Category Archives: Christianity

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How to Become a Hero

A compilation

free-bible-studies-online-anchorI can remember reading The Hiding Place (the story of Corrie ten Boom, a woman who risked her life to save Jews during World War II) and desperately praying that I would have Corrie’s courage and self-sacrifice when I’m eventually confronted with a time that requires it.

How does one become such a person? Jonathan Parnell has some thoughts about this on the Desiring God Blog, where he writes about Jon Meis, a young man who risked his life to save his fellow students during the shooting at Seattle Pacific University:

The person who’d be willing to put the good of others before himself in the event of great loss is the one who puts the good of others before himself in the hundred events of little losses every day. “We are always becoming,” as Joe Rigney puts it, “who we will be. Right this minute, we are headed somewhere, and sooner or later, we are bound to end up there” (Live like a Narnian, 52).

The person of great sacrifice, therefore, must be the person of little sacrifices—the person who has discovered that the life of sacrificial love is the life of greatest joy. The response of sacrificial love in the midst of panic is the end of a trajectory that gets played out as sacrificial love in the midst of normalcy….

The big moment of courageous action doesn’t occur in a vacuum, but has behind it tiny moments of simple sacrifice that have been trending that direction all along. In other words, if we can’t wash dishes and change diapers, we shouldn’t kid ourselves with the idea that we’d step in front of a bullet. If we are stingy with our time and money toward those in need, we’ll be stingy with our lives when a gun gets pulled on innocent people.

Stories like Jon’s should make us pause and ask whether we’d respond like he did. But the question isn’t what we’d do in a particular situation; it’s about what we’re doing now.

We won’t truly know who we’ve become until we’ve been tested. Until then, pray the Holy Spirit enables us to give up our lives in the everyday moments. “The person of great sacrifice must be the person of little sacrifices.” Now is the time to practice dying by His power, looking to Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith.

“Whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant; and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:43–45)

—Amy K. Hall

 
The heart of a hero

I remember memorizing Hebrews 11 as a child, which detailed quite a few gruesome ways to die: “They were stoned; they were [sawn] in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated—the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and [in] mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground.” (Hebrews 11:37–38 NIV)

It made me wonder how much it hurt to die. I knew that I was quite a pansy when it came to pain, so I tried to figure out, if one had to die, what would be the least painful way to go—as I’d opt for that. You see, I really didn’t want to disgrace God by being a total wimp.

Today I can look back at my childhood worries with amusement. I realize now that the real issue was that I’ve always felt lacking in courage. In the Bible there are countless stories of men who did courageous things. Open to almost any book and you read of brave deeds galore. Again, Hebrews 11 lists many of these courageous folk. “And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets, who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies.” (Hebrews 11:32–34 NIV)

Looking at the brave men listed in this chapter, the origins of the word “courage” take on greater meaning—their hearts were in the right place. These men who did such courageous things had something wonderful in common—which was the source of their courage. In Psalm 37:31 King David says this about a righteous man, “The law of his God is in his heart; his feet do not slip.”

There’s the famous Bible account of three Hebrew boys who were told to either worship a golden image or be thrown into a furnace. But, no, these boys stand there and they say they’re not going to bow down. This is what they probably thought were their last words in response to an angry king:

“O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold[en] statue you have set up.” (Daniel 3:16–18 NLT)

I read this account in the safety of my house, separated from this scene by thousands of years—but still the strength of their belief is loud in their words; there isn’t any faltering or trying to negotiate something less mortally dangerous for themselves. But to have the courage to face an experience like this, I think you have to go back a bit. You see, I don’t think their parents ever told them, “You know, one day you’re going to be brought before a scary king, and there’s going to be a furnace, and you’re going to choose between your life or worshipping an idol—when that happens, remember to choose the furnace.”

Instead, I think they told these boys something more along the lines of, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your strength.” (Deuteronomy 6:5 NIV) And, “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.” (Proverbs 18:10 NIV)

I doubt that the parents of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego knew what lay in store for them, or when and how they might be faced with needing to act courageously. But there is one thing they knew they could control—what was stored up in their children’s hearts. Proverbs 4:23 explains this concept well: “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” The New Living Translation has translated this same verse into these words: “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.”

Everyone loves a good hero story; the ones with the good guys in capes and tights are a particular favorite of mine. The thing is, in real life, you don’t get to decide whether you will have the opportunity for a huge heroic moment—if you get to rescue someone, or somehow or another save the day—but what you do have control over is what you put in your heart. That’s how you can be prepared for these larger-than-life moments, as well as those everyday moments that require courage.

