TODAY’S DAILY PRAYER
Lord our God, we thank you that you work in us and in our lives and that you show us your compassion, no matter what cross we have to bear. We want to rejoice in you and wait patiently until your purpose is fulfilled and your kingdom arises on earth. Protect each one of us. May our hearts find strength and neverfailing joy in Jesus Christ the Savior, always hoping and believing, always looking to you. For you are the almighty God, who will come in Jesus Christ to establish his kingdom among the peoples and at last reveal his truth in its fullness. Then the knowledge of your will shall spread to all peoples, so that good and evil may come before you and be judged according to your mercy and faithful love. Amen.
Caffeine for your conscience
TODAY’S DAILY DIG
Verse of the Day
Thoughts on Today’s Verse…
It is so easy to be judgmental of others. We don’t know their struggles. We don’t know their situation. Most of all, we don’t know their hearts. When we are judgmental, we erect a barrier between others and ourselves. We often spread that judgmental impression to others in gossip. Our stubborness to only view them with a judgemental spirit erects a barrier, a stumbling block, that can cause them to become discouraged and stumble.
Father, I ask you to conform my attitude toward others to match the redemptive grace you have for them. I want to be more patient with the failures of others, just as you are patient with mine. Forgive me for not being more of an encouragement to those who are weak and struggling and open my eyes to the ways I can be a blessing to them. Forgive me for those times I have been a hindrance to others and open my heart to share your blessings with them. Please use me to be an instrument of grace. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
BIBLE STUDY BUDDY
Read Matthew 14:13-21..When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. 14. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick. 15. As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, ”This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.” 16. Jesus replied, ”They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.”17. ”We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered. 18. ”Bring them here to me,” he said. 19. And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. 20. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. 21. The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children..
v13-21 When Christ and his word withdraw, it is best for us to follow, seeking the means of grace for our souls before any worldly advantages. The presence of Christ and his gospel, makes a desert not only tolerable, but desirable. This little supply of bread was increased by Christ’s creating power, till the whole multitude were satisfied. In seeking the welfare of men’s souls, we should have compassion on their bodies likewise. Let us also remember always to crave a blessing on our meals, and learn to avoid all waste, as frugality is the proper source of liberality. See in this miracle an emblem of the Bread of life, which came down from heaven to sustain our perishing souls. The provisions of Christ’s gospel appear mean and scanty to the world, yet they satisfy all that feed on him in their hearts by faith with thanksgiving.
The more than 5,000 people who traveled from nearby towns to hear Jesus by the Sea of Galilee apparently didn’t plan ahead. Had they forgotten all about food in their excitement to be near Jesus? Were they surprised when the hunger pangs arrived? We don’t know. But we do know this: One wise mother had packed some bread and fish for her son. It wasn’t much, but what she had prepared for her boy became enough to feed thousands when blessed by the Lord.
Try as we might to prepare for life’s needs, we do not always succeed. The unexpected happens. Then we panic. We’re not sure what to do. It�s at those times that we can rely on our Lord’s willingness and ability to meet our needs- not only physically but spiritually as well. The words of Philippians 4:19 reassure us, ”My God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”
Quote of the Day
“The relationship between our membership in the universal church and our membership in the local church is a lot like the relationship between the righteousness God gives us through faith and the actual practice of righteousness in our daily lives.”
~Mark Dever (from “do christians need to go to church?“)
Witnessing by Defending the Faith?
Most christians are aware of their responsibility to reach a dying world with God’s message. No less of an authority than Jesus exhorts us to proclaim the gospel (Matthew 10:27) and make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19). However, there is another dimension often neglected in evangelism; namely, the defense of the gospel. The very Bible exhorting us to preach the gospel urges us to contend for the faith as well (Jude 1:3), just as the first Christians consistently offered reasoned defenses of their faith before unbelievers (for example, see Stephen’s speech in Acts 7:1 and Paul’s address in Acts 17:16). Giving reasons for our faith (apologetics) is neither an option nor a late feature of the Christian faith. Rather, it is an essential element of the biblical Christian witness.
In a world steeped in mystery cults, the apostle Peter admonished believers to “always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have … with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15). Only by meeting honest objections with biblical answers can “we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). It was in this spirit that Paul vigorously defended the gospel (see Acts 14:8; cf. Acts 17:2; Acts 18:4; Philippians 1:7), charging others to do the same (2 Timothy 2:23).
The need for apologetics today is crucial. Believers must realize that we are living in a post-Christian era with a host of worldviews vying continuously for people’s commitments and, indeed, for their very lives. We must face these challenges head-on. Apologetics does not supplant faith, it supplements it. Nor does it replace the Spirit’s working. Rather, the Holy Spirit uses apologetic arguments as vehicles for clarifying the truth of God’s Word. The same verses commanding us to preach the gospel also instructs us to constantly be prepared to correct, rebuke, and encourage with great patience and careful instruction (2 Timothy 4:2).
Taken from “always be prepared to give an answer” (used by permission).
THE ROOT OF BITTERNESS
See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. Hebrews 12:15
As we see in Hebrews chapter 12, once we “keep our eyes fixed on Jesus,” we will be aware of how we should then live. The writer now turns to the issue of a growing root of bitterness which defiles and causes trouble and disunity.
A group of believers in rural Hubei Province in China came to Christ as a result of listening to Christian radio programs. When a local woman was healed of appendicitis after prayer, two whole families converted to the way of Jesus enlarging their group to twenty. Five years later a “Brother Chen” arrived in the village on a sunny spring day. One believer shares this report:
Some said Brother Chen was “sent straight from God to our company.” He said so too. Looking back over a year later, I think he was Satan’s man. But who knows, I may be harsh in my judgment.
I remember that night so clearly. We were all gathered in my father’s house. The gas lamp flickered strange shapes against the whitewashed walls, on which we had stenciled “JESUS IS THE WAY, THE TRUTH, AND THE LIFE.”
