Sunday, July 18, 2010

Love Mercy.

Mercy--a compassion or forbearance shown especially to an offender or to one subject to one's power; a blessing that is an act of divine favor or compassion; compassionate treatment of those in distress.

Looking at even more of what God requires of us, I've looked at what His Word has to say about mercy. Here are some of the scriptures I came across, along with some of the conclusions that I've come to.

1. God is merciful. PRAISE GOD, God is merciful! It is a part of who He is. It's always been a part of who He is. When He first chose to reveal Himself and His glory to Moses in the desert, that's one of His main characteristics that He chose to reveal about Himself.

"Remember, O Lord, your great mercy and love, for they are from of old."--Ps. 25:6

"And the Lord said, 'I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the Lord, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.'"--Ex. 33:19

2. The Lord will have mercy on those who love Him and turn to Him.

"Turn to me, and have mercy on me, as you always do to those who love your name."--Ps. 119:132

"Let the wicked forsake his way, and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for He will freely pardon."--Is. 55:7

"His mercy extends to those who fear Him, from generation to generation."--Luke 1:50

3. The Lord doesn't just have a little bit of mercy. He won't have mercy on those who turn to Him and then become frustrated when they mess up again. Rather, He delights to show mercy--He enjoys it!!! He is patient with us as we try to learn to follow Him.

"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."--Micah 7:18

"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."--Eph. 2:4-5

"But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display His unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on Him and receive eternal life."--I Tim. 1:16

4. In fact, David, someone known as a man after God's own heart, willingly relied on God's mercy when he knew he had sinned and the Lord was bringing punishment. God gave David a choice as to what the punishment for his sin would be. He would experience: a period of famine; a period of unrest, being defeated by his enemies; or a period of judgment by the Lord Himself. David's response is incredible.

"David said to Gad, 'I am in deep distress. Let us fall into the hands of the Lord, for His mercy is great; but do not let me fall into the hands of men."--II Sam. 24:14

5. Because of God's great mercy, we have many blessings in Him.

a. We have access to Him. It's not because of anything that we have done

that we have the right to approach Him and pray to Him and ask anything

of Him at all. It's because of His mercy.

"But I, by your great mercy, will come into your house; in reverence will I bow down

toward your holy temple."--Ps. 5:7

"Give ear, O God, and hear; open your eyes and see the desolation of the city that bears

your Name. We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of

your great mercy."--Dan. 9:18

"He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy. He

saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit."--Titus 3:5

"Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy

and find grace to help us in our time of need."--Heb. 4:16

b. Because of His mercy, we have forgiveness of sins!

"Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great

compassion, blot out my transgressions."--Ps. 51:1

c. Because of His mercy, we are able to rely on Him for encouragement to

persevere, to not give up in doing His work.

"Therefore, since through God's mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart."

--II Cor. 4:1

6. His mercy requires a response on our part.

a. He desires for us to show mercy to others. In fact, again we see where His

desire for us to show mercy to others is more important to Him than getting

every minute detail right religiously. He expressed this through His prophets

in the Old Testament, and Jesus Himself reiterated it on more than one

occasion in the New Testament.

"Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy."--Matt. 5:7

"For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt

offerings."--Hosea 6:6

b. We are to offer our lives to Him, as living sacrifices to Him, allowing Him to

transform us into the type of person He wants us to be.

"Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living

sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform

any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing, and

perfect will."--Rom. 12:1-2

7. As we mature in Him, as we grow in Him with godly wisdom, we will also grow in mercy.

"But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate,

submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere."--James 3:17

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Do Justice.

“He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God."--Micah 6:8

Justice--just; righteousness, equitableness, or moral rightness.

In an effort to understand more of what God requires, I’ve looked into the Scriptures to see what He has to say about justice. Though this list is certainly not all-inclusive, here are some of the conclusions I’ve come to:

  1. Justice is part of God’s nature. It’s wrapped up in who He is and what He does.

“The Lord loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of His unfailing love.”—Ps. 33:5

“Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, your justice like the great deep. O Lord, you preserve both man and beast, how priceless is your unfailing love!”—Ps. 36:6

  1. Understanding justice is one of the keys to understanding Him.

“Evil men do not understand justice, but those who seek the Lord understand it fully.”—Prov. 28:5

“This is what the Lord says, ‘Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understand and knows me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight.’”—Jer. 9:23-24

“I will betroth you to Me forever; yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and in justice, in lovingkindness and in compassion, and I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness. Then you will know the Lord.”—Hosea 2:19-20

  1. God so honored and esteemed a man’s request for a discerning heart to understand justice that He made King Solomon the wisest man ever to live. The Lord also blessed him abundantly with physical, earthly treasures in addition to that!

