In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – God’s Guidance for Forgiveness

Our forgiveness of others should look like Jesus’ forgiveness of us.

Matthew 18:21-35

When someone repeatedly wrongs us, we often try to draw a line at the number of times we’ll accept apologies. In other situations, we may attempt to categorize which offenses we’ll pardon. But Jesus drew no such lines at the cross. God’s unconditional pardon of our sins means that our forgiveness toward others should likewise have no limitations—even when certain behaviors can’t be allowed to continue. 

Another issue is the temptation to hang on to resentment for a time instead of forgiving instantly. But when we cling to unforgiveness—even for a short period—Satan can gain a foothold. If the Father’s will is that we forgive, why should we wait? 

Forgiveness is painful and costly—Jesus felt every nail, every thorn. But a truly forgiving spirit knows that good can come from the unfortunate situation. For instance, “good” could take the form of God developing our character or perhaps exposing our weakness to drive us closer to Him. 

Realizing God is sovereign makes us more ready to forgive. Let’s trust Jesus to remove any desire for retaliation—and to provide us with the wisdom and strength necessary to act in ways that please Him. And when it comes to forgiveness, let’s approach our offender with the intent of reconciling. That means doing whatever God directs in order to get our relationship right—just as Jesus did for us. 

Bible in One Year: 1 Samuel 4-6

http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread — And Seven Others

Bible in a Year:

Believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism.

James 2:1

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

James 2:1–4

Tragedy struck near Los Angeles in January 2020 when nine people died in a helicopter crash. Most news stories began something like this, “NBA superstar Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna (“Gigi”), and seven others lost their lives in the accident.”

It’s natural and understandable to focus on the well-known people involved in a horrible situation like this—and the deaths of Kobe and his precious teenager Gigi are heartbreaking beyond description. But we must keep in mind that in life’s big picture there’s no dividing line that makes the “seven others” (Payton, Sarah, Christina, Alyssa, John, Keri, and Ara) any less significant.

Sometimes we need to be reminded that each human is important in God’s eyes. Society shines bright lights on the rich and famous. Yet fame doesn’t make a person any more important than your next-door neighbor, the noisy kids who play in your street, the down-on-his-luck guy at the city mission, or you.

Every person on earth is created in God’s image (Genesis 1:27), whether rich or poor (Proverbs 22:2). No one is favored more than another in His eyes (Romans 2:11), and each is in need of a Savior (3:23).

We glorify our great God when we refuse to show favoritism—whether in the church (James 2:1–4) or in society at large.

By:  Dave Branon

Reflect & Pray

What can you do to show love for all mankind—rich or poor, famous or obscure? How did Jesus reveal this kind of love?

Heavenly Father, help me to show love and kindness to all, regardless of their station in life.

http://www.odb.org

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Receiving God’s Provisions

“Give us this day our daily bread” (Matt. 6:11).

God is glorified when He meets your needs.

In America, praying for our daily bread hardly seems necessary. Most people need to pray for self-control to avoid overeating! But Matthew 6:11 isn’t talking about food only. It is a statement of dependency on God and an acknowledgment that He alone provides all of life’s basic necessities.

Sad to say, however, many people today have reduced prayer to a means of self-fulfillment. Recently a woman sent me a booklet and wrote, “I don’t think you understand the true resource we have in prayer. You should read this booklet.” The booklet repeatedly emphasized our right as Christians to demand things of God. But that misses the point of prayer altogether, which is to glorify God (John 14:13). We are to give God the privilege of revealing His glory by meeting our needs in whatever way He chooses. If we demand things of Him, we are likely to become frustrated or to question Him when we don’t get what we want. That’s a serious sin!

David G. Myers, in his book The Human Puzzle (N.Y.: Harper and Row, 1978) said, “Some petitionary prayers seem not only to lack faith in the inherent goodness of God but also to elevate humankind to a position of control over God. God, the Scriptures remind us, is omniscient and omnipotent, the sovereign ruler of the universe. For Christians to pray as if God were a puppet whose strings they yank with their prayers seems not only potentially superstitious but blasphemous as well. “When prayer is sold as a device for eliciting health, success, and other favors from a celestial vending machine, we may wonder what is really being merchandised. Is this faith or is it faith’s counterfeit, a glib caricature of true Christianity?”

