VIDEO A New Year’s Verse – “Forgiveness”

At the beginning of the year…the hand of the Lord was upon me.Ezekiel 40:1

Whew! How did we make it through the past year with its challenges, heartaches, blessings, opportunities, and distresses? If the old year worried you, don’t take your anxieties into the new one. If the holidays exhausted you, pause long enough to thank God for mercies that never cease.

Think of Ezekiel. At the beginning of the year, when Ezekiel was reeling from news that Jerusalem had fallen to the Babylonians, God touched him. The Lord lifted him up and transported him by revelation into the future. Ezekiel saw what God is preparing for days to come, and the prophet was so overwhelmed it required the rest of his book—Ezekiel 40-48—to describe the glories he saw.

God’s revealed promises will take us through time and into the future. You can trust Him with the coming year, with all the years of life, and with the endless ages of eternity. Here on the eve of a new year, the hand of God is on us.

The name of this millennial city will be The Lord is there—a tremendous promise given to Hebrew exiles who must have wondered if the Lord would ever be with them again. From The Jeremiah Study Bible


Ben-Hur “Forgiveness”

 

Jan 8, 2017

Forgiveness. To me the ultimate virtue! We have to learn to forgive, as we have to learn to forget, this action, simply will lead our soul to our Father’s arms! We all do mistakes, we all at some point, pull away our loved ones. Clearly, this isn’t the solution, our Lord did forgive the mankind, for all the torturing, all the suffering, all our actions lead Him in cross and His crucifixion. Let’s open our heart and welcome back everyone who hurt us, without dilemmas and second thoughts, let’s leave everything in past and show the hidden light of our soul to every one of us!

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Times of Completion

They sailed back to Antioch, where they had been committed to the grace of God for the work they had now completed. Acts 14:26

At the end of the year, the burden of uncompleted tasks can weigh us down. Responsibilities at home and work may seem never-ending, and those unfinished today roll into tomorrow. But there are times in our journey of faith when we should pause and celebrate God’s faithfulness and the tasks completed.

After the first missionary journey of Paul and Barnabas, “they sailed back to Antioch, where they had been committed to the grace of God for the work they had now completed” (Acts 14:26). While much work remained in sharing the message of Jesus with others, they took time to give thanks for what had been done. “They gathered the church together and reported all that God had done through them and how he had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles” (v. 27).

Lord, as this year comes to a close, we give thanks for all You have accomplished in and through us.

What has God done through you during the past year? How has He opened the door of faith for someone you know and love? In ways we can’t imagine, He is at work through us in tasks that may seem insignificant or incomplete.

When we feel painfully aware of our unfinished tasks in serving the Lord, let’s not forget to give thanks for the ways He has worked through us. Rejoicing over what God has done by His grace sets the stage for what is to come!

Lord, as this year comes to a close, we give thanks for all You have accomplished in and through us. By Your grace, lift our eyes to see what is to come!

God is always at work in and through us.

By David C. McCasland 

INSIGHT

This inaugural missionary journey of Paul and Barnabas covered nearly 900 miles, much of it on foot. At first the duo met primarily with Jewish audiences. In the synagogue at Pisidian Antioch (in modern-day Turkey) Paul appealed to the Jewish heritage of his hearers. He outlined Israel’s history and clearly showed how it culminated in the coming of Jesus Christ (Acts 13:13–41). Paul’s biblical preaching so intrigued his listeners that they invited him back the following Sabbath.

So many people returned to hear him the next week that it set off a jealous reaction among some influential Jews in Antioch (v. 45). This didn’t appear to faze Paul and Barnabas, who simply turned to the Gentiles who were present and quoted Isaiah 49:6 to them: “I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.” The church grew. The opposition Paul and Barnabas faced merely resulted in the expansion of the gospel message and contributed to the overall success of their missionary journey.

Tim Gustafson

A Passion to Know Christ

Philippians 3:3-11

Most Christians know the essential facts about their Savior’s life, but too few know Him relationally. Some believers are so busy with activities and pursuits that they rarely think of Jesus until a desperate situation arises.

Yet those who know the Lord intimately have a continually deepening relationship with Him. He’s their top priority, and every possession, accomplishment, or pursuit is worthless compared to knowing Him. Verses 8–10 of today’s passage reveal the results of making Christ our foremost desire:

Increasing hunger: “that I may gain Christ.” Even though Paul had an amazing relationship with Jesus, his passion was so great that he wanted to know the Lord more deeply.

Changed life: “the righteousness which comes from God.” The more we know Christ, the more we’ll mature spiritually and display His righteousness.

