Charles Stanley –Forgiving Ourselves

 

Psalm 103:10-14

Have you ever come to the Lord in repentance, confessing your wrongdoing, and yet still felt guilty? Sometimes the problem is that we can’t forgive ourselves. Therefore, we go into a self-punishing mode, repeatedly replaying the sin until we feel unworthy not only of pardon but also of blessings, answers to prayer, and the Father’s love. Eventually we build a prison of guilt because our offense seems unforgivable.

But what does such behavior tell us about our faith in God and our estimation of ourselves? According to the Bible, our Father freely bestows forgiveness on the basis of His Son’s payment of our sin debt—and has removed our transgression “as far as the east is from the west” (Psalm 103:12). Is our refusal to forgive ourselves a way of saying we consider Christ’s sacrifice insufficient? In other words, is our standard of righteousness higher than the Lord’s?

Two men in Scripture teach us about the importance of accepting God’s full forgiveness. One is Peter, who denied knowing Christ, and the other is Paul, who persecuted Christians. The Bible gives no evidence that either one of them refused to forgive himself. Although their offenses were great and both men probably regretted their actions, they received God’s forgiveness and lived in the freedom of His grace.

To be free of an unforgiving spirit toward ourselves, we must realize it’s the result of self-focus. Instead of believing the truth of God’s forgiveness, we’ve been relying on our own feelings and making them superior to His Word. It’s time to humble ourselves and place trust in God—not in our feelings.

Bible in One Year: Joshua 7-9

 

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Our Daily Bread — Escaping the Noise

 

Bible in a Year:Deuteronomy 3–4; Mark 10:32–52

After the fire came a gentle whisper.

1 Kings 19:12

Today’s Scripture & Insight:1 Kings 19:9-13

Several years ago, the president of a college suggested that students join her in “powering down” for an evening. Although the students agreed, it was with great reluctance that they laid aside their cell phones and entered the chapel. For the next hour, they sat quietly in a service of music and prayer. Afterward, one participant described the experience as “a wonderful opportunity to calm down . . . a place to just tune out all of the extra noise.”

Sometimes, it’s difficult to escape “extra noise.” The clamor of both our external and internal worlds can be deafening. But when we’re willing to “power down,” we begin to understand the psalmist’s reminder of the necessity to be still so we can know God (Psalm 46:10). In 1 Kings 19, we discover as well that when the prophet Elijah looked for the Lord, he didn’t find Him in the pandemonium of the wind or the earthquake or the fire (vv. 9–13). Instead, Elijah heard God’s gentle whisper (v. 12).

Extra noise is practically guaranteed during celebrations. When families and friends come together, it’s likely a time of animated conversations, excess food, boisterous laughter, and sweet expressions of love. But when we quietly open our hearts, we find that time with God is even sweeter. Like Elijah, we’re more likely to encounter God in the stillness. And sometimes, if we listen, we too will hear that gentle whisper.

By Cindy Hess Kasper

Today’s Reflection

What will help you draw close to God in silence and solitude? How can you regularly “power down” both your devices and your busy mind?

 

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Ashes and Promises

 

Ash Wednesday is the beginning of Lent, which many Christians observe with fasting, repentance, worship, and prayer in preparation for Easter.  As Jesus spent forty days of testing and temptation in the wilderness before he began his public ministry, so the Lenten season spans forty self-reflective days.

It is a season of remembrance.  “Remember you are dust and unto dust you shall return.”  These are the words that are uttered in congregations worldwide, as they have for nearly 1500 years.  The congregants’ foreheads are darkened with ashes, reminding each one of their frail humanness, and also of their Creator, for the sign signifies God’s words in Genesis 3:19: “For dust you are and to dust you will return.”

Though there is no mention of Ash Wednesday in the Scriptures, there are many occasions of repentance and mourning linked not only with sackcloth, but also with ashes.  The first mention of ashes occurs in Genesis 18 when Abraham pleads to God on behalf of his family and the people of Sodom: “Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, though I am nothing but dust and ashes, what if the number of the righteous is five less than fifty?  Will you destroy the whole city because of five people?” Abraham recognizes who he is—a frail and sinful creature—but boldly appeals to his Creator’s mercy.

We read of ashes associated with priestly practices in Leviticus and Numbers, but strikingly, the first instance of someone putting ashes on their forehead is found in the tragic story of Tamar’s rape by her half-brother.  “Tamar put ashes on her head and tore the ornamented robe she was wearing.  She put her hand on her head and went away, weeping aloud as she went” (2 Samuel 13:19).  Her own brother tries to persuade her to keep quiet and to minimize the enormity of her loss, saying, “Don’t take this thing to heart” (v. 20).  Surely, being the children of King David, something could be arranged, for David had the power and resources to keep this quiet.

Yet Tamar publicly mourns her anguish and the consequences of another’s sin, testifying to its horror in the sight of God.  In doing so she also bears an enormous cost by marking herself as a defiled woman in that culture.

Similarly, the ashes upon Christian foreheads are in the form of a cross, reminding each one of our own death’s and of the death on the Cross.  As the catechisms state, “In the Bible a mark on the forehead is a symbol of a person’s ownership.  By having their foreheads marked with the sign of a cross, this symbolizes that the person belongs to Jesus Christ, who died on a Cross.”

Thus the ash is a symbol that testifies to all not only who Christians are—sinners in the sight of God—but also whose they are.  For as David remembers in Psalm 103:13-14: “As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him.  For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.”

Christians enter this Lenten season in repentance and reflection.  Our lives are also marked with this great promise and hope: We belong to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who calls us his own.