I remember Brother Chen saying, “Jesus needs our gold to build our mansion in heaven…the more gold we give him now, the bigger your mansion will be.”
Well, we were poor. And because we were poor, the idea of having a golden mansion in the afterlife was very tempting to us. We handed over all we owned; family heirlooms, money, some expensive textiles from a distant ancestor. One member of our group even gave his motorcycle, which he had saved for years to buy. Anyway, after all the “gold” had been collected, Brother Chen said he had to go and “open the gate for us.” He left, on the donated motorcycle. He took most of our savings. He hasn’t been back.
Now the fellowship is ruined. Some of our group believes he is coming back, and was indeed sent by God to help us know Jesus better. Others of us believe he was a deceiver. It has split my family. My father thinks Chen was a good man. The rest of the family thinks differently, but we dare not disagree with my father openly.
We still can’t read the Bible very well. We really don’t know that much about Jesus, to be honest. We know he has saved us, and healed a family member. But we know little else. Brother Chen’s deceit has made me bitter.
RESPONSE: Today I will not allow Satan to grow a root of bitterness in my life or in my fellowship.
PRAYER: Lord, help new believers around the world to recognize Satan’s tactics and the bitter root.
Blessed is the man whom Thou chastenest, O Lord, and teachest him out of Thy law.–PS. xciv
Truly this is a grief, and I must bear it.–JER. x. 19.
Hold in thy murmurs, heaven arraigning!
The patient see God’s loving face;
Who bear their burdens uncomplaining,
‘Tis they that win the Father’s grace.
Do not run to this and that for comfort when you are in trouble, but bear it. Be uncomfortably quiet–be uneasily silent–be patiently unhappy.
Hard words will vex, unkindness will pierce; neglect will wound; threatened evils will make the soul quiver; sharp pain or weariness will rack the body, or make it restless. But what says the Psalmist? “When my heart is vexed, I will complain.” To whom? Not of God, but to God.
Surely, I have thought, I do not want to have a grief which would not be a grief. I feel that I shall be able to take up my cross in a religious spirit soon, and then it will be all right.
7 Symptoms of the Prideful Heart
Pride is universal—something we all deal with, as ancient as Adam and as relevant as the morning news. Yet we don’t always see our own pride, which weaves like weeds around our lives.
Oh, we see it in the obvious ways, but we can be blind to its deceptive, subversive way in our hearts. We know the disease, but we don’t recognize the symptoms. And that’s why we need the insight of our spiritual Great Physician to reveal symptoms of pride and rescue us from it.
Here are seven symptoms of pride I’ve been seeing in God’s Word as his Spirit works in my own life:
A Prayer for When You Grieve the Loss of a Dream
By Ashleigh Slater
“Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me.” – John 14:1
If you’d asked me at the age of six what I wanted to be when I grew up, I’d have answered, “A teacher!”
Once I hit my teens, my answer changed, though. The allure of instructing others wore off, replaced by a desire to work in the entertainment industry. I felt “called” to be a television producer and pursued this goal all the way through grad school.
But something happened as I worked toward a master’s degree that I didn’t anticipate.
I met and married my husband, Ted. Not long after, in the midst of writing my graduate prospectus, two faint pink lines appeared on a pregnancy test. Suddenly, my dream wasn’t so easy.
If my studies and student film set experience had taught me anything, it was this: my career aspirations – if achieved – would require long days and maybe even regular travel. I found myself questioning how I would personally balance that along with caring for my growing family. It was then that I sensed God calling me to lay down my dream. The one I’d worked hard toward for years.
As difficult as it was, I did. But, as I talk about in my book Braving Sorrow Together: The Transformative Power of Faith and Community When Life Is Hard, I went on to grieve that loss for years.
3 Ways to Grieve the Loss of Your Dream
Maybe you’re currently grieving the loss of your own dream. Yet perhaps it isn’t career related, as it was for me.
Instead, maybe marriage or becoming a mother hasn’t happened for you as you’d hoped it would. It’s possible that you’re in a season of prolonged singleness when you long to be married or you’ve recently walked through a divorce. Maybe you face the heartbreaking pain of infertility. As a result you are well acquainted with the words of Proverbs 13:12 about how “hope deferred makes the heart sick.”
What are some ways you and I can grieve the loss of our individual dreams, especially when the pain and disappointment hurt so deeply? Here are three suggestions.
1. Freely Acknowledge Your Loss
When it came to the loss of my dream, I was afraid to openly grieve it. My life was full and I feared that I’d be judged for the sorrow I felt. I worried that others would correct me for mourning it. It’s possible you feel the same.
Mark Twain once wrote, “Nothing that grieves us can be called little.” While undesired singleness, divorce, infertility, and career disappointment are anything but small, there may be people who dismiss your pain and therefore make you feel like they are. Perhaps they offer you uncomforting platitudes such as “Look at how full your life is without that,” “God works everything out for good,” or “Count your blessings.” Your heart can’t bear to hear that one more time, so you keep your loss quiet. You mourn it silently.
I’m here to say, your loss is not little and it is worth mourning. Go ahead and grieve it fully and freely. This may mean journaling, confiding in a trusted friend, joining a support group, or seeking the wisdom of a counselor.
2. Grieve Your Loss with Hope
I believe that God is the Author of my life’s story. Yet it’s much easier to believe that the story He’s writing for me is good when He says “yes” to my dreams. It’s harder when He either asks me to surrender them or decides not to fulfill them in my timing and my way.
It’s in these hard chapters of life that hope can seem non-existent. I can quickly feel like my entire story is one of despair and pointlessness. It could be you’ve felt or even currently feel the same way.
However, if you and I determine to believe that God is attentive and active in our lives, we can be reminded that our stories are always penned with hope. What is this hope? It’s that even in the darkest of moments, God promises to walk through the pain and grief with us. No matter how hard life gets, we are never alone.
We can feed ourselves hope by reading God’s Word, listening to music that speaks of His goodness and faithfulness, and surrounding ourselves with others who point us to Him.
