Tag: God’s mercy!

Speaking Truth to Rebels!

Scripture reading for May 14th:  2nd Kings 24-25, 1st Chronicles 1-2, Acts 7

Key Scriptures:  Acts 7:51-53  “”You stiff-necked people, with uncircumcised hearts and ears!  You are just like your fathers:  You always resist the Holy Spirit!  Was there ever a prophet your fathers did not persecute?  They even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One.  And now you have betrayed and murdered Him–you who have received the law that was put into effect through angels but have not obeyed it.””

Stephen, the new deacon, was taken before the Jewish council to be tried for preaching the Gospel.  He carefully laid out Scriptures for them about their history of rebellion before confronting them with their own law-breaking in the death of Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.  This was God’s act of mercy to His own people who rejected His Son.

2nd Kings 24:3  “Surely these things happened to Judah according to the Lord’s command, in order to remove them from His presence because of the sins of Manasseh and all he had done, including the shedding of innocent blood.  For he had filled Jerusalem with innocent blood, and the Lord was not willing to forgive.”

  

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Rejoicing in Righteousness!

Scripture reading for May 17th:  Job 8-11

Key Scriptures:  Job 9:1-4  “Then Job replied, “Indeed, I know that this is true.  But how can a mortal be righteous before God?  Though one wished to dispute with Him, he could not answer Him one time out of a thousand.  His wisdom is profound, His power is vast.  Who has resisted Him and come out unscathed?””

Bildad, one of Job’s friends, told him that because of his suffering and loss of health and wealth that he must be harboring wickedness.  But though Job knew of no sin he could confess he knew he needed God’s mercy.  He began to question how any man could be righteous in God’s sight.  He knew that God was far superior in wisdom and power and that this question must be answered by God Himself.

Thankful for God’s righteousness:  But God has provided righteousness to all who believe on His Son Jesus Christ!  “And God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21)

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God’s mercy inspires devotion!

Scripture reading for June 30th:  Romans 12

“Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God:  sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided you continue in His kindness.  Otherwise, you also will be cut off.”  (Romans 11:22)  Paul had warned the Gentile believers and churches severely concerning their continuance in the kindness of God.  God would not show favorites! He cut off the Jews who did not believe in Christ or continue in faith and He would also judge believers who fell away from trusting in God’s mercy!

“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.”  (Romans 12:1-2)

It is God’s mercy to us that inspires our devotion.  As we understand how good and kind God has been to us through the sacrifice of His Son, we offer our bodies to Him as a sacrifice.  Christ was the final blood sacrifice, and now in the New Testament times we are urged to willingly become ‘living sacrifices’!  We no longer use our bodies to promote our selfish desires but learn what pleases God through prayer and studying His Word.

Our minds must be renewed because our thinking determines our actions!  In order to test and approve God’s good and perfect will, we must train our minds by studying and memorizing His word.  Through a dedicated body and a renewed mind that is transformed to think God’s thoughts we will please Him and continue in His mercy!

 

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Jews need salvation!

Scripture reading for June 25th:  Romans 9

Paul had a great desire to see his own brothers, the Jews, saved!  In fact, he was willing to be cut off from Christ in order to see them come to know Christ!  (Romans 9:3)   This was the same attitude that Christ, Himself took when He went to the cross on behalf of His brothers!    Paul had the Holy Spirit and he reflected God’s heart for the Jews as well as all people!

The Jews should have been the first to recognize Christ.  They had the law, the covenants, and the promises of God through the Old Testament Scriptures as well as the lineage of Christ flowing from their line through Abraham!  But Paul went on to point out that not all who descended from Abraham were God’s children of promise!  (Romans 9:7-9) It was through Isaac that offspring would be reckoned.  And even Isaac’s offspring, twins Jacob and Esau, found God’s promise flowing through Jacob and not Esau!  This was announced before they were born!  Not all Jews were part of God’s plan.  Was God unjust?

Paul concluded that the Jews missed out on God’s promise.   “What then shall we say?  That the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith; but Israel, who pursued a law of righteousness, has not attained it.  Why not?  Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works.”  (Romans 9:30-32)

We learn that we can all, like the Jews,  miss God’s promise by trying to work for our right standing with God.  We must simply believe in Jesus Christ and rest in the promise of righteousness by faith that has always been the way of God’s children.  Have you trusted in Christ?

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Paul shares his testimony to the Jews!

Scripture reading for June 4th:  Acts 22

Paul arrived in Jerusalem and shared the results of his ministry to the Gentiles.  At the advice of the church leadership there, he began a purification ritual to prove his faithfulness to the laws of the temple so as not to give the Jews cause to harm him.  However, Jews from Asia ( probably Ephesus) recognized him and seized Paul and dragged him from the temple and began beating him.  (Acts 21:30-32)  The Roman troop commander rescued Paul from the angry crowd of Jews and certain death.  Religious people can be mean!

