Have you ever done anything you wished you hadn't done and were ashamed of? If you have repented of that sin and have turned your back on it, then the Bible clearly declares that you are forgiven.
All that God has done has been because of His grace, which means "unmerited favor." You aren't merely forgiven, justified, and cleansed of your sins; you have been received in love by God Himself. This is because of His deep love for His own Son, Jesus. Because His Son lives in you, you have found His favor. You have the approval of God because of what Jesus has done.
We may look today at people in the church who are called to be pastors or evangelists or worship leaders or elders and conclude they are the spiritual elite.
I can think of so many times when I should have kept silent but just had to speak. Have you ever done that? Have you ever said something, and the moment it left your lips, you thought, Why did I just say that? But you said it.
Sorrows come into all of our lives. And while none of us enjoy them, they are a reality. You will experience heartache. You will be heartbroken. But there also will be times of laughter, times of great joy and celebration. One of the lessons I've learned from life is to enjoy the good times.
The pursuit of pleasure is nothing new. As Solomon reminds us a number of times in the book of Ecclesiastes, when you boil it down, there is nothing new under the sun.
Mephibosheth was only five years old when his father, Jonathan, and his grandfather, Saul, were killed on the battlefield. Imagine, if you will, life as he had known it up to this point. The privilege and potential of his pampered life as a prince could not have prepared him for the hard life he would face in the future. There was life in the palace as a young prince, with people waiting on him hand and foot, and he was being raised by his godly father, Jonathan. Life was good for this young boy.
One morning after one of our services at Harvest Christian Fellowship, a young woman walked up and asked if I would pray for her about a relationship she was in.
Even the most committed believer has those times when fear and worry can kick in. Anxiety can overtake us. Maybe we are concerned about our future. Maybe we are discouraged or afraid. If that is the case, you might be surprised to know that even the great apostle Paul experienced emotions like this.
The early rains in Israel usually would come in late October or early November. The farmer would anxiously await these because they would soften the hard-baked soil for plowing. The latter rains would come in late April or May. These were essential to the maturing of the crops. If the farmer were to rush out and harvest his crops before their time, he would destroy them. So he had to wait.
I find it somewhat comforting that at times in his life, even the great apostle Paul could be moving in the wrong direction to the point that the Lord had to redirect him.
It's worth noting that every person Jesus had conversations or contact with was in a different situation, and He dealt with each one differently. This is because He recognized that even though we all share many of the same problems and basic needs, every man, woman, and child is a unique individual, with unique needs.
History tells of a courageous Christian who was standing before one of the Roman emperors who was persecuting the church. The emperor was demanding that Christians abandon their faith, deny the Lord, and declare Caesar as Lord. But this Christian refused. So the emperor threatened, "Give up Christ, or I will banish you."
Did you know that everything you have experienced up to this point in your life can be used for good? That isn't to say you haven't experienced hardship. That isn't to say bad things haven't happened to you. But it is to say that God can work them out for good.
Without a doubt, Romans 8:28 is one of the greatest verses in the Bible. It is one that is claimed quite often by believers, especially during times of hardship. And so it should be.
Have you ever had a significant reunion with a member of your family? Maybe it was someone you thought you would never see again or someone you had been separated from for many years.
An unforgiving Christian is a contradiction in terms, an oxymoron. To say you are a follower of Jesus Christ and yet harbor unforgiveness in your heart is simply wrong.
The story is told of Sam Houston, hero of Texas history, who gave his life to the Lord in the later years of life and asked to be baptized. He was taken down to a little country stream, and the pastor said, "General Houston, you should take your glasses off because I am going to immerse you in water." There also were some papers in General Houston's pocket, so he took those out as well.
God specializes in putting us in situations where only He can delivers us. That way, we can't "thank our lucky stars" or compliment ourselves on our own cleverness or resourcefulness. Rather, we must say, "Only God could have done this." The Lord wants to receive the glory for what He does. And He clearly says in Scripture that He will not give His glory to another (see Isaiah 42:8).
I know it is hard to imagine sometimes what God is up to in your life. You see a blank canvas, but God sees a finished painting. You see a piece of coal, but God sees a refined diamond. You see an untalented person, but God sees a mighty man or woman of God.
A fisherman who caught crabs would keep them in a bucket without a lid. Someone noticed this and asked him, "Don't you have to keep a lid on that bucket?"
A mother who wanted to teach her daughter the joy of giving gave her both a quarter and a dollar to take to church one Sunday morning. She told her daughter that she could put in either one; the choice was hers. As they were leaving church, the mother asked her daughter what she ended up giving to the Lord.
A little girl climbed up on the lap of her great-grandmother and studied her white hair and wrinkles. She said, "Grandma, did God make you?"