3. See the Beauty in Your Individual Story
Just because God asked me to give up a certain dream, doesn’t mean He’ll ask the same of my girls, or someone else I know. In fact, I deeply respect other women who are able to beautifully balance family and pursuing their dreams. Sometimes, though, I can find myself comparing and feeling jealous that my story isn’t like theirs. Maybe you can relate.
How can you and I see the beauty in our individual stories even when they’re not what we wanted? When the pain is sometimes too much to bear?
One way is to reach out to others around us who are experiencing similar sorrow. I have a friend who knows well the heartache of infertility. In the midst of her pain, she consistently reaches out to other women who also long for babies and says, “Me too. How can I walk through this with you?”
God’s Promise in Loss
Even though I’m sometimes tempted to worry that encouraging my girls’ to pursue their dreams will result in disappointment, I remind myself that God is the Author of their stories too. And, no matter what happens, He’ll be with them through it all.
Pray with Me:
Lord, I confess I am grieving the loss of the dream I held so dear. This is hard Lord- why couldn’t you give me this desire of my heart? Yet Lord, I know You are good. Your ways are perfect. Your plan for me is perfect. Please help me remember that and keep those truths in mind as I mourn the loss of this dream. Please comfort me, Lord. Lord, I pray I would understand—even if it’s only a little bit—why my dream isn’t coming to be. Help me have hope even as I wrestle. In Your name I pray, Amen.
Thanksgiving around the Father’s Table
Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the lamb!
Revelation 19:9, niv
For years our family have celebrated Thanksgiving at my father’s house. The meal was always abundant and delicious – turkey with dressing and gravy, ham, green beans… my mouth waters just thinking about it! But the highlight of Thanksgiving was not the food, or the televised football games, or the fun. The highlight was always the fellowship around the dining room table. As we sipped our coffee and gorged on one last piece of pie, my father presided at the head of the table as each person shared what he or she was most thankful for… We still celebrate this way today, although our family circle is so large we have our dinner at a conference center. But the highlight is sill the story of thanks.
One day, in My Father’s House, the table will be set and supper will be ready. One day you and I and all of the Father’s children will be seated around that table. One day our Father will preside as He gathers us to Himself, listening intently and lovingly as we share our love for each other and our love for Him. One day My Father’s House will be filled with His family, and it won’t get any better than that!
©2004 Anne Graham Lotz. All rights reserved.
Does Anybody Know Who I Am?
For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.
Following World War II, there were more than two hundred French soldiers with amnesia who returned to Paris. They had been prisoners in Japanese camps and suffered through horrible ordeals of privation and torture. These men had been so psychologically devastated by their imprisonment that they lost the conscious awareness of who they were and where they had lived before the war.
Most of the soldiers’ identities were quickly established from Red Cross records or with the help of fellow prisoners, but after all known efforts were exhausted, there were still thirty-two men whose existence seemed impossible to trace. Not only were there no records of them, but none of the other soldiers knew anything about them. The doctors who were treating these thirty-two men believed that the chance for recovery would be impossible unless they were reconnected with family and friends.
Someone proposed publishing photographs of the men on the front page of newspapers throughout the country. A date, time, and place of meeting would also be given, hoping anyone having information about them would come. The plan was implemented and French newspapers soon published the pictures, adding that the Paris Opera House would open its doors for the potential identification and connection with loved ones.
On the assigned day, a huge crowd gathered inside the opera house to view the veterans. Every seat was taken and people spilled out onto the streets. Finally, in a dramatic entrance, the first of the amnesia victims walked onto the stage of the darkened room and slowly turned around under the glare of the spotlight, giving everyone a full view. Then, according to instruction, he and the other thirty-one soldiers who followed asked the same pleading question: “Does anybody out there know who I am . . . does anybody know who I am?”
Thankfully, many of the men were soon reunited with their families.
Isn’t this the same question that all of humanity is asking? Sadly, many people have a terrible case of self-imposed amnesia. But this is to be expected from a generation that has stepped back from God’s Word. Sadder yet is the church—professed Christians seem to have forgotten that they belong to Christ.
So who are we? We are called sons of God (Galatians 3); new creations (2 Corinthians 5); children of God and heirs of God(Romans 8). The New Testament is brimming with descriptions of the Christian’s identity in Christ.
Understanding who we are in Christ will cause us to recognize why we are different from the world. The truth is, if we don’t understand what makes us different from the world, we will never be able to make a difference in the world.
We, of all people, need never ask, “Does anybody know who I am?” We are new creatures . . . children of God.
Prayer Point: Thank God for the incredible, life-changing work He has accomplished in your life: through His death on the cross, paying for your sin; through His resurrection, securing for you eternal life; through His mercy, flowing for you every day. Don’t live in a state of spiritual amnesia any longer; instead, meditate on God’s promises on your behalf, and thank Him for who He is molding you to be.
Extra Refreshment: Read 2 Corinthians 5.
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Confront, Forgive, and Forget
…If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him.
It is difficult for most people to confront someone else regarding an offense, but sometimes confrontation is necessary. Ignoring confrontation is often what causes bad feelings to turn inward and fester into something much worse. Those ugly feelings can sit in the pit of a person’s stomach, churning away until he becomes so upset that he can hardly see straight.
Usually it’s better to kindly say what you feel and get over it than to let those raw emotions turn into an ugly monster, just waiting to crawl out at an opportune moment and attack its victim. That is frequently what happens when you allow ugly emotions to go unchecked. Confrontation may be uncomfortable, but it’s a lot less painful than having to apologize later for erupting in a fit of flesh like a volcano that spews destructive lava all over its surroundings.
This is exactly why Jesus said, “…If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him” (Luke 17:3). The word “trespass” is the Greek word hamartano, which means to violate a rule; to cross a line; to commit a grievance; or to miss the mark. By using this word, the Bible teaches you what to do when someone has violated you, crossed a line he shouldn’t have crossed, committed what you perceive to be a grievance against you, or seriously missed the mark of what you expected of that person: You are to “rebuke” that person for what he did.
