Devotional – Living Supernaturally Different

But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.  Matthew 5:44 ESV

This morning the world is in shock after yesterday’s terrorist attacks in Paris.  Last night and today, seemly endless images of the dead and wounded fill our screens.  Updates chronicling the carnage clog news-feeds and talking heads on the news channels speculate as to who is responsible.

In times like these thoughts of fear, hatred and revenge can easily fill our minds.  Such thoughts are only natural.  Yet, we have been commanded by our Lord and Savior to think and act differently.  Radically different.  Supernaturally different.  Divinely different.

It’s natural to think thoughts of revenge.  Jesus Christ commands us to “pray for those who abuse you.” Luke 6:28.

It’s natural to curse those who curse you.  Jesus Christ commands us to “bless those who curse you.” Luke 6:28.

It’s natural to dislike those who hate you.  Jesus Christ commands us to proactively “do good to those who hate you.” Luke 6:27.

It’s natural to strike back when punched in the face.  Jesus Christ commands us to “offer the other [cheek] also.” Luke 6:29.

Lord, I am tempted to hate my enemy. I am tempted to think thoughts of vengeance and retribution. Forgive me.  I beseech you to empower me through your Spirit to love those who hate me.  To pray for those who persecute me.  To turn the other cheek when struck.  Lord, I ask you to eradicate my thoughts of revenge and to forgive me for failing to bless those who curse me.

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Editorial note: Originally published November 14, 2015 at assemblyHUB.com

 

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Devotional – 36,200 Feet Deep

He will tread our iniquities underfoot. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea. Micah 7:19b ESV

Satan loves to remind us of our sin. He doesn’t care Christ has fully paid the price of our sin! He doesn’t care God has forgiven us and chooses to never remember our sins again!

Satan wants to derail our spiritual life and render us ineffective in the Lord’s service. He often does this by holding our old sins over us and whispering in our ear, “Shame on you! You’re no good! Look at what an awful sinner you are! God could never use someone like you!”

Thankfully Micah reminds us that our sins have been fully dealt with by the blood of Jesus Christ! Micah tells us God has trampled our sins under foot, and cast them into the depths of the sea!

The ocean is deep. Very deep. According to NOAA the average depth of the World’s oceans is 12,100 feet deep (2.3 miles!). The deepest point in the ocean is 36,200 feet or a stunning 6.85 miles below the surface!

When your old sins come to mind remind yourself that God chooses not to remember those sins and has buried them in the deepest grave for all of eternity.

The next time Satan tries to remind you of your sins you can tell him to take a long walk on a short pier.

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Editorial note: Originally published September 9, 2015 at assemblyHUB.com

 

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Devotional – His Unparalleled Mercy

Devotional Sun Icon

Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance? He does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in steadfast love. Micah 7:18 ESV

The beautiful hymn Great God of Wonders! asks the rhetorical question “Who is a pardoning God like thee?” The answer, of course, is none! There is no other God who pardons sins like the Lord God Jehovah!

His mercy is unparalleled, His grace unequalled and His love unchanging! Praise God He delights in love! Praise God He does not retain His anger forever.

Great God of wonders all Thy ways
Display Thine attributes divine;
But the bright glories of Thy grace
Above Thine other wonders shine:
Who is a pard’ing God like Thee?
Or who has grace so rich and free?

Such deep transgressions to forgive!
Such guilty sinners thus to spare!
This is thy grand prerogative,
And in this honor none shall share:
Who is a pard’ing God like Thee?
Or who has grace so rich and free?

Pardon from an offended God!
Pardon for sins of deepest dye!
Pardon bestowed through Jesus’ blood!
Pardon that bring the rebel nigh!
Who is a pard’ing God like Thee?
Or who has grace so rich and free?

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Credit:
“Great God of Wonders! by Samuel Davies.” Hymns of Worship and Remembrance. Belle Chasse, LA: Truth and Praise, Inc., 1950. Hymn #15. Print. Note: Other versions of this hymn can be easily found online.

Editorial note:
Originally published September 3, 2015 at assemblyHUB.com

 

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Jottings — Careless About Sin? Never!

“Psalm

The knowledge of forgiveness never has the effect of making a man careless about sin. ‘There is forgiveness with Thee, that Thou mayest be feared’ (Psalm 130:4)

 

Coates, C. A. Spiritual Blessings. Chessington, Surrey, England: Bible and Gospel Trust, 2008. page 13. Print.

 

 

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Found Online: Part 2 – An Interview with Louis Zamperini


 

Today’s broadcast of the radio program “A New Beginning with Greg Laurie” is the second and final part of a fascinating interview with Louis Zamperini who is the subject matter of the New York Times bestselling book Unbroken and the upcoming film by the same name.

In this second portion of the interview Louis Zamperini focuses on how he came to know The Lord Jesus Christ as his Savior. Louis then goes on to recount how the Lord radically changed his life and gave him the ability to forgive his captors who treated him so harshly in a Japanese prisoner of war camp.

Link: A New Beginning with Greg Laurie – A Visit with an American Hero. Part 2.

Here is a link to part 1 of the interview that originally aired yesterday: A New Beginning with Greg Laurie – A Visit with an American Hero. Part 1.

 

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Lessons From The Epistle To Philemon

Jottings Pencil Red

 

Commenting on the Epistle to Philemon:

Paul – illustrates the important business of intersession on behalf of a brother or sister who is in the wrong.
Philemon – teaches us the importance of forgiving those who have wronged us.
Onesimus – serves as a reminder to us of all those who have left.

 

Mike Attwood, Lessons from 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus and Philemon Series of Addresses at Greenwood Hills Second Family Conference, July 26 – August 2, 2014.