—T. M.

 

 

Copyright © 2017 The Family International.

Who Should Get the Credit?

Speak Up for Jesus!

Based on the writings of David Brandt Berg

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As Christians who are seeking to please and serve the Lord, when we succeed in a task or accomplishment, what should our reaction be? Should we exalt ourselves like most people in the World do, and have the attitude of, “Oh, look what a great thing I did!–I’m just WONDERFUL, aren’t I?”–Or should our motivation and attitude be something other than mere pride and the desire to receive praise and esteem from others?

The answer really depends on whether we are doing GOD’S Will and serving HIM, or if we are doing your OWN will and serving our OWN interests. If we’ve given our heart and life to JESUS, and our desire is to please and serve HIM, then we will no doubt be looking to Him for help and guidance, and will therefore want to give HIM the thanks and credit when He helps us to succeed!

Like Peter did when the awestruck crowd gathered around him after the lame man was healed at the Temple one day. The Bible tells us, “All the people ran together unto Peter and John, greatly wondering. And when Peter saw it, he answered the people, `Oh, men of Israel, why do you marvel and stare upon US as though we by our own power or holiness have made this man walk? GOD has glorified His Son, JESUS, of Whom we are His witnesses! By faith in HIS name this man is now healed!” (Acts 3:11-16).

God’s Word tells us, “Let the redeemed of the Lord SAY so!” And, “You that make mention of the Lord, DON’T be SILENT!” (Psalm 102:7; Isaiah 62:6). The Lord wants and expects His children who know and love Him to SPEAK UP and let others know that HE is their God, their Strength, their Helper and their Saviour! So we shouldn’t be ashamed or afraid to let people know that we are the LORD’S, on HIS side, and that HE is the One we’re living for, and that HE is the One Who helps us to accomplish His Will! “For it is GOD which works IN us, to do His Own good pleasure!” (Philippians 2:13).

And if you constantly remind yourself and others that you are just a TOOL in the LORD’S hands, that HE is the only One Who can really accomplish anything, then HE will get all the glory for anything good that He does through you. And you will find that He will BLESS and USE you MORE than you ever have been before if you faithfully give HIM all the glory!

To truly accomplish God’s will and purpose, you must rely on the LORD’S help. To meet the challenges you face, you must know that REAL strength comes “not by your OWN might, nor by your OWN power, but by MY SPIRIT, says the Lord!” (Zechariah 4:6). But if WE try to take the credit and glory to ourSELVES, God will not be able to bless us nearly as much as He would like to.

The Bible tells us the story of King Herod, a pompous ruler who, “on the appointed day, wearing his royal robes, sat on the throne and delivered a public address to the people. After his oration, the people shouted, ‘This is the voice of a GOD, not of a man!’ Immediately”–the Bible says–“because Herod did NOT give PRAISE to GOD, an angel of the Lord struck him down and he was eaten by worms and died!” (Acts 12:21-23).

God did not kill Herod just because he made a great speech. In fact, God probably HELPED him to make that speech in the first place! But when he refused to give GOD the glory, and didn’t silence the people for giving HIM so much credit, but rather took it all to HIMSELF, God was very displeased and therefore smote him!–“Because he did not give the praise to GOD!”

How different is the story of the good kings, prophets and men of God throughout the Bible whom the Lord was able to mightily bless because they gave HIM all the credit and glory! A good example of this is David, who when he was just a young lad, boldly came before the enemies of his people and accepted Goliath’s challenge to confront him in battle.

Before engaging the giant, David loudly cried out to Goliath so that ALL would hear, “YOU come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a shield: But I come to you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied! This day the LORD will deliver you into my hand! And all these people who are gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the LORD’S, and HE will deliver you into our hands!” (1Sam.17:45-47). And the Lord did the miracle and enabled little David to triumph over the giant, and everyone KNEW that it was GOD’S doing, because David gave the LORD ALL the credit.–Even BEFORE Goliath was defeated!

If you really want God’s BLESSING and His help, be like David, and boldly declare not only what you’re against, but also what you are FOR!–That you are for JESUS and for GOD and HIS WILL! “The LORD is on my side! I will not fear what MAN can do unto me!” (Psalm 118:6).

In the Book of Acts, we find another good example of speaking up for the Lord and giving God the glory. The Apostles Peter and John prayed for a lame man who was then miraculously and instantly healed, & it says, “All the people ran together unto them greatly marvelling. But when Peter saw it, he rebuked the crowd and said, ‘Why do you look upon US as though WE by our OWN power or godliness have done this good deed? GOD has glorified His Son, JESUS, and by faith in HIS Name this deed has been done!'” (Acts 3:11,12).

