The Gospel Message alone has the POWER to Deliver us from sin…

Through Christ, sin’s power has been broken…

“It is absurd… for those who are called to reign with Christ to choose to be captives to sin, as if one should throw down the crown from off his head and choose to be the slave of a hysterical woman who comes begging and covered in rags…

How is it that sin can reign in you?

It is not from any power of its own but only from your laziness.”
— Chrysostom

Having completed five chapters on the need for and basis of justification, Paul now turns to the power of the gospel to change lives.

The believer’s identification with the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, provided through justification, means the believer is no longer a slave to sin, but serves a new master— the righteousness of God.

The “Mad Monk” Who Lived Like the Devil

In his commentary on Romans, F. F. Bruce makes reference to a figure from church history who illustrated the problem of antinomianism—meaning the casting off of moral restraint in order to experience more of God’s grace and forgiveness (Bruce, p. 127).

This tragic character, dubbed the “Mad Monk” by many in his day, would be a chief contributor to the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution in Russia which ushered in seventy years of atheistic materialism.

A closer look at his life reveals the theological bankruptcy of antinomianism and why Paul responded so strongly to the charges against him in Romans 6:1-2.

Grigory Yefimovich Novykh (1872-1916) was born into a peasant family in Siberia, Russia.

Illiterate in spite of attending school, he acquired the nickname “Rasputin”—Russian for “debauched one”—because of his flagrantly licentious and immoral lifestyle.

Undergoing a religious conversion of some sort at age eighteen, he ended up at the monastery of the Khlysty (Flagellants) sect.

This group had historical roots of operating outside traditional ecclesiastical structures, but Rasputin perverted their teachings into pure antinomianism:

“One draws closest to God when feeling ‘holy passionless’ and arrives at that point through sexual exhaustion and prolonged debauchery.”

Leaving the monastery without becoming a monk, he wandered thousands of miles through Europe and the Middle East, arriving eventually at Jerusalem.

He gained a reputation as a holy mystic with the ability to heal the sick and tell the future.

Arriving back in St. Petersburg in 1903, he was welcomed by clerical leaders and eventually introduced into court circles (in spite of his odoriferous propensity for never bathing).

Emperor Nicholas II and his wife Alexandra were taken with Rasputin, especially because of his healing effects on their only son Alexey, the future czar of Russia.

The child was a hemophiliac, and Rasputin saved his life on one occasion by stopping his bleeding when doctors were unable to do so.

This “miracle” endeared Rasputin to the royal family and gave him increased powers of influence with them.

They saw him in the courts as a humble and holy religious peasant with powers from God.

Outside the court, he continued to earn his nickname, attending orgies and religious services with equal devotion.

Through his belief that physical contact with his body produced healing effects, Rasputin seduced young women repeatedly and continued in all manner of immoral behavior.

Rumors of an affair between Rasputin and the emperor’s wife, Alexandra, even circulated.

Counselors to the emperor insisted on Rasputin’s removal, but the emperor failed to do so under the influence of his wife.

When Nicholas II left St. Petersburg to command Russian troops at the beginning of World War I, Rasputin became chief advisor to Alexandra, who had been left in charge of Russia’s internal affairs.

His influence resulted in a series of disastrous clerical and governmental appointments, causing increasing dissent among Russians suffering at the hands of the autocracy.

A group of extreme conservatives, some related to the czar, and all holding influential positions, plotted in December 1916, to kill Rasputin as a way to end his deleterious influence on the Russian nation.

This they accomplished in late December, but it was too late.

The Bolsheviks, seizing the opportunity to capitalize on the negative perception of the emperor, revolted in 1917.

The God who was missing from the life of the Empress’ closest advisor in 1916 was officially driven completely out of Russia beginning in 1917.

Was antinomianism the cause of the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia?

No. But there can be no way to estimate the damage done to a government (irrespective of its other weaknesses) by a man who proffered spiritual power on one hand and lived like the devil on the other.

Romans 6

In Romans 6, Paul twice raises and refutes the charge of antinomianism (vv. 1, 15).

His answer is simple: a true Christian cannot live in sin because he or she is dead to sin.

The believer is no longer the servant of sin but the servant of righteousness.

The chapter is spent explaining how a believer in Jesus Christ can have died to sin and been made alive to righteousness.

In that explanation is the answer to the charge that Paul, or any other true believer in Christ, could possibly be an antinomian.

Now that the believer is justified through faith in Christ (Rom. 1-4), how then shall he or she live (Rom. 6-8)?

In this first of three chapters on the “making holy” (sanctification) of the believer (Rom. 6-8), Paul talks about how the believer is delivered from sin by the power of the gospel.

The first fourteen verses show how the grace of God has united us with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection, and the last nine verses reveal how we are made servants of righteousness.

When the believer in Christ is reckoned by faith to be dead, buried, and resurrected with Christ, he or she ceases to be the servant of sin and becomes the servant of righteousness.

Grace is not a license to sin because the recipient of grace has died to sin and can no longer live in it.

In verse 1, Paul asks the question,

“Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?”

The Greek word diatribe, from which derives our “diatribe,” is not a biblical word. But its parent, diatribo, occurs eight times in Acts, always with the meaning of “remain” or “spend time” (e.g., Acts 12:19; 14:3,28).

How did we get from “spending time” to “diatribe?”

Diatribo derives from dia (through, by means of, because of, for the sake of) and tribein (to rub hard, to make a path).

It referred to spending time at something or wearing away at something, and then was applied to spending time at discourse or study.

A diatribe, though having a negative connotation today of a bitter denunciation or discourse, was in the Greek world a respectable format for learning: spending considerable time at discourse and dialogue, wearing away a subject until it has been completely examined.

For his part, Paul upholds the classic definition of diatribe in Romans.

He uses the method of creating fictional opponents who raise one-verse objections to what he is teaching, then wears them down with a chapter-length answer (see Rom. 3:1,3,5-9, 27-31; 4:1-3,9-10).

He picks up the diatribe format again in verse 1, anticipating a question to something he has just written in 5:20: “But where sin increased, grace increased all the more.”

He can hear his detractors: “What kind of gospel is this you are proclaiming, Paul?

A gospel that requires us to do nothing to prove we are the chosen of God?

Nothing, that is, except believe?

If our good works count for nothing, and our sinful deeds cause the grace of God to be revealed more, then why do not we go on sinning so that grace may increase?”

It is not necessarily a bad question; rather, it is a question born out of ignorance.

It is a question that anyone who was having a mystery explained to him in detail for the first time would ask (Rom. 11:25; 16:25; Eph. 3:3-9; 6:19).

If anything, this chapter of Romans is about “knowing.”

Twice Paul affirms things “we know” (vv. 6, 9— though even here, there may be a slight dig by the apostle in the sense of “you do know, don’t you?”), and twice he asks them outright, “Don’t you know?” (vv. 3, 16).

Then a fifth instance “commands” that the Roman believers go further than just knowing—they must calculate and credit themselves as the possessors and beneficiaries of certain knowledge (logizomai, present middle imperative; v. 11).

So when Paul enters back into the diatribe mode in v. 1 (and again in v. 15), he does so not as a bitter denunciation.

He does so as one who, with the Thessalonian believers, was “like a mother caring for her little children” (1 Thess. 2:7).

As a mother would want her children to know—even possess and act on—the truth, so Paul wants that for the Roman church.

So in answer to Paul’s question, “Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?,” the answer in verse 2 is, “Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?”

No one ever accused Jewish mothers of not speaking the truth when it needed speaking, and here Paul plays that role.

Fourteen times in his epistles (ten times in Romans alone), he uses this phrase to separate truth from error.

In verse 3, Paul asks the question,

“Or do you not KNOW that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?”

The first key word in Paul’s presentation is KNOW.

Here he introduces the subject of baptism to show that it is morally incongruous for believers to go on in sin.

But the question immediately arises, “To which baptism is he referring?”

So an introductory word of explanation is necessary.

When a person is saved, he is baptized into Christ Jesus in the sense that he is identified with Christ in His death and resurrection.

This is not the same as the baptism in (or of) the Spirit, though both occur simultaneously.

The latter baptism places the believer in the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:13); it is not a baptism into death.

The baptism into Christ means that in the reckoning of God, the believer has died with Christ and has risen with Him.

When Paul speaks of baptism here, he is thinking both of our spiritual identification with Christ and of its portrayal in water baptism.

But as the argument advances, he seems to shift his emphasis in a special way to water baptism as he reminds his readers how they were “buried” and “planted together” in the “likeness” of Christ’s death.

The NT never contemplates the abnormal situation of an unbaptized believer.

It assumes that those who are converted submit to baptism right away.

Thus our Lord could speak of faith and baptism in the same breath:

“he who believes and is baptized will be saved” (Mark 16:16).

Though baptism is not a requirement for salvation, it should be the invariable public sign of it.

Water baptism gives a visual demonstration of baptism into Christ.

It pictures the believer being immersed in death’s dark waters (in the person of the Lord Jesus), and it pictures the new man in Christ rising to walk in newness of life.

There is a sense in which a believer attends the funeral of his old self when he is baptized.

As he goes under the water he is saying,

“All that I was as a sinful son of Adam was put to death at the cross.”

As he comes up out of the water he is saying,

“It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me” (see Gal. 2:20).

Because sin brings death, we need new life through oneness with Christ.

The power of the Gospel Message in action…

In Romans 6, Paul assures his readers a second time that God has broken sin’s power.

We have joined Jesus Christ in baptism (6:3) and have been united with Him in His death (6:5).

Paul uses relational terms in describing how we grow closer to Christ as we transfer from the old life to the new.

When we were united with Christ in His death, our evil desires and slavery to sin died with Him.

Now, united by faith with Him in His resurrection life, we have unbroken fellowship with God and freedom from sin’s hold on us.

The power of sin over us, as well as the penalty for sin, died with Christ on the cross.

Our “old sinful selves,” our sinful nature, died once and for all, so we are freed from its power.

The “power of sin” refers to our rebellious, sin-loving nature inherited from Adam.

Though we often willingly cooperate with our sinful nature, the desire to do so comes from our old nature.

And it is this power of sin at work in our lives that is defeated.

Paul has already stated that through faith in Christ we stand ACQUITTED, having been declared NOT GUILTY before God.

Here Paul emphasizes that we need no longer live under sin’s power.

God does not take us out of the world or make us robots—we will still feel like sinning, and sometimes we will sin.

Since Christ’s righteousness brought us into a favored relationship with God, we should live by God’s standards.

The difference is that before we were saved we were slaves to our sinful nature, but now we can choose to live for Christ (see Galatians 2:20).

Christians are not slaves to sin any longer, but but through the gospel message we can now overcome sin by the power of God, through Jesus’ propitious sacrifice and poured out blood on Calvary’s Cross.

And so as born-again, covenant children of God, this is something we must CHOOSE to do every single day of our lives, as we each day choose to put on the mind of Christ (Php 2:5); hence this was what Paul meant when he said, “I die daily” (1 Cor 15:31) — and so must we!

From Life Lessons, by Max Lucado:


Think of it this way. Sin puts you in prison. Sin locked you behind the bars of guilt and shame and deception and fear.

Sin did nothing but shackle you to the wall of misery.

Then Jesus came and paid your bail. He served your time; He satisfied the penalty and set you free.

Christ died, and when you cast your lot with Him, your old self died too.

The only way to be set free from the prison of sin is to serve its penalty.

In this case the penalty is death.

Someone has to die, either you or a heaven-sent substitute.

You cannot leave prison unless there is a death.

But that death has occurred at Calvary.

And when Jesus died, you died to sin’s claim on your life.

You are free. . . . Christ has taken your place.

There is no need for you to remain in the cell.

Ever heard of a discharged prisoner who wanted to stay?

Nor have I.

When the doors open, prisoners leave.

The thought of a person preferring jail over freedom doesn’t compute.

Once the penalty is paid, why live under bondage?

You are discharged from the penitentiary of sin.

Why, in heaven’s name, would you ever want to set foot in that prison again?

Paul reminds us: “Our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.

For he who has died has been freed from sin” (Romans 6:6, 7).