 

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NT Tuesday: Forgiving One Another

ProdigalTwo weeks ago, we began to look at the New Testament principle of bearing (or forbearing) and forgiving one another. Our text is found in Colossians 3:12-13 “Put on, therefore, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other, as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.”

In our post two weeks ago, we mostly focused on the idea of bearing with one another. This week, I’d like to begin the process of thinking about what forgiving one another looks like. I recently had the privilege of speaking on this topic at a local assembly. As I was preparing for the series of messages, God kept impressing upon me the simple truth that forgiveness is all about relationships. Sin and offense breaks or impedes relationships.

 


Fixing Broken Relationships



 

Forgiveness (and forbearance) is the solution to broken relationships. Forgiveness should lead to restoration. So often, we look at forgiveness as trying to RIGHT A WRONG! And it is not! Forgiveness is blotting out a wrong, wiping away the handwriting of judgement against us, declaring the debt paid! It is NOT righting a wrong. If we are trying to right a wrong, we are going to squelch forgiveness.

Let’s look at one of my favorite examples and a very well known Bible passage. In Luke 15, we have a father and two sons. We aren’t told a lot about this family, but we are told that the younger son wanted his share of his father’s wealth NOW before his father died. This was clearly an insult to the father. Basically the son said, “I’d rather have riches and go my own way and fulfill my own lusts than be part of your family.”

Even though the father did not have to abide by his son’s request, he did give his son his share of the family wealth. This would have been not only a private shameful event in the life of the father, but also a public embarrassment. But the father allowed the son to go his own way. (God does that with us, too, doesn’t He?) As we know, the son left home and quickly spent everything he had and then ran into trouble. There was a famine and the son “began to be in need.” So he became a servant to one of the locals and his job involved feeding the pigs. He still remained in need. He finally got to the end of himself he decided to go back home, apologize and ask his father to hire him as a servant. (Even this is an act of flesh that is worthy of being considered at some point in the future.)

 


A Father’s Love



 

As the son began the journey home, the father had already been waiting for him. The Bible records that while the son was still a long way off, the father was standing there and saw him and felt compassion for the son and embraced him. The father had already forgiven the son before the son had a chance to apologize. The father’s goal was to restore a relationship by forgiving his son. The father’s goal was NOT to make things right. He didn’t ask where the money was, he didn’t ask what the son had been doing, he forgave him. He wiped away the sin, he blotted out the wrong-doings and he wrote off the debt.

The son’s apology was flawed, full of flesh and man’s reason, but the father’s forgiveness was not based on the quality of the son’s apology. The father’s forgiveness was based on the love the father had for the son. Think on that for a week….

Until next week, fulfill your ministry.

 

[Image Credit]

 

 

 

 

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NT Tuesday: Bearing & Forgiving One Another

Forgive One AnotherLast week took a week off, kind of, to discuss the concept of modesty as described in the New Testament. This week we will return to the “one another” verses and discuss the practical applications and relevance of following these verses as a requirement for fulfilling our responsibility of being New Testament principle practicing Christians.

This week’s (and next week’s) blog will be on the idea of “bearing with one another” and “forgiving each other.” Paul writes in Colossians 3:12-13 ESV, “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other, as the Lord has forgiven you, so you must forgive.

Similar thoughts are also shared in Ephesians 4:1-2 ESV. There Paul writes, “I, therefore, a prisoner for the Lord urge you to walk in the manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love…”

 


Bearing With One Another



 

Let’s first look at the idea of “bearing with one another.” The idea of bearing is based on the word “forbear.” To forbear is to refrain from or forgo exercising one’s rights when offended or wronged. For example, if a police officer stops you when you were speeding, and he chooses not to give you a ticket, in essence, he has exercised “forbearance” on behalf of the state. He had every right to give you (or me) a ticket, but he chose not to do so. If you miss a loan payment, the bank could chose to repossess your house, but it might chose to forbear and allow you time to straighten things out.

Likewise, as Christians, we are often wronged by others and we often wrong others. Not every wrong must be addressed. In other words, we don’t need to demand an apology and confession every time someone wrongs us. In fact, it would be a good exercise to chose to forbear in many, many instances.

Because believers have a sense of what is right and wrong, as defined from the Bible, we are often inclined toward correcting the wrong and making it right. Does God do that to us? Yes, I know, every one of our sins has been forgiven and has been paid for on the cross of Calvary by our lovely Lord Jesus Christ. Clearly, it would be far more Christ like to forbear when offended than demand an apology every time we are offended. In my experience, people who are easily offended are usually people who are not very happy. They tend to cause division in assemblies. They tend to have a lot of broken relationships and they usually don’t add much to the functioning of the local body because they are too busy being offended and demanding that the wrong be made right.

 


Tolerance & Patience Vs. Provocation



 

Another idea of “bearing with one another” is the idea that we tolerate and patient in the face of provocation. The best solution in dealing with each other is being very patient and tolerate each other’s weaknesses (not sins, but weaknesses). Does the Lord bear with us? Of course the answer is YES, therefore, we ought to emulate His conduct, because we are united with Him and walk in newness of life with Him. It’s not our life, but His that we live. Therefore, our life should look like His.

Until next week, fulfill your ministry!

[photo credit]

 

 

 

 

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Is Forgiveness An Option?

“If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Matthew 6: 14-15

I was confronted with this question yesterday as I listened to a visiting speaker at our Family Bible Hour.  It really hit home just how black and white the scriptures can be sometimes. When others sin against me, whether intentionally or unknowingly, how am I to respond? My natural tendency is to want to get back. I want to see that other person punished for what they have done. Surely there needs to be some kind of torture inflicted so that they pay for their crimes. Let’s not forget that the Bible does say that I don’t need to forgive someone unless they repent and ask for it right? Well, wrong.

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