VIDEO The Challenge of Forgiveness

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9

People who have a joyful temperament find it easy to understand the joy of the Lord when they become a Christian. Naturally generous people willingly express generosity as a Christian. People who enjoy helping others find it easy to serve as a Christian. But one dimension of the Christian experience seems to be a challenge for every temperament type: forgiveness.

Whether receiving forgiveness from God or extending forgiveness to others, the whole idea of forgiveness seems hard to grasp. Forgive once, twice, several times? Okay. But forgive unconditionally and without limit? Who would do that? That’s what separates us from God. God forgives unconditionally and without limit because His Son paid the price for all sins by His death on the cross. Still, we find ourselves ashamed and embarrassed to have to ask God for forgiveness . . . again and again. We simply have to believe God’s Word: When we confess our sins, God is faithful to forgive us—unconditionally and forever.

If you have sinned, confess it immediately to God and restore your fellowship with Him. He promises to forgive when we do.

Forgiveness is to be set loose from sins.  G. Campbell Morgan


The Light Has Come – John 1:1-9 – Skip Heitzig

Listening to Wise Advice

The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice. Proverbs 12:15

During the American Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln once found himself wanting to please a politician, so he issued a command to transfer certain Union Army regiments. When the secretary of war, Edwin Stanton, received the order, he refused to carry it out. He said that the president was a fool. Lincoln was told what Stanton had said, and he replied: “If Stanton said I’m a fool, then I must be, for he is nearly always right. I’ll see for myself.” As the two men talked, the president quickly realized that his decision was a serious mistake, and without hesitation he withdrew it. Though Stanton had called Lincoln a fool, the president proved wise by not digging in his heels when Stanton disagreed with him. Instead, Lincoln listened to advice, considered it, and changed his mind.

Have you ever encountered someone who simply wouldn’t listen to wise advice? (See 1 Kings 12:1–11.) It can be infuriating, can’t it? Or, even more personal, have you ever refused to listen to advice? As Proverbs 12:15 says, “The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice.” People may not always be right, but the same goes for us! Knowing that everyone makes mistakes, only fools assume they’re the exception. Instead, let’s exercise godly wisdom and listen to the wise advice of others—even if we initially disagree. Sometimes that’s exactly how God works for our good (v. 2).

By:  Con Campbell

Reflect & Pray

Why are you sometimes reluctant to listen to the wise advice of others? How can you be sure the advice you receive reflects true wisdom?

God of wisdom, teach me Your ways and help me to avoid folly. Thank You for putting others in my life who are in a position to offer helpful advice when I need it.

Choosing to Believe

John 3:1-21

Salvation isn’t something we can claim because we were born to believing parents or have attended church. Jesus warned that many would call Him Lord without actually belonging to Him (Matt. 7:22-23). To become a genuine believer in Jesus Christ, we need the following:

• An understanding of the gospel. In order to believe and receive the good news of Jesus Christ, a person must have an understanding of his or her hopeless, sinful condition. It’s also necessary to recognize Jesus’ death on the cross as the sufficient sacrifice required to remove all sins.

• A definite turning point. When someone understands the gospel, he or she will turn from sin in repentance and toward God in faith and obedience.

• A changed life. Changing direction from our old fleshly lifestyle makes way for new life in Christ. Believers have a changed heart, and the sins we once loved, we now hate.

By grace, God’s salvation is offered to all who will believe and receive it through faith. Those who follow Jesus don’t often trudge through the practices of religion out of habit. Instead, their worship and joy are a vibrant response to the personal relationship they have with the Lord.

Things Worth Knowing

“Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.” (1 John 3:2)

Although the book of 1 John is well known for its use of the word “love,” various words such as “know,” “perceive,” and “behold” occur almost as often.

Several of these words refer to the work of Christ in salvation. “And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins” (1 John 3:5). “We know that we have passed from death unto life” (1 John 3:14), and “hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us” (1 John 3:16). This knowledge brings great comfort and assurance: “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life” (1 John 5:13).

This knowledge should bring us into a life of submission and service: “But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him” (1 John 2:5). Similarly, “he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us” (1 John 3:24; see also 1 John 4:13).

This gives us confidence in prayer: “And this is the confidence that we have in him,…if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: And if we know that he hear us,…we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him” (1 John 5:14-15).

The culmination of a life marked by salvation, assurance, empowering, and victory will be that we will be with Him and be like Him. “Behold [same word as ‘know’], what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God” (1 John 3:1). JDM

“According to Your Faith,” II

Matthew 9:27-34

WORLDS of possibilities are wrapped up in our Lord’s statement to the blind men in Matthew 9:29: “According to your faith be it unto you.”

Men go from book to book, from lecture to lecture, seeking a more abundant life. Weak Christians devour devotional literature, always expecting that the next page will unlock the mystic secret. But here is the key: Faith grows as we exercise such faith as we have. The measure of the life abundant is in proportion to our faith. God’s resources are ever available to faith. If we make our check small, we have only ourselves to blame.

