Tag Archives: love

Our Daily Bread — Overcoming Bad News

 

LORD, lift up the light of Your countenance upon us. —Psalm 4:6

“There are many who say, ‘Who will show us any good?’” (Ps. 4:6). These words of David seem to describe the pessimistic outlook we so easily develop in our world today. The front page of newspapers and the top stories on the Internet or television seem to focus on crime, accidents, politics, the economy, and prominent people behaving badly. Our conversations at work and home begin to dwell on difficulties, and it’s enough to discourage anyone. Where can we turn for better news?

In the midst of his troubles, David turned to the Lord, who relieved his distress (v.1) and heard his prayer (v.3). Instead of hoping for temporary good from altered circumstances, he found unceasing encouragement in God. “LORD, lift up the light of Your countenance upon us” (v.6). The result was a gladness of heart that surpassed any earthly prosperity or success (v.7).

Throughout David’s life, before and after he became king of Israel, he was never without opposition. But at the end of the day, he could say, “I will both lie down in peace, and sleep; for You alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety” (v.8).

Pondering the truths in Psalm 4 about God’s care for us is a good way to begin and end every day. —David McCasland

In His care confiding

I will sweetly sleep,

For the Lord my Savior

Will in safety keep. —Psalter

God is a safe dwelling place in life’s storms.

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – My Brother’s Shoes

 

In 1969 Simon Wiesenthal penned his thought-provoking book, The Sunflower, which captured the agony he personally experienced in one of history’s darkest moments. Relating one encounter with the Holocaust, Wiesenthal described how he had been taken from a Nazi death-camp to a makeshift army hospital. He was ushered by a nurse to the side of a Nazi soldier who had asked to have a few private moments with a Jew. Wiesenthal warily entered the room and was brought face to face with a fatally wounded man, bandaged from head to toe. The man struggled to face him and spoke in broken words. Wiesenthal nervously endured the anxious monologue, finding himself numbed by the encounter. At the hands of Nazi soldiers like the one now dying before him, Wiesenthal had lost 89 of his own relatives. Here, the soldier confessed to the heinous act of setting ablaze an entire village of Jews; at his whim, men, women, and children were burned to death. With great anxiety, he described his inability to silence from his mind the screams of those people. Now on a deathbed himself, the man was making a last desperate attempt to seek the forgiveness of a Jew. The man begged him to stay, repeating his cry for forgiveness, but Wiesenthal could only walk away.

Yet even years later he wondered if he had done the right thing. Should he have accepted the man’s repentance and offered the forgiveness so earnestly sought? Had he neglected a weighted invitation to speak or was silence the only appropriate reply? Seeking an answer, Wiesenthal wrote to thirty-two men and women of high regard—scholars, noble laureates, psychologists, and others. Twenty-six of the thirty-two affirmed his choice to not offer the forgiveness that was sought. Six speculated on the costly, but superior, road of pardon and mercy.

I don’t know what it would take to absolve anyone of so monumental a crime. I don’t know if it is possible to offer forgiveness for something so far beyond our moral categories. But I know that even in the most unfathomable places, the God of Scripture somehow carries the burden of prodigal grace. Who can fathom the Son of God on the cross pleading with the Father to forgive the guilty for killing him? Who can conceive of a God who comes among his people, trusting himself to the hands of a fallen world, even knowing the troubling outcome? Who can grasp the heart of a God who chooses to love an undeserving people? To live as one marked by this disruptive grace is not easy. It is easier to forget that the command to forgive is thoroughly unsettling; in fact, sometimes haunting. To persist in love when we are tired or overwhelmed, or even rightfully angered by injustice, is a massive and costly request.

I have often found it easier to fit into shoes of the prodigal son than the shoes of the remaining older brother.  Yet in this well-known parable of Jesus, both sons are invited to celebrate and rejoice. To the prodigal child who has squandered and defamed, God’s grace is lavish. It is extravagant and poured out on those who neither expect it nor deserve it. The celebration is thrown in the honor of the run-away, in honor of the return of just one lost sheep. When these shoes are ours, we are both humbled by the Father’s attention and compelled by God’s mercy.

