in the words of Isaiah or the sentiments of the psalmist, like grass that withers, flowers that blow away like dust. But so we are, in this great earth, a richer dust concealed. Walking in cemeteries we realize this; communing with Christ we encounter it. Walking through Lent as dust and ashes invites us to see our need for the Father’s unchanging provision: We are offered the Cross, communion and forgiveness, the body of one broken, hope in one raised, and the life everlasting.

 

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

 

(1) This is a line from a poem of Rupert Brookes entitled “1914.”
(2) Genesis 28:20-22.

 

http://www.rzim.org/

Joyce Meyer – God Hears Our Prayers

 

Elijah was a man with a nature like ours [with the same physical, mental, and spiritual limitations and shortcomings], and he prayed intensely for it not to rain, and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months. Then he prayed again, and the sky gave rain and the land produced its crops [as usual].— James 5:17-18 (AMP)

From the book James: The Biblical Commentary – by Joyce Meyer

I like the fact that James makes the point that Elijah had a nature like ours. He was imperfect and displayed weaknesses, but God heard and answered his prayers.

He will do the same thing for us. Don’t let Satan convince you that God won’t hear your prayers because you have sinned. We all sin and fall short of the glory of God (see Romans 3:23), but we all may be forgiven and restored through God’s grace and mercy.

When we repent of our sins, God forgives them and forgets them. To Him, it is as if we never did anything wrong and have a totally clean slate. We should learn to see ourselves the same way and boldly approach God’s throne in prayer (see Hebrews 4:16), expecting Him to answer.

Prayer Starter: Thank You, Father, for Your amazing grace, mercy and forgiveness that allow me to come to You in confidence. Help me to run to You for help on every occasion, knowing that You delight in hearing my prayers and long to show Yourself strong in my life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – How Dearly God Loves Us

 

“…we are able to hold our heads high no matter what happens and know that all is well, for we know how dearly God loves us, and we feel this warm love everywhere within us because God has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with His love” (Romans 5:5).

For years I had often spoken on the subject of love – the greatest privilege and power known to man. But, as in the case of most sermons on love, something was missing.

Then many years ago, in an early hour of the morning, I was awakened from a deep sleep. I knew that God had something to say to me. I felt impressed to get up, open my Bible and kneel to read and pray.

What I discovered during the next two hours has since enriched my life and the lives of tens of thousands of others. I learned how to love. With this discovery, God gave me the command to share this wonderful truth with Christians around the world.

There are five things every person needs to know about love.

First, God loves us with an unconditional love. The love that God has for us is without measure and will continue forever.

Second, we are commanded to love. “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment,” (Matthew 22:37,38). We are commanded to love our neighbors as ourselves and we are even to love our enemies.

Third, we cannot love in our own strength.

Fourth, we can love with God’s love. It was God’s love that brought us to Christ.

Fifth, we love by faith. Everything about the Christian life is based on faith. We love by faith just as we received Christ by faith, just as we are filled with the Holy Spirit by faith and just as we walk by faith.

In 1 John 5:14,15, we read: “And this is the confidence that we have in Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He heareth us: And if we know that He hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of Him” (KJV).

Bible Reading: Romans 8:14-17

TODAY’S ACTION POINT:  I will make a list of everyone I do not like. Then, on the basis of God’s command to love all men, I will claim the promise of 1 John 5:14,15 and begin to love others by faith as a way of life.

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – Dealing With Difficult Relatives

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

Odds are, you probably have a difficult relative—someone you can’t talk to and can’t walk away from.  Did you know Jesus had a difficult family?  In fact, they were embarrassed by him.  Mark 3:21 tells us, “His family went to get him because they thought he was out of his mind.”

Notice that Jesus didn’t try to control his family’s behavior, nor did he let their behavior control his.  As long as you think you can control people’s behavior toward you, you are held in bondage by their opinions.

Let God give you what your family doesn’t.  We know that God affirmed Jesus as “my Son, whom I love, and I am very pleased with him.”  Jesus gave his relatives space, time, and grace.  And because he did, they changed.  One brother became an apostle, and others became missionaries.  So don’t lose heart.  God still changes families.

Read more He Still Moves Stones

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

 

http://www.maxlucado.com

Denison Forum – What happened when Joe Biden called Mike Pence ‘a decent guy’?

 

Joe Biden recently called Mike Pence “a decent guy.”

The outcry was immediate.

Cynthia Nixon, an actress and unsuccessful candidate for New York governor, tweeted this response: “You’ve just called America’s most anti-LGBT elected leader ‘a decent guy.’ Please consider how this falls on the ears of our community.”

Biden quickly apologized. “You’re right, Cynthia,” he wrote. “I was making a point in a foreign policy context,” he explained, “but there is nothing decent about being anti-LGBTQ rights, and that includes the Vice President.”

CNN’s Chris Cillizza explained that Biden “is a creature of a totally different political time,” his comment “a reflection of the general collegiality that reigned in politics when Biden came up in the game.” However, as Cillizza notes, “Things have changed drastically since then.”

Cillizza assumes that Biden will run for president in 2020 and calls him “a benefit-of-the-doubt guy running to lead a party who views the other side as not just dumb and incompetent, but evil.”

Is the other political party “fair”?

Cillizza has the facts on his side.

A recent survey found that 61 percent of Democrats view Republicans as “racist/bigoted/sexist”; 31 percent of Republicans feel the same way about Democrats. Fifty-four percent of Democrats consider Republicans to be “ignorant”; 49 percent of Republicans feel the same way about Democrats. And 44 percent of Democrats consider Republicans to be “spiteful”; 54 percent of Republicans feel this way about Democrats.

Continue reading Denison Forum – What happened when Joe Biden called Mike Pence ‘a decent guy’?