Grace & Mercy: Two Sides of the Same Coin

Grace & Mercy

Disclosure: This page may contain affiliate links. This means at no additional cost to you I may receive a commission if you purchase a product from one of our links. I only recommend products I love.

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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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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The Best Advice a Friend Ever Gave Me.

Best advice

Some time back, a dear friend gave me some really good advice. She told me that it is not what you do that is important but what you be. In other words, it is not the doing that matters the most but how you BE. For example, be kind, forgiving, considerate, and compassionate, these are what really matters.

What Advice Does God’s Word Have for Us?

Therefore, I went looking into God’s Word as to how I am to be. I found several references in how I am to be and not to be. This really got me to thinking. What if we as believers thought more about the being rather than the doing, what a profound effect we would make in the world?

For instance, take Ephesians 4:32. We are to BE kind to one another, tenderhearted and forgiving as Christ forgave us. This alone could rock the society and it would draw others to Christ.

How does it make you feel when someone shows you kindness? You feel respected as a person, right? You matter!

What about tenderhearted or I like to think of it as compassion? We could all use a bit of compassion. Think how this might bring about a welcome change to those in your neighborhood and/or church when we show mercy and extend a helping hand.

Don’t forget about forgiveness! This is central to being a Christ follower. He forgave us while we were still sinners and He expects us to forgive others just the same. This is where true freedom lies because the unwillingness to forgive holds one captive.

Let’s not forget Colossians 3:15b. We are to BE thankful. Gratitude is a game changer. When I focus on God and give Him thanks for all the many blessings and for the trials that come my way, I am changed from the inside out. My countenance is brighter and my heart is full of joy.

How Do We Act on This Advice?

Now, this may sound easier said than done but we do not have to try this on our own. For this will not be possible. But through prayer and God’s Word, God will empower us through His Holy Spirit. This is a mystery, yet I know that with God all things are possible. I have experienced His help in my own life.

Just ask the Lord to help you BE kind, tenderhearted and forgiving. He is more than able to do far more than all we ask or think. This is just a glimpse at but a few of the ways are to BE.

Here is a few more scripture that you can read to find out more; Ephesians 5:1, 17-21; Philippians 2:1-7, 14-15; 4:6; 1 Peter 1:14-16; Romans 12:2; James 1:9.

Here is a related link: Put on the New Self

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3 Reasons to Read “This Dangerous Book”

This Dangerous Book

“This Dangerous Book”

by Steve and Jackie Green with Bill High

The first reason is their story behind the founding of the Museum of The Bible. You might ask why anyone would want to build a museum for the Bible. What makes the Bible dangerous? Steve and Jackie Green along with Bill High tell a most intriguing story has to how this journey began. They give you good reasons behind the claim that the Bible is a dangerous book yet it is also a unifying one too.

The second reason is the history and the collecting of Bible artifacts. The Greens also weave in their own faith story which adds to this great read. Their travels and challenges that they faced as they gathered artifacts will keep you reading. The numbers of Bible artifacts are astounding. The more I read the more I want to go to visit the Museum of the Bible.

The third reason is their idea that the Bible should be studied and taught in schools. This is what I found to be the fascinating part of the book. The history of the Bible and its impact not only in America but in the world is dynamic and a reason for the study of the Bible. The evidence they give you of the number of people who have read and studied “this dangerous book” will draw in those who love history.

Furthermore, they give you the 5 Biblical ideas that our founding fathers established our government. A couple of these ideas are “human sinfulness posed a threat to our civil government” and “a republic needed to be sustained by virtue.” Therefore, power was divided into three branches of government and laws needed to be in place to maintain order.

Though they are people of the Book, the Greens strongly believe that the Bible can and should be studied as literature and the conclusions are for each individual reader to make for themselves.

Final Thoughts

I would highly recommend reading this book and if you get the opportunity to visit Washington D.C., go visit the Museum of the Bible. Click the link below to order your copy.

Disclosure: This page may contain affiliate links. This means at no additional cost to you we may receive a commission if you purchase a product from one of our links. We only recommend products we love.

 

 

 

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The Word for the Year is JOY!

The Word for the Year is Joy!

The word JOY is found 242 times in the Bible including 57 times in the Psalms in the NIV. The word is defined as a noun to mean a state of happiness or felicity; expression of glad feeling. As a verb, it is to feel joy; be glad; rejoice.

What Comes to Mind When You Think of the Word Joy?

I can tell you what comes to my mind. The love of my family and making my niece giggle brings me great joy. My heart is glad because of renewed relationships. But this is all temporary. So what does the Bible say about lasting joy?

Well, there are quite a few things that the Bible says about joy. For instance, what gives joy to heart? The Word of the Lord does! It is radiant and gives light to the eyes. The precepts of the Lord are right and rejoicing to the heart. (Psalm19:8)

You will find Joy in God’s Presence!

