Our Daily Bread — Jesus’ Unpopular Ideas

Bible in a Year:

Give to the one who asks you.

Matthew 5:42

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Matthew 5:38–48

For fifteen years, Mike Burden held hate-filled meetings in the memorabilia shop he ran in his small town. But in 2012 when his wife began to question his involvement, his heart softened. He realized how wrong his racist views were and didn’t want to be that person any longer. The militant group retaliated by kicking his family out of the apartment they’d been renting from one of the members.

Where did he turn for help? Surprisingly, he went to a local black pastor with whom he’d clashed. The pastor and his church provided housing and groceries for Mike’s family for some time. When asked why he agreed to help, Pastor Kennedy explained, “Jesus Christ did some very unpopular things. When it’s time to help, you do what God wants you to do.” Later Mike spoke at Kennedy’s church and apologized to the black community for his part in spreading hatred.

Jesus taught some unpopular ideas in the Sermon on the Mount: “Give to the one who asks you . . . . Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:4244). That’s the upside-down way of thinking God calls us to follow. Though it looks like weakness, it’s actually acting out of God’s strength.

The One who teaches us is the One who gives the power to live out this upside-down life in whatever way He asks of us.

By:  Anne Cetas

Reflect & Pray

How are you living out Jesus’ words of giving to those who ask and loving your enemies? What would you like to change?

God, help me to love others as You love me. Show me how to do that today.

http://www.odb.org

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Overcoming Spiritual Inadequacies

“Having summoned His twelve disciples” (Matt. 10:1).

Jesus can overcome any inadequacy you might have.

Most people think of the disciples as stained-glass saints who didn’t have to struggle with the faults and frailties of normal people. But they had inadequacies just like we all do. Seeing how Jesus dealt with them gives us hope that He can use us too.

One inadequacy common to all the disciples was their lack of understanding. For example, Luke 18 tells us Jesus gave them details about His future suffering, death, and resurrection, but they didn’t understand anything He said (vv. 31-34). Jesus overcame their lack of understanding by constantly teaching them until they got it right.

Another inadequacy was their lack of humility. More than once they argued among themselves about who would be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven (e.g., Mark 9:33-37). Jesus dealt with their lack of humility by His own example. He likened Himself to a servant, and even washed their dirty feet.

In addition to their lack of understanding and humility, they also lacked faith. Jesus often said to them, “O men of little faith.” In Mark 16:14 He rebuked them for not even believing the reports of His resurrection.

They also lacked commitment. Just prior to Christ’s death Judas betrayed Him, Peter denied Him, and the others deserted Him. Jesus dealt with their lack of commitment by praying for them (e.g., John 17:15; Luke 22:31-32).

Finally, they lacked spiritual power, which Christ overcame by giving them the Holy Spirit.

Those are significant inadequacies, but despite all that, the book of Acts records that the disciples turned the world upside down with their powerful preaching and miraculous deeds. They were so much like Christ that people started calling them Christians, which means “Little Christs.”

Jesus still transforms inadequacies into victories. He does it through the Spirit, the Word, and prayer. Don’t be victimized by your inadequacies. Make those spiritual resources the continual focus of your life.

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Thank the Lord for your inadequacies because they help you realize your dependence on Him.
  • Ask for grace always to rely on your spiritual resources rather than human abilities.

For Further Study

Read Matthew 20:20-28.

  • Who spoke to Jesus on behalf of James and John?
  • What was His response?
  • How did the other disciples respond?
  • What was Jesus’ concluding principle?

http://www.gty.org/

Joyce Meyer – Facing Fear Head On

Those who trust in, lean on, and confidently hope in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved but abides and stands fast forever.

— Psalm 125:1 (AMPC)

One meaning of the word fear is “to take flight,” so when we use the phrase “fear not,” in a very real sense we are saying, “Don’t run away from what frightens you.” Remember, you don’t have to do it in your own strength—God is with you. You can move forward with a grateful assurance in Him.

Whatever the situation is, face it; don’t run from it. Don’t try to hide from it; just meet it head-on, even when you feel like you’d rather not. Every man or woman who has ever been given the opportunity to do something great has had to face fear. What will you do when you are tempted to be afraid? Will you run, or will you stand firm, and be thankful God is with you?

Prayer Starter: Lord, when I am in a situation where I begin to feel fear, help me to stand firm in Your strength. I am thankful that I do not have to flee. I can stand strong knowing that fear has no control over my life. In Jesus’ name, amen.

