God loves new beginnings, have you noticed? And we, being His creatures, do too. Why are the stores going to be filled with cleaning and organizing supplies in January? Because we like to clean up, throw out, rearrange, and start over. Again. We are not being bad when we do this. Well, most of the time we are not being bad. I have thrown out or sold a few things over the years that I shouldn’t have. But we won’t go into that. Those bad things have since been forgiven. So I am starting fresh, a wiser woman for it.
We all want to put our best foot forward on the first day of the brand new year. But I guarantee you that we are all bound to trip up in some way sooner than we would like. But we must, absolutely must, remember that God washes us and forgives us anew every day, when ever we ask for it. We don’t have to wait for a new day or a new week or a new month or for a new year to start over. We don’t have to be bummed that we already broke a couple of new year’s resolutions before noon on day #1. God doesn’t care about our new year’s resolutions. He cares us about us looking to Him for our salvation, our repentance, our faith, our growth, our sanctification. Everything. And He is there for us 24/7. “Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift” (2 Cor. 9:15).
For you, O God, have tested us;
you have tried us as silver is tried.
You brought us into the net;
you laid a crushing burden on our backs;
you let men ride over our heads;
we went through fire and through water;
yet you have brought us out to a place of abundance.
I imagine that we all know what it is like to go through a season where things are especially hard. You may feel like that has been the last 15 years of your life. As it wears on and you still miss your mom, or the rain just keeps coming, or the heat continues to be awful, or your baby continues to be teething, or you continue to not go into labor, or your house continues to not be remodeled, or you continue to struggle with patience, or your old friends continue to avoid you, or your health continues to be a problem. Sometimes the problem is the weight of blessings – the fact that having a bunch of little children is simply not easy, although you once thought it would be.
Continue reading ‘July 19: Leaning In’
Proverbs 16:6: “By mercy and truth iniquity is purged: and by the fear of the Lord men depart from evil.”
In order to really deal with sin, we need both mercy and truth. The mercy is a disposition inclined to forgive; the truth means that we are naming the sin and calling it what God calls it. That means we call it adultery, not “an inappropriate relationship.” Or we call it gossip, not over-sharing at the prayer meeting.
But what do we do when there is absolutely no acknowledgement of sin on the side of the offender? How do we forgive when we are never asked to forgive? First I want to point out that Jesus prayed that God would forgive those who crucified Him. They certainly weren’t asking for His forgiveness, but He was disposed to forgive even at that moment. We follow His example in asking God to forgive the people who have wronged us. If you can’t do this, then you are probably in the grip of bitterness.
Second, when people wrong you and then act like nothing happened, you need to ask God for love to cover it. “Love covers a multitude of sins.” But sometimes it is clear that there’s no way love is going to cover this one. In that case, it is important to go to the one who did the wrong. But the problem is this: we don’t know our own hearts. Sometimes we don’t want love to cover it because we want to get even. So we have to get our hearts into a frame of forgiveness before we go to confront. Continue reading ‘July 17: Obtaining Mercy’
Proverbs 3:3-4 says, “Let not mercy and truth forsake you; Bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart, and so find favor and high esteem in the sight of God and man.”
It’s pretty clear that mercy is a virtue that we have to hang on to and practice constantly. In fact, we need to wear reminders on a necklace, commit to memory what God says about it, and recite it often so we don’t forget. Otherwise, mercy can run away from us, taking truth with it, and leave us among some very hard companions.
Romans 1:28-31 lists some of the hard companions as those with a “debased mind.” Very ugly stuff. Look at the company that the unmerciful keep: wickedness, maliciousness, and murder to name a few. And wrapping us the list of nasties are “unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful.”
Jesus said, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy” (Matthew 5:7). When we show mercy to one another, we find mercy from God: “favor and high esteem in the sight of God and man.” Who wouldn’t want Continue reading ‘July 16: Mercy and Truth’
Proverbs 11:17 says, “The merciful man does good for his own soul, but he who is cruel troubles his own flesh.”
Like so many biblical principles, the more we obey, the more blessed we become. It turns out that it really is more blessed to give than to receive. (And we all know how lovely it is to receive.) When we extend ourselves to others, whether it is to our own little people or to the stranger or to our neighbor, our own souls prosper. This means that we are the beneficiaries of our own mercy. Give a helping hand, and we are helped. Forgive a debt, and our hearts are enlarged, able to forgive more. So we might be tempted to start showing mercy just so we will ourselves be blessed! But I think that’s the whole idea. Want to do good to your own soul? Show some mercy.
Now mercy is usually tied to acts of forgiveness. Someone wronged you. By extending forgiveness, you are showing mercy. This is not something necessarily easy. We don’t go along la-la-la-la-la bestowing forgiveness as though we were sprinkling pixie dust. Forgiveness is acknowledging that the person did indeed wrong you, and it is promising that you will forget all about it. You will act as though it never happened. You will never bring it up again to anyone. That is showing mercy, and it has a healing effect on both parties involved.
On the flip side, when we are hard-hearted, cruel, unforgiving, and unmerciful toward others, we receive more trouble in ourselves. Our hearts get harder, our “flesh” is troubled. Life gets more complicated. Bitterness festers and grows. We turn into trolls.
Mercy may be hard to show. It may require great amounts of prayer and grace. But it brings life and peace and a tender heart. It is a great good in itself, and it brings great good to our own souls. Let’s get more of it and spread it around. Be merciful. Forgive. And receive God’s blessing.
One of the things I wish I could get young moms to see is what I could not see when I was a young mom. So here it is: Your children are going to grow up. Not only that, they will have children of their own, Lord willing, and those little people will grow up too.
I know this sounds extremely simple. But it isn’t. When my husband was laboring away to start a Christian school for our three children, I was just seeing it all one day or week or year at a time. They moved from first to second to third grade and so on. But now I have thirteen grandchildren in this same school, and my son is on the school board and one daughter is teaching high school lit classes while the other is helping with the fundraisers. They all have children in the school, and they are invested just as much as we are, or maybe even more. What a surprise! What was I expecting anyway?
So what’s my point? The point is that God makes promises to His people regarding their children. Believe them! I can see it with my own eyes now, so it isn’t my faith that is seeing it. But my faith has been enlarged as a result of seeing His faithfulness to me and to my children and to my grandchildren. Now think about this: a thousand generations (Ex. 20:6). That is what I want to see by faith because I can’t see that far with my eyes. I won’t be able to seat all those descendents around my Sabbath table, no matter how many leaves I put in.
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1).
We serve a God of great glory and goodness. He loves our children. He loves to see our children brought up faithfully to love and serve Him. He loves to promise us our children. And He loves it when we believe Him. I guess it is simple. But it’s not easy.
(Note: Thanks to Elizabeth Sensing for the Easter photo.)