And joy can be found in the presence of the LORD. When the world is troubling, one can turn to the LORD to rejoice and be glad. He will make known the path of life and fill you with great gladness in His presence. (Psalm 16:1; 21:6) Therefore, seek His presence and be filled to overflowing.

Those who take refuge in Him will find it!

Not only can it be found in His Presence but also when one takes refuge in Him and in the strength of the LORD. God will spread his protection over them that love His name that they may rejoice in Him. (Psalm 5:11) Thus, God is to be our refuge and strength in times of trouble.

Find Joy in the Proverbs.

There is much to be found about it in the Proverbs. Those who promote peace will find it (12:20). A wise son brings it to his father (15:20). One will find it when one gives an apt reply. (15:23). When justice is done, it brings joy to the righteous (21:15). A man who loves wisdom brings it to his father (29:3). These are just a few. Therefore, seek to be wise and give a timely response.

New Testament Joy.

Furthermore, joy is a fruit of the spirit (Galatians 5:22) and in James, we are to rejoice and be glad when we come into various trials (James 1:2). We are to be joyful in hope, patient in affliction and faithful in prayer (Romans 12:12). The Kingdom of God is of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit (Romans 14:17). Hence, one can find great joy in a relationship with God through Jesus Christ and in perseverance.

In conclusion, I say to you as the Apostle Paul said in Romans 15:32, May the God of hope fill you with all gladness and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (References)

Here are some related links: Joy Can Be Found in Serving Others

Count It All Joy

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A Psalm of Praise unto the Lord, My God!

A Psalm of Praise

Last Sunday, Pastor Crowe encouraged us to read Psalm 18 and then write one of our own. Here is mine that I have composed to tell of His goodness to me. This is my way of giving praise to my Lord and my God who sent His son, Jesus Christ, to die for my sins.

My Psalm of Praise!

A Psalm about the Greatness of the Lord unto Me!

Lord, Your ways are above all others and You desire a heart that is devoted to You.

I praise Your Holy Name for You are slow to anger and filled with compassion to those who love You and are called by Your Name.

Lord, You have sustained me in my darkest hour and restored to me more than what was taken from me.

Your Word restores, guides, and brings hope to the weary and forsaken.

You alone have the power to reconcile broken relationships when all hope was lost.

You equipped me to serve in ways that I would never have imagined before.

Your faithfulness and mercy are beyond description.

Your steadfast love is my mighty fortress and tower of refuge to run to in time of need.

Great is Your compassion and faultless is Your love.

Your patience knows no limit, yet, You will not tolerate sin nor the proud forever.

You will exalt the humble and bring down the haughty for You are sovereign.

You are righteous and just against sin, yet You will not reject a broken and contrite heart.

There is nothing that can be hidden from You.

My finite mind cannot begin to comprehend Your infinite grace and mercy. I need only believe and trust in You. Amen!

 

Therefore, I want to challenge you to write your own psalm of praise. It is a wonderful way to chronicle all the great things He has done in your life.

For a Related Link: Tell of the Goodness of the Lord.

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Let’s Feast on God’s Word

God’s Word Can Be a Feast!

The sermon at yesterday’s ordination of our new pastor was in regards to looking to God alone for all things. The scripture for the sermon was Psalm 62:1-2 and the title was  “Be Strong in the Lord.” Sure, I am blessed and probably a little privileged yet it is to God alone that I can find true rest for my soul. So, I elected to feast on God’s word alone today.

I set aside my desires for food and looked to God and His word for sustenance. This morning, I began meditating on Psalm 62. I focused on keywords such as alone and only in verses 1,2,5, & 6. It is in God alone that my soul waits not in my husband, family or friends. God only is my salvation, my rock, and my defense not my accomplishments or my possessions. I am to wait only upon God not in food or in the approval of men. My hope and expectations are in the Lord. I shall not be moved for God alone is my defense and my fortress. Therefore, I will look to God alone for rest for my soul and for my salvation. I will not be moved.

Reading further, I see that I am to trust in, lean on, rely on, and have confidence in Him at all times. Yet, I have not done this. I have mistakenly put my hope and trust in my relationship with my husband. Though he is a kind and caring man, he is human and therefore not perfect. I am wrong to look to him to satisfy my soul the only way God can.

Breakfast  & Lunch Meditations

By 9 a.m, I turned my meditation to feast on Psalm 139. From the first 6 verses, God revealed to me that He knows everything about me. There is nothing that He does not know; not even my thoughts are secret. His hand is upon me and He is all around me. His knowledges is too infinite to comprehend. I take comfort in knowing that I am known by God. Therefore, when I feel that no one understands me, I need only to remember that God know everything about me.