Yet to the child on the other side of justice, the Father’s grace is jarring and disruptive. It is lavish, but wastefully so. His invitation to the feast is both awkward and demanding, a seeming call to overlook the potential of our reckless brother to strike again at our expense. These shoes are much harder to walk in. The Father’s call to forgive the one whose sincerity is questionable is often agonizing; his command to love the habitual prodigals in our midst is both costly and exhausting.

But it is Christ’s request. “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” asked Peter. But Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy times seven” (Matthew 18:21-22).  God’s grace disrupts our sense of righteousness and summons us to respond in similar kind. Whether we find ourselves in the shoes of the prodigal or treading the difficult ground of the older brother there is good reason to rejoice and celebrate the unveiling love of the Father. God’s unfathomable grace and mercy shatters our sense of who is worthy to enjoy the benefits of God’s kingdom, inviting us to the celebration regardless of where, and in whose shoes, we stand.

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

Alistair Begg – An Explanation of Trials

 

You are my refuge in the day of disaster. Jeremiah 17:17

The path of the Christian is not always bright with sunshine; he has his seasons of darkness and of storm. It is true that God’s Word says, “Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace”; and it is a great truth that faith is calculated to give a man happiness below as well as bliss above. But life confirms that if the experience of the righteous is “like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day,” sometimes that light is eclipsed. At certain periods clouds cover the believer’s sun, and he walks in darkness and sees no light.

There are many who have rejoiced in the presence of God for a season; they have basked in the sunshine in the early stages of their Christian life; they have walked along the “green pastures” by the side of the “still waters.” But suddenly they find that the glorious sky is clouded; instead of the promised land they have to endure the wilderness; in place of sweet waters, they find troubled streams, bitter to their taste, and they say, “Surely, if I were a child of God, this would not happen.” Do not say that if you are walking in darkness. The best of God’s saints must drink the bitter potion; the dearest of His children must bear the cross. No Christian has enjoyed perpetual prosperity; no believer can always keep his heart in constant tune.

Perhaps the Lord gave you in the beginning a smooth and unclouded path because you were weak and timid. He moderated the wind on account of your weakness, but now that you are stronger in the spiritual life, you must enter upon the riper and rougher experience of God’s full-grown children. We need winds and tempests to exercise our faith, to tear off the rotten branches of self-reliance, and to root us more firmly in Christ. The day of evil reveals to us the value of our glorious hope.

Charles Spurgeon – Christ’s people—imitators of him

 

“Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.” Acts 4:13

Suggested Further Reading: Ephesians 4:11-16

I will ever maintain—that by grace we are saved, and not by ourselves; but equally must I testify, that where the grace of God is, it will produce fitting deeds. To these I am ever bound to exhort you, while you are ever expected to have good works for necessary purposes. Again, I do not, when I say that a believer should be a striking likeness of Jesus, suppose that any one Christian will perfectly exhibit all the features of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ; yet my brethren, the fact that perfection is beyond our reach, should not diminish the ardour of our desire after it. The artist, when he paints, knows right well that he shall not be able to excel Apelles; but that does not discourage him; he uses his brush with all the greater pains, that he may at least in some humble measure resemble the great master. So the sculptor; though persuaded that he will not rival Praxiteles, will hew out the marble still, and seek to be as near the model as possible. Just so the Christian man; though he feels he never can mount to the height of complete excellence, and perceives that he never can on earth become the exact image of Christ, still holds it up before him, and measures his own deficiencies by the distance between himself and Jesus. This will he do, forgetting all he has attained, he will press forward, crying, Excelsior! Going upwards still, desiring to be conformed more and more to the image of Christ Jesus.

For meditation: Christians are fellow-pupils in the masterclass of the supreme Master (John 13:12-15).

n.b: Apelles (4th century BC) Court painter to Alexander the Great.