The word “rebuke” is the Greek word epitimao, which in this case means to speak frankly, honestly, and politely as you tell a person how you feel that he has wronged you. This doesn’t mean you have to speak to him like he’s a devil; it just means you need to directly and honestly confront him.
This issue of honesty is a big one in the Body of Christ. Many believers are dishonest about what they really think and feel. Inside they seethe with anger toward someone about a perceived offense. Yet on the outside, they smile and pretend as if everything is all right. This dishonesty divides believers and keeps God’s power from freely flowing between members of the Body of Christ.
Believers put themselves on dangerous territory when they harbor hidden disagreements or secret petty grievances against other people, yet go around smiling and acting as if everything is all right. They’re not just being dishonest – they’re engaging in outright lying and deception!
When you refuse to confront an offense, you are just as wrong as the one who violated your rights and stepped over the line. Jesus said, “…If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him…” (Luke 17:3). That means if you are going to be mature in your relationships, you must learn how to confront others when you feel they have wronged you. It may be difficult to do that, but it’s a lot less painful and leaves less scars than does a soul that is filled with bitterness and resentment.
When you have to confront someone regarding an offense that you perceive he has committed against you, I recommend that you take the following three steps:
Don’t confront anyone until you’ve first made it a matter of prayer.
Prayer resolves a lot of problems by itself. There have been times in my own life when I’ve been upset with someone, only to discover after getting into the Presence of God and praying about the matter that my own attitude was uglier than the actions of the one who wronged me. Once I recognized my own sinful condition, I couldn’t hold a thing against the other person anymore; I just wanted to get my own heart right before God.
Prayer will put you in a position where God can speak to your own heart. After praying, if you still sense that you are supposed to confront the other person, make sure you pray for that person first. The Spirit of God may give you a strategy regarding what to say, as well as when and how to say it.
Believe me, taking directions from the Holy Spirit about how to confront someone will only help you. Confrontation without prayer is like barging into the middle of the fray with no preparation. Therefore, let prayer be a time of spiritual fine-tuning as you prepare to do what you need to do.
As you pray, spend a few minutes thanking God for your offender. This will help bring you to a new level so you can deal with the issue at hand in the right spirit. Remember the good things that person has done. Take time to reflect on all the enjoyable moments you’ve had with him and all the benefits you’ve gained in life as a result of that relationship. It’s difficult to remain angry at someone when you are thanking God for him at the same time!
Don’t confront anyone with a judgmental attitude.
We’ve all made mistakes – and that includes you! So assume that your offender would not deliberately hurt or offend you. Take a positive position about the other person.
When you do finally sit down to talk with the person who offended you, start the conversation by assuring him that you know he didn’t intend to do what he did. Tell him that somehow the devil got into the middle of your relationship with him through his actions – and now you want to get the devil back out of the relationship as you get your heart right with him. This immediately removes any sense of an accusatory spirit and puts the spotlight on the devil instead of on that person. The issues will still be dealt with, but from a different perspective.
Starting from this approach is much more beneficial than taking a defensive approach that treats the other person as if he were your adversary. Remember, that person is not your enemy; he isn’t on the other side of the line, fighting a battle against you. Your relationship may be going through some rough times right now, but you still need to view the two of you as being on the same side. The purpose of this time of confrontation is not to prove how wrong the other person is; it is to learn how to work together better and how to keep the channel of communication open and in the light.
Remember that you, too, have been offensive in the past.
Never forget that you’ve probably offended people in the past. You didn’t intend to do it. You didn’t even know you did it until the person later told you. You were probably embarrassed or sad when you heard how the devil had used some statement you innocently made to leave a wrong impression.
When you were in this type of situation, didn’t you want the person you had offended to tell you the truth rather than to walk around harboring bad feelings about you? Weren’t you glad when that lie of the devil was exposed and your relationship was made right again? Weren’t you thankful for the opportunity to put things right with that other person?
So when someone offends you, remember that you’ve stood in his shoes in the past. Were you forgiven at that time? Were you shown mercy? Now it’s time for you to show the same forgiveness and mercy to someone else that has previously been shown to you.
If you still feel the need to confront the person who offended you after following these three steps, you should now be able to do it with the right attitude. You have prayed about the matter; you have been in the Presence of the Lord. Now your heart is free, liberated from negative feelings and attitudes toward that person. You are finally in a position to go to him or her in a spirit of love and reconciliation instead of in a spirit of accusation. As Jesus said, “…if he repent, forgive him” (Luke 17:3).
The word “forgive” is the Greek word aphiemi. It means to set free; to let go; to release; to discharge; or to liberate completely. It was used in a secular sense in New Testament times in reference to canceling a debt or releasing someone from the obligation of a contract, a commitment, or promise. Thus, it means to forfeit any right to hold a person captive to a previous commitment or wrong he has committed. In essence, the word “forgive” – the Greek word aphiemi – is the picture of totally freeing and releasing someone. A modern paraphrase of this Greek word would simply be to let it go!
This means you and I don’t have the privilege of holding people hostage to their past actions if they repent and ask us to forgive them. If they sincerely seek forgiveness for offending us, we are obligated to “let it go.” If your offender repents and sincerely asks for forgiveness, Jesus said you are to put away the offense and no longer hold on to it. You must release those ugly feelings you’ve held against that person. You have to let it go!
- So are you able to let go of the offense that someone has committed against you?
- Are you able to put away that offense once and for all instead of dragging it up again and again?
Just as God has removed your sin as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12), you must now decide that this person is freed in regard to that past offense. Once you forgive him, you cannot drag up the offense again and again. You have released and liberated him completely from that sin. Therefore, you never have the right or privilege to pull out that offense later and use it against him. It is gone!
MY PRAYER FOR TODAY
Lord, please help me have the courage to lovingly speak to those who have sinned against me. Help me know how to tell them what they did wrong and kindly ask them not to do it again. If they repent and say they are sorry, please help me forgive them for what they did and then release them completely from that grievance, never to bring it up again. Help me put that offense out of my mind forever, just as You have done so many times for me!
