Subtle Mercies

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Dear Readers, Beloved of God,

A question, that it is often posed, and used as an accusation of lack from God, is the question of mercy. Believers and nonbelievers alike often question if God is a merciful God. It is easy to live the blessed life when the big paycheck comes in or the loved one we have been praying for is suddenly healed and no longer at death’s door. The point is that we believe and receive the blessings and mercies of God when things are seemingly going well for us. But, what do we do when it is our season to suffer and bear our crosses? Are we able to still see the mercies of God, His justice, and unending love for us? Are we willing to even see His love and mercy in our times of trial? Many of us are not! As soon as trial comes or our season of suffering has arrived, our faith becomes shipwrecked and our belief that God is merciful and loves us is cast wayside. Why me Lord? What have I done to deserve this? Sound familiar? It should, we have all said it at one time or another! But, even still, God remains merciful and His love for us never changes!

The title of this article, “Subtle Mercies”, was chosen with purpose. It rightly suggests that at times we have to intently and with purpose look for the mercies of God. They are not hidden from us; we only have to dig for these nuggets of truth and love. Their subtlety suggests that we are required to pursue God and seek His mercy and love to find them. In our quest we do find mercy and love and a new closeness to our God. If it is worth possessing then it is worth searching for. Personally, I believe God planned it this way. Sometimes His mercies are as obvious as the smile on our face and at other times we must search for them with deliberate determination.

Allow me to share with you one occasion of these subtle mercies I refer to. It is documented in the Old Testament of our Bibles. I’m sure we all remember the story of Moses and how God used him to deliver the Israelites from the hands of slavery under the captivity of Pharaoh. But, do we see the whole story, the “big picture”, and beyond the obvious miracles, blessings, and mercies?

God began His call upon Moses by laying on his heart an unexplained love for his own people and distaste for Pharaoh and the Egyptians. In a sense, God was bringing Moses back to his “roots”. Ultimately, Moses was used of God to deliver His people Israel from the captivity of Pharaoh. These were a stiff-necked people with constant complaints and serious disbelief that Moses or God had their best interest at heart. Let us not forget that God had responded to their cries in the first place. Their prayers for deliverance were being heard and granted. Nevertheless, they remained an infantile bunch and wondered the desert for forty years with Moses in tow as God’s called leader.

During these forty years Moses faced many trials in leading his people for God. Sometimes He was pleasing to God and other times displeasing. Sounds a lot like us too don’t it? Nevertheless, God always remained faithful and merciful to Moses. Several times Moses did quite the opposite of what God had commanded him and furthermore in an angry burst, intentionally broke the tablets of stone that had God’s law inscribed by His own finger! Again, this sounds like us, huh? Foolishness in the wrath of our anger! God was still faithful to extend love and mercy to Moses and He does us too. How many times in our lives have we deserved the wrath of God? Equally, how many times has He extended the hand of grace and mercy to us even though we did not deserve it? Countless, concerning both!

Although there are many, let us note some of the mercies extended to Moses. He (Moses) asked to see God’s glory. God allowed him to see His back as He passed by from the cleft of a rock. Mercy! God allowed Moses to make two new tablets of stone like the previous ones and rewrote His commandments on them for Moses to deliver to the people of Israel. A second chance! Mercy! Although God had told Moses He could not enter the Promised Land because of his disobedience concerning the water and the rock, God did allow him (Moses) to look upon the land of promise in all its beauty. Moses saw with his own eyes what he had suffered and fought for in bringing Israel to the land flowing with milk and honey. Some say this was a cruel act of God and went along with the punishment of Moses. No, I believe it was an act of mercy by allowing Moses to see the fruit of his work and reasons for leadership, although not perfect, were not in vain. Mercy! God had taken Moses atop a mountain to see the land and when Moses had beheld it, he died. God Himself buried Moses and the location of his grave was never revealed. Mercy! Moses is the only person in history that has ever been buried at the hand of God. Burial is an act of honor and respect. Mercy!

Let us not be disillusioned or misinformed. Although God is a merciful God, there are still consequences for our actions. But, we must always remember that the punishment and chastisement of God is in itself merciful. God is many things, but above all He is loving and merciful!

The next time we tend to doubt the mercies of God, let us look upon the life of Moses and view fresh that our doubt simply isn’t true. God is not looking for perfect people, He is looking for those who will believe and receive His love and mercy. All honor, glory, and thanksgiving are to our God, for His love and mercies endure forever! Amen!

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The Mercy of the Father: An Underserved Gift

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“Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22-23)

Dear Readers, Beloved of God,

Greetings and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ! The love and beauty of God within the scriptures never ceases to amaze and leave me awestruck! Even in the seemingly harsh encounters we read of in the Bible, I am still able to see His love and mercies abound. Oh, what a treasure He is, and a life lived without Him is certainly void.

I wish to share with you one of the greatest, if not the greatest, acts of mercy that the Father has bestowed on us. The merciful act I speak of concerns our redemption as well as one of the first major prophecies of the Bible.

