Friday, August 26, 2016

ARE WE REALLY ONE?

The truth is, we sometimes mistreat others. We separate ourselves from a brother or sister; we wound and hurt someone; we can easily misrepresent others. And we think it is “just between God and me.” So we confess it to the Lord and repent, then go our way, thinking all is well. Yet, we never give thought to how in the process, we’ve not only wounded a brother, we have wounded the Lord. Indeed, we did it to the whole Body of Christ, because if one hurts, all hurt.
Here is the revelation we are given: “I belong to the Body of Christ! And so does my brother, my sister. We are all one because we are all connected to the head.”
I present to you the same message Paul delivered to his fellow workers.
“Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others” (Philippians 2:3–4).
“I beseech [you] . . . be of the same mind in the Lord” (Philippians 4:2).
Here is how Paul sums it all up. Indeed, here is mercy lived out in full:
“Because ye [are] dear unto us” (1 Thessalonians 2:8).
I ask you: Are all your brothers and sisters in Christ dear to you? As the life of our head flows to us, the members of His Body, we begin to love not only each other but even our enemies.
“Lord, let us be merciful, as You have been merciful to us!”

Thursday, August 25, 2016

THE EXAMPLE OF THE CHURCH

Right now, the world needs a living example of the mercy of Christ. Tensions have never been greater. In Europe and the United States, racial tension is sweeping through society, even creeping into churches.
Do not be deluded into thinking that a government can take care of these problems. The costly mercy that’s needed throughout the world can come only from those who have tasted and received such mercy for themselves. And that is the calling of the Church of Jesus Christ. We are to offer a mercy that lays down self for the sake of a brother or sister — and, as Jesus demonstrated, even for an enemy.
STOP AND CONFRONT
I exhort you to stop here and confront this truth. Go no further in your life or ministry — stop all your plans and good works — until you confront the implications of being a member of Christ’s Body. The Lord declares of His Church, “This is My pearl of great price, the Bride for My Son.” Think of what a miracle this is! Think, too, of the great calling of this Body to show mercy to an unmerciful world.
Simply put, mercy looks beyond faults and failures, beyond self-justification. If we truly believed  we wound Christ personally whenever we wound a brother or sister — that what we say and do against a single member of His Body is, as Jesus said, “against me” (see Luke 11:23) — we would work night and day to make everything right. And we would not stop until we were clear of it all.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

A PAINFUL REALITY

Imagine Saul’s anguish when Christ confronted him near Damascus with a painful reality. The Lord told Saul, “I am Jesus. And you are persecuting Me” (see Acts 9:4-5). Saul had thought he was simply dealing with individuals, doing God’s work to root out Jewish heretics.
Saul was jolted with the truth: “Jesus has a spiritual body. He is the head and His body — His children here on earth — are connected to the head. It is one body, made up of believers who are flesh of His flesh. And anyone who comes against one of them is actually coming against Him.”  
CAUSING JESUS PAIN
Every “Jesus person” whom Saul had persecuted and imprisoned — everything he had said and done against them — was felt personally by Christ Himself. Saul’s confrontation with this truth changed his life.
As Paul the apostle, he grew to understand how deeply God loved His Church. He came to see that, in the Lord’s eyes, the Church was a costly pearl. It was also a spotless Bride for His Son — one corporate, invisible body made up of blood-purchased children from every tribe and nation on earth.
A SERIOUS TRUTH
I am convinced we do not take this truth as seriously as we should. A full understanding would mean the end of all grudges in the Church . . . the end of all bitterness . . . the end of all prejudice, fleshly competition, pride, gossip and division.
“There should be no schism [division or discord] in the body; but the members should have the same care one for another” (1 Corinthians 12:25).

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

THE POWER OF MERCY

The mercy of God has amazing power to deliver. His mercy has broken the chains of all addictions, translating multitudes from the kingdom of Satan into the Kingdom of Christ.
There was a time, with millions throughout the world narcotized, that Satan thought he had prevailed. Indeed, word spread throughout the world that once the devil binds you, you are hopelessly bound forever.
But in every generation, God sends His Holy Spirit into the highways and byways.
  • His mercy goes directly to the heart of Satan’s territory: into city slums, into crack houses, and onto rooftops where addicts lie in stupors.
  • His mercy has shone upon the weakest, the most drug-crippled, and those cast aside by society as hopelessly lost.
NOT FOREVER HOPELESS
The first heroin addict to be saved and delivered through the Teen Challenge ministry was Sonny Arguinzoni. Sonny now serves as bishop of more than 600 churches worldwide made up of former addicts. Nicky Cruz, the famous former gangster and graduate of Teen Challenge, has preached the mercy gospel to millions around the world, with multitudes being set free and delivered.
NO LONGER ABANDONED
The whole world ought to arise and thank God for His saving deliverance, for restoring those once lost and abandoned by humanity.
At the very least, society should thank God for saving drunken dads and reuniting them with their wives and children.
“The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous [abounding] in mercy” (Psalm 103:8).