Guard your prayers! Always be aware of the enormous privilege you have to approach the infinite God and receive His gracious provisions. Yet always do so with His glory as your highest goal.

Suggestions for Prayer

Read Proverbs 30:8-9. What attitude toward God do those verses convey? Is that your attitude in prayer?

For Further Study

Read Matthew 6:19-34 and James 4:3. How might you respond to someone who says Christians have the right to demand favors from God?

From Drawing Near by John MacArthur

http://www.gty.org/

Joyce Meyer – Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life

…But we have the mind of Christ (the Messiah) and do hold the thoughts (feelings and purposes) of His heart.

— 1 Corinthians 2:16 (AMPC)

One of my favorite things to say is, “Where the mind goes, the man follows,” because the way you think determines the way you live.

If you think you’re going to be defeated, then you’re going to have an attitude that leads to defeat. But if you choose to think about God’s promises, you’re going to have a faith-filled, expectant attitude.

Yesterday, you may have let your mind focus on the negative— what you can’t do, how badly you’ve messed up, all the things that could go wrong—but today you can submit your mind to the Word of God. You can actually choose the thoughts you are going to dwell on.

With the help of the Holy Spirit, you can change your thoughts today. You can choose a better, more positive, more fulfilling life.

Prayer Starter: Thank you, Father, for the gift and privilege of trusting You to help me change my thoughts from negative to positive, amen.

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg – Rejoicing in Sorrow

In that same hour he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit.

Luke 10:21

The Savior was “a man of sorrows,”1 but every thoughtful mind has discovered the fact that down deep in His innermost soul He carried an inexhaustible treasury of refined and heavenly joy. Of all the human race, there was never a man who had a deeper, purer, or more abiding peace than our Lord Jesus Christ. “He was anointed with the oil of gladness beyond your companions.”2 His vast benevolence must, from the very nature of things, have afforded Him the deepest possible delight, for benevolence is joy. There were a few remarkable seasons when this joy manifested itself. “In that same hour Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit, and said, I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth … .”3 Christ had His songs, even in the darkness; even though His face was marred, and His countenance had lost the luster of earthly happiness, yet sometimes it was illumined with a matchless splendor of unparalleled satisfaction as He thought upon the recompense of the reward and in the midst of the congregation sang His praise unto God.

In this, the Lord Jesus is a blessed picture of His church on earth. At this hour the church expects to walk in sympathy with her Lord along a thorny road; through much tribulation she is making her way to the crown. To bear the cross is her office, and to be scorned and counted an alien by her mother’s children is her lot; and yet the church has a deep well of joy, of which none can drink but her own children. There are stores of wine and oil and corn hidden in the midst of our Jerusalem, upon which the saints of God are continuously sustained and nurtured.

And sometimes, as in our Savior’s case, we have our seasons of intense delight, for “There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God.”4 Even though we are exiles, we rejoice in our King; yes, in Him we exceedingly rejoice, while in His name we set up our banners.

1) Isaiah 53:3
2) Psalm 45:7
3) Luke 10:21
4) Psalm 46:4

Devotional material is taken from Morning and Evening, written by C. H. Spurgeon, revised and updated by Alistair Begg. 

http://www.truthforlife.org

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God Can Give You Perfect Peace

“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. Trust ye in the LORD for ever: for in the LORD JEHOVAH is everlasting strength.” (Isaiah 26:3-4)

Raging waves slammed up against the body of the boat, and the worn-out sailors tried to keep it from capsizing. They had spent the whole last month traveling up the east coast of the United States, visiting different harbors on their way to Cutler, Maine. As they neared their final destination, a storm broke out, sending the ship into a furious fight for its survival.

The crew members ran back and forth from the stern to the bow of the ship, trying to secure the sails. To arrive at the harbor, the ship had to get around or between two huge rock formations that were jutting dangerously out of the water. The sailors knew the danger–these rocks could smash the whole ship into smithereens! As the sailors were about to lose hope that they could get the ship around the rocks, they looked up and saw an amazing sight. There, at the wheel, was their captain. He stood calm and looked straight ahead, as though he was not even aware that a dangerous storm raging all around them.

