Tag Archives: Food

The Conditions Of Discipleship

John 15:10-11

 

“If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. “These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.

Psalm 4:8

In peace I will both lie down and sleep, For You alone, O LORD, make me to dwell in safety.

Matthew 11:28-29

 

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS.

John 16:33

“These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”

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The Conditions of Discipleship

From: Utmost.org

The Conditions of Discipleship

The Christian life is a life characterized by true and spontaneous creativity. Consequently, a disciple is subject to the same charge that was leveled against Jesus Christ, namely, the charge of inconsistency. But Jesus Christ was always consistent in His relationship to God, and a Christian must be consistent in his relationship to the life of the Son of God in him, not consistent to strict, unyielding doctrines. People pour themselves into their own doctrines, and God has to blast them out of their preconceived ideas before they can become devoted to Jesus Christ.

 

Taking Shortcuts

From: Our Daily Bread

Taking Shortcuts
Read: Luke 9:57–62 | Bible in a Year: Job 22–24; Acts 11

Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. Luke 9:23

Sipping her tea, Nancy gazed out her friend’s window and sighed. Spring rains and sunshine had coaxed a riotous expanse of color from a well-groomed flowerbed of lilies, phlox, irises, and evening primrose.

“I want that look,” she said wistfully, “without all the work.”

Some shortcuts are fine—even practical. Others short-circuit our spirit and deaden our lives. We want romance without the difficulties and messiness of committing to someone so different from ourselves. We want “greatness” without the risks and failures necessary in the adventure of real life. We desire to please God, but not when it inconveniences us.

Jesus made clear to His followers that there is no shortcut that avoids the hard choice of surrendering our lives to Him. He warned a prospective disciple, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62). To follow Christ requires a radical altering of our loyalties.

When we turn in faith to Jesus, the work just begins. But it is oh-so-worth-it, for He also told us that no one who sacrifices “for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age . . . and in the age to come eternal life” (Mark 10:29–30). The work of following Christ is difficult, but He’s given us His Spirit and the reward is a full, joyful life now and forever.

Father, I will find the strength to do the work You have for me to do, only as I rely on Your Holy Spirit. Help me, please, to be sensitive to that today.

Most things worth doing are difficult.

 

 

A Laughing Faith

From: Our Daily Journey

A Laughing Faith

Read:

Genesis 17:15-19
Abraham . . . laughed to himself in disbelief. “How could I become a father at the age of 100?” (Genesis 17:17).

I remember where I was sitting in the cramped living room of our apartment when Miska told me she was pregnant with our first son, Wyatt. I must have sat mute for several moments because Miska asked, “Are you okay? What are you thinking?” In theory, I wanted to be a dad someday, but it had seemed like a distant possibility. But here it was . . . I was going to be a dad, and I was dumbstruck.

Abraham was in a very different situation. He was an old man, and for decades he’d wanted to father a son with his wife, Sarah. But of course, now it appeared to be too late. His body was withered and Sarah, at age 90, was advanced in years as well. It seemed that there would be no children for them.

God appeared to Abraham, however, and told him the most ludicrous, unexpected news: “I will bless [Sarah] and give you a son from her! Yes, I will bless her richly, and she will become the mother of many nations. Kings of nations will be among her descendants” (Genesis 17:16). Abraham “bowed down to the ground, but he laughed to himself in disbelief” (Genesis 17:17). God must be mistaken, he thought; the idea was preposterous.

Of course, before too long, Abraham and Sarah did indeed have a son—Isaac. God revived their withered bodies and made them fertile again. He kept His promise.

Do any of God’s promises—such as “eternal life” (John 4:14) and a “satisfying life” (John 10:10)—seem so wonderful that you can’t help but laugh? Do any of God’s good and hopeful words seem impossible? Has it been difficult for you to hold on to belief in His kind intentions? Have you ever read a verse that contains a clear promise from Him—and couldn’t contain the laughter? If God has spoken, then hold on because His promises are true.

 

 

God Gives Us A Clean Heart

Proverbs 20:9

Who can say, “I have cleansed my heart, I am pure from my sin”?

Matthew 23:26

“You blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may become clean also.

Romans 14:14

I know and am convinced in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself; but to him who thinks anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean.

1 Corinthians 13:12

For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.

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Cleaning House

From: Our Daily Bread

Cleaning House

Rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. 1 Peter 2:1

Recently, I switched rooms in the home I rent. This took longer than expected, because I didn’t want to simply transfer my (extensive) mess to a new room; I wanted a completely fresh and uncluttered start. After hours and hours of cleaning and sorting, bags of stuff sat by the front door to be thrown away, donated, or recycled. But at the end of this exhausting process was a beautiful room I was excited to spend time in.

My housecleaning project gave me a fresh perspective when reading 1 Peter 2:1, as paraphrased in The Message: “So, clean house! Make a clean sweep of malice and pretense, envy, and hurtful talk.” Interestingly, it’s after a joyful confession of their new life in Christ (1:1–12) that Peter urges them to throw away destructive habits (1:13–2:3). When our walk with the Lord feels cluttered and our love for others feels strained, this shouldn’t cause us to question our salvation. We don’t change our lives to be saved, but because we are (1:23).

As real as our new life in Christ is, bad habits learned do not disappear overnight. So, on a daily basis, we need to “clean house,” throwing away all that prevents us from fully loving others (1:22) and growing (2:2). Then, in that new, clean space, we can experience the wonder of being freshly built (v. 5) by Christ’s power and life.

Heavenly Father, thank You for the new life You are building in us through our Lord Jesus. Help us to daily turn to You for cleansing and renewal.

Every day we can reject destructive habits and experience new life in Jesus.

 

The Inevitable Penalty

From: Utmos.org

The Inevitable Penalty

These sermons of Jesus Christ are meant for your will and your conscience, not for your head. If you dispute these verses from the Sermon on the Mount with your head, you will dull the appeal to your heart.