Praxiteles (mid 4th century BC) Athenian sculptor. Regarded as one of the greatest Greek sculptors of his day.

Sermon no. 21

29 April (1855)

John MacArthur – Receiving Christ’s Wounds

 

“Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when men cast insults at you, and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, on account of Me” (Matt. 5:10-11).

Savonarola has been called the Burning Beacon of the Reformation. His sermons denouncing the sin and corruption of the Roman Catholic Church of his day helped pave the way for the Protestant Reformation. Many who heard his powerful sermons went away half-dazed, bewildered, and speechless. Often sobs of repentance resounded throughout the entire congregation as the Spirit of God moved in their hearts. However, some who heard him couldn’t tolerate the truth and eventually had him burned at the stake.

Jesus said, “‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you” (John 15:20). Sinful people will not tolerate a righteous standard. Prior to Christ’s birth, the world had never seen a perfect man. The more people observed Christ, the more their own sinfulness stood out in stark contrast. That led some to persecute and finally kill Him, apparently thinking that by eliminating the standard they wouldn’t have to keep it.

Psalm 35:19 prophesies that people would hate Christ without just cause. That is true of Christians as well. People don’t necessarily hate us personally but resent the holy standard we represent. They hate Christ, but He isn’t here to receive their hatred, so they lash out at His people. For Savonarola that meant death. For you it might mean social alienation or other forms of persecution.

Whatever comes your way, remember that your present sufferings are not worthy to be compared with the glory you will one day experience (Rom. 8:18). Therefore, “to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing” (1 Pet. 4:13).

Suggestions for Prayer:

When you suffer for Christ’s sake, thank Him for that privilege, recalling how much He suffered for you.

For Further Study:

Before his conversion, the apostle Paul (otherwise known as Saul) violently persecuted Christians, thinking he was doing God a favor. Read Acts 8:1-3, 9:1-31, and 1 Timothy 1:12- 17, noting Paul’s transformation from persecutor to preacher.

 

Joyce Meyer – Train Yourself

 

For as he thinks in his heart, so is he. —Proverbs 23:7

I encourage you to practice being a positive person. It’s just a matter of breaking one bad habit and forming a new one. I was so negative at one time in my life that if I even tried to think two positive thoughts in a row my brain got into a cramp. But now I am very positive and actually don’t enjoy being with people who are negative.

Discipline is required any time you are forming a new habit. You might consider putting some reminders around your house or in your car, like little signs that say “Be positive.” Ask a good friend or spouse to remind you if they hear you slipping into negativism.

Practice trusting yourself rather than doubting yourself. If you are applying for a promotion at work, don’t think to yourself or say, “I probably won’t get it.” Pray and ask God to give you favor with your employer and then say, “I believe I will get the job!” And if you try and the outcome isn’t what you were hoping for, then tell yourself, “If the job was right for me, God would give it to me, and since He didn’t, He must have something even better in mind for me.” You can train yourself to be positive in what appears to be a negative situation.

Lord, show me where I am stuck in negativity and need to break through to trusting You. Help me to have the right thoughts and attitudes that move me forward. Amen.

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – He Protects Worshipers

 

“He protects all those who love Him, but destroys the wicked” (Psalm 145:20).

Throughout Scripture one is reminded over and over again that when a person obeys Him, God blesses that person. And when a person – or a nation – disobeys Him, God disciplines, just as a loving father disciplines his disobedient child because he loves him, not because of his wrath or any evil intent.

The Israelites, though warned many times that if they disobeyed God He would destroy them, finally had to be destroyed – after numerous warnings and disciplinings (including grievous plagues) – because of their disobedience (Deuteronomy, chapters 8 and 28; Amos, chapter 4). God still disciplines men and nations. It is a sobering thing to disobey God.

Someone has said, “We do not break God’s laws, but God’s laws break us.” If we obey them, we are blessed. If we disobey them, we must suffer the consequences.