God’s Word says, “Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches. But let him that glories glory in THIS, that he understands and knows ME, that I am the LORD!” (Jeremiah 9:23,24).

If you really BELIEVE in something, or you really LIKE something or are excited about something, you’ll TALK about it, you’ll BOAST about it, you’ll GLORY in it! If you believe in your favourite athletic team, you’ll TALK about them! If you believe in your political party, you TALK about it! If you enjoy and believe in your work, you TALK about it! If you enjoy your leisure and your play, you TALK about that!–And if you really believe in JESUS, you’re going to talk about HIM! As Jesus said, “Out of the FULLNESS of the HEART, the mouth speaks.” (Matthew 12:34).

This doesn’t mean that you have to become a learned theologian, priest, preacher or minister of some organised religious organisation. In fact, you can glorify the Lord WHEREVER you go just by acknowledging and mentioning the Lord and His Love and not being ashamed or afraid to speak His Word and His Truth to others.

By simply saying, “Thank God!” when things are going well, you are giving God the glory and it is a witness to those who hear you! Every time you say, “Thank the Lord!”, you are giving GOD the credit and being a faithful witness. Even if you only say, “God bless you!” to others, you are reminding them of the Lord.

But if you feel somewhat uncertain and unsure of yourself, if you feel incapable of boldly speaking His Name before others, take heart from the disciples of the Early Church. After the powerful religious authorities threatened and commanded them to stop telling others about Jesus, they desperately prayed, “Lord, consider their threats and empower Your servants to continue to speak Your Word with BOLDNESS!” They confessed their weakness and fears and cried out to the Lord for help, and He answered!–“And they were all FILLED with the HOLY SPIRIT and spoke the Word of God with GREAT BOLDNESS!” (Acts 4:29,31).

Jesus promised us, “You shall receive POWER after the HOLY GHOST is come upon you, and you shall be WITNESSES to Me in all the World!” (Acts 1:8). So if you feel the need for more power to stand up for Jesus and to speak His Name boldly before others, simply PRAY and ask Him to FILL you with the power of His precious HOLY SPIRIT, and He WILL!

Jesus said, “Whoever shall be ASHAMED of Me and of My Words, of HIM also shall the Son of Man be ashamed!” (Mark 8:38). But He also says, “Whoever shall CONFESS ME before MEN, HIM will I also confess before My FATHER which is in Heaven!” (Matthew 10:32). So stand up for Jesus NOW, then, when you stand before the Lord one day soon, HE will stand up for YOU before our Heavenly Father! And all Heaven will know that you were NOT ASHAMED of Him and His Words, but CONFESSED Him before others!

Stand up for JESUS today, and He will stand up for YOU, and you will hear Him say, “WELL DONE, My good and faithful servant! Enter into the joy of your Lord!” (Matthew 25:21; Acts 7:55,56). God BLESS you!

 
 

Treasures. Copyright (c) The Family International

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God’s Love for Humankind

By Peter Amsterdam

free-bible-studies-online-anchorGod loves unconditionally. What does unconditionally mean? We could say that God’s love has no bounds, is unchanging, and without limitations. Unconditional love is sometimes defined as a love that is “given freely” to the loved one “no matter what.”

Each of us has sinned, and sin brings separation from God, and there is nothing we can do by ourselves to repair that breach. Nevertheless, God loves us. His love isn’t dependent on us, as we can’t earn His love. He loves us despite our sinful nature. He loves those who don’t love Him. He loves us all “no matter what.” It doesn’t mean He loves all that we do, but He loves us. In fact, He loves humanity so much that He made it possible for the breach caused by our sins and wrongdoing to be bridged through the sacrificial death of His Son, Jesus. Though we are sinners, God, because of His love for us, made it possible for us to be reconciled to Him.

As it says in Romans, chapter 5: “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:6–8 NIV)

God loves us not because of who we are but because of who He is. He is the creator of all things. He’s the Almighty. He is all-powerful and knows everything, and yet He loves you and me. In fact, not just you and me and those of us who are Christians and who appreciate the great sacrifice He made in giving His only Son to die for us, but He loves every single person in the whole world equally and unconditionally. He loved us before we believed in Him, before we loved Him. Even if someone has never heard of God the Father, even if someone says they hate Him, He still loves that person unconditionally. God’s love is unfathomable. It is perfect. It is unconditional.