Paul asked the Roman commander if he could address the crowd and was granted permission.  Paul again has opportunity to share his testimony of his personal encounter with Jesus.  He told how he was zealous for God just like they were and persecuted the believers in Jesus, having them imprisoned and put to death.  On his way to Damascus with letters to arrest believers, Paul encountered Jesus!  “About noon as I came near Damascus, suddenly a bright light from heaven flashed around me.  I fell to the ground and heard a voice say to me, “Saul! Saul! Why do you persecute me?”  “Who are you Lord?”, I asked.  “I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting, He replied.”  (Acts 22:6-8)

Paul then told of his blindness and then visit by Ananias, a devout Jew who was also a believer who brought healing. He told how he was baptized and returned to Jerusalem.  He was warned by Jesus to leave town and preach to the Gentiles.  When Paul mentioned this, the crowd again turned on him, demanding his death!  (Acts 22:22)

Paul seized every opportunity to tell people about Jesus!  He was willing to die that others might hear.  Oh that the church might live that way today!

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Sin will bring you down!

Scripture reading for September 10th: Hosea 12-14

“But I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt.  You shall acknowledge no God but me, no Savior except me.  I cared for you in the desert, in the land of burning heat.  When I fed them, they were satisfied; when they were satisfied, they became proud; then they forgot Me. Hosea 13:4-5

For people who have been saved from sin, God’s love initially seems so good that following Him is our heart’s delight.  God is good and moves us from poverty into a new realm of abundance and true soul satisfaction.  In the completion of this book of Hosea, God told how his once faithful and thankful people became satisfied and promptly forgot Him.  The source of this forgetfulness was none other than pride which became their downfall!  (Hosea 13:6) (Hosea 14:1)

Pride is the sin that caused Satan’s downfall from the highest heavens.  Satan desired to be like the Most High and to sit on the throne of God.  God’s abundant blessing on his life in making him beautiful brought out iniquity.  (Ezekiel 28:1, 14-17)  He was cast down from heaven’s glory to earth.  Satan’s sin of pride was his downfall and now he tempts man made in God’s image to forget God and His grace in our lives!

“Return, O Israel, to the Lord your God.  Your sins have been your downfall!  Take words with you and return to the Lord.  Say to Him: “Forgive all our sins and receive us graciously; that we may offer the fruit of our lips.” ” Hosea 14:1-2

God’s mercy is toward those whose sins have taken them down!  Hosea gave a wonderful altar call for repentance.  We can offer Him nothing but ourselves and our words.   Repentance restores the flow of His love.  It is so simple, yet hidden from the rebellious!  Check your heart and attitude today and ask God to expose any pride that could be your downfall.

“I will heal their waywardness and love them freely; for my anger has turned away from them.” Hosea 14:4

“Who is wise? He will realize these things.  Who is discerning?  He will understand them.  The ways of the Lord are right; the righteous walk in them, but the rebellious stumble in them.” Hosea 14:9

 

 

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Promises from God!

Scripture reading for February 20th: Numbers 34-36

The God we serve knows everything!  God instructed Moses about the boundaries of the land He was giving them and how to divide it when they took possession of it.  (Numbers 34:2)  They were to cast lots for their portion in the land.  (Numbers 34:13) God would decide by lot who would get what.  “The lot is cast into the lap, but it’s every decision is from the Lord.” (Proverbs 16:33)

As the Israelites entered the land and took possession of it, Moses appointed a leader from each tribe to oversee the assignment of the inheritance.  Caleb was the oldest person assigned as a leader!  He and Joshua are the only ones left from the generation 20 years old and older who had not perished in the wilderness on the way to the promised land.  God was faithful to Caleb as He had promised!

In these last chapters of Numbers, we find provision for cities of refuge.  God knew that his people would need mercy.  Emotions get out of control and things happen.  Revenge instincts are strong and sometimes violence  that causes death erupts.  The cities of refuge were scattered throughout the land and provided a place where someone who had killed another could flee from the avenger of blood.  (Numbers 35:6)  The Levites had no inheritance but were given these cities and pastureland throughout the land to as they  ministered to the people.

God does know everything and has good plans for us. (Jeremiah 29:11)  He wants us to know those plans and walk by faith and claim our inheritance!  He has provided a refuge for any who sin.  We can flee to Jesus Christ and find grace and help in time of need!  (Hebrews 4:14-16)  He mediates all our sins and provides refuge and mercy to those who repent!  Our God is for us in our fallen world!

“What, then, shall we say in response to this?  If God is for us, who can be against us?  He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all–how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” Romans 8:31-32

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A reasonable spiritual act!

