Proverbs 20:5 NIV
The people who knew Simon knew he was impulsive and tended to put his foot in his mouth. But Jesus saw something else in him; that’s why He renamed him Peter, implying he was a stone suitable for a foundation. Can’t you imagine the look on the other disciples’ faces when Jesus said, “You are Peter…upon this rock I will build my church, and…hell will not conquer it” (Matthew 16:18 NLT)? But Peter did become a pillar, a respected leader and founder of the church. And all because of Christ’s ability and willingness to look beyond the surface and see what was on the inside. Being made in God’s likeness gives a person amazing potential, but sometimes it takes “a man of understanding” to recognize it and draw it out. Too many of us see only what is on the surface. So we are quick to peg someone as arrogant, or quick-tempered, or weak, etc. But when you have spiritual insight, you see beyond all that, to the hopes and fears behind the person’s behavior. We don’t need more self-appointed critics, we need: (1) Parents who pray for their children, look beyond their flaws, and draw out their uniqueness. (2) Spouses who search for the hidden treasure in their mates. (3) Business leaders who treat their workers with respect, and match their responsibilities with their talents. (4) Believers who forgive immature, stumbling fellow Christians and work to develop them. (5) Soul winners who see lost people through the eyes of Jesus and recognize what His transforming power can do. So pray for spiritual insight.
Soul food: Acts 3:11-5:42; Luke 8:1-15; Ps 133; Prov 16:2
Isaiah 42:3 ESV
Ever felt like your life was lying in ruins? That you’d been hurt so much your emotions were bruised and broken? That you’d made too many mistakes to ever experience God’s redemption? No matter how badly broken we may be, if we turn to God, He’ll restore us. Isaiah said, ‘A bruised reed he will not break.’ These words portray the gentleness and grace of God as He restores and makes us whole. The Bible says: ‘His anger lasts only a moment, but his kindness lasts for a lifetime’ (Psalm 30:5 NCV). Other people might walk away from us when our lives are a mess, but God doesn’t. He never abandons us. He is longing for us to hand all the pieces over to Him so that He can bring something beautiful out of them. The Prodigal Son is a great example of this (you can read the whole story in Luke 15). When the son returned home after wasting all of his inheritance money, his father welcomed him back, forgave him, and then restored him to his rightful place as son. ‘The son said to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.” But the father said to his servants, “Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet”‘ (Luke 15:21-22 NIV). Sometimes we can think our sin is too great and we’re too far gone. But with God, there’s always hope of restoration. When we confess our mistakes to Him, He promises to forgive us, and to forget our sins.
Lev 23:15-22; Acts 2:1-18
Mark 11:25 NIV
When someone hurts us, our natural response is to either hurt them back or hope they will suffer for what they’ve done. But as children of God who have been forgiven and saved, we know this is the wrong response. Forgiving someone doesn’t come naturally or easily; it requires supernatural grace on our part. And we get that through prayer. Jesus said, ‘When you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.’ When we remember how God has shown grace toward us, we realise that we need to show that same grace to those who have hurt us. Sometimes we can feel that we have a right to hold on to unforgiveness, or that if we forgive people we’re letting them get away with what they did to us. But actually if we don’t forgive people, we’re keeping ourselves tied to the hurt and the person who caused it. Bitterness and unforgiveness actually hurt us more in the long run. And the people who have hurt us will be judged by God. He calls us to forgive people, just as He has forgiven us. Jesus told a story about a servant who couldn’t pay his debt. He begged his master to take the debt away, and he did. But then someone owed that servant money, and he refused to take their debt away (you can read this story in Matthew 18). The servant had been shown kindness and grace, but refused to show the same kindness and grace to the person who owed him money. And the same is true when we don’t forgive people. So, before we go to God, let’s make sure we’ve shown the same grace to those who have hurt us as He’s shown to us.
Matt 5:8; Ps 24:3-6; 2 Pet 3:3-14; Ps 51:10
1 John 1:9 AMPC
In spite of our best intentions and efforts, we all “fall short” of God’s requirements (Romans 3:23 NKJV). So what’s the answer? “If we say we have no sin [refusing to admit that we are sinners], we delude and lead ourselves astray, and the Truth [which the Gospel presents] is not in us [does not dwell in our hearts]. If we [freely] admit that we have sinned and confess our sins, He is faithful and just (true to His own nature and promises) and will forgive our sins [dismiss our lawlessness] and [continuously] cleanse us from all unrighteousness [everything not in conformity to His will in purpose, thought, and action]” (1 John 1:8-9 AMPC). When it comes to God’s forgiveness, knowing is better than feeling. Here’s how God’s forgiveness works: Consciousness of sin leads to conviction of sin, and conviction of sin leads to confession of sin, and confession of sin leads to cleansing of sin, and cleansing of sin leads to confidence before God (See 1 John 3:21-22). You say, “I don’t feel worthy of God’s forgiveness.” You will never be worthy of it! God’s forgiveness is not based on your worthiness, but on Christ’s! Furthermore, God is not like your parents; He doesn’t insist you squirm and be miserable for a few days so that you will “learn your lesson” before He forgives you. That would mean you play a part in earning His forgiveness. It’s by grace, and grace alone (See Ephesians 2:8-9)! “Grace” means “undeserved favour.” So when God forgives you, honor Him by forgiving yourself and moving on.
Soul food: Isa 26-29; Matt 11:10-19; Ps 107:17-22; Prov 3:21-24
Psalm 34:18 NLT
When someone has broken your heart. When somebody you love breaks your heart and betrays your trust, you’re in a vulnerable place. And the Enemy will use the experience to get you to do four things that will hurt you even more, derail you spiritually, and rob you of God’s blessing: (1) Isolate yourself, alienate and avoid others. (2) Lose your sense of trust, and suspect the motives of everyone you meet. (3) Cause a root of bitterness to spring up that will impact your relationship with your family and those in your circle of influence (See Hebrews 12:15). (4) Make you strike back and get even, rendering evil for evil (See 1 Thessalonians 5:15). Don’t do it! Instead, stand on God’s Word: “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.” “I will turn their mourning into joy. I will comfort them and exchange their sorrow for rejoicing” (Jeremiah 31:13 NLT). “The Spirit of the Lord…has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor…heal the brokenhearted…proclaim liberty to the captives…recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed” (Luke 4:18 NKJV). “Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:31-32 NLT). Has someone done you wrong? Forgive them – and keep on forgiving them until you’re free in your mind. It’s a daily walk that sometimes feels like three steps forward and two back. But if you keep your eyes on Jesus – you’ll get there.
Soul food: Isa 4-7; Matt 10:1-10; Ps 100; Prov 3:7-8