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Posts Tagged ‘merciful’

Saved and You Know It

February 6th, 2018

God made salvation simple and certain; confess and believe.

 “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under Heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12

My thoughts and comments today are about, “saved and you know it.”

As a child I learned a simple truth from a few words in a children’s song, “If you’re saved and you know it, then your life will surely show it. If you’re saved and you know it, say Amen.” Matters of eternal salvation must not be left to speculation.

On this matter, you cannot afford to be wrong. The Bible is clear, “He who has the Son has life. He who does not have the son does not have life. These things have I written unto you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.” 1 John 5:12-13 NIV.

There are many people, good people, who have wrongly assumed that being good is all that is required to go to Heaven. They have trusted in their good works, such as: being moral, honest, good neighbors, charitable, or religious, but according to the Bible those are just not good enough. I recall someone observing that, “Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than sitting in a garage can make you a car.” The Bible is clear. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9 NIV.

How good is good enough? How many good works make you good enough for Heaven? Would God be fair and just if He left anything as important as your eternal soul to personal assumption or speculation? If I asked you, “What are you trusting right now to allow you into Heaven?” How would you answer? People offer diverse but wrong answers to such a simple question. But it is not what you think that matters, or sincerely believe, or prefer the answer would be, nor anyone else’s opinion that will make Heaven certain as your eternal home.

There is one standard alone for every person in every generation and nation, and that single standard is God’s Word. “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under Heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12 NIV. Who else could you trust to make this eternally consequential matter clear and specific for you? Exclusive? Unfair?

Some people may think so, but a single standard is inclusive, both equally fair and just to one and all. If it will not be adjusted to include someone who fails to meet that righteous standard, then neither could it be adjusted to exclude someone who does. Anyone who accepts God’s Son as their Savior can and will be included – whatever their nationality, language, origin of birth, personal history, or circumstance of life.

The Apostle Paul’s words were unequivocal, “Whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved!” Romans 10:13 NKJV. No wonder it is called the Good News. No one – absolutely no one – can or will be refused. Here is the simple answer from God’s Word. “For if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved. As the Scriptures tell us, ‘Anyone who believes in Him will not be disappointed.’” Romans 10:9-11 NLT. It is important that you know how to make Heaven your eternal home. God made salvation simple and certain. Confess and believe.

In the Greek language in which the New Testament was written, the word for confess – homologeo – literally means, “to say the same thing as.” The Bible is clear, certain, and unalterable, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9 NKJV. When from your heart, you say the same things about your sins that God says, about Jesus dying on the cross as redemption for your sins, and inviting Jesus to be your Savior, you receive complete forgiveness and confidence to embrace His promise of eternal salvation. God’s promise is specific and sure.

Here is how you are saved. Ask Jesus to forgive every disobedience and sin, place your faith and trust in Him as your Savior, and listen for the Holy Spirit’s confirming whisper in your heart that you are His and He is yours. Then believe and rejoice that God has done exactly what He promised He would do. You experience no greater joy than knowing your sins are forgiven forever. “For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.” Hebrews 8:12 NKJV. God will forget your sins. He will never forget you.

The Gospel is simple, clear, certain, true, and powerful to save. “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.” John 3:16-18 NIV.

Reading that phrase, “to save the world though Him,” are you amazed by the expansive scale and global scope of God’s heart and eternal agenda for the whole world? His love, grace, and passion was and remains as broad as to transform every nation, as far reaching as to redeem every generation, and yet as specific and personal as to redeem each single individual – “to save the world though Him.”

I love the sentiment of the aging apostle John when he wrote, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” 3 John 2 NIV. That is my sentiment, my joy, and my prayer for you.

Today, I pray for you to be certain about your salvation, never leaving eternity to chance.

Christian Communications 2018-307

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Get Over It

July 29th, 2016

Love and forgiveness is always the right response.

“Shake off the dust from your feet.” Matthew 10:14 NKJV

My thoughts and comments today urge, “get over it.”

In our daily lives, all of us gather mental, emotional, and spiritual clutter. Others, as well as yourself, are capable of saying, doing, or behaving in ways that are less than helpful. Our words, actions, and attitudes in daily discourse impact one another more than you may at first realize. To our harm, we collect and hold in our memories and emotions disappointments or hurts that occur.

With a little time, much of those common slights are soon disregarded. Those apparent slights we don’t dismiss easily, we gradually process and ultimately discard. At other times, feelings of misunderstanding or misjudgment may lodge in your psyche a longer than is profitable to your healthy well-being. Jesus’ advice is simple. Get over it. Here is the reality. You can neither control nor change what another person chooses to say or do. You, however, can choose what you say or do in return. For your own sake and the sake of the other, you must.