Monday, August 22, 2016

THE PLANS OF THE LORD by Gary Wilkerson

 Often when God tells Christians that He has great plans for them, they respond, “Oh, I don’t know, Lord.” But when Satan comes to them and says, “I’m going to destroy you,” they think, “Yeah, that could be true.”
WHOM DO YOU BELIEVE?
We believe the lies of the enemy almost more than we believe the truths of God. But we must get to the place where we say, “No, God has a call on my life and a higher plan. I’m going to stand firm, steadfast, immovable—by the grace of God. By His power that works mightily in me, just as Paul says” (see Colossians 1:29).
You do not stand by might or power but by His Spirit—because His Spirit lives within you! You can be a Christian who possesses boldness and confidence, one who believes the truth about yourself and about others, but mostly about God and what He has planned for you.
THE EDGE OF A CLIFF
Today you may feel like you are being pushed right to the edge of a cliff, about to be thrown over. Your nerves are on edge and you feel like you are nearing rock bottom. And then there are other things: your marriage, your emotional life, pressures on your job, an addiction. You feel like crying, “God, is there any way out of this?”
Your bigger question is, “How do I get to the point of trust and belief where I need to be?”
THE ANSWER
The Word of God has the answer and here is a scripture for you to hold on to.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11, NLT).

Saturday, August 20, 2016

FROM HEAVEN TO THE VALLEY by Nicky Cruz

Jesus chose to be a child of the valley. Before He came to earth He was living in greater glory than we could possibly imagine. The Son of the King of the universe. He sat at the right hand of God. He is God. And yet He chose to step down from His throne and enter the world of the valley. He chose to live among the hopeless and lost of creation. He humbled Himself, denied Himself, emptied Himself for our sake. And He went to the cross in shame to create a bridge between the valley and the mountaintop.

The valley is a cold and heartless place to live. It is defined by blindness, drought and hunger. You can feel the rejection, the hurt, the insecurity, the fear, the turmoil. You can smell the hopelessness and pain. You can sense the anguish and sorrow. And the valley has nothing to do with income or social status. It’s a state of the heart. It is anyplace apart from knowing and trusting God.

Jesus came to the valley to bring hope, love and compassion, to bring sight to the blind, to show the way out. He came to bring new life to those who were dead. He went to the valley because that’s where the lost people lived. And yet, so often, those He sets free never take the time to look back. They never make an effort to journey back into the valley to help others find their way out. They never travel into the valley of hopelessness to bring hope.

“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10, NIV).


Nicky Cruz, internationally known evangelist and prolific author, turned to Jesus Christ from a life of violence and crime after meeting David Wilkerson in New York City in 1958. The story of his dramatic conversion was told first in The Cross and the Switchblade by David Wilkerson and then later in his own best-selling book Run, Baby, Run.

Friday, August 19, 2016

A SPECIAL DAY

I picture the zealous Pharisee Saul at the beginning of the special day when mercy shone on him. He had asked for an audience with the high priest:
“The young man who persecutes the Jesus crowd wants permission to take his crusade to Damascus. He vows to jail them all. He actually thinks he will be able to put out this ‘Jesus fire.’”
Imagine the scene as Saul and his band of men rode out of Jerusalem toward their next mission. They were cheered on their way by the high priest and all the scribes and Pharisees. But then, just outside the township of Damascus, the radiant gleam of mercy fell on Saul (see Acts 9).

THIS IS JESUS!

How did mercy present itself to this lost, misguided man? It did not try to confound him. It did not accuse him. It did not try to destroy him. Instead, the fully paid, free mercy of the Lord laid Saul facedown on the ground. And a voice spoke to him, saying, “Saul, Saul, this is Jesus. Why are you persecuting Me?”

Christ’s message to this zealot was clear: “It is Me you are touching, Saul. With every Christian you have jailed, you have done it to Me.”

REVELATION AND REDEMPTION

Saul was overwhelmed by this revelation. Temporarily stricken blind, he was led to the home of a praying, Spirit-filled man in Damascus named Ananias. In a small room there, Saul called on the name of Jesus. Ananias boldly explained to him the high cost of the mercy he had received and told him, “Now, Saul, you are going to suffer for His name’s sake.”

With a stricken conscience, Saul surely thought back to the stoning of Stephen, the many believers he had thrown into jail, and the multitudes he had abused. But this man received mercy that day!