Tag Archives: mercy

Ezekiel 10-13; Hebrews 9

“I will be a sanctuary to you during your time in exile.  I, the Sovereign Lord, will gather you back from the nations where you have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel again.’ “When the people return to their homeland, they will remove every trace of their vile images and detestable idols.  And I will give them singleness of heart and put a new spirit within them.  I will take away their stony, stubborn heart and give them a tender, responsive heart, so they will obey my decrees and regulations.  Then they will truly be my people, and I will be their God.” Ezekiel 11:16-20 NLT

Lord is Sovereign. I am needing this reminder today and every day.

Only He is responsible for a changed heart. Am I letting him change mine?

“This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am against all your magic charms, which you use to ensare my people like birds.  I will tear them from your arms, setting my people free like birds set free from a cage.  I will tear off the magic veils and save my people from your grasp.  They will no longer be your victims.  Then you will know that I am the Lord.  You have discouraged the righteous with your lies, but I didn’t want them to be sad.  And you have encouraged the wicked by promising them life, even though they continue in their sins.  Because of all this, you will no longer talk of seeing visions that you never saw, nor will you make predictions.  For I will rescue my people from your grasp.  Then you will know that I am the Lord.” Ezekiel 13:20-23 NLT

What am I letting control me? Who am I running to? My mind can be a trap for the enemy.  He knows where I am weak.  But, God is merciful and rescues me every time.  He never gets tired of when I come to him. This song from Cody Carnes comes to mind….”I run to the Father. I fall into grace. I’m done with the hiding. No reason to wait. My heart needs a surgeon. My soul needs a friend. So I’ll run to the Father. Again and again And again And again.”

“For by the power of the eternal spirit, Christ offered himself to God as a perfect sacrifice for our sins.  That is why he is the one who mediates a new covenant between God and people, so that all who are called can receive the eternal inheritance God has promised them.  For Christ died to set then free from the penalty of the sins they had committed under that first covenant.” Hebrews 9:15&16 NLT

Dear Father, thank you for your Holy Spirit. I want to be after your heart.  Give me eyes to see where I need to change.  Amen.

“He will come again, not to deal with our sins, but to bring salvation to all who are eagerly waiting for him.” Hebrews 9:28 NLT

Amy(amyctanner)

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Philemon; Psalms 105

“So here I am, an old man, a prisoner for Christ, making my loving appeal to you.  It is on behalf of my child, whose spiritual father I became while here in prison; that is Onesimus.  Formally he was not valuable to you, but now he is valuable to both of us.  He is my very heart, and I’ve sent him back to you with this letter.” Philemon 1:10-12 TPT 

Do I have spiritual parents pleading for me, like Paul was for Onesimus?  I am thankful for the wisdom filled women that God has given me over the years. I pray for strong mentors in the life of my kids, who can fill the spaces that I can’t.  My daughter has a youth leader who goes to battle for her mind.  I have a Heavenly Father who is praying on my behalf.  He knows when my heart has wondered and wants to see me reconciled back to him.

“I  would have preferred to keep him here by my side so that he could take your place as my helper during my imprisonment for the sake of the gospel. However, I did not want to make this decision without your consent, so that your act of kindness would not be a matter of obligation but out of willingness.  Perhaps you could think of it this way: he was separated from you for a short time so that you could have him back forever.  So welcome him no longer as a slave, but more than that, as a dearly loved brother.  He is that to me especially, and how much more so to you, both humanly speaking and in the Lord.” Philemon 1:13-16 NLT

Paul loved Onesimus, but he was willing to send him back to Philemon.

What do I need to let go of and trust the Lord with? Do I have faith that he can use every situation for good, like he did for Joseph?

“But he had already sent a man ahead of his people to Egypt; it was Joseph, who was sold as a slave.  His feet were bruised by strong shackles and his soul was held by iron.  God’s promise to Joseph purged his character until it was time for his dreams to come true.  Eventually, the king of Egypt sent for him, setting him free at last.” Psalms 105:17-20 TPT

Thank you Father that you pursue me.  That you don’t leave me where I am.  Your heart aches when I wonder and you long for me to be restored back to you. You call me friend. I am grateful for your love.  Amen.