The foundation point for us as Christians in helping to meet the needs of those we come in contact with, regardless of whether those needs are physical or spiritual, is the understanding that every person is precious to God, regardless of age, race, nationality, physical appearance, economic status, religious belief, political affiliation, or sexual orientation. None of that matters; everyone is loved by God. He loves the beggar on the street as much as He loves the richest man in the world.

God asks that we value every individual, that we see humankind through His eyes of love, which means that we will look at others without bias, prejudice, or preconceived negative opinions. By embracing God’s perspective and seeing others as He does, we will avoid stereotyping people, or thinking of ourselves as better than others.

We don’t have to like every person’s belief system, lifestyle, or choices. We may not agree with them. They may live without regard to God’s moral standards, they may live lives of grave sin, but no matter what their state, God loves them. “He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Matthew 5:45)

Each person on earth is God’s creation just as we are, and God loves them just as He loves us. We are all equal in God’s eyes. God loves each human being, and Jesus died for each human being. We are instructed to love people, and to show God’s love in both practical and spiritual ways, to the best of our ability.

Jesus said that the two most important commandments are to love God and to love others. (Matthew 22:37–40) When we remember that Scripture says that every human being is made in the image and likeness of God, that love is of God, that God is love and He loves us all, (Genesis 1:26–27; 1 John 4:7–8) then the awesome love of God becomes our touchstone; it’s an example of how we should love others. When we look at this benchmark, we understand that we are to emulate God’s attributes of love, compassion, and mercy, just as Jesus did.

We are told to let our light so shine that others may see our good works and glorify God. (Matthew 5:16) This is a call to action, as it expresses the understanding that God intends for us to interact with others in a manner that reflects Him. It’s a call to emulate Him, to treat others with love, compassion, and mercy. We’re called to be conduits of His beautiful, unconditional love to others. This, like many other things on the path of discipleship, often requires some sacrifice. But when you think about Jesus’ sacrifice for us, there really is no comparison.

This touching story makes the point well:

The story has been told of a little girl named Liz who was suffering from a rare and serious disease. Her only chance of recovery appeared to be a blood transfusion from her five-year-old brother, who had miraculously survived the same disease and had developed the antibodies needed to combat the illness.

The doctor explained the situation to her little brother, and asked the little boy if he would be willing to give his blood to his sister. He hesitated only for a moment before taking a deep breath and saying, “Yes, I’ll do it if it will save her.”

As the transfusion progressed, he lay in bed next to his sister and smiled, as all did, seeing the color returning to her cheeks. Then his face grew pale and his smile faded. He looked up at the doctor and asked with a trembling voice, “Will I start to die right away?”

The little boy had misunderstood the doctor; he thought he was going to have to give his sister all of his blood in order to save her.

What a tender and beautiful example of love! The Bible says, “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” (1 John 3:16)

James, the brother of Jesus, expressed that the true practice of our faith consists of both outward and inward action. Outward toward others in practical ways, and inward through our devotion to God. He said: “Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” (James 1:27 NAU)

Manifesting our faith is not only inward activity; we are called to express it through our Christlike, Christ-emulating actions. This calls for sacrificing time we would use for ourselves, and instead giving it to others. It’s letting go of previously made plans in order to help others in need. It’s living our faith by intentionally doing things for the benefit of those in need.

In his book Well Done, Thomas said, “Roll-up-your-shirt-sleeves Christians see Christianity as faith and action. They still make the time to talk with God through prayer, [they] study Scripture with devotion, [they are] super-active in their church and take their ministry to others to spread the Good Word.”

As Rick Warren said in The Purpose Driven Life: “In heaven God won’t say, ‘Tell me about your career, your bank account, and your hobbies.’ Instead he will review how you treated others, particularly those in need.”

Jesus set the example of the “roll-up-your-shirt-sleeves” concept. He constantly showed love to others. He felt compassion for those in need and was moved to loving action. He was merciful. He showed kindness. He fed the hungry and healed the afflicted. He fought against evil and unrighteousness.

Jesus said: “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” (Matthew 25:40) Let’s do what we can to be tangible examples of God’s love for humanity, by following what He shows us to do to share Him and His love with those in need, spiritually through introducing them to Jesus, and practically through ministering to their other needs.

 

 

Copyright © 2017 The Family International.

When We Should Not Forgive!

by David Brandt Berg

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The love and mercy and forgiveness that God offers us through Jesus Christ is so great, so wonderful, that we can’t really fully understand it! We certainly don’t DESERVE it! None of us are “good” enough to deserve forgiveness of sins and His gift of Eternal Life to us! Yet it is ours for the asking if we will only believe on Him, repent of our selfish, wrong ways and ask His forgiveness.–Such love!