Forgive and forget, in that order, is good counsel. One of two things happen when affronted; you will either react or respond. Those are similar but not near the same. Either can occur when you feel hurt. Reacting exacerbates a problem; responding offers reconciliation. When explaining this principle in counseling, I describe a person throwing a rubber ball against a wall. The ball reacts against the wall according to two relevant conditions – the force the ball is thrown and the hardness or softness of the wall.

The initial force is at another’s initiative; you can neither control nor change that. The resulting absorption of that force is your decision alone. A natural reaction usually occurs in a force equal to or stronger than the initial action. A person angrily shouts at you; you naturally react by shouting back angrily, and thus it escalates. That’s how and when feelings get hurt and relationships are harmed, usually temporarily but sometimes permanently. A spiritual response absorbs another’s words or actions, giving back kindness for unkindness.

As a boy, as I entered the house my Mom would remind me, “Allen, wipe your feet outside. I don’t want dirt on my clean floor.” She knew that I would otherwise be bringing into our home the dust, dirt, and little debris from where I had walked. Jesus’ counsel to His disciples was similar except he was talking about the stuff that gathers in our thoughts and feelings from our daily journey, “Shake the dust off of your feet when you leave that home or town . . let your peace return to you.” Read Matthew 10:11-14 NIV. Don’t journey on without God’s peace, with which you came; don’t leave with hurts you did not bring.

A Godly response is always better than a natural reaction. Love, understanding, and forgiveness is always the right response. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus was clear; “Pray for those who mistreat you . . Do to others as you would have them do to you . . Be merciful just as your Father is merciful.” Read Luke 6:27-38 NIV.

Today, I pray for you to rest your cause in His capable hands.

Christian Communications 2016

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Being Merciful

February 12th, 2014

“God blesses those who are merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” Matthew 5:7 NKJV.

Mercy is a grace given when you have every right and reason to not do so.

My thoughts and comments today are about “being merciful.”

Who has not needed mercy – from God and others? None is without need of mercy. In our continuing study of the Beatitudes, we have considered Jesus’ teaching of an exemplary life as “being real, compassionate, submissive, and satisfied.” Let’s go a bit further. (5) “Being Merciful.” To those who live mercifully, God’s mercy abounds. Jesus taught, “God blesses those who are merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” Matthew 5:7 NKJV.

Mercy is an attribute of God. David praises God 26 times in 26 verses, “For His mercy endures forever.” Psalm 136. The Bible describes the justice of God as, “by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generation,” but also a merciful God, “Who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments.” Numbers 14:18/Deuteronomy 7:9 NKJV. Iniquity may endure several generations but God’s mercy extends, “for a thousand generations.” James celebrates this: “Mercy triumphs over judgment.” James 2:13 NKJV. You are most like God when you show mercy.

Mercy recognizes a generous grace from God, sovereignly and through others. Jesus firmly established the application of “sowing and reaping” in His teaching, “. . those who are merciful, they will be shown mercy.” We have all commonly received His mercy. “The Lord is abounding in mercy . . He has not dealt with us according to our sins . . For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward those who fear Him.” Read Psalm 103:8-13 NKJV. See also Ephesians 2:4-6/1 Peter 1:3-5 NKJV.

Mercy is the fitting expression of compassion and generosity of spirit.  See Micah 6:8 NKJV. Being merciful is the grace of an unexpected charity when you have every right and reason to not do so. God gives a wonderful promise, “. . they will be shown mercy.” In the matter of being merciful, Jesus applies the Biblical principle of “sowing and reaping.” First, you should give in the manner and measure you’ve received. “Give as freely as you have received.” Matthew 10:8 NLT. Secondly, you are promised to receive in the manner and measure you’ve given. “Whatever measure you use in giving, it will be used to measure what is given back to you.” Luke 6:38 NLT.

While often quoted in reference to financial giving, Jesus was speaking of far more practical exchanges: social and relational interactions, such as judging, criticizing, and forgiving. The principle of either giving or receiving may not prove true every time for you when it depends on people, but both are eternally reliable with God; so don’t keep score.

Along with David, I rejoice that, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life . . He who trusts in the Lord, mercy shall surround him.” Psalm 23:6/ Psalm 32:10 NKJV. Being merciful today is a small price for such magnificent gifts everyday. But with God’s promise comes a sobering warning; “Judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy.” James 2:13 NKJV.

My prayer for you today is that you generously give others what God has given you.

 

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Faults and Forgiveness

January 15th, 2014

“Make allowance for each other’s faults and forgive the person who offends you.” Colossians 3:13 NLT.

The power to forgive comes from your being forgiven.

My thoughts and comments today are about “faults and forgiveness.”

Forgiveness is difficult. Let no one tell you otherwise. Forgiveness is difficult because it cuts across the pettiness and selfishness in your nature. Forgiveness is grace extended with the realization that, “Words or actions have hurt me, but that person is more important in my life than the hurt I feel right now. I forgive.” A relationship survives when the offended is merciful, not when the offender is punished.