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY
I confess that I am courageous, bold, and loving in the way I confront people who have sinned against me. I do not hold bitterness inside my heart; instead, I politely speak to those who have wronged me so my heart can stay free and they can learn from the experience. God’s Spirit is changing me and helping me to speak to my offenders from a gracious, helpful spirit, rather than from a spirit that is bitter and critical. Therefore, the end result of each difficult situation is reconciliation and peace instead of division and discord!
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER
- Can you think of a time when someone truly forgave you for something wrong you did to him or her? When that person forgave you, what effect did this genuine forgiveness have on your life?
- Are you able to forgive others as you have been forgiven, or do you find that you keep reaching into the past to try to drag up those past issues again and again?
- Who is it that you need to confront and forgive right now? Why not spend sometime in prayer and get the heart of God for this situation so you can go to that person in the spirit of Jesus and make things right in your relationship with him or her?
Thank You, Lord, for this special lesson! I truly needed these words!!!!!
A Jane Austen Devotional
“Indeed you wrong me,” replied Lucy, with great solemnity; “I know nobody of whose judgment I think so highly as I do of yours; and I do really believe, that if you was to say to me, ‘I advise you by all means to put an end to your engagement with Edward Ferrars, it will be more for the happiness of both of you,’ I should resolve upon doing it immediately.”
Elinor blushed for the insincerity of Edward’s future wife, and replied, “This compliment would effectually frighten me from giving any opinion on the subject had I formed one. It raises my influence much too high; the power of dividing two people so tenderly attached is too much for an indifferent person.”
“’Tis because you are an indifferent person,” said Lucy, with some pique, and laying a particular stress on those words, “that your judgment might justly have such weight with me. If you could be supposed to be biased in any respect by your own feelings, your opinion would not be worth having.”
Elinor thought it wisest to make no answer to this, lest they might provoke each other to an unsuitable increase of ease and unreserve; and was even partly determined never to mention the subject again. Another pause therefore of many minutes’ duration, succeeded this speech, and Lucy was still the first to end it. —Sense and Sensibility
Lucy Steele is taunting poor Elinor about Lucy’s so called secret engagement to Edward Ferrars. “I value no one’s opinion higher than yours, Elinor!” Lucy cries, and you can almost see her eyes widening in feigned innocence. But Elinor sees through Lucy’s shallow praise and bristles at the hypocrisy. Edward deserves better.
This hearkens to a well-known dispute in 1 Kings 3:16–28, where two women are brought before King Solomon. Both are claiming ownership of a baby boy, but only one is the true mother. To decide the matter, Solomon orders that the baby be split in half: The woman whose son was alive was filled with compassion for her son and said to the king, “Please, my lord, give her the living baby! Don’t kill him!” But the other said, “Neither I nor you shall have him. Cut him in two!” Then the king gave his ruling: “Give the living baby to the first woman. Do not kill him; she is his mother.” (vv. 26–27 niv)
Note the difference: The instinct of the true mother is to protect her child. Meanwhile, the liar—in her bitter jealousy— is undone. Likewise, a jealous Lucy does not really love Edward, but she will do anything to keep him from Elinor (or Elinor from him). Her motives are, at best, insincere. Elinor, on the other hand, would rather see Edward betrothed to a woman of character—a woman who esteems his virtues and has his best interests at heart—than a manipulative future wife. Her motive is pure. Acting in love often requires self-sacrifice. Strive to be free of impure motives in your dealings with others; you will honor the Lord and receive the reward of His pleasure.
Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
Psalm 139:23–24 NKJV
© 2012 by Thomas Nelson®, Inc.
All your sons will be taught by the Lord, and great will be your children’s peace. – >Isaiah 54:13
Our ideas about God are first shaped–and very powerfully so–by our families. So it’s little wonder that as relationships within the family have declined, so has the understanding of what it means to have and maintain a relationship with God.
As divorced and overworked parents spend less time with their kids, the concept of a personal God and Savior becomes less clear and less meaningful. An absent father sets the framework for a child who views God as absent too. And a passive father leaves his children wondering if God can or will become involved in their problems and day-to-day struggles.
I’m pointing to the men for two reasons. The first reason is so you men can begin to identify how your family environment growing up has subtly shaped your thoughts and beliefs about God. If your experience has been positive, great! If it hasn’t, please let the present, active, loving Father correct your thinking and heal your heart. Turn to Him and see that He is good.
The second reason is that many of you are fathers yourselves or will be. Your children are watching and listening to you more than you think. And you influence them–and their thinking about God–more than you know. I want to encourage you, men, to walk with Jesus Christ! For those of you who’ve had the blessing of good parenting: pass it on. For those of you who haven’t: let the wreckage stop with you!
“Our children give us the opportunity to become the parents we always wished we’d had.” – Louise Hart (1881-1950)
The Daily Word of Hope Devotional
Bible Fun Fact: Joseph was the only person in Genesis to live less than 120 years.
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. 1 Peter 4:12 ESV
I have a testimony that I share sometimes where the Lord gave me a horrible job in a plant polishing brass and sweeping the floor. Within a year, I was the manager and everyone that worked there was saved. When I went to church, I filled my entire row with guests. The pastor loved me. If I had not lost my previous job I would not have this testimony.
Unless a test comes, there is no testimony. Testimony, witness, a matter of fact, are things that come from our experience. These are the things you can stand on when the going gets tough. Things that you hear from others help, but the things that you have lived are your testimony and will help you, and others.
When you look at what Jesus has already brought you through, you know that He will bring you through this as well. Just as David killed the lion, the bear and was now ready for Goliath, the Lord will turn your test into a testimony. The things that you now suffer will work out for your own good in due time.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, I know that You are with me and will bring me through whatever I face. I pray that You have Your way in my life today and draw my heart to You, in the name of Jesus.
