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Dec 28, 2016

FBI agent comes to a distrustful Amish community to investigate a multiple building arson incident

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Should I Forgive?

Forgive as the Lord forgave you. Colossians 3:13

I arrived early at my church to help set up for an event. A woman stood crying at the opposite end of the sanctuary. She’d been cruel and gossiped about me in the past, so I quickly drowned out her sobs with a vacuum cleaner. Why should I care about someone who didn’t like me?

When the Holy Spirit reminded me how much God had forgiven me, I crossed the room. The woman shared that her baby had been in the hospital for months. We cried, embraced, and prayed for her daughter. After working through our differences, we’re now good friends.

Lord, help us give our grievances to You so that You may turn them into something good.

In Matthew 18, Jesus compares the kingdom of heaven to a king who decided to settle his accounts. A servant who owed a staggering amount of money pleaded for mercy. Soon after the king canceled his debt, that servant tracked down and condemned a man who owed him far less than what he’d owed the king. When word got back to the king, the wicked servant was imprisoned because of his own unforgiving spirit (vv. 23–34).

Choosing to forgive doesn’t condone sin, excuse the wrongs done to us, or minimize our hurts. Offering forgiveness simply frees us to enjoy God’s undeserved gift of mercy, as we invite Him to accomplish beautiful works of peace-restoring grace in our lives and our relationships.

Lord, help us give our grievances to You so that You may turn them into something good. Make us ready to forgive completely and earnestly. Give us Your spirit of unity.

Forgiving others expresses our trust in God’s right to judge according to His perfection and goodness.

 

 

INSIGHT:Are you withholding forgiveness from someone who has harmed you? As you reflect on how merciful God has been to you, why not ask Him to help you have a spirit of forgiveness.

For more on this topic, read “Free to Forgive” at ourdailyjourney.org/2016/06/12/free-to-forgive.

The Restorer of Lost Hopes

Romans 5:1-5

Not only is Christ the source of genuine hope; He is also the restorer of lost hope. Unless we’re vigilant in guarding our perspective, many situations can erode optimism and trust. Biblical principles are the best defense against such discouragement.

When difficult circumstances are unrelenting, life can seem devoid of joy and meaning. But Romans 5:1-5 tells us that God has a much different take on the value of trials. We are eager for our Father to just fix the problem or relieve the suffering, but He has an eternal goal in mind. His purpose in trials is to produce character in us, which will lead to hope, not disappointment.

Personal failure is another thief of hope. Sometimes discouragement results when we come short of our own expectations. This may be evidence that we have trusted in our own abilities and plans rather than in the Lord’s. Remember that “our adequacy is from God” (2 Corinthians 3:5).

At other times we might lose hope because, despite our efforts, we cannot live a victorious Christian life. Old flesh patterns may seem to be winning the battle. But just as the failure originates within us, so does the solution—with the indwelling Holy Spirit. If we surrender to His authority and live in reliance upon Him, He will begin to transform us from the inside out.

Hopelessness is a miserable trap that blinds a believer to the Lord. The only way out is to deliberately focus on Jesus Christ through praise, prayer, and Scripture. This is probably the last thing a discouraged person wants to do, but hope awaits those who are willing to see life from God’s perspective.

Seeking Signs

“An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” (Matthew 12:39-40)

If there was ever “an evil and adulterous generation,” it is surely this present one and, once again, there is a widespread seeking after signs (same word in the Greek as “miracles”). The almost explosive rise of the so-called New Age movement has produced an amazing interest in all forms of occultism and supernatural phenomena: astrology, channeling, ESP, near-death experiences, UFOs, meditation, and mysticism of many strange varieties.

Even in Christian circles, there is an unhealthy interest in new revelations and other supernatural signs. The Lord Jesus, however, rebuked those who wanted special signs before receiving Him. “Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe” (John 4:48). He has already given us the greatest of all signs—His bodily resurrection from the dead, the best-evidenced fact of all history—and this should suffice, as He told the scribes and Pharisees in our text.

In fact, there is a real danger in seeking such signs and wonders, for many of these things—while perhaps supernatural—are not from God. “For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect” (Matthew 24:24).

Unlike the first generation of Christians, we now have the complete written Word of God, both Old and New Testaments, and it is sufficient for every need of every believer until Christ returns, “whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts” (2 Peter 1:19). HMM

“Sing aloud unto God our strength.”

Psalm 81

Let us read at this time—Psalm 81.

This song exhorts men to praise the Lord, tells of his goodness to Israel, and bewails the sins and consequent sorrows of that erring people

Psalm 81:1

Singing should be hearty and joyful: we should all take our share in the public thanksgiving.