Confused, the crew turned around to see what what their captain was staring at. The captain was watching directly ahead, right along a bright path of light that stretched out over the waves in front of the ship. The light came from a lighthouse on the shore. For years, this lighthouse had been guiding ships through the dangerous rock formations.

When they saw the light and they saw their captain trusting the light’s guidance, the sailors understood why he could act so calm, and they felt more calm, too. As long as their captain was watching for the light and following it, he knew that he could steer his ship safely through the rocks. Soon, they would be on shore. Believing that, the captain could have peace, even in the middle of the storm! As long as he kept his eyes on that path of light from the lighthouse, things were going to be fine.

The Bible gives us many examples of men and women who experienced scary trials in their lives: Esther pleaded for her people’s lives before an unbelieving king. Gideon had to go into battle against the Midianites with only 300 men. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were sent to burn in a deadly furnace because they refused to bow to Nebuchadnezzar’s idol. However, each one survived and saw God’s blessings. They were able to experience peace, because they put their trust in God.

Before you shrug your shoulders and think, “Well, of course they had peace. God took care of them!” –remember that they did not know what was going to happen to them. They trusted that God would take care of them, but the Hebrew boys did not know for sure whether God would take them to heaven by dying in a fiery furnace. Esther knew she was supposed to go before the king, but she also knew that it was at the risk of death. Gideon knew God wanted him going into battle with a tiny army, but he had no idea why God chose that. Think about how scary each of those things must have been for these people! They did not know the future. They did not know whether or not it was God’s will to protect them or to let them die. But they trusted Him, no matter what. And they had peace. How could they have that kind of peace?

They could have that kind of peace because they were not looking at their own plans or at the storm going on around them. They were looking at their Guide–their all-powerful, perfect, all-knowing God. They did not know what He was going to do with them, but they knew that He was their God and that they were in His good and great hands.

Just as that ship captain had peace while looking at the lighthouse’s light, Isaiah 26:3-4 says that you can have perfect peace when your mind is fixed on the LORD. We all go through situations in life that cause us to be afraid. Just like the captain, you might be going through a “storm.” Maybe your dad has just lost his job. Maybe your mom or another family member is battling a serious illness. Maybe you’re having trouble making friends in your new school, church, or neighborhood. You might be trying to solve your “storm” in your own way, running around like the frightened sailors doing everything they could to save their ship from capsizing–but your own efforts are not working. When you keep your mind on the LORD and remember everything that He is and does, He has promised to give you peace. He does not promise physical comfort or that we will get everything we want. He does not even promise safety. But He promises never to leave us or forsake us. He promises to be the same God yesterday, today, and forever. God wants you to be still, even in the very middle of your storms, and to know that He is God (Psalm 46:10). Trust in the LORD always, for God alone can give you perfect peace (Isaiah 26:4).

Trust God alone to give you perfect peace.

My Response:
» Am I focusing my mind on the Lord?
» Am I in the middle of a “storm” that I need to trust God with?
» How can I practice the commands to “be still and know” that God is God?

Denison Forum – Ukrainian girl who sang in a Kyiv bunker performs for thousands in Poland

President Biden will mark the one-month anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine with three global summits in Europe today. At one of these events, he will address an emergency NATO summit at which Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky will also speak.

Meanwhile, a “face” of the crisis in Ukraine is back in the news. 

Two weeks ago, I profiled a seven-year-old Ukrainian girl who beautifully sang “Let It Go” from the movie Frozen in a Kyiv bomb shelter. The girl, Amelia Anisovych, is now one of the 3.5 million Ukrainians who have become refugees since Russia invaded their country. More than two million of them have fled to Poland, where Amelia is now with her mother and grandmother. 

Last Sunday, she sang the Ukrainian national anthem in a Polish arena. Tickets for the arena’s ten thousand seats sold out, and the event raised over $380,000 for a humanitarian group serving Ukrainian refugees at the Polish border. 

From a gifted young girl to an acclaimed senior adult: the death of eighty-four-year-old Madeleine Albright is also leading the news. Her story was remarkable as well: born in Prague, her family fled to London when Germany occupied Czechoslovakia. She earned a doctorate from Columbia, became fluent or close to it in six languages, and served as America’s first female Secretary of State. 

Proposed bill decriminalizes killing newborn babies 

Encouragement and inspiration are vital gifts in these challenging days. 