“So God said to him, ‘Since you have asked for this and not for long life or wealth for yourself, nor have asked for the death of your enemies but for discernment in administering justice, I will dow hat you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be.”—I Kings 3:11-12

  1. God expects us to act justly—even when nobody else does.

“Do not follow the crowd in doing wrong. When you give testimony in a lawsuit, do not pervert justice by siding with the crowd.”—Ex. 23:2

  1. Acting with justice—treating each other right and with fairness—is more important than getting every minute detail right religiously.

“I hate, I despise your religious feasts; I cannot stand your assemblies. Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them. Though you bring choice fellowship offerings, I will have no regard for them. Away with the noise of your songs! I will not listen to the music of your harps. But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!”—Amos 5:21-24

  1. Obeying God’s commands in acting with justice will bring His blessings, as opposed to disobedience and disregard for His commands. We see an example of this in His people, the Israelites, who were warned repeatedly against acting injustly. When they refused to listen to those warnings, they were ultimately taken captive and led into exile.

“Do not pervert justice or show partiality. Do not accept a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and twists the words of the righteous. Follow justice and justice alone, so that you may live and possess the land the Lord your God is giving you.”—Deut. 16:19-20

  1. Interestingly, Job had a thing or two to say about justice. He speaks to his friends, maintaining his righteousness and refusing to let go of his integrity. He knows he is right and, as such, feels that God has denied him justice.

“And Job continued his discourse, ‘As surely as God lives, who has denied me justice, the Almighty, who has made me taste bitterness of soul, as long as I have life within me, the breath of God in my nostrils, my lips will not speak wickedness and my tongue will utter no deceit. I will never admit you are in the right; till I die, I will not deny my integrity. I will maintain my righteousness and never let go of it; my conscience will not reproach me as long as I live.”—Job 27:1-6

  1. However, God had an answer for Job, as He reminded Job that he just does not have the capability to understand justice as the Lord does.

“Then the Lord spoke to Job out of the storm: “Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me. Would you discredit my justice? Would you condemn me to justify yourself? Do you have an arm like God’s, and can your voice thunder like his?”—Job 40:6-9

  1. The Lord’s kingdom will ultimately be ruled with justice.

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end, He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.”—Is. 9:6-7

“Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him and he will bring justice to the nations. He will not shout or cry out, or raise his voice in the streets. A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. In faithfulness he will bring forth justice; he will not falter or be discouraged till he establishes justice on earth. In his law the islands will put their hope.”—Is. 42:1-4

  1. When we have sinned or done wrong, godly sorrow on our part leads us to a desire for justice to be done.

“See what this godly sorrow has produced in you: what earnestness, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what concern, what readiness to see justice done. At every point you have proved yourselves to be innocent in this matter.”—II Cor. 7:11

  1. Praise be to God, our God justifies us!

“But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished—he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.”—Rom. 3:21-26

There are many more conclusions that could be reached from perhaps a more thorough study of this subject, but that covers what I’ve gleaned so far. Thanks for reading. Much love!

“And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets, who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised.”—Heb. 11:32-33

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Micah 6:8

Taking a break from the Project 4:4 blogging, at least for just a bit. (Kind-of a much needed break. I fully intend to catch up sometime before the year is out. Never mind the fact that I’m a month behind on writing about my daily reading, I’ve still not given up on that resolution yet.)

On Monday, as I was celebrating the freedom we have, living in this great nation of ours, I spent a portion of my day off at a place called The Firefly Studio. It’s a pottery shop near where I live, and it’s a great place to flex some creative/artistic muscle, while relaxing. You can purchase a piece, decorate it any way you desire, then have it glazed and fired, all for a very reasonable price. I usually spend time over there every couple of months or so with some of the girls from my church—we’ll go decorate pottery together!

Once, a little over a year ago, we had planned an evening of painting pottery; I was trying to decide what to do, and I was just coming up short. I wanted to put something religious & meaningful on something, so I shot out an e-mail to a handful of friends, asking them what their favorite verses were & why. I got several good responses to that message, but the one I went with that night was from one of my favorite Bible teachers, who told me his favorite verse was Jer. 29:11. (He did not answer the “why” part of that question, which drives me a little bit crazy. Because now I know what his favorite verse is but I have no idea why.) So I painted a small saucer-sized plate with that verse that night.