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg –Expect Trouble

In the world you will have tribulation.

John 16:33

Are you asking why this should be, believer? Look upward to your heavenly Father, and behold Him pure and holy. Do you know that you are one day to be like Him? Will you easily be conformed to His image? Will you not require much refining in the furnace of affliction to purify you? Will it be an easy thing to get rid of your corruptions and make you perfect even as your Father in heaven is perfect?

Next, Christian, turn your eye downward. Do you know what foes you have beneath your feet? You were once a servant of Satan, and no king will willingly lose his subjects. Do you think that Satan will leave you alone? No, he will always be at you, for he “prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”1 Expect trouble, then, Christian, when you look beneath you.

Then look around you. Where are you? You are in enemy country, a stranger and an alien. The world is not your friend. If it is, then you are not God’s friend, for whoever is the friend of the world is the enemy of God. Be certain that you will find enemies everywhere. When you sleep, remember that you are resting on the battlefield; when you travel, suspect an ambush in every hedge. As mosquitoes are said to bite strangers more than natives, so the trials of earth will be sharpest to you.

Lastly, look within you, into your own heart, and observe what is there. Sin and self are still within. If you had no devil to tempt you, no enemies to fight you, and no world to ensnare you, you would still find in yourself enough evil to be a sore trial to you, for “the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick.”2 Expect trouble then, but do not despair on account of it, for God is with you to help and to strengthen you. He has said, “call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.”3

1) 1 Peter 5:8
2) Jeremiah 17:9
3) Psalm 50:15

http://www.truthforlife.org

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God Comforts Those Who Mourn

“Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.” (Matthew 5:4)

God used Mandy’s friend Crystal to teach her the meaning of this verse. Mandy was talking to Crystal on the phone one day, and she told Crystal a lie. Mandy lied because she cared more about pleasing Crystal than about pleasing God, and because she wanted to make herself look better than she was. As soon as the lie was out of her mouth, Mandy was shocked and sorry. But she did not tell Crystal she had lied. “What would she think of me if she knew?” Mandy thought. “She might not want to be my friend anymore. I’ll just confess my sin to God. That will be enough.”

But for a few days after that, Mandy was still miserable. She could not stop thinking about the lie. Finally, she wrote Crystal a note. She told Crystal about the lie and asked her to forgive her.

When Crystal got Mandy’s note, she went out of her way to come and find her. Mandy was so ashamed to face her that she began to cry. She felt that she did not deserve to have Crystal’s friendship anymore.

Mandy will never forget what Crystal did next. She put her arm around Mandy and told her she had forgiven her. Then she reached out and wiped away one of Mandy’s tears as it fell.

Have you sinned against God? Are you ashamed and sorry? Maybe it is a sin that you have committed many times before. Maybe you feel like you just cannot face God and ask His forgiveness yet again. What must He think of you?

When we come to God with a mournful, brokenhearted spirit about our sin, God’s response to us is just like Crystal’s to Mandy–and even more wonderful, because He is God. The Bible tells us that He will never turn away a broken and a contrite heart (Psalm 51:17). He will forgive us–every time we come. The blood of Jesus keeps on cleansing us from every sin (1 John 1:9). And someday, when we see God face to face, He will wipe away our tears forevermore (Revelation 21:4). That is how gracious He is.

God comforts and forgives those who are truly sorry for their sin.

My Response:
» When I sin against God, do I feel sorry and ashamed?
» Has my own attitude toward Jesus ever been rebellious?
» What do I do about my sin?


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Denison Forum – Church confirms drag queen for ordination: The urgency and power of personal morality

A gay man who is also a drag queen was recently confirmed by a Methodist church in Illinois as a candidate for ordained ministry. He wore wigs and full makeup while participating in his church’s “Drag Sunday” in April.

Another Hillsong pastor resigned last week after sharing explicit photos on social media. A Southern Baptist pastor in North Carolina resigned after being arrested and charged with child pornography.

And Josh Duggar, a former star of the television series 19 Kids and Counting and a very public Christian, appeared in court last Friday after he was arrested and charged with receiving and possessing child pornography. Though he pleaded not guilty, he has confessed to adultery and viewing pornography in the past.

My father served in World War II and never attended church again. As a result, I grew up without a church and with all my father’s faith questions. If I had read these stories before I became a Christian as a teenager, I would have seen them as excellent reasons to not become a Christian.

Should President Biden be able to take communion?

Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone released a letter last Saturday calling for public figures who support abortion to be barred from taking communion. He serves in San Francisco and is thus archbishop for Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, who is an ardent abortion supporter. The US Conference of Catholic Bishops is likewise considering a document that would advise Catholic politicians who support abortion to not receive communion.

Here’s why this is such an urgent issue for them: Catholic theology teaches that the communion wafer and wine (also known as the Eucharist), when presented by the priest at the altar during Mass, become the body and blood of Christ (a doctrine known as “transubstantiation”). The Church states that this “sacrament” is “the source and summit of the Christian life” and that “in the blessed Eucharist is contained the whole spiritual good of the Church.” The Church also teaches that abortion is a “moral evil” and “gravely contrary to the moral law.”

As a result, we would expect the vast majority of American Catholics to agree that public officials who support abortion should not take communion. But we would be wrong.

According to a new poll, 87 percent of Catholic Democrats believe President Biden should be allowed to receive communion, despite his passionate support for the “moral evil” of abortion. Only 44 percent of Catholic Republicans agree.

Why “we are losing a generation”

In my Daily Article last Friday, I discussed our society’s belief that sexual freedom and “authenticity” are essential to personal and social flourishing. In this view, the biblical worldview is dangerous to society and must be replaced with a secular vision for the future.

As Christians respond to this unprecedented threat to public biblical morality, it is absolutely vital that we demonstrate personal biblical morality.

Ethicist Russell Moore is right: “The problem now is not that people think the church’s way of life is too demanding, too morally rigorous, but that they have come to think the church doesn’t believe its own moral teachings.” He adds: “We are losing a generation—not because they are secularists, but because they believe we are.”

This is why you and I need a transforming, intimate, daily relationship with our risen Lord. And why our enemy will do all he can to keep us from one.

“Satan demanded to have you”

On Maundy Thursday, Jesus warned Simon Peter: “Behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat” (Luke 22:31). “You” is plural in the Greek, referring to all the disciples. Satan wanted to “sift” them, meaning to shake them so violently that they would fall and fail.

Jesus continued: “But I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail” (v. 32a). The “I” is emphatic; “you” is singular, referring to Peter alone. Jesus prayed that his faith (“faithfulness” in the Greek) would not “fail” in the sense of a complete and final denial of his Lord.

Jesus knew that Peter would experience a temporary failure but that God would redeem it: “And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers” (v. 32b). Following Peter’s denial of his Lord (Matthew 26:69–74), he would repent and would “strengthen” the other disciples after their similar failures (John 21:15–19).

Peter responded, “Lord, I am ready to go with you both to prison and to death” (Luke 22:33). However, the opposite occurred: “Jesus said, ‘I tell you, Peter, the rooster will not crow this day, until you deny three times that you know me’” (v. 34). And so it was (Matthew 26:75).

The key to being like Jesus

How can this event help us experience the holiness in our lives we wish to see in the world?

First, expect temptation to find you. If Satan would attack your Lord (Matthew 4:1–11) and his lead disciple, he will attack you (1 Peter 5:8).

Second, pray for help to the One who is praying for you (Romans 8:34). If Peter had been more humble, he would have been more holy (cf. Micah 6:8).

Third, offer others the grace you have received (Matthew 28:19). Peter’s post-Easter ministry encourages each of us to be “beggars helping beggars find bread.”

The key to being like Jesus is staying close to Jesus. Oswald Chambers is right: “A great many Christian workers worship their work. The one concern of a worker should be concentration on God.” He added: “The only responsibility you have is to keep in living, constant touch with God and to see that you allow nothing to hinder your cooperation with him.”

Would Jesus say you are in “living, constant touch” with him today? If not, why not?

http://www.denisonforum.org/

Upwords; Max Lucado –A Simple Philosophy

A SIMPLE PHILOSOPHY – May 3, 2021

Ninety-two-year-old Johnny Barnes stands on the edge of a roundabout in Hamilton, Bermuda, and he waves at people as they drive past. He’s not asking for money or begging for food. He’s making people happy. “I love you!” he shouts. “I’ll love you forever!” And they love him. Bermudans call him Mr. Happy Man. They route their morning commute to see him. If Johnny’s not standing in his spot, people call the radio station to check on him.

Johnny’s philosophy is simple: “We human beings gotta learn how to love one another,” he says. “One of the greatest joys that can come to an individual is when you’re doing something and helping others.” Wouldn’t you love to meet a person like him? Or better still, wouldn’t you love to be like him? This is how happiness happens.