Scripture suggests that what applies to individuals and to nations also applies to Christian movements or organizations such as the one with which I have the privilege of serving our Lord. So long as I and the now more than 16,000 full-time and associate staff members continue to obey God, His hand of blessing will remain upon our worldwide efforts. If we disobey Him, He will not only withhold His blessings, but will discipline us as individuals and as a movement.

I pray daily that each one of us may determine to obey God implicitly.

Bible Reading: Psalm 45:14-17

TODAY’S ACTION POINT:  Recognizing that the laws of God in the spiritual realm are just as inviolate as the laws of the physical realm, and that God blesses those who obey Him and disciplines those who are disobedient, with the enabling of the Holy Spirit I will seek to express my love for God by living a life of faith and obedience for His glory.

Presidential Prayer Team; C.P. – Spiritual Soldiers

 

More than two million men and women are currently enlisted in the United States Armed Forces. Taking a stand against visible enemies is important for the protection and well-being of the nation. But equally important is taking a stand against invisible enemies – and you’re enlisted. “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against…spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12) As one of God’s spiritual soldiers, you are to put on the full armor of God, “praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.” (Ephesians 6:18)

I will take my stand at my watchpost and station myself on the tower. Habakkuk 2:1

When Israel was in a sinful state, God looked for an intercessor. “And I sought for a man among them who should build up the wall and stand in the breach before me for the land, that I should not destroy it, but I found none.” (Ezekiel 22:30) Yet you take your post as a prayer warrior for America as Habakkuk says in today’s verse, knowing prayer ushers in God’s will on earth (Matthew 6:10).

Renew your commitment to stand at your watchpost…and as the Holy Spirit brings the nation’s leaders or issues to mind, go to battle and make prayer your top priority.

Recommended Reading: Ephesians 6:10-20

Greg Laurie – Under His Care

 

“No weapon formed against you shall prosper, and every tongue which rises against you in judgment You shall condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is from Me,” says the Lord. —Isaiah 54:17

In Mark’s gospel, Jesus made a fascinating statement that some have misunderstood. Speaking of believers, He said, “They will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover” (Mark 16:18). Some, of course, have misunderstood this and have held snake-handling services. But that is not trusting the Lord; it is testing the Lord.

Here is what this statement does mean: If you are a Christian, then you are indestructible until God is done with you. There is a day appointed for your death. And you really have nothing to say about when that day is.

Case in point: Paul the apostle was shipwrecked on an island, and as he was warming himself by the fire, a venomous snake bit him. So he simply picked it up and threw it into the fire. Everyone was waiting for Paul to die, but he didn’t die. Why? His time was not up. But when your time is up, it’s up. And Paul’s day eventually came.

Before that day, “No weapon formed against you shall prosper,” as Isaiah 54:17 says. That means God will keep you and protect you. Even if there is some plot against you, it will not succeed if that is not your time.

So stop worrying about when you will die because you have nothing to say about it. It isn’t up to you. The Bible says, “And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27).

Does that mean you can eat anything you want? I think you should exercise and eat properly. That will improve the quality of your life. But ultimately, the quantity is up to God.

Max Lucado – A Trio of Peaks

 

You can’t run the world, nor are you expected to be all-powerful. You may think you can. But when you face your own grave or your own guilt,  your power will not do the trick.

The Bible says “Thine is the kingdom, and the power and the glory forever.” (Matthew 6:13).

A trio of peaks. Admire them, applaud them, but don’t climb them. You weren’t made to run a kingdom, or to be all-powerful. And you certainly can’t handle all the glory. Mount Applause is the most seductive of the three peaks. More than one person has stood at the top and shouted, “Mine is the glory!”—only to lose their balance and fall.

As you confess that God is in charge, you admit you aren’t. As you proclaim that God has power, you admit you don’t. And as you give God all the applause, there is none left to dizzy your brain!