Greater capability: “the power of His resurrection.” The Spirit’s power flows through those closely connected to Jesus.

New perspective: “the fellowship of His sufferings.” When we understand Christ, we recognize the benefits He works in us through our times of difficulty.

Victorious living: “being conformed to His death.” Christians who know Jesus well count themselves dead to the sins that once dominated their lives.

Is your life characterized by a deep, abiding passion for Christ, or is your relationship with Him shallow and mechanical? Believers must not let worldly pleasures, opportunities, and responsibilities rob them of the treasure of knowing Jesus. It’s time to count all that as loss and pursue Christ.

Firstfruits

“Honour the LORD with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase.” (Proverbs 3:9)

There are seven New Testament references to “firstfruits,” all of which are metaphorical applications of the Old Testament commandment to offer the firstfruits of one’s increase to the Lord. We now have to give our own firstfruits to the government in the form of “withheld” amounts from our wages. It is still good, nonetheless, to honor the Lord with the “firstfruits” equivalent of our increase, regardless of the government.

The New Testament references are all beautiful spiritual applications of this concept. At His resurrection, Christ Himself has “become the firstfruits of them that slept” (1 Corinthians 15:20). When we receive Christ, we receive our eternal salvation first of all in terms of “the firstfruits of the Spirit” (Romans 8:23). Furthermore, we ourselves are, to Him, a sort of firstfruits pledge of future growth. “Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures” (James 1:18).

This thought is also applied to the first converts of a new mission field. Paul speaks of “the firstfruits of Asia” (the western part of Asia Minor) and “the firstfruits of Achaia” (southern Greece) in Romans 16:5 and 1 Corinthians 16:15, respectively. He also speaks of believing Jews as having preceded Gentiles into the kingdom as a holy firstfruit (Romans 11:16) to the Lord.

The last of the New Testament references to firstfruits relates to the 144,000 Israelite witnesses in the coming great tribulation. “These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb” (Revelation 14:4). Beautiful and pointed though these metaphors may be, however, they in no wise lessen our responsibility to honor God with our own firstfruits. HMM

There is one Mediator between God and man

2 Chronicles 26:1, 4-8, 16-21

In returning to the history of Judah, we are glad to find that a good king was placed upon the throne, and ruled for many years.

2 Chronicles 26:1, 4

But he did not fall into idol-worship, as his father had so foolishly done. Children should follow their parents so far as they follow the commands of God, and no further.

2 Chronicles 26:5

God alone can give true prosperity; seeking the Lord with all our heart is the surest way to be blest.

2 Chronicles 26:8

He was a skilful man, and a great inventor of engines of war, besides being an excellent cultivator of the soil. The country rose to a high pitch of prosperity under his rule.

2 Chronicles 26:16

What a warning is this to prosperous Christians. When we are weak we lean upon the Lord and are safe, but when we are strong the temptation is to become self-important, and then a fall is near. More fall among the strong than among the timid and trembling. His offence was intrusion into the priestly office:

2 Chronicles 26:16

Most of the heathen kings united royalty and priesthood in their own persons, and Uzziah, no doubt, judged that it would strengthen his influence if he did the same, but in this he acted wickedly, and angered the Lord.

2 Chronicles 26:17, 18

They boldly told the intruding king that his act was not right, and was not safe. Korah and his accomplices paid dear for offering incense, which was the work of the priests only, and the king would not find it to his honour to usurp their office. The incense of our prayers and praises must come up before the Lord from the hand of Jesus, our great Highpriest, or it can never be accepted by the Lord.

2 Chronicles 26:19

The Lord ended the controversy once for all; the king would not listen to the Lord’s word, and therefore was made to feel his hand. Woe unto those who pretend to offer a sacrifice for sin, now that the one offering of Jesus has put away transgression; the leprosy of heresy is on their brows even now; let us shun their company.

2 Chronicles 26:21

His punishment was merciful, for it gave him long space for repentance, but it was a suitable rebuke for his sin. He was proud, and the disease humbled him; he invaded the office of the priests, and became subject to their inspection, for they had the care of lepers; he coveted a dignity to which he had no right, and so lost the monarchy which was lawfully his. Let us reverence the priesthood of our Lord Jesus, and never dream of intruding into it.

 

Spiritual Rest

Matthew 11:28

I am convinced that one reason the devil has access to people’s emotions is that they keep flying through life without taking time to get renewed in the Presence of the Lord. They ignore their need to sit, to rest, and to wait upon the Lord. As a result, their perception of things around them gets blurred. Doing too much at too fast of a pace has worn them down, causing them to lose their focus and affecting their ability to see things the way they really are.