If you find yourself asking, “I wonder why I’m not growing spiritually with God?”— then ask yourself if you are paying your debts from God’s standpoint. Do now what you will have to do someday. Every moral question or call comes with an “ought” behind it— the knowledge of knowing what we ought to do.

 

The New Risky

From: Our Daily Journey

The New Risky

Read:

2 Corinthians 4:1-18
We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves (2 Corinthians 4:7

“Safe is the new risky,” the speaker remarked. He was referring to the hidden costs of failing to incorporate people of diverse perspectives and ethnicity into the workplace, such as difficulty competing in a global marketplace. But I couldn’t help but think his point echoed the radically new perspective the gospel brings—that things are not as they seem and that there’s a hidden cost to not taking risks for the sake of the gospel.

That cost can be failing to experience the power of God through the “life of Jesus” in all its fullness (2 Corinthians 4:7-11). In His mercy (2 Corinthians 4:1), God has chosen broken, ordinary people like you and me to be the “clay jars” that carry the treasure of the good news. If we live “safe,” comfortable lives where we never really take risks—never bringing His love into the most broken places in our communities, never standing up against the injustices our culture normalizes, never trusting Him with our deepest fears—we can also miss fully tasting His love, joy, and justice. We can fail to really see the “glory of God . . . in the face of Jesus” (2 Corinthians 4:6).

The gospel invites us to “never give up,” to live with courage. But sharing God’s love to a world “blinded” to it is not easy (2 Corinthians 4:1,4). Even Paul in his deepest pain “despaired of life itself” (2 Corinthians 1:8 NIV). Through his suffering, Paul came to understand more deeply the paradox that as we experience suffering, we also experience the resurrection life of Jesus (2 Corinthians 4:10) and a taste of the day when an “eternal glory” (2 Corinthians 4:17 NIV)—the beauty of God’s future for creation—will be revealed for all to see. It’s in light of that reality that we can joyfully be ever-bolder witnesses to the relentless, death-defying love of our Savior

God Will Help You To Flourish

  • Job 14:7-9 ESV
    “For there is hope for a tree,
        if it be cut down, that it will sprout again,
        and that its shoots will not cease.
    Though its root grow old in the earth,
        and its stump die in the soil,
    yet at the scent of water it will bud
        and put out branches like a young plant.
  • Zechariah 9:16-17 ESV
    On that day the Lord their God will save them,
        as the flock of his people;
    for like the jewels of a crown
        they shall shine on his land.
    17 For how great is his goodness, and how great his beauty!
        Grain shall make the young men flourish,
        and new wine the young women.
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Time to Flourish

From: Our Daily Bread

Time to Flourish
Read: Luke 13:1–9 | Bible in a Year: Job 17–19; Acts 10:1–23

“Sir,” the man replied, “leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it.” Luke 13:8

Last spring I decided to cut down the rose bush by our back door. In the three years we’d lived in our home, it hadn’t produced many flowers, and its ugly, fruitless branches were now creeping in all directions.

But life got busy, and my gardening plan got delayed. It was just as well—only a few weeks later that rose bush burst into bloom like I’d never seen before. Hundreds of big white flowers, rich in perfume, hung over the back door, flowed into our yard, and showered the ground with beautiful petals.

My rose bush’s revival reminded me of Jesus’s parable of the fig tree in Luke 13:6–9. In Israel, it was customary to give fig trees three years to produce fruit. If they didn’t, they were cut down so the soil could be better used. In Jesus’s story, a gardener asks his boss to give one particular tree a fourth year to produce. In context (vv. 1–5), the parable implies this: The Israelites hadn’t lived as they should, and God could justly judge them. But God is patient and had given extra time for them to turn to Him, be forgiven, and bloom.

God wants all people to flourish and has given extra time so that they can. Whether we are still journeying toward faith or are praying for unbelieving family and friends, His patience is good news for all of us.

I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:5).

God has given the world extra time to respond to His offer of forgiveness.

 

Do It Now!

From: Utmost.org

Do It Now!

In this verse, Jesus Christ laid down a very important principle by saying, “Do what you know you must do— now. Do it quickly. If you don’t, an inevitable process will begin to work ‘till you have paid the last penny’ (Matthew 5:26) in pain, agony, and distress.” God’s laws are unchangeable and there is no escape from them. The teachings of Jesus always penetrate right to the heart of our being.

Wanting to make sure that my adversary gives me all my rights is a natural thing. But Jesus says that it is a matter of inescapable and eternal importance to me that I pay my adversary what I owe him. From our Lord’s standpoint it doesn’t matter whether I am cheated or not, but what does matter is that I don’t cheat someone else. Am I insisting on having my own rights, or am I paying what I owe from Jesus Christ’s standpoint?

Do it quickly— bring yourself to judgment now. In moral and spiritual matters, you must act immediately. If you don’t, the inevitable, relentless process will begin to work. God is determined to have His child as pure, clean, and white as driven snow, and as long as there is disobedience in any point of His teaching, He will allow His Spirit to use whatever process it may take to bring us to obedience. The fact that we insist on proving that we are right is almost always a clear indication that we have some point of disobedience. No wonder the Spirit of God so strongly urges us to stay steadfastly in the light! (see John 3:19-21).

“Agree with your adversary quickly….” Have you suddenly reached a certain place in your relationship with someone, only to find that you have anger in your heart? Confess it quickly— make it right before God. Be reconciled to that person— do it now!

 

Seeing like Jesus

From: Our Daily Bread

Seeing like Jesus

Read:

Hebrews 12:1-29

We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith (Hebrews 12: 28

During his 100 years of life, renowned photographer Stanley Troutman has witnessed some profound events. In 1945, as a US Navy photographer, Troutman was deployed to Germany and Japan where he captured on film some of the most poignant images of World War II. After the war, as the official sports photographer for a large university, this believer in Jesus saw and documented amazing athletic feats.

Both experiences caused Stanley Troutman to recognize that in this complex world, the only way to steadily “run with endurance the race God has set before us” is by “keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith” (Hebrews 12:1-2).