This love and forgiveness that He has extended to us, Jesus commands us to show it to others. Ephesians 4:32 says, “Be KIND one to another, tenderhearted, FORGIVING one another, even as God, for Christ’s sake, has forgiven you.” Jesus, in the Lord’s Prayer, instructed us to pray: “Forgive us OUR trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.” He then added, “For if you forgive men THEIR trespasses, your Heavenly Father will also forgive YOU. But if you forgive NOT men their trespasses, neither will your Heavenly Father forgive YOUR trespasses.” (Matthew 6:12,14,15). Jesus said we are even to love and forgive our ENEMIES.

That is, providing they are SORRY. The Bible does NOT instruct us to forgive people who are NOT sorry and DON’T repent. After all, God does not even forgive US OUR sins unless we are sorry for them and repent of them. Yet some people have the mistaken picture of God as a “soft” over-indulgent Father who automatically forgives everyone on Earth for their sins, even if they hate Christ and never repent of their evil deeds!

There are CONDITIONS to God’s forgiveness: As Isaiah 55:7 says, “Let the wicked FORSAKE his way, and the unrighteous man his (evil) thoughts: and let him RETURN unto the Lord, and He will have mercy upon Him; and let him return to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.” God WILL have mercy and abundantly pardon, but FIRST the wicked must FORSAKE his evil thoughts and deeds, REPENT and ASK to be forgiven!

Jesus said, “Love your enemies and do good to them that persecute you.” (Matthew 5:44). But how far are you to go in loving and forgiving those who are vicious enemies who HATE you and want to rob, enslave or even SLAUGHTER you and your loved ones?

Look at the example God Himself sets with HIS enemies: At first, He gives them time to repent. He shows them Love, He shows them the right way and gives them time to change and see the Truth. But after a certain time limit, His patience runs out and He says, “My Spirit will not ALWAYS strive with Man!” (Genesis 6:3). And eventually He SLAUGHTERS His enemies if they keep on being rebellious and doing evil!–As He did in the great worldwide FLOOD when all of Mankind was drowned except Noah and his family! There are countless other examples of this all the way through the Bible.

So we are to give our enemies TIME, we are to be patient, show them love and forgiveness, that we’re READY to forgive them IF they will REPENT. But God Himself does not forgive people who DON’T repent. It is naive to believe that we’re to love and forgive enemies who do NOT repent and who insist on CONTINUING to do evil and harm to us and our loved ones and our nation! As Christians, yes, we are obligated to show love even to our enemies. But that does NOT rule out the fact that we are to DEFEND ourselves from their cruel attacks! It does not even rule out us ATTACKING them to STOP them from killing innocent people!

We must not be so “forgiving” that we lose all moral values and lose all sense of right and wrong, and by standing back and doing nothing to stop them, CONDONE them in their evil deeds! We may show them love to try to win them over, but we must NOT in ANY way condone their evil deeds! And, if necessary, we should not hesitate to STOP them if their evil, violent actions threaten our lives or the lives of others! And we certainly should NOT forgive them for criminal acts of murder, terror, intimidation or the torture of innocent victims!

When Jesus was dying a painful death on the cross, He showed GREAT forgiveness and love even to those who crucified Him, and said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34). Who was He asking God to pardon?–The hypocritical Pharisees and high priests, the religious leaders who had condemned Him to death?–NO! THEY knew EXACTLY what they were doing in crucifying Jesus! Jesus was praying for the poor, ignorant ROMAN SOLDIERS who were simply carrying out their orders, and who really didn’t know what was happening. Jesus prayed, “Father, forgive THEM, for THEY know not what they do.”

Christ WANTED to forgive even His wicked religious enemies! He WANTED to, but they REFUSED Him! Jesus had WEPT over Jerusalem and said, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who KILL the prophets and STONE to DEATH those who are sent to you, how OFTEN I WOULD have gathered you, even as a hen gathers her chickens under her wings.–But YOU would NOT!” Therefore, because His bitter religious enemies REJECTED His love and forgiveness, Jesus said to them, “WOE unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You SERPENTS, you generation of VIPERS! How can you possibly escape the DAMNATION of HELL? You are children of HELL, and shall receive GREAT damnation!” (Matthew 23:37,29,33,14,15). Clearly, Jesus did NOT forgive such wicked enemies!

