Mercy

The Mercy of King LouisXII of France.
Painted by Jean Bourdichon

I must confess, I don’t post as often as I used to because I feel inadequate, in so many ways, to write about God. I have accidentally upset some people I’ve communicated with online. I feel so bad about that, that I have let those feelings hinder me. It’s all about me, me, me. One time, a woman posted a picture of the construction of her new driveway. I noticed it was going to be circular with greenery in the center and wrote, “Oh, how elegant!” Well, in the picture there was mud and a bulldozer. I guess she thought I was being snide. I just meant the driveway would be elegant. There were a few incidents like this, because I don’t think things through. One of the horrible thoughts of my mind is me hurting someone’s feelings; and here I was doing it.

Well, I know Satan wants to discourage me from writing online. I must pray more about this. I must not let him make me look at myself and feel no good. I want to praise God. I want to lift him up and show people how truly wonderful he is. I’m so grateful to him for all the good he does in the world and in my family. I know we mostly read news about the evil that goes on in the world; but there is also so much good done every day by people who love people. I like what Joyce Meyer says about that, “Trust the Lord and do good.” Don’t be discouraged by evil – dwell on what’s good.

Psalm 103:11-14

For as high as the heavens are above the earth,

so great is His loving devotion for those who fear Him.

As far as the east is from the west,

so far has He removed our transgressions from us.

As a father has compassion on his children,

so the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him.

For He knows our frame;

He is mindful that we are dust.

Matthew 5:7

Blessed are the merciful. They shall obtain mercy.

Today, I read this meditation about God’s mercy. I thought it was beautiful. It was written by, Lloyd John Ogilvie, in God’s Best for My Life.

“This beatitude (Matt. 5:7) gives us another quality of family likeness we can have with God. He is merciful and wants to reproduce that crucial aspect of his nature in us. We are truly happy – blessed – when we are receiving his mercy and are communicating it to others. When we have felt God’s mercy in our failures and needs, we become merciful to others in their inadequacies and mistakes. Christ is God’s mercy incarnate. As he lives his life in us, our minds are captured by his amazing grace, our emotions are infused by tender love, and our wills are liberated to do whatever people need to feel loved again.

Mercy is profound identification. The Hebrew word implies living in another person’s skin, to feel, know, and experience what he or she is going through: empathy, sensitivity. The outer manifestation of our inner experience of God’s mercy is a graciousness which offers understanding, gives others another chance, and freely forgives. The qualification for receiving the continuous flow of God’s mercy is to give out what he has put in.

Psalm 103 has been a charge and charter for me in attempts to live this beatitude. The steadfast love of the Lord endures forever. Nothing can change it. Note all the things that quality of mercy overcomes. That gives us assurance and courage, strength and endurance. Reread the psalm as a prayer from your own heart as your expression of gratitude for mercy and as a commitment to be merciful. Now turn to Lamentations 3:19-26 and read again the good news that the mercy of the Lord never comes to an end; it never ceases; it is fresh every morning and all through the day, all because of the faithfulness of God. Blessedness is receiving and reproducing mercy.”

It isn’t always easy to show mercy and forgiveness. I remember when all the audio equipment was stolen from a church I attended. The pastor was very angry when he went up front to preach and promised to repay the ones who did the stealing.

In the 1940s, my mother and father took a homeless man into their home and got him a job. They came home from church one day and he was gone, along with my father’s best coat and a camera his brother had gotten him in Japan.

These are the kind of things God wants us to forgive and be merciful about. It isn’t easy. The only way to do it is to pray until our feelings match our knowledge of what God wants. Be determined; know that it is not only for their good, but for ours.

Vision of A Well.

Vista del interior de un pozo árabe, junto al Castillo de la Aldehuela, Torredelcampo, provincia de Jaén, España.

Photo by: Veinticuatro de Jahén

One of my sisters was praying about her sins. She said she asks God to forgive her sins every day. She was talking with God about sins and how we sometimes commit the same sins over and over.

Suddenly, she saw a well. As she looked down the well, the Lord spoke to her, “You can see through the first inches of water in a well when the sun shines on it. Below those inches is total blackness. Sins are like that. They are underneath the surface, and the Holy Spirit keeps them down and covered. But they can break through sometimes. On earth, you will always have this blackness deep inside you. In heaven, it will be gone.”

Years ago, every time I sinned I felt so guilty and evil that I couldn’t face God in prayer for days. I was ashamed I was capable of sinning after I gave my life to him. But I have learned we do sin after asking him into our hearts and minds. The Bible teaches that, but I had been raised in a church where sin was considered so horrible no real Christian would ever sin.