I was blessed with a day off recently, and it was delightful. I had been ministering every single day, so I was especially grateful for the break. I took a walk to talk with the Holy Spirit and was just enjoying my surroundings and the conversation. But I suddenly realized as He began to speak to me that my thoughts had been subconsciously filled with some worries. They were things I didn’t have the right to be worried about. I heard His voice saying, “You were not made to think about these things.”
I realized I had a default setting I didn’t even know was there. In my inward conversation—that stream of thoughts we all have—I had developed a habit of worrying about things at a subconscious level. A lot of it was focused on what I needed, how this and that situation was going to work out, what if something bad happened to get in the way, and so on. As my mind began to relax, it was as if a pile of problems began to rise to the surface, and I was spending a lot of mental energy on how to fix them. I’d fallen into the trap of living in a place of worry.
Before this if someone had asked me if I was a worrier, I would have said no. I don’t think I’m a worrier by nature. In fact, I think I’m a pretty happy person. But the Holy Spirit was showing me that my mind was defaulting back to an old human pattern of anxiety. Most of us have a tendency to ask, “What if?” about practically everything. That tendency had been lying beneath the surface of my conscious thoughts. The Holy Spirit brought it to the surface and gently reminded me that I wasn’t made to think about such things. Worry is a thief of peace and joy.
A few days later a fellow pastor who didn’t know any of this, began to prophesy. “God says you weren’t created to worry about anything,” he said. “Your mind needs to be set on the miracles and the things He is going to do.”
That got my attention. It’s so easy for our thinking to get filled up with questions: “How, God? When? Why did this happen? What’s going to happen? What if …?” These questions can be relentless.
There’s a difference between living in anticipation of what God is going to do and living in anxiety about what might happen, and our questions tend to default to the latter if we’re not intentional about taking worrying thoughts and exchanging them for His truth (2 Cor. 10:5). We’re told to cast all anxieties on the Lord because He cares for us (1 Pet. 5:7). Preoccupation with fears and concerns is not part of our design.
Perhaps you thought that life with the Holy Spirit was all about external fruit—seeing miracles, declaring God’s words and ministering in power. Those manifestations are certainly part of our relationship with Him. We are seeing more and more of them in our day. But if you want to walk in power outwardly, you will need to make some inward adjustments. The power of the Holy Spirit begins with His working inside us to bring us comfort. Personal, intimate fellowship with the Holy Spirit is the birthplace of demonstrated power.
The Holy Spirit wants to comfort you and change your thinking and set you free so He can make room for you to think about something better. You are not called to think like a mere human; you’re called to have the mind of Christ (see 1 Cor. 2:16). You are called to be “rooted and grounded in [God’s] love” (Eph. 3:17). Knowing this love is the only way to be filled with “the fullness of God” (Eph. 3:19. Have you ever noticed that God does “exceedingly abundantly beyond” what we can ask or think, “according to the power that works in us” (Eph. 3:20b)? It isn’t just for us; it’s in us. This kind of inner power comes from knowing and believing, not from going through the right motions. It begins in our hearts and minds. That takes some rearranging, or, as Paul put it, it requires the renewing of our minds (Rom. 12:2).
One of the most important ways we can think differently is by casting our cares on Him, trusting Him to deal with them. The word Scripture uses for cast in 1 Peter 5:7 is epirito, and it implies a sudden motion, to fling with a quick toss. The Lord wants us to realize that every time we have a what-if thought, our reflex should be to flick it away and say, “Not my problem.”
God is saying that if you have a circumstance in your life that causes fear or anxiety, don’t just ignore it. Bring it to Him (Phil. 4:4-5). Cast it onto Him quickly and deliberately, as if you’re tossing it away. Giving thanks while doing this is vital because it demonstrates your trust in Him. When you ask with gratitude, you aren’t worried about whether He will act on your behalf or not. You know He will. You can turn it over to Him, flicking off your worries in exchange for His peace.
“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” Romans 12:2 NLT
Thoughts for Today
Christians know that their salvation came through faith in Jesus Christ–not through their good works (Galatians 2:16). However, after we become Christians, we often pick up the “I can do it myself” banner again. We usually have a desire to grow in a lifestyle that pleases God, but many of us try to do this on our own and remain frustrated with our performance.
Just as we were saved by faith in Christ–not by our works–we must trust God to transform us into a new person by changing the way we think. Real transformation can only come through his power. We cannot begin to please him without continuing in a walk of faith–strengthening our relationship with him and trusting him to change us step-by-step into the person he has called us to be.
Consider this …
Have you slipped back into old habits that you have tried to change? Maybe you mean well, but you keep making the same mistakes over and over–blurting out hurtful words … losing your temper … returning to substance abuse … seeking out pornography … Remember, you cannot bring about your own transformation. Focus on God. Spend time with him in prayer and in the Bible. Build your relationship with him–and let him transform the way you think. Step-by-step you will learn to know his will for you and with his help you will grow in a lifestyle that pleases him.
Father, thank you for the gift of salvation through Jesus. I pray that the Holy Spirit will guide me and strengthen me in my walk with you. I pray that you will transform me into a new person by changing the way I think. In Jesus’ name …
As a product of the charismatic and Word of Faith movement in the early 1980s, I will be forever indebted to ministries who brought much light to the body of Christ through their teachings. I learned how to pray, exercise my faith and authority, resist the devil, walk in victory and minister to others by listening to those classified as Charismatic/WOF ministers and reading many of their good books.
Having said that, I want to touch upon one area of imbalance that I’ve observed in Charismatic/WOF circles that is hindering many people from receiving God’s best in their lives. Modern-day charismatics and WOF Christians can quote the Word, but many are not walking in the fullness of the blessings that God has provided for us. For example, most know that healing is provided in the atonement and in the covenant God has made with us, but so few seem to be able to appropriate it in their daily lives. It’s even worse for those who are not in the full-gospel movement and do not have light on such areas as faith and healing.
Ironically with more knowledge and more resources available on faith and healing today, there are actually more sick people in the Charismatic/WOF churches now than there’s ever been. That shouldn’t be. Something is awry. The large gap between what we believe, what we say and what we actually possess needs to be narrowed.