“Don’t you ever forget his miracles and marvels.  Hold to your heart every judgement he has decreed.  For you are his servants, the true seed of Abraham, and you are the chosen ones, Jacob’s sons.  For he is the Lord our God, and his wise authority can be seen in all he does.  For though a thousand generations may pass away, he is still true to his word.  He has kept every promise he made to Abraham and to Isaac.” Psalms 105:5-9 TPT

Amy (amyctanner)

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Jer. 21-22; 2 Kings 24; Titus 2; Ps. 112

It’s not always easy to define success and find security. The world defines those things by what they possess: wealth, popularity, beautiful treasures. Our culture promotes a very self-centered approach to life, teaching that the key to happiness and fulfillment is found in having more. More money. More friends. More things.

Scripture says quite a different thing.

Psalm 112 reminds me of how God defines success.

This scripture says the key to success and security in life is the fear of God that leads to obedience. When I live in reverence of God, I can rest in the power of God to provide for me as I follow His will for my life.

And what is that will for my life?

Psalm 112:4-5, 9 NIV

Even in darkness light dawns for the upright,

for those who are gracious and compassionate and righteous.

Good will come to those who are generous and lend freely,

who conduct their affairs with justice.

They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor,

their righteousness endures forever;

their horn will be lifted high in honor.

God’s will for my life is that I am gracious.
Do I bless those around me with undeserved kindness and understanding?

God’s will for my life is that I am compassionate.
Do I go the extra mile to care for those who are suffering?

God’s will for my life is that I am righteous.
Am I striving to honor God in the daily choices I’m faced with?  

God’s will for my life is that I am generous.
Do I give freely, or even sacrificially, for the sake of furthering the Kingdom of God?

God’s will for my life is that I am fair.
Do I make truth and honesty a part of every interaction with others?  

God’s will for my life is that I am merciful.
Am I patient with those around me? Am I forgiving those who have hurt me?  

Success in this life will be found when I love God and love others.

While the world defines success by what they take and store for themselves, God defines it by what I give away.

It’s a scary thing to be generous. It’s a scary thing to give of myself physically, emotionally, and financially. But when I trust God to provide for my needs, I can look for ways to meet the needs of those around me.

Instead of being fearful and worrying about what I have and if I’ll have enough, I must choose to fear God, live in reverence to Him, and look for ways to be generous in the lives of those around me.

When I am gracious, compassionate, righteous, generous, fair, and merciful, God blesses me richly. He provides for my needs. He brings joy into my life. He honors me for honoring Him. And what I receive from Him is so much better than anything I could take for myself.

Psalm 112 (NIV)

1 Praise the Lord.

Blessed are those who fear the Lord,

who find great delight in his commands.

2 Their children will be mighty in the land;

the generation of the upright will be blessed.

3 Wealth and riches are in their houses,

and their righteousness endures forever.

4 Even in darkness light dawns for the upright,

for those who are gracious and compassionate and righteous.

5 Good will come to those who are generous and lend freely,

who conduct their affairs with justice.

6 Surely the righteous will never be shaken;

they will be remembered forever.

7 They will have no fear of bad news;

their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord.

8 Their hearts are secure, they will have no fear;

in the end they will look in triumph on their foes.

9 They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor,

their righteousness endures forever;

their horn will be lifted high in honor.

10 The wicked will see and be vexed,

they will gnash their teeth and waste away;

the longings of the wicked will come to nothing.

Father, forgive me for being caught up in the world around me and believing that I need to provide for myself, take for myself, and protect myself to be safe and secure. I know that You are willing and able to provide for my every need. Help me to step out in faith to be generous to those around me. Help me to see the needs you want to use me to meet and help me to glorify you as I choose giving over taking and keeping. Thank you for all the ways you provide for me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.  