He is not saying that it is impossible for believers to sin; he’s saying it is stupid for believers to sin.

“It’s not the literal impossibility . . . but the moral incongruity” of the saved returning to sin.

What does the prison have that you desire?

Do you miss the guilt? Are you homesick for dishonesty?

Do you have fond memories of being lied to and forgotten?

Was life better when you were dejected and rejected?

Do you have a longing to once again see a sinner in the mirror?

It makes no sense to go back to prison. (From In the Grip of Grace by Max Lucado)

Selah (let us pause and calmly think about these things)

Tuesday, May 31
From Faith to Faith
Daily Devotional

by Gloria Copeland

Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
— Romans 6:4

As a believer, you actually have residing in you the same new life God gave Jesus when He raised Him from the dead.

The old sinner you once were has died. You’ve become a new creation on the inside.

You are full of the resurrection life of God!

But sin, disobedience and living a selfish, carnal life will keep that resurrection life from flowing out.

Sin will separate you from the power of God, even though you’re born again.

Resurrection life will lay dormant in you if you walk in sin.

You can’t overcome sin by trying to stop sinning, however.

You overcome it by walking after the new life God has put within you, by spending time in the Word and in prayer.

As you do that, the Spirit of God will strengthen you and enable you to put that sin under your feet.

Remember, though, the Holy Spirit will not subdue those old fleshly habits of yours on His own.

He’ll wait on you to take the initiative. Then He will strengthen you to follow through with your decision.

He will teach you how to walk in the new life that is on the inside of you.

Take the first step today by asking for His help.

Say, “Lord, I desire to experience the power to live by this new life every day.

By a decision of my heart, I put down the dictates of sin. I declare myself dead to sin.

In Jesus’ Name, I will spend time in prayer and in the Word today.

As I do, I believe I’ll receive a Holy Ghost refreshing in my life.

I believe I’ll begin to live out the resurrection power that You’ve placed in me!”

Scripture Reading: Romans 7:1-6

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Jesus said, “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life”…

God calls His people to obedience…

“The humble heart is [God’s] throne in regard to his gracious presence, and heaven is his throne in regard to his glorious presence, and yet neither of these thrones will hold him, for the heaven of heavens cannot contain him.” — Thomas Watson

God appeals to Israel to recognize his uniqueness, to respond in loyal love on the basis of that uniqueness, and to serve Him faithfully and exclusively because of it.

It is in the interests of those who know Him well to cleave to Him only and exclude all other deities from their affections.

In the years between the writing of the Old Testament and the New Testament, the Roman Empire came into existence.

Built out of the disappointments of the old republic and its continuing civil wars, the Empire struggled to recruit troops to defend and expand its far-flung borders.

Eventually the Roman emperors, beginning with Augustus Caesar, offered special incentives to join the legions.

Those who served a full term would receive full Roman citizenship with all its rights and privileges.

In order to receive these privileges, however, the veterans were expected to settle into special cities called colonies.

By their presence on the Empire’s frontier, the retired citizen-soldiers would become a “little Rome” and represent the great city and its culture before the distant masses.

The purpose of such colonies was twofold: to preserve order on the frontiers and to extol the virtues of the homeland.

By the time of the New Testament, the city of Philippi had become such a Roman colony.

There the apostle Paul founded a church during his second missionary journey.

Eventually, the apostle would write to the little group of Christians there and describe their role in Philippi in terms they could appreciate:

“Our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Phil. 3:20).

The veterans must have nodded their heads at those words, because they had come to Philippi for a similar purpose.

Paul was calling them to a still-higher end, to represent their real homeland, heaven itself.

As one translator rendered Philippians 3:20, “We are a colony of heaven.”

As Israel drew near the promised land, Moses reminded them that their real purpose in that land was to serve as representatives of their God.

They could, by their behavior and devotion, appeal to the hearts of their neighbors; or, by their spiritual laxity and disobedience, they could abandon such a noble purpose and be drawn into useless and destructive pursuits.

Christian believers are to form, in effect, a little colony of heaven where they live.

By their godly conduct, they are to disarm critics and win friends and new citizens for their true homeland.

That process starts with the realization of the immense privileges and standing that they possess at the moment of their conversion.

Deuteronomy 4

Chapter 4 introduces Moses’ rehearsal of the law.

Here he dealt particularly with the worship of the one true God and with the penalties that would follow any turning to idolatry.

What is meant by adding to or subtracting from God’s commands?

These laws were the word of God, and they were complete.

How could any human being, with limited wisdom and knowledge, edit God’s perfect laws?

To add to the laws would make them a burden; to subtract from them would make them incomplete.

Thus, the laws were to remain unchanged.

To presume to make changes to them is to assume a position of authority over the God who gave them (Matthew 5:17-19; 15:3-9; Revelation 22:18-19).

The religious leaders at the time of Christ did exactly this; they elevated their own laws to the same level as God’s.

Jesus rebuked them for this (see Matthew 23:1-4).

Do the laws God gave to the Israelites still apply to Christians today?

God’s laws were designed to guide all people to live lives that are healthy, good, and devoted to God.

The purpose of the laws was to point out sin (or potential sin) and show the proper way to deal with it.

The Ten Commandments, the heart of God’s law, are just as applicable today as they were 3,000 years ago because they guide us to live in ways that demonstrate love and respect for God and for the people around us.

They are a perfect expression of who God is and how He wants people to live.

But God gave other laws besides the Ten Commandments.

Are those just as important?

God never issued a law that didn’t have a purpose. However, many of the laws we read in the Pentateuch (the five books of Moses) were directed specifically to people of this particular time and culture.

Although a specific law may not apply to us, the timeless truth or principle behind the law does.

For example, Christians do not practice animal sacrifice in worship, but the principles behind the sacrifices—forgiveness for sin and thankfulness to God—are still important for Christians today.

The sacrifices pointed to the ultimate sacrifice made for us by Jesus Christ.

The New Testament says that with the death and resurrection of Jesus the Old Testament laws were fulfilled.

This means that while the Old Testament laws help us recognize our sins and turn from them, it is Jesus Christ who takes our sins away.

He is now our primary example to follow because He alone perfectly obeyed the law and modeled its true intent.

It was our sins that separated us from God.

God is morally perfect, He hates sin and cannot accept those who are tainted by it.

Moses’ sin kept him from entering the Promised Land, and no sacrifice could remove that judgment.

Sin has kept us from entering God’s presence, but Jesus Christ has paid the penalty for our sin and removed God’s judgment forever by His death.

Moses, long after His earthly death, appeared with Jesus and Elijah on the mountain where Jesus was transfigured (Mark 9:2-4), so it’s clear that he was not banned from God’s presence.

To the contrary, Moses was welcomed into God’s presence for eternity because of his great love for God and Jesus’ payment for the penalty of his sin.

Trusting in Jesus Christ will save you from God’s anger and judgment and allow you to begin a personal, loving relationship with Him for eternity.

God is a “devouring fire.”

And jealousy is a demand for someone else’s exclusive affection or loyalty.

Some jealousy is bad. For a person to get upset when his or her spouse casually talks to someone of the opposite sex is usually a sign of excessive jealousy, which can be destructive to a relationship.

But other jealousy is good. A married person should expect their spouse to be faithful only to him or her.

Usually we use the word jealousy only for the bad reaction.

But God’s kind of jealousy is appropriate and good. He is defending His Word and guarding His high honor.

He makes a strong, exclusive demand on us:

We must treat only the Lord—and no one else in all the universe—as God.

Do you want to know God?

God promised the Israelites that they would find Him when they searched for Him with ALL their hearts and souls.

God is knowable and wants to be known—but we have to want to know Him.

Acts of service and worship must be accompanied by sincere love from the heart.

As Hebrews 11:6 says, “Anyone who wants to come to Him must believe that God exists and that He rewards those who sincerely seek Him.”

Those who pursue a relationship with God will most certainly gain one.

How tempted we are to look everywhere else but to God for our guidance and leadership!

We trust medical doctors, financial advisers, websites, and friends on social media, but do we trust God?

Get God’s advice first, and recognize His authority over every dimension of life (4:39-40).

Idolatry makes anything but God the highest priority in life.

Do you value your relationship with God more than anything else?

Or have you allowed money, leisure, friendships—or anything else—to rule your life?

Smash the idols in your life and make a fresh commitment to put God first.

He alone is worthy of this position! He alone died for you.

Jesus gave us prophecies regarding the last days, in order to prepare us so that we would not worry; but that we would know that when we see all these things come to pass that He is near even at the door.

However, one cannot be truly prepared to experience the end of days without knowing the Ancient of Days (Daniel 7:9).

This means placing one’s trust in God, believing in the resurrection of His Son, and confessing Jesus as Lord (Romans 10:9-13).

Even in the face of calamity and persecution, the believer has hope in the coming of Christ in His glory and spending an eternity with Him in a way that the non-believer does not.

In order to be free from the power of sin and death, be made in the newness of life, and hopeful of the resurrection to come, we must first take Jesus at His Word:

“Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away” (Matt. 24:35).

Selah (let us pause and calmly think about these things)

Monday, May 30
Worthy Brief


“When you are in distress, and all these things come upon you in the latter days, when you turn to the Lord your God and obey His voice (for the Lord your God is a merciful God), He will not forsake you nor destroy you, nor forget the covenant of your fathers which He swore to them.”
— Deuteronomy 4:30-31

We’re hearing a lot of talk lately, on the internet and elsewhere, about the “End of Days”.

The Hebrew phrase, “acharit hayamim”, often translated, “latter days” refers to the “end of days, or “last days”, mentioned in both the Old and New Testaments, and refers to a critical period late in human history which is characterized by a great “pandemic” crisis and an ensuing panoramic recovery.

First used in Deuteronomy 4:30, quoted above, “acharit hayamim” entails a prophecy of “tribulation” which eventuates in God’s people turning back to seek Him with all their hearts, bringing about their restoration.

This theme of “tribulation” and “restoration” may be the most significant in all of scripture.

The above passage, written to the people of Israel, prophetically encompasses their entire history and eventual recovery, salvation, and Kingdom restoration.

This theme of “tribulation” and “restoration” may be the most significant in all of scripture.

The above passage, written to the people of Israel, prophetically encompasses their entire history and eventual recovery, salvation, and Kingdom restoration.

At the present moment, we may well be focused on the “tribulation” part of “acharit hayamim”.

Yeshua (Jesus) prophesied specifically that famines, pestilences, and earthquakes would precede His coming, and were but the “beginnings of sorrows” [Matthew 24].

At this very moment many of us may be trembling at these developments and the “doom and gloom” which they portend…yet might we miss the significant fact that both testaments predicted exactly what we are seeing?

The sovereignty, omniscience, and revelation of the Creator have been downloaded to humanity through the Scriptures, clearly pointing to His existence and redemptive purpose.

There lies our opportunity and blessing. Yeshua, who knows all things from the beginning to the end, revealed all the relevant details of the “acharit hayamim” (Last Days).

Why?… so that we might quake in terror as they begin to transpire?

But He says, “…So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near—at the doors!” [Matthew 24:33]…the promise of His return!

That is where our focus must remain.

Our God will restore all things, both for Israel and for us according to the covenants He has made….when He returns!

Restoration is the unequivocal promise of Heaven.

The “tribulation”, “beginning of sorrows”, famine, pestilence, earthquakes, WHATEVER!…. All these are signs, portents, and even promises, that our God is real, true, and utterly faithful, and we must declare, encourage, and stand in the knowledge of Him.

The troubles themselves are a powerful testimony of the Messiah’s identity, His redemption, and His promises.

So, if the days are evil, make the most of the time! These are days of tremendous opportunity.

Remember His promise of restoration!

Your family in the Lord with much agape love,

George, Baht Rivka, Elianna & Obadiah
Baltimore, Maryland

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The importance of our taking up our cross each day…

Taking up our cross daily means that we acknowledge God as the Author and Creator of each one of our lives; it means that we are faithful and that we have no other gods before Him…

The Bible tells us that ONLY God is the Source and Creator of ALL things in Heaven and Earth…

Colossians 1:16

“For in Him (Jesus) ALL things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through Him and for Him.”