Seeing the world through a camera lens can reveal much about people’s hearts, their ambitions, and the times we live in. When we focus on Jesus and God’s wisdom found in Scripture, however, we can also see a Savior who calls us to “take a new grip” with our tired hands and to find strength for our “weak knees” in Him (Hebrews 12:12).

Jesus meets us in life’s battlefields and arenas—inviting us to look to Him, the only One who “endured the cross, disregarding its shame” and who embraced hostility from sinful people on our behalf so that we “[wouldn’t] become weary and give up” as we live out His calling for our lives (Hebrews 12:2-3).

God graciously invites us to cast our eyes on Jesus and encourages us to “mark out a straight path for [our] feet so that those who are weak and lame will not fall but become strong” (Hebrews 12:13). Through Christ, “We are receiving a Kingdom that is unshakable, [so] let us be thankful and please God by worshiping him with holy fear and awe” (Hebrews 12:28).

Today, may we fix our eyes on Jesus and see all of life through the lens of His love.

We Are God’s Masterpiece

We are God’s masterpiece Ephesians 2:10

 

10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

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God’s Masterpiece

From: Our Daily Journey

God’s Masterpiece

Read:

Ephesians 2:8-10
We are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago (Ephesians 2:10).

While watching top athletes compete in a global event, my family and I marveled at their incredible feats. But as a relatively sedentary person, I was equally awestruck by their training regimens. In interview after interview, athletes would share how they woke up early every morning and did nothing but work out for hours on end. Every calorie would be counted, every movement analyzed for maximum efficiency. But they didn’t talk about their training as if it were a hardship—something negative. No, they described it with pride and passion because they recognized the privilege of being one of the few athletes in the world capable of competing at the very highest level.

Believers in Jesus are certainly called to the privilege of serving God with passion. Ephesians 2 states that we’re created to do good works by His power and provision (Ephesians 2:10). And as clearly presented elsewhere in the New Testament, the work we’re called to do isn’t easy. Jesus Himself embraced a cross and called us to carry our own (Matthew 16:24). But when Paul talks about doing good works, he frames it as a privilege, not a burden. In Ephesians 2:10, he says that we’re God’s “masterpiece.” In this, he gives us the sense that we’ve been created and crafted by God to do good works. We were made in His image and are now new creations designed to reflect His ways (2 Corinthians 5:17).

I have to admit that far too often I view all that I’m called to do as a believer in Jesus as more of a burden than a privilege. That’s why Paul’s words in Ephesians are so important to keep in mind. When it comes to my calling to follow Christ, it’s not that I have to do it. By God’s provision, it’s pure privilege!

 

 

What will it take for others to believe I am a new creation, a changed person? Time is one answer, but there are others.

Acts 9:27
Then Barnabas brought him to the apostles and told them how Saul had seen the Lord on the way to Damascus and how the Lord had spoken to Saul. He also told them that Saul had preached boldly in the name of Jesus in Damascus.

“Then Barnabas brought him to the apostles and told them how Saul had seen the LORD on the way to Damascus and how the LORD had spoken to Saul. He also told them that Saul had preached boldly in the name of Jesus in Damascus.” Acts 9: 27NLT

Barnabas advocated for Paul. Like Paul, my friend needed an advocate to help her husband know she was serious about her new faith in her Savior. If only there was a person to speak to her husband on her behalf, he might believe. She knew just the person. Their pastor. They had met with him many times. He knew her story, and he had helped her through her confession, healing, and restoration.

They set up a meeting. Having their pastor verify her remorse and sorrow over her bad decision helped her husband understand her conversion was sincere. The pastor counseled them. There were tears of joy and reconciliation as her husband saw true transformation.

It has been 20 years. Their marriage is stronger than ever. People can change. Saul changed. My friend changed. While transformations can be genuine, people from our past may be reluctant to believe change is real. We may need a Barnabas, an advocate to verify our change and good standing.

Once my friend’s pastor convinced her husband to trust her, there was no stopping the restoration of their marriage. Once Barnabas convinced the apostles to trust Paul, there was no stopping the growth of the new church.

“The church then had peace throughout Judea, Galilee, and Samaria, and it became stronger as the believers lived in the fear of the LORD. And with the encouragement of the Holy Spirit, it also grew in numbers.” Acts 9:31 NLT

It all began when Barnabas declared to the disciples what had taken place. The Apostle Paul went on to spend the rest of his life teaching, preaching, and baptizing.

For anyone who has had a transformation, they know they are a new creation. They know their past is gone. Having others see and believe the change may take some time, and it might help to find a Barnabas!

 

The Strictest Discipline

From: Utmost.org

The Strictest Discipline

When God changes you through regeneration, giving you new life through spiritual rebirth, your life initially has the characteristic of being maimed. There are a hundred and one things that you dare not do— things that would be sin for you, and would be recognized as sin by those who really know you. But the unspiritual people around you will say, “What’s so wrong with doing that? How absurd you are!” There has never yet been a saint who has not lived a maimed life initially. Yet it is better to enter into life maimed but lovely in God’s sight than to appear lovely to man’s eyes but lame to God’s. At first, Jesus Christ through His Spirit has to restrain you from doing a great many things that may be perfectly right for everyone else but not right for you. Yet, see that you don’t use your restrictions to criticize someone else.

The Christian life is a maimed life initially, but in Matthew 5:48 Jesus gave us the picture of a perfectly well-rounded life— “You shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.”

Unfinished Works

At the Potter’s House

18 This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: “Go down to the potter’s house, and there I will give you my message.” So I went down to the potter’s house, and I saw him working at the wheel. But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him.

Then the word of the Lord came to me. He said, “Can I not do with you, Israel, as this potter does?” declares the Lord. “Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, Israel. If at any time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down and destroyed, and if that nation I warned repents of its evil, then I will relent and not inflict on it the disaster I had planned. And if at another time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be built up and planted,10 and if it does evil in my sight and does not obey me, then I will reconsider the good I had intended to do for it.

