Tag Archives: mercy

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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Filed under 66 Books, New Testament, Romans

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

2 Samuel 11-12; 1 Chronicles 20; 2 Corinthians 3; Psalm 20

2 Samuel 11:1 (NIV)

In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, David sent Joab out with the king’s men and the whole Israelite army. They destroyed the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained in Jerusalem.

Ah, David. How far you fell and how fast you slipped.

How easily I stand in contempt of you – and yet, are we not more alike than I’d want to admit?

You made one small decision, and that one small decision changed the course of your life and many other lives. You took that one step, and that one step led to another, which led to another, which led to yet another. And before you knew it, you’d reached unspeakable places – places of adultery, betrayal, and murder.

And while I have not reached those unspeakable places, I’ve often found myself unexpectedly in places I’d never set out to reach – places like bitterness, anger, resentment, and discouragement. Where did it start? How did it happen?

One small step.

Your first small step was staying home instead of leading your army to war. I’m sure you felt justified. You wanted a break; you deserved the rest. You trusted your leaders. So you stayed behind.

My first step is often the same. I need a break. I deserve a reward. I have to rest. And so I withdraw.

By withdrawing, you found yourself in a place you weren’t supposed to be, you saw things you weren’t supposed to see, and you acted on the desires and impulses of the moment.

And when I withdraw, I find myself alone, vulnerable to temptation, and acting on the desires and impulses of the moment.

Because one indulgence makes the next easier. Until you’re out of control. Until I’m out of control.

But God was faithful to you, even after your shocking failure. In His mercy, he sent you Nathan. Nathan, who so eloquently pierced your heart with the truth. Nathan, who warned you of the dire consequences of your actions. Nathan, who came back when you repented and showed you the love of God.

And God is faithful to me, even when I fail Him. Over, and over again. In His mercy, He sends me people. He sends me His word. He sends me the truth to pierce my heart. And He opens my eyes to the course my feet have chosen and the consequences that await me.

And like you, I cry out for repentance. And like you, the Lord loves me. He restores me. He refreshes me. He affirms His love for me. And He helps me to move past my mistakes and find my identity in Him instead of my failures.

 

Oh, Lord. I could never thank you enough for caring enough about me to chase me when I wander. Father, open my eyes to the weight of my choices and help me to recognize that there are no harmless steps when it comes to my relationship with you. I can either chose to move closer to you or father away; and Lord, I want to be closer! Help me to seek you more than me, and help me to desire your rewards more than my personal comfort. Thank you for your mercy and love, even when I fail. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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Filed under 2 Samuel, Old Testament

1 Samuel 1-3; Galatians 3; Psalms 66

 “Why are you crying, Hannah?” Elkanah would ask.  “Why aren’t you eating? Why be downhearted just because you have no children? You have me-isn’t that better than having ten sons?”  “Hannah was in deep anguish, crying bitterly as she prayed to the Lord.  And she made this vow: “O Lord of Heaven’s Armies, if you will look upon my sorrow and answer my prayer and give me a son, then I will give him back to you.  He will be yours for his entire lifetime, and as a sign that he has been dedicated to the Lord, his hair will never be cut.  When Elekanah slept with Hannah, the Lord remembered her plea, and in due time she gave birth to a son.  She named him Samuel, for she said, “I asked the Lord for him.  I am the very woman who stood here several years ago praying to the Lord.  I asked the Lord to give me this boy, and he has granted my request.  Now I am giving him to the Lord, and he will belong to the Lord his whole life.” And they worshiped the Lord there.” 1 Samuel 1-2 NLT

It is refreshing to see Hannah’s vulnerability.  In her faithfulness, she was still human.  She struggled and shed tears.  She cried out to the Lord and he answered her prayer.  He rewarded her faithfulness.  He gave back to her in abundance.

“Before they returned home, Eli would bless Elkanah and his wife and say, “May the Lord give you other children to take the place of this one she gave to the Lord.” And the Lord blessed Hannah, and she conceived and gave birth to three sons and two daughters.  Meanwhile, Samuel grew up in the presence of the Lord.” 1 Samuel 2:20&21 NLT

What am I holding onto that God is asking me to give to him? What is my Samuel?  Sometimes it is a daily surrendering to him.  He knows I can’t do it alone, so he gave me his Spirit.

“You received the Spirit because you believed the message you heard about Christ.  How foolish can you be? After starting new lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort? Have you experienced so much for nothing? Surely it was not in vain, was it?” In the same way, “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.” The real children of Abraham, then, are those who put their faith in God.” Galatians 3:6&7 NLT

Dear Father, Thank you for Father for your presence.  That you promise to always be with me.  Forgive me when I doubt.  Thank you for your faithfulness in my life.  Thank you for your patience and unfailing love towards me.  Help me to live in a posture of surrender to you.

“If I had not confessed the sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.  But God did listen! He paid attention to my prayer.  Praise God, who did not ignore my prayer or withdraw his unfailing love from me.” Psalms 66:18-20 NLT

Amy(amyctanner)

 

 

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