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Posts Tagged ‘mercy’

Overwhelmed But Not Overcome

July 28th, 2017

Emotions provide color and beauty to life.

 “I will cry to You, When my heart is overwhelmed.”  Psalm 61:2 NKJV.

My thoughts and comments today are about being, “Overwhelmed But Not Overcome.”

Feelings enrich your experience of life. But there are times when feelings are confusing, even overwhelming. In such times, you can find comfort and companionship from Jesus. “In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 NIV. Feelings are real but they are not always right. You have to deal with them but you do not have to believe them. There will be times when you may wish you didn’t have so many feelings to contend with. But I would not want to be without emotions, nor should you. Emotions also provide color and beauty to your life experience.

Jesus felt crushing emotions and dealt with them, as when He agonized over Jerusalem’s rejection. Luke 13:34-35 NIV. Or as He wept in Gethsemane’s garden when He foresaw the suffering of the cross. Luke 22:42 NIV. There is good news for such times. “[Jesus] understands our weaknesses, for He faced all of the same temptations we do, yet He did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive His mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it.” Hebrews 4:15-16 NLT.

At such times, easy answers won’t comfort you nor will empty platitudes that urge you to ignore or deny your feelings make feelings go away. I have learned that feelings are real, whether positive or negative, and you must reckon with them. Denying troubling feelings only amplifies their power. They won’t just go away because you wish they would. You should deal with them. You do not have to submit to them. Your feelings are real, but not always based in reality. Ofttimes, it is better to doubt them than believe them. Don’t become a slave to your emotions.

Embrace and enjoy healthy emotions; God gave them for your blessing. But what can you do with the unhealthy ones – like anger, fear, discouragement, worry, doubt, frustration, jealousy, or distress? God always has the answer. “Everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.” 1 John 5:4 NIV. First, do not indulge feeling guilty for honest emotions, nor continue entertaining unhealthy emotions either. Bring them out in the open. Without shame, place them in God’s presence where the Holy Spirit can help you handle every emotion. That’s what Jesus did in His agony, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow . . Father, please take this suffering away from Me. Yet I want Your will, not mine.” Mark 14:34 NIV/36 NLT. You can fully trust God in such moments, if you will.

To understand feelings, you must examine their origins. Sometimes, only God can expose the source of your feelings. When emotions overrule your will, bad feelings prompt bad choices. The Holy Spirit within you will always give you the power and wisdom to make right choices, if you ask. Remove the hurry and you reduce the worry.

More than circumstances, busy schedules are the root cause of feeling overwhelmed. You feel overwhelmed when stuff pushes God to the outer edges of your life. When you are overwhelmed: make time to recuperate physically, mentally, relationally, emotionally, and spiritually. Take time to rest. You must prioritize the necessary time. Take time to share your need for prayer with a friend. Take time to quiet your heart in God’s presence. “I am content and at peace, as a child lies quietly in its mother’s arms, so my heart is quiet within me.” Psalm 131:2 TEV. Take time to pray, asking God for help and healing. Take time to listen, until you hear a fresh, invigorating word from God.

Feeling the emotions of circumstances beyond his strength, David determined, “I will cry to You for help, for my heart is overwhelmed. Lead me to the towering Rock of safety, for You are my safe refuge.” Psalm 61:2 NLT.

Today, I pray for you to choose daily to live by strong faith and not strong feelings.

Christian Communications 2017-0579

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Grace in the Garden

May 4th, 2017

From an act of grace the drama of redemption began.

He saved us, not because of the good things we did, but because of His mercy. Titus 3:5 NLT

My thoughts and comments today are about, “Grace in the Garden.”

God made the world and He pronounced it good. Refer to Genesis 1:26-2:24 NKJV. The problem is that the world did not long remain good. Adam and Eve were put in a perfect environment, abounding provision for any and all of their needs. Yet, they could not resist doing the single thing that God instructed them not to do. The Tempter played them for fools. And sin was welcomed into Creation. And their world, and every generation’s world since, was changed forever. Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned.” Romans 5:12 NIV.

Ultimately, Adam and Eve were evicted from Eden, God even barring the possibility of their re-entering, positioning angels, “with flaming sword to guard the way to the Tree of Life.” Was God angry? Punitive? Or was God grieved at their privilege squandered? Would Father God’s response have been more akin to the broken heart of His Son, Jesus, weeping over Jerusalem many generations later? “O Jerusalem, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!” Luke 13:34 NIV.