11 “Now therefore say to the people of Judah and those living in Jerusalem, ‘This is what the Lord says: Look! I am preparing a disaster for you and devising a plan against you. So turn from your evil ways,each one of you, and reform your ways and your actions.’ 12 But they will reply, ‘It’s no use. We will continue with our own plans; we will all follow the stubbornness of our evil hearts.’”

 

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Unfinished Works

From: Our Daily Bread

Unfinished Works

Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! Romans 7:24–25

At his death, the great artist Michelangelo left many unfinished projects. But four of his sculptures were never meant to be completed. The Bearded Slave, the Atlas Slave, the Awakening Slave, and the Young Slave, though they appear unfinished, are just as Michelangelo intended them to be. The artist wanted to show what it might feel like to be forever enslaved.

Rather than sculpting figures in chains, Michelangelo made figures stuck in the very marble out of which they are carved. Bodies emerge from the stone, but not completely. Muscles flex, but the figures are never able to free themselves.

My empathy with the slave sculptures is immediate. Their plight is not unlike my struggle with sin. I am unable to free myself: like the sculptures I am stuck, “a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me” (Rom 7:23). No matter how hard I try, I cannot change myself. But thanks be to God, you and I will not remain unfinished works. We won’t be complete until heaven, but in the meantime as we welcome the transforming work of the Holy Spirit, He changes us. God promises to finish the good work He has begun in us (Phil. 1:6).

God, thank You that You make us new creatures through the work of Your Son Jesus Christ, freeing us from our slavery to sin.

He is the potter; we are the clay.

 

 

Eternal Perspective

From: Our Daily journey

Eternal Perspective

Read:

Acts 7:54-60
“Look, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing in the place of honor at God’s right hand!” (Acts 7:56).

Tricia Mingerink’s young adult Christian fantasy series The Blades of Acktar contains a scene where the protagonist is forced to watch friends and family martyred for their faith. A fearful person, she was struck by the peace with which each martyr faced death. In a moment of clarity, she realized that these believers were not bound by their immediate circumstances. The fear borne out of her exclusive focus on the present melted away as she embraced a perspective of eternity in God’s presence.

The story of Stephen demonstrates a similar response to suffering. While facing a group of irate Jewish leaders, Stephen lifted his eyes to heaven and saw a vision of Jesus standing at the right hand of God (Acts 7:54-56). His joyous proclamation of this sight drove the leaders into such a murderous frenzy that “they rushed at him and dragged him out of the city and began to stone him” (Acts 7:57-58).

But this assault didn’t cause Stephen to take his eyes off Jesus. “As they stoned him, Stephen prayed, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.’ He [then] fell to his knees, shouting, ‘Lord, don’t charge them with this sin!’ ” (Acts 7:59-60). Even when facing his own death, Stephen was able to follow Jesus’ example and intercede on his murderers’ behalf.

When Jesus said we should “seek the Kingdom of God above all else” (Matthew 6:33), He was challenging us to move away from an exclusive focus on the here and now. In seeking God’s kingdom here on earth, we prepare our hearts for the eternity beyond and understand that the present reality does not have the final say in our story.

May we adopt an eternal perspective as the Holy Spirit helps us see all of life through God’s eyes and heart.

 

Held by the Grip of God

From: Utmost.org

Held by the Grip of God

Never choose to be a worker for God, but once God has placed His call on you, woe be to you if you “turn aside to the right hand or to the left” (Deuteronomy 5:32). We are not here to work for God because we have chosen to do so, but because God has “laid hold of” us. And once He has done so, we never have this thought, “Well, I’m really not suited for this.” What you are to preach is also determined by God, not by your own natural leanings or desires. Keep your soul steadfastly related to God, and remember that you are called not simply to convey your testimony but also to preach the gospel. Every Christian must testify to the truth of God, but when it comes to the call to preach, there must be the agonizing grip of God’s hand on you— your life is in the grip of God for that very purpose. How many of us are held like that?

Never water down the Word of God, but preach it in its undiluted sternness. There must be unflinching faithfulness to the Word of God, but when you come to personal dealings with others, remember who you are— you are not some special being created in heaven, but a sinner saved by grace.

“Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do…I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14).

From Brokenness To Salvation

 

Luke 7:36-50

Jesus Anointed by a Sinful Woman

41 “Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred Roman coins,[a] and the other fifty.

42   Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”

43 Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.”

“You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.

44 Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. 46 You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. 47 Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”

48 Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”

49 The other guests began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?”

50 Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

( The woman is this story may have gone from brokenness to salvation through faith in Christ. It is one of the greatest expressions of gratitude to God in the bible).

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Broken and Hurting

From: CBN and Paul Linzey

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Every one of us is broken in some way. We might look fine on the outside, but inside we’re hurting. If we’re to find healing or any positive result from the pain, it might be helpful to take a look at Job, James, and Jesus to see how we can respond in painful circumstances.

Even though he did everything right, Job suffered terrible business losses, extreme physical pain, and undeserved accusations from his friends. His wife also lost everything, and chose to let go of hope and faith, suggesting that he do the same. Instead, Job turned to the Lord, and began to understand more fully his own weakness and need for God. These are important lessons that sometimes have to be learned the hard way. We have a tendency to be self-sufficient, unaware of our desperate need for God. In his darkest moments, Job chose to turn toward the Lord, and so can we.

The second possibility for meaning in our pain is character growth. James 1:2-4 tells us to remain joyful when we endure tests and trials, because they will help us mature. It is true that pain can break us, but it also has a way of strengthening us and deepening us. The difference is how we respond to the crisis and to the work of the Holy Spirit.

A third potential benefit of tribulation is that it can help us develop compassion for others. When Jesus looked at the crowds, he saw their need and was moved to compassion. He cared about people and saw their hurts. He felt their need, and acted. He fed them, healed them, taught them, loved them. The Apostle Paul picks up this theme in 2 Corinthians 1:4 when he says the Lord comforts us in our troubles so that we can comfort others.

Some people respond to pain by becoming hardened, bitter, or angry. Others are jealous of those who seem to have everything going right. If we want to grow in Christ and enjoy life to its fullest, however, we can’t afford to let either of those happen. Instead, we can turn to the Lord, mature as human beings, and develop a sense of compassion for others.

