Grace & Mercy: Two Sides of the Same Coin

Grace & Mercy

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We love to talk about grace but when was the last time you heard someone talk about mercy. Yet, they are two sides of the same coin and mercy needs to be discussed more. Let me explain.

Grace: What Does This Mean?

It is receiving something that we do not deserve. Thus we find it easy to talk about because who doesn’t like to receive a gift that we did not deserve. Grace is God’s favor to us. Think about the last time you received an unexpected gift. How did that make you feel?

God showed us His grace in sending us His Son, Jesus. He did this out of His great love for us and not because we did anything to deserve it. God’s grace is so amazing and is freely given.

Mercy: What Does This Mean?

It is not receiving what we do deserve. For example, someone is stopped for speeding and the officer gives him/her a warning instead of a ticket. We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God and deserve eternal punishment. (This is a truth that is hard to swallow.)

Therefore, God sent Jesus to show us not only His grace but also His mercy in that Jesus paid the price for our sins. Mercy needs to be talked about more because it is the only way to fully appreciate God’s amazing grace. Think about a time when you did something wrong and were expecting a consequence, yet, you did not receive it. What feelings did you experience?

Why Do We Not Hear More About Mercy?

This is a good question and the reason is that we do not like to admit they we sin and are in need of a savior. I will be honest and say that I have a tough time admitting to my sins against God and others. Yet, when I read God’s Word I find both grace and mercy in confessing to God and to others. (Matthew 6:14-15, James 5:16, 1 John 1:8-9) Then my relationships with God and others are reconciled and I, once again, have peace.

Can you now see the value in discussing mercy? Here’s a link about grace. 5 of My Favorite Bible Verses on Grace

Mercy is not often talked but it goes hand in hand with grace.

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Words Can Either Build Up or Teardown!

Words Matter

My Words Can Bring People Down or Uplift.

In the scripture reading this Sunday, I was moved by Ephesians 4:29. This verse instructs me to let no corrupting talk or words come out of my mouth but that which will build others up. This will also give grace to those who hear them.

The last part is what struck me the reasoning being that I have a 3-year-old niece who often rides with me in the car. I have had to explain my words to her when I say something about other cars. God has made me aware that I need to ask Him to help me to use words that are building up others not ones that teardown.

Pleasant, Appropriate and Gracious Words

Therefore, I sought out what God’s Word had to say about comes out of our mouths. In Proverbs, I found a lot about the type of speach that should come out of my mouth. Gracious words are good for the soul and health to the body. Thus, I desire to speak graciously so that those around me will be lifted up.

When my words are rightly spoken they are like apples of gold in a setting of silver. It is better to speak wisdom in quiet than shouting among fools. This would draw others to Christ and others would want to know me.

Do I Always Make the Right Choice? No.

 

Now, I have to admit that there are often many times when I do not say the kindest of words in traffic. It is challenging to explain my poor choices to my niece. She has made me very aware of how what I say comes across to others.

So I need to be more mindful of what comes out of my mouth not only with my niece but with whomever is near me. I am a poor example of Christ when I speak unkindly about others. I know that God can help me with what comes out of my mouth if I abide in Him.

Thinking of being in His image reminds of this Hymn: Lord Jesus, Imprint Your Image on My Heart

Lord God, help me to be ever mindful of my speech and give me the ability to say what others need to hear. Forgive me, Lord, when I fall short. Help me to be a good example to my niece.  Amen.

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Remember What Jesus Has Done!

Remember

Remember & Not Be Afraid!

Last Sunday’s sermon was titled “Distributing Multiplied Blessings” based on Mark 6:30-44. Today’s sermon picked up where we left off from last week, Mark 6:45-50. What struck me about this week’s sermon is that the disciples did not remember the miracle that Jesus had done earlier that day.

So they were in a boat out on the water late in the evening when a storm came upon them. Jesus was not with them. After they had been out on the water for some time, Jesus came to them walking on the water though He meant to pass by them. When they saw Him they thought He was a ghost and were terrified. Therefore, He called out to them, “Do not be afraid, it is I.”

Pastor Crowe, asked us to write down what makes us afraid. He gave his own example of being afraid of the dark when he was younger and how his brother revealed that there was nothing to afraid of once he turned on the light. Jesus is our light therefore, we have nothing to fear.