Psalm 81:2, 3

By which the passover is intended.

Psalm 81:4, 5

The Egyptian tongue was unknown to the Lord in the sense of having no fellowship with it; just as we read in the New Testament that the Lord will say to the hypocrite, “I never knew you.” In Egypt the Passover was established as a memorial of Israel’s redemption, and the freeborn sons of Israel delighted to maintain the commemoration.

Psalm 81:6

Or from the earth baskets. God set his people free from the slavish business of brick-making, as he has also redeemed all his people from the accursed bondage of their sins.

Psalm 81:7

Poorly did they bear that test. Their murmurings were both deep and loud, and their inconstancy was self-evident. Yet see how, when the Lord was tested by the people, he proved himself to be ready to hear and swift to bless.

Psalm 81:10

Have large expectations of God, and offer large prayers to him, then shall great things be your joyful portion. Who would not ask largely if he believed that his requests would be granted? In the matter of prayer to God if we be stinted, it is by ourselves, for God has not straitened us in his promise. Come then, let those of us who are believers, plead for the salvation of the whole family, the servants, and the neighbours. Let our prayer, during this day, be on a great scale. Men sin hugely—let us pray abundantly.

Psalm 81:11-13

See the loving tenderness of the Lord, he laments our sins because he sees what they cost us. He knows what we lose by our folly, and he is sorry for us. Not as a judge does he condemn with tearless eye, but as a father he censures with loving regret in his heart.

Psalm 81:14

God either turns our enemies hearts, or makes them turn their backs, when he sees his people walking carefully in the “way of obedience.” “When a mans ways please the Lord, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him.”

Psalm 81:16

May we, as a family, walk in continual obedience to the Lord that we may be fed upon the precious promises which are “the finest of the wheat,” and may enjoy in close fellowship with Jesus that honey of sweet peace which drops from no other rock but that which was smitten for us. Holiness is happiness—hence obedience to God is true wisdom. Enemies we shall have none to fear, if we dwell in the bosom of Jesus our friend.

 

Oh how I love thy holy law!

‘Tis daily my delight;

And thence my meditations draw

Divine advice by night.

 

Am I a stranger, or at home,

‘Tis my perpetual feast;

Not honey dropping from the comb

So much allures the taste.

 

Isolation: A Tool The Devil Uses To Discourage People

Hebrews 10:24

My wife and I heard from various sources that a young missionary girl was depressed and discouraged. We were both shocked when we heard it because she always seemed so “up” about everything. She always flashed a big smile on her face; her voice was vivacious; and she seemed full of energy. When we were told that she was struggling with depression, we immediately made an appointment to talk to her and to see how we might encourage her in the Lord.

We asked this young woman, “Are you all right? Is there anything going on with you that we need to know about?”

She answered, “I’ll be all right. It’s just that I give, give, give and give every ounce of my strength to people, and it just seems like no one ever gives back to me. I’ve been pretty lonely, and that has made me feel very discouraged.”

With some people, it is easy to know when they are discouraged. But when people are vivacious, life-giving, and effervescent like this young lady, it becomes more difficult to discern when they are struggling with discouraging thoughts. People like this project such confidence and victory that we tend to forget they have feelings just like everyone else. Unfortunately, we often wrongly assume they don’t need anything when, in fact, they are very needy.

This is why you should pray for sensitivity to recognize the needs of those around you. In fact, it would be a good idea to stop right now and ask the Lord to give you the sensitivity to recognize those times when the people in your life need an encouraging word.

This precious young lady was ministering to everyone around her, but she herself was feeling isolated and secluded. Because she was perceived to be so strong, no one dreamed that she was discouraged. As a result, no one reached out to her until discouragement was already a reality she struggled with in her life.

Everyone needs encouragement! That’s why the writer of Hebrews exhorts us to “… consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works” (Hebrews 10:24). The word “consider” is the Greek word katanoeo, a compound of the words kata and noeo. The word kata is a preposition that means down. It describes something that is moving downward and can also describe a dominating force. The second part of the word is the Greek word noeo, from the word nous, which refers to the mind. When these two words are linked together, it means to thoroughly consider something; to think something through from the top to the bottom; to think hard about something; or to deeply ponder a matter. In other words, the word katanoneo does not represent a momentary shallow thought. A person engaged in this type of thought process is focused and concentrated. His attention has been completely captured, and he is seriously contemplating the matter at hand.

So when God urges us to “consider one another,” He is saying we are to be so concerned about each other’s welfare that we take time to regularly and seriously contemplate how we might encourage one another. If we truly care about the people in our lives, we should notice when their countenance has changed, when they don’t seem as “up” as usual, or when they begin to skip church services. Because of our genuine care for others, we should make it our aim to think through from beginning to end the question of how we might become a greater source of blessing and strength for others.

