Tag Archives: mercy

God’s Judgment (Ezekiel 20-21)

When you consider God’s final judgment, what comes to mind? Some people picture a big old drunken party around a campfire. Some see people wandering aimlessly through space, dragging the chains they formed in this lifetime. Many people don’t want to believe there will even be a final judgment, just nothingness, that we will cease to exist when we die.

God told Ezekiel to spell out exactly what His judgment on the disobedient Jews would entail, and Ezekiel complained, “Ah, Sovereign Lord! They are saying of me, ‘Isn’t he just telling parables?'” (20:49) Those Old Testament Jews didn’t want to believe in judgment any more than people in 2020.

So let me ask again: what do you believe about God’s judgment?

I notice as I read Ezekiel this morning how often God tells us His judgment protects His Name, that His judgment reveals who He is to the nations of the world. His Name which is Holy, Holy, Holy. If there was no judgment, He could not be Holy.

Scripture also tells us God’s judgment is without mercy. Can you wrap your mind around that truth? Some will argue that because God is love He wouldn’t condemn anyone to a terrible eternity in hell. That because God is merciful, He wouldn’t judge without mercy.

What do you say to that?

Was God speaking in parables, in fairytales, or using scare tactics to get us to obey Him? Or is there an actual place, void of God, void of light, void of fellowship, where the groans and wailings of the condemned are the only sounds, where there is no hope, no reprieve, no comfort? Is there a place where pain and suffering beyond anything anyone has ever experienced in this lifetime, no matter how awful, is the only reality forever?

What do you say to that?

Ezekiel kept telling Israel about the judgment that was coming even if they didn’t believe him. We need to do the same. Because God will seriously judge without mercy, and hell is real.

But, we also need to tell people the one and only way they can avoid God’s final judgment. They need to know that Jesus paid that awful penalty for them. He met His own requirements so no one has to spend eternity without Him.

Just as God judges the guilty without mercy, He shows mercy to those who come to Him through His Son, Jesus Christ. To all of us who repent of sin, who find forgiveness in the cross, we need have no fear of God’s final judgment.

What do you say to that?

Savior or Executioner (Judges 3-5)

Sisera was running from his enemies, the children of Israel. Jael gave him shelter, AND guarded the door. Sisera was thirsty and asked for water. Jael went one better, and gave him milk. I can only imagine how that sweet liquid felt to Sisera as it hit his tongue. Sisera was weary. Jael provided him with a warm bed.

Yet with all the kindness Sisera received at the hands of this Jewish woman, Sisera remained an enemy of God. He did not repent. And the one who had lavished him with grace and mercy became his executioner.

We must not take God’s grace and mercy for granted. The sun rose today on everyone. There is oxygen to breathe in every corner of the world. Working limbs, hearing ears, love and laughter are enjoyed by the vast majority. And to top it off, Jesus died for the sins of every individual. For God so loved the world!

Yet some who are enjoying the grace and mercy that is ours at the hand of a very patient and loving God, will one day meet Him as their executioner. Some who accept His blessings in this lifetime will die His enemy unless they accept what is their’s through the blood of Jesus.

Yes, God is a loving God. He is slow to anger. He is actively working in the hearts of people everywhere to come to Him, to love and obey Him, to repent of sin and know Him.

But one day we will look into those eyes and see our Savior, or our Executioner. There is no third option.

November 16; Wisdom From Heaven

James 1-3

I will be honest. I haven’t been watching the impeachment hearing on TV. My blood pressure has it’s limits. I don’t know on which side of the aisle you are, but I think God has something to say to all of us through James this morning.

For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you will find discord and every evil practice. (3:16)

I guess when I try to watch the proceedings I find discord and evil practices fueled by envy and selfish ambition. Did God give James a glimpse of the USA in 2019? It seems so. But the next verse is what I want to highlight today:

But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. (3:17)

Can you imagine the change that would come about in our country if God poured out the wisdom that comes from heaven onto Washington DC? Peace-loving? Considerate? Submissive? Merciful? Impartial? Sincere? I don’t care which side of this issue you are,  but can you say you wouldn’t want those things to be evident in all our politicians?