Actually, God uses our sins to humble us, to keep us from becoming proud. I think we would be insufferable if we were perfect. God did say to be perfect, but it means to reach completion. It is a walk, a life-long journey. I think we all need to learn we are extremely sinful people. Without God, we would do horrible, awful things. We would keep them a secret, if possible, but we really are capable of doing the worst.

Thank God for his forgiving grace and enormous love. Thank God he loves us just as we are and will hold us back from many sins. Thank God he will forgive us seventy times seven in one day if needed. And thank God he is everlastingly patient.

Faith to Forgive.

Sycamore Tree in Israel.

One of my problems in reading the Bible is that I take many things Jesus said as being literal. The disciples had this problem too. When Jesus said to sell your cloak and buy a sword, it sounded like advice to have a sword in case people persecuted you. But this flies in the face of the other things Jesus said about turning the cheek and loving your enemies.

Most commentators of the Bible say Jesus was not being literal. And I believe they are right since when Peter cut off the ear of one of the men who came to arrest Jesus, Jesus healed the man and told Peter not to use the sword.

Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary:

 “At the time the apostles understood Christ to mean real weapons, but he spoke only of the weapons of the spiritual warfare. The sword of the Spirit is the sword with which the disciples of Christ must furnish themselves.” 

Whenever I would read what Jesus said about moving a mountain into the sea if we had enough faith, I would wonder what he really meant. Then I read someone say the mountain represented difficulties in our lives. They said in the Old Testament, mountains represented difficulties,and that made sense.

Today, I was reading Luke 17 and Jesus spoke about the Sycamore or Mulberry tree. He said, “If you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this sycamore tree, ‘May you be uprooted and thrown into the sea and it would obey you.’”

He said this in answer to his disciples who had asked him, “Increase our faith.” And they asked him to do this after he had spoken about forgiveness, the kind of forgiveness they thought impossible for them.

“Take heed to yourselves; if your brother sins against you, rebuke him, and if he repent, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn to you, you shall forgive him.”

So, uprooting a sycamore tree is impossible for anyone to do; therefore, if you think it is impossible for you to forgive over and over, you are wrong. Faith in God will make it possible for you.

This is what I read in some commentaries this morning:

Pulpit Commentary

“The Lord signifies that a very slight real faith, which he compares to the mustard seed, that smallest of grains, would be of power sufficient to accomplish what seemed to them impossible. In other words, he says, “If you have any real faith at all, you will be able to win the victory over yourselves necessary for a perpetual loving judgement of others.”

Barne’s Notes on the Bible

“This sycamore is a remarkable tree. It not only bears several crops of figs during the year but these figs grow on short stems along the trunk and large branches, and not at the end of twigs, as in other fruit-bearing trees. The figs are small and of a greenish-yellow color.

It is easily propagated, merely by planting a stout branch in the ground and watering it until it has struck its roots into the soil. This it does with great rapidity and to a vast depth. It was with reference to this latter fact that our Lord selected it to illustrate the power of faith.”

Thinking of all this reminds me of the fires of hell preachers talk about. I believe the fire is symbolic of something else.What would be the point of God burning people who are lost? Punishment? Punishment is supposed to be restorative. Actual, physical burning? I don’t think so. Being burned is very painful, and I think when the wicked realize they are lost,it is like a burning in their soul. A terrible pain in their heart at seeing what they have given up because they loved darkness rather than light.

Craft Night.

My oldest daughter came over Wednesday night to work on some crafts. There was no discomfort between us because of what happened in my previous post. One thing about my family is that we forgive and don’t usually hold grudges. My two daughters have a close relationship that has weathered quit a few arguments. They always forgive each other, no matter what they fought about. I’m so happy for this.

Anyway, this is what my daughter finished making on Wednesday:

sandy

I love it.

Someone asked my granddaughter, Hope, who her best friend was. “Faith,” she said.  Faith is her sister. I was so moved by that. I feel very close to my own sister, Liz.  I can tell her anything and she understands. When you are a crazy, negative person it means a lot to be understood.  She is also crazy and negative so we get each other.  

Both my sister and I are becoming more positive. We are slowly learning to let go of the past and see  the positive in the here and now. We both used to look at life as being the mole in a Wack-A-Mole game. Something awful was always beating us down.

I actually used to picture God hitting me with a baseball bat every time I tried to get up. Well, of course I was wrong. God isn’t like that. I’ve learned he is here waiting to lift us up when we get knocked down. And if we go to him right away, we don’t even get knocked down for long; we are just hurt for a moment and after we talk with him about what happened we feel better and are stronger.

“Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings…”  Psalm 17:8

How precious is Your loving kindness, O God! And the children of men take refuge in the shadow of Your wings.   Psalm 36:7

You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever.   Psalm 16:11

You have put gladness in my heart, More than when their grain and new wine abound.   Psalm 4:7

 

Believe God Can Save You.