Responding to Suffering By Charles F. Stanley

 

A hurricane wreaks havoc and devastation on a coastal town. Economic hardship pushes families out of their homes. Yet another school shooting leaves young people dead. Perhaps you’ve wondered, “God, why don’t You prevent these tragedies? Why all this suffering?”

The truth is that God could intervene. The Bible teaches that He is sovereign, no matter what happens. But many times, He chooses to allow people the freedom to destroy life, or He lets nature devastate an entire region. As believers, what should our response be when adversity, unexpected tragedy, or suffering comes?

Reaffirm your position in Christ. Remind yourself of who you are and what you have in Him. It helps to do this out loud. You can say something like this:

I know that I am a child of God. I am saved. I have become united with Christ. I am sealed with the Holy Spirit. My eternal destiny is determined, and nothing can change that. The Lord will never leave me nor forsake me. Nothing can touch me apart from what my heavenly Father allows. All things will work together for my good since I love God and have been called according to His purpose in Christ.

The truths listed in the paragraph above are essential to maintaining the right perspective on adversity. Self-esteem and confidence in God are usually the two things most affected by tragedy. In moments of despair, you need a strong dose of truth to relieve your troubled heart and set your feet on the immovable foundation of scriptural reality. Then you are ready to . . .

•Ask God to remove adversity from your life. This is where we usually begin, but it is best to ask after we have gained perspective. In 2 Corinthians 12:8-9, Paul pleaded for his struggle to be removed. Although God did not answer that request, He didn’t chastise the apostle for it. Neither will He be displeased by your request. Even your prayer for mercy is an expression of dependence and faith.

•Reaffirm the promise of God’s sustaining grace. The Lord may not choose to remove adversity from your life immediately. In that case, it’s important for you to rely on His grace—not your own abilities. People who try to endure suffering in their own strength collapse under the weight of it all. Admit from the start that you do not have the power to withstand the pressure. Cry out to God for mercy. He will hear you. His grace will be sufficient moment by moment to get you through.

•Thank God for this unique opportunity to grow spiritually. You must look for the Lord’s part in your adversity, or you’ll miss it. You are not simply to endure suffering; you are to grow and mature through it. The best way to develop this attitude is to thank Him every day for the spiritual growth in your life.

•Receive adversity as if it were from God. Most of the time, you don’t know for sure who’s behind your suffering, and believe it or not, the source of your adversity makes little difference. God has a purpose for each difficulty He allows.

When you respond to adversity as if it were from Satan, the tendency is to fight it. When trouble lingers, you may begin to doubt God. So, as long as the Lord accomplishes His purpose through adversity in your life, receive it as from Him. And remember, God’s grace is sufficient for you (2 Cor. 12:9).

•Read and meditate on passages of scripture that describe adversity faced by God’s servants. Read the story of Joseph, or look at the way God provided for Abraham when he was left with undesirable land. Imagine how foolish Noah felt while building the ark. The Bible contains illustration after illustration of God’s faithfulness in adverse circumstances.

Fill your mind with these truths. Ask God to open your eyes to the human side of these characters so you can identify with their pain and sorrow. Then, dwell on Christ’s promise to care for those who love Him (Matt. 6:25-34.) Just as He was faithful to men and women in the Bible, He will also demonstrate His faithfulness to you.

Suffering is unavoidable. It comes without warning and can shatter or strengthen us. The outcome hinges on our response, not the nature of our adversity. If your heart’s desire is to see God glorified through you, hard times will not leave you without hope.

—Adapted from “How to Handle Adversity,” by Charles F. Stanley

Our Daily Bread — Terrifying Moments

 

Psalm 23

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. —Psalm 23:4

When our first child was born, my wife, Marlene, was in labor for more than 30 hours, creating tremendous stress for both her and the baby. The doctor, a fill-in for her regular physician, was unfamiliar with her and her pregnancy. As a result, he waited too long to make the decision to perform an emergency Caesarean section, and the resulting trauma put our infant son in the neo-natal intensive care unit. There was nothing they could do to help our baby to overcome his trauma-induced condition.