God created a beautiful lush world and a garden called Eden, and eventually Man started worshipping the creation rather than the Creator.

Romans 1:18-23
The Message

Ignoring God Leads to a Downward Spiral

18-23 But God’s angry displeasure erupts as acts of human mistrust and wrongdoing and lying accumulate, as people try to put a shroud over truth.

But the basic reality of God is plain enough. Open your eyes and there it is!

By taking a long and thoughtful look at what God has created, people have always been able to see what their eyes as such can’t see: eternal power, for instance, and the mystery of his divine being.

So nobody has a good excuse.

What happened was this: People knew God perfectly well, but when they didn’t treat him like God, refusing to worship him, they trivialized themselves into silliness and confusion so that there was neither sense nor direction left in their lives.

They pretended to know it all, but were illiterate regarding life.

They traded the glory of God who holds the whole world in his hands for cheap figurines you can buy at any roadside stand.

Hear what Jeremiah had to say on the subject:

Jeremiah 10:11-16

He (God) has made the earth by His power,
He has established the world by His wisdom,

And has stretched out the heavens at His discretion.

When He utters His voice,
There is a multitude of waters in the heavens:

“And He causes the vapors to ascend from the ends of the earth.

He makes lightning for the rain,
He brings the wind out of His treasuries.”

Everyone is dull-hearted, without knowledge;

Every metalsmith is put to shame by an image;

For his molded image is falsehood,
And there is no breath in them.

They are futile, a work of errors;

In the time of their punishment they shall perish.

The Portion of Jacob is not like them,
For He is the Maker of all things,

And Israel is the tribe of His inheritance;
The LORD of hosts is His name.

So who was Jeremiah and what was his assignment to the House of Judah:

As we look at Jeremiah chapter 10, God starts out by warning Israel not to learn the ways, customs and religious practices of the Gentile nations.

The fact is most people would like to know the future.

Decisions would be easier, failures would be avoided, and successes would be assured.

The people of Judah wanted to know the future, too, and they tried to discern it through reading “their future in the stars.”

Jeremiah’s response still applies today:

“God made the earth and the heavens, including the stars that people consult and worship” (10:12).

No one will discover the future in made-up charts of God’s stars.

But God, who promises to guide you, knows your future and will be with you all the way.

He may not reveal your future to you, but He will walk with you as the future unfolds.

Don’t trust the stars; trust the One who made the stars.

Those who put their trust in a chunk of wood, even if it is carved well and looks beautiful, are foolish.

The simplest person who worships God is wiser than the wisest person who worships a worthless substitute, because this simple person has discerned who God really is.

In what or whom do you place your trust?

Scripture and creation itself both broadcasts these attributes of God, in surround-sound and vivid color, for all the world to stand up and take notice.

God is “from everlasting” (Psalm 93:2) and the “everlasting King” (Jeremiah 10:10), “incorruptible” (Romans 1:23), “who alone has immortality” (1 Timothy 6:16).

The heavens and the earth will perish, “but You [O God] are the same, and Your years will have no end” (Psalm 102:27).

You will more quickly measure the salt of the ocean than measure the existence of God because “His years cannot be counted” (Job 36:26 NLT).

“Trace the tree back to a seed. Trace the dress back to a factory.

Trace the baby back to a mommy.

Trace God back to . . . to . . . to . . . No one.

Not even God made God.

“From eternity to eternity ‘I AM that I AM’ is God” (Isaiah 43:13).

God alone is from all eternity. His greatness is unfathomable.

Remember who you ultimately live and work for—the King who will reign forever.

No one is like Him!”

(From It’s Not About Me by Max Lucado)

We are instructed in the Bible to have no Idols in our life, and whereas today we may not bow down to wooden statues, but an idol is anything that you place of more importance in your life, than God.

You can make an idol of anything, even your family and your children.

Part of Jeremiah’s assignment was to pronounce judgment on the House of Judah, and in the process of fulfilling his assignment he became known as the “weeping prophet.”

Why was that?

Jeremiah was chosen by God before birth to be a prophet to the nation of Judah (Jeremiah 1:4–50).

He spoke the words of the Lord during the reigns of Kings Josiah (2 Chronicles 36:1), Jehoiakim (2 Chronicles 36:5), and Zedekiah (2 Kings 24:18–19).

Jeremiah grieved over the wickedness of his people and the impending judgment the nation’s sins had provoked.

Jeremiah’s warnings went mostly unheeded, and he responded to Judah’s rebellion with tears of mourning (Jeremiah 13:17).

It is because of these things that Jeremiah has been dubbed “the weeping prophet” because of the often gloomy nature of his message and the grief he expressed for his people.

Jeremiah the weeping prophet stood alone declaring God’s words while his beloved nation continued to reject the path of life.

That ongoing rejection and personal isolation cost him greatly, as many in ministry understand.

Those who heed God’s call on their lives may suffer many abuses from an ungodly world.

A. W. Tozer wrote,
“Always remember: you cannot carry a cross in company. Though a man were surrounded by a vast crowd, his cross is his alone and his carrying of it marks him as a man apart”

Jeremiah’s cross to bear was obedience to his role as Judah’s prophet, and he bore it with courage as the weeping prophet.

However the record of scripture shows that the Lord never leaves His people hopeless.

In judgment there is mercy. Even in our rebellion, God offers an open door (Revelation 3:8).

There is a season for everything, including weeping (Ecclesiastes 3:1–8).

Though we may weep now, a day will come for God’s people when He will “wipe away every tear from their eyes” (Revelation 7:17; cf. 21:4).

Although Jeremiah was a weeping prophet during his faithful ministry on earth, he is now comforted for eternity.

He has discovered, as we will, too, that “weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning” (Psalm 30:5).

Sunday, May 29
Inspiration Ministries


“LORD, I know that people’s lives are not their own; it is not for them to direct their steps. Discipline me, LORD, but only in due measure – not in your anger, or you will reduce me to nothing.”
— Jeremiah 10:23-24

To people around him, Jeremiah seemed confident. But his writings reveal that he was very human and often insecure.

What was different?

God called him, and he was willing to obey Him even when he did not understand the messages God asked him to deliver.

Jeremiah had learned that God had a plan for his life, established before he was born.

His interests might have taken him in other directions, but he learned to follow God.

Jeremiah knew that many people did not have this level of trust. But God had shown him that He was the master Potter.

He alone understands our nature and knows our potential and purpose.

He alone knows the best way to shape our lives (Jeremiah 18:1-6).

Think about the opinions you hear, the feelings of family members and friends, opinions expressed through social media, biases that subtly shape TV programs and films, the promises of politicians, and answers proposed by entertainers and experts.

In the face of so many options, is it possible that there is only one truth? Is it possible to know the right way?

The Bible tells us that there is only one right way, one truth, one path to life – to follow Jesus and make Him our Lord (John 14:6). And there is only one way to find fulfillment and direction – to trust completely in God. Let Him direct your life!

Father, I surrender my life to You. Direct my path. Lead and guide me. Use me to impact lives for Your Kingdom. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Today’s Bible Reading
Jeremiah 10

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There’s only one way to Life Eternal and that’s through Jesus Christ…

Jesus is the only way for us to have our sins forgiven and be reconciled back into God’s family…

Give me Jesus

Are you dedicated to a religion or to the Kingdom of God?


“God’s Law, or his Word, is meant to penetrate the secret chambers of the heart, not merely be displayed externally like words chiseled in stone or written on parchment.”
— R. C. Sproul

On the way to betrayal and death in Jerusalem, Jesus met people in need physically and those in need spiritually.

He kept trying to show them that their current religious practices and attitudes could not help them.

They must repent or perish, produce fruit or be cut down, value humans more than traditions, laws, and animals, make every effort to enter the Kingdom of God, rather than keeping people out of it; and they must obey God, rather than protecting their own life and living for self.

If we are dedicated to God’s mission, then it will show in our love for people, not in our protection of some religious system.

Mark 7:13

Jesus speaking: “…you have nullified the word of God by the tradition you have handed down. And you do so in many such matters.”

Jesus said that we, “…must be born-again or we can’t even see the Kingdom of Heaven” (John 3:3).

Our dedication to God’s mission begins with our repentance (Grk: metánoia – changing the way we think).

The word repent means to change one’s will, mind, or purpose for the better; and as an act of God’s will and the power of the Holy Spirit, we then turn back to God and seek His will and destiny for our lives (Jer 29:11).

The mere feeling of regret is not repentance, but it can lead to repentance.

When we repent, we are turning back to God, turning away from sin, and are changing our actions to conform to God’s will and purpose for our life.

The fact that we fail to do this, going forth in this world doing only what seems right in our eyes, is exactly what the nature of sin is all about.

To be born-again requires a whole new paradigm shift in our way of thinking, for all of us; where after having encountered the love and forgiveness of Jesus, having obeyed the gospel message by faith, and the resurrection power of the Holy Spirit, your life is never the same again!

The Bible is very clear that the only time we have to receive God’s grace; have our sins forgiven; and be reconciled back into God’s family, is sometime between the date of our birth and prior to the time of our departure from this life.

Tomorrow is guaranteed to no man, hense this opportunity to be reconciled back into God’s family gets more narrow with the passing of each day.

Jesus in Matthew 7:13-14 tells us to,

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

Once you have made that transition from this life, without Jesus, having ignored Him or rejected Him all your life, then that decision will be set in stone for all eternity.

This is the message that Jesus is giving in the following verses:

Luke 13:1-5, 22-30
The Message

Repent or Perish
13 1-5 About that time some people came up and told Him (Jesus) about the Galileans Pilate had killed while they were at worship, mixing their blood with the blood of the sacrifices on the altar.

Jesus responded, “Do you think those murdered Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans?

Not at all. Unless you turn to God, you, too, will die.

And those eighteen in Jerusalem the other day, the ones crushed and killed when the Tower of Siloam collapsed and fell on them, do you think they were worse citizens than all other Jerusalemites?

Not at all. Unless you turn to God, you, too, will die.”…

The Narrow Way
13:22 He went on teaching from town to village, village to town, but keeping on a steady course toward Jerusalem.

23-25 A bystander said, “Master, will only a few be saved?”

He said, “Whether few or many is none of your business.

Put your mind on your life with God.

The way to life—to God!—is vigorous and requires your total attention.

A lot of you are going to assume that you’ll sit down to God’s salvation banquet just because you’ve been hanging around the neighborhood all your lives.

Well, one day you’re going to be banging on the door, wanting to get in, but you’ll find the door locked and the Master saying, ‘Sorry, you’re not on my guest list.’

26-27 “You’ll protest, ‘But we’ve known you all our lives!’ only to be interrupted with his abrupt, ‘Your kind of knowing can hardly be called knowing.

You don’t know the first thing about me.

28-30 “That’s when you’ll find yourselves out in the cold, strangers to grace. You’ll watch Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and all the prophets march into God’s kingdom.

You’ll watch outsiders stream in from east, west, north, and south and sit down at the table of God’s kingdom.

And all the time you’ll be outside looking in—and wondering what happened.

This is the Great Reversal: the last in line put at the head of the line, and the so-called first ending up last.”

May I get specific for a moment? May I talk about sin?

Dare I remind you and me that our past is laced with outbursts of anger, stained with nights of godless passion, and spotted with undiluted greed?

Suppose your past was made public?

Suppose you were to stand on a stage while a film of every secret and selfish second was projected on the screen behind you?

Would you not crawl beneath the rug?

Would you not scream for the heavens to have mercy?

And would you not feel just a fraction . . . just a fraction of what Christ felt on the Cross?

The icy displeasure of a sin-hating God? . . . Christ carried all our sins in his body . . . See Christ on the Cross?

That’s a gossiper hanging there. See Jesus?

Embezzler. Liar. Bigot. See the crucified carpenter?

He’s a wife beater. Porn addict and murderer.

See Bethlehem’s boy? Call Him by His other names—Adolf Hitler, Osama bin Laden, and Jeffrey Dahmer. Hold it, Max. Don’t you lump Christ with those evildoers.

Don’t you place His name in the same sentence with theirs!

I didn’t. He did.

Indeed He did more. More than place His name in the same sentence, He placed Himself in their place. And yours.