There’s a song in the musical version of Les Misérables that a Christian pastor sings to a hungry, homeless criminal, “Come in, sir, for you are weary, and the night is cold out there. There’s a bed to rest til morning, rest from pain and rest from wrong.”

That’s what the Lord is saying to us in Matthew 11:28 (Paraphrased), “Come to me, you who are tired, carrying a heavy load, and I will give you rest.” Rest from pain, and rest from wrong.

Get In The Game

From: Get More Strength

To this end I also labor, striving according to His working which works in me mightily. —Colossians 1:29

I love going to Chicago’s Wrigley Field for a baseball game—sitting in the stands, downing a great hot dog, and cheering the Cubs on to victory!

Unfortunately, Christianity has become a lot like professional sports. As a friend of mine has observed, there are nine guys on the baseball field doing all the work and thousands in the stands just watching. And as you probably know, that’s not God’s game plan for His people. He wants us to climb out of the stands, get out on the field, and join the team.

If you are wondering what good you can do on the field, wonder no more. What about your financial resources? Jesus can take your “silver and gold” and use it to accomplish great things for His glory.

But more than just getting out your checkbook, you have gifts you can contribute. God has given each of us spiritual gifts that can help advance His kingdom. Whether it’s teaching, encouraging, serving, showing hospitality, or extending mercy, each ability can yield great dividends. Let’s follow the example of Paul, who tirelessly served on God’s field for the joy of being used by Him (Col. 1:28-29).

Believe me, it’s far more rewarding to be on the field than to sit in the stands.

Start where you are in serving the Lord,
Claim His sure promise and trust in His Word;
God simply asks you to do what you can,
He’ll use your efforts to further His plan. —Anon.

Don’t make a cemetery of your life by burying your talents.

 

Shameless Persistence

From: Our Daily Journey

Shameless Persistence

Read:

Luke 11:1-13
Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you (Luke 11:9).

After 45 years of talking with God, I still find prayer to be an enigma. At times, I’ve felt as if I stopped praying too soon. If I had persevered, would the outcome have been different?

Like me, Jesus’ disciples needed to learn more about the nature of prayer. So He taught them how not to pray (Matthew 6:5-8), how they should pray (Matthew 6:9-13), and the confidence and persistence with which they were to call out to God (Matthew 7:7-11).

Once, after watching Jesus pray, one of His disciples requested, “Lord, teach us to pray” (Luke 11:1). After instructing them how to pray (Luke 11:2-4), Jesus continued to teach “them more about prayer” with a story (Luke 11:5-8): A guest had unexpectedly turned up late at night, and the host—wanting to show hospitality—unfortunately had nothing to offer. So the host went to his friend nearby to borrow some food. Irritated at being awakened at midnight and having to leave his bed, the friend initially refused to help him (Luke 11:5-7). Undeterred, the needy host continuously and audaciously knocked on the friend’s door until he yielded and gave him the food he asked for (Luke 11:8-9). The friend didn’t help him out of friendship, but “because of [his] shameless persistence” (Luke 11:8).

Thankfully, God isn’t like that reluctant friend; He’s a generous and good Father (Luke 11:11-13). He is not annoyed by our persistence. On the contrary, He welcomes it, expecting us to “keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you” (Luke 11:9).

God hears us (Luke 11:10). May we continue to seek His will even as we lift up our prayers with “shameless persistence.”

 

 

Recognizing Who Jesus Is

53   After Jesus’ resurrection, when they had come out of the tombs, they entered the holy city and appeared to many people.
55   And many women were there, watching from a distance. They had followed Jesus from Galilee to minister to Him.…
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John 1:3          Through Jesus All Things Were Made
2   He was with God in the beginning.
4   In Him was life, and that life was the light of men.…
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Very Good!

From: Our Daily Bread

Very Good!

Then God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was very good! Genesis 1:31 nlt

Some days seem to have a theme running through them. Recently I had one of those days. Our pastor began his sermon on Genesis 1 with two minutes of breathtaking, time-lapse photography of blossoming flowers. Then, at home, a scroll through social media revealed numerous posts of flowers. Later on a walk in the woods, the wildflowers of spring surrounded us—trilliums, marsh marigolds, and wild iris.

God created flowers and every other variety of vegetation (and dry ground to grow in), on the third day of creation. And twice on that day, God pronounced it “good” (Gen. 1:10, 12). On only one other day of creation—the sixth—did God make that double pronouncement of “good” (vv. 25, 31). In fact, on this day when He created humans and His masterpiece was complete, He looked over all He had made and “saw that it was very good!” (nlt).

In the creation story, we see a Creator God who delighted in His creation—and seemed to take joy in the very act of creating. Why else design a world with such colorful and amazing variety? And He saved the best for last when He “created mankind in his own image” (v. 27). As His image-bearers we are blessed and inspired by His beautiful handiwork.

Dear Creator God, thank You for creating the world in all its beauty for our enjoyment—and Yours. Thank You too for making us in Your image so that we would be inspired to create.

All creation bears God’s autograph.

 

 

Faith In God Without Effect

From: Streams In The Desert

For what if some did not believe? shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect? (Rom. 3:3).

I think that I can trace every scrap of sorrow in my life to simple unbelief. How could I be anything but quite happy if I believed always that all the past is forgiven, and all the present furnished with power, and all the future bright with hope because of the same abiding facts which do not change with my mood, do not stumble because I totter and stagger at the promise through unbelief, but stand firm and clear with their peaks of pearl cleaving the air of Eternity, and the bases of their hills rooted unfathomably in the Rock of God. Mont Blanc does not become a phantom or a mist because a climber grows dizzy on its side.
–James Smetham

Is it any wonder that, when we stagger at any promise of God through unbelief, we do not receive it? Not that faith merits an answer, or in any way earns it, or works it out; but God has made believing a condition of receiving, and the Giver has a sovereign right to choose His own terms of gift.
–Rev. Samuel Hart

Unbelief says, “How can such and such things be?” It is full of “hows”; but faith has one great answer to the ten thousand “hows,” and that answer is–GOD!
–C. H. M.