Just the other day my wife and I were conducting a weekend of meetings, and we made a call for the sick to come forward to be ministered to. To my amazement, every single person in that place came forward. These were, for the most part, full-gospel, tongue-talking Christians. And this is the pattern we are seeing in most full gospel churches we’ve been to.
Something is wrong. It is not the will of God for His children to be sick and diseased. This has troubled me and become a present burden. My heart goes out to so many who are struggling with their health. It is not God’s fault that so many Christians are sick and diseased. There are causes and there are hindrances to people receiving healing in their bodies.
Think about this: There was a day in the old covenant era when there was not one sick and feeble person among 3 million Israelites. How much more ought this to be the standard under a new and better covenant established upon better promises by the precious Blood of Jesus?
“He also brought them out with silver and gold, and there was none feeble among His tribes” (Ps. 105:37, NKJV).
I’ve ministered healing to people for most of my ministry life. My wife and I have conducted healing schools and healing centers in the nations and in America throughout our many years in ministry. This is an area we have some knowledge and experience in, and yet we are ever growing and learning. As I stated, there are reasons Christians are sick; there are hindrances to them receiving healing. Many pray, and ask and plead with God to heal them. They say they are believing God and they are confessing the Word, but it’s not working. Something is not right on their end.
We must understand that God does not change. His will and word are forever established in heaven. His will is always healing and brings divine health for everyone all the time. There are so many traditions, false beliefs and erroneous mindsets in the church today concerning healing. For example, many Christians believe that whatever happens in life is God’s will. Some even have the audacity to say that God works in mysterious ways and you can never know what He’s going to do. Where is that in the Bible?
What you will find in the Bible is the character of God and the revealed will of God for every area of life, including divine healing and health. What you find in the Bible is God’s compassion for the sick and diseased in operation through the ministry of Jesus. Never did He send anyone away who came to Him for healing or a miracle. Never did He say that it wasn’t His will to heal or deliver them.
Sickness and disease are a curse. Healing is the children’s bread. There are many Old Testament scriptures that clearly reveal this. The entire chapter of Deuteronomy 28 is one of my favorites. How much more true is it under this present dispensation of the new covenant. Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law (Gal. 3:13). The curse cannot come upon God’s children unless there is an open door for the enemy to have access.
Check this verse out in these two different translations:
“As the bird by flitting, as the swallow by flying, so the curse without cause will not alight” (Prov. 26:2, MEV).
“Like a fluttering sparrow or a darting swallow, an undeserved curse will not land on its intended victim” (Prov. 26:2, NLT).
This verse tells us that the curse without a cause cannot come. In other words, there are reasons that new covenant believers are sick. It is not God’s fault. The problem is not on the sending end with God; it’s on the receiving end with us.
I’ve been around charismatics/word of faith people and Pentecostals for most of my Christian life, and too many of them are failing to appropriate the blessing of healing and health for themselves. It has been my experience in observing them and in working with some of them that there are three primary hindrances to receiving healing and walking in divine health. Unbelief, unforgiveness and disobedience. I want to share with you what the Lord made known to me specifically about modern day charismatic/Pentecostal people, especially in the word of faith camp.
He said to me, not in an audible voice, or out here in the physical realm, but on the inside in my spirit, that one of the big problems with many modern- day Charismatics is that they’ve forgotten the “if.”
“He said, ‘If you diligently listen to the voice of the Lord your God, and do what is right in His sight, and give ear to His commandments, and keep all His statutes, I will not afflict you with any of the diseases with which I have afflicted the Egyptians. For I am the Lord who heals you'” (Ex. 15:26).
There is a condition attached to healing and health. It is obedience. In Deuteronomy we find the same condition.
“Now it will be, if you will diligently obey the voice of the Lord your God, being careful to do all His commandments which I am commanding you today, then the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth. And all these blessings will come on you and overtake you if you listen to the voice of the Lord your God” (Deut. 28:1-2).
Although the blessings of God encompasses the totality of our lives, two of the main areas it covers are divine health and financial/material provision and prosperity. And this chapter also outlines the curses that will come upon God’s people if they do not hearken to the Lord’s voice and obey Him.
“But it will happen, if you will not listen to the voice of the Lord your God, by being careful to do all His commandments and His statutes which I am commanding you today, that all these curses will come upon you and overtake you” (Deut. 28:15).
This is what I wanted you to see. There is a condition attached to the blessings of God that is not only seen throughout the old covenant but carries over into the new covenant as well. This is where many modern day Charismatics and word of faith people have missed it. The Lord showed me that it’s a mindset. To them, it sounds like works. In other words, if we do everything just right, we will be healed. No, that’s not it. The issue is walking in the light that you possess. The issue is obedience to what you know to do or not to do—obedience to both His written word and what He says to you by His Spirit.
“For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart and knows everything. Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, then we have confidence before God. And whatever we ask, we will receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight. And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another as He commanded us” (1 John 3:20-23).
Here’s the bottom line: If your heart condemns you you cannot have confidence toward God (1 John 3:21). You cannot come boldly before the throne of God. You cannot believe and receive what you ask for. You cannot resist the devil and take hold of the promises of God. You cannot exercise your God given authority unless you have confidence toward God. Condemnation kills that confidence.
Disobedience results in condemnation and condemnation causes your faith to shrivel. Confess and quote the Word all you want. Without obedience your faith won’t work.
Obey the written Word of God, especially concerning your love walk. Obey what His Spirit is saying to your heart. Walk in the light of what He’s revealed to you, and the blessings of God shall be fully manifest in your life.
Bert M. Farias, revivalist and founder of Holy Fire Ministries, has authored several books with an emphasis on helping to restore the true spirit of Christianity in the Church today, including the newly released, Passing on The Move of God to The Next Generation and the highly sacred book, The Journal Of A Journey To His Holiness. An anointing of fire marks his ministry with frequent demonstrations of the Spirit and power of God. He ministers interdenominationally and cross-culturally in nations, churches, conferences, on the streets and in homes. He and his wife Carolyn also host The Holy Ghost Forum – a school of the Spirit. Follow him at Bert Farias and Holy Fire Ministries on Facebook and @Bertfarias1 on Twitter.