Please join me on a journey back to the Garden of Eden. Here we find the creation of the heavens and the earth, the birds, animals, and more importantly the creation of mankind. Isn’t the garden wonderful, so much beauty to behold and lovely scents to smell? Do you see it? Even the birds and animals are at peace with man and all creation is in harmony! The presence of God fills the garden as sweetly as the aroma of a gardenia shrub on a summer’s eve. No wonder this place is called “paradise”!

God has demanded obedience to one major rule; “of every tree of the garden you may freely eat, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shall not eat”! He even provided a reason for His demand; “in the day that you eat of this tree you shall surly die”. In these scriptures alone we find that God recognized man as a free moral agent.

Now we find trouble in paradise! The serpent has deceived Eve into eating from the forbidden tree and she shares her bounty with Adam. In an instant, mankind is fallen, made aware of good and evil, inherited a sin nature, and died spiritually! The two that would have lived forever, now later experience a physical death. Although conditional on obedience or disobedience, the death of mankind was among the first major prophecies of the Bible.

The disobedient acts of Adam, Eve, and the serpent did not go unpunished and ultimately the first couple was banished from the garden. Let us look closely at the punishment given the serpent and then Adam and Eve being banished from the garden.

God pronounced a curse on the serpent more than all cattle, every beast of the field, and he was to eat dust all his days. In concluding the judgment passed on the serpent, God reveals His redemptive plan for humanity! “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed. He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel”. This prophetic Word of God was fulfilled by Christ Jesus on Calvary’s cross and His resurrection from the dead was the final blow delivered!

Now, let’s consider the first couples banishment from the garden. Was this just part of the justified punishment of God, or was it one of the greatest acts of mercy given to mankind? Carefully read God’s Words: “Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever”- therefore the Lord God sent them out of the garden of Eden…”

Beloved, I submit to you that this is the greatest act of mercy bestowed upon mankind from God! Why? If God had allowed Adam and Eve to remain in the garden, eventually they would have eaten from the tree of life. If they had eaten from the tree of life after having eaten the forbidden fruit, they would forever, through all eternity, live in a fallen state, subjected to all the heartaches, pains, disease, sadness, evil, and spiritual death (eternal separation from God) that frail humanity now endures for a short season! Being that Adam and Eve are the beginning of all humanity, and that we inherit our fallen nature from them, we to would have lived in this un-formidable state for all eternity.

The pains, disappointments, and despair we have in this life are only for a short season. We are not destined to live this life forever and we are promised entrance into paradise on the condition of our receiving the sacrifice of Jesus. Beloved, will you join me in raising holy hands to heaven and thanking the Father for His unbound, endless love and mercies? We have indeed received the greatest of mercies and they are new every morning!

“Two Broke Preachers and a Crippled Man”: A Lesson on Giving

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Dear Readers, Beloved of God,

You were most likely drawn to this article because of the title, right? And, I imagine you are thinking that I am just trying to be funny? Well, a little, but there is also a seriousness about the title as well! You will soon see that a valuable spiritual principal is also implied!

Let’s see if any of these real life scenarios apply to any of us. Have you ever been sitting in church, and the Pastor or other minister pounds heartily on the tithe and offering drum? Ever gone into a grocery or department store and someone is either at the entrance or somewhere in the parking lot soliciting “help”? What about being approached while you pump gas into the family vehicle? Another seemingly popular approach is someone standing at the exit ramp as you exit the interstate holding some sort of sign where the writing usually ends with “God bless”. Have you ever experienced that one?

What I describe above is common in the United States, among other practices to obtain a helping hand. I’m not exactly sure how this is approached in other countries, some are the same, and others similar, but I’m sure that there is no shortage of needy people. Please stay with me here, I promise this is not a badmouthing session against needy people or con artists, although they are out there. No, I have a valuable lesson to teach and some of us may even be set free from the old bags of bondage we have been carrying around!

I’m sure that each of us has experienced at least one of these scenarios in our lifetime. Now, with the above scenarios in mind, consider this: you have been confronted or asked to give whether it is in church or elsewhere and you do not have one cent in your pocket! In fact, we may even find that in actuality, our financial circumstances aren’t the greatest either, and we may be the one that is needy. What do we do? Where do we turn? And what about the need that is before us? The choices are several, but for many Christians, the choice seems to be made for us, condemnation and guilt settles in! We really want to help, but the fact is we are broke and can’t help financially.

Why do these guilty feelings rush us like a tidal wave? Do we really have anything to feel guilty or condemned about? Feelings of compassion and concern are normal, but not condemnation and guilt. Some of the reason we feel guilty, is because we have been conditioned to think that the only thing worth giving is money, and sadly we have somewhat been taught this in our churches! Have you ever heard this old secular saying, “money makes the world go around”? Well, money may make the world go around, but it should not make the church go around! There are many treasures in this life greater than money, and some things are simply priceless! What should make the church “go around”, post salvation, is our good works! God the Father has given Christians the ability to give the greatest gift second to the sacrifice of His Son Jesus, the gift of ourselves! Jesus is the only definitive example, of what it means to sacrifice out of love for humanity. Should we offer Him any less as His hands and feet?