Many Christians, myself included, worry about their sins. We worry we are hopeless; we worry God is mad at us; we worry we will be lost. 

I was raised in a strict religion. Sin was treated as something horrifying. We were taught if we became Christians, we wouldn’t sin. If we loved God, we wouldn’t sin. There was no excuse in heaven above or earth beneath for committing a sin. Of course I grew up thinking it was hopeless for me to even try to be a Christian. I longed to be a Christian as a teen, but I didn’t make the step until I was nineteen because I had a baby. I always tell my daughter that she brought me to Jesus.

Well, I still thought I was probably not going to be saved because I wasn’t perfect, which is what I thought I had to be. Eventually, I heard and understood God’s grace. That he doesn’t leave us when we sin; that is is patient and kind and loves us like crazy. That was wonderful.

But I still get those feelings once in awhile. I’m still smoking; I sometimes lose my cool with my husband; I feel hateful towards some politicians etc. I ask God to forgive me and change me and move on.  I still want to be perfect, but I know it isn’t possible. Christ was perfect and his righteousness covers me. That is grace, and I only need believe that and accept his sacrifice for me.

My husband always says, “Which way are you heading? Are you heading towards God? Are you trying to get to know him and love him? Or are you running from him?

Well, I am running towards God through prayer and Bible study. “Then you are saved.” my husband says, and he is right.

There are some verses in Zechariah that show the attitude of those who are running away from God. These verses always strike me because of the truly horrible sins these people were doing, and also because of their attitude towards God.

“This is what the Lord Almighty said: ‘Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the foreigner or the poor. Do not plot evil against each other.’

“But they refused to pay attention; stubbornly they turned their backs and covered their ears. They made their hearts as hard as flint and would not listen to the law or to the words that the Lord Almighty had sent by his Spirit through the earlier prophets. So the Lord Almighty was very angry.    Zechariah 7:9-12

Do you think the Lord had a right to be angry?

These people perverted justice, did not show mercy or compassion to people. They oppressed the widows, orphans, foreigners and the poor. They plotted evil against one another.

Yes, He had a right to be angry on behalf of those who suffered at the hands of these people. Wouldn’t we be angry at someone who treated an orphan cruelly? Wouldn’t we be angry at someone who stole from a widow?

Even if we have done these things, we can be forgiven. God forgives all sins and nothing is too awful to keep us apart from him. But the people Zechariah was talking to plugged their ears from hearing what was right. They weren’t praying for God to help them do what was right. They turned their backs to God. They cannot be forgiven as long as they do this, for asking for forgiveness means turning our faces to God and talking with him. It means asking for his mighty help in our lives.

 “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”

They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his household were baptized. The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God—he and his whole household.    Acts 16:29-34

Believe. Believe God can save you. Believe he loves you. Believe he can change you. He is the only one who can.

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.”   Ephesians 2:8,9

Our Daily Cross.

cross-_2

Photo by, “Geralt”, Pixabay User

 And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. Luke 9:23

I’m reading a book called, “God’s Best for My Life,” written by, LLoyd John Oglvie. In it he writes this:

“Love means the cross. God’s mercy was expressed in the cross. He did not condemn the world, but came in forgiving love.”

Then he asks, “What is our cross?”

“We can understand and accept our cross only if we accept the essential meaning of his cross. In his cross he suffered for the sins of the whole world so that mankind might be forgiven. Our cross, then, is forgiving and forgetting what people have been and done.”

“The Christian life begins with crucifixion – our own. Becoming a Christian means  a death-like surrender of our life to Christ. We die to our own rights, control of our life and plans for the future. We will be willing to be made willing to receive, do, go, stay, speak and serve as he wills. Christ comes to live within us to express his loving mercy for others through us.”

“We forgive, because we have been forgiven. People do not need to measure up any more than we have to measure up in order for God to love us.”

“There will be a cross in every relationship and responsibility we encounter today. At the heart of each situation is a point of surrender to seek first the Lord’s will. There will be people to be loved and forgiven. Most of all, there will be a constant flow of opportunities to care for people as if caring for our Lord…To make Christ’s plans our plans will spell a cross of death to self-will…”

“Our cross is people – persons who need our forgiveness… We cannot carry our cross alone. When we dare to be a forgiving person, we need the Lord’s help daily, and many times through the day.”

This was an eye-opener for me and I believe he is right. When I think of Jesus on the cross, why he is there, what was done to him, forgiveness is what he gave that day. People betrayed him, slapped his face, spit on him, beat him up, whipped him, laughed at him, lied about him and hated him,

And he taught us, before that terrible day, that we must forgive those who do these things to us. That is our cross. May God strengthen us to bear it with him.