 

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Filed under 66 Books, Old Testament, Psalms

Isaiah 12-15; Romans 12

Romans 12 is one of those portions of scripture that I often find myself in a love/hate relationship with. It contains such great encouragement! But it also contains such difficult instructions and directions.

In verse one, we’re reminded to live in light of what Jesus did for us on the cross. How do we do that? By living surrendered to God in body, mind, and spirit. This is how we find freedom, and this is how we can discover the will of God in our lives. Ultimately, when we live surrendered, we learn to see through God’s eyes:

First, we can see ourselves through God’s eyes, and that causes us to live in humility. It causes us to live our gifts without comparing our gifts. It causes us to serve others without worrying what they will do in return.

And then we can see how this humility causes us to see our brothers and sisters in Christ through God’s eyes. It allows us to recognize that there can be diversity in unity. It causes us to value our differences, our unique personalities, and various gifts that God created us with. It allows us to be generous and welcoming. It allows us to treasure others and treat them in such a way to make them feel treasured.  It allows us to love with an enduring and sacrificial love.

Finally, it allows us to see outsiders and enemies through God’s eyes. It moves us to forgive when we’ve been hurt. It gives us the ability to meet others halfway, to extend mercy, to seek harmony, and be generous even when people attempt to take advantage of us or mistreat us. It causes us to seek peace – to chase after it, and to make every effort to have it, even with the people who constantly provoke us. And it’s what allows us to overcome their evil with good – the goodness that can only come from God’s grace as we live surrendered to His will.

The “Romans 12 Christian” is one I long to be, but I must confess, I fail more often than I succeed.

Instead of seeing myself accurately, I often get puffed up in my skills and attribute them o myself instead of seeing them as gifts from God to be used for His glory. I can easily fall into the trap of comparing myself to others to justify my own shortcomings. And I struggle greatly to serve others if I don’t think I’ll get anything out of it.

Instead of seeing my brothers and sisters in Christ accurately, I often find myself impatient with them, feeling frustrated with the differences in everything from gifts and talents, to personality and communication styles. I struggle to devote myself to others and to be generous and sacrificial, instead focusing on how I wish they’d be more like me.

And I especially struggle with those who are outsiders or enemies. I don’t like choosing forgiveness. I’d much rather nurse the hurt into a grudge that demands justice. I’d much rather focus on my rights. I’d much rather focus on their failures. And I’d much rather justify my sinful behavior as a result of their provocation. But God calls me to forgive as I’ve been forgiven – “In view of God’s mercy.”

And so, in view of God’s mercy, I will choose humility in how I see myself and others.

In view of God’s mercy, I will value the differences between believers.

In view of God’s mercy, I will extend forgiveness when it’s undeserved.

In view of God’s mercy, I will seek peace and pursue it.

In view of God’s mercy, I will make every effort to love as I’ve been loved.

In view of God’s mercy, I will live surrendered.

 

Father, in Jesus’ name, thank you for the mercy you showed me at the cross. Thank you for offering your one and only Son to take my place on the cross and to rise again, defeating death, so that I could live with You. Help me to live in the light of that mercy. Help me never to forget it or take it for granted. Rather, let it move me to surrender. Let it move me to love as I’ve been loved. And let me learn to overcome evil with good by letting Your love flow through me. Amen.

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Isaiah 4-5; Romans 2; Psalm 115-116

Psalm 116 NIV

1 I love the LORD, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy.

2 Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live.

3 The cords of death entangled me, the anguish of the grave came over me; I was overcome by distress and sorrow.

4 Then I called on the name of the LORD: “LORD, save me!”

5 The LORD is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion.

6 The LORD protects the unwary; when I was brought low, he saved me.

7 Return to your rest, my soul, for the LORD has been good to you.

8 For you, LORD, have delivered me from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling,

9 that I may walk before the LORD in the land of the living.