With hands nailed open, He invited God, “Treat Me as you would treat them!”

And God did.

In an act that broke the heart of the Father, yet honored the holiness of heaven, sinpurging judgment flowed over the sinless Son of the ages.

And heaven gave earth her finest gift.

The Lamb of God who took away the sin of the world.
(From Next Door Savior by Max Lucado)

Selah (let us pause and calmly think about these things)

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What to do when push comes to shove in your life…

So often in life we find ourselves struggling against adversity and tribulation, which like close quarter wrestling drains us of all our strength…


“Dear God, be good to me; Thy sea is so wide, And my boat is so small.”
— Breton Fisherman’s Prayer

Often components of our life can feel like a wide sea: overwhelming, scary, hard to navigate, with storms that might arise any moment?

Be it a health issue for you or someone you love; a relationship challenge; a job or financial issue, or whatever… God is still our ever present help in our time of need! (Ps 139:1).

I love the metaphor here, acknowledging that we often do feel that our boat in the wide sea is just too small for safety.

We need God’s help because on our own, some components of life are just too overwhelming.

We need a sense of God’s arms embracing us and holding us up — undergirding us in our time of need, because some aspects of life are just too scary.

We need God’s guidance because the sea looks the same in every direction, and we desperately need God’s direction.

One thing we can learn from the Book of Job, regarding God’s covenant children, is that whereas bad things may happen from time to time, it is Satan not God who is behind the storms in our life.

Whereas we all have those moments where we feel overwhelmed; and it’s at times like this when we need to remember that the words “thy sea” implies that the big, overwhelming and challenging aspects of our lives, are always ultimately in God’s hands, and so when push comes to shove in our life we need to trust in Him.

This is a lesson that Jacob had to learn in his struggles.

God says,

“Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh. Is anything too difficult for Me? (Jer 32:27).

Genesis 32
Esau Comes to Meet Jacob

What do you really need from God right now? What blessing do you want from him? How badly do you want it?

There are times when God only releases His blessings on us after a season of prolonged and even painful wrestling with Him.

In Genesis 32, Jacob is on his way back home to Canaan with his small tribe of wives and children after a twenty year sojourn in Paddan-aram.

And he is scared to death, because his estranged brother, Esau, is coming to meet him — with four hundred men (Genesis 32:6).

This is no welcome party; it’s an army.

So after splitting up his household into two camps to try and avoid complete annihilation, Jacob, understandably suffering insomnia, intends to spend the night alone — no doubt in desperate prayer.

But a strange man who shows up and wrestles Jacob till daybreak rudely interrupts his plans.

Here’s the backstory:

To know Jacob’s story is to know his life was one of never-ending struggles.

Though God promised Jacob that through him would come not only a great nation, but a whole company of nations, and all the same Jacob was a man full of fears and anxieties.

At this pivotal point in his life, Jacob was about to meet his brother, Esau, who had vowed to kill him.

All Jacob’s struggles and fears were about to be realized; his back was against the wall and this was one situation that he couldn’t wiggle his way out of, not without God’s help.

Sick of his father-in-law’s treatment, Jacob had fled Laban, only to encounter his embittered brother, Esau.

Anxious for his very life, Jacob concocted a bribe and sent a caravan of gifts along with his women and children across the River Jabbok in hopes of pacifying his brother.

Now physically exhausted, alone in the desert wilderness, facing sure death, he was divested of all his worldly possessions.

In fact, he was powerless to control his fate. He collapsed into a deep sleep on the banks of the Jabbok River.

With his father-in-law behind him and Esau before him, he was too spent to struggle any longer.

But only then did his real struggle begin.

Fleeing his family history had been bad enough; wrestling with God Himself was a different matter altogether.

That night an Angelic Stranger visited Jacob.

They wrestled throughout the night until daybreak, at which point the Stranger crippled Jacob with a blow to his hip that disabled him with a limp for the rest of his life.

It was then that Jacob realized what had happened:

“I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared” (Genesis 32:30).

In the process, Jacob the deceiver/ supplanter received a new name, “Israel,” which means:

“After having gained power with God, he will rule as God” (Strong’s h3478. יִשְׂרָאֵל iyśrâ’êl).

However, what is most important occurred at the conclusion of that struggle.

We read that God “blessed him there” (Genesis 32:29).

In the end, Jacob does what we all must do. He confronts his fears, his failures, his weaknesses, his sins, all the things that are hurting him . . . and He faces God.

Jacob wrestled with God all night. It was an exhausting struggle that left him crippled.

It was only after he came to grips with God and ceased his struggling, realizing that he could not go on without Him, that he received God’s blessing (Genesis 32:29).

What we learn from this remarkable incident in the life of Jacob is that our lives are never meant to be easy.

This is especially true when we take it upon ourselves to wrestle with God and His will for our lives.

As God’s Covenant Children, we are not made for safe harbors, but we need to cast our faith out into the deep, because that’s where Jesus is.

We also learn that as Christians, despite our trials and tribulations, our strivings in this life are never devoid of God’s presence, and His blessing inevitably follows the struggle (Rom 8:28), which can sometimes be messy and chaotic.

Real growth experiences ALWAYS involves struggling and pain — no pain no gain — and even the Bible says of Jesus that He learned obedience through the things He suffered (Heb 5:8).

Jacob’s wrestling with God at the Jabbok that dark night reminds us of this truth: though we may fight God and His will for us, in truth, God is so very good.

As believers in Christ, we may well struggle with Him through the loneliness and darkness of night, but by daybreak His blessing will come.

Selah (let us pause and calmly think about these things)

Sat, May 28

(Turn to these Bible verses when you’re wrestling with God.)
By Lesli White

What is your relationship like with God?

If it’s broken, how do you repair it?

This is a question many of us ask ourselves regularly not only when we’re lost, but also when we are saved.

Feeling lost or struggling on your faith journey isn’t something to feel bad about, as we have all lost our way, even when saved.

Even when we’re wrestling with God, He wants us to remain faithful and recognize that everything happens for a reason and is a part of His Will.

Sometimes difficulties and crisis are used by the Lord to bring us closer and to develop intimacy with him.

The more you grow in Christ, the less questions you will have and the more you will trust in God.

This won’t happen overnight. It’s an everyday process.

One of the first things you can do when you’re wrestling with God is turn to the power of Scripture.

Here are seven Bible verses for when you’re wrestling with God.


Proverbs 3:5-6 says,

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.

In all your ways acknowledge Him, and he will make straight your paths.”

When you’re struggling with God, there is often great confusion about spiritual direction.

One of the Enemy’s greatest desires is to get a believer out of destiny and separated from God.

This all begins by confusing you. The knowledge of God’s Will and purpose for your life is superior to the world’s false and speculative knowledge and wisdom.

This is the most important fact that every Christian must get hold of.

There is a dangerous chain reaction that is taking place in the thinking today of many Christians.

The ultimate cause of most problems in the Christian life is the failure to have knowledge of God’s Will.

The reason we are so lost is because we neglect His ordained meanings of knowing His Will.

This happens because we believe that something else is superior to God’s ordained way when the truth is, nothing is superior to God’s ordained way.


When you’re wrestling with God, it’s easy to become extremely frustrated with Him.

During these periods, the Enemy uses a variety of circumstances to oppress the mind and bring great frustration.

A person who is wrestling with God finds themselves on edge and anxious.

Getting over your anger with Him is really about straightening out what you expect from Him.

If we think of the Lord as our personal genie and believe that He will grant everything on our wish list, you’ll be mad at Him every time things go wrong.

But if we know that He is our Father in heaven and that He will supply our every need according to His Will, we will not be disappointed.

Philippians 4:19 says,

“And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.”

Having faith in Jesus is not insurance against hardships, but it is a way to endure.

PSALM 46:1

One of the biggest challenges we face on our spiritual journey is completely trusting God’s Will, especially when our faith is being tested.

A huge sign that you’re wrestling with God is when you begin to question your faith.

This is often a result of our disappointment in our lives based on our experiences and expectations.

While we can’t avoid disappointment, we are told through Scripture to trust in Jesus and His promises for us.

Psalm 46:1 says,
“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.”

If you are dealing with a disappointment right now, remember that you can rely on Jesus.

When we recognize God’s goodness, even in our daily struggles and disappointments, then we can really know God.


Beginning to question God is often a sign that we desperately want to know the answers to our circumstances in life.

It also may be a sign that we truly want to know who our Lord is so that we can see the light in the midst of our confusion.

However, if it is coming from a prideful heart that says ‘I know better than God’ then we are wrong to question.

If it is because we are trying to stall our obedience to the Lord, it is wrong to question.

If we question God’s authority, then that too is incorrect behavior on our end.

Joshua 1:9 says,
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

There is nothing we need to be discouraged by when we have full faith in God.


When you’re wrestling with God, it will have not only an impact on your spiritual well-being, but also on your physical well-being.

You may feel unusually sluggish and tired.

While this can be a result of natural problems, lack of sleep or health problems, it can also be a result of prolonged spiritual battles and separation from Jesus.

You may also be suffering from spiritual fatigue. This means that your soul is exhausted, not just your body.

It is a sign that we have become separated not only from Jesus, but also from ourselves somewhere along the way.

At these points, we need to reconnect. Isaiah 55:6 says,

“Seek the Lord while He may be found; call upon Him while He is near.”

We are reminded that God is the source that we can always turn to, no matter what trouble we face.


When you find yourself in a broken relationship with God, it’s easy to be pulled back towards negative cycles that you broke free from.

During these periods, you are extremely vulnerable to spiritual attack as the Enemy wants to enslave you once again in the same old bondages.

If he can discourage you enough that you give into sin that you were free from, you are more likely to spiral down into deeper defeat.

The only way to truly break free from these bondages is to first admit that you have a problem; that you’re in bondage, and then admit that it is your choice to be in bondage, just as it is your choice to be free.

Colossians 1:13 says,
“He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son.”

In this, we know that God has dominion over the enemy and all things are possible through Him.


Have you ever found yourself wishing that you could be more zealous or passionate for God?

You might be unsatisfied with your lack of growth in your faith.

Lacking spiritual passion is a sign that you’re wrestling with God.

When you’re struggling with Him, it’s easy for the Enemy to swoop in and steal your tenacity for things of God.

During these periods, our prayer life seems stalled. Our commitment is tested and it can feel like we can’t push through.

When we’re separated from God, you feel as though you are just going through the motions as opposed to feeling connected to Jesus.

But the Bible serves us as a great reminder.

First Corinthians 10:13 says,
“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”

There’s nothing we can’t conquer with God on our side.

If you’re wrestling with God, it’s important to look not only outward, but also inward.

What does personal relationship look like with God?

Knowing what that relationship looks like is key to growing with God and overcoming any brokenness with Him.

Choosing a relationship with God starts in your heart. You will face discouragement, setbacks and disappointments, but when you choose God, there’s nothing you can’t get through.

Come join the Adventure!

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Stay your course by keeping your focus on God and His Word…

Paul warned that in the Last Days there would be perilous times and perilous men…

2 Timothy 3
The Message

Difficult Times Ahead
3 1-5 Don’t be naive. There are difficult times ahead. As the end approaches, people are going to be self-absorbed, money-hungry, self-promoting, stuck-up, profane, contemptuous of parents, crude, coarse, dog-eat-dog, unbending, slanderers, impulsively wild, savage, cynical, treacherous, ruthless, bloated windbags, addicted to lust, and allergic to God.

They’ll make a show of religion, but behind the scenes they’re animals.

Stay clear of these people.

6-9 These are the kind of people who smooth-talk themselves into the homes of unstable and needy women and take advantage of them; women who, depressed by their sinfulness, take up with every new religious fad that calls itself “truth.”

They get exploited every time and never really learn.

These men are like those old Egyptian frauds Jannes and Jambres, who challenged Moses.

They were rejects from the faith, twisted in their thinking, defying truth itself. But nothing will come of these latest impostors.

Everyone will see through them, just as people saw through that Egyptian hoax.

Keep the Message Alive
10-13 You’ve been a good apprentice to me, a part of my teaching, my manner of life, direction, faith, steadiness, love, patience, troubles, sufferings—suffering along with me in all the grief that I had to put up with in Antioch, Iconium, and Lystra.