Some people will ask, well, what about the verse of Scripture that says you should forgive your enemies “seventy times seven”? (Matthew 18:22). Well, that’s NOT what Jesus said at all! Sad to say, a lot of people MISQUOTE that verse. What it actually says is: “Then came Peter to Jesus and said, ‘Lord, how often shall my BROTHER sin against me, and I forgive him? Until seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I say not until seven times, but until seventy TIMES seven.'”

In this passage, Peter and Christ were talking about offences committed by a BROTHER, a fellow CHRISTIAN, in other words.–Not a bitter ENEMY who is trying to rob you, kill you or violate your wife! In the case of a Christian brother, the offense would not usually be something as bad as that. It would normally be some minor offense, because certainly true Christians wouldn’t normally do any major harm to each other. So when Peter asked, “If my brother comes to me and says he’s sorry, how many times should I forgive him?” The Lord as good as said it’s UNLIMITED!–PROVIDING he is SORRY and ASKS for forgiveness!

And you will note that even in the case of a brother–if the offense is SERIOUS enough and not just some LITTLE thing that you should be able to overlook and forgive and let pass–that you are NOT obligated to just AUTOMATICALLY forgive them. Let us look at Luke 17:3, where Christ instructed His Disciples, “Take heed to yourselves: If your brother trespass against you, REBUKE him; and, IF he repent, FORGIVE him. And if he trespass against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day TURN to you, saying, ‘I REPENT’, you shall forgive him.”

In other words, IF he comes to you and says he’s SORRY and REPENTS, you are to forgive him. But you are NOT expected to automatically overlook (and do nothing to try to rectify) SERIOUS OFFENCES or actual CRIMES!–Not even if it’s a brother who committed them.–And you are CERTAINLY not expected to meekly “forgive” a devil-inspired, anti-Christ ENEMY who is trying to violently overthrow and enslave your country!

So let us not be naive in our concept of the forgiveness and mercy of God, especially in relation to Christ-hating, anti-God ENEMIES! This passage of Scripture from Isaiah 1:18-20 can very well apply to such antiChrist forces: “COME now, and let us REASON together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” He promises a complete pardon, but then warns: “IF you be WILLING and OBEDIENT, you shall eat of the good of the land: BUT, if you REFUSE and REBEL, you shall be devoured with the SWORD! The mouth of the LORD has spoken it!” REPENT or PERISH!–Which will it be?

 
PRAYER FOR THE DAY:

Lord Jesus, You told us to PRAY for our enemies, and we have. Thank You for those who HAVE repented of their evil ways and have been reconciled. But wicked men and evil-doers who CONTINUE to reject Your Love and fight against Your people, we now commit them into Your hands. JUDGE them, O God! Amen!

 
 

Treasures. Copyright (c) The Family International

Anchor

Blessed Above All People

By Maria Fontaine

free-bible-studies-online-anchorSometimes our struggles can seem so difficult, so monumental. In fact, sometimes they are difficult and monumental. Life is certainly not easy for any of us! But the thing to remember is that when compared with the heartbreaks, devastating loneliness, frustration, hopelessness, and lack of love and purpose that many people who do not know the Lord face, without the promise of an eternity with God, our problems seem less significant!

As God’s children, we’re blessed with the constant companionship of His Spirit, and fellowship with our friends and loved ones who share our faith. We have confidence in the Lord’s unconditional love, and we know that even though we make a lot of mistakes, His forgiveness is readily available to us if we will just come to Him and ask for it. Many of us haven’t yet learned to not succumb to guilt, remorse, and condemnation despite our knowledge of the Lord’s unconditional love and forgiveness, but we’re learning, and we know by faith that we don’t have to be weighed down by regrets, bitterness, guilt, and condemnation. We have His Word to claim, that “there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.” (Romans 8:1–2)

So if you’re weary with the trials and tribulations of life on earth, if you’re tempted to grumble about how bad you have it, remind yourself that compared to the poor lost people of the world who don’t know the Lord, and sometimes don’t even have anything to eat or a place to live—as His children, we are blessed! Jesus died to save us so that we could help Him to save others. We are called to love and comfort others with the same comfort and love He gives to us. (2 Corinthians 1:4)

Each of God’s children has a unique calling. The Lord has a plan and purpose for each of us. If we question or become bitter about His plan for our lives, it can cloud and hinder the precious time that He has given us on this earth to live for Him.

As His disciples, we are called to go out into the sea of humankind, seeking those who are lost, sinking, and drowning, to offer them life, hope, and truth. We have the vastness of His riches to share with a lost and dying world—we have His wonderful comfort, the power of His Word, our knowledge of the future He has promised for all His children. We are called to share what we have received with the dying and desperate of this world who have lost hope of any comfort or who lack the knowledge of God who loves them or the heaven that awaits them. They desperately need God’s love and truth, these who die a thousand deaths before their physical body is laid to rest in the grave. Won’t you do everything possible to share with them the lasting joy and peace of mind and eternal life that you have in Jesus?