Let’s pray for the wisdom that comes from heaven for our political leaders. But let’s also pray the same for each of us. Our country can hardly be described as peace-loving, considerate, submissive, merciful, impartial, or sincere, can it? Can you be described in those terms? Can I?

We need the wisdom that comes from heaven.

 

August 22; It’s Morning

Lamentations 3-4

 

Jeremiah is feeling old. He sees his wrinkled skin, considers his brittle bones and his toothless grin, and says, “All my splendor is gone and all I had hoped from the Lord.” I am going to my high school class reunion in a couple weeks. I hear you, Jeremiah.

But the prophet isn’t consumed with his failing body because he is vain. This chapter comes after his description of the devastation of God’s wrath on the people. Jeremiah feels helpless, useless in their situation.

But then Jeremiah changes his focus. He turns to the Lord. He was able to say things like:

Because of God’s great love we are not consumed, his compassions never fail, they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. (3:22-23)

The Lord is good to those who wait for Him. (3:25)

For He does not afflict willingly or grieve the sons of men. (3:33)

I figure if Jeremiah, being feeble and discouraged, could have such faith and confidence in God in the middle of the famine and war, then I certainly can have the same faith and confidence in God in the middle of whatever situation I am facing. Because God’s faithfulness IS great. His mercies ARE new every morning.

And it is morning.

April 23; The Lord Be Exalted

Psalms 31, 56, 40; I Samuel 27:1-12; 28:1-2; 29:1-11; I Chronicles 12:1-7,19-22

I hope Psalm 40 is your testimony. David waited on God, and God heard him, lifted him up out of the depths of sin, and put a new song in David’s mouth. David knows how blessed are we who put our trust in God, who hide His Word in our hearts, who obey Him, and tell others about Him.

David is honest to say life was still hard for him. But even in that, he proclaimed God’s mercy, God’s love, and God’s saving power. Knowing God was in his life gave David reason to rejoice.

It does the same for me. God is our help and deliverer.

The Lord be exulted!

That’s my testimony. I pray you can say the same.

Hosea 6-14; Take Words With You

The book of Hosea is a picture of unfaithfulness and judgement. But it is also a picture of God’s grace and mercy. It is so beautiful.

I would encourage you to read Hosea and ask God to speak to you about your own walk with Him. What was true concerning a group of people known as Israel or Ephraim in Hosea’s day, carries with it spiritual truth for us in 2018. I read these chapters today and replaced any reference to “Israel” with my name. It became very personal, because what God said to the Jews through Hosea, He is saying to me. I love God’s Word!!

When I read verses like 5:4, I ask myself if there are things I am doing that do not permit me to draw near to God. Do I have a spirit of prostitution in my heart by harboring hatred or unforgiveness, by holding on to a “secret” sin and telling myself it’s no big deal? Are there times I am more concerned about my “self” than about God?

I hear God say He hates His wicked children. (9:15) HATES! Do I give God reason to hate me because of my own disobedience? That is a sobering thought. Hosea reminds me God rejects the unfaithful.

But then I also read verses like 6:6 and realize God wants only to love me, to show me mercy. Look at 10:12:

Sew for yourselves righteousness, reap the fruit of unfailing love…

Doesn’t that encourage you to sew righteousness by putting on Jesus’ righteousness? Don’t you hunger for the fruit of God’s unfailing love? I do.

When I read 14:2 I had to stop a minute and think what it means to “take words with you” as you approach God. God is not asking for an animal sacrifice. He’s not asking me to go to church, give to the poor, or be a good neighbor. What He’s asking is that I come to Him purposefully, repentant, and say the words, “Forgive me,” and mean it.

Take words with you and return to the Lord. Say to him: Forgive all (my) sins and receive (me) graciously, that (I) may offer the fruit of (my) lips. 