In His life giving ministry, did Jesus walk around handing out cash as a show of His love, hopes, and healing for humanity? Not at all, He invested Himself in the lives of others.

I am the father of three children, and like any other parent who loves their children, wants to offer them the stars. Soon after I was born again, the Lord brought to my attention a Bible verse: “Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6)

Already being a father, this verse really struck a nerve in me. I contemplated the verse a little and immediately asked myself a question. What is the greatest gift that I can give my children? One, which will all throughout life, bring them life, peace, joy, opportunities, love, and remain a constant help in times of trouble, and an ever present guide concerning the fragile and difficult walk of life. Right then, I determined that the greatest gift I could ever offer my children was an introduction to the Creator, Sustainer, Savior and Comforter of their life, Jesus Christ! I went home and shared this with my wife and children. We joined hands and the four of them received Jesus in their hearts that moment! At their request, I then baptized them in the bathtub! God has very much honored that day in our lives. Other than the typical growing pains of rearing children, I have not had one moment of trouble from them. God gifted me with them and I presented the gift back to God.

This is a lesson about giving and no one is gift less, ever! We all have Godly gifts to offer humanity and just need to look deep in our hearts and see what we possess. Money is not always the thing that is needed most. Sure, it is most often the desire of the heart to those of us who are needy, but remember, “Give a man a fish and eats for a day. Teach him how to fish and he eats for a lifetime”. Sometimes what we think we need is not what we need at all!

We all have something to offer; from a kind word to a friendly smile; an encouraging hug or comforting embrace. We can offer a helping hand, or a leg up; a drink of water, or maybe a full meal; a prayer for healing, or a word of praise. We all have something to offer! There is no need to feel guilty about our giving or that we lack a certain gift. These things are priceless! Money can’t and never will outshine the love of Christ!

What did Jesus have to say concerning our giving? “…for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.”

“Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘ Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You? And the King will answer and say to them, “Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.” (Matthew 25:35-40)

Every one of the above acts of kindness can be done without having one dime in our pocket! It only requires that we purpose those things in our heart. God has given us all something to give. I’ll let you in a little spiritual nugget; when we give of ourselves, the one receiving the gift is not the only one to benefit. God instantly warms the heart of the giver with His approval, and that too is priceless! Please don’t misunderstand my message here. I’m not suggesting that money is never an appropriate gift, only that it is not the greatest gift, and is often, something we lack and can’t give this way. In all of our giving we should follow the leading of the Lord. He knows what the best gifts and greatest needs are concerning all of us! Being that He uses His people to bless others, it stands to reason that we follow His lead, agree?

“Two broke preachers and a crippled man”: I’m going to share a story with you to reinforce our lesson. A man who had been born lame was carried to the gate of certain church every day. His reason for going there was to seek monetary charity from those that passed by or were going inside the church to worship. I don’t think the man ever really made eye contact with those that passed by and he had been doing this same routine for some time. I can only imagine how many people walked by this man each day. He just sat there hoping someone would give.

One particular day two preachers approached the gate so they could enter the church. Strangely, the crippled man spoke to them and asked for alms, but did not look up at them. He definitely had the attention of the preachers as they intently starred at him. One of the preachers spoke and told the man to look at them. The man looked up at them expecting to receive some money. One of the preachers, realizing what the man wanted, and probably considering what the man really needed, spoke to him, “I do not have any money to give, but what I do have I give you; In the name of Jesus Christ rise up and walk!”

The preacher then extended the right hand to the man and helped him get up. Immediately, the man’s feet and ankle bones received strength. Leaping up, the man stood and walked and went inside the church with the two preachers! The formally crippled man praised God, as he had received exactly what he needed, which could not compare with what he thought he wanted! Everyone around that had witnessed this event or that knew that this man had sat at this gate daily, were amazed. They knew him to be a cripple and now he is not!

Wouldn’t it be wonderful is this story were true, as it could all the more prove that we all have something to give, and it doesn’t always have to be money? This story is true! You can read of this history making event in the Book of Acts, chapter 3. The two broke preachers are Peter and John, and not having money, they gave what they had. Praise God! We all have something to give! We all matter in the body of Christ and can make a difference in the lives of others. Lord Jesus, help us all look deep within our hearts and recognize those gifts we have to give. Help us reach out and give to humanity the gift of life in You. Some of our gifts are to plant and others to water, but we all reap a harvest when we invest in the lives of humankind! Jesus said that the greatest gift of all is love. If we ask Him, he will help us give some love every day!

Lord Jesus, I pray, asking that You fill Your people to overflowing with the gifts of heaven. Put those people in our paths daily that need Your help and reveal to us their needs. Saturate us in the same love You have for humanity. We are Your hands and feet, and ask that You walk and touch through us. Forgive us for our sins and release us from the bondage of thinking we have nothing to give. Remind us fresh that in You we have everything. We love you Jesus and it is with thankful hearts we pray,    ~Amen