Now may the God of hope fill you
with all joy and peace in believing,
so that you will abound in hope
by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.
Forgiveness is a hard thing to give and oftentimes even harder to accept. When Jesus spoke these words on the cross, the two thieves on either side of Him and those looking on couldn’t believe what He was saying. He had undergone so much even before He was nailed to the cross to die, and yet this Man could forgive His torturers? How was that possible?
While their ignorance of divine truth did not mean they deserved forgiveness, Christ’s prayer in the midst of their mocking Him is an expression of the limitless compassion of divine grace. (GotQuestions.org)
Beloved, if Jesus could forgive His torturers, He will forgive you too! Every single day we stumble in our Christian walk because we are not perfect. But God always loves to hear us say, Father, please forgive me for (what I just said or did or thought) and He is quick to forgive us. Unlike us, who sometimes hold grudges against people who do us wrong even after they ask for our forgiveness, God does not. And why not? Because Jesus already took upon Himself the full penalty for our sins on that cross. He paid the price for our sins—past, present and future.
If we say that we have no sin,
we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us.
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous
to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
If we say that we have not sinned,
we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.
—1 John 1:8-10
I heard a song again the other day that speaks to this so well, “Drops in the Ocean,” by Hawk Nelson (video below). Two lines in the chorus always resonate with me:
If you could count the times I’d say you are forgiven
It’s more than the drops in the ocean
If for any reason you cannot view this video, go here to read the lyrics. If you want to know how to receive the free gift of salvation through Jesus Christ, please visit my A..B…C… page to find out more. Or you can email me at faithlhj777 at gmail dot com.
This is a great piece from the Bible Nerd blog that will really make you think.
At the end of time, billions of people were scattered on a great plain before God’s throne. Some of the groups near the front talked heatedly – not with cringing shame before God’s throne, but with embittered belligerence.
“How can God judge us? How can He know about suffering?” snapped a brunette, jerking back a sleeve to reveal a tattooed number from a Nazi concentration camp. “We endured terror, beatings, torture, and death!”
In another group, a black man lowered his collar. “What about this?” he demanded, showing the rope burns. “Lynched for no crime but being black! We’ve suffocated in slave ships, been wrenched from loved ones, and toiled ‘til only death gave release.”
Hundreds of such groups were visible across the plain. Each had a complaint against God for the evil and suffering He permitted in His world. How lucky God was, they all seemed to agree, able to live in heaven where all is sweetness and light, without weeping, fear hunger or hatred. Indeed, what does God know about man? What does He know about being forced to endure the trials of life? After all, God leads pretty sheltered life.
This is another of the devotionals I wrote for the anthology titled Anytime Prayers for Everyday People. This particular devotional was included in the section titled Prayers of Praise and Thanksgiving and is perfect for this time of the year as we are contemplating the true meaning of Resurrection Sunday.
I am not ashamed of the gospel: it is the power of God
for salvation to every one who has faith.
—Romans 1:16 RSV
I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor,
now is the day of salvation.
—2 Corinthians 6:2
The LORD lives, and blessed be my rock;
and exalted be the God of my salvation.
—Psalm 18:46 NASB
[Peter said] Jesus is the only One who can save people.
His name is the only power in the world that has been given
to save people. We must be saved through him.
—Acts 4:12 NCV
If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and
believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead,
you will be saved.
—Romans 10:9 NKJV
I am always amazed when I consider the depth of Your love for me. You, who created everything in the universe, care for me so much You sent Your Son, Jesus Christ, to die for my sins. And I will never be able to explain why Jesus came—willingly, determined to rescue me and make me part of Your family. My salvation is more wonderful and amazing than I could ever comprehend.
Lord, You could have simply walked away from Your human creation, washed Your hands, and moved on to a new project. Instead, You walked beyond Your personal disappointment and went to extraordinary, even miraculous, lengths to salvage us. Knowing that moves me beyond words. And then to think that even in the face of so great a gesture toward us, You’ve made Yourself vulnerable by leaving us with the choice to take Your gift or leave it.
I want to be very clear, Lord—I take it! Every bit of it—all You have or want or plan for me! I choose to love You back every day of my life. Thank You for Your lavish gift of salvation.
It is not your hold of Christ that saves you,
but His hold of you!
