Jeremiah 29:1111 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Joshua 1:99 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”
1 Corinthians 6:1111 And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
[Written by Joe Stowell for Our Daily Bread.]
This Man, if He were a prophet, would know who and what manner of woman this is who is touching Him, for she is a sinner. —Luke 7:39
A friend once told me, “In my lifetime I’ve seen a lot of things change, and I’ve been against them all!” Perhaps he overstated the point, but many of us would agree that we don’t like change—especially if it involves altering our habits and attitudes.
That’s one reason Jesus was so unpopular among the Pharisees. He challenged their long-established system of good works and self-righteous living. Consider the incident when the town “sinner” entered the home of the town “saint” in Luke 7:36-50. Simon the Pharisee wasn’t impressed with the woman’s lavish display of affection for Jesus. Reading Simon’s self-righteous thoughts, Jesus immediately challenged his flawed perception of his own goodness by telling the story of two debtors—one who owed much to his master and one who owed less. “Which of them will love him more?” Jesus asked (Luke 7:42). Obviously, the one who had been forgiven more. Speaking to Simon’s I-feel-pretty-good-about-myself attitude, Jesus said, “to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little” (Luke 7:47).
The challenge is clear. Lulled into thinking how good we are, our love for Jesus wanes because we have forgotten that we too are among the ones “forgiven much.” And when that happens, ready or not, it’s time for a change!
Forgive us, Lord, for failures past,
Then help us start anew
With strength and courage to obey
And closely follow You. —Sper
When God starts changing things, He usually begins with changing us.
|March 27, 2017
Fight About It Tomorrow
NICOLE J PHILLIPS, COMPEL Member
“When they arrived back in Jerusalem, Jesus entered the Temple and began to drive out the people buying and selling animals for sacrifices. He knocked over the tables of the money changers and the chairs of those selling doves, and he stopped everyone from using the Temple as a marketplace.” Mark 11:15-16 (NLT)
I was 41 years old and fighting with my dad like I was 14.
My father wasn’t feeling well and (in my opinion) was a little crabby. I was sore and tired from a 10-hour car ride with three children, so I suppose it’s possible I was a little crabby, too.
We were in the kitchen having breakfast and looking through vacation photos when he started complaining about how he hates looking at photos on phones. “Why can’t people just print off pictures like they used to?”
I reminded him we still live in a world of color printers: “If you want, I’d be happy to make real, live copies for you to hold in your hands.”
Now, that would have been fine. I could’ve stopped there. But no. Since my mouth was already open, I decided to carry on and tell him how terribly negative I thought he’d been for the past week. “Why are you so focused on the bad things, Dad? It’s exhausting. How about trying to comment on the good for a change?”
I continued, and so did my dad. The decibel level got so loud that my husband walked into the room. After about five minutes, I “won.” He apologized and said he would try to be more positive.
But I didn’t win. Because two days later, my dad had a major stroke. He spent a week lying in a hospital bed, then months in a nursing home, unable to move one side of his body or name most of the people who walked into the room.
The guilt was overwhelming. Why didn’t I lead with kindness?
I took my grief to God and opened to a Bible passage I had never noticed before. I realized God was about to teach me through this trial.
Mark 11:11 says, “So Jesus came to Jerusalem and went into the Temple. After looking around carefully at everything, he left …” (NLT)
Four verses later, otherwise known as the next morning, the story continues: “When they arrived back in Jerusalem, Jesus entered the Temple and began to drive out the people buying and selling animals for sacrifices. He knocked over the table of the money changers and the chairs of those selling doves, and he stopped everyone from using the Temple as a marketplace” (Mark 11:15-16).
Did you catch that? Jesus didn’t unleash his fury the first time he saw the Temple. He scoped out the situation, slept on it and then went in the next day with the roundhouse kick.
Raising our voices isn’t out of line. The problem is often our timing. We need to take time to search for the right words so the wrong words — in the wrong decibel — don’t sneak up on us. I don’t know about you, but my relationships would be a whole lot sweeter if I would assess each situation and take the time to decide if it’s worth fighting about. If it is, it’ll still be there tomorrow.
God is good at teaching — and redeeming. My dad is once again well enough to share a meal, breathe words of wisdom into his daughter’s sometimes chaotic life, and even look at photos on a cellphone. Although he still prefers the printed version, we sure don’t fight about it anymore.
Heavenly Father, we are in awe of the way You can take every trial and turn it into a teaching opportunity. Lord, give us the wisdom to hold our words until we are certain we are in the center of Your will. Thank You for Your forgiveness when we fail or fall short. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
From: Our Daily Bread
You are precious and honored in my sight, and . . . I love you. Isaiah 43:4
To celebrate Winston Churchill’s eightieth birthday, the British parliament commissioned artist Graham Sutherland to paint a portrait of the celebrated statesman. “How are you going to paint me?” Churchill reportedly asked the artist: “As a cherub, or the Bulldog?” Churchill liked these two popular perceptions of him. Sutherland, however, said he would paint what he saw.
Churchill was not happy with the results. Sutherland’s portrait had Churchill slumped in a chair wearing his trademark scowl—true to reality, but hardly flattering. After its official unveiling, Churchill hid the painting in his cellar. It was later secretly destroyed.
Like Churchill, most of us have an image of ourselves we want others to have of us also—whether of success, godliness, beauty, or strength. We can go to great lengths to conceal our “ugly” sides. Perhaps deep down we fear we won’t be loved if the real us is known.
When the Israelites were taken captive by Babylon, they were seen at their worst. Because of their sins, God allowed their enemies to conquer them. But He told them not to fear. He knew them by name, and He was with them in every humiliating trial (Isa. 43:1–2). They were secure in His hands (v. 13) and “precious” to Him (v. 4). Despite their ugliness, God loved them.
We will find ourselves less motivated to seek the approval of others when such a truth truly sinks in. God knows the real us and still loves us immeasurably (Eph. 3:18).
God’s deep love means we can be real with others.
From: Our Daily Journey
During my sister-in-law’s lengthy hospital stay, battling an advanced form of cancer, our family spent many hours in a “family room” just down the hall from her room. We befriended a family whose mother had been diagnosed with the same disease. When both women entered hospice within days of each other, the two families shared tears and hugs. As I talked with a daughter of the mother, she said their experience had been “brutiful”—both brutal and beautiful. Similar to my family’s experience, God’s love and light had consistently peeked through the darkness of their family’s grief and pain.
The people of Israel experienced a chilling darkness in their relationship with God due to the deadly spiritual disease of idolatry (Hosea 1:2). The prophet Hosea’s relationship with his wayward wife provided a real-life portrait of his nation’s rebellion against their Lord. When Gomer, the prophet’s wife, had three children, God told Hosea to name them Jezreel (“for I am about to punish King Jehu’s dynasty to avenge the murders he committed at Jezreel”), Lo-ruhamah (“not loved”), and Lo-ammi (“not my people”) (Hosea 1:4,6,9). Not exactly a happy trio of names!
But happiness was on the horizon, for God said, “What a day that will be—the day of Jezreel—when God will again plant his people in his land” (Hosea 1:11). Not only was Jezreel’s name redeemed, but God transformed the other two children’s names too: Ammi (“my people”) and Ruhamah (“the ones I love”).
God alone has the power and grace to allow us to experience beauty even when things are brutal. He alone allows us to see light and life as it peeks through the darkness. Seek Him and His “brutiful,” transforming ways even in the midst of your most difficult days.