Tag Archives: mercy

Hosea 4-9

“Come, let us return to the Lord. He has torn us to pieces; now he will heal us. He has injured us; now he will bandage our wounds. In just a short time he will restore us, so that we may live in his presence. Oh, that we might know the Lord! Let us press on to know him. He will respond to us as surely as the arrival of dawn or the coming of rains in early spring.” Hosea 6:1-3 NLT

When I first read these passages I thought that Israel was making a true change to return to the Lord. But, Israel wanted God to fix their problems, without turning from their wicked ways. Their repentance wasn’t genuine. They were more interested in the material benefits God could provide. Their hearts were not right before him and he knew it. When have I done the same thing?

I want to show love, not offer sacrifices. I want you to know me more than I want burnt offerings.” Hosea 6:6 NLT

I want to heal Israel, but it’s sins are too great. Samaria is filled with liars.” Hosea 7:1 NLT

God didn’t want their sacrifices or rituals, he wanted their hearts. What is the motive behind my worship?

What sorrow awaits those who have deserted me! Let them die, for they have rebelled against me. I wanted to redeem them, but they have told lies about me. They do not cry out with sincere hearts.” Hosea 7:13&14 NLT

Dear Father, Forgive me for when my heart is not right before you. Thank you for your patience with me. For not giving up on me. For your grace & mercy. Amen.

They look everywhere except to the Most High. They are as useless as a crooked bow.” Hosea 7:16 NLT

Amy(amyctanner)

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Job 5:17-8:22

My days fly faster than a weaver’s shuttle. They end without hope. O God, remember that my life is but a breath, and I will never again feel happiness. You see me now, but not for long. You will look for me, but I will be gone.” Job 7:6-8 NLT

I can learn a lot from Job’s vulnerability with his emotions towards the Lord. But, his hopelessness made him question God’s goodness. When has my view of God been so limited that I feel like His intentions towards me are not good? I know how easy it is to slip down into that despair.

What are people, that you should make so much of us, that you should think of us so often? For you examine us every morning and test us every moment. Why won’t you leave me alone, at least long enough for me to swallow! If I have sinned, what have I done to you, O watched of humanity? Why make me your target? Am I a burden to you? Why not just forgive my sin and take away my guilt? For soon I will lie down in the dust and die. When you look for me, I will be gone.” Job 7:17-21 NLT

Job was sure that sin must have been the cause for his suffering. He was trying to figure out what didn’t make sense. Don’t I do the same thing when I say things like, “How could a good God let bad things happen?” I’ve come to realize that some things I will never understand this side of Heaven.

Does God twist justice? Does the Almighty twist what is right? Your children must have sinned against him, so their punishment was well deserved.” Job 9:3 NLT

It seems like Job knew deep down that he hadn’t sinned against God. He was going through such intense suffering that he was trying to figure out why God would ”pick on him.” His friends didn’t help, by making Job question himself. Which caused Job to question God’s heart. I am thankful for a God that can handle my doubts.

Dear Father, thank you that I can cry out to you when I don’t understand. Thank you that you are a God of justice, but your mercy triumphs over judgement. I pray that I would give Godly advice and wisdom that reflects your heart. You are a big God and Your ways are higher than mine. I pray that I would rest in your sovereignty. I trust You Lord, Amen.

Amy(amyctanner)

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2 Kings 4:29-8:15

One of my challenges to understanding the Old Testament is reading about war, yet there are many stories of interest in God’s narrative other than just who wins or loses the battles. The first several short stories in this Scripture focus describe God confirming His prophet, Elisha through signs and miracles. I especially was struck by an incident when Elisha prayed that God would feed a hundred men where there were only 20 loaves of barley bread in one man’s knapsack. His servant broke bread until all were fed and some food was left over (reminds me of the miracles through the Lord Jesus yet to come). Elisha also instructed an enemy captain, Naaman, what to do to receive healing from leprosy (doing good to his enemy, again is messianic). We also learn that Elisha, who spoke not of his own will, but what he heard from God, was completely confident in what he was to say. Even when he knew the outcome would not be favorable, he did not hold back speaking the word of God. It is one such story that drew me in for a closer look.

When Elisha met with the king of Aram’s messenger regarding Aram’s failing health, Elisha said this to the man, “Go and say to him, ‘You will certainly recover.’ Nevertheless, the Lord has revealed to me that he will in fact die.” But Elisha could not stop staring at the messenger, Hazael, who became embarrassed under Elisha’s gaze. In this eerie moment, Elisha was given a horrifying vision of what was to come at the hand of Hazael. He wept as he prophesied to Hazael what he would do to the Israelites, saying, “You will set fire to their fortified places, kill their young men with the sword, dash their little children to the ground, and rip open their pregnant women.” Elisha knew he was helpless to do anything about this but weep; yet he was tasked with knowing and prophesying the tragedy.

I do not seek that kind of relationship with God, our Father. Still, there have been times when I feared for a person’s future without really knowing why. And when some disaster shortly befell that person, I went to my knees in fear and in prayer for mercy. On another occasion, when this foreboding overtook me concerning what a person said, I prayed for God to forgive her. I still pray that His mercy was shown to her in her last moments of life. I am no prophet, and frankly I do not want to be the harbinger of destruction. It weighs down my soul.