—Charles Haddon Spurgeon
[From Anytime Prayers for Everyday People. Copyright © 2006 Bordon-Winters LLC]
Recently I came across this post that answered the question: “What were the seven last words of Jesus Christ on the cross and what do they mean?“
Answer: The seven statements that Jesus Christ made on the cross were (not in any particular order):
(1) Matthew 27:46 tells us that about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Here, Jesus was expressing His feelings of abandonment as God placed the sins of the world on Him – and because of that, God had to “turn away” from Jesus. As Jesus was feeling that weight of sin, He was experiencing a separation from God for the only time in all of eternity. This was also a fulfillment of the prophetic statement in Psalm 22:1.
If we really believed that God meant what He said – what should we be like! Dare I really let God be to me all that He says He will be? —Oswald Chambers
There is a strong connection between the words believe and faith. They both come from the same root word in the Hebrew.
Faith (pistis) is a noun, something you have:
Believe (pistueo) is a verb, something you do, based upon that faith:
True faith in God should lead to our believing in what He has done for us.
Some people will think: If I really could believe!
but the point truly is: if I really will believe.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son,
that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world,
but to save the world through him.
Whoever believes in him is not condemned,
but whoever does not believe stands condemned already
because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.
This is the verdict: Light has come into the world,
but people loved darkness instead of light
because their deeds were evil.
Everyone who does evil hates the light,
and will not come into the light
for fear that their deeds will be exposed.
But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light,
so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done
has been done in the sight of God.
Jesus places much emphasis on the sin of unbelief:
He came to His hometown and began teaching them in their synagogue,
so that they were astonished, and said,
“Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers?
“Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not His mother called Mary,
and His brothers, James and Joseph and Simon and Judas?
“And His sisters, are they not all with us?
Where then did this man get all these things?”
And they took offense at Him.
But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor
except in his hometown and in his own household.”
And He did not do many miracles there because of their unbelief.
“This is a tremendous revelation. Note what it was that limited the power of God when He was here. It was unbelief! “He did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief. He did very few miracles there. My friend, the great problem with you and me is that we do not have faith to believe—and I’m talking about faith for the salvation of men and women. We need the kind of faith that believes Christ can save the lost. He is limited today in your own community, in your church, in your family, and in your own life by unbelief. And this is certainly true of me also. Our Lord states a great truth here. Let’s not bypass it.” (1)
Beloved, read that last verse again:
And He did not do many miracles there because of their unbelief.
It should not surprise any of us that Jesus places so much importance on the sin of unbelief.
If you have any questions on how to be saved—in other words, in how to completely trust in Jesus—please read my A…B…C… page. And you are always welcome to email me at faithlhj777 at gmail dot com.
(1) Copyright © 1983. J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee. Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, Tennessee
My wonderful friend and contributing writer, Pat Knight, shared this with me recently in an email. I think it is so special and so true that I asked her permission to use it here. Thank you again, Pat!
“Prayer is powerful;
prayer is precious;
prayer perpetuates submission;
prayer is peaceful;
prayer is penitent;
prayer is passionate;
prayer is phenomenal!”
Here is a great devotional that is a good addition to my JOY theme this year. I read this yesterday at Crossmap.com titled “Not Simply to Endure or to Choose God’s Will but to Rejoice in it.” The author of this devotional is none other than L. B. Cowman of Streams in the Desert.
I live with several chronic pain illnesses and have often pondered the subject of God’s will, especially during this particular season of my life. Is it really possible to truly rejoice in God’s will, no matter what our difficulties are? Yes it is, and Mr. Cowman’s devotional is a good reminder of this. I especially appreciate this part of the devotional: “the most magnificent psalms arose from the most profound agonies of the soul.”
Sorrowful, yet always rejoicing. (2 Corinthians 6:10)
A stoic person despises the shedding of tears, but a Christian is not forbidden to weep.Yet the soul may become silent from excessive grief, just as the quivering sheep may remain quiet beneath the scissors of the shearer. Or, when the heart is at the verge of breaking beneath the waves of a trial, the sufferer may seek relief by crying out with a loud voice. But there is something even better.
It is said that springs of sweet, fresh water pool up amid the saltiness of the oceans, that the fairest Alpine flowers bloom in the wildest and most rugged mountain passes, and that the most magnificent psalms arose from the most profound agonies of the soul.
May it continue to be! Therefore, amid a multitude of trials, souls who love God will discover reasons for boundless, leaping joy. Even though “deep calls to deep”(Ps.42:7), the clear cadence of the Lord’s song will be heard. And during the most difficult hour that could ever enter a human life, it will be possible to bless the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Have you learned this lesson yet?
by Patricia Knight
The month of March is often described as “coming in like a lion and going out like a lamb,” frequently applicable in the Northeast area of the country where I live. As February continues its hold on winter, March originates with raw winds and significant snow cover. Soon, milder temperatures precipitate melting snow, ushering in gentler weather. By the end of March, there is hope of spring, with its array of new growth and vibrant colors.