You are neither at the mercy of the offender nor the offence. A wonderful truth about forgiveness is this: you can forgive unilaterally without any corresponding initiative or recognition by another, other than the extended supply of God’s grace and the satisfaction of His approval. Forgiveness is a gift to the offender without being earned; but more importantly, forgiveness is an act of worship to God and a healing gift to yourself. Years ago, I read a simple poem, “He drew a circle that left me out . .  But love and I had the wit to win, We drew a circle that took him in.” Edward Markham. That’s forgiveness.

The Bible teaches, “Since God chose you to be the holy people whom He loves, you must clothe yourself with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. You must make allowance for each other’s faults and forgive the person who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you so you must forgive the person who offends you” Colossians 3:12-13 NLT. The power to forgive comes from your being forgiven. “Be kind and loving to each other just as God forgave you in Christ.” Ephesians 4:32 NCV. Because Jesus has forgiven you, you can forgive others.

Forgiveness is difficult. But do you know what is even more difficult? Unforgiveness! And the longer unforgiveness lingers on your calendar, the harder for it to leave your heart. This is Godly advice, “Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no man will see the Lord. See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” Hebrews 12:14-15 NIV.Continuing to harbor your hurt and disappointment allows opportunity for greater harm than the original offence. Bitterness is better avoided than resisted.

Unforgiveness allows your remonstrative self-justification, “I was hurt by words or actions and I don’t have room in my heart to forgive that person right now.” Unforgiveness gradually develops a self-righteous judgment. Paul warned, ”Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God . .” Read Ephesians 4:30-32 NIV. Who initiates forgiveness and reconciliation? The offender or the offended?

Jesus advised the offender, “If you are offering your gift at the altar and remember that your brother has something against you . . first, go and be reconciled, then come and offer your gift.” Matthew 5:23-24 NIV. Your relationship with others impacts your relationship with God, and vice versa. Jesus also instructed the offended, “If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother.” Matthew 18:15 NIV. The burden of bridge building falls on the strong rather than the weak; be strong. Read Romans 15:1-7 NIV.

My prayer for you today is that you are willing to forgive and ready to restore.

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God’s Mercy

March 15th, 2013

“I’m someone who could never have made it apart from sheer mercy.” 1 Timothy 1:16 The Message.

Mercy is needed most and given best when deserved the least.

As a child, I remember my grandmother, Irene, a most Godly and loving woman, often muttering more to herself than anyone around, “Mercy me!” When she didn’t quite understand something that had happened or felt like she had not done as well as she should, the words she chose were, “mercy me!”- a simple and sincere expression of both her need and expectation of mercy from God and others.

When I look at the grace of God and the graciousness of others toward me these many years, I am grateful for mercy – mercy when I failed to be all that I should have been, and when I fell short of my best intentions to be what I could. I readily identify with Paul’s testimony, “I’m someone who could never have made it apart from sheer mercy. And now he shows me off – evidence of his endless patience to those who are right on the edge of trusting him forever. 1 Timothy 1:16 The Message. Everyone needs mercy because everyone fails. Our common imperfections mean that mercy is important to anyone’s future. Mercy cannot be demanded, nor can it be earned.

Mercy is not owed to you; mercy is needed most and given best when deserved the least. “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us.” Titus 3:5 NKJV.

But there is something that you should know about mercy; it only comes to the merciful. When Jesus stated the “constitution and by-laws” of the Kingdom of God, He was plain spoken, “Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy.”Matthew 5:7.James, the brother of Jesus, elaborated further, For there will be no mercy for you if you have not been merciful to others. But if you have been merciful, then God’s mercy toward you will win out over his judgment against you.” James 2:13 NLT. Now that is really good news!

It will always be easier to overlook others’ mistakes, if you remember well your own. For your own good, you can never be too merciful. It seems to me that God replenishes mercy to you only as you generously offer mercy to others. The grand story of the Bible is the mercy of God – to Adam and Eve in a Garden, to Abraham in a desert, to Samson in a Philistine prison, to David in a palace, to Simon Peter on a seashore, to Paul on a roadside, and to anyone – wherever they are and whatever they have done – who calls on His name in honest and humble repentance.

David experienced the greatest of mercy and marveled at the grace of that. In 150 Psalms, mercy is used at least 110 times. David was confident of God’s unfailing mercy toward him. One of the most precious promises of Scripture may well be, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.” Psalm 23:6. I describe goodness as, “God giving me what I could not deserve,” and mercy as, “God not giving me what I do deserve!”

And Jesus has shown God’s mercy to you and me! “Let us have confidence, then, and approach God’s throne, where there is grace. [At God’s throne], we will receive mercy and find grace to help us just when we need it.” Hebrews 4:16 TEV. I think my grandmother had it right all the time, “Mercy me!” I too could never make it, apart from sheer mercy.

My prayer for you this day is that you trust the mercy of God yet never be presumptuous about it.

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