No praying man or woman accomplishes so much with so little expenditure of time as when he or she is praying.

If there should arise, it has been said–and the words are surely true to the thought of our Lord Jesus Christ in all His teaching on prayer—if there should arise ONE UTTERLY BELIEVING MAN, the history of the world might be changed.

Will YOU not be that one in the providence and guidance of God our Father?
–A. E. McAdam

Prayer without faith degenerates into objectless routine, or soulless hypocrisy. Prayer with faith brings Omnipotence to back our petitions. Better not pray unless and until your whole being responds to the efficacy of your supplication. When the true prayer is breathed, earth and heaven, the past and the future, say Amen. And Christ prayed such prayers.
–P. C. M.

Nothing lies beyond the reach of prayer except that which lies outside the will of God.

 

 

Drawing on the Grace of God— Now

From: Utmost.org

Drawing on the Grace of God— Now

The grace you had yesterday will not be sufficient for today. Grace is the overflowing favor of God, and you can always count on it being available to draw upon as needed. “…in much patience, in tribulations, in needs, in distresses”— that is where our patience is tested (2 Corinthians 6:4). Are you failing to rely on the grace of God there? Are you saying to yourself, “Oh well, I won’t count this time”? It is not a question of praying and asking God to help you— it is taking the grace of God now. We tend to make prayer the preparation for our service, yet it is never that in the Bible. Prayer is the practice of drawing on the grace of God. Don’t say, “I will endure this until I can get away and pray.” Pray now — draw on the grace of God in your moment of need. Prayer is the most normal and useful thing; it is not simply a reflex action of your devotion to God. We are very slow to learn to draw on God’s grace through prayer.

“…in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors…” (2 Corinthians 6:5)— in all these things, display in your life a drawing on the grace of God, which will show evidence to yourself and to others that you are a miracle of His. Draw on His grace now, not later. The primary word in the spiritual vocabulary is now. Let circumstances take you where they will, but keep drawing on the grace of God in whatever condition you may find yourself. One of the greatest proofs that you are drawing on the grace of God is that you can be totally humiliated before others without displaying even the slightest trace of anything but His grace.

“…having nothing….” Never hold anything in reserve. Pour yourself out, giving the best that you have, and always be poor. Never be diplomatic and careful with the treasure God gives you. “…and yet possessing all things”— this is poverty triumphant (2 Corinthians 6:10).

 

Cause For Rejoicing

Philippians 4:4

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!

 
Deuteronomy 12:7

“There also you and your households shall eat before the LORD your God, and rejoice in all your undertakings in which the LORD your God has blessed you.

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Cause for Rejoicing

From: Get More Strength

“Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord!” Philippians 3:1

I’ll never forget the Sunday morning when I was hanging out in the hall with a bunch of my “cool” junior high friends before Sunday school. Walking toward us was a visitor to our class, wearing a chain of perfect attendance awards pinned to his shirt. As he approached, our attitude about him was anything but sanctified. It was more like, “Who does he think he is?”—and we immediately dismissed him as a legitimate candidate to make it into the “in” group. Not one of my finer moments, I must admit, but a good illustration of what happens when people walk around flaunting their accomplishments.

The early church at Philippi had similar problems. In his letter to the Philippians, Paul spoke forcefully against the Judaizers in the church who were flaunting the fact that they kept the religious customs of the law, including circumcision. In their minds they were the blue-ribbon Christians in Philippi, and their self-righteous, holier-than-thou attitude was a source of conflict and division in the church. Paul’s advice? Stop rejoicing in your own accomplishments, and start rejoicing in the Lord.

When he commanded the Philippians to rejoice in the Lord, he wasn’t calling for incessant, glib expressions of “praise Jesus!” Aren’t we all just a little tired of people who walk around with 24-hour “praise Jesus!” smiles on their faces? He was calling for something deeper. It was a call to forsake our absorption with things that elevate us and to instead live in a way that makes Jesus the focus of our “bragging rights.” To illustrate the importance of this, Paul gave a personal testimony in verses 4-6. After listing his own accomplishments, he said that he had learned to count it all “loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” (Philippians 3:8).

The lesson for us is that there are no “blue-ribbon” Christians. There is no spiritual caste system that separates the high performers from the others. We all have one blue ribbon: Jesus.

Whatever it is in your life that you want to brag about—don’t! As Jeremiah said, “Let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth” (Jeremiah 9:24).

When we begin bragging about Jesus and His wonderful grace in our life, we can replace the “Who does he think he is?” attitude with the desire to say, “Let me tell you who He is!”

 

Reconciling Yourself to the Fact of Sin

From: Utmost.org

Reconciling Yourself to the Fact of Sin

Not being reconciled to the fact of sin— not recognizing it and refusing to deal with it— produces all the disasters in life. You may talk about the lofty virtues of human nature, but there is something in human nature that will mockingly laugh in the face of every principle you have. If you refuse to agree with the fact that there is wickedness and selfishness, something downright hateful and wrong, in human beings, when it attacks your life, instead of reconciling yourself to it, you will compromise with it and say that it is of no use to battle against it. Have you taken this “hour, and the power of darkness” into account, or do you have a view of yourself which includes no recognition of sin whatsoever? In your human relationships and friendships, have you reconciled yourself to the fact of sin? If not, just around the next corner you will find yourself trapped and you will compromise with it. But if you will reconcile yourself to the fact of sin, you will realize the danger immediately and say, “Yes, I see what this sin would mean.” The recognition of sin does not destroy the basis of friendship— it simply establishes a mutual respect for the fact that the basis of sinful life is disastrous. Always beware of any assessment of life which does not recognize the fact that there is sin.

Jesus Christ never trusted human nature, yet He was never cynical nor suspicious, because He had absolute trust in what He could do for human nature. The pure man or woman is the one who is shielded from harm, not the innocent person. The so-called innocent man or woman is never safe. Men and women have no business trying to be innocent; God demands that they be pure and virtuous. Innocence is the characteristic of a child. Any person is deserving of blame if he is unwilling to reconcile himself to the fact of sin.