The above metaphor compares the aggressive, domineering prowess of the lion to the submissive, docile lamb. Due to its size and ferociousness, the lion has earned its title, king of the jungle. Scripture, however, is replete with examples of the gentle, compliant lamb.
In Old Testament times, lambs were frequently used for clothing, food, and as an animal sacrifice to atone for the sins of the people. A sacrificial lamb had to be perfect, without blemish or defect. In the New Testament, Jesus was named the Lamb of God when he willingly sacrificed His one perfect life for the salvation of all mankind, eliminating the need for an atoning animal sacrifice ever again.
Meek was a term associated with Jesus. Weak is not synonymous with meek—far from it! Jesus was patient and kind, humbly acknowledging the goodness and grace of God and betraying no arrogance toward others. “By the meekness and gentleness of Christ, I appeal to you,” (2 Corinthians 10:1) is an introduction used by the Apostle Paul to the Corinthian people, an indication of his own affectionate desire to mirror Jesus’ qualities.
We are commanded to “be imitators of God, and live a life of love” (Ephesians 5:1). For us to emulate Christ, we must live a humble, unpretentious lifestyle. Assuming no attention for ourselves, we live to glorify and serve God, the priority Jesus expressed during His entire life on earth. “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love” (Ephesians 4:2).
We are further commanded to avoid arrogance, to assume modesty and humility. It has been explained that once a person declares his humility, he is no longer humble! Humility involves our attitude and performance in life, a perpetual challenge for each of us. “Clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (2 Peter 5:5).
The lion shows no mercy. With arrogance it stalks and attacks its victim, tearing the flesh and gorging on the meal. The lion is large and loud, throwing its weight around to its full advantage. Gentle ways are unknown to the species. In contrast, the lamb peacefully grazes in the meadow, unaware of danger and defenseless against attack. The shepherd must lead his sheep and their lambs, providing them with protection and food. Jesus is the True Shepherd, who gathers His lambs (believers) “and carries them close to His heart” (Isaiah 40:11), just as any shepherd would comfort the vulnerable lambs in his care.
The extreme antithesis between the lion and the lamb is adequate for explaining seasonal changes, but for our lifestyle it is preferable to be aligned with the character traits of the Lamb of God, Savior of the world!
Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. —Lamentations 3:21-23
How often do we do things that disappoint the people in our lives?
Maybe we’ve made a promise that later we found we can’t keep. Perhaps we raise our voice in anger again even though we don’t mean to. And how about the times when a friend or family member tries to sympathize with our pain? They mean well, but you’re certain they just don’t understand. I’m sure you’ve wanted to tell them, “You have no idea what it’s like to be in this kind of pain every day.”
At this point, we have two choices: to dwell on our misery or get on with the business of life.
We can moan and groan about our circumstances so everyone is aware of how much we are hurting, or we can demonstrate God’s presence in our lives by rejoicing in the knowledge that He is faithful to be with us through our tough times.
I have a very close friend (you know who you are!) who is a good example of one who lets God shine through her in spite of her constant pain. She once shared her feelings about pain with me this way:
“It is just pain. It could be worse. I could be suffering with pain and dying. It is only pain. I can still live and make the most of my life, to extend myself as far as I can go, to reach for the stars, to do the unimaginable. The pain will still be there. So, why not celebrate?”
This dear friend is such an encourager. Her positive attitude is a beacon of light in the darkness of pain. Quite simply, she makes me smile no matter how awful I’m feeling.
Beloved, the Lord is our only hope! He knows exactly what our pain is like and He will help us through it “every morning; great is [His] faithfulness.” He understands how constant pain can undermine a positive attitude and make us feel hopeless. But He’s always with us, ready to offer His love and comfort: “therefore I have hope.” Won’t you please pray with me?
Heavenly Father, sometimes it’s so hard to be cheerful and hopeful when I’m feeling so rotten. It’s easier for me to just give up and let the pain take over. But, Lord, I know that You love me too much to let me feel this way. Thank You for what You are teaching me through these trials and for being with me always. Help me to let Your joy flow through me to touch the lives of others who may also be suffering. You are great and greatly to be praised! Amen.