 

Danielle DuRant is director of research and writing at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia

 

http://www.rzim.org/

Joyce Meyer – Jesus’ Message Is for Everyone

 

And He came and preached the Good News of peace to you [Gentiles] who were far away, and peace to those [Jews] who were near. — Ephesians 2:17 (AMP)

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

Jesus preached the same message of peace to Jew and Gentile alike. He had come to kill the hostility that divided them. Through Him they both had access to the Father. Those who had been outsiders were now included in the household of God.

Have you ever felt like an outsider, as if you didn’t belong or weren’t welcome? Most of us have felt that way at some time, and it is exactly how Satan wants us to feel. He hopes we will feel either inferior or superior, and he doesn’t care which one it is as long as it brings division.

But in Christ, no one is inferior or superior; instead, we are all one in Him. Paul taught that there is no more Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male or female, but we are all one in Christ (see Galatians 3:28).

Our confidence and security is in Christ and in Him alone. It cannot be found in our performance or any other so-called advantage we may have.

Paul said that he was more than happy to count all of his advantages as a Jew as rubbish (garbage) compared to the priceless privilege of knowing Christ Jesus and being found and known as “in Him” (see Philippians 3:8–10).

Prayer Starter: Father, thank You for offering the priceless gift of salvation to everyone—it’s nothing we could ever earn or achieve on our own. Help me to share this gift with as many people as I possibly can. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – No Longer Under Law

 

“So there is now no condemnation awaiting those who belong to Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).

What an exciting fact! We are no longer under the law. We have been liberated from the bondage of trying to please God through our self-effort.

What is our motivation under grace? Under law our motivation was fear, and desire for reward and blessing; under grace, our basic motivation is an expression of gratitude – an inward appreciation and response to God’s love and grace.

Why do we do what we do as Christians? We should respond because we, like the apostle Paul, are constrained by the love of Christ. We live for the glory of God. You will remember that the apostle Paul had been beaten, imprisoned, shipwrecked, starved, buffeted, criticized and condemned, yet he said, “The love of Christ constrains me.”

Even if there were no rewards for those who live godly lives and obey our Savior, the reward of knowing Him as our God and Father, being forgiven of sin and cleansed from all guilt, is more than just enough; it is unfathomable. We can know Him, love Him, worship Him and serve Him by faith – here and now!

A young man I know is writing a book on how to become rich in the kingdom of God. He is basing his theme on the rewards that will be his by winning souls. “I want to be rich in heaven,” he says.

That may be a worthwhile goal, but it is not mine. Mine is gratitude and love. I love Him because He first loved me – died for me, liberated me, set me free.

Bible Reading: Romans 8:2-6

TODAY’S ACTION POINT:  I will sing praises and give thanks in my heart to the Lord upon every remembrance of the liberty and grace that is mine in Christ Jesus, and I will tell everyone who will listen that we are no longer in bondage to sin, for Christ has set us free.

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – Three Important Words: Don’t Give Up!

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

Mary Magdalene and Mary, the mother of James and Joseph, had a task to do—Jesus’ body had to be prepared for burial.

Matthew 28:2 says, “At that time there was a strong earthquake.  An angel of the Lord came down from heaven, went to the tomb, and rolled the stone away from the entrance.”  Did the angel roll away the rock for Jesus?  Did God have to have help?  I don’t think so.  Then the angel says to the women,  “Come and see the place where his body was.”  The stone was moved—not so Jesus could come out, but so the women could see in!

Just when the road was too dark for Mary Magdalene and Mary, the angel glowed and the Savior showed, and they were forever changed.  The lesson?  Three words: Don’t give up!  God still sends angels and He still moves stones.

Read more He Still Moves Stones

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

http://www.maxlucado.com

Denison Forum – University dean resigns after school bans Chick-fil-A

Students at Rider University in New Jersey recently voted to bring Chick-fil-A to their campus.

However, administrators rejected the proposal because of the company’s perceived “opposition to the LGBTQ+ community.” Cynthia Newman, the dean of the College of Business, “felt like I had been punched in the stomach when I read that statement.”

As a “very committed Christian,” she notes that Chick-fil-A’s corporate purpose “mirrors my personal beliefs perfectly.” She asked university officials privately if they would issue an apology. They doubled down on their ban instead, even sending out another campus-wide email emphasizing inclusion.

So Dean Newman felt she had to resign. She has received great support from faculty and staff agreeing that “we should be able to respectfully disagree” with other values.

A former Marine’s experience at Yale

Hers is not the only story of discrimination against Christians in today’s news.

A former Marine and graduate of the Naval Academy and the University of Cambridge has published an article titled “I Thought I Could Be A Christian And Constitutionalist At Yale Law School. I Was Wrong.” He describes the vociferous opposition he and other Christians have faced at Yale for their conservative views.

Unsurprisingly, David French has documented the degree to which “progressives drive religious conservatives off campus—all in the name of ‘fighting extremism.’”

To be sure, Christians in America are not facing the persecution our brothers and sisters are enduring in North Korea, Afghanistan, Somalia, Pakistan, and other nations that imprison, torture, and execute followers of Jesus. But we are witnessing an escalating tide of opposition to biblical morality in our culture.

As I noted yesterday, many who support same-sex marriage see my commitment to biblical marriage as a horrendous assault on the civil rights of LGBTQ persons. They see my commitment to the rights of the unborn as an attack on women.

Continue reading Denison Forum – University dean resigns after school bans Chick-fil-A