VIDEO Mercy Extended and Mercy Received

For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  Matthew 6:14

It was John Calvin who said, “A happy life depends on a good conscience.” And another unknown sage once declared that a good conscience is like a “soft pillow”—the key to a peaceful night’s sleep. It is no wonder that a good conscience is so highly valued; “good conscience” appears six times in the New Testament as something to be maintained.

One of the ways we maintain a good conscience is by settling things quickly between ourselves and others. As long as matters are unsettled—as long as we withhold mercy and forgiveness toward others—things cannot be settled between us and God. Regardless of who is at fault, whether ourselves or another, “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men” (Romans 12:18). Whether someone has something against us or we have something against another, we should settle the matter quickly (Matthew 5:23-26; 18:15). When we extend mercy to others, God continues to extend mercy to us.

Are there matters to be settled between you and another? Take steps to make things right today. Then look forward to a “soft pillow” tonight.

Peace of conscience is nothing but the echo of pardoning mercy.  William Gurnall


John Piper sermon: Our Deepest Prayer Hallowed Be Your Name

Been Refined in the Fire

These trials will show that your faith is genuine. 1 Peter 1:7 nlt

Twenty-four–karat gold is nearly 100 percent gold with few impurities. But that percentage is difficult to achieve. Refiners most commonly use one of two methods for the purification process. The Miller process is the quickest and least expensive, but the resulting gold is only about 99.95 percent pure. The Wohlwill process takes a little more time and costs more, but the gold produced is 99.99 percent pure.

In Bible times, refiners used fire as a gold purifier. Fire caused impurities to rise to the surface for easier removal. In his first letter to believers in Jesus throughout Asia Minor (northern Turkey), the apostle Peter used the gold-refining process as a metaphor for the way trials work in the life of a believer. At that time, many believers were being persecuted by the Romans for their faith in Christ. Peter knew what that was like firsthand. But persecution, Peter explained, brings out the “genuineness of [our] faith” (1 Peter 1:7).

Perhaps you feel like you’re in a refiner’s fire—feeling the heat of setbacks, illness, or other challenges. But hardship is often the process by which God purifies the gold of our faith. In our pain we might beg God to quickly end the process, but He knows what’s best for us, even when life hurts. Keep connected to the Savior, seeking His comfort and peace.

By:  Linda Washington

Reflect & Pray

What challenges have you faced that led to your growth? How did you respond to them?

Father God, help me see how the trials of my life bring out the gold in me.

A Life Focused on Christ

Hebrews 12:1-3

A life of strong faith doesn’t happen automatically or without any effort on our part. Although we are not saved by our own endeavors, spiritual growth requires the appropriation of all the means God has provided to help us walk faithfully with Him. We should …

• Learn from the lives of past heroes of the faith, like those we read about yesterday in Hebrews 11. Knowing that others have faithfully navigated the stormy seas of life encourages us to persevere as well.

• Rid ourselves of any habitual sins or other burdens that hinder us from wholehearted devotion and obedience to the Lord.

• Focus on Jesus, not on ourselves or our desires.

Christ has gone before us to model how to live faithfully, no matter how difficult the circumstances. He demonstrated perfect trust, always doing exactly what His Father commanded—even going to the cross. Jesus endured shame and suffering by focusing on the joy that would be His in the completed redemption of a people for God’s glory.

Are you looking to Christ for the strength and perspective needed to run life’s race with faith-filled endurance?

Rest and Work

“Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.” (Matthew 11:28-29)

There are many types of burdens we may try to carry. Consider the burdens of sorrow, pain, grief, fear, worry, and— above all—sin that plague us. In today’s text, Christ promises hope for the “heavy laden” if we will but come to Him and accept His gracious offer of salvation and cleansing. He will either remove the burden, lighten it, or give us strength to bear it, whichever is best. His offer of rest includes inward peace even in times of trouble here, and perfect peace hereafter.

It may sound paradoxical, but we can actually lighten our load by taking up His “yoke.” “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Matthew 16:24). In our text, Christ said we are to learn of Him, thus emulating His meekness and lowliness in heart as we carry our cross. If we accept His yoke in humility because of our love for Him, we can endure every hardship and bear every burden with hope and patience.

