Did you know that the number one killer of human life in America is unforgiveness? The very thing man has the most problems with is the reason Jesus came. God loved the world so much that He gave His only Son, so that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16).
Jesus had strong words about unforgiveness. He said, Be on your guard. If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and comes back to you seven times, saying, 'I repent,' you must forgive him (Luke 17:3-4). Think about it. If someone hurt me seven times in one day, and asked me seven times to forgive him, I would find it very difficult. What about you?
The apostles said to the Lord, "Increase our faith" (John 17:5).
Jesus replied, If you have the faith the size of a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, 'Be uprooted and planted into the sea,' and it will obey you (John 17:6). Check this out. A mustard seed is the tiniest of all plant seeds and a mulberry tree grows to be over thirty feet. Its roots go down deep into the ground and become as large as the tree. It survives in just about any climate. Like unforgiveness, the mulberry tree grows on very little. It doesn't take much for the pain of someone's words or actions against us to grow into unforgiveness, which grows into holding grudges, which grows into bitterness. Out of control, unforgiveness dries up our bones and makes us sick physically and spiritually. Without forgiveness, our bitterness can lead to disease, malice or murder.
Think About It
We don't have to be sick with unforgiveness. With a tiny faith, we can trust Jesus to help us forgive others as He forgave us. Is there someone you need to forgive? Don't let it fester inside you until it's out of control. Jesus came for this very reason.
Pray About It
Thank you, Lord Jesus, for your gift of forgiveness. Please help me to forgive (----------) today. Amen.
After events like the assassination of President Kennedy, 9/11 or the Boston Marathon bombing, people ask how could a loving God allow them to happen? When good people suffer sickness or injury, they question why.
A hard passage of Scripture is when God allowed Satan to destroy Job. In one day he lost everything, his children and wealth, except his health and his wife. Then God permitted Satan to inflict him with sores and boils. Job's friends accused him saying, "You must have done something wrong." Not so! Even during his suffering he did not sin. The end of Job's story is nothing less than a miracle. God restored him in every way and he lived a blessed life for another 140 years (Job 42:12).
Joseph was a fine young man, his father's favorite son, but his brothers sold him into slavery in Egypt. Although he ended up in prison at the hand of Potipher's wife, Joseph did not lose his faith. He gained a reputation for being a model prisoner and able to interpret dreams. God used that ability to rescue him from the dungeon and he became the Governor of the land. During a great famine, he forgave his brothers saying, "You meant what you did for evil, but God meant it for good, the saving of all these people" (Genesis 50:19-21).
What does Jesus say when good people suffer? In the 9th chapter of the gospel of John, Jesus' disciples ask, "Rabbi, who sinned,this man or his parents, that he was born blind."
"Neither this man nor his parents sinned," said Jesus, "but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life" (John 9:1-3).
That's what happened in Job's and Joseph's lives too. God used suffering to reveal His mighty deeds in their lives. Faith in God brings blessings as well as suffering. In Acts 9:16, God said to Ananias about Saul (Paul), "I will show him how much he must suffer for my name."
Think About It
Have you wondered why good things don't always happen to good people? If they did, then the righteous would become proud and arrogant, exactly what God hates. Instead God wants us to trust Him through bad times and good times.
Pray About It
Thank you, Father, that you never leave us to suffer alone, but you are always with us. Thank you for your comfort and peace even when things don't go the way we want. Show us how to live for you and not under our circumstances. Amen.
Before Jesus suffered and died on the cross for our sins, He talked with His disciples about what was going to happen.
"Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father's house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am" John 14:1-3. Then He told His friends how they could be with Him forever.
"I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" John 14:6. People then and now don't think there is only one way to heaven. For me, Jesus said it and that is good enough. I may not understand how people around the world will all have a chance to choose Jesus, but they are in God's hands and He is merciful, kind and just all at the same time. I trust Him, knowing He doesn't want any to perish, but all to be with Him where He is.
Think About It
When Jesus walked with His disciples, the elders of the temple and the Pharisees and the Roman government were always confronting Him. They were jealous of His power and teaching. They missed their Savior because of their pride and arrogance. It seemed like the world was upside down. The disciples saw the trouble and Jesus comforted them. We are in troubling times today and we can accept the same comfort Jesus gave His disciples.
Pray About It
Thank you, Lord Jesus, for the love and comfort you give us. Show us your paths in this world so tempting and confusing. Teach us your truth and your ways so we can live our lives for you. Amen.
The Darvaza Gas Crater in the middle of the Karakum Desert in the former Soviet republic of Turkmenistan is not a natural phenomenon, but the results of a soviet drilling accident in 1971. The crater has burned with unquenchable fire more than forty years. It is located northwest of Afghanistan and northeast of Iran and is often referred to as the Door to Hell.
Revelation 20:10 says, "And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever."
When I visited the lakes of burning sulfur in Yellowstone National Park, I thought about what the Bible said. The lakes were clear and beautiful to look at, but boiling hot with unquenchable fire. It reminded me how sin is--so attractive and wonderful at times, yet its pleasures are temporary, the consequences are deadly.
Jesus said these things about hell:
"The subject of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth" (eternal suffering outside of God's presence) Matthew 8:12 emphasis mine.
"If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire" Matthew 18:8 and "If your eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown int the fire of hell." These are figures of speech. God doesn't want us to cut off our limbs or gouge out our eyes. Sin starts in the heart and we have to ask ourselves, "Is there anything in my life that causes me to stumble? If so, we need to surrender it to God.
Many ask, if God is loving, how can there be an eternal hell? Because God said there is. God is righteous, loving and just at the same time. He created us for His pleasure, to worship and adore Him. However, some choose not to love God. Instead, they choose their own ways. I did that for many years, and I am thankful that God heard my cry of despair and loved me. He forgave me for choosing my ways over His and now I only want to do His will.
Jesus said in John 3:16, "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, so that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life" (that is life with Him).
Think About It
Eternity is forever. We can choose to accept what Jesus did on the cross for us and live in His presence or die for our own sin and live outside of God's love (in eternal suffering).
Pray About It
Lord Jesus, thank you that you loved me so much that you took my sin to the cross and paid the price for my righteousness. You did not deserve that punishment and I did not deserve your grace. I am awed by your amazing love. Amen.