And you also well know that God rescued me!

Anyone who wants to live all out for Christ is in for a lot of trouble; there’s no getting around it.

Unscrupulous con men will continue to exploit the faith. They’re as deceived as the people they lead astray. As long as they are out there, things can only get worse.

14-17 But don’t let it faze you. Stick with what you learned and believed, sure of the integrity of your teachers—why, you took in the sacred Scriptures with your mother’s milk!

There’s nothing like the written Word of God for showing you the way to salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.

Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another—showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God’s way.

Through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks God has for us.

Paul warned that godlessness and evil schemes would increase as the end of history approached, and how people would follow false teachers who would tell them what they wanted to hear.

And Paul’s words warned and encouraged Timothy to teach the Scriptures soundly —

Paul began his teaching in chapter 3 by describing the moral breakdown that would occur in the last days.

He gave a very dark portrait of man’s spiritual and social decline.

The Christian, however, must persevere in living by faith, adhering to those characteristics which identify him as belonging to God.

Persecutions will come, but those committed to Jesus Christ must prevail in belief.

In verse 14, we learn all the church was being besieged by false teachers and of the inevitable pressures of a growing ministry,

Timothy could easily have abandoned his faith or modified his doctrine.

Once again Paul counsels Timothy to look to his past and to hold to the basic teachings about Jesus that are eternally true.

Like Timothy, we are surrounded by false teachings today, but we must not allow society to distort or crowd out God’s eternal truth.

Spend time every day reflecting on the foundation of your Christian faith found in God’s Word, which contains the great truths that build up your life.

Timothy was one of the first second-generation Christians —

He became a Christian not because an evangelist preached a powerful sermon but because his mother and grandmother had taught him the holy Scriptures when he was a small child (1:5).

A parent or grandparent’s primary mission field starts with the children in their family.

At home and in church, we have both an opportunity and a responsibility to teach children about Jesus.

Jesus wanted little children to come to him (Matthew 19:13-15).

Like Timothy’s mother and grandmother, Eunice and Lois, share your faith with your children or grandchildren.

If you don’t have children of your own, support the mentoring and discipling of children in your congregation.

For Timothy, the holy Scriptures were the books of the Old Testament.

The Old Testament consistently, amazingly, and prophetically points to Jesus Christ, and faith in Christ completes the whole message of the Bible.

The whole Bible, God’s inspired Word, should be our standard for testing everything else that claims to be true.

Because Scripture is all God breathed and trustworthy, we should read it and apply it to our lives.

The Bible safeguards us against false teaching and guides us in how we should live.

It remains our only source of knowledge about how we can be saved.

God wants to show you truth and equip you to live for Him.

How much time do you spend in God’s Word?

Develop the discipline of reading the Bible regularly to discover God’s truth and to become confident in your life and faith.

Follow a plan for reading the whole Bible through once a year, and don’t limit your study to just the familiar passages.

The entire Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, is our “Operations Manual for Life,” so we must immerse ourselves in the entire Council of God’s Word so we can get the full benefit.

“Questions can make hermits out of us, driving us into hiding. Yet the cave has no answers.

Christ distributes courage through community; He dissipates doubts through fellowship. He never deposits all knowledge in one person but distributes pieces of the jigsaw puzzle to many.

When you interlock your understanding with mine, and we share our discoveries…

When we mix, mingle, confess, and pray, Christ speaks.

The adhesiveness of the disciples instructs us.

They stuck together. Even with ransacked hopes, they clustered in conversant community.

“They talked together of all these things which had happened” (Luke 24:14).

Isn’t this a picture of the church—sharing notes, exchanging ideas, mulling over possibilities, lifting spirits?

And as they did, Jesus showed up to teach them, proving “where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20).

And when He speaks, He shares His story.

God’s go-to therapy for doubters is His own Word.

“Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17).

So listen to it.
(From Fearless by Max Lucado)

False religious teachers today still deceive people with twisted versions of “truth” that hurt people and sidetrack lives.

Keep such people away from your family and church.

You will find strength only in the TRUE GOSPEL, and not in phony substitutes.

Wednesday, May 25
Pursuit of His Presence

by Gloria Copeland

“Continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them.”
— 2 Tim. 3:14

Jesus warned us that the distractions of this age, the deceitfulness of riches and the lusts of other things can creep in and choke the Word and make it fruitless (Mark 4:19).

Right next to that verse in my Bible, I’ve written the letters S-C-U-D. They stand for the phrase, “Satan Continuously Uses Distractions.”

He’s always sending those SCUD missiles at you to discourage you and draw you off course.

Hey, he’ll whisper, have you noticed you don’t have any money? Have you noticed your body is in pain? Have you heard all the ugly things people are saying about you?

How do you fight distractions like that?

Just “continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them.”

I’ll tell you the truth: It’s not the great revelation you haven’t had yet that causes you defeat.

It’s failing to do what you already know. So whenever you reach a hard place, continue to do what you know and you’ll make it through in victory.

You have everything it takes to be a winner.

You have everything you need to be a part of the glorious, victorious end-time army of God.

Get aggressive. Press in. Lay hold of the kingdom of God with all the force you can muster.

That’s the price you pay to win this race. But one thing is sure, you not only have the present victory, but also the eternal victory you gain will be worth it all.

Satan won’t ever stop in his relentless efforts to distract you. But you have the power to overcome.

You have the power and the knowledge to continue to do what God has already told you to do.

It’s that simple. Continuing will put you over. Don’t quit believing and acting on God’s Word.

You have what it takes to destroy those incoming SCUDS!

Speak the Word:

“But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them.”
(2 Tim. 3:13-14)

For Further Study: Mark 4:14-20

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I will lift up my eyes from whence cometh my help…

David Cried Out: “Lord Deliver Me From Evil men”…

Psalm 140
A desperate cry for justice

At times like this David looked to God for justice:

There is almost nothing worse than being falsely accused of a crime or indiscretion.

Not only is it difficult to prove your innocence, but your name is tarnished.

This is the kind of situation David faced.

He was confronted by people who used their cunning, intelligence, and social connections to try to bring him down (vv. 1–2).

Their attacks against him came in the form of lies, “the poison of vipers is on their lips” (v. 3). Like skillful hunters, they laid traps and snares to catch him (v. 5).

These sort of lessons in life, for the born-again believer, shows us that our trials and tribulations come not to defeat us, but rather they cause us to grow stronger in Christ!

The storms of life will either make us or break us.

They will either mold us into the person God wants us to be, or they cause us to lose heart and crumble.

Fiery trials either drive the believer closer to God, or they drive him farther away.

But no one ever remains the same after experiencing a severe distress.

Affliction either softens the believer or sours him.

It either makes him better or makes him bitter.

This is the powerful effect of trials upon our spiritual lives.

All believers go through storms, but none pass through them unchanged.

David seemed to live most of his days submerged in the fiery trials of life.

In Psalm 140 we find David’s prayer for deliverance from the plots and profanities of impious men.

This is no small trial David faces. Yet, in the midst of all his trouble, this affliction actually drives him closer to God.

In this painful ordeal David calls upon God with a sense of great urgency, and God hears him.

We should ask God to free us not only from evil people, but also from the “evil one”–Satan.

As our greatest enemy, he seeks to trap and destroy us; but his power is no match for God’s (see Mt 4:10, note; Mt 6:13).

As ungodly people slander and attack God (139:19–21), so they slander and attack David (140:1–5).

David calls for their destruction (139:19; 140:9–11).

Using “Selah,” David divides Ps 140 into four parts.

In the first two sections, he presents parallel cries to God for protection against those who falsely assail his character (140:1–3) or set traps to ruin him (140:4–5).

In section three (140:6–8), he appeals to God for help—making the basis of his appeal their personal relationship.

David concludes (140:9–13) with an imprecation against his attackers, basing his appeal to God on his needs and godly character.

And so David was praying here for God’s strength when he felt overwhelmed.

God will always give us the endurance we need to face whatever situation life brings us.

Life Lessons…

God is the God who follows. I wonder . . . have you sensed Him following you?

We often miss Him. . . . We don’t know our Helper when He is near.

But he comes.

Through the kindness of a stranger. The majesty of a sunset. The mystery of romance.

Through the question of a child or the commitment of a spouse.

Through a word well spoken or a touch well timed, have you sensed His presence?

If so, then release your doubts. Set them down. Be encumbered by them no longer.

You are no candidate for insecurity. You are no longer a client of timidity.

You can trust God. He has given His love to you; why don’t you give your doubts to Him?

Not easy to trust, you say? Maybe not, but neither is it as difficult as you think.

Try these ideas: Trust your faith and not your feelings.

You don’t feel spiritual each day? Of course you don’t.

But your feelings have no impact on God’s presence.

On the days you don’t feel close to God, trust your faith and not your feelings.

Goodness and mercy shall follow you all the days of your life.

Measure your value through God’s eyes, not your own.. . .

There are times in our lives when we are gangrels—homeless, disoriented, hard to help, and hard to love.

In those seasons remember this simple fact:

God loves you. He follows you. Why?

Because you are family, and He will follow you all the days of your life.

See the big picture, not the small. . . .

Perhaps your home and health have been threatened.

The immediate result might be pain. But the long-term result might be finding a Father you never knew.

A Father who will follow you all the days of your life. (From Traveling Light by Max Lucado)

Selah (let us pause and calmly think about these things)

Tuesday, May 24
Today in the Word
I Lift Up My Eyes
(A Study in Psalms – Book 5)


Psalm 140

There is almost nothing worse than being falsely accused of a crime or indiscretion.

Not only is it difficult to prove your innocence, but your name is tarnished.

For many people in this position, their reputation is permanently damaged.

This is the kind of situation David faced.

He was confronted by people who used their cunning, intelligence, and social connections to try to bring him down (vv. 1–2).

Their attacks against him came in the form of lies, “the poison of vipers is on their lips” (v. 3).

Like skillful hunters, they laid traps and snares to catch him (v. 5).

People have not changed much since David’s day.

They still attack one another with malicious words.

In this age of social media, verbal attacks have become common and damaging.

What does faithfulness to God look like when we are attacked?

David turned to God in prayer.

He vividly described his situation to God knowing that God cared about him and about the truth.

He confessed that God was his most secure refuge,

“you shield my head in the day of battle” (v. 7).

He prayed that his enemies’ plans would fail (v. 8).

More than that, he prayed that their evil actions would rebound upon them (v. 9).

It is important to note that David is expressing his anger to God, but leaves the results in God’s hands.

His ultimate desire was not for wanton cruelty toward his enemies, but that justice would be done (v. 12).

We can be confident today that every evil ever committed will either be justly forgiven because of Christ’s sacrifice, if the perpetrator turns to God in repentance and faith, or will be justly punished.

Nothing escapes God’s notice.

The psalms help us express our emotions to God, feelings of joy, sorrow, and even anger.

Even after this study is complete, try reading one psalm every day.

Use the Psalms during your prayer time, to help you turn to God in every situation.

Pray with Us
When You created humanity, You said it was very good.

Our emotions are part of that good design.

May we learn neither to exalt nor deny them, but to accept them as they are, knowing that You remain God in our joy and in our sorrow.

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God the Father is the initiator of the Gospel message…

Jesus said, “No one can come to Me unless My Father who sent Me draws him—and I will raise him up on the last day” (John 6:44)…

Where Jesus declares that “no one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day, ” the Greek word translated “draw” is helkuo, which means “to drag” (literally or figuratively).

Clearly, this drawing is a one-sided affair. God does the drawing to salvation; we who are drawn have a passive role in the process.

There is no doubt that we respond to His drawing us, but the drawing itself is all on His part.

Helkuo is used in John 21:6 to refer to a heavy net full of fish being dragged to the shore.

In John 18:10 we see Peter drawing his sword, and in Acts 16:19 helkuo is used to describe Paul and Silas being dragged into the marketplace before the rulers.

Clearly, the net had no part in its being drawn to the shore,

Peter’s sword had no part in being drawn, and Paul and Silas did not drag themselves to the marketplace.