Even though we are children of the King, we still have work to do. It has always been so, for even sinless Adam and Eve were responsible for tending the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:15). God knew that idleness and lack of responsibility were improper. Likewise, in the future we will have responsibilities given to us according to the handling of our responsibilities in this life (Matthew 25:21). We may be coregents of the kingdom (Revelation 20:6), but we will still have our responsibilities.

The burdens He gives us now are not oppressive, but with His help, and with the proper attitude, His yoke is easy and His burden is light. It is a “rest” to work for Him. JDM

Bond of Compassion

They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.

—Psalm 126:5-6

 

The testimony of the true follower of Christ might well be something like this: The world’s pleasures and the world’s treasures henceforth have no appeal for me. I reckon myself crucified to the world and the world crucified to me. But the multitudes that were so dear to Christ shall not be less dear to me. If I cannot prevent their moral suicide, I shall at least baptize them with my human tears. I want no blessing that I cannot share. I seek no spirituality that I must win at the cost of forgetting that men and women are lost and without hope. If in spite of all I can do they will sin against light and bring upon themselves the displeasure of a holy God, then I must not let them go their sad way unwept. I scorn a happiness that I must purchase with ignorance. I reject a heaven that I must enter by shutting my eyes to the sufferings of my fellowmen. I choose a broken heart rather than any happiness that ignores the tragedy of human life and human death. Though I, through the grace of God in Christ, no longer lie under Adam’s sin, I would still feel a bond of compassion for all of Adam’s tragic race, and I am determined that I shall go down to the grave or up into God’s heaven mourning for the lost and the perishing.

And thus and thus will I do as God enables me. Amen.   NCA036

Lord Jesus, give me that broken heart as I interact with unsaved people in my ministry today. Amen.

 

Insist on Sainthood

Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience.

—1 Timothy 3:9

 

The fact is that we are not today producing saints. We are making converts to an effete type of Christianity that bears little resemblance to that of the New Testament. The average so-called Bible Christian in our times is but a wretched parody of true sainthood. Yet we put millions of dollars behind movements to perpetuate this degenerate form of religion and attack the man who dares to challenge the wisdom of it.

Clearly we must begin to produce better Christians. We must insist on New Testament sainthood for our converts, nothing less; and we must lead them into a state of heart purity, fiery love, separation from the world and poured-out devotion to the Person of Christ. Only in this way can the low level of spirituality be raised again to where it should be in the light of the Scriptures and of eternal values. OGM009

It is well to remember that a new heart is one thing, and a pure heart is another. They are not synonymous. Any man can have a new heart which loves God and yet not possess a pure heart from which self, man-fear, love of praise and other like things are banished. SAN005-006

 

Achieving Tranquility

John 14:1

Do not let your hearts be troubled,” (John 14:1) said Jesus. Does anyone need this message? Of course we do. Just being alive makes us the target for countless fears and anxieties. We worry about ourselves and those dear to us because of the ever-present possibilities of accident and illness and death. Some of us are painfully aware of financial pressures, and some of us have private fears that we wouldn’t care to name. As if our own personal cares were not enough, there’s the threatening international situation. New alarms assault us every day. It’s a frenzied world, and many hearts are troubled. The need for comfort is universal.

Before going any further, we ought to note the difference between being comforted and being comfortable. There are some things we ought not to be comfortable about. We should always be troubled about cruelty and injustice and corruption. When our Lord encouraged His disciples with these words of comfort, He was in the shadow of the cross. He would show by His death that He wasn’t untroubled about sin and its eternal consequences.

We, too, must never be comfortable about sin in ourselves or in the world. The comfort we are talking about is not a sedative to dull us to the truth. There are some things we ought not to be comfortable about.

But in spite of the conditions around us, we can have a quiet heart. Jesus gave His prescription for a quiet heart.

First, the quiet heart is sure of the person of God. Jesus said, “Let not your heart be troubled, you believe in God, believe also in Me” (John 14:1 KJV). This is the indispensable foundation of a quiet heart. If we have faith in the unchangeable God, we have certainty in the midst of uncertainty.

The quiet heart is also sure of the presence of God. Death confronts us all with its fearsome suggestions of a solitary journey into a dark, cold unknown. Jesus has gone into that world beyond to prepare a place. He will come again and take us to be with Him forever. Faith in a God, whose presence will be mine forever, makes for a quiet heart. “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me!” (Psalm 23:4).

These eternal certainties are the secret of a quiet heart, and they can be yours.

Bramwell Tripp, To the Point