Scripture reading for November 21st: Romans 12-16

“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.” Romans 12:1-2

“Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellow man has fulfilled the law.”  “Love does no harm to its neighbor. Love is the fulfillment of the law.” Romans 13:8,10

“For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by men.” Romans 14:17-18

“May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Romans 15:5-6

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13

“Now to Him who is able to establish you by my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past, but now revealed and made know through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all nations might believe and obey Him–to the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ! Amen!” Romans 16:25-27

These powerful truths all come in Paul’s response to God’s amazing plan of salvation for Jew and Gentile!  In response to God’s amazing grace, we present Him with our bodies as “living sacrifices” and allow God’s word to renew our minds.  The Kingdom of God in us brings righteousness, peace and joy through the Holy Spirit that spills over into our daily living.  We love one another and fulfill all God’s laws! We live in hope of Christ’s return and eternal glory!  What a powerful way to live and prepare for eternity!

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The Adulterous Wife!

Scripture reading for September 4th: Hosea 1-3

Hosea was a unique prophet called by God to let his whole life, his marriage, and his children be a prophetic word to God’s people.  Hosea was told by God to marry an adulterous woman named Gomer.  God’s plan was to show Israel how they behaved toward Him and give them a visual picture of His love for them. (Hosea 1:2)

Hosea married Gomer and took her as his wife.  She conceived and bore him a son.  The Lord told Hosea to call the son “Jezreel”, because He was going to punish the house of Jehu for the massacre at Jezreel and put an end to the kingdom of Israel.  (Hosea 1:4)  Gomer also had two daughters and they were also named by the Lord.  One was Lo-Ruhamah which meant “no love left” and the other was “Lo-Ammi” which meant “not my people”.  God was telling Israel about a coming judgment on their nation and He wanted them to be reminded every time they saw the prophet and his family. (Hosea 1:4-8)

As I reflect on this story, I am reminded we are just like the Israelites.  We have been in spiritual adultery and unfaithful to God in many ways.  We have not obeyed His command to be filled with His Spirit and to go out into the world and be His witnesses.  We have run after gods of pleasure instead of wholeheartedly keeping ourselves for Him.  Just as Gomer ran after other lovers who offered her food, and clothes and drinks, so we have not walked faithfully before our God.  (Hosea 2:5-6)  We have not recognized that God is the real provider of all the good things He has provided.  (Hosea 2:8)

However, as Hosea was commanded to take back his unfaithful wife and buy her back from the slave market, so God has done the same for us!  (Hosea 3:1-2)  Jesus died to buy us back from slavery, demonstrating His love for us! (Romans 5:8)   As Hosea told Gomer to leave her life of adultery and he would live with her, God tells us to depart from sin and live a holy life if we want to see the Lord!  (1st Peter 1:14-15)   Jesus Christ is coming back for His Bride, the Church!  She will be a glorious Church, without spot or wrinkle, clothed in the white linen of His righteousness!  Check your life today!

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Discerning the true Israel!

Scripture reading for July 25th: Romans 9:1-24

“For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, those of my own race, the people of Israel.  Theirs is the adoption as sons; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises.  Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of Christ, who is God over all, forever praised!  Amen.” (Romans 9:3-5)  The apostle Paul had great concern for his own countrymen.  They had great privileges through being part of Israel and their heritage through Abraham.

But Paul recognized that it was not just a blood tie that made a person part of the true Israel.  “For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel.  Nor because they are his descendants are they all Abraham’s children.  On the contrary, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.” (Romans 8:6-7)  (Genesis 25:23) God’s sovereign choice of Jacob from Isaac’s offspring through Rebekah, the twins Jacob and Esau,  shows that blood relation was not the criteria for belonging to the true Israel.  God’s mercy through election chose Jacob as the one to carry the blessing.

God has infinite knowledge of what was, what is, and what will be.  From this knowledge He is capable of choosing  who He will use and will fulfill His purposes.   He is the ‘Potter’ and we are the ‘clay’.  (Romans 9:20-21)   We must trust by faith that God knows what He is doing.

Because of sin, we were all objects of God’s wrath.  How come God shows mercy on some and not others?   Paul offers a possible answer by posing  two questions: “What if God, choosing to show His wrath and make His power known, bore with great patience the objects of His wrath–prepared for destruction?  What if He did this to make the riches of His glory know to the objects of His mercy, whom He prepared in advance for glory–even us, whom He also called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles?” (Romans 9:22-24)  God’s glory is related to His mercy.  He has shown great mercy to those who have not repented and embraced Christ, particularly the Jews who were blinded.  This opened the door for both Jew and Gentile to find God’s mercy!  Praise the Lord for God’s patience towards us!

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