However, another verse had been suggested to me that I just couldn’t get out of my head. So a few weeks later I went back and painted a small, square tile coaster. (Notice the pattern of painting things that are small. That’s because of my lack of artistic ability. I usually choose something small…that way, if I screw it up, it’s not something I’ve spent a lot of money on! Which ended up being a good decision, with the Jer. 29:11 plate, which did not turn out so well. I’ve contemplated throwing it out and trying again, because I have no use for it…it is not cute.) Anyway, this friend had sent me the verse Micah 6:8 as his favorite. I asked him what his favorite color was, and I painted it in that color. It simply said, “Do justice. Love mercy. Walk humbly.—Micah 6:8”. I usually take pictures of the pottery I paint, but for some reason I didn’t of this one, or I would post it here. It may be the only one I don’t have a picture of…it and the Jer. 29:11 plate, which is definitely not photo-worthy, anyway.

Fortunately, the Micah 6:8 tile was photo-worthy (***special thanks to my friend for providing me w/this photo!); more importantly, it was even gift-worthy! I had decided that I wanted my friend to have it, since he was the one that inspired it, and since it turned out decent, I just left it on his desk in his office one morning.

I tell you all of this now because I was recently reminded of this coaster; because this verse has come up very recently in our Project 4:4 reading; and because, thanks to this friend of mine, I believe Micah 6:8 is becoming one of my favorite verses now as well. So I decided to look a little bit more into these concepts of justice, mercy, and humility. I’ll be posting a few blogs on these in the near future, as I’m taking a short hiatus from working on the Project 4:4 blogs. Stay tuned.

Thanks for reading. And much love!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Project 4:4--Day One Hundred Sixty-Three

Day One Hundred Sixty-Three, II Chron. 22-23, II Kings 10-12

Today’s reading continues the narrative of happenings in both Israel and Judah.

In Israel, Jehu is the man God has chosen and used to carry out justice upon Ahab and Jezebel and their household. Jehu proceeded to gather all the prophets of Baal together in the temple of Baal and have them put to death. In that way, he ended Baal-worship in Israel. However, Scripture tells us Jehu still did not follow the Lord with all his heart. He continued in sin.

Meanwhile, in Judah, Jezebel’s daughter Athaliah, who was the mother of Ahaziah, king of Israel, usurped the throne after Ahaziah’s death. She killed all of the royal family of Ahaziah (which must’ve included some of her own offspring) to secure the throne for herself. However, thanks to the high priest Jehoida and his wife Jehosheba, one young descendant of Ahaziah, named Joash, was spared.

Jehoida and his wife hid young Joash in a room in the Temple to protect him for a time. When he was seven years old, he was presented to the people as the King of Judah, and Athaliah was put to death. After this, there was a sense of revival for the people of Judah, as they covenanted once again to follow the Lord and be His people.

However, the story doesn’t end there…more on Joash soon…stay tuned!

Project 4:4--Day One Hundred Sixty-Two

Day One Hundred Sixty-Two, II Kings 8-10, II Chron. 22

A lot going on in today’s reading, but really not a lot that I have to comment on. It is in today’s reading that Jezebel is killed, rather gruesomely, and Ahab’s entire family is destroyed.

Noteworthy that Jezebel is killed in exactly the way the Lord said she would be, after the way she treated Naboth. Also, Ahab’s household was completely wiped out, as the Lord said it would be.

One thing that I’ve truly rejoiced over as we go through this reading, something that I’ve pointed out time and time again, and will continue to point out as I notice it and it excites me, is that the Lord keeps His promises.

However, with that in mind, as much as I can rejoice over His promises of mercy, guidance, love, and forgiveness, we must also remember that the same is true of His promises of discipline and punishment for those who do evil.

Project 4:4--Day One Hundred Sixty-One

Day One Hundred Sixty-One, II Kings 6, 8, 5, 7

Today’s reading contains a the story of Naaman, which has long been one of my favorites since I was a kid. So I’d highly recommend that you take a look at it.

However, today’s reading also contains another story that has become one of my favorites as I’ve gotten older. I’ll share a portion of it with you here:

The king of Syria is at war with Israel, but time and again his plans are ruined, as the prophet Elisha is always able to warn the king of Israel about Syria’s plans before they happen. This enrages the Syrian king, so he sends men to find out where Elisha is staying. When he finds out where Elisha is, he sends an army of chariots and horsemen to surround the city.

Scripture says, “When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. ‘Oh, my lord, what shall we do?’ the servant asked. ‘Don’t be afraid,’ the prophet answered. ‘Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.’ And Elisha prayed, ‘O Lord, open his eyes so he may see.’ Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. As the enemy came down toward him, Elisha prayed to the Lord, ‘Strike these people with blindness.’ So he struck them with blindness, as Elisha had asked.”

May we always be reminded that the One who is in us is greater than the one who is in the world.

O Lord, open my eyes so that I may see.