By God’s grace, Matt recovered—but I cannot remember any moment in my life as terrifying as when I stood by his crib in intensive care. Yet I knew the Lord was near as I talked with Him through prayer.

In the terrifying moments of life (and all the other moments as well) nothing can bring comfort to the hurting heart like the reality of God’s presence and care. The psalmist David wrote, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me” (Ps. 23:4).

When fear is overwhelming, the Lord is there. His comforting presence will carry us through our deepest trials. —Bill Crowder

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,

When sorrows like sea billows roll—

Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,

“It is well, it is well with my soul.” —Spafford

Peace is the presence of God.

Alistair Begg – Claiming God’s Promises

 

Remember your word to your servant, in which you have made me hope. – Psalm 119:45

Whatever your particular need may be, you will find some promise in the Bible related to it. Are you faint and feeble because your way is rough and you are weary? Here is the promise–“He gives power to the faint.” When you read such a promise, take it back to the great Promiser and ask Him to fulfill His own word. Are you seeking for Christ and thirsting for closer communion with Him? This promise shines like a star upon you–“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” Take that promise to the throne continually; do not plead anything else, but go to God over and over again with this–“Lord, You have said it; do as You have said.”

Are you distressed because of sin and burdened with the heavy load of your iniquities? Listen to these words–“I, I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins.” You have no merit of your own to plead why He should pardon you, but plead His written promises and He will perform them. Are you afraid that you might not be able to hold on to the end and that after having thought yourself a child of God you should prove a castaway? If that is your condition, take this word of grace to the throne and plead it: “The mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you.”

If you have lost the sweet sense of the Savior’s presence and are seeking Him with a sorrowful heart, remember the promises: “Return to me . . . and I will return to you.” “For a brief moment I deserted you, but with great compassion I will gather you.” Feast your faith upon God’s own Word, and whatever your fears or wants, take them to the Bank of Faith with your Father’s note, which reads, “Remember your word to your servant, in which you have made me hope.”

Charles Spurgeon – The desolations of the Lord, the consolations of his saints.

 

“Come, behold the works of the Lord, what desolations he hath made in the earth. He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire.” Psalm 46:8-9

Suggested Further Reading: 1 Samuel 5:1-7

Jehovah still standeth, “the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever.” One generation of idols has passed away, and another comes, and the desolations stand—memorials of the might of God. Turn now your eyes to Assyria, that mighty empire. Did she not sit alone? She said she should see no sorrow. Remember Babylon, too, who boasted with her. But where are they, and where are now their gods? With ropes about their necks they have been dragged in triumph by our archaeologists; and now in the halls of our land, they stand as memorials of the ignorance of a race that is long since extinct. And then, turn to the fairer idolatries of Greece and Rome. Fine poetic conceptions were their gods! Theirs was a grand idolatry, one that never shall be forgotten. Despite all its vice and lust, there was such a high mixture of the purest poetry in it, that the mind of man, though it will ever recollect it with sorrow, will still think of it with respect. But where are their gods? Where are the names of their gods? Are not the stars the last memorials of Jupiter, Saturn, and Venus? As if God would make his universe the monument of his destroyed enemy! Where else are their names to be found? Where shall we find a worshipper who adores their false deity? They are past, they are gone! To the moles and to the bats are their images cast, while many an unroofed temple, many a dilapidated shrine, stand as memorials of that which was, but is not—and is passed away for ever. I suppose there is scarce a kingdom of the world where you do not see God’s handiwork in crushing his enemies.

For meditation: The gods created by man can be destroyed by man, but the Lord made the heavens (Psalm 96:5; Isaiah 37:15-20). The false religions of today become the museum pieces of tomorrow.

Sermon no. 190

28 April (1858)

John MacArthur – Three Kinds of Persecution

 

“Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when men cast insults at you, and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, on account of Me” (Matt. 5:10-11).