 

For Such a Time as This

From: CBN Network

teacher-child-bible

Ever wonder why it is so important not to waste time? I sat at my desk the other day during my break thinking about how much of my time I really waste.

It’s not that I am idle for any length of time. I work 40 hours a week and sometimes more. I attend church, take care of my home, and spend time with my family and friends.

I can remember those moments I could have seized to really make a contribution to society and perhaps come to another’s’ aid. I realized the most productive thing I have gotten involved in only takes me five hours a week.

There is a precious family at my church who I help by watching their very ill, little girl in the nursery. I come away so rewarded those two nights a month.

When I think of true ministry, I think of those moments when the little girl laughs as we play ball, or when she sits and holds a graham cracker in both hands. She is adorable, and has to wear a surgical mask (to keep germs away) because she has an Immune disease, among other problems. When she wants me to hold her, that is when my face lights up.

I just saw the new movie, “One Night with The King.” In it, Esther was told “you were born for such a time as this.” I am glad I have this moment in time to make a difference where God has placed me too.

I just finished taking a spiritual gifts test at my church and although I took it many years ago, I see some changes. Could that be a sign of some spiritual maturity? I certainly hope so!

I am a teacher of the Word and that came in very strong on the test. I love when I get to teach in my Bible class on Sunday mornings as an assistant. Second to that, I love how my desire to pray for children who are ill has manifested itself in my work with this special child. I can say: Lord for such a time as this, thank you for calling me aside.

“For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?” Esther 4:14 NIV

Although my ministry to bless a child may not be on as grand a scale as Queen Esther’s, it certainly is an opportunity to make a difference, and that is what we all must do as Christians. We all have a gift to share …. maybe it is a smile, a hug, a song, or a story to tell.

I found that being an encourager is a wonderful gift for a mother whose child is very ill. Whether you hand someone you know a $5 bill or offer to go to the pre-school children’s class to do story time, you too can make a difference. Ask the Lord to show you where the need is or how you can use your gift. What is your passion?

We all are pieces of a puzzle in the body of Christ and working together we make a whole. It will make a whole lot of difference if our part is missing. This is the way we stay fulfilled and connected in service to the Lord.

God will show you just what your hidden talents and gifts are to serve Him and serve others. You were called for such a time as this!

Living With A Clear View

1 Peter 3:16

and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame.

 
1 Timothy 1:19

keeping faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and suffered shipwreck in regard to their faith.

Acts 24:16

“In view of this, I also do my best to maintain always a blameless conscience both before God and before men.

Job 27:6

“I hold fast my righteousness and will not let it go. My heart does not reproach any of my days.

 

 

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Living With a Clear View

From: Get More Strength

“Offer your bodies as living sacrifices . . . this is your spiritual act of worship” Romans 12:1

I love Wrigley Field in Chicago. But like most old ballparks, it has the necessary but aggravating problem of support posts that obscure the view of the game. Unfortunately, I got stuck behind one of those posts at a game once, and, needless to say, it was disappointing. Without a clear view, I became easily distracted.

It can be like that with worship. Without a clear view of what really counts, we are quickly distracted by lesser things in life. And when that happens, our worship becomes ritualistic and routine. Worship isn’t meant to be a drab experience, but rather an active, ongoing, enthusiastic response to God for His work and worth in our lives.

As I sat distractedly behind the post, I often wondered why everyone was cheering. What had I missed? Losing sight of the real game, God’s wonderful worth to us, will make you wonder why others are so excited about God and why you are only excited about your own dreams, desires, and possessions. Maybe it’s time to look around the obstructions of life to see Jesus clearly again and notice what He is worth to you—personally.

And what would that worship look like? Well, it would be more than singing in church. True worship is a surrender of all that we are and have. Paul told the believers in Rome to “offer your bodies as living sacrifices” (Romans 12:1). Our lives are to be placed on the altar as an act of worship as well! Is He worth that kind of sacrifice? You bet! He gave up everything to set you eternally free. It’s time to tell Him how much He is worth by returning the favor. Being truthful, loving, honest, and forgiving even when it hurts would be a great place to start. And be careful, living sacrifices tend to want to climb off the altar!

Go ahead—get out from behind the support posts so you can get a fresh glimpse of Jesus. He’s the only action worth worshiping in your life!

 

Playing In Concert

From: Our Daily Bread

Playing in Concert
 
 

So in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. Romans 12:5–6

During our granddaughter’s school band concert, I was impressed by how well this group of 11- and 12-year-olds played together. If each of them had wanted to be a solo performer, they could not have achieved individually what the band did collectively. The woodwinds, brass, and percussion sections all played their parts and the result was beautiful music!

To the followers of Jesus in Rome, Paul wrote, “In Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us” (Rom. 12:5–6). Among the gifts Paul mentioned are prophecy, service, teaching, encouragement, giving, leadership, and mercy (vv. 7–8). Each gift is to be exercised freely for the good of all (1 Cor. 12:7).

One definition of in concert is “agreement in design or plan; combined action; harmony or accord.” That’s the Lord’s plan for us as His children through faith in Jesus Christ. “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves” (v. 10). The goal is cooperation, not competition.

In a sense, we are “on stage” before a watching and listening world every day. There are no soloists in God’s concert band, but every instrument is essential. The music is best when we each play our part in unity with others.

Lord, You are the Conductor of our lives. We want to play Your song of love and grace in concert with Your children today.

There are no soloists in God’s orchestra.

 

Upending

From: Our Daily Journey

Upending

Read:

Acts 16:16-34
Paul shouted to [the jailer], “Stop! Don’t kill yourself. We are all here!” (Acts 16:28).

A backyard bash was underway when a man carrying a gun approached and demanded money from the partygoers. The partiers would have handed their money to the bandit, but no one had any cash! So they offered what they did have—a drink. Surprisingly, the crook accepted and joined their party. An unexpected response changed everything.