The Lord has given each of us our assignments for our time on earth. God’s Word says that Jesus came to “seek and to save that which was lost.” (Luke 19:10) Jesus said, “As My Father has sent Me, so send I you.” (John 20:21) His Father sent Him to the earth to die that we might live. Our job is to “die daily” to self for others that they may live—giving of our selves every day that others might find eternal life in Jesus.

Paul said, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 11:1) If you will look at both Jesus’ life and Paul’s life, you’ll see they weren’t very easy. Jesus never promised us a life of ease, but He did say that this life is but for a moment, and if we suffer for Him, we’ll also reign with Him. (2 Corinthians 4:17; 2 Timothy 2:12) However, He even says that He will give us things right here and now in this life that will make our lives fulfilled and joyous! (1 Peter 1:8; John 15:11)

The Lord is able to use even the sadness we feel when we lose someone to become aware of His sadness for His loved ones who are lost to Him. He tells us to weep with those who weep and let our hearts be broken for those who don’t yet know Him. These are dying spiritually every day without His love. Just as our hearts ache and we are engulfed with sadness at missing those who are gone from us now, so does His heart long for His lost children. You know how it is when your heart is broken and you’re devastated by some tragic experience or loss. You can feel it physically—you sometimes feel sick to your stomach; your heart actually aches.

Just as we as parents miss our children when we are away from them, and just as we are desperate to know that they are safe and happy and well, so does the Lord care for His children. He wants them in His arms, close to His bosom and safe in His home—all the same things we wish for our children.

Do you remember what it was like before you found the Lord, when all seemed lost to you, you were in great despair, and your life seemed meaningless, empty, and void of understanding? Do you remember how unhappy and desperate you were? The Lord heard your heartcry, and He reached out to you and took you in His arms in your time of need. And to do this, He probably used some person, someone who was a faithful witness, who was overflowing with thanksgiving and joy for the wonderful love of the Lord in his or her heart.

Even if you grew up all your life with the knowledge of the Lord ever since you were a little child, you likewise are probably the fruit of someone’s faithfulness to witness to your parents, or their parents before them. How convicting it is to think of what the Lord has done for us, and how He used some faithful messenger, someone like you to do it! He beseeches us to do the same for others, for those who are lost and lonely in the cold and darkness—to imitate His example by sharing His love and Word and truth with others.

What if you had no purpose in life, no hope for the future, no one to go to when you were fearful, no one to comfort you when you were sad, no one to help you when you were confused, no way to get rid of your burdens of condemnation, no way to deal with the death of loved ones, no way of knowing where they had gone or if you would ever see them again, no way of dealing with loss or injury or illness or catastrophe, no one to help you when you are lonely? If someone helped each of us to know Jesus and His salvation, how can we fail to do the same for others? If Jesus loved you so much that He died for you, He also loved them so much that He died for them. Someone made it possible for each of us to know Jesus, and it’s now our responsibility to pass the message on!

The Lord wants us to have great concern for others, realizing that they live in turmoil and confusion and lack of love, and we have the answers in Him and His Word that they’re looking for. The Lord promises great returns if we’ll give unto others. “Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ.” (Colossians 3:24 NLT)

What a marvelous cycle! As we give to others, the Lord promises to give to us—strength, faith, and joy. As a result, others will see us and they’ll know we’ve been with Jesus, and they’ll want Him too. And so the cycle will go on and on. Praise the Lord!

 
 

Copyright © 2017 The Family International.

Activated

God’s Surprises

By David Brandt Berg, adapted

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The things we need to know, God tells us, and sometimes the things we want to know, He tells us; but often He throws a veil over the future so that it is known only to Him. In any case, regardless of what we know or don’t know, He’s promised to never leave nor forsake us. “I am with you always,” He says, “even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20) And He’s given us the torch of His Word to show us where our path is going. We can always throw the light of God’s Word on the path ahead. (See Psalm 119:130)

The Bible says, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” (Psalm 119:105) So whenever a situation is uncertain and I’m not exactly sure if something is God’s will and whether He’s going to work it out or not, I always pray, “Lord, You’re still the boss and You’re still God, and if things don’t work out just the way I expect or the way I hope or the way I’m pushing for, if that’s not what You want me to do, if You have some other idea and You’re going to accomplish something maybe even better, or maybe teach me a lesson I need to learn, or whatever Your purpose is, help me to just do what You want me to do.”