10 I trusted in the LORD when I said, “I am greatly afflicted”;

11 in my alarm I said, “Everyone is a liar.”

12 What shall I return to the LORD for all his goodness to me?

13 I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the LORD.

14 I will fulfill my vows to the LORD in the presence of all his people.

15 Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his faithful servants.

16 Truly I am your servant, LORD; I serve you just as my mother did; you have freed me from my chains.

17 I will sacrifice a thank offering to you and call on the name of the LORD.

18 I will fulfill my vows to the LORD in the presence of all his people,

19 in the courts of the house of the LORD– in your midst, Jerusalem. Praise the LORD.

 

Oh, the love of Jehovah.

He heard me. He paid attention to me. He was moved by my plea.

He stretched himself to reach me.

How can I do anything else with my life but tell of His love, His power, His deliverance – for His glory?

I was dying. I was dead.

I was overcome by sin, and powerless to free myself.

I was physically and emotionally broken.

But then I called out to God. I begged Him to rescue me, to save my life, and to save my soul.

And He did.

Because He is full of mercy and love. He is compassionate and gracious.

He is good, even though I am not.

He rescued me, and He keeps on rescuing me.

He teaches me and grows my understanding of Him, of me, and of the world around me.

Now I can rest in Him.

Now I need not work and labor and be overcome by life.

Now I need not give in to worry and anxiety about the future or the past.

Because He has been good to me. And He continues to be good to me.

He was good when He delivered my soul from death.

He is good when He delivers me from my fears and sorrows.

He is good when He keeps my feet secure and holds me up when I begin to fall.

And so I can walk freely and confidently as a testimony of His goodness and grace.

I trust in Him, so I can speak with confidence before Him.

I can express myself to Him when I’m fearful, overwhelmed, and discouraged.

I can express myself when it feels like the world is against me.

And He will rescue me again like He has done before.

How can I ever repay such love and kindness?

I will tell of His love and share His mercy with those around me.

I will live to reflect His grace and power.

I will worship Him both in word and deed.

I will show my love by my life surrendered to His glory and will.

May I never grow tired of sharing how God has delivered me from death.

May I never grow tired of sharing with others how they, too, can find life.

May I rest in the confidence that I have been a faithful servant.

May gratitude never leave my heart or my mouth.

May I glorify the Lord as long as I live.

 

Father, thank you for rescuing me. Let me never forget it or take it for granted. Help me to find confidence to share your rescuing love with those around me. Help me to live for your honor and glory. In Jesus’ name, Amen.  

 

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Song of Solomon 4-6; Matthew 19

Matthew 19:16-30 NIV

Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”

“Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.”

“Which ones?” he inquired.

Jesus replied, “‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother,’ and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’”

“All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?”

Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?”

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

Peter answered him, “We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?”

Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.  And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.

Ah, how much of myself I see in this rich young man.

This young man was arrogant enough to think he had a right to heaven by his deeds. And if I’m honest, I have to admit, there are times when I fall into the trap of focusing on my works and glorifying myself. “At least I’m not like…”

Jesus was patient with this young man, and I’m thankful He extends the same loving-kindness to me. Instead of rushing to point out all of the failures this man was hiding, Jesus instead took it one step further and brought him to the heart of the matter – and He does the same for me.

It’s not about what I technically do or say that’s right. Jesus wants more than that – He wants my heart. And not just a piece of it – the whole thing. But I like to argue with Him. “But God, why can’t I keep this and have you, too? Isn’t enough that I don’t do this other thing? Isn’t enough that I do this good thing?”

The young man turned away sad when Jesus asked for His heart. It’s easy to dismiss this man as being foolish, but how many times do I initially respond the same way when Jesus reveals a change that needs to take place in my heart? “God, I don’t know if I can do this…”

But Jesus doesn’t apologize for asking me to surrender. Instead, He promises to be worth it. He won’t fail me, and He won’t forget me. You know what will? That little piece of my heart that I’m trying to keep.