Observe that it is not “according to your fate.” The Chinese have a proverb: “We make our fortune and call it Fate.” Some of us excuse our laziness under the guise of predestination and say, “What is to be will be.” Nor is it “according to your fortune.” Lands and goods are not the measure of life abundant, for “a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth” (Luke 12:15). It is not “according to your fame,” for celebrities are often most miserable. As Johnson said, “Fame usually comes when we are old and can’t enjoy it, solitary and can’t share it, independent and don’t need it.” Christ did not say, “According to your friends.” Popularity and “pull” cannot bring us life abundant. Too many friends are like shadows; they follow us only on sunny days. Nor did our Lord say, “According to your feelings.” Here is the commonest mistake in looking for a better life. We confuse it with certain emotional ecstasies and are discouraged when feelings rise and fall—and moods change like April weather.

It is “according to your faith.” But here we need to examine just what sort of faith this is, for faith itself has been made a fetish by those who think faith is sufficient no matter what we believe. The value of faith depends upon its object. If the object of confidence turns out unworthy, the one who believed is in worse condition than before, no matter how worthy his faith may have been. Popular teaching which puts the emphasis upon faith itself makes it purely subjective, while the real virtue lies in the object.

The only faith which brings eternal life and a more abounding daily experience is faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, for only He is worthy of absolute trust and able to meet every need of the believer. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ” was the early message of the apostles, and simple faith in Christ as Son of God and Savior is the condition of salvation. In addition, more abounding life and growth are “according to our faith.” If we believe only to a small degree, our experience will be commensurate to that faith. Every believer has experienced that as far as he has trusted, he has found the promises true.

So, do not look for something magical about this matter of faith. Your experience will be in proportion as you take God at His word, in spite of all appearances! But the value of faith lies in Him whom you trust, not on the quantity nor quality of your faith. “All things are possible to him that believeth”—if he believes in Him with whom all things are possible.

Here and here only is the way to life victorious and abundant, for “this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith” (1 John 5:4).

The Patience of God

The righteous one will rejoice when he sees the retribution…. Then people will say, “Yes, there is a reward for the righteous! There is a God who judges on earth!”—Psalm 58:10-11

Ever found yourself feeling frustrated because of the way in which wickedness seems to win over justice? Then you know something of how Solomon felt when he said, “God will judge the righteous and the wicked” (Eccl 3:17). Every generation, throughout time, has had to face this problem. James Russell Lowell put it this way:

Truth forever on the scaffold,

Wrong forever on the throne.

Solomon struggles, as no doubt you have done (and perhaps still do), with the fact that in the very place where you would expect to see justice, you find wickedness and corruption prevailing. In the days when I was a pastor, I sometimes went to court with people who had a genuine case to be heard, only to see it broken down by tactics that were dishonest and unjust. I have seen enough injustice in my time to share something of Solomon’s cynicism.

Are you at this moment a victim of judicial injustice? Then don’t allow yourself to become cynical, for, as Solomon said: “God will judge the righteous and the wicked.” Wrong will not continue forever. The day is coming when all corruption and injustice will be called to judgment before the throne of God’s truth. But of course, being human, we wish the injustices we have received could be put right—now. God seems to be much more patient than we are, and what we must do is to ask for grace to be patient with the patience of God.

Prayer

O God my Father, give me the divine perspective on things so that present injustices may be swallowed up in the long-term purposes. Help me see that I will have my day in court—Your court. In Jesus’ name I ask it. Amen.

Further Study

Ps 58:1-11; Gn 18:25; Ps 96:13

What was the view of the psalmist?

How does God judge?

The Divine Christ

Titus 2:13-14

Let me try to put before you what I conceive to be the true representation of the Christ of God. We say that He meets the whole world’s need—that He comes to it walking on the waves of its difficulties, sins and sorrow, and says: “I am the Bread of Life; take Me, appropriate Me, live by Me, and you will live forever. I am the Christ, the Savior of the world.” This is the Deliverer, whom philosophers have longed for, and which all the world, more or less, groped after as some dim figure.

The Christ of God is divine. We see at the outset that man needed some being outside of himself, above him, and yet able to understand him in his guilt and helplessness, able to inspire him with a new life, to impart light, love, strength and to do this always and everywhere, in every hour of temptation and danger. Humanity needed an exhibition of God, not merely to be told about him, but to see him. God’s expedient for showing this to man was to come in the flesh. Truly, no man as he is by nature can see God and live. He promised a Savior who should reveal Him in all the holiness and benevolence of His character and in His plenitude of power to save!

Christ is the nearest to the divine of anything we can conceive. And this perfect being claimed to be divine, and He claimed it unmistakably and persistently. His divinity is the central fact around which all His doctrines and teachings revolve. Then, if He were so near an approach to perfection, as even unbelievers admit, how was it that He allowed such an impression of His teachings to go abroad, if He were not divine? How could He say, “If you believe not that I am He you shall die in your sins” (John 8:24 KJV), if He had not known Himself to be the Christ of God?

Take this mystery out of Christianity, and the whole system utterly collapses. Without a divine Christ it sinks into a mere system of philosophy and becomes powerless.

As He came walking over the sea of Galilee to the men of His day, He comes now to you, walking over the storm raised by your appetites, your passions and sins. He offers to pronounce, “Peace, be still” (Mark 4:39 KJV) and end this tempest of your soul forever. Will you let Him?

Because of His vicarious sacrifice, God waits to pardon your guilt, transform your character, beautify and utilize your life. Let this divine Christ reign over you as sovereign of your heart and life.

Catherine Booth, Popular Christianity