It’s better to leave your mind open to whatever God wants you to do. Ordinarily, it’s something that’s reasonable and logical and just common sense. But sometimes God does things that aren’t according to our natural expectation. In those cases, we need to be willing to trust Him, even if He seems to change His mind or things don’t turn out how we thought they would.

We may not know what the future holds, but we know who holds the future!

 
The Blank Sheet

Many people are more concerned about having God hear what they have to say than they are about hearing what God has to say. They’re trying to put their program across on God and get Him to sign His name to their program. I heard someone say one time, “Are you willing, not to present your program to God for His signature, not even to be presented with God’s program for your signature, but are you willing to sign a blank sheet of paper and let God fill it in without your even knowing what His program is going to be?”

—David Brandt Berg

 
 

Copyright © Activated Magazine. All rights reserved.

Activated

Oasis of Peace

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Six Steps of Meditative Prayer

Step 1: Choose an appropriate location. Most people find that meditation is best in quiet, uncluttered surroundings, ideally away from where they work or spend most of their waking hours. A secluded spot outside can be especially conducive. Fresh air not only renews us physically, but it also helps to illustrate how God’s Spirit can clear our minds and spirits.

Step 2: Take time to wind down. It’s nearly impossible to immediately go from the affairs of a busy day into a state of deep meditative prayer. Sometimes it helps to spend a few minutes on a transitional activity to phase out the material world, such as listening to soothing music, taking a short walk, or breathing deeply. As you try different things, you’ll find what works best for you.

Step 3: Leave your cares at His feet. If problems are distracting you and weighing you down, they’ll hinder the peace you could receive through meditation. Take a minute or two (or as long as you like) to give your present cares to Jesus in prayer. Be specific. Describe to Him what is troubling you, and ask Him to lift and bear it. Focus on God’s ability to bring solutions, rather than on the problems themselves. “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.” (Philippians 4:6)

Step 4: Get relaxed. Several minutes of gentle stretches and deep breathing, followed by a relaxation exercise (concentrate on relaxing your face and neck, then your entire body, part by part), can help. If you’re feeling especially tense, a shower or a bath or a short walk in nature might help you relax. Or if you’re very tired, a nap may be just the thing, because if you’re exhausted, you may not benefit as much from your time of meditation.

Step 5: Select a comfortable position. In meditation, the position of your spirit matters much more than the position of your body. You don’t have to sit a certain way—or even sit, for that matter—except of course you should be comfortable, so you can more easily focus your thoughts and mind.

Step 6: Meditate. You’ve found an appropriate spot and wound down physically. You’ve put your problems and cares into Jesus’ very capable hands. You’ve disconnected from the affairs of the day and are relaxed and comfortable. Now you’re ready to begin a time of meditation.

You might choose to focus on Jesus Himself, thinking about one of His attributes, or on some special blessing He has brought into your life. A specific thought from God’s Word can also be a subject for meditation. Reading a passage from the Bible or some other short devotional material may help get you started.

 

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You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!
—Isaiah 26:3 NLT

 
If God be our God, He will give us peace in trouble. When there is a storm without, He will make peace within. The world can create trouble in peace, but God can create peace in trouble.
—Thomas Watson (c. 1620–1686)

 
Meditation is simply talking to God about His Word with a desire that your life and those you pray for come into agreement with it.
—William Thrasher

 
When we find our souls at all declining, it is best to raise them up presently by some awakening meditations, such as of the presence of God, of the strict reckoning we are to make, of the infinite love of God in Christ and the fruits of it, of the excellency of a Christian’s calling, of the short and uncertain time of this life, of how little good all those things that steal away our hearts will do us before long, and of how it shall be forever with us hereafter, as we spend this short time well or ill. The more we make way for such considerations to sink into our hearts, the more we shall rise nearer to that state of soul which we shall enjoy in heaven.
—Richard Sibbes (1577–1635)

 
In place of our exhaustion and spiritual fatigue, God will give us rest. All He asks is that we come to Him, that we spend a while thinking about Him, meditating on Him, talking to Him, listening in silence, occupying ourselves with Him—totally and thoroughly lost in the hiding place of His presence.
—Chuck Swindoll (b. 1934)
 

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Peace on the outside comes from knowing Jesus on the inside. You can do that by simply inviting Him into your heart:

Dear Jesus, I want to know You and enjoy Your peace. Please come into my life, give me Your peace, and help me get to know You better and grow in the Holy Spirit and the knowledge of Your Word. Amen.

 
 

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