Tag Archives: mercy

Let Your Light Shine!

2tim 1 to 4 let light shine2a

Advent Series: 2Tim 1 Gifts!

The world is blind to the truth both visually and orally. We know that the enemy has blinded them so that they may not see the glorious Christ. They will turn away from the truth and turn to myths yet of all seasons, Christmas offers opportunities that open hearts. People are more open to the gospel message because it paints a picture of the many and beautiful gifts that God has promised to those who believe in him. Christmas gives us an opportunity for the three gifts that the Father has bestowed upon us of Grace, Mercy, and Peace to shine forth!  We have them in abundance because we know that every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow. In addition, God did not give us a Spirit of fear but of power and love and self-control—which by the way is a Fruit of the Spirit!

It is a trustworthy statement: For if we died with Him, we will also live with Him; If we endure, we will also reign with Him; If we deny Him, He also will deny us;  If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself. God wants us to be open to the opportunities that he places in our grasp. We must be ready in season and out of season with the message and be ready whether it is convenient or not!

Pray that God uses your gifts this season to proclaim the truth of the gospel just as Jesus said: let your light shine before people so that they can see your good deeds and give honor to your Father in heaven. [Matt 5].

 

Judging—yes or no?

romans 2 mercy of god2 How often have we heard this phrase: you are judging. Yet, if truth be known we all judge. We judge which foods we want to eat based on likes and dislikes. We judge ideas by choosing truth from error. But, to judge another’s heart is for God alone for He is impartial. God knows which of the two kinds of people will stand before him one day: self-righteous sinner or repentant saved (saint) and he doesn’t really care if they are Jew or Gentile!

God sees the self-righteous  person whose attitude is reflected in their judging of others while ignoring self-judgment first. The  saved  has  a  righteous  attitude  that  recognizes  one  thing:  it  was  God’s  kindness  that  led  him/her  to  repentance and therefore he has no need to judge for that is God’s prerogative .  The  sinner  has  failed  to  realize  that  he/she  is  without  excuse   when  they  judge  someone  else.  For  on  whatever  grounds  they  judge  another,  they  condemn  themselves,  because  they  who  judge  practice  the  same  things.  [Rom 2:2 paraphrase].    Paul in  writing  to  the  Romans  reminds  them  of  this  when  he  writes about their attitude:  “you  have  contempt  for  the  wealth  of  [God’s]  kindness,  forbearance,  and  patience,”

Jesus’ parable of the  Pharisee  and  a  publican reveals  this  mindset. One day two men went up to the temple to pray. A confident Pharisee stood praying, thanking God  for his  accumulation  of good works all the while judging others. In  sharp  contrast,  the  publican  would  not  even  look  up  to  heaven  and  sought  the  mercy  of  God.  Only  one  went  home  justified  and  it  was  NOT  the  Pharisee.  He who has ears to hear learn this:  “everyone  who  exalts  himself  will  be  humbled,  but  he  who  humbles  himself  will  be  exalted.” [Luke 18]

Like the publican we should be entreating God’s mercy so we can sing “thank you Lord for saving my soul, thank you Lord for making me whole
” for salvation is His work alone.

 

Psalm 51 “Sin, Forgiveness and Grace”

psalm 51 forgiveness2Had King David remembered:  “sin is crouching at the door, and its desire is for you, but you must master it” he would not have experienced an adulterous affair with Bathsheba nor committed murder to cover it up. Yet David concealed his sin and why  God sent Nathan the prophet to him. As David realized this, a profound thought came to him as he confessed before a Holy God. “Against You, You only, I have sinned.”

No matter who the persons are involved, the sin is in reality against God and Christ who saved us and washed us from our sin.  Like David, we think our sin is concealed or it does not impact anyone other than ourselves but this is a lie out of the pit of hell. Galatians reminds us that God will not be mocked and we reap what we sow. God told David, “ Now therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised Me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.[ 2Sa 12:10]

When David repented he heard Nathan the prophet say, “The Lord also has taken away your sin; you shall not die.” Reflecting on this, David entered the house of the Lord and experienced God’s  greatest gift and mystery called forgiveness. All we have to do is to ask God to “Wash away my wrongdoing! Cleanse me of my sin!” Open hearts are ready to receive God’s grace and lovingkindness and understand more clearly God’s grace.

How do we know that transaction of forgiveness has taken place? Like David, we will experience peace and joy even as we face the consequences that follow.

 

Treasures…Here Today, Gone Tomorrow…OR???

2peter 3 treasure2sIn the last days blatant scoffers will come into our midst proclaiming that which is contrary to the Word of God. They say time marches on just as it always has from creation but choose to deny the effects of sin upon this earth and mankind. They heap unto themselves treasures of silver and clothes which moths and decay will turn to dust or to be given to charity for another. [Job 27]. Yet, we who believe in the power of the risen Christ are commanded to be heaping treasures which will last for eternity. In reality Peter is telling us what we really already know but need reminding: the only things we can carry into eternity are holiness and godliness for riches are uncertain but good deeds, generosity to others and sharing of the truth of the gospel are untouched by the taint of this world.

In addition the scoffers of this world fail to see the mercy and grace of God’s patience in waiting for them to repent and turn to Him. Sadly one day they will stand before God and will hear “depart from me, I never knew you.” May we yearn instead to hear “well done thou good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of the Lord.”

Beloved, where your heart is are your treasures. Are you sending your treasures on ahead to eternity or heaping them up here in a world of rust and decay?

Forgiveness Heals Two Wounds

ImageI am sure you have met people who report their lack of attendance at the house of God on worship days because “there are hypocrites there.” Welcome to the neighborhood, we are all hypocrites in one shape or other. We offend because we fail to think, we judge because we feel we are superior in our spiritual understanding, we respond with forked tongue more often than not. Jesus remarked that if we are to be found faithful we must be faithful in much as well as trustworthy. We must be honest in all of our relationships and demonstrate to the world God’s way of responding. Jesus had just taught about Lazarus and the rich man. The rich man had every opportunity to forgive and respond in kindness but he chose not to do so and now Jesus follows up that in chapter 17.

The rich man’s problem was that he chose to offend, he chose to be a stumbling block, and he chose to ignore Lazarus’ need. Jesus begins by saying, yes offenses will come, but WOE to the one that is the cause. And so he bridges from this parable to teach his disciples about kingdom life. He said “watch/guard yourself” in how you respond as the true test of kingdom living is forgiveness even if someone offends or abuses us 7 times in a day and returns to seek forgiveness OR even if they do not accept our forgiveness or respond to it. It was common in that day for the Pharisees to keep a record of offenses—-Jesus says that is not God’s way. Instead look at it this way. You are the servant, the slave in the kingdom. When we offer forgiveness to another we have a choice to respond in one of two ways:

  1. We can say pridefully that it was hard to do but it had to be done. OR
  2. We say as the servant in this story: ‘We are slaves undeserving of special praise; we have only done what was our duty.’” In other words, we were obedient as that is the model of God’s forgiveness.  

Now Jesus uses the story of the 10 lepers to teach even more about this principle: we are not only to forgive but also when forgiven we are to thank the forgiver and healer of our soul. Only one leper returned to Jesus to thank him. He was saying to the disciples, you see this leper; that is true kingdom living. He was saying you are the blessed receivers but often fail to thank God for it. The other lepers went on their way healed but they did not return. That is how forgiveness often works. Some are accepting of our gift and others just take it for granted. Also, some choose to keep a record of those times they forgave. You have failed to see that you are to be like the servants “we have done our duty;” obedient to the teaching of Christ. Mat 6:14 “For if you forgive others their sins, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.   Jesus says, no matter the response, it is our attitude and our obedience as servants in the kingdom. It is our duty as God’s servants.

To all of this the disciples respond with this statement: Increase our faith. Jesus said it doesn’t need to be increased; you already have the faith you need, you just need to exercise it, plant it and watch the results.

So the questions before us are many but here are a few: Where are you holding an unforgiving spirit within? Where are you judging without mercy? Where are you like the 9 lepers who have failed to thank God for His forgiveness of your sin?

What Rule Book Are You Following…OUCH!

ImageIn any sport there are rules which are listed in a play book. Players need to memorize them and abide by them. The Pharisees had their rule book and to be a “righteous” Pharisee one studied it religiously!  In Matthew 12 it seems that the Pharisees and their religiosity or legalism surfaces more clearly than ever before. It is almost as if they ripped out the verse from Isaiah 28:10 “For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept, Line upon line, line upon line, Here a little, there a little.” As they followed Jesus through the grain field they reminded him that we must be doing things in such and such a way. They whipped out their “rule book” to discipline the disciples, but failed to discipline themselves. They may have carried their rule book around with them as judgmental sticks but failed to see the context of Isaiah’s words. Their critical spirit is abundantly clear, in fact more so than ever before in the book of Matthew and our author has captured their critical eye as well as their vociferousness. According to their “rule book,” one may only walk 2000 paces on the Sabbath which leaves us to wonder—what they were doing in the middle of the grain field on the Sabbath?

But, moving on, the crux of this chapter is heard in our Master’s words: If you had known what this means: ‘I want mercy and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the innocent. From the grain field to the synagogue they follow our Lord. It is here, once again, that we see the lack of mercy all because Jesus spoke a word of healing…note that!!! Jesus spoke not touched the man with the withered hand…but again….*sigh* it was after all the Sabbath. Jesus asked them, where are your priorities? Is your  mercy greater for an animal that has no soul but you are unwilling to show mercy to a man so in need that he can work and take care of his family? Matthew leaves no doubt in our minds as to what the Pharisees were truly seeking. They really did not care about this man, they wanted  a way to assassinate the Lord of the Sabbath. They were unwilling to care for a man who thus would no longer be a burden to society but were willing to assassinate/murder Jesus.  They refused to show mercy but were willing to murder. This leaves us again to wondering why? Jesus has the answer:  they are blind and they are leading the blind…both will fall into the pit. Their hearts are governed by the rule book rather than the love of God.

After both of these incidents Jesus pointed to the real reason for their hatred and rejection. It lay in their heart. Jesus used the illustration of a fruit tree to capture this to the listening audience. He said: One could know one’s fruit by observing and listening to their words; For the mouth speaks from what fills the heart. And then he added this warning: you will give an account for every worthless word and by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.

Out of this chapter there are several applications but one comes to mind that are applicable even now. It is my “ouch.” How often do I fail to show mercy just because it is inconvenient, it does not meet my time schedule? How often do I take verses out of context to show my reason why something should be thus and so? I have been called a “rule oriented” person! :-(Today may I demonstrate the Fruit of the Holy Spirit in showing God’s mercy and justice rather than a myriad of sacrifices, line upon line, precept upon precept, rules upon rules which are piling up on my altar thinking this is what God wants.

Thanking God for His mercies! They are new every morning…great is His faithfulness!

 

 

“The Father’s Soul Surgery” Ps 51-53

ImageKing David wrote all three of these psalms at different times in his life. One truth jumps off the page and onto our radar screen: When we sin it does not just affect us but it affects everyone. In fact, as David reveals to us; when we sin we are sinning, despising, rebelling, and are walking independently against The Lord God Almighty. Just as David had allowed his affection to turn inward, we do the same more often than we would like to admit. He had fallen: lust of the eyes led to adultery and then to murder of an innocent man. For a year he had been silent but then when continually unrepentant, God used the prophet Nathan to confront him. Hearing he was “the” man David confessed his sin and opened his heart gate to God. These psalms reflect his thinking and his actions. May we learn from him so we do not have to “do another lap around the wilderness.”

One truth comes forth from David’s repentant heart: 51:4 Against you – you above all – I have sinned; I have done what is evil in your sight. So you are just when you confront me; you are right when you condemn me. Notice David recognized where he was spiritually and that is key for us as well and that God was just in His confrontation through Nathan. David’s heart was soft to hear the words of God. Are our hearts the same?

Secondly, David sought cleansing and a renewed heart which is key to restoration: 51:10 Create for me a pure heart, O God! Renew a resolute spirit within me! Do we pray and ask God to change our heart?

Thirdly, David sought help from God: 51:12 Sustain me by giving me the desire to obey! How often do we admit our sin, seek cleansing but fail to implement this third step?

Fourthly, when we are restored, God does not want us to waste this experience but to teach others, to testify: 51:13 Then I will teach rebels your merciful ways, and that is what God wants for us. Do you have a story of restoration that you can share to encourage others who are going through these steps?

A practical side benefit to this psalm is that if we are open to walk through these steps, God can and will use us in His service to carry forth His message of love, forgiveness, mercy, and grace.