According to psychologists, “responding in an unexpected way to prompt a positive response” is called noncomplementarity. In the vernacular, it’s called upending. As trendy as it may seem, the idea is centuries old. Jesus said, “Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those you hurt you” (Luke 6:27-28).

Paul and Silas modeled upending when they didn’t run away from a jail where they’d been locked up. God used a late-night earthquake to unfasten their chains and open the prison doors. Shaken awake, the jailer assumed his prisoners had escaped. He drew his sword to end his life, but Paul shouted to him, “Stop! Don’t kill yourself! We are all here!” (Acts 16:28).

Although the jailer had been the one to restrain them in stocks and keep them confined, they prevented him from hurting himself. Perhaps because of their kindness, he fell down before them pleading, “What must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:30). That day the prison guard and his whole household trusted Jesus for salvation.

As the Holy Spirit gives us the power to go against our natural instincts for self-protection and revenge, it will cause people to wonder why. Kindness toward offenders reveals the reality of Jesus and His grace at work within us. Choosing a Spirit-led response in difficult situations honors Him—the greatest “upender” of all time (Luke 23:33-34).

Waiting Silently For God

 

Proverbs 17:28 “Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.”

Psalm 46:10 “He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

Lamentations 3:26 “It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.”

Psalm 62:5 “For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him.”

Psalm 141:3 “Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips!”

 

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Silence

From: Our Daily Bread

Silence

How long, Lord, must I call for help, but you do not listen? Habakkuk 1:2

Skittish chickens scattered as relief trucks clattered past the weathered huts of the village. Barefoot children stared. Traffic on this rain-ravaged “road” was rare.

Suddenly, a walled mansion loomed into view of the convoy. It was the mayor’s house—although he didn’t live in it. His people lacked basic necessities, while he lounged in luxury in a distant city.

Such unfairness angers us. It angered God’s prophet too. When Habakkuk saw rampant oppression he asked, “How long, Lord, must I call for help, but you do not listen?” (Hab. 1:2). But God had noticed, and He said, “Woe to him who piles up stolen goods . . . who builds his house by unjust gain!” (2:6, 9). Judgment was coming!

We welcome God’s judgment of others, but there’s a pivot point in Habakkuk that gives us pause: “The Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth be silent before him” (2:20). All the earth. The oppressed along with oppressors. Sometimes the appropriate response to God’s seeming silence is . . . silence!

Why silence? Because we easily overlook our own spiritual poverty. Silence allows us to recognize our sinfulness in the presence of a holy God.

Habakkuk learned to trust God, and we can too. We don’t know all His ways, but we do know that He is good. Nothing is beyond His control and timing.

Lord, when trouble comes we can pray like Habakkuk, “We have heard of your fame; we stand in awe of your deeds. Repeat them in our day; in our time make them known” (Hab. 3:2).

The righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern. Proverbs 29:7

 

The Unchanging Law of Judgment

From: Utmost.org

The Unchanging Law of Judgment

This statement is not some haphazard theory, but it is an eternal law of God. Whatever judgment you give will be the very way you are judged. There is a difference between retaliation and retribution. Jesus said that the basis of life is retribution— “with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.” If you have been shrewd in finding out the shortcomings of others, remember that will be exactly how you will be measured. The way you pay is the way life will pay you back. This eternal law works from God’s throne down to us (see Psalm 18:25-26).

Romans 2:1 applies it in even a more definite way by saying that the one who criticizes another is guilty of the very same thing. God looks not only at the act itself, but also at the possibility of committing it, which He sees by looking at our hearts. To begin with, we do not believe the statements of the Bible. For instance, do we really believe the statement that says we criticize in others the very things we are guilty of ourselves? The reason we see hypocrisy, deceit, and a lack of genuineness in others is that they are all in our own hearts. The greatest characteristic of a saint is humility, as evidenced by being able to say honestly and humbly, “Yes, all those, as well as other evils, would have been exhibited in me if it were not for the grace of God. Therefore, I have no right to judge.”

Jesus said, “Judge not, that you be not judged” (Matthew 7:1). He went on to say, in effect, “If you do judge, you will be judged in exactly the same way.” Who of us would dare to stand before God and say, “My God, judge me as I have judged others”? We have judged others as sinners— if God should judge us in the same way, we would be condemned to hell. Yet God judges us on the basis of the miraculous atonement by the Cross of Christ.

 

Unappreciated?

From: Our Daily Journey

Unappreciated?

Read:

Luke 17:11-19
Jesus asked, “Didn’t I heal ten men? Where are the other nine?” (Luke 17:17).

Have you ever gone out of your way to do something kind for others, only to have them ignore your effort? You stayed up past midnight to finish a report for your boss or planned a special getaway for your family. You were excited to please them, but ended up disappointed when they didn’t even say thank you.

Jesus can empathize. He once entered a village with much on His mind. He was walking to Jerusalem where He knew He would die on the cross (Luke 18:31-33). His deep thoughts were interrupted by the shouts of ten lepers, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” (Luke 17:13). Ostracized by society, they’d been shut off from family, friends, and even God. (They were not allowed to enter the temple; see Leviticus 13:45-46.) They were in agony, dying, and alone. Jesus was their only hope.

He called them over and said, “Go show yourselves to the priests” (Luke 17:14), in accordance with Mosaic law, which required those cured of leprosy to offer sacrifices (see Leviticus 14:1-57). On their trip to the temple, they noticed their skin was healthy again. Their sores were gone. Shouts of joy must have startled other travelers, yet only one leper—inexplicably only one—returned to thank Jesus for his healing.

Jesus noted the ingratitude of the other nine. He said, “Has no one returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?” (Luke 17:18). He didn’t sweep their lack of response under the rug. Instead, He focused on the grateful person kneeling before Him. “Stand up and go. Your faith has healed you” (Luke 17:19). Although all the lepers were healed, only one person’s gratitude led him to the Savior.

Jesus continued to heal all the way to Jerusalem, where He gave His life to heal us. May we thank Him with hearts full of gratitude today.