According to a new report profiled in the New York Times, alcohol-related deaths in the US rose 25 percent from 2019 to 2020 and outnumbered COVID-19 deaths among adults younger than sixty-five. Drug overdose deaths also increased by 30 percent during the first year of the pandemic, reaching record levels. 

From “deaths of despair” to a culture in disarray: A Yale professor is warning that law schools are in crisis after students disrupted a free speech panel. The University of Virginia’s student newspaper opposed a campus visit from Mike Pence, claiming that the former vice president’s beliefs threaten “the well-being and safety of students.” Miami Beach declared a state of emergency this week after a pair of weekend shootings, part of a surge in such violence across the country. 

And a proposed bill in California would codify the killing of unborn children throughout all nine months of pregnancy and would decriminalize killing newborns even after their birth. It shields a mother from civil and criminal charges for any “actions and omissions” related to her pregnancy “including miscarriage, stillbirth, or abortion, or perinatal death.” “Perinatal death” includes the death of a child up to seven completed days after its birth. 

“The telegraphic wire which links earth and heaven” 

This week, we’ve been focusing on ways we can redeem the crises of these days by meeting needs with courageous compassion. Today, let’s explore the faith it takes to make a difference in discouraging times. 

One of my mentors, John Edmund Haggai, often encouraged those he led to “attempt something for God so great it is doomed to failure unless God be in it.” Seeking a moral reformation in a culture that has abandoned biblical morality certainly qualifies. 

The good news is that, no matter how discouraged we become, the amount of our faith is less important than its object. Charles Spurgeon observed: “Faith is the telegraphic wire which links earth and heaven—on which God’s messages of love fly so fast, that before we call he answers, and while we are yet speaking he hears us.” 

He added: “Faith clothes me with the power of God. Faith engages on my side the omnipotence of Jehovah. Faith ensures every attribute of God in my defense. It helps me to defy the hosts of hell. It makes me march triumphant over the necks of my enemies.” 

A leap into the light 

Our skeptical world by definition lacks such faith in God. As. C. S. Lewis noted, we have put God “in the dock” (the British term for putting him on trial) and make demands of him that we make of no one else. 

I have received two COVID-19 vaccines and a booster. However, I did not study pharmaceutical science to verify their contents before receiving them. I take a few prescription medications each day, but I have not sought advanced medical training to certify their efficacy. If faith is trusting that which I have not proven, I do almost everything I do by faith. 

Sitting in this chair, breathing this air, eating the food I will eat today—all of it is done by faith. Since selling my 1965 Ford Mustang many years ago, I have not driven a car whose technology and engineering I understood. I wouldn’t even know how to change the oil on my current vehicle. 

Not only do most of our decisions and actions require faith—all of our relationships do. Every relationship requires a commitment that transcends the evidence and becomes self-validating. You cannot prove you should marry your spouse before you marry them. You can examine the “evidence,” but you must step beyond it into a commitment that eventually validates itself. It is the same with friendships, employment, choosing schools to attend, and so on. 

And it is the same with a relationship with God: you cannot prove his love until you experience it. You cannot prove his forgiveness until you seek it. You cannot prove his providence until you submit to it. 

Such faith is not a leap into the dark but into the light. 

“A period when true faith can emerge” 

Oswald Chambers noted: “The reason some of us are such poor specimens of Christianity is because we have no Almighty Christ. We have Christian attributes and experiences, but there is no abandonment to Jesus Christ.” 

The way to know God is all you hope him to be is to believe him to be all you hope him to be. Such faith positions you to experience his best, to receive his grace, to experience his transforming love. 

Henri Nouwen wrote: “I really want to encourage you not to despair, not to lose faith, not to let go of God in your life, but stand in your suffering as a person who believes that she is deeply loved by God. When you look inside yourself, you might sometimes be overwhelmed by all the brokenness and confusion, but when you look outside toward him who died on the cross for you, you might suddenly realize that your brokenness has been lived through for you long before you touched it yourself. 

“Suffering is a period in your life in which true faith can emerge, a naked faith, a faith that comes to life in the midst of great pain. The grain, indeed, has to die in order to bear fruit, and when you dare to stand in your suffering, your life will bear fruit in ways that are far beyond your own predications or understanding.” 

Will your life bear such fruit today?

Denison Forum