I know exactly what it’s like to move at such a fast pace—to get the adrenaline flowing and then keep it flowing like a river for days at a time. When you’re moving that fast, it’s difficult to stop when you finally try to sit down and rest because your adrenaline is still racing. You may be sitting down physically, but you’re still running emotionally!

There’s a big problem with moving so fast. The demands of our schedule—job, family, church, friendships, and so forth—start piling up, each overlaying the other as we race from place to place. When this happens, we start becoming ineffective in every area of life. We’re just trying to do too much, too fast. Eventually our busyness leads to a breakdown of everything. The body suffers. The mind suffers. The work suffers because we’re too tired to perform at 100 percent and therefore can’t do our job to our full potential. This then results in our having to battle feelings of condemnation for not doing a better job!

Let’s face it—it’s extremely difficult to do everything simultaneously. You may be able to swing it for a while, but in time, you’ll start missing important details, forgetting what you said, missing appointments, messing up in your finances, and even getting emotional over unemotional issues because you’ve pushed yourself beyond your limit. If this is you, slow down and set aside some time to spend with the Lord.

I have to admit that sometimes I also fall into the trap of doing too many things too fast. At times, I feel like a locomotive that is racing down the track! It’s not that I want to move so fast, but to get it all done correctly, I have to keep moving and stay on schedule. If I delay in one area, it throws everything else off schedule and creates a schedule crisis for many others in the ministry. For everyone else to do their jobs effectively, it means I must stay on schedule and keep on track every day of my life.

In moments when I feel overwhelmed, I hear Jesus speak to my spirit and say, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). Notice that Jesus begins this verse, “Come unto me….” This is from the Greek word deute, and it is a greeting that literally means, “Come—come now! I am inviting you to come!” In Greek, it has the feeling of an exclamation, which lets us know that Jesus joyfully welcomes us to come to Him.

Jesus then says, “Come unto me, all ye that labour….” This implies that Jesus’ invitation to come to Him is a special invitation directed to those who “labour.” The word “labour” in Greek is from the word kopiao, which describes a person who has become completely exhausted due to nonstop, continuous work. This is obviously a person who has a lot of responsibility and is doing his best to do it all in a professional and excellent fashion. In order to do everything that is on his plate, this person is required to work hard all the time. That’s why Jesus beckons this person to come to Him!

And Jesus doesn’t beckon only the hard worker; He also calls out to those who are “heavy laden.” These words are from the word phortidzo, depicting a person who is carrying a very heavy load on his back. Perhaps this load is his job, his family, his financial situation, or some personal burden. Regardless of what it is, Jesus pleads for the “heavy laden” person to come to Him!

To anyone who responds to this invitation and comes to Jesus, He promises that He will give them “rest.” The word “rest” is the Greek word anapauo, the word that means to refresh, to rejuvenate, to reinvigorate, or to revitalize. You see, the Lord wants to refresh us so we can keep doing what He has called us to do. He wants us to be refilled so we can remain effective.

The only way we can remain continually effective is by making sure we spend time with the Lord. But in order to truly enter His Presence so we can hear the voice of the Holy Spirit, we must first quiet ourselves by getting away from the commotion of life and finding a quiet place to worship, pray, and read the Word. That’s the only way we can quiet our soul enough to be able to hear God’s voice speaking to our inner man. To think that we are going to run into the Lord’s Presence and get everything we need in the space of five minutes just isn’t realistic. We must schedule time to be alone with God.

Don’t just run in and run out of the Lord’s Presence. Plan to settle down and stay there long enough to get everything you need to carry on! Once you’ve stopped long enough to really rest in His Presence, you’re finally in a position where you can start receiving from Him. Don’t move too fast. Don’t leave until you receive the refreshing you need. Just hang around in God’s Presence as long as you possibly can! Tarry there awhile, and let the Holy Spirit give you peace, joy, strength, and direction.

Learn to rest in God’s Presence. You see, there is a quiet place in Him, a place of refreshing, where you will find comfort, peace, and protection—every time. This is why Jesus said, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Notice that Jesus doesn’t say He will come to you. He says that you must choose to go to Him! But if you will make the deliberate choice to wait upon the Lord, Jesus promises that you will find this promised rest!

This is your key to remaining steadfast and strong enough to keep on schedule and to stay on track with everything you need to do. And I promise you—if you will wait long enough in His Presence, He will speak to your heart to let you know if all your activities are ordained of Him or if there are some obligations or activities you need to eliminate.