Yet, there are many even today who are called prophets, and who are sounding the alarm about the times we are living in. How can I discern when God is speaking through them? When I hear of destruction, is my fear of what is to come causing me to tremble? Or am I fearful for the words of those who pray for this destruction, not just to destroy the enemy armies but to cut off their descendants? Are we to pray for our enemies and ask God to destroy them at the same time? This, too, weighs down my soul.

My writer friends and I have been discussing the ‘divided heart.’ Loving two things at the same time. I thought about Jesus’ commandment, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get?” (Matthew 5:43-48). If we are to obey Christ, therefore, we must love our enemies even knowing their intent to do us or others harm. How do we do that?

Look up to heaven. Look into the face of Jesus Christ. Let His words, His Spirit, and His will be alive in our prayers. For the only way a soul is lifted up is to give God glory. He alone knows the end of all life; I am not the one who has understanding. And that is okay. My prayer is that God be with us all, protecting our hearts from becoming embittered, unforgiving, or vindictive. What we may see in a vision or otherwise, we must submit to a good God who is Lord over all the earth. Let us start by dropping to our knees in prayer for mercy. Then pray that God will increase our faith in the sovereignty of His will.

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Deuteronomy 23:15-27:10

In “miscellaneous laws,” I catch a glimpse of His heart.

For mercy and protection of others.  “If a slave has taken refuge with you, do not hand them over to their master. 16 Let them live among you wherever they like and in whatever town they choose. Do not oppress them.” (Deuteronomy 23:15-16, NIV)

Honor and glory. To honor your body and your life as a way of honoring God. “No Israelite man or woman is to become a shrine prostitute. 18 You must not bring the earnings of a female prostitute or of a male prostitute into the house of the Lord your God to pay any vow, because the Lord your God detests them both.” (Deuteronomy 23:17-18, NIV)

Kindness. Kindness within the family of believers. “Do not charge a fellow Israelite interest, whether on money or food or anything else that may earn interest. 20 You may charge a foreigner interest, but not a fellow Israelite, so that the Lord your God may bless you in everything you put your hand to in the land you are entering to possess.” (Deuteronomy 23:19-20, NIV)

Integrity, following through, trustworthiness. “If you make a vow to the Lord your God, do not be slow to pay it, for the Lord your God will certainly demand it of you and you will be guilty of sin. 22 But if you refrain from making a vow, you will not be guilty. 23 Whatever your lips utter you must be sure to do, because you made your vow freely to the Lord your God with your own mouth.” Deuteronomy 23:21-23, NIV)

I’m learning that when I listen to others, I learn so much about them. What fires them up. What they value. Where their heart is.

When I read through the Bible, do I rush to get through a passage? Do I skim for a key word? Am I looking for something for me? Something happens when I slow down; when I start a passage over because I know I was rushing; when I sit with the language and listen. Am I looking for a tidy checklist, or am I looking for His heart?

The Old Testament becomes so fresh when I sit and listen. I learn so much about God. What fires Him up. What He values. Where His heart is.

Father God, I don’t want to walk away from my time with you not learning more about you. I’m trying to be a better listener. I’m learning to shush my voice so I can hear you. What if I were to give you the silence and the space to tell me what you want me to know, instead of filling it with noise (people’s opinions, debates, commercials, music, or my own assumptions)? You are so patient with me. Thank you.

Courtney (66books365)

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Deuteronomy 23:15-27:10

Today’s verses speak of respect, kindness, mercy, generosity, justice, integrity. They may seem like a long list of rules, but I want to remember, they served a purpose in shaping the character of God’s people. Instead of just listing do’s and don’ts, there’s a why and a how to drive home the point, so they know what it (respect, kindness, mercy, generosity, etc.) looks like in action.

10 When you make a loan of any kind to your neighbor, do not go into their house to get what is offered to you as a pledge. 11 Stay outside and let the neighbor to whom you are making the loan bring the pledge out to you. 12 If the neighbor is poor, do not go to sleep with their pledge in your possession. 13 Return their cloak by sunset so that your neighbor may sleep in it. Then they will thank you, and it will be regarded as a righteous act in the sight of the Lord your God. (Deuteronomy 24:10-13, NIV)

The rules were sometimes followed by this reminder, to remember who they were and where they came from before the Lord redeemed them.

18 Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and the Lord your God redeemed you from there. That is why I command you to do this. (Deuteronomy 24:18, NIV)

It would be so easy to skim the reading as a bunch of rules, but there is a deeper meaning here, about humility, dignity, and character. About remembering what God has done and celebrating his goodness. About extending his kindness and mercy to others. It is about living set apart.

16 The Lord your God commands you this day to follow these decrees and laws; carefully observe them with all your heart and with all your soul. 17 You have declared this day that the Lord is your God and that you will walk in obedience to him, that you will keep his decrees, commands and laws—that you will listen to him. 18 And the Lord has declared this day that you are his people, his treasured possession as he promised, and that you are to keep all his commands. 19 He has declared that he will set you in praise, fame and honor high above all the nations he has made and that you will be a people holy to the Lord your God, as he promised. (Deuteronomy 26:16-19, NIV)

Father God, this reminds me: I need you every day. I need the transforming power of Your Spirit and Your Word. I don’t want to live unchanged by your grace and mercy.

Courtney (66books365)

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