The same can be said of God’s drawing of some to salvation.

Some come willingly, and some are dragged unwillingly, but all eventually come, although we have no part in the drawing.

Why does God need to draw us to salvation?

Simply put, if He didn’t, we would never come.

Jesus explains that no man can come unless the Father draws him (John 6:65).

The natural man has no ability to come to God, nor does he even have the desire to come.

Because his heart is hard and his mind is darkened, the unregenerate person doesn’t desire God and is actually an enemy of God (Romans 5:10).

When Jesus says that no man can come without God’s drawing him, He is making a statement about the total depravity of the sinner and the universality of that condition.

So darkened is the unsaved person’s heart that he doesn’t even realize it:

“The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.
Who can understand it?”
(Jeremiah 17:9)

Therefore, it is only by the merciful and gracious drawing of God that we are saved.

In the conversion of the sinner, God enlightens the mind (Ephesians 1:18), inclines the will toward Himself, and influences the soul, without which influence the soul remains darkened and rebellious against God.

All of this is involved in the drawing process.

When the Father draws us and we respond in faith, we then begin to have new desires.

He places within us a new heart that inclines toward Him, a heart that desires to know Him, obey Him, and walk in the “newness of life” (Romans 6:4) that He has promised.

Here’s the backstory to John 6:44:

John 6

A Deep Dive Into John Chapter 6

John 6 records the feeding of the five thousand followed by Jesus’ poignant sermon on the bread of life.

The chapter ends with the departure of some disciples and the rededication of the Twelve.

Jesus is the Bread of Life:

Water, food, and bread are metaphors that show how the spiritual appropriationment of the life which Jesus gives is absolutely necessary for our salvation.

The feeding of the five thousand is the only miracle of Jesus that is recorded in all four Gospels.

Jesus had crossed to the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee at a time when the Jewish Passover feast was near.

If we accept John 5:1 as a Passover, the reference in 6:4 would be the third Passover observance recorded in this Gospel.

This is one of those several examples in John where we see the miracle-message method of Jesus’ ministry.

Paul told the Corinthians that Jews required a sign, and John reminded us that a great crowd of people followed Him because they saw the miraculous signs He had performed on the sick (6:2).

Some scholars estimate there may have been as many as seven thousand to ten thousand people, since verse 10 talks about five thousand men.

As we shall see, this chapter is about faith, but these people wanted food.

Jesus talked about spiritual relationship, but the crowds were interested in physical showmanship.

They focused on the lunch, not the love; on their bellies, not their beliefs.
Jesus first centers on people in need.

Starvation even in our time is a stark and unpleasant reality, as it was also in Jesus’ time.

Ten percent of the world’s babies today die before their first birthday, and one of every four children suffers from malnutrition.

Yet the problem of spiritual hunger is even more severe.

Like the people gathering on the mountainside in Galilee, millions today need the living bread that only Jesus can provide.

The introduction of the Passover is always significant in the chronological pattern of John’s Gospel.

He contrasted the rejection in Jerusalem at the end of chapter 5 with the magnificent scene of thousands coming to hear Jesus speak on the shore of the Sea of Tiberias.

This body of water actually has four names in Scripture:

The Sea of Galilee and the Sea of Tiberias both identified here in our text;

The Lake of Gennesaret in Luke 5:1; and the Sea of Kinnereth (Num. 34:11).

Today it is generally called Lake Kinneret, but students of the Bible have difficulty calling it anything other than the Sea of Galilee.

The bread-and-water connection has ancient Israeli roots in the manna of the desert and water from the rock.

The entire Exodus experience sets the historic basis for the Jewish Passover Feast.

In Israel’s history, stories of food and water are indelibly attached to faith.

From the tree of life in the garden, the rescue of Noah in the flood, and throughout their pilgrimage these two symbols are repeatedly rewoven into the fabric of God’s dealings with His people.

It is understandable then that Paul, thinking like a Jew, also linked these two symbols in his warnings to the Corinthians about their relationship with God (10:1-4).

Jesus was not annoyed when He saw the great multitude, thinking they would disturb His rest or His time with the disciples.

His first thought was to provide something for them to eat. And so He turned to Philip and asked where bread could be purchased to feed the multitude.

When Jesus asked a question, it was never for the purpose of adding to His own knowledge, but to teach others.

Jesus already knew what He was going to do, but Philip didn’t.

The Lord was going to teach Philip a very valuable lesson and test his faith.

Jesus Himself knew that He would perform a miracle to feed this great crowd of people. But did Philip realize that He was able to do this?

Was Philip’s faith great or was it small?

Apparently Philip’s faith did not rise to very great heights.

He made some quick calculations and decided that even two hundred denarii worth of bread would not be enough to provide even a little meal for everyone.

We do not know exactly how much bread could be purchased for two hundred denarii in that day, but it must have been a very great amount.

A denarius was a worker’s daily wage.

Andrew was Simon Peter’s brother, and they both lived in the vicinity of Bethsaida, along the shore of the Sea of Galilee.

Andrew also decided that it would be difficult to feed such a throng, and he noticed a little boy with five barley loaves and two small fish; but he felt that these would be almost useless in attempting to satisfy the hunger of so many.

This lad did not have very much, but he was willing to put it at the disposal of the Lord Jesus.

As a result of his kindness, this story was recorded in each of the four Gospels.

He did not do very much, but “little is much if God is in it,” and he has become famous throughout the world.

In making the people sit down (lit. “recline”), the Lord Jesus provided for their comfort. Notice He chose a place where there was much grass.

It was unusual to find such a place in that region, but the Lord took care that the crowd would eat in a clean, pleasant place.

It is recorded that there were thousands of men (Gk. “males”), so this means that there were women and children in addition.

The mention of the number five thousand is made to indicate what a mighty miracle was about to take place.

Jesus took the loaves and gave thanks for them.

If He did this before partaking of food or serving it, how much more should we pause to thank God before eating our meals.

Next He distributed the food to the disciples.

There is a real lesson for us in this.

The Lord Jesus did not do it all Himself. He enlisted the service of others.

It has been well said, “You do what you can do; I’ll do what I can do; and the Lord will do what we cannot do.”

By the time the Lord distributed the bread to the disciples, it had been wonderfully multiplied.

The exact moment when this miracle took place is not recorded, but we know that in a miraculous way those five loaves and two small fish became enough in the Lord’s hands to feed this great throng.

The disciples went about serving the bread and the fish to those sitting down.

There was no scarcity because it is distinctly stated that they gave them of the fish as much as they wanted.

This is a very beautiful touch. If Jesus had been a mere man He would never have bothered to think about the remaining fragments.

Any man who can feed five thousand does not worry about a few leftover crumbs!

But Jesus is God, and with God there must be no wasting of His bounties.

He does not want us to squander the precious things He has given to us, and so He takes care to instruct that the broken pieces which remained should be gathered up so that nothing might be lost.

Twelve baskets of bread were gathered up after the people had finished eating.

After all this, there can be only one conclusion, and that is that a mighty miracle had been performed.

The people themselves recognized that it was a miracle.

In fact, the people were so convinced that it was a miracle that they were willing to acknowledge that Jesus was the Prophet who would come into the world.

They knew from the OT that a prophet was coming, and they looked for him to deliver them from the control of the Roman Empire.

They were waiting for an earthly monarch, but their faith was not genuine.

They were not willing to admit that Jesus was the Son of God or to confess their sins and accept Him as Savior.

As a result of Jesus’ miracle, the people wanted to make Him king.

Again, if Jesus were only a man, He doubtless would have submitted readily to their request.

Men are only too anxious to be exalted and to be given a place of prominence.

But Jesus was not moved by such appeals to vanity and pride. He realized that He had come into the world to die as a Substitute for sinners on the cross.

He would do nothing to interfere with that objective.

He would not ascend the throne until first He had ascended the altar of sacrifice.

He must suffer, bleed, and die before He would be exalted.

In verse 16 it says that it was evening, and that Jesus had gone to the mountain by Himself.

The crowd doubtless returned to their homes, leaving the disciples by themselves.

And so the disciples decided to go down to the sea and prepare for their trip back across the Sea of Galilee.

As they went over the sea toward Capernaum, it was already dark.

Jesus was not with them.

Where was He?

He was up on the mountain praying.

What a picture of Christ’s followers today.

They are on the stormy sea of life. It is dark,and the Lord Jesus is nowhere to be seen.

But that does not mean that He is unaware of what is going on.

He is in heaven praying for those He loves.

The Sea of Galilee is subject to sudden and violent storms, and winds traveling down the valley of the Jordan River at a great speed.

When they hit the Sea of Galilee, they cause the waves to rise very high. It is not safe for small boats to be out on the sea at such a time.

The disciples had rowed about three or four miles.

From a human standpoint, they were in great danger.

At the right moment, they looked up and saw Jesus walking on the sea, and drawing near the boat.

Here is another marvelous miracle.

The Son of God was walking on the waters of the Sea of Galilee.

The disciples were afraid because they did not fully realize who this wonderful Person was.

Notice how simply the story is told.

The most amazing facts are being told to us, but John did not use big words to impress us with the greatness of what was taking place.

He used great restraint in setting forth the facts.

Then the Lord Jesus spoke wonderful words of comfort.

“It is I; do not be afraid.”

If He were only a man, they might well be afraid, but He is the mighty Creator and the Sustainer of the universe.

With such a One close at hand, there was no reason to fear.

He who made the Sea of Galilee in the first place could cause its waters to be calm in the second place, and could bring His fearful disciples safely to shore.

The words “It is I” are literally “I AM.”

So far this is the second time in John’s Gospel where Jesus used this name of Jehovah as applying to Himself.

When they realized that it was the Lord Jesus, they welcomed Him into the boat.

And the Bible says that as soon as Jesus entered the boat, Immediately they found themselves at their destination.

Here another miracle is stated, but not explained.

They did not have to row any farther. The Lord Jesus brought them to dry land instantly.

What an awesome Savior He is!

It is now the day after the one in which the five thousand were fed.

The multitude of people are still in the area northeast of the Sea of Galilee.

They had watched the disciples get into the small boat the previous evening, and they knew that Jesus had not gone with them.

Only one boat had been available at that time, and the disciples had taken it.

The following day, boats had come from Tiberias, near the place where the Lord Jesus had fed the multitude.

But the Lord could not have departed in one of these because they had just arrived.

But perhaps it was in these small boats that the multitude crossed over to Capernaum, as recorded in the following verses.

The people had watched Jesus very carefully. They knew that He had gone up into the mountain to pray.

They knew that He had not gone in the boat with the disciples across the lake.

Yet on the following day He was nowhere to be found. They decided to cross the sea to Capernaum, where the disciples were most likely to be.

They could not understand how Jesus could be there, but they decided to go and seek Him anyway.

Arriving at Capernaum, they found Him there. They could not conceal their curiosity, and asked Him when He had arrived.

Jesus answered their question indirectly.

He realized that they did not seek Him because of who He was but rather because of the food which He gave them.

They had seen Him perform a mighty miracle on the day before.

This should have convinced them that He was indeed the Creator and the Messiah.

But their interest was simply in food. They had eaten of the miracle loaves, and their hunger had been satisfied.

So Jesus first advised them not to labor for the food which perishes.

The Lord did not mean that they should not work for their daily living, but He did mean that this should not be the supreme aim in their lives.

Satisfying one’s physical appetite is not the most important thing in life.

Man consists not only of body, but of spirit and soul as well.

We should labor for the food which endures to everlasting life.

Man should not live as if his body were all.

He should not devote all his strength and talents to the feeding of his body, which in a few short years will be eaten by worms.

Rather, he should make sure that his soul is fed day by day with the Word of God.

“Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.”

We should work tirelessly to acquire a better knowledge of the Word of God.

When the Lord Jesus said that God the Father had set His seal on Him, He meant that God had sent Him and approved Him.

When we set our seal to something, it means that we promise that it is true.

God sealed the Son of Man in the sense that He endorsed Him as One who spoke the truth.

The people now asked the Lord what they must do in order to work the works of God.

Man is always trying to earn his way to heaven.

He likes to feel that there is something he can do to merit salvation.