Until today, I have always assumed their eviction from Paradise was a well-deserved penalty for their disregard of God’s clear instruction. Upon careful reading of the event, my assumption seems inaccurate. Instead, I offer consideration of a grace-filled distinction. To me, it appears to be protection of them, not punishment. With love, mercy, and grace a righteous and loving Creator safely escorted them from Eden. Why? God best explained Himself, “. . lest [Adam] eat of the tree of eternal life, therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden.” Read Genesis 3:22-24 NAS. The guardian angels could be God’s protection from the possibility of their making their failure final.

The extent of God’s grace is beyond our comprehension. “He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification. Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Read Romans 4:25-5:2 NIV. Tears fill my eyes with joy and gratitude as I write these words today. In love and grace, God prevented Adam and Eve’s access to the Tree of Life, preventing Adam’s failure and consequence from becoming their eternal fate.

Paul’s understanding of grace was very personal, “God, Who has saved us and called us to a holy life – not because of anything we have done but because of His own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.” 2 Timothy 1:9-10 NIV.

From an act of grace the drama of redemption began. “He Who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all – how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things?” Romans 8:32 NIV. “Once we, too, were foolish and disobedient . .  Our lives were full of evil and envy . . But then God our Savior showed us His kindness and love. He saved us, not because of the good things we did, but because of His mercy . . now we know that we will have eternal life.” Read Titus 3:3-7 NLT. God deals with yours and my sins with love not anger, with grace not blame, with mercy not judgement. Do you feel the need for grace today? His grace is available, abundant, and always sufficient.

“And now I entrust you to God and the word of His grace – His message that is able to build you up and give you an inheritance with all those He has set apart for Himself.” Acts 20:31-32 NLT.

Christian Communications 2017

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Truth Conquers Sin

February 2nd, 2017

The harder you run from your wrongs the faster truth pursues

My thoughts and comments today are that “truth conquers sin.”

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins.” 1 John 1:9 NIV.

As a young teen, more than once I was reminded by my Dad, “You may be sure your sins will find you out.” Numbers 32:23 NIV. I never felt his words threatening, nor did my Dad mean them to be. He wanted me to understand the folly of sin; he succeeded in doing that. I was sobered by his words and probably behaved better than I might have otherwise. When you live everyday life with a deep conviction of the holiness of God and the inherent sinfulness of your own flesh, you will subject your decisions and plans to a more careful scrutiny. Doing so is a healthy and spiritually beneficial exercise.

Sin will not stay a secret for long. The harder you run from facing your wrongs the faster truth pursues you. Covering what you have done never succeeds. Why even try? Denial doesn’t make your wrong disappear. Jesus warned, “Beware of hypocrisy.  The time is coming when everything will be revealed; all that is secret will be made public. Whatever you have . . whispered behind closed doors will be shouted from the housetops for all to hear.” Luke 12:1-3 NLT. Eventually, wrong is exposed. Ever wondered why?

The enemy of your soul wants your transgression to become a permanent and fatal flaw, so he tempts you to deny and hide it. Doing so never works out well for anyone but your spiritual adversary. The devil wants to torture you with your wrong doing and allow him to eventually rule over you. If the accuser of your soul can succeed, he can keep you in the prison of your own guilt and shame. The Bible describes him as, “The accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night.” Read Revelation 12:10-11 NIV. His scheme is to control you by the threat of exposure. Never give him that leverage.

How much more plain could anything be? Adam and Eve tried blaming, denying, and hiding in the Garden of Eden. How did that work out for them? Read Genesis 3:6-13 NIV. God will not let that work for you any better than it did for Adam and Eve. God loves you too much to allow that to happen. Because of His love, God will not allow the strategy of denying and hiding sin to succeed. “He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy.” Proverbs 28:13 NIV.

What then is the righteous response to sin? My dearest of friends, Campbell, often said, “There is only one way that sin leaves a life – through the mouth in confession.” “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” Read 1 John 1:5-10 NIV. Honest and humble repentance before God and man is the only cure for sin. David wrote, “When I acknowledged my sin to You and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord’ – and You forgave the guilt of my sin.” Read Psalm 32:1-5 NIV.

Today, I pray for you to know that honesty about sin is always the best policy.

Christian Communications 2017

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Bless This Mess

January 13th, 2017

Blessing is restored where grace is received

“The blessing of the Lord makes one rich, and He adds no sorrow with it.” Proverbs 10:22 NKJV

My thoughts and comments today are about, “bless this mess.”

Life can be messy; it frequently is. Mrs. Cook, a fourth-grade teacher at Blair Elementary, North Venice, Illinois, taught me to love words and use them properly. Messy is not the classiest of words, but I find it descriptive. Messy is defined as: chaotic, disheveled, disorganized, littered. When you hear the word, you know what it describes. It defines some measure of disarray, a time and place when life is in disorder. Some people live in serial messes until they don’t even recognize the chaos in which they live. The abnormal becomes their normal. I saw a plaque, like one my wife may want to place in my garage or closet, that simply read, “Bless this mess!” I smiled because I could envision closets, kitchens, and houses – as well as some marriages, families, and lives – for which those wistful words could be appropriate.