For the rich young man, it was his money and comfort. For me, it’s control. For others, it’s a relationship. A habit. That one thing they don’t know how to live without. But it will always end in suffering.

Jesus offers a better solution. He offers Himself. And with Him, everything else.

“Look for yourself, and you will find in the long run only hatred, loneliness, despair, rage, ruin, and decay. But look for Christ and you will find Him, and with Him everything else thrown in.” –CS Lewis

Lord, keep me from chasing things and people that won’t satisfy. Forgive me for seeing comfort and security in the things and people of this world – and ultimately, for seeking those things within my own heart. I know that You are worth leaving everything for. You’ve never failed me yet, and you won’t start now. Help me to remember Your faithfulness, and help me to persevere in following You above anything else. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

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2 Samuel 13-14; 2 Corinthians 4; Psalm 51

This week, I tapped into a podcast of interviews with adults who shared an event in their lives that had a lasting effect upon them. They painted vivid pictures with their words, and the interviewer followed up with questions to the now adult speakers. They were only two people in this whole world, each marked by a memory from childhood. I wondered perhaps all of us have stories that have had such an effect upon our lives.

14 But Amnon wouldn’t listen to her, and since he was stronger than she was, he raped her. 15 Then suddenly Amnon’s love turned to hate, and he hated her even more than he had loved her. “Get out of here!” he snarled at her (2 Samuel 13:14-15, NLT).

***

So Tamar lived as a desolate woman in her brother Absalom’s house.

21 When King David heard what had happened, he was very angry. 22 And though Absalom never spoke to Amnon about this, he hated Amnon deeply because of what he had done to his sister (2 Samuel 13:20b-22, NLT).

Sin separates. It separates us from God and it separates us from each other. In motion, it destroys. Amnon’s sin and violence led to his sister’s desolation, a brother’s thirst for revenge/justice and murder, and an estrangement in a lineage. Sin’s reach is vast–don’t ever be fooled.

13 She replied, “Why don’t you do as much for the people of God as you have promised to do for me? You have convicted yourself in making this decision, because you have refused to bring home your own banished son. 14 All of us must die eventually. Our lives are like water spilled out on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again. But God does not just sweep life away; instead, he devises ways to bring us back when we have been separated from him (2 Samuel 14:13-14, NLT).”

Psalm 51 was written after David was confronted about his adultery with Bathsheba.

Have mercy on me, O God,
    because of your unfailing love.
Because of your great compassion,
    blot out the stain of my sins.
Wash me clean from my guilt.
    Purify me from my sin.
For I recognize my rebellion;
    it haunts me day and night.
Against you, and you alone, have I sinned;
    I have done what is evil in your sight.
You will be proved right in what you say,
    and your judgment against me is just.
For I was born a sinner—
    yes, from the moment my mother conceived me.
But you desire honesty from the womb,
    teaching me wisdom even there.

Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean;
    wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
Oh, give me back my joy again;
    you have broken me—
    now let me rejoice.
Don’t keep looking at my sins.
    Remove the stain of my guilt.
10 Create in me a clean heart, O God.
    Renew a loyal spirit within me.
11 Do not banish me from your presence,
    and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me.

12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
    and make me willing to obey you.
13 Then I will teach your ways to rebels,
    and they will return to you.
14 Forgive me for shedding blood, O God who saves;
    then I will joyfully sing of your forgiveness.
15 Unseal my lips, O Lord,
    that my mouth may praise you (Psalm 51:1-15, NLT).

Oh, that Amnon would have repented.

I look long on the image of spilled water in 2 Samuel 14:14. Thank you, God: Redeemer, Father, Healer. You devise a way to bring us back to you. Sin’s reach is vast, but You are greater. God, I hand you my memory, knowing You to be the Good Father, full of mercy, unfailing love, compassion. Bring healing to all the broken places.

Courtney (66books365)

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Filed under 2 Corinthians, 2 Samuel, 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Psalms