As I sat down to lunch, I again focused on the above Psalm with verses 7-13. I reflected on the fact that there is nowhere I can go to escape God’s spirit. Whether I go to the mountaintop or to lowest valley God is there. Whether I fly to great heights or go to the bottom of the ocean God is there. Even the darkness cannot hide me from God. Consequently, I am never alone for God is always with me. When I feel lonely, I only need to remember that God is with me wherever I go.

In addition, I added music to my time with God. I listened to and sang “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing” and “Be Thou My Vision” at lunch time. As I continued with my readings for snack, I worshipped the Lord in song with “How Great Is Our God” and “Here I am to Worship.”

Final Thoughts

To conclude, God is good and He alone is all I need. How great is our God. There is no one like Him in all the earth. His Word does satisfy the soul. I will take comfort in Him knowing that He knows me and loves me just the same. Taste and see that the Lord is good.

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Defining Moment Has Come!

Where I find my defining moment

What I Have Learned from My Defining Moment.

Over the past couple months, I have been exploring the “how” God is being worshiped in the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LCMS) in the area that I Live. Today, I reached a defining moment when it comes worship.

The LCMS has a particular order to the way worship service is followed. This what is termed the substance which is not to be changed. What may you ask does this mean? There are a number of things that are a part of the substance such as confession & absolution, the creeds, baptism, Gospel reading, communion and the Lord’s Prayer. This is what comprises a liturgical service. The way or order that these follow is what is termed the form.

‘As long as the substance remains the same, the form may change’ is the way one part of the LCMS looks at worship. I have visited a few churches and seen the various forms that worship has taken. From what I have seen so far there was one service that the form effected the substance. There were a quite few parts of substance that were not present. At two other services, the form was different but the substance was present with only one or more parts absent. My home church, I believe, has found a very good balance where the substance remained and the form was altered so that all parts were present.

My defining moment came when God helped me understand that what is the most important is the condition of my heart. Man judges the outward appearance but God judges the heart. If I am worshiping Him in spirit and in truth at my church then I am where I belong.

My Conclusion

I recognize that where I currently worship is right for me because God’s truth is taught through scripture reading and the creeds and He is worshiped in song. It is through confession and absolution that I admit that I am a sinner in need of a Savior. I receive forgiveness of my sins through communion.  I am also able to worship Him in spirit and in truth for who He is. Therefore, I am a Christian who chooses to worship in an LCMS church.

Where are you able to worship God in spirit and in truth? Check out this Related Link: 5 Things I Love about my Church!

(1 John 1:8-9, Acts 4:12, 1 Samuel 16:7, John 4:23-24)

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Air Force Training and Service to My Country

My Air Force Training

My Years of Training in the United States Air Force

 After high school, I went to Air Force Basic Training in San Antonio, Texas, in the summer of 1984. Following basic training, I went to Colorado for Air Force Technical school. I was training to be a munitions system specialist. I would go on to handle, store, inspect, and deliver Aircraft munitions. After training, I went back to Bergstrom AFB and served 2 years there in the Air Force Reserve.
I made an attempt at living at home and commuting to the University of Texas. I majored in electrical engineering, big mistake. Physics class presented me the hardest course. I joined the Air Force ROTC which only made it harder because I had to take 15 to 18 hours a semester. Yet, I had too much fun in the ROTC. I especially enjoyed going to football games. Gradually, my grades started to reflect this and I had to drop out. I made the decision to go full-time active duty.

Going from Reserves to Active Duty

In 1986 after going active duty, I went to Tyndall AFB in Pensacola, Florida. This would be my first active duty assignment. I was a bit of a recluse there and I met my first husband while stationed in Florida in 1987. In August of 1988, I received orders to go to Korea for a remote tour. In February of 1989, I flew home to get married and returned to Korea to finish my tour and change my follow on assignment.
My husband returned to Florida and received his orders for Morbach Air Base, Germany. I distinctly remember putting in for a joint assignment knowing that God would answer this request. God indeed answered because I later received my orders to Hahn Air Base. By September 1989, I was in Germany. I found out that I was pregnant in October 1990. We were in Germany until his death in December 1990. I took a hardship assignment back to Bergstrom AFB.  My son was born in July 1991. I would be there until the base closed in 1992. As of July 15, 1992, I was honorably discharged from the military. God was with me every step of the way. He was my comfort and mainstay.

My Faith in God Sustained Me

It was times like this that I look back and see one set of footprints in the sand and know that Jesus carried me through. If it was not for my faith in Jesus, I am not sure how I would have managed to get through that time in my life. However, I am now blessed with a handsome young man that my son has become. I am grateful for the places and experiences that I went through as well as for all the people I met along the way. I leave you with this verse because God never wastes a hurt.
 
2 Corinthians 1:3-5
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.
 Related Link: My Story
My disclaimer: I know that every believer’s relationship to God is different and unique. You may not have the same experiences and that is okay. I am sharing because I want to bring Him the glory for what He is doing in me and impart to you what I have learned from His Word.
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