The problem is this: God doesn’t make a mess, neither will He bless a mess. He will walk with you in your mess. He will love you despite your mess. And He will redeem your mess, if you bring it to Him in sincerity and humility. Blessing is restored where grace is received. “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who trusts in Him!” Psalm 34:8 NKJV. Sometimes, you are forced to deal with messes you make. And sometimes, others’ messy drama encroaches on your life. You must deal with the first; you cannot always do much about the latter, except what little is in your control. Procrastination is never a good option.

A mess ignored worsens. When I lay one thing on my desk that belongs elsewhere, the mess soon multiplies. Usually, I was busy and intended to deal with it later. One thing, whose proper place is elsewhere, becomes the excuse for an accumulation of things temporarily left in the wrong place. Is there a mess you are allowing? Spiritual life? Personal habits? Broken relationships? Troubled marriage? Broken promises? Negligent spiritual practices? Procrastinated obedience? There are both sins of commission and omission that clutter lives.

The Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ is the story of people whose lives were a mess and the grace of God they experienced when they called out to Him for mercy and forgiveness. I think of Adam, Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Samson, David, Simon Peter, Paul – as well as Allen, Bob, Bill, Steve, Joe, John, Mary, Betty, Anne, and (insert your name here). “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” Read 1 John 1:8-2:2 NIV. I love the words the aged and beloved John wrote to people just like you and me, “Grace, mercy, and peace will be with you from God the Father and from Jesus Christ.” 2 John 3 NIV. Grace adorns our lives; mercy spares our lives; and peace abides with and within our lives.

Today, I pray for you to love righteousness and live uprightly before God and man.

Christian Communications 2016

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God’s Extraordinary Grace

October 18th, 2016

The greatest gifts come from the benevolence of grace.

edl-grace-defined

“It is by God’s grace that you have been saved through faith.” Ephesians 2:8 TEV.

My thoughts and comments marvel at “God’s extraordinary grace.”

Diligent people have an almost incurable work ethic, which comes with the assumption that the measure of reward correlates to your measure of effort. The belief that you will receive what you earn and get what you deserve seems inbred. But is it not true that sometimes you get more than you deserve while at other times you receive less than you earned? Paul observed, “Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as a debt [owed].” Romans 4:4 NKJV.

Gratefulness seldom results from your own efforts and hard work; true and enduring gratefulness results from recognizing the unmerited grace that has been shown to you from God and others. “If by grace, then it is no longer of works; otherwise grace is no longer grace. But if it is of works, it is no longer grace.” Romans 11:6 NKJV. The greatest gifts come from the benevolence of grace. You don’t earn grace; you simply, joyfully, and gratefully receive it.

“In our union with Christ Jesus, God raised us up with Him to rule with Him in the heavenly world. He did this to demonstrate for all time to come the extraordinary greatness of His grace in the love He showed us in Christ Jesus. For it is by God’s grace that you have been saved through faith. It is not the result of your own efforts, but God’s gift.” Read Ephesians 2:5-10 TEV. Grace is God’s initiative of your salvation; faith is your response in acceptance of His gift. See Romans 5:1-2 NIV. “For without faith it is impossible to please God, for He who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is the Rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” Hebrews 11:6 NIV.

The Apostle Paul marveled at what he could only describe as, “the extraordinary greatness of [God’s] grace,” whereby you and I have been saved by God’s grace. You and I could not deserve such an invaluable, indescribable gift nor could we ever earn it by our efforts. Paul recounts the shameful history of himself and ourselves, “spiritually dead because of your disobedience and sin . . destined to suffer God’s anger.” Ephesians 2:1-3 TEV. Paul then describes our indescribable God, “God’s mercy is so abundant and His love for us is so great . . He brought us to life with Christ. It is by God’s grace that you have been saved.” Ephesians 2:4-5 TEV.

Neither your worthy achievements can negate your need for God’s grace nor can a shameful past remove you from the reach of His grace. Because of God’s love, we each require and receive His grace when we reach out in sincere faith to the Savior Who died for our sins. Don’t hesitate. If you need grace today, reach out in faith to Jesus. “He is able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.” Hebrews 7:25 NKJV.

Salvation, as are all gifts from God, is by extraordinary grace received in obedient faith. “But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by His grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.” Titus 3:4-7 NIV.

Today, I pray for you to embrace grace in its fullest measure.

Christian Communications 2016

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