VIDEO Praise for Forgiveness

Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, you righteous; and shout for joy, all you upright in heart! Psalm 32:11

Have you experienced this sheer relief? You are stopped by a police officer for a traffic violation; you are given a verbal warning instead of a ticket; you are sent on your way like it never happened. Relief? No, joy and thanksgiving! We thank the officer, then we praise God as we drive away. And after our praise we purpose to be more careful.

If we are grateful for that pardon, how grateful should we be when Almighty God forgives our sins and sends us on our way? After a brutally honest retelling of his pre-confession suffering from sin, David praised the Lord for being forgiven (Psalm 32:11). Why should forgiveness result in praise? Because God removes our sin far from us (Psalm 103:12). He buries our sin out of our sight (Micah 7:19). He puts our sins behind His back (Isaiah 38:17). He blots out our sin (Isaiah 44:22). He treats our sins as if they never happened (Jeremiah 31:34). That’s why forgiveness should bring forth praise.

The next time you receive God’s forgiveness, give Him the praise He deserves from those delivered from unrighteousness and restored to fellowship.

What we win by prayer, we must wear with praise. Matthew Henry


Psalm 32 • Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven

Renewed Vision

My heart rejoices in the Lord; in the Lord my horn is lifted high. 1 Samuel 2:1

After a painful minor surgery on my left eye, my doctor recommended a vision test. With confidence, I covered my right eye and read each line on the chart with ease. Covering my left eye, I gasped. How could I not realize I’d been so blind?

While adjusting to new glasses and renewed vision, I thought of how daily trials often caused me to be spiritually nearsighted. Focusing only on what I could see up-close—my pain and ever-changing circumstances—I became blind to the faithfulness of my eternal and unchanging God. With such a limited perspective, hope became an unattainable blur.

First Samuel 1 tells the story of another woman who failed to recognize God’s trustworthiness while focusing on her current anguish, uncertainty, and loss. For years, Hannah had endured childlessness and endless torment from Peninnah, the other wife of her husband Elkanah. Hannah’s husband adored her, but contentment evaded her. One day, she prayed with bitter honesty. When Eli the priest questioned her, she explained her situation. As she left, he prayed that God would grant her request (1 Samuel 1:17). Though Hannah’s situation didn’t change immediately, she walked away with confident hope (v. 18).

Her prayer in 1 Samuel 2:1–2 reveals a shift in Hannah’s focus. Even before her circumstances improved, Hannah’s renewed vision changed her perspective and her attitude. She rejoiced in the ongoing presence of God—her Rock and everlasting hope.

By:  Xochitl Dixon

Reflect & Pray

How will focusing on God’s unchanging nature instead of your circumstances give you greater hope? Where are you currently struggling with spiritual nearsightedness?

God, please renew my vision so I can focus on Your constant presence and live with an eternal perspective in all circumstances.

God Desires Faithfulness

1 Corinthians 4:1-5

We’re often drawn to stories about underdogs whose achievements surpass all expectations. Whether it’s athletic contests, intellectual pursuits, or business ventures, we applaud their success. But as impressive as human accomplishments may be, they are not the standard by which God measures success.

The Lord values faithfulness, and the praise for a job well done won’t come until we reach heaven. It doesn’t matter how talented or successful we are by earthly standards, because God’s goal for us is obedience, faithfulness, and Christlike character.

Since the Lord wants us to succeed spiritually, He has provided everything we need. His Word gives us principles to practice, testimonies of faithful men and women to study and emulate, and the most powerful example of love and obedience: His Son. Whether in speech or in work, Jesus did nothing on His own initiative (John 8:28). His desire was to be completely dependent on His Father and obedient in every aspect of His life. 

Is that your desire as well? It’s easy to become sidetracked from this goal, but if you’ll persist, God Himself will be pleased with your faithfulness.

The Indwelling Holy Spirit

“But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.” (Romans 8:9)

Note that in this one verse the Holy Spirit is called both “the Spirit of God” and “the Spirit of Christ.” Thus, the two terms are synonymous, which means that Christ is God, and so is the Holy Spirit.

Note also that we “have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father” (Romans 8:15). In fact, our text assures each of us that we are actually living “in the Spirit,” because He has come to “dwell in you.” All of this has come about “not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy,…by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost” (Titus 3:5). This glorious new birth, with sins forgiven and eternal life, is accomplished by the Holy Spirit in response to our faith in Christ as Savior and Lord.

But also note that “if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.” It is absolutely vital that we have the Holy Spirit, “for as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God” (Romans 8:14). The question is, just how do we know that we have the Holy Spirit?

The answer is because His Word says so! “He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me,” said Jesus, “hath everlasting life” (John 5:24). Furthermore, we have the testimony of internal peace and assurance. “The Spirit [Himself] beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God” (Romans 8:16).

Finally, the indwelling Spirit will increasingly be growing His eternal fruit in our lives—the ninefold fruit of “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance” (Galatians 5:22-23), and this will testify to others also that we do indeed have the Holy Spirit. HMM

The Twelve Sent Forth

Matthew 10:1-23

THE sending forth of the disciples upon their first preaching tour (Matt. 10; Mark 6:7-13; Luke 9:1-6) has been the favorite pretext of misguided fanatics through the centuries. Time and again, some erratic soul has taken these commands literally and endeavored to practice them even to the point of the sandals and staff. They overlook the very first statement of our Lord in Matthew’s account—that this mission was purely local and temporary, to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Later on (Luke 22:35-36) when they must face a hostile Gentile world, they are given entirely different instructions and bidden to provide themselves with swords.