When the horrific shooting in Vegas occurred last month, Hollywood rightly cancelled two movie premieres and edited at least one television show out of respect for the victims of the tragedy. But CBS’ Young Sheldon (a prequel spinoff of The Big Bang Theory) felt it was okay to air an episode, immediately after the shooting at a small-town Texas church, that depicted a small-town Texas church service with main character Sheldon (Iain Armitage) stating that he wanted to “destroy” his pastor to prove God does not exist.
The fact that the show takes place in a small-town Texas church alone is similar enough to warrant placing a supportive message at the beginning or end of the show out of respect for the victims and their loved ones. But they couldn’t be bothered to do even that small gesture.
In the Thursday, November 9 episode, “Poker, Faith and Eggs,” Sheldon attends church with his family and is bothered so much by the obviously not-so-bright pastor’s message, that he feels the need to speak up in the middle of the service.
I have been a Christian all my life and I have never seen a priest or pastor explain faith the way this pastor did. Either it’s a deliberate, disrespectful attempt to make the pastor appear dim-witted and weak on faith, or it’s a sign that Hollywood has no idea what it’s talking about when it comes to matters of the Christian faith. Maybe a little bit of both.
And to have a young child wishing to “destroy” the pastor after the Texas tragedy that left 26 people dead, including more than a dozen children? Just gross. They probably didn’t even make the connection, they were too busy tweeting about gun control and mocking people for their “thoughts and prayers.” Completely insensitive, despite Hollywood’s claims to be all for sensitivity and tolerance.
At home, Sheldon starts researching scientists who believe in God. As he’s reading a book, he tells his sister, “French philosopher, mathematician and physicist Blaise Pascal argued a rational person should believe God exists because you have everything to gain if you’re right, and nothing to lose if you’re wrong.”
Suddenly, Sheldon’s mom rushes into the room to announce that she’s taking their father to the hospital. After Sheldon sees his father writhing in pain in his hospital bed, hooked up to wires and tubes with doctors and nurses working on him, Sheldon is visibly shaken up and immediately goes to the hospital’s chapel and folds his hands in prayer.
Older Sheldon’s voiceover then says, “Despite what it looks like, I didn’t pray to God that night. I prayed to Blaise Pascal. My thinking was, if he was right about the existence of God, then he could pass along my request for my dad to get better. If he was wrong … well … in this moment, I needed him to be right.”
This was a prime opportunity for the writers to show how difficult circumstances can often bring people closer to God, especially considering the tragedy in Texas. But promoting their anti-Christian agenda is far more important to them than showing any kind of respect for Christian believers, who most likely comprise much of their viewership.
It turns out that Sheldon’s father suffered a minor heart attack with no permanent damage, and his mother says, “Our prayers have been answered.” Older Sheldon then says, “For a brief moment, I was filled with the healing power of faith. Then the next day we all got violently ill … and I was over it.”
It’s sad that Hollywood leftists don’t understand how faith works. Job 2:10b reads, “Will we indeed accept the good from God but not accept the adversity?” The theology behind suffering and its redemptive power is too long to get into here, but God isn’t supposed to be a “sky fairy,” as atheists like to call Him, who works according to what we humans believe God should and should not do.
The show wasn’t done with the faith-bashing yet, unfortunately. We still had to witness one more scene of Sheldon in church disrespecting his pastor and interrupting the church service, challenging him on creation and the “big bang theory”—get it?
So, Sheldon got his wish. He is so brilliant that even his pastor, who doesn’t know how to defend the faith in the first place, can’t handle his questions, and Sheldon figuratively “destroyed” him. And rather than teaching Sheldon about respect, discipline and proper worship, and answering his questions privately, as most Christian parents would, his parents fake another heart attack to escape.
The writers and producers of Young Sheldon owe the victims and loved ones of the Texas church shooting tragedy, as well as every Christian, a huge apology.
Understanding that Jesus suffered immensely and died for ALL of us, so that we could have the promise of eternal life if we simply believe, is a basic tenet of faith that most Christians know and defend well, especially pastors. It’s what brought those believers in Texas into their church on that fateful Sunday morning, it’s what brought those who died there to everlasting life in heaven and it’s what will bring those who survived peace and strength beyond all human understanding or ability as God carries them through the pain and suffering brought on by the unthinkable sin of another human being.
Hollywood, you’re missing out on something really special when you deny and disrespect faith. But it’s never too late to accept this free gift. All you have to do is believe.
Prosperity in Afflictions
TGIF Today God Is First Volume 1 by Os Hillman
November 13, 2017
“The second son he named Ephraim and said, ‘It is because God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering.'” Genesis 41:52
When Joseph was elevated to rule over the Egyptian kingdom, he revealed some profound truths gained from the experiences of his years of adversity. He named his first son, Manasseh for, he said, “God has made me forget all my trouble and all my father’s household” (Gen. 41:51b). His second son was named Ephraim because, “God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering.”
Whenever God takes us through the land of affliction, He will do two things through that affliction: 1) He will bring such healing that we will be able to forget the pain, and 2) He will make us fruitful from the painful experiences.
God does not waste our afflictions if we allow Him the freedom to complete the work in us. His desire is to create virtue that remains during the times of testing so that He can bring us into the place of fruitfulness in the very area of our testing. He has never promised to keep us from entering the valleys of testing, but He has promised to make us fruitful in them. He is the God who turns the Valley of Achor (trouble) into a door of hope (see Hos. 2:15).
If you are in the valley of affliction, now is the time to press into Him. When the time comes to bring you out of this valley, He will heal your memories and bring fruit from this very time.
Passion for Praise: ‘Praise God in the Highest!’
Monday, November 13, 2017