It goes on to say God wants me to realize nothing else can save me. Nothing and no one but God Himself.

What is the result of such a prayer, of a heart that is honest before my Holy God? Hosea tells me He will heal my waywardness and love me freely! (14:4) God will give me everything I need to be fruitful. (14:8)

Then listen to the way God inspired Hosea to end his book.

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. (14:9)

I want my walk with the Lord to be intentional, honest, and fruitful. When I go to Him, I want to go with the words He wants to hear. And I want to mean them from the bottom of my heart.

 

 

Hosea 1-5; The Allure

We know God disciplines His children. You probably know that all sin comes with consequences. But Hosea reminded me something today about God I’d like to pass on to you.

You remember, Hosea, don’t you? He’s the prophet God told to marry a prostitute as an example of God’s relationship with His people. I kind of feel bad for Hosea, because I think he might have loved the unfaithful woman. Then I remember – I am that unfaithful woman, and God is the One who loves me still.

Make no mistake about it: God hates sin. He never condones sin or ignores it. Every sin comes with a death penalty. God is a just, and harsh judge. But there is a side to God we might sometimes either overlook or misinterpret. That is His mercy.

God, through Hosea,  calls out His children, exposes our nakedness, our depravity, and God tells it like it is – we have turned our backs on Him. We deserve it if He turns His back on us.

But I want you to notice 2:14. After exposing Israel’s sin, God says this:

Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her. (emphasis mine)

I love that so much. I would expect God to say, after expressing how He looks at our sin… “Therefore I’m done with you!” Instead, God in His mercy says, “You’ve done awful things, You have sinned, turned Your back on me, defied Me. So I’m going to court you, and woo you back to me.”

“Here I  am,” He says. “Love Me. I love you.”

That allure can occur as you read His Word, or in answered prayer, in the changed life of a believer, in a hint of joy in sorrow, in unexpected blessings, or any number of reminders of God’s love in your life. Those sweet whispers from God are personal and intimate. Don’t miss God’s repeated attempts to woo you, to entice you to come to Him.

Because God doesn’t want you to live – or die – without Him. Just don’t mistake God’s tenderness for acceptance. His mercy has conditions.

Please know, if you accept Him on His terms, His mercy and grace are yours! Jesus paid the penalty for your sin and for mine. And God only wants you to accept it.

I want to share what Matthew Henry had to say about this:

“Those who will not deliver themselves into the hand of God’s mercy cannot be delivered out of the hand of his justice.” (Commentary in One Volume, Zondervan Publishing, 1961; page 1107)

Pay attention to God’s attempts to allure you, whether it’s to find Him for the first time, or to draw you closer to Him as His child. There is no one He loves more than you.

April 7 – Redeemed!

Ruth

The book of Ruth is a precious love story. Naomi loved her daughters-in-law, and they loved her. Ruth loved Naomi enough to leave her own family and travel with her mother-in-law to Naomi’s homeland. And Ruth learned to love Naomi’s God.

One of the greatest declarations of love ever recorded is here in these chapters. You probably have even heard it read at a wedding or two.

Boaz demonstrated love toward Ruth in a lot of little ways, from making sure she had grain to pick, to seeing to her mid-day meals, to making sure she was safe.

But the main theme in Ruth’s story is redemption. As a widow, and a foreigner, Ruth had no claim on her husband’s inheritance. But when Boaz paid the price for her redemption, she belonged to him, became his wife, and was guaranteed a position in that family. She received all the blessings being part of that family afforded her.

I’ve been redeemed, too. As a sinner, I had no claim on heaven, or the inheritance promised to a child of God. But when Jesus died on the cross and paid the price for me, I was able to be redeemed through His grace and mercy.

I belong to Jesus! All in Him is mine. And He lavishes me with every good thing.

Redeemed! How I love to proclaim it.

Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb.

Redeemed through His infinite mercy.

His child, and forever I am.

