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Posts Tagged ‘1 Timothy 1:12-17’

Mercy

May 30th, 2015

“Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and from Jesus Christ.” 2 John 3 NIV.

Grace adorns us; mercy spares us; and peace abides with and within us.

My thoughts and comments today are about “mercy.”

Who among us has not needed mercy? Everyone messes up sometimes. Our common humanity leaves us vulnerable to errors of both omission and commission, the omission of things we have not done when we should have and the commission of things we have done which we could and should have avoided. “Because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved.” Ephesians 2:4-5 NIV. Among God’s many attributes, Paul rejoices that God, “is rich in mercy,” because of His excelling love and exceeding grace. Mercy is needed most and given best when deserved the least.

Everyone loves David’s Psalm, in which he concludes, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the House of the Lord forever.” Psalm 23:6. Be assure that God’s goodness and mercy are your promised companions throughout a lifetime, and beyond. Though an oversimplification, I choose to think of goodness to be, “God giving you what you have not deserved,” and mercy to be, “God sparing you from what you do deserve.”

Without mercy as companion, goodness would be overwhelmed with grief; without goodness as its source, mercy would merely be maudlin sympathy. “Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the Father’s Son, will be with us in truth and love.” 2 John 3 NIV. Grace adorns you; mercy spares you; and peace abides with and within you. Mercy is the essential link between God’s grace and His peace. Read Hebrews 4:14-16 NIV.

Mercy begins with the benevolence of God. Read Psalm 136. “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade – kept in heaven for you.” 1 Peter 1:3-4 NIV. But mercy must not end there. God’s mercy continues through you.

Jesus said, “Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful.” Luke 6:36. All who receive mercy are accountable to administer mercy to others as freely as received. Jesus reminded His followers, ”Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.” Matthew 5:7. Mercy flows to you only to the extent that mercy flows through you. As is true with most of the topics I share, mercy is more sincere in the everyday kindness we show one another than in occasional, grand gestures. Read Matthew 18:23-35. The attributes of mercy are: compassion, empathy, understanding, generosity, and forgiveness – with a healthy measure of forgetfulness. Reflect on Paul’s personal testimony of God’s mercy. 1 Timothy 1:12-17 NIV. If mercy could be given in spite of his history and failings, mercy is available to the worst among us.

Today, I pray for you that mercy will flow from God through your heart and life to others.

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A Preferred Future

November 20th, 2013

“Focusing all my energies on this one thing . . looking forward.” Phil 3:13 NLT.

In God, your preferred future is unencumbered by your history.

My thoughts and comments today are about “a preferred future.”

I have a common sense rule about driving. Your car should not move in a direction other than where you are presently looking. Failure to do so can result in an accident you did not intend. I remember a time I ignored my common sense rule. I assumed I did not need to be looking the direction I was going; I was very wrong. In the middle of an empty parking lot, I backed into the concrete base of a light pole. Those serious scuffs remained on my bumper as a practical reminder.

Life is also like that. Life does not work the way it should, unless you are looking where you intend to go. Painful experiences of the past distract attention from your future. Unsuccessfully, many people attempt progress while weighed down emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually from past choices and foolish mistakes. Your past can become your prison, diminishing present possibilities and pushing potential further from your achievement. Bring your history to Jesus in humility and sincerity.

Who does not have regrets? Moses regretted his anger and impetuous action, requiring he flee from Pharaoh. David regretted his deceit and adultery. Paul sorely regretted his pursuit and persecution of Christ-followers, later writing, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.” See 1 Timothy 1:12-17 NKJV. Peter regretted his shameful denial of Jesus; in repentance, Peter found forgiveness. In remorse for his betrayal of Jesus, Judas destroyed himself. The effect of your history – for better or worse – depends on whether you will trust God with all of it.

Every day and with every attitude, action, and choice you are defining your future. Is it the future you prefer or one crafted by random occurrence? God has a preferred future for you. Don’t let your history prevent you from experiencing God’s best today and tomorrow.

Certainly, acknowledge your past – both failures and successes, mistakes and accomplishments, hurts and happinesses – but don’t dwell there. Dwelling on what is unchangeable results in undesirable symptoms, such as unrelenting discouragement, regrets, guilt, inconsolable grief, or diminished confidence. In God, your preferred future can be unencumbered by your history.

From his personal example, Paul gave wise, practical counsel, “I am focusing all my energies on this one thing. Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God, through Christ is calling us up to Heaven.” Phil 3:13-14 NLT. Read those words again, thoughtfully. In them, I see simple but practical requirements for successful progress: singular focus, relinquishment of the unprofitable, anticipation of a preferred future, diligence and unrestrained effort, and Godly objective. Does your life demonstrate those traits?

Progress requires focus. Forward is the wise direction for your focus, if you plan to go somewhere more than where you have already been. Forward momentum is diminished by lack of focus and loss of direction. Denying reality doesn’t work so well; learn from the past but then move forward. Ask God’s forgiveness and accept His redemption, and press forward in grace. God’s future for you is preferred, every time. See Jeremiah 29:13 NIV.

My prayer for you today is that you will trust God with both your history and future.

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