The local church is designed by God to be a spiritual family where people sincerely love and are mindful of each other’s needs. We should not only know each other’s dream and desires, but we should pray often for those dreams to come to pass and check to see how things are progressing.

Church should be a place where everyone is committed to being a blessing to one another. If each member of a local church family took this approach, observing and contemplating each other’s needs this thoroughly, it would be very hard for discouragement to find its way into the family of God. In fact, a situation like the one described above with the young missionary girl would almost be unheard of! Instead, Christians would be able to perceive when someone was starting to sink and begin to lift that person back up to a place of strength!

 

Therefore, Hebrews 10:24 could be taken to mean:

“Carefully observe one another, contemplating each other’s situation and needs, diagnosing the other person’s situation, and contemplating how you can stir him or her to love and good deeds.”

We all like to be cared for and appreciated, but let’s not forget that there are others around us who need encouragement just as much as we do. We shouldn’t be led by our eyes only! Everyone who smiles isn’t always happy.

If you’ll be sensitive to the Holy Spirit and truly be concerned about the people who are close to you, God will show you when they need a special word to lift their spirits. Think how much it means to you when someone deliberately goes way out of his or her normal daily routine to let you know you are appreciated. Isn’t it powerful when someone does this for you? Well, just as you need people who will love you, be sensitive to your needs, and support you when you are struggling through challenges or feeling tired and worn out, the people you encounter in your daily life have those same exact needs.

It’s time to let the Holy Spirit use you to be a source of encouragement to others—and you can start by letting Him use you to be a blessing to someone today!

MY PRAYER FOR TODAY

Lord, forgive me for being so self centered that I forget to think about other people’s needs. I get so fixated on my own problems that I forget I am not the only person in the world who is struggling with a situation. Help me to take my eyes off myself and to look around me to see who needs a special word of encouragement. Holy Spirit, open my eyes and help me be sensitive in my spirit to recognize people who need a tender touch. So many times I’ve freely received help from others. Now I want to freely give what I have received.

I pray this in Jesus’ name!

MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY

I declare by faith that I am sensitive to the needs of others. God uses me to encourage people who are around me. As I become more Christ-like, I am less aware of me and more aware of those who are around me. Because God’s Spirit lives inside me, all the wonderful fruit of the Spirit—love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance—reside in me and flow through me to others. I am aware of others. I think of them; I ask about them; I pray for them; and I treat them with the greatest love, care, and attention.

I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!

QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER

  1. Have you ever felt isolated and lonely and wished that someone would reach out to check on you? If yes, did anyone ever check on you, or did you feel abandoned in your time of need?
  2. How long has it been since you deviated from your normal course of affairs to go check on someone else and let that person know you have been thinking about him or her?
  3. What can you do today to specially communicate that you are concerned about someone else’s welfare? Write down several ideas, such as sending flowers, writing a note, calling someone on the telephone, etc.

Let’s not forget that there are others around us who need encouragement just as much as we do. We shouldn’t be led by our eyes only! Everyone who smiles isn’t always happy.

 

Steadfastness, Willingness, And Brokenness

After King David’s tragic liaison with Bathsheba, he cries to God for a spirit characterized by:

 

I.  STEADFASTNESS:

 

“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a STEADFAST SPIRIT within me.”

 

Paul exhibited a STEADFAST SPIRIT as he set his face toward Rome and certain death:

 

I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me. However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the gospel of Gods grace.” (Acts 20:23, 24)

 

By way of contrast, Peter reveals his spongy character at Jesus’ arrest as a young woman links him with Jesus. In response, Peter blathers back to her, “Woman, I dont know Him.

 

II. WILLINGNESS:

 

Restore to me the joy of your salvationgrant me a WILLING SPIRIT, to sustain me.

 

Remember the father who approached Jesus to heal his son who was afflicted with an evil spirit? In his struggle to believe he exclaims,

 

I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24)

 

Now that is the kind of WILLING SPIRIT — imperfect as it is — that Jesus can work with!

 

III.BROKENNESS:

 

The sacrifices of God are a BROKEN SPIRIT; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” (Psalm 51:17)

 

A BROKEN SPIRIT is evidenced when:

  • Our ungodly self is slain.
  • Our impenetrable hardness is softened, and when
  • Our haughty pride is brought low.

In our quest to walk with God, let us join with David in seeking a spirit characterized by STEADFASTNESS, WILLINGNESS, and BROKENNESS.
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