If Only I Would Remember

For me, this sermon spoke to me about remembering what Jesus has done for me and not being afraid of my storms. I know that it is not easy to remember the goodness of the Lord when I am in a storm. But if I stop and take time to remember that Jesus is more than able to do all and more than I can ask, I can trust that He will see me through to the other side of my storm. I so much want to live by this motto; come what may I will be okay for the Lord is with me.

However, I know that this is easier said than done. There have been many times in my life that God has seen me through the storms in my life and I know there will be more. Yet, I will probably be afraid when they come just as the disciples were in their storm.

Related link: Storms in Life Have a Purpose

Lord God, help me to remember Your goodness when storms come my way. Amen.

What has the Lord done in your life that you can remember to help you through your storms?

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We Have an Obligation, as Believers in Christ.

An Obligation to Live according the Spirit of Christ.

An Obligation, What Does That Mean?

There are a few definitions for the word obligation taken from Dicitionary.com,

  1. Something by which a person is bound or obliged to do certain things, and which arise out of a sense of duty or results from custom, law, etc.
  2. Something that is done or is to be done for such reasons: to fulfill one’s obligation.
  3.  A binding promise, contract, sense of duty, etc.

So where does this sense of duty or obligation stem from? It comes from Jesus who gave His spirit to live within us. But the obligation is not to our flesh, to live according to our sinful impulses, but to live according to the Spirit within us. (Romans 8:12 AMP)

How Are We to Fulfill This Obligation?

We do so by living by the power of the Holy Spirit and habitually putting to death the sinful deeds of the body. As we ourselves are led by the Spirit, we are called God’s children. Thus we have received the Spirit of adoption and can call or cry out, “Abba, Father.”

Therefore, we can call unto our Heavenly Father to cause us to follow His Spirit and live accordingly. The mind of the Spirit is life and peace. This peace is a spiritual well-being that comes from walking with God – both now and forever. Our following His Spirit will bring Him glory and draw others to know Him through us.

For you see, if we live by the flesh, living a life that caters to sinful impulses, we cannot please God.

To Whom Are You Obligated?

Now, comes the question, are you obligated to the Spirit or to your sinful nature? For me, my obligation is to live according to the Spirit that Christ has given me. I may not always get it right but I know that He will forgive me and set me straight if I confess and seek His face. All glory is His.

Here is a related link: Adoption: Earthly Compared to Heavenly

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The Attributes of God, A Source of Comfort

Attributes of God

I Take Comfort in God’s Attributes

March has been a sad month. Once again, death has taken another loved one from my life. Yet, I take comfort in God’s attributes. I started reading through the Psalms looking for them. Here is what I found from a select few.

Comfort is Found in Your Attributes, Lord!

I take comfort knowing that You know the way of the righteous (Psalm 1:6).

You are my refuge and a shield about me. You are my glory and the lifter of my head when I am downcast (Psalm 2:12b; 3:3).

It is comforting to know that You uphold all who are falling and raise up all who are bowed down (Psalm 145:14).

You only need to open Your hand to satisfy the desire of every living thing (Psalm 145:16).

You are righteous in all Your ways and kind in all Your works (Psalm 145:17).

The greatest comfort is knowing that You are near to all who call on You, to all who call on You in truth (Psalm 145:18).

You fulfill the desire of those who fear You; You also hear them when they cry and save them (Psalm 145:19).

These are but a few of Your many wonderful and amazing attributes.

I can turn to God for comfort because He knows all things; He is my refuge and lifter of my head. He satisfies all my needs. He is near to me when I call or cry out to Him. He will uphold me when I fall. Therefore, I will praise the Lord forever and ever.

Grief is never easy and without God, I could not bear it. My heart is grieving over the loss but I know that God is near and will see me through this yet again. Praise His holy name.

Related Link: A Psalm of Praise unto My Lord!

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Fasting and Mourning for Days

Fasting, mourning along with prayer

In light of the shootings in our schools, Nehemiah is a good example for us to follow. He mourned and fasted over the state of Jerusalem. How often do you hear of people fasting, mourning, and praying over a tragic situation? Well, people do hold prayer vigils but those often only last a day or so.

Nehemiah is an Example of Fasting & Mourning

Nehemiah was the cup-bearer to the Persian King Artaxerxes during the time that the people of Israel were beginning to return to Jerusalem. The cupbearer was a noble position. This was a place of trust and close connection to the King. He would be the one to taste the King’s food and drink to prevent the King from being poisoned.