(Fannie Crosby, 1882)

Don’t Mistake Kindness

Psalm 86 may have been David’s prayer, but in many ways it’s mine, too. It’s a plea for God’s protection and forgiveness, for his help in times of trouble and for happiness. Who doesn’t want those things, right?

David speaks of God’s greatness, his love, compassion, and mercy. It’s a psalm that spoke to my heart today. And it reminded me of something my nephew said to me this week.

Ryan is a nice guy. He has a gentle spirit, he’s compassionate and kind. He loves the Lord and is burdened for anyone who needs the Savior. I’ve known him to befriend a homeless man in Jesus’ name. He’s encouraging, patient and tender. When I tell you his career choice it might surprise you.

He’s a sergeant in the US Army Reserves, did a tour in Iraq, and is a full time policeman in a tough inner-city. Recently he realized one of his long time dreams by becoming part of that city’s SWAT team.

Ryan was sharing about a problem he was having with a fellow officer in the police force. This younger, less experienced man was disrespectful and argumentative toward Ryan, making it very difficult to work with him. Ryan was patient. He made it a practice to compliment the young man when he did something well. But that didn’t seem to be making a difference in his attitude or behavior toward my nephew. 

One day, when this officer refused to cooperate, Ryan lost it. The two ended up in a loud argument in the parking lot of the police station. Needless to say, they ended up in their sergeant’s office and were told they had to work it out. Each of the men aired their differences in front of their boss.

Ryan said his co-worker has the makings of being a good cop. In fact, Ryan said he has strengths Ryan wishes he had himself. But he is inexperienced and has a lot to learn. He told the officer his tone of voice was condescending and disrespectful and that he didn’t want to continue to argue every time an order came through. Ryan said he was done accepting this behavior. Then he said, “Don’t mistake kindness for weakness.”

I thought of those words when I read Psalm 86 this morning. Verse 15 says:

But you, O Lord, are a God of compassion and mercy, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness.

 

I praise God for the truth of those words. I’m so thankful for his compassion and mercy toward me. I depend on his unfailing love. But may I never mistake any of that for weakness.

This loving God is a fierce warrior. He hates – HATES – sin with a burning passion. And he will punish every sin ever committed. Not overlook it. Punish it.

His compassion doesn’t allow him to turn a blind eye to sin but it did send him to the cross to die for that sin. Once again, I am reminded God is first of all holy, holy, holy and he demands holiness of us. But because as sinners we can never be holy in and of ourselves, his compassion and mercy clothes us with his own. I am holy before him only because I accepted his holiness when I asked him to forgive me.

Yes God is love. Yes he is merciful and kind. But don’t ever mistake that for weakness.

God, I pray that your people will recognize you for who you are: holy, holy, holy. Forgive us if we would rather talk about your love for mankind and overlook that important fact. Your holiness cannot tolerate sin. Period. May we realize the significance of that fact and fall to our knees, repent of sin, and accept your forgiveness. You are kind and compassionate, slow to anger toward those of us who know you as our Savior. 

July 30

Jeremiah 22:1-17; 2 Kings 23:31-37; 2 Chronicles 36:2-5; Habakkuk 1:1-3:19

Lord, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, O Lord. Renew them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy.

Recently I have had conversations with Christians who have expressed concern over the future of our world. We have seen freedoms chipped away in the US. There is war over water in over-populated countries. Food shortages. Poverty. The acceptance of sin in society which Christians know can only bring God’s wrath.

I don’t know what the future holds for us who live on planet Earth. I look at my sister’s grandchildren and could go crazy worrying about what’s ahead for them should the Lord not return. The Bible tells us things will continue to erode until that day.

But then I read things like Habakkuk 3:2 and I remember Who it is that holds the future. There is so much evidence of God’s love, his care and protection not only in the pages of the Bible but in history books and in the lives of people I know.

God is still on the throne. He is so much greater than Satan. And, although life will undoubtedly get more difficult, God promises to go with his children every step of the way.

May God’s deeds be made known to our world in 2013. May he renew them in our day.

Remember mercy, dear God. We’re depending on You.