Spending time with the Lord is not an option—it is the answer! So come into the Presence of God and allow Him to refresh you. As you do, the Holy Spirit will release His resurrection power and you will be quickened in your physical body. You will be strengthened, refreshed, recharged, and supernaturally empowered by God so you can get back out there with a fresh perspective and new energy to finish what you have started!

MY PRAYER FOR TODAY

Lord, I know that You have been calling out to me, beckoning me to spend time with You. But I’ve been so busy that I haven’t made time in my schedule to come to You. Today I am making the choice to put everything else aside and to make my time with You the top priority in my day. I need Your strength; I need Your fellowship; I need Your tender touch; and I need to hear Your voice. Spirit of God, my schedule is very full, and I need special strength to make it through this busy time. So I am coming to You today to be refreshed so I can carry on!

I pray this in Jesus’ name!

MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY

I confess that the only way I can remain continually effective is to spend time with the Lord. I will therefore quiet myself from the commotion of life and get into the Presence of Jesus. I will settle down and plan to stay there long enough to get everything I need from Him. Staying in His Presence is not an option! It is my key to remaining steadfast and strong enough to keep on schedule and to stay on track with everything I need to do. The Holy Spirit will release His resurrection power in me, and I will be strengthened, refreshed, recharged, and empowered by God. Then I can get back out there with a fresh perspective and new energy to finish what I’ve started!

I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!

QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER

  1. When do you regularly spend time with the Lord? Is your time with Him more important to you than all the other things that you’re scheduled to accomplish? If your time with Him really is that important, is there a reason you haven’t planned it into your schedule?
  2. When you spend time with the Lord, how long do you usually stay in His Presence? What do you do when you are there with Him? Do you read your Bible, pray, sing songs of worship?
  3. How can you rework your schedule to make sure your time with God is the top priority? Why don’t you look at your calendar and see what you can move around in order to accommodate your time with Jesus?

The only way we can remain continually effective is by making sure we spend time with the Lord. But in order to truly enter His Presence so we can hear the voice of the Holy Spirit, we must first quiet ourselves by getting away from the commotion of life and finding a quiet place to worship, pray, and read the Word. That’s the only way we can quiet our soul enough to be able to hear God’s voice speaking to our inner man. To think that we are going to run into the Lord’s Presence and get everything we need in the space of five minutes just isn’t realistic. We must schedule time to be alone with God

 

Picking Up The Pieces And Starting Over

Yesterday I had a bad day. I got angry, struggled with lust, and found myself critical of almost everyone who crossed my path. This morning in my time with God, as I “licked my wounds,” I offered up this prayer to Him. If you are able to identify with me, you may want to pray along as you read:

 

“Lord, this morning I confess to you my abject poverty, wretchedness, hypocrisy, coldness of heart, judgmental spirit, indifference to others; my self-centeredness, greed, unimaginable pride, self-serving motives, coldness of heart, vile profanity, and sensuality.”

 

[“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comfortedBut the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, God, have mercy on me, a sinner.‘” (Matthew 5:3, 4; Luke 18:13)]

 

“If you kept track of my sins I would be finished. I feel self-condemned and wretched. Yet I know that if I can’t accept your forgiveness, I am rejecting the very essence of the cross. Unworthy as I am, I must grasp the truth that you have always loved me; that you actually died for me; thus releasing me from condemnation – even self-condemnation. I need to remember that I will spend eternity as the recipient of your lavished love. Incomprehensibly, you actually delight in me, and derive pleasure from me. If that isn’t amazing grace, I don’t know what is!”

 

[“If you, O Lord, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness; therefore you are fearedI [God] have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness… ‘ In him we havethe forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of Gods grace that he lavished on usto be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillmentI do not judge myselfKeep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings.” (Psalm 130:3, 4; Jeremiah 31:3b; Ephesians 1:7-9 selected; 1 Corinthians 4:3b; Psalm 17:8)]

 

“So today, I will choose to delight in your unconditional love, and once again take baby steps in learning how to let go, relax, and allow your Spirit free access to the depths of my being. Help me today Lord, when that ugly part of my nature starts to rear its nasty head, to surrender it over to you; to not allow lust, or impatience, or pride, or greed to gain a foothold; to instantly lift my heart up to you in surrender. May each step, each awareness, each encounter, and each challenge, be quietly given over to you.”

 

[“Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heartFlee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heartSo I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.” (Psalm 27:4; 2 Timothy 2:22; Galatians 5:16)]

 

“Would you, Lord, teach me today how to rest in your presence and unconditional grace, filled with, and controlled by, your Holy Spirit? In Jesus’ Name, Amen.”

 

[“But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus ChristSince we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” (2 Peter 3:18a; Galatians 5:25)]

 

 

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