But it is also true that in Matthews account, further on in our Lord’s discourse (vv. 16-23), He seems to go beyond the immediate application, giving a prophecy about the trials and persecutions which they would undergo following His ascension. There we have an application that stretches through all the Gospel age.

Next He says: “Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come.” While there is a sense in which Christ “came” in the destruction of Jerusalem, or even earlier in the empowering of the Spirit of Pentecost, we are looking here at the ministry of the faithful remnant of Israel in the last days before our Lord’s second advent. The disciples prefigured the faithful witnesses in the time of Israel’s great trouble before our Lord comes in judgment.

The rest of Jesus’ message to the twelve contains general principles applicable to any age. What He had declared to them privately must be proclaimed aloud, without fear of men who could destroy only the body. Note that our Lord declares that He came not to bring peace but a sword and that He is the great divider, separating even families in their allegiance to or rejection of Him. In these days when light and easy things are being said of our Lord and He is pictured as the Great Pacifist with a gospel of brotherhood, sweetness and light, we need to remember that really Jesus Christ has been and is the most dividing force in all history! He who is not with Him is against Him, and he who gathers not with Him scatters abroad—so with the sharp, two-edged sword of the Word, Jesus Christ splits the whole human race asunder to the right and to the left. He unifies those who are in Him, but He is the great Divider of humanity—and this age will see division to the end over the supreme issue. Where do we stand with regard to Christ? His gospel is the savor of life unto life or of death unto death, and by Him the thoughts of all men are revealed.

Although many of the literal commands of this commission of the twelve are not for us, it would be a great day if His witnesses now so comfortably settled in established positions could go forth with the abandon of these early missionaries. Alas, with too many of us, the adventure of the Cross has become a fixed professionalism. We need the old abandon of those who, having freely received, freely gave.

Worship Is Central

I will keep watch for You, my strength, because God is my stronghold. My faithful God will come to meet me.—Psalm 59:9-10

If we are to go deeper with God, then we must understand both the importance and meaning of worship. Dr. Dick Averby, professor of the Old Testament at Dallas Seminary, claims that the antidote to every human problem is worship. I am sure he is thinking of personality problems, not physical problems, and allowing for this caveat, I would agree with him. Dr. Larry Crabb, professor of counseling at Colorado Christian University, says something similar: “Worship means, in the middle of life as it is experienced, that you find some way to be caught up in God’s character and purpose so that His will becomes central.”

Mature Christians are people who think of themselves first and foremost as worshipers. They will see their other roles in life—as fathers, mothers, factory workers, business people, farmers, doctors, evangelists, pastors, and so on—as secondary.

Some worship the servants of God more than they worship God Himself. A story is told of an occasion when Christmas Evans, the great Welsh preacher of a past century, was due to preach. Prior to the service the church was packed with people eager to hear the great orator. As the service was about to begin, it was announced that Christmas Evans was unable to keep the engagement and a lesser-known preacher would take his place. People began to show signs of leaving until the moderator said: “All those who have come to worship Christmas Evans may leave. All those who have come to worship God may stay.” No one left.

Prayer

O God, my soul is too big to be satisfied with the writings of a mere man. I can be inspired by human words, but I can be fed only by Your words. May I continually seek You. Amen.

Further Study

Jn 6:25-58; Ps 132:7; Isa 55:2; 1Co 10:3-4

What did Jesus declare?

Why did the Jews stumble over it?

Communion with Jesus

Psalm 46:10

Three kilometers from Jerusalem lay the village of Bethany and the home of Jesus’ friends, Mary and Martha and their brother, Lazarus—a convenient place for Jesus to pause, an oasis of true friendship. A few hours within this home’s peaceful confines would provide the quiet interval that His body and spirit needed before proceeding to the thronging city of Jerusalem.

In describing this stopover, Luke mentions only the two sisters, Mary and Martha, and the brief narrative revolves around the fact that a special meal was intended for their revered visitor. The two sisters have much in common. But they were quite different in temperament.

It was Martha who was in charge of the preparations for dinner. “Martha was very worried about her elaborate preparations” (v. 50 PH), or as the King James Version has it, Martha was “cumbered about [with] much serving” (Luke 10:40). Joseph Scriven’s famous hymn, asks: “Are we weak and heavy laden, Cumbered with a load of care?” What today’s meteorologist calls “cumulus clouds” are those rounded masses heaped upon on each other, and at once we see analogies:

“the work is all piled up”; “it is just one thing on top of another!” In such terms Martha’s feelings are described. She was pulled away from fellowship with Jesus by the distractions of the kitchen and by her anxiety to provide an impressive table.

Hospitality is good. Even culinary achievements in their own way can be good. But something is better. Nothing can compare with, or take the place of, communion with Jesus. To hear His voice is better than all other sounds that can fall on the ear of the soul. To listen to His instruction is better than all the knowledge that a secular world can impart. Outside of the presence of Jesus we are soon inevitably enveloped by the cumulus clouds of care. In His presence all is at peace.

In this frenetic age it is not easy to find the time for communion with Jesus. Tremendous forces are at work to keep His followers from spending quiet periods in His presence. We have only to think of the chaotic atmosphere that dominates many homes and many lives. In the morning the house is a panic zone, with members of the family scrambling in all directions as they rush from ablutions to breakfast to the bus. The pace only quickens by noon. In the evening fatigue takes over.

Let us, in the rush of life, not neglect our communion with the Master.

Arnold Brown, With Christ at the Table