With that being said, when we read the book of Nehemiah Chapter 1 and 2 we read about the character of the cup-bearer. In chapter one, he had heard from a man from Judah that Jerusalem was in bad shape. “The remnant there in the province who had survived the exile is in great trouble and shame. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates are destroyed by fire.” Nehemiah 1:3 ESV

His Reaction to Tragic News

His response was immediate. He sat down and wept and mourned for days. Not only that but he continued fasting and praying before the God of heaven. This man must have known the scriptures for he prayed mightily. “O LORD God of Heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps his covenant and steadfast love…” 1:5 ESV

Furthermore, he must have been in mourning and fasting for close to four months. In chapter 2, much time had passed since Nehemiah had received the troubling news. His countenance must have been downcast for even the King noticed that his cup-bearer was not happy. It was customary in those days for the servants to be happy in their service and could be punished if they were not.

Yet, the King had respect for His cup-bearer and wanted to know why he was sad and what could be done. The king’s servant made a quick prayer and then answered the king. There were several requests that the cupbearer made and each one the king gave.

What Can We Learn From His Example?

Well, I will be the first one to admit that I don’t stop and mourn when I hear the tragic news. It does sadden me but only for a while. I need to desire to be like the cup-bearer and not only mourn but also fast and pray before my God, the great and awesome God who keeps his covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments.

Therefore, maybe churches might encourage their members to fast and pray on the behalf of those who lost loved and for our nation. So the next time you hear of a tragedy what will you do?

Related post: Let’s Feast on God’s Word

Related Link on Fasting: 12 Reasons to go Hungry

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Jesus is the Greatest Valentine’s Ever!

Jesus is God's Valentine

This Easter season is unique because Ash Wednesday fell on Valentine’s Day and Easter will be on April fool’s day. So here is some food for thought on this. See why Jesus is the God’s greatest valentine to us!

Valentine’s Day/Ash Wednesday

What an excellent way to the beginning of the Lenten season! On Valentine’s Day, we give our loved ones a gift to show our love. Yet, the greatest expression of love is that God sent His one and only Son, Jesus, to show us how great His love is for us. Our sins came between us and God. Therefore, Jesus paid the ultimate price in order that we would be reconciled to God. As my sister once said, “God would rather die than live without us.” Can you think of a greater act of love?

April Fool’s Day/Easter

Furthermore, I can’t think of a better day for Easter to fall on. For Jesus fooled the devil into thinking that he had won when Jesus was crucified. Yet again, God pulled the wool over the devil’s eyes on the third day when Jesus rose from the dead. Yes, you can’t keep a good man down. Because He lives, we can face tomorrow.

Easter Triumph

Do you want more food for thought? Then I suggest that you mark your calendar for March 24th 3 pm or 6 pm and go see The Easter Triumph. This is the 60th year of this live-action Passion Play. They also have a Facebook page The Easter Triumph Passion Play. I have been blessed to have been a part of this a couple of years ago and I have family members who are actively involved in it this year.

Don’t take my word for it. Go see it for yourself and experience the greatest Valentine ever given! My Redeemer lives!

Related link: Excruciating Means out of the cross

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Always Thankful 3 Reasons To Be

Always thankful

There are 3 very good reasons to be thankful always and in all circumstances. 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Reason #1 to be Always Thankful

The first reason is our Creator God who made the heavens and the earth and His purpose for the law. When was the last time you went out at night and looked up into the sky without any light pollution to see the vastness of the stars? It has been a long time for me but I am still amazed at the vast number of stars. God knows each of their by name and holds them in their places. Isaiah 40 speaks of God’s greatness. I particularly like verse 28,

“Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the creator of the ends of the earth.”

Not only did He create the heavens and earth, He also placed the earth in the right place for us to exist and to be able to look up into the heavens and see who created them. He went on to give us the law for a purpose which is to make us aware of sin. All have sinned and the wages of the sin is death. No one can say they are without sin for they are deceiving themselves.

Reason #2 is the Cross

The second reason for continued thankfulness is the cross. Yet, while we were sinners and because of God’s great love for us, He sent His one and only Son to pay the price that we ourselves could not.

For you see, Jesus came to be a ransom for many and a sacrifice once and for all. He without sin became the propitiation for our sins. He despised the shame of the cross so that by believing in Him we might have eternal life and be called the children of God.

