VIDEO The Art of Forgiveness

While he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. Luke 15:20

One afternoon I spent two hours at an art exhibit—The Father & His Two Sons: The Art of Forgiveness—in which all of the pieces were focused on Jesus’s parable of the prodigal son (see Luke 15:11–31). I found Edward Riojas’s painting The Prodigal Sonespecially powerful. The painting portrays the once wayward son returning home, wearing rags and walking with his head down. With a land of death behind him, he steps onto a pathway where his father is already running toward him. At the bottom of the painting are Jesus’s words, “But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion” (v. 20 kjv).

I was deeply moved by realizing once more how God’s unchanging love has altered my life. When I walked away from Him, He didn’t turn His back, but kept looking, watching, and waiting. His love is undeserved yet unchanging; often ignored yet never withdrawn.

We all are guilty, yet our heavenly Father reaches out to welcome us.

We all are guilty, yet our heavenly Father reaches out to welcome us, just as the father in this story embraced his wayward son. “Let’s have a feast and celebrate,” the father told the servants. “For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found” (vv. 23–24).

The Lord still rejoices over those who return to Him today—and that’s worth celebrating!

Father, as we receive Your love and forgiveness, may we also extend it to others in Your name.

God’s love for us is undeserved yet unchanging.

By David C. McCasland

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forgiveness skit

 

Reading for Change

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6

Successful writers agree on a principle for how to become an accomplished writer: by reading great writing. Why does reading great writing make one a better writer? Because your mind becomes trained in the nuances of grammar, syntax, style, punctuation, and flow. You begin to think like a better writer, and as a result you become a better writer.

That principle could be applied to almost any field of endeavor—training the mind to recognize and reproduce the very best. And it is certainly true in terms of spiritual development. When we spend consistent hours reading, meditating on, and memorizing the Bible, it becomes the guiding light for our pathway. We begin to understand “what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:2). The ways, means, values, and priorities of the world are replaced with those of the kingdom of God. Our lives are transformed.

Don’t read your Bible as a requirement or obligation. Read it to become a different, more Christ-like you.

Will power does not change men. Time does not change men. Christ does. Henry Drummond

Feel Burned Out?

Matthew 11:28-30

What emotions come to mind when you hear the words burden and burnout? These terms make us sigh, don’t they? In this fast-paced, overworked world, most of us have felt the tiring numbness of carrying too much on our shoulders, in our schedules, and on our minds. Here are three ways a Christian should respond to these feelings:

Surrender to Christ. Jesus said to come to Him. There’s peaceful rest in surrendering our load to the Lord. His hands are large enough to hold anything and everything we need Him to handle. If we try to control and manage everything, we will wear ourselves out and eventually start dropping it all.

Depend on Christ. Jesus invites us to take His yoke and let Him bear our burdens. Although at first we may readily relinquish our concerns to the Lord, after a while we may try to take our burden back in an attempt to fix things ourselves. But by doing this, we interfere with the solution God wants to bring, and we end up wearing ourselves out once again. The truth is that only God has both the power and perspective to bring all matters to their proper conclusion (Rom. 8:28).

Trust Christ. The Savior encourages us to learn from Him. As we fill our minds with the truth of His words, our trust in Him grows. His yoke will become easy, and we’ll see it as the safest and happiest place to be. When we know we never have to carry burdens alone, they get lighter.

What do you have to lose by coming to Jesus, taking His yoke, and learning from Him? Nothing but your burdens of exhaustion, stress, and anxiety.

You Seeking After Truth?

We have received… that spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given us of God. (1 Corinthians 2:12)

We live in a mixed-up kind of world in which many people are not at all sure of what they believe or what they ought to believe.

Some churches advertise that way—you do not have to believe anything: “just be a seeker after truth.” Some actually settle for poetry, siding with Edwin Markham who “saw his bright hand sending signals from the sun.”

I, for one, never had any such signals from God. We have Bibles everywhere and the gospel is preached faithfully. Yet men and women seek God in old altars and tombs—in dark and dusty places, and finally wind up believing that God is sending signals from the sun.