Jesus mentioned three broad categories of suffering that Christians will experience. The first is persecution. “Persecuted” (Matt. 5:10) and “persecute” (v. 11) both come from the same Greek root meaning “to pursue” or “chase away.” Over time it came to mean “to harass” or “treat in an evil manner.” Verse 10 literally reads, “Blessed are those who have been allowing themselves to be persecuted.” You are blessed when people harass you for your Christian stance and you willingly accept it for the sake of your Lord.

The second form of suffering is “insults” (v. 11), which translates a Greek word that means “to reproach,” “revile,” or “heap insults upon.” It speaks of verbal abuse–attacking someone with vicious and mocking words. It is used in Matthew 27:44 of the mockery Christ endured at His crucifixion. It happened to Him and it will happen to His followers as well.

The final category Jesus mentioned is slander–people telling lies about you. That’s perhaps the hardest form of suffering to endure because our effectiveness for the Lord is directly related to our personal purity and integrity. Someone’s trying to destroy the reputation you worked a lifetime to establish is a difficult trial indeed!

If you’re going through a time of suffering for righteousness’ sake, take heart: the Lord went through it too and He understands how difficult it can be. He knows your heart and will minister His super-abounding grace to you. Rejoice that you are worthy of suffering for Him and that the kingdom of heaven is yours.

Suggestions for Prayer:

Pray for those who treat you unkindly, asking God to forgive them and grant them His grace.

Pray that you might always treat others with honesty and fairness.

For Further Study:

Throughout history God Himself has endured much mocking and slander. Read 2 Peter 3:3-9, then answer these questions:

What motivates mockers?

What do they deny?

Why doesn’t God judge them on the spot?

Joyce Meyer – God Speaks to Correct Us

 

The Lord corrects and disciplines everyone whom He loves. —Hebrews 12:6

We all need to be corrected at times and I believe God’s desire is to speak to us and do the correcting Himself before using other people or situations to correct us. Correction is one of the most difficult things to receive, especially when it comes through others, so God prefers to first help us deal with matters privately. But, if we do not know how to let Him correct us privately or will not receive it, He may correct us in more public ways.

One time we were ministering in a foreign country. I was in a restaurant trying to convey to the waiter what I wanted to eat, but he did not speak much English and I did not speak his language at all. Frustration soon became evident in my attitude and tone of voice. I was behaving poorly in front of people who knew I was in that country to minister and, of course, my example to them was important.

I knew I had behaved badly, but God wanted me to really know, so when Dave and I returned to our hotel room, Dave mentioned the incident and said I had not set a good example for others.

Although I knew he was right, and I knew God was using him to make sure I fully realized how important my behavior is, my inclination was to point out that Dave had acted similarly before. Had I done that, I would not have genuinely received the word of correction and then God would have had to correct me some other way—perhaps in a way that would have been more embarrassing or painful.

Begin to pray and ask God to help you receive correction from Him and to help you recognize when He is sending correction through others, knowing it is always for your good.

God’s word for you today: Don’t resist God’s correction.

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Fullness of Joy

 

“Thou wilt show me the path of life; in thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore” (Psalm 16:11, KJV).

“If you have lost the joy of the Lord in your life,” someone once observed, “who moved, you or God? For in His presence is fullness of joy.”

That saint and prophet of earlier years, A. W. Tozer, suggested several ways for the believer to achieve real joy:

Cultivate a genuine friendship with God. He is a Friend who sticks closer than a brother.

Take time to exercise yourself daily unto godliness. Vow never to be dishonest about sin in your life, never to defend yourself, never to own anything (or let anything own you), never to pass on anything hurtful about others, never to take any glory to yourself.

No known sin must be allowed to remain in your life. “Keep short accounts with God” – never allow unconfessed sins to pile up in your life.

Set out to build your own value system based on the Word of God. Meditate on the Word; practice the presence of God. Set priorities as you realize what is truly important. It will be reflected in the standard of values you set for yourself.

Share your spiritual discoveries with others.