Therefore, our debts have been paid in full. I don’t know about you but I like the sound of that. So in order to be always thankful, we ought to be “cross-eyed”- always keeping the cross before us.

Reason #3 is that Our Trials Serve a Purpose

The third reason for being thankful in all our circumstances is even though our trials are not easy they do serve a purpose and we are not alone in them. God works in all things for the good of those called according to His purpose. We can consider it joy because the testing of our faith is working out perseverance and steadfastness. Pardon the phrase, but it is building character. God will see us through it all to the other side where we come out stronger.

An attitude of gratitude will go along way and sustain you better than grumbling and complaining would. People will want to be around you because of it for who likes to be in the company of a disgruntled person.

Therefore, I challenge you to be a “cross-eyed” always thankful child of God. Go and tell of God’s wondrous deeds.

For an example of thankfulness read: David; A Man of Thanksgiving

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Beloved; What Does This Mean?

Beloved

Beloved as defined by dictionary .com as 1. Adj.- greatly loved; dear to the heart and 2. Noun – a person who is greatly loved. Paul, Peter, John, and Jude all referred to believers as beloved. In 2 Thessalonians 2:13, Paul told the Thessalonians that they were greatly loved by the Lord. We are, too, greatly loved by God for He sent His one and only Son to die for us. Therefore,

You are Beloved.

As beloved children of God, we are commanded to teach the ways of Christ to others. We are to flee from idolatry. Be steadfast, immovable, and always abounding in the work of the Lord knowing that our labor in the Lord is not in vain. We are called to be imitators of God. (1 Corinthians 4:17; 10:14; 15:58 ESV)

Paul’s Wisdom

I particularly like the instructions that Paul gave to the Colossians 3:12-13,

“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.” (ESV)

Peter’s Instructions

Peter also used this reference to those he loved. In 1 Peter, he encouraged those he greatly loved to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which waged war on the soul. Furthermore, he told them not be become discouraged when fiery trials came upon them to test them. (1 Peter 2:11; 4:12 ESV)

John’s Insight

In the first and third book of John, John told those he loved to love one another as God loved them. Thus, he went on to say that they should not be imitators of evil but imitate good. This goes for us as well. (1 John4:7; 4:11; 3 John 1:11 ESV)

Jude’s Directions

Let us not forget Jude. He told those he loved to contend for the faith that was once and for all delivered to the saints. Have you ever had to contend for your faith? (Jude 1:3 ESV)

Later, he told them what would cause division and then said,

“But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life.” Jude 20-21 ESV

Therefore, dearly loved by God, go and contend for your faith, love one another as Christ loved you, and do not give into the passions of the flesh. Teach others the ways of Christ. Do the work of the Lord knowing that your labor is not in vain.

Related link: Best Advice a Friend Ever Gave Me

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Come On Let’s Celebrate God’s Victories!

Celebrate God's Victories

Reason to Celebrate!

In the Bible study that I am currently in, we have been reading the book of Esther. Near the end of the book, the Jews were instructed to celebrate for two days following the second edict.

Before I go too far I would like to give you some backstory. The book of Esther is the story of the Jews while in exile. I don’t want to go into great detail so I would encourage you to read the book for yourself. But, you need to know that there was an edict written by Haman, second to the king, to have all the Jews killed in all the provinces (of which there were 127). Once the edict was sealed by the King it was not revocable. Therefore, the Jews were facing annihilation.

So, this is where God interceded though His name is not mentioned. Esther was the queen and herself a Jew. Her uncle Mordecai had her intercede on behalf of her people to the King. She did and made known to the King Haman’s plot against her and her people. You will want to read the book of Esther because the irony in this story just call out that God had a hand in it.

To Make a Long Story Short.

Mordecai was given Haman’s position from which he was allowed to write an edict that permitted the Jews to defend themselves against their enemies, thus the cause for celebration.

In our discussion time, we had a question about what victories God has won in our lives. And how could we commemorate and celebrate these victories? For me, I thought of the day that marks the reconciliation between me and a dear family member. Therefore, I will mark this day with joy and share it with my family.

In the aforementioned Bible story, the Jews were to celebrate the feast of Purim. They did so by giving gifts of food not only to family members but also to the poor. I would like to do something similar to mark my special day.

Related Link: Share of God’s Grace in Your Life

What reason do you have to celebrate God’s goodness?

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