Micah 7:18 “Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy.”
We all have been there. Thinking we have our lives in control and then something never even conceived in our worst nightmare happens. And we fall on our faces in grief and regret. We come to a place where all the fixing and repairing will not work. The only solution is mercy.
I have been there. I have experienced it. I have panted for it. I have never deserved it. My own weakness, foolishness, pride, personal independence, and simple rebellion have all been efforts to run away from it. Mercy is the “IT” of my life. My life has tasted the power of God to forgive. “IT” is only when we get away from ourselves and we find God. Mercy is the only solution and path to peace, wisdom, completeness, delight, joy, and victory.
Lord, as my day begins, I resign my own stubbornness to simply accept your mercy.
Colossians 3:2-3 “Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that on earth, for you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.”
The world has drilled into our minds from early childhood a need for conformity. There is a “norm” to which we must conform. Our culture tells us that success and happiness depend upon how well we adjust to it. And once we have God in our lives, this religious experience can become an add-on.
We must recognize one of the great problems in our modern Christianity: Those who come to Christ probably have their minds made up that to stay sane they must remain “adjusted” to the society around them. We will add Jesus to our lives to the edge of our culture, but not an inch over.
But the world does not have any idea where it is going. Our society has never found its highest and best. It is a life groping in the darkness dragging Jesus along the way. All the while we are filled with puzzlement, fear, and frustration.
Thankfully, it was to this kind of world Jesus came. He died for its sin and now lives for the salvation of all who will trust and not adjust.
Isaiah 55:6-7 Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts. Let them turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.
Discovering and doing the will of God is the “only” way to have a consistent experience of His abundant life. I have but one simple decision every morning as I shake the sleep from my eyes. That decision is how I shall live my life today. Either I will let the world affect me or I will affect the world for God. There are thousands of alternative paths to follow if the world is my choice. But to choose Jesus there is only one. Today I will seek. Today I will find. Today I will call upon Him. Today God will have mercy. Today God will be God in my life. Today God will freely pardon. Today I will choose to glorify Him. Today I will be the person God has intended me to be. I will seek Him while He may be found. I will call upon Him while I still have breath. It may sound trite, but I say it again: today is the first day of the rest of my life.
I Peter 4:12-13 “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange was happening to you. But rejoice since you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.”
From these words from Peter spring two emotions. One of fear of an impending trial of my faith, and second hope. These words tell me there is little to shadow my current joy. Yes, things happen. Yes, there will be events in my future that could well rock my belief in my fellow man. Peter tells me don’t be surprised at the inhumanity of man. He tells me there will be events that could well steal away my personal peace and personal comfort. “It rains on the just and the unjust.” The manner in which I have become accustomed, can and will be disturbed. It will happen. It may cause strange and disturbing thoughts and even actions. Nevertheless, when the skies seem to be falling and the enemy presses hard and heavily, I am called to reflect on the hope that never fails. I have an “inheritance incorruptible and is undefiled and will never fade.” That is my peace.
“Have patience with everything that remains unsolved in my heart. I have learned to live in the question.”
John 8:31 “Jesus, therefore, was saying to these Jews who believed in Him, ‘If you abide in my word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you know the truth, and the truth, shall make you free.’”
I have squirrels in my backyard. In the spring they chase each other around and around the yard, each trying their best to catch the other and all the while making squirrel sounds of seeming joy. I have a few friends like these squirrels. In a long and ongoing discussion between my Christian buddies, we often talk about truth. Truth should be a constant. Truth should be the final decision point in an argument. Nevertheless, as I make my point in the discussion at hand, I am often accused of bending the truth for the sake of argument. If I want to win an argument it is simply easier to talk about the perception of truth instead of the truth itself. It has been said, “truth is the truth until it is shared with someone.” My perception of the truth can, and often is, different than my friends.
We go around and around, like squirrels in the spring. The result of chasing each other around the tree is a joy. It is joy without judgment. It is a joy of being accepted. The truth has set me free. Weighty and thought-provoking friends make my life better.
Romans 8:28 “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”
Paul, writing to the Romans disturbs me. How do I know that God is causing the infinite and the totality of things to become good? War, pain, pandemic, unrest, in the large, and the weakness of my life, the small, become good? I live a life of gradual delegation to inactivity and frailty, how can these things become good? Ministry seems so far off. I struggle to be all that God wants of me. I must take the voice of Paul who faced terribleness and trust God to be in my imperfect world. I must love God and acknowledge his purpose. I must keep making one step at a time. I well understand the happenings of my life are to make me different. To make me better. I already have received the greatest miracle of all, which is eternal life. I will continually keep crying out to God knowing His Word is true. All things transformed into good. It is a miracle.
March 5, 2023
Jeremiah 32:27 “I am the Lord, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?”
There are three stages of the work of God: the impossible, the difficult, and the done. Miracles still happen. Just because we do not see people raised from the dead regularly does not mean God is not in the miracle business. The Lord receives glory from the miracles He does every day in our lives. We must continue to press Him in prayer for the miraculous and not settle so quickly into doubt, anxiety, or fear. Miracles will continue until morale improves.
Colossians 3:13 “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”
The electricity was out for a while this early morning. No coffee, no heat, no internet, and no TV. When it came back on I heard the wistful and melodious words of my wife, “Thank God.” Emotions pointed at the supplier of our power were not that good when all went black. But the moment it returned, attitudes changed. All was forgiven.
Why does God care so much as to forgive me for all the dumb decisions, willful acts, nurtured bad habits, and purposeful neglect? Why would the personified perfection of God desire to have such a flawed, imperfect person like me be a part of His family? Why would God want to call me “beloved”, “child”, or even “heir”? We are saved to save. WE ARE FORGIVEN TO FORGIVE. It is the greatest Godly act we can do. Forgiveness is love acting out. It is not keeping records of wrongs. Forgiveness is being kind when wronged. Forgiveness does not dishonor. Forgiveness is not self-seeking. It is love.
Acts 7:59-60 “While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he fell asleep.”
As the stones of unrighteous indignation were being thrown, Stephen knew that Christ was the Judge and not the crowd of hurlers. He knew that in just moments he would be standing in Christ’s presence. His prayer was not, “forgive me for the life I have lived” but “Forgive those who sin against me.” Stephen did not ask for forgiveness for himself. He was not thinking about the judgment that he was going to meet so soon. Stephen was forgiven before the first stone hit his brow. He had no fear about judgment for himself, and so when the last stone struck, the desire of his heart and mind was for those who were hurtling stones and breaking his body. Without hesitancy, Steven’s focus was not on the stones and pain, but on his persecutors. I am closer than most to my earthly end, but I do not fret about it. Like Steven, I am now more concerned about you.
Ephesians 3:19 “To know this love that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”
Idaho was once called my home. Orofino small town just big enough to have two grocery stores and one stop light. It was not the end of the world but if you looked hard enough, you could see it from there. It was once a place of prosperity and zest. Timber was the primary resource of commerce. But the trees were harder and harder to extract because the easy stuff was gone.
Our spiritual journeys may well be described in the same manner. Our earthly Christian life begins with forgiveness and a new life and will end when we move out of our earthly world. Boom and eventually an end. A rich and full life is available to all who believe. Forgiveness for that which has gone behind provides for a Godly life. God desires to give us a marvelous beginning with forgiveness and salvation and a great ending in Glory. And for now, in this new life, I am discovering a new abundant life in between the two signposts.