Bible Reading: John 15:7-11

TODAY’S ACTION POINT:  Knowing that the best witness in the world is a joyful, radiant Christian, I will try to be that kind of believer, trusting the indwelling Holy Spirit to thus empower me and radiate His love and joy through me. I will share my spiritual discoveries with others.

Presidential Prayer Team; J.R. – Only Forward

 

Criminals – particularly arsonists – are often caught because of single, stupid, predictable mistake: they tend to return to the scene of the crime. Investigators often comb video of spectators gathering around the police tape following a fire because there’s a good chance the person who started it will be in the crowd, having returned to view his handiwork.

Repent, therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out.  Acts 3:19

A similar quirk of human nature can trip you up as you try to avoid those same old familiar sins. You return, time and again, to the same old places, same old routines, same old habits that got you in trouble to begin with. But Scripture urges you to “repent,” which doesn’t just mean saying you’re sorry. It means turning around and running the other way – as far and as quickly as you can.

What are the things in your life today that are hindering your spiritual growth, harming your relationship with God, and hurting your ability to be a voice for His truth in America? Repent and resolve to make a complete about-face today. Don’t return to the scene of the crime…it’s forgiven and forgotten by God. Move only forward with the work He has for you!

Recommended Reading: Ezekiel 18:27-32

Charles Stanley – A Lifetime of Holiness

 

Romans 12:1-3

By placing faith in Jesus Christ, a new believer is sanctified—that is, he is set apart for God’s purpose. Unlike salvation, which takes place in a single moment, sanctification is a lifelong process. We who have trusted in Christ as Savior and allow His Holy Spirit to control our lives are currently being sanctified, no matter what we may feel or how our actions appear to others. We are progressively maturing in our faith.

If we are progressing, then we must be working our way toward something. The apostle Paul explained the Christian’s mission this way: “For those whom [God] foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son” (Rom. 8:29). The character, conduct, and conversation of a believer are to reflect Christ, who lives within through His Spirit.

On our own, we would place too much emphasis on conduct and get caught up following rules and rituals that look Christian but do not actually reflect Christ. God, however, has given each believer His Spirit as a teacher and guide. The Holy Spirit’s work is to transform our minds and hearts so our character is markedly different from that of our unsaved peers. Only when we are under the Spirit’s control can we speak and act according to who we truly are: God’s sons and daughters.

Our heavenly Father wants His children to be living examples and reflections of who He is. He doesn’t expect perfection from us—He knows that we cannot be totally sinless as long as we remain in our human body. Rather, He shows us how to think and act so we may “walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which [we] have been called” (Eph. 4:1).

Our Daily Bread – Our Daily Bread — Calling You

 

1 Samuel 3:1-10

The LORD called yet again, “Samuel!” —1 Samuel 3:6

A couple of co-workers and I had just gone through airport security and were walking to our gate when I heard my name: “Paging Anne Cetas. Paging Anne Cetas.” It’s not a common name, so we knew it had to be mine. I assumed I had absent-mindedly left something at the check-in point. I checked with an airline agent, who told me to pick up a red phone, give my name, and ask why I was being paged. I searched for a phone and called, but the operator said, “No, we didn’t page you.” I said, “It was definitely my name.” He replied twice, “No, we did not page you.” I never did find out why I had been called that day.

A young boy named Samuel heard his name being “paged” long ago (1 Sam. 3:4). The Scriptures say that he “did not yet know the LORD, nor was the word of the LORD yet revealed to him” (v.7), so the temple priest Eli had to help him understand who was calling him (vv.8-9). God then revealed His plan for Samuel’s life.

The Lord has a plan for us as well, and He calls to our hearts: “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28). That’s His call to us to receive the gift of His salvation, rest, and peace.

The Savior is calling us to come to Him. —Anne Cetas

Jesus calls me—I must follow,

Follow Him today;

When His tender voice is pleading,

How can I delay? —Brown

Christ calls the restless ones to find their rest in Him.