Some folks get mad at me when I say that this kind of “seeking after truth” needs to be exposed. We need to double our efforts in telling the world that God is spirit and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and in truth.

It must be the Truth of God and the Spirit of God! Far from being an optional luxury in our Christian lives, the presence and the power of the Holy Spirit is a necessity!

 

Visit, the meaning

“Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name.” (Acts 15:14)

Our English word “visit” has come to mean a social call, but not so in the Greek, where it can mean to inspect, to look upon in order to help, or benefit.

For example, when Christ said “sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not” (Matthew 25:43), He had in mind more than a social call. The prisons of the day were miserable places with no amenities whatever. Prisoners desperately needed help from the outside. Paul wrote to Timothy from his Roman prison: “The cloke that I left at Troas with Carpus, when thou comest, bring with thee” (2 Timothy 4:13). By better understanding the word “visit,” Christ’s teaching takes on a richer meaning involving more the idea of a personal commitment.

The events surrounding the birth of the Messiah were considered a “visitation” by Zacharias when he prophesied over the baby Jesus: “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people . . . the dayspring from on high hath visited us” (Luke 1:68, 78). After Christ raised to life a dead boy, the people exclaimed, “A great prophet is risen up among us; and, That God hath visited his people” (Luke 7:16).

In that light, consider our text for today as James explained to the church leaders Paul’s ministry to the Gentiles. With our expanded understanding of the word “visit,” we could now expand the verse to read, “how God for the first time did look upon the Gentiles, in order to help them. In doing so, He took out of them a people for His name.” God, in His grace, has done all that was necessary to help us, to bring us out of bondage to sin, and to stamp on us His holy name. JDM

Yes Jesus Christ is Lord

John 5:17-42

When the Jews upbraided our Lord for working a miracle upon the Sabbath, he replied with overwhelming arguments.

John 5:17

The processes of nature, which are the work of God, are not stopped upon the Sabbath. God and his Christ are above all law. Men themselves could not keep the Sabbath if the power of God were not in action to keep them alive.

John 5:19, 20

He declared his own unity and equality with God, even though it excited yet greater wrath against him.

John 5:30

He never acted apart from the Father; he was always the Word of God.

John 5:31-35

He waives the usual objection that a man cannot bear witness to himself, and cites other evidence.

John 5:39

His appeal is to the Scripture which they themselves reverenced. Truly it teems with testimony concerning him.

John 5:40

Alas, this is still true of mankind!

 

Of the Father’s love begotten,

Ere the world began to be,

He is Alpha and Omega,

He the source, the ending he.

 

This is that divine Messiah

Promised in the faithful word,

Whom the voices of the prophets

Heralded with one accord.

 

Christ, to thee, with God the Father,

And, O Holy Ghost, to thee,

Hymn, and psalm, and high thanksgiving,

And unwearied praises be!

 

By Faith Not Feeling

“The just shall live by faith.” Rom. 1:17

I shall not die. I can, I do believe in the Lord my God, and this faith will keep me alive. I would be numbered among those who in their lives are just; but even if I were perfect I would not try to live by my righteousness; I would cling to the work of the Lord Jesus, and still live by faith in Him and by nothing else. If I were able to give my body to be burned for my Lord Jesus, yet I would not trust in my own courage and constancy, but still would live by faith.

“Were I a martyr at the stake I’d plead my Saviour’s name; Intreat a pardon for His sake, And urge no other claim.”

To live by faith is a far surer and happier thing than to live by feelings or by works. The branch, by living in the vine, lives a better life than it would live by itself, even if it were possible for it to live at all apart from the stem. To live by clinging to Jesus, by deriving all from Him, is a sweet and sacred thing. If even the most just must live in this fashion, how much more must I who am a poor sinner! Lord, I believe. I must trust Thee wholly. What else can I do? Trusting Thee is my life. I feel it to be so. I will abide by this even to the end.

 

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