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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Sympathy in Our Weaknesses: Surviving Temptation

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“For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.”

(Hebrews 4:15)

Dear Readers, Beloved of God,

Greetings and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ! I pray all is going well with you and that you continue to experience the abundant blessings of God.

In this article, I will share on a subject that I believe is often overlooked in the basic teachings of Christianity. Because of this oversight, Christian’s are often left to “fend” for themselves, thus the flock scattered and seemingly left without hope or answers. This is tragic because the end result is often discouragement heaped with a healthy dose of condemnation.

The subject I refer to is “temptation” and believe it or not, it is not a dirty word. Every child of God faces, and will face, temptation numerous times while upon this earth. It is of utmost importance that believers understand that temptation in and of itself is not sin! What we do with the temptation we face determines it becoming sin or not. All temptation, regardless of form or how it is received, comes from the enemy! God never tempts anyone with evil!

Our enemy knows well the weaknesses of humankind! He is not referred to as the “most subtle” without good reason. Like any good shoulder going into battle, knowledge of the strategies of your enemy gives great advantage. Through the scriptures the Lord has prepared the Christian soldier for warfare.

First of all, the enemy always cheats, and will attack by appealing to the desires of human nature! These desires include appealing to our love of beautiful things, pride, and hunger. We can call these areas of attack, “the lust of the flesh”, “the lust of the eyes,” and “the pride of life”. (I John 2:16) Every temptation that comes at us will appeal to one or all three! In the Garden of Eden, Eve was tempted with all three and so was Jesus during His period of temptation in the wilderness! This brings me to the main point, the temptation of Jesus and how that relates to us.

Our enemy holds no punches and will attack from all directions. Sometimes multiple directions in one assault! He tempted Jesus from multiple directions! We find the account concerning the three ways Jesus was tempted in Matthew chapter four (4). The serpent of old hurled three vicious temptations at Jesus: “command these stones to turn to bread”, appealed to His hunger; “throw yourself down”, appealed to His pride, and “all these things I will give you if you will fall down and worship me”, appealed to His like of beautiful things, all three fall under the desires of human nature, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.

Now, we have learned the strategy employed by our enemy in assaulting us, but what about our counterattack and weapons of war? Let us go back to Matthew chapter four (4) and see how Jesus handled the situation. In corresponding order, let’s listen to Jesus’ reply to each assault: “man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God”; You shall not tempt the Lord your God,” and “You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only shall you serve”. Alas! Jesus used His Sword, the Word of God, to counterