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.
Ephesians 2:4-5 “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.”
I grew up in the shadow of a military training base. My Boy Scout leader was a drill instructor. Many of the adults in the periphery of my life were in the military. My father was in the Naval Reserve and wore his Senior Chief uniform proudly. He tried to keep my brothers and sister shipshape. Everything had its place, and everything should be in that place. To his dismay, it was seldom as he would expect. I grew up with absolute expectations of proper behavior and most often came up short of my father’s spit and polish.
I have spent years living and breathing in the world of expectations of other people. I lived in constant threat of disappointment to the socially acceptable norm. My ingrained nature is one of trying to live up to someone else’s imposed expectation. I failed a lot. Trying as I might, I could not be what the world expected because their expectations never included mercy.
I have found a new life. Now I live in mercy. I have experienced it. I have cultivated it. I have a great need for it. I cannot exist without it. And when it becomes a part of me, my life finds truth, purity, holiness, peace, wisdom, completeness, delight, joy, and victory. My years of living in this great mercy cause me to show mercy.
Lord, remind me again and again that in your mercy I need to show mercy.
John 20:30-31 “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”
I am amazed at the wonder of possibilities. As I read of the miracles of Jesus, each were dutifully written down and stored for all eternity, they exceeded all the miracles of Elijah and Elisha in the Old Covenant. Time after time Jesus revealed himself to the world as a miracle worker. He was a man that cared, cried, healed, created, guided, taught, revealed, prayed, loved, challenged, sent, moved, witnessed, and comforted in the Gospels. Yet there were thousands of other miracles, acts of mercy, not included in the accounts. John did not include them, but they happened. They were daily occurrences that became the norm.
We seem to classify any happenstance that is out of the ordinary as miraculous and amazing. Yet, where Jesus is concerned, they are expected and normal. Today I will look for miracles in the normal. I will look for the simple kindnesses shown when they were not expected. I will look for a smile in the pain. I will look for a sense of purpose in turmoil. I will look for joy when things get rough. I will look for steadfastness in a world out of control. Small miracles will be the new norm.
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.
Micah 7:18-19 “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. You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.”
The Bible of the Old Testament refers to people most of the time as transgressors or sinners. Sinners condemned. Sinners in need of pardon. Sinners estranged. Sinners in need of acceptance and love. Sinners in deficit. Sinners falling short. Sinners who were deserving of a penalty. Sinners afar off. Sinners separated from God. A people who are deeply troubled, without hope, without expectations, and without vibrancy. The perfect image of God’s most treasured creation was seen as adulterated, corrupted, and broken. Conversely, we hear God responding as one who would bring pardon. Pardon at the expense of Himself. Pardon exercised in love. Forgiveness is offered, no matter how terrible my attempts at life have been. And that special pardon includes the purposeful forgetfulness of our past. Undeserved blessedness.
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.
1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
Occasionally I receive remarks and comments on my writing. Not too long ago, I was called up short by a comment on the harshness of God’s view of man. God does see his creation as flawed and corrupted, and this willfulness on our part separates us from Him. Further, I understand how God has interacted with and often tested his people. The result of this testing has been mostly repeated failures. It is terrible to fall into an angry God’s hands. It is a terrible state of mind to only think of yourself as constantly unworthy. Conviction of my state is the first step to understanding my need to be forgiven. A need to experience God’s mercy and grace. Everyone, including me, has corrupted the image of God in which we were created. This feeling of being less than expected or even unworthy should point to something more than dwelling in the slough of self-loathing.
I am saved by grace. I am forgiven of my multitude of flaws. I have felt the mercy of God upon my face. I walk boldly in the calm, sweet, renewed path set before me, and I don’t look back.
Acts 3:19 “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord,”
The sun is out this morning. It seems like there has been rain or a threat of rain for almost a month. There are showers of refreshing for all those who are willing to stand out in them without fear of getting soaked. A sign on my wall so aptly states, “Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass but learning to dance in the rain.”
God’s favor is for those who have been made clean, made into new creatures, being made in His image. Similar to the hymn we used to sing in church:
There shall be showers of blessing,
This is the promise of love
There shall be seasons, refreshing
Sent from the Savior above.
Showers of blessing we need
Mercy drops ‘round us are falling
But for the showers, we plead.
Refresh me again Oh God.
Hillside Thoughts for Wednesday – Day 278 of the year 2022 – October 5
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.”
Is Jesus suggesting that I must allow the evil in this world to triumph? Am I to assume the role of victim in any encounter with someone who would do me harm? Is all that I own subject to anyone who wants to borrow it? This teaching of Jesus is tough. I don’t want my cheek slapped. I don’t want to give my shirt away. I don’t want to go the extra mile. I don’t want to lend my favorite fishing pole to a clutz. There must be something more here than a radical reaction to an offense.
The culture in which we live remains resolute in its ability to accomplish much. There are many things the secular world can do better than the church. There is a place for government to do things the individual cannot. Industry can build a car without being Christian. But there is one thing the world around you cannot do. That thing is the offer of grace. Jesus was saying we are to be different from our culture or government or industry. We have the ability to look beyond the requirements and need to go a little further and be grace and mercy.