The Ultimate Class Act by Charles R. Swindoll
Class Action is a class act. It's a film about two lawyers who go head-to-head, both in court and in life. They are father and daughter . . . on opposite sides of a complicated case charged with the full spectrum of emotions.
It is the father-daughter interplay that gives the story its definition. During her early teen years her father was often on the road, busily engaged in various cases and crusades. During that impressionable era of her life, he was not only unfaithful to her mother, he was virtually out of touch with the family. The daughter's resentment of her father's lifestyle festered into full-blown competition, both privately and professionally. Nothing would please her more than winning that class-action suit in the courtroom . . . a perfect place to unleash her rage, to humiliate her father and retaliate on behalf of her mother, whom she idolizes.
Behind this brilliant woman's drive and accomplishments lie demons of bitterness. Unknown to the young woman, her soul awaits that moment when she can finally forgive her father . . . and be free.
What is true in the make-believe world of film is all the more true in the real world of life. Jesus Himself spoke of forgiveness on several occasions. Like the time Peter asked Him if forgiving someone "seven times" was sufficient. After all, that was over twice the going rate according to the Pharisees' teaching. To paraphrase Jesus' terse answer: "Would you believe seventy times seven?" In other words, an infinite number of times . . . no limit.
Jesus then went on to point out that without forgiveness there cannot be freedom, and He told them the story of a man who, after having been forgiven an enormous debt, refused to forgive someone who owed him a measly twenty bucks. The man who would not forgive was called back before the king, who "handed him over to the torturers" (Matt. 18:34). That word means "inquisitors," conveying the idea of personal torment . . . internal torture. Jesus added: "My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart" (18:35).
We are most like beasts when we kill. We are most like men when we judge. We are most like God when we forgive.
Of all the actions you can carry out, that one is the ultimate class act.
Freedom and forgiveness both begin with the same letter.
We are most like men when we judge. We are most like God when we forgive. --Chuck Swindoll
Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; according to the multitude of Your tender mercies, blot out my transgressions.
The concept of being replaced usually has a negative connotation. We work hard to become important and irreplaceable. While this mindset has its benefits at work, it will not work when it comes to our relationship with God where we are always on the receiving end. God does not need us.
We can ignore the truth and try to earn God's favor, or we can accept this truth and come to God in humility. In Luke 18, Jesus describes a Pharisee who is consumed with his own merit. His prayers reveal his blindness to his own shortcomings and to God’s perfection and holiness. Meanwhile, a tax collector clearly sees his need for God’s grace and forgiveness (verses 9-14).
God's mercy is revealed in the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. He stands in our place, and His perfection and purity make us acceptable to God. One way to remind ourselves of this is to pause, asking God to shine His light into any areas of our lives that we may need to confess or recommit to Him. This will keep our hearts tender and honest and we will find deep joy in His compassion toward us.
The proof of spiritual maturity is not how “pure” you are but awareness of your impurity. That very awareness opens the door to grace.
1 Chronicles 5–6
Requirements for Victory by Charles R. Swindoll
1 John 5:4–7
According to Scripture, three things are required for spiritual victory: birth, faith, and truth. In order to enter into the ranks of the victorious, we must be "born of God." It occurs when I accept Jesus Christ as Savior.
Then comes faith. I draw upon the power that is in me. I no longer operate on the basis of human strength, but by faith. I rely upon divine power.
Then is truth. Everything is made possible by the truth, by believing the truth, by living the truth. Allow the truth to invade, reshape, and cultivate your life anew.
Tell me, have you had such a birth?
If so, are you operating in faith?
And the truth—is it the truth you are claiming?
If you've answered yes to all three questions, then it's time for action. Quit hiding behind those excuses! Stop telling yourself it's too late! It is never too late to start doing what is right. Start now. Trust me, you can move from the realm of defeat and discouragement to victory and hope if you will simply take action now.
Aim high. Go hard after God. Press on.
Everything is made possible by the truth.
You can move from defeat and discouragement to victory and hope. Give it to God. --Chuck Swindoll
But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself?”
Acts 9:10-19 There were three men in the book of Acts named Ananias. The first was the man to whom Peter spoke in Acts 5. Ananias and his wife sold a piece of land and claimed they were giving all the proceeds to the church. They were lying, and their lie was exposed to protect the church from deceit.
The second Ananias was a fervent disciple of Christ in Damascus who had the joy of leading Saul of Tarsus to faith in Christ and facilitating his baptism (Acts 9:1-19). Paul later described him as a man of “good testimony” (Acts 22:12).
The third Ananias was the high priest who commanded that Paul be struck on the mouth in Acts 23:2. The apostle responded angrily, “God will strike you, you whitewashed wall!”
We encounter these same three men today. Some in the church have a corrupting influence. Some in the world oppose the spread of the Gospel. But here and there we encounter true saints who maintain a good testimony and seek to win others to the Lord Jesus.
What kind of Ananias are you?
We must not let Satan in the door of the church. We must resist his temptation so as not to violate the holiness of Almighty God.
1 Chronicles 3–4
But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.
Where can you find the strongest glue in the world? Not in a store or factory. Dive into the ocean instead and take a look at barnacles and mussels, which fasten themselves to boats, piers, and rocks. Many shellfish secrete a protein that allows them to firmly cling to any surface, even in salt water. Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are currently studying shellfish in an attempt to develop a stronger kind of waterproof glue that can be used in ship repair and even with surgical incisions.1
For an even stronger kind of glue, dive into the Bible and study the subject of love. The apostle Paul said that nothing can separate us from God’s love and that God has shed abroad His love in our hearts (Romans 8:39; 5:5). According to Colossians 2:2, our hearts are “knit together in love.”
Although the Church is made up of people from all walks of life, our love of Christ must unite us. That means we must exercise patience, meet needs, and put the interests of others first. Love is the opposite of being shellfish… I mean selfish.
Love is extravagant in the time it is willing to give, in the strength it is willing to spend, and in the price it is willing to pay.
George Duncan, Scottish revivalist
Trauma by Charles R. Swindoll
Like potatoes in a pressure cooker, we twenty-first-century creatures understand the meaning of stress. A week doesn't pass without a few skirmishes that beat up on our fragile frames. They may be as mild as making lunches for our kids before 7:30 in the morning (mild?) or as severe as a collision with another car . . . or another person. Makes no difference. The result is "trauma." You know, the bottom-line reason Valium remains the top seller.
The late Joe Bayly, insightful Christian writer and columnist, certainly understood trauma. He and his wife lost three of their children: one at eighteen days (after surgery); another at five years (leukemia); a third at eighteen years (sledding accident plus hemophilia). In my wildest imagination, I cannot fathom the depth of their loss. In the backwash of such deep trauma, Joe and his wife stood sometimes strong, sometimes weak, as they watched God place a period before the end of the sentence on three of their children's lives. And their anguish was not relieved when well-meaning people offered shallow, simple answers amidst their grief.
H. L. Mencken must have had such situations in mind when he wrote: "There's always an easy solution to every human problem—neat, plausible, and wrong."
Eyes that read these words might very well be near tears. You are trying to cope without hope, and there's no relief on the horizon. You're bleeding and you've run out of bandages. You have moved from mild tension to advanced trauma.
Listen carefully! Jesus Christ opens the gate, gently looks at you, and says: "Come to Me, all you who labor and are . . . overburdened, and I will cause you to rest. [I will ease and relieve and refresh your souls]" (Matt. 11:28, Amplified).
Nothing complicated. No big fanfare, no trip to Mecca, no hypnotic trance, no fee, no special password. Just come. Meaning? Unload. Unhook the pack and drop it in His lap . . . now. Does He know what trauma is all about? Remember, He's the One whose sweat became like drops of blood in the agony of Gethsemane. If anybody understands trauma, He does. Completely.
He's a Master at turning devastation into restoration. His provision is profound, attainable, and right.
Allow Him to take your stress as you take His rest.
There’s no fee or password to come to Jesus. So drop your pack in His lap—now. --Chuck Swindoll
Loving God, Loving Others
He who says he is in the light, and hates his brother, is in darkness until now.
1 John 2:9
John 13:34-35 Horticulturists in the United Kingdom have developed a plant they are calling the “tomtato.” Above ground it produces tomatoes, but below ground it produces potatoes. This is unnatural, of course. The apostle James said, for example, that a fig tree can’t bear olives or vice versa (James 3:12). Jesus made the same point when He said, “You will know them by their fruits” (Matthew 7:16).
The apostle John applied these botanical lessons to the spiritual life in a plain way: You can’t say you love God and hate your brother at the same time (1 John 2:9-11). If you love God, the fruit in your life will be that you will love others—especially others in the body of Christ who also love God. In fact, Jesus told His disciples that their love for one another was how the world would be able to identify them as His followers (John 13:34-35). And it applies to more areas than just love. Anyone who claims to know God through Christ but doesn’t obey all His commands “is a liar, and the truth is not in him” (1 John 2:4; Matthew 28:19-20).
The way we demonstrate that we love God is by loving others. Failing to love others calls into question our love for God.
Love is the root; obedience is the fruit.
2 Kings 24–25
Experiencing Supernatural Joy In John’s Gospel, Jesus expounded His declaration that He is the vine and we are the branches: “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full” (John 15:11).
This text indicates that the joy of the Christian is not the natural joy of human life. It is a supernatural joy insofar as it has a supernatural source. It is the work of Christ within us. Though Jesus spoke of His joy being in us, it is still our joy once it is in us. He is its source and its power, but it is still our joy.
Jesus also spoke of the end or purpose of His joy remaining in us, namely, that our joy may be full. The term full speaks of a degree, in this case an ultimate degree. There is no more joy than full joy. Yet we can experience partial joy or less than full joy, not because there are fluctuations in Jesus’ joy, but because there are fluctuations in the degree of our abiding in Christ.
We cannot fall out of Christ, but in the process of sanctification we experience greater and/or lesser degrees of clinging closely to Him. Here our wills are important in that we are called to abide in Christ.
Coram Deo: Ask God for supernatural joy to flood your life.
Passages for Further Study
Isaiah 61:1, 3