If he can somehow contribute to the saving of his soul, then he can find a ground for boasting; and this is very pleasing to him.

Jesus saw through their hypocrisy. They pretended that they wanted to work for God, and yet they did not want to have anything to do with the Son of God.

Jesus told them that the first thing they must do is accept the One whom God had sent.

So it is today. Many are seeking to earn their way to heaven by good works.

But before they can do good works for God, they must first believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.

Good works do not precede salvation; they follow it.

The only good work a sinner can do is to confess his sins and receive Christ as Lord and Savior.

We find in verse 30, when they asked Jesus, “What sign will You perform then, that we may see it and believe You – What work will You do” – this is a further proof of the wickedness that was in the hearts of this people.

One day previously, they had seen the Lord Jesus feed five thousand men with five loaves and two fish.

On the very next day, they came to Him and asked Him for some sign that would prove His claims to be the Son of God.

Like most unbelievers, they wanted to see first, and then they would believe.

“That we may see it, and believe You.”

But this is not God’s order. God says to sinners, “If you believe, then you will see.” Faith must always come first.

Going back to the OT, the Jews reminded Jesus of the miracle of the manna in the wilderness.

They seemed to be saying that Jesus had never done anything as wonderful as that.

They quoted from Psalm 78:24, 25, where it is written: “He gave them bread from heaven to eat.”

They implied that Moses called down food from heaven; the Lord was not as great as Moses, because He had only multiplied existing food!

The Lord’s answer conveys at least two thoughts.

First of all, it was not Moses who gave them the manna, but God.

Moreover, the manna was not the true spiritual bread from heaven.

The manna was literal food, designed for the physical body, but it had no value beyond this life.

The Lord Jesus was here speaking about the true, ideal, and genuine bread which God gives out of heaven.

It is bread for the soul and not for the body.

The words My Father are a claim by Christ to deity.

The Lord Jesus revealed Himself as the bread of God which came down from heaven and gives life.

He was showing the superiority of the bread of God to the manna in the wilderness.

The manna did not impart life but only sustained physical life.

It was not intended for the whole world but only for Israel.

The true bread comes down from heaven and gives life to men—not just to one nation but to all the world.

The Jews still did not realize that the Lord Jesus was speaking about Himself as the true bread, and so they asked Him for the bread.

They were still thinking in terms of a literal loaf. Unfortunately, there was no real faith in their hearts.

Now Jesus stated the truth simply and clearly.

He is the bread of life. Those who come to Him find enough in Him to satisfy their spiritual hunger forever.

Those who believe on Him find their thirst forever quenched.

Notice the words I am in this verse and recognize that the Lord was making a claim to equality with Jehovah.

It would be folly for a sinful man to utter the words of verse 35.

No mere man can satisfy his own hunger or thirst, much less satisfy the spiritual appetite of the whole world!

In verse 30, the unbelieving Jews had asked the Lord for a sign in order that they might see and believe.

Here Jesus said that He had already told them that they had seen Him—the greatest sign of all—and yet they did not believe.

If the Son of God could stand before them in perfect manhood and not be recognized by them, then it was doubtful that any sign He would perform would convince them.

The Lord was not discouraged by the unbelief of the Jews. He knew that all the Father’s purposes and plans would be fulfilled.

Even if the Jews to whom He was speaking would not accept Him, then He knew that all of those who were chosen by God would come to Him.

The realization of the invincibility of the eternal counsels of God always gives a calmness, a poise, a courage, and a perseverance which nothing else can.

This verse is very important because it states in a few words two of the most important teachings in the Bible.

The first is that God has given certain ones to Christ and that all those whom He has given will be saved.

The other is the teaching of man’s responsibility.

In order to be saved, a man must come to the Lord Jesus and accept Him by faith.

God does choose some people to be saved, but the Bible never teaches that He chooses some to be damned.

If anyone is saved, it is because of the free grace of God.

But if anyone perishes forever, it is his own fault.

All men are condemned by their own sinfulness and wickedness.

If all men went to hell, they would be receiving only what they deserve.

In grace, God stoops down and saves individual people out of the great mass of humanity.

Does He have the right to do this?

He certainly does. God can do as He chooses, and no man can deny Him this right.

We know that God will never do anything that is wrong or unjust, but just as the Bible teaches that God has elected certain persons to salvation, it also teaches that man is responsible to accept the gospel.

God makes a universal offer—that if a man will believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, he will be saved.

God does not save men against their will.

A person must come to Him in repentance and faith.

Then God will save him.

No one who comes to God through Christ will be cast out.

The human mind cannot reconcile these two teachings. However, we should believe them even if we cannot understand them.

They are Biblical teachings and are clearly stated here.

In verse 37, the Lord Jesus said that all of God’s plans would eventually be fulfilled with regard to the salvation of those who were given to Him.

Since this was the Father’s will, the Lord would personally undertake to bring it to pass, as His mission was to do the will of God.

“I have come down from heaven” said Christ, clearly teaching that He did not begin His life in the manger at Bethlehem.

Rather, He existed from all eternity with God the Father in heaven.

Coming into the world, He was the obedient Son of God.

He voluntarily took the place of a servant in order to carry out the will of His Father.

This does not mean that He did not have a will of His own, but rather that His own will was in perfect agreement with the will of God.

The will of the Father was that everyone who was given to Christ would be saved and kept until the resurrection of the just, when they would be raised and taken home to heaven.

Verse 39 says,

“This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose NOTHING, but should raise IT up at the last day.

Please note that the words “nothing” and “it” refer to believers.

Here He was thinking not of individual believers but of the entire body of Christians who would be saved down through the years.

The Lord Jesus was responsible to see that not one member of the body would be lost but that the whole body would be raised up at the last day.

As far as Christians are concerned, the last day refers to the day when the Lord Jesus will come in the air, when the dead in Christ will rise first, when the living believers will be changed, and when all will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air, to be forever with the Lord.

To the Jews, it meant the coming of the Messiah in glory.

The Lord now went on to explain how a person became a member of the family of the redeemed.

God’s will is that EVERYONE who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life.

To see the Son here means not to see Him with the physical eyes but rather with the eyes of faith.

One must see or recognize that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Savior of the world.

Then, too, he must believe on Him.

This means that by a definite act of faith, he must receive the Lord Jesus as his own personal Savior.

All who do this receive everlasting life as a present possession and also receive the assurance that they will be raised at the last day.

The people were quite unprepared to accept the Lord Jesus, and they showed this by murmuring against Him.

He had claimed to be the bread which came down from heaven.

They realized that this was a claim of great importance.

To come down from heaven, one could not be a mere man or even a great prophet.

And so they complained about Him because they were not willing to believe His words.

They assumed that Jesus was the son of Joseph.

Here, of course, they were wrong.

Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary.

Joseph was not His father.

Rather, our Lord was conceived of the Holy Spirit.

Their failure to believe in the virgin birth led to their darkness and unbelief.

So it is today. Those who refuse to accept the Lord Jesus as the Son of God who came into the world through the womb of the virgin find themselves compelled to deny all the great truths concerning the Person and work of Christ.

Although they had not been speaking directly to Him, yet He knew what they were saying, and here Jesus told them not to murmur among themselves.

The following verses explain why their murmuring was useless and profitless.

The more the Jews rejected the testimony of the Lord Jesus, the more difficult His teachings became.

“Light rejected is light denied.”

The more they spurned the gospel, the harder it became for them to accept the gospel.

If the Lord told them simple things and they would not believe, then He would expound to them more difficult things and they would be thoroughly ignorant of what He was saying.

Man in himself is utterly hopeless and helpless.

He does not even have the strength to come to Jesus by himself.

Unless the Father first begins to work in his heart and life, he will never realize his terrible guilt and his need of a Savior.

Many people have difficulty with this verse.

They suppose that it teaches that a man may desire to be saved and yet might find it impossible.

This is not so. But the verse does teach in the strongest possible way that God is the One who first acted in our lives and sought to win us to Himself.

We have the choice of accepting the Lord Jesus or refusing Him.

But we never would have had the desire in the first place if God had not spoken to our hearts.

Again the Lord added the promise that He will raise every true believer up at the last day.

It is God, not people, who plays the most active role in salvation.

When someone chooses to believe in Jesus Christ as Savior, he or she does so only in response to the urging of God’s Holy Spirit.

God does the urging; then we decide whether to listen and believe.

Thus, no one can believe in Jesus without God’s help (see 6:65).

Jesus, in verse 45, was alluding to an Old Testament view of the messianic Kingdom, in which all people are taught directly by God (Isaiah 54:13; Jeremiah 31:31-34).

He was stressing the importance of not merely hearing but learning.

We are taught by God through the Bible, our experiences, the thoughts the Holy Spirit brings, and relationships with other Christians.

Are you open to God’s teaching?

The religious leaders frequently asked Jesus to prove to them why He was better than the prophets of the past.

Here Jesus refers to the manna that God had given their ancestors in the wilderness during Moses’ time (see Exodus 16).

This bread was physical and temporal.

The people ate it, and it sustained them for a day.

But they had to get more bread every day, and this bread could not keep them from dying.

Jesus, who is much greater than Moses, offers Himself as the spiritual bread from heaven that satisfies completely and leads to eternal life.

As used here, believes means “continues to believe.”

We do not believe merely once; we keep on believing in and trusting Jesus, following Him as our Lord and Savior day by day.

How can Jesus give us Himself as bread to eat?

To eat living bread means to accept Christ into our lives and become united with Him.

We are united with Him in two ways:

(1) By believing in His death (the sacrifice of his body, or flesh) and resurrection and

(2) By devoting ourselves to living as He requires, depending on His teaching for guidance and trusting in the Holy Spirit for power.

This was a shocking message—to eat flesh and drink blood sounded cannibalistic.

The idea of drinking any blood, let alone human blood, was repugnant to the religious leaders because the law forbade it (Leviticus 17:10-11).

Jesus was not talking about literal blood, of course. He was saying that His life had to become their own, but they could not accept this concept.

He was predicting His death and what it would mean to all believers.

The Gospel writers and the apostle Paul used the body and blood imagery in teaching about the Lord’s Supper (see 1 Corinthians 11:23-26).

The Holy Spirit gives spiritual life; without the work of the Holy Spirit, we cannot even see our need for new life (14:17).

All spiritual renewal begins and ends with God.

He reveals truth to us, lives within us, and then enables us to respond to that truth.

Why did Jesus’ words cause many of His followers to desert him?

(1) They may have realized that Jesus wasn’t going to be the conquering Messiah-King they expected.

(2) Jesus refused to give in to their self-centered requests.

(3) Jesus emphasized faith, not deeds.

(4) Jesus’ teachings were difficult to understand, and some of His words were offensive.

As we grow in our faith, we may be tempted to turn away because Jesus’ lessons are difficult.

Will your response be to give up, ignore certain teachings, or reject Him?

Instead, ask God to show you what His teachings mean and how they apply to you.

Then persist with courage to act on God’s truth.

After many of Jesus’ followers had deserted Him, He asked the 12 disciples if they were also going to leave.

Peter replied, “Lord, to whom would we go?”

In his straightforward way, Peter answered for all of us—there is no other way.

Though there are many philosophies and self-styled authorities, Jesus alone has the words of eternal life.

People today want to go their own way or no way at all.

They look to their own imaginations, instincts, or some intangible wisdom inside them.

People look everywhere for eternal life and miss Jesus, the only source of it.

Stay with Him, especially when you are confused or feel alone.

Jesus offers no middle ground. When He asked the disciples if they would also leave, He was showing that they could either accept or reject Him.

Jesus was not trying to repel people with His teachings. He was simply telling the truth and giving them a choice.

The more the people heard Jesus’ real message, the more they divided into two camps—the honest seekers who wanted to understand more and those who rejected Jesus because they didn’t like what they had heard.

In response to Jesus’ message, some people left; others stayed and truly believed; and some, like Judas, stayed but tried to use Jesus for a personal agenda.

Many people today turn away from Jesus.

Others pretend to follow Him, going to church for status, the approval of family and friends, or business contacts.

But only two real responses to Jesus are available—you either accept Him or reject Him.

How have you responded?

The Bible calls us to abide in Christ…

When you abide somewhere, you live there.

You grow familiar with the surroundings.

You don’t pull in the driveway and ask, “Where is the garage?”

You don’t consult the blueprint to find the kitchen.

To abide is to be at home. To abide in Christ’s love is to make His love your home.

Not a roadside park or hotel room you occasionally visit, but your preferred dwelling.

You rest in Him. Eat in Him.

When thunder claps, you step beneath His roof. His walls secure you from the winds. His fireplace warms you from the winters of life.

As John explained, “He who abides in love abides in God, and God in him” (1 John 4:16).

Come Thirsty

You abandon the old house of false love and move into His home of real love.

Adapting to this new home takes time.

First few nights in a new home you can wake up and walk into a wall. I did.

Not in a new home, but in a motel.

Climbed out of bed to get a glass of water, turned left, and flattened my nose.

The dimensions to the room were different.

The dimensions of God’s love are different too.

You’ve lived a life in a house of imperfect love.

You think God is going to cut you as the coach did, or abandon you as your father did, or judge you as false religion did, or curse you as your friend did.

He won’t, but it takes time to be convinced.

For that reason, abide in Him. Hang on to Christ the same way a branch clutches the vine.

According to Jesus, the branch models His definition of abiding.

“As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me” (John 15:4).

Does a branch ever release the vine?

Only at the risk of death.

Does the branch ever stop eating?

Nope. It receives nutrients twenty-four hours a day.

Would you say the branch is vine-dependent?

I would. If branches had seminars, the topic would be “Get a Grip: Secrets of Vine Grabbing.”

But branches don’t have seminars because attendance requires releasing the vine, something they refuse to do.

How well do you pass the vine test?

Do you ever release yourself from Christ’s love?

Go unnourished?

Do you ever stop drinking from His reservoir?

Do so at the certain risk of a parched heart. (From Come Thirsty by Max Lucado)

What is the source of your spiritual nourishment?

Movies, television, or music?

Do you need to change your diet so that Christ becomes the strongest force in your life?

You may do this by Bible reading, prayer, and by worship.

Selah (let us pause and calmly think about these things)

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Our Praises unto God puts us on the offensive against our enemies…

The best way to bring God down into our situation is to begin to praise Him, in the midst of our situation…

“God Inhabits the Praises of His People” (Psalm 22:3).

As happened with Paul and Silas, even in the deepest darkest rat infested dungeon, they made the decision to praise God, in the midst of their circumstances, and their praise became the means of their Deliverance.

Since the first sacrifice of Abel, our Lord has always looked with favor on those whose hearts were dedicated to Him.

When Cain and Abel offered their sacrifices, Abel offered the very best from His flocks, whereas Cain only offered a small portion of his crops.

God looked with favor on Abel’s sacrifice; in a sense, He inhabited the condition of Abel’s heart as a blessing and sign of His favor.

Later in Israel’s history, God instructed Moses to build a tabernacle, a traveling worship site that would carry the Ark of the Covenant and the altar upon which the priests would make their sacrifices for the people.

When the tabernacle was completed, a fiery cloud descended on the tent and rested over the Ark.

God inhabited that place of worship among His people.

When the Temple was built in Jerusalem by King Solomon, God spoke to him and said that the Temple was where He would choose to dwell.

His presence would again descend on the temple in the form of a cloud, which was another sign of the favor of God resting on His chosen city and kingdom.

Jesus Abides with us as We Abide in Him
The coming of Jesus Christ to earth as a human being ushered in a new era of God dwelling with man. God literally made His dwelling among human beings, sharing in our nature and our struggles. Jesus was the mouthpiece for the will of the Father, and it was Jesus that told His disciples that abiding with Him meant abiding with the Father.

He also teaches us that if we abide with the Father, the Father will also abide with us.

Today, we call this “asking God into our hearts.”

This draws a clear line to Jesus’ statement in the book of Revelation when He says that He stands at the door and knocks and that we should listen to His voice and let Him in.

The door He mentions should be metaphorically understood as the door to our hearts; if we allow God to enter in, He will inhabit our hearts and imbue us with the Holy Spirit.

What Does This Have to Do with Our Worship?

God seeks to have His way in every area of our lives. He does not do this to directly control our actions as if we have no free will; but when we yield our will to His, He has the freedom to work in us in ways we could never imagine.

Our praise is a primary way that God works His way into our hearts and minds.

When we worship, we are meant to turn all of our attention to God.

In simple terms, worship is ascribing worth to God in some way.

Today, most of us think of worship as music, and that is certainly one aspect of worship. However, it is much more than that.

True worship is lived out every minute of every day.

Paul tells us in Romans that we should give up our bodies in a sacrificial way, and let our minds be constantly renewed by the Holy Spirit.

He says that this is an acceptable act of worship.

Far greater than any song we could sing, wholehearted worship is a life that praises God for His mercy and grace, and that seeks to show others what that grace and mercy has done in our lives.

When we fully give ourselves to God’s purpose in our lives and give all the honor and praise to Him in our words and our actions, God’s might and power indwells itself in us and shines through to the rest of the world.

The Holy Spirit lives in our hearts when we become believers, and His power is shown in our thoughts, actions, and interactions.

Praise is the most effective spiritual weapon that will secure God’s Presence and bring God on the scene to clear out any barriers that would stop us from taking delivery of what belongs to us.

In other words, praise brings down the Presence of God from His Exalted Throne because He inhabits the praises of His people.

Whenever we come together to offer praises to the Almighty God, His Throne is set wherever His people are praising Him to give them the supernatural manifestation of His presence.

Isaiah 43:21 says “The people whom I formed for Myself will make known My praise.”

We are created to give the only thing God cannot give to Himself.

That is why God is always around those who praise and give HIM thanks all the time.

As believers, becoming addicted to praise, it opens up our destiny on its own accord and attracts God’s Presence.

When we are full of praise, the fullness of God emerges and when His fullness emerges, He causes us to become full of signs and wonders.

In the habitation of the Almighty, wonder-working power is present and breakthrough is commonplace.

Praise is one of the easiest ways to access the blessings of God.

It is the platform through which God intervenes in the affairs of our lives.

Praise to God is an indication of our absolute trust in Him. And as we praise Him, we show the extent of our faithfulness and trust in Him even in the midst of going through a challenge.

The power of our praise will determine the magnitude of our breakthrough.

Selah (let us pause and calmly think about these things)

Saturday, May 20
God At Eventide
by Two Listeners


You have been told to end all prayer upon a note of praise.

That note of praise is not only faith rising up through difficulties to greet Me. It is even more.

It is the Soul’s recognition that My Help is already on the way.

It is the echo in your heart of the sound borne on Spirit Waves.

It is given to those who love and trust Me to sense this approach.

So rejoice and be glad, for truly your redemption draweth nigh.

Now unto Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen. Jude 1:24-25

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As Disciples of Christ, we must learn to walk as Jesus walked (see 1 John 2:6)…

Jesus taught about the demands of discipleship…

Matthew 18

Chapter 18 has been called the discourse on greatness and forgiveness.

It outlines principles of conduct that are suitable for all those who claim to be subjects of Christ the King.

Jesus weaves three themes throughout His discourse on the ethics of Christian relationships—humility, purity, and mercy.

Those who are humble will be the greatest in the kingdom.

The Father protects his “little ones,” and will make every effort to restore those who stray.

Christians must mercifully forgive their sinning brothers and sisters.

Have you ever made a fool of yourself?

We all have at one time or another. And it often happens when we have not been paying much attention to our surroundings.

It is sometimes called “sleeping on the job.”

I remember hearing this story of this one Bible student, who was in Bible college.

It seems that he held a night job and always found it difficult to stay awake during his early morning, first-hour class.

In fact, one day he fell asleep in his seat before the beginning of class.

The other students arrived and took their seats.

The instructor walked in, opened his notes, and began teaching.

Virtually no one noticed our sleepy friend. . . until a student nudged him and whispered,

“Quick—the professor just asked you to lead in prayer!”

Reacting to what his brain had barely registered, the sleeping student snapped straight up in his seat and began praying.

Of course, all this was to the complete surprise of everyone in the room.

It was an unforgettable moment, prompting every person in the room to ask, “Where have you been?”

Jesus likely felt like asking the same question of His disciples on more than one occasion.

As Matthew 18 opens, the disciples had evidently been sleeping on the job.

They were out of touch with their surroundings and their Master.

Chapter 18 opens with the disciples asking Jesus a question.

The fact that they asked this particular question indicates they still did not understand the heart of Christ’s instruction and the appropriate relationships in His kingdom.

Like the groggy student, they were “asleep on the job” and spouting off the wrong questions at the wrong time.

The disciples asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”

Jesus spent the rest of the Matthew 18 discourse telling them, “You are asking the wrong question.”

In our interpersonal relationships, including conflicts and disagreements with our brothers and sisters, we should not need a court of appeals beyond responsible leaders in the church.

Ideally, the church’s decisions will be guided by God and based on discernment of principles found in His Word.

Believers have the responsibility, therefore, to bring their problems to the church, and the church has the responsibility to use God’s guidance in seeking to resolve conflicts.

Handling problems God’s way will have an impact now and for eternity.

Jesus looked ahead to a new day when He would be present with His followers not in body but through His Holy Spirit.

In the body of believers, the church, the sincere agreement of two people in prayer is more powerful than the superficial agreement of thousands because Christ’s Holy Spirit is with them.

Two or more believers, filled with the Holy Spirit, will pray according to God’s will, not their own; thus, their requests will be granted.

The rabbis taught that people should forgive those who offend them—but only three times.

Peter, trying to be especially generous, asked Jesus if seven (the “perfect” number) was enough times to forgive someone.

But Jesus answered, “Seventy times seven,” meaning that we shouldn’t even keep track of how many times we forgive someone.

Always forgive those who are truly repentant, no matter how many times they ask.

Judge yourself: How are you being Jesus’ disciple?

While it can be demanding, Jesus basically calls us to love God and love our neighbor as yourself—it’s really not that complex at all.

The question is: Is your heart hard?

Take it to your Father. You’re only a prayer away from tenderness.

We live in a hard world, but we don’t have to live with a hard heart.

Friday, May 20
Pursuit of His Presence

by Kenneth Copeland

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.”
— Matthew 18:21-22

We need to face the fact that we can’t walk with God and be even a little unforgiving or a little offended.

If we’re going to walk with God, we must allow His love to drive out every trace of any kind of unforgiveness.

“But you just don’t know how badly they treated me!”

“Has God forgiven your sin?”


Then you forgive them. Period. End of discussion.

Quit crying and whining about how hurt you are.

Maybe you have been mistreated, but if so – get over it!

Everybody has been mistreated in some form or another.

The reason I can talk so straight to you about this is that God has already said these things to me.

I remember one day when I was moping around at home. I’d just come in from preaching on the road and it seemed that as soon as I got there, I had to start fighting the devil. I was whining about it when Gloria said something to me I didn’t like.

“Oh, she doesn’t care about me anyway.” I muttered in self-pity.

Right then, the Lord spoke up in my heart and said, “It isn’t any of your business whether she cares for you or not. It’s your business to care for her.”

Then He added something I’ll never forget. He said, “I’m the One Who cares whether you hurt or not. Your hurts mean everything in the world to Me, but they ought to mean little or nothing to you.”

As the Church, we need to learn that today. We need to quit paying so much attention to our own hurts and cast them over on God. We need to take a lesson from the pioneers of the faith.

People like Peter and John and those Pentecostal old-timers years ago would walk into the very jaws of hell.

They’d go through persecutions that make the things we face look like child’s play.

They didn’t come out crying about how they’d been hurt either. They came out saying,

“Glory to God! We’re getting an opportunity to suffer for His Name. What a privilege!”

When you have that attitude, it’s not hard to forgive because your focus isn’t on yourself. It’s on God and His purposes, God and His love.

If you want to discover the secret to real forgiveness, that’s where your focus has to be – on God.

We are instructed to forgive others in the same way, or on the same basis, that God has forgiven us.

Speak the Word: I forgive others, as God for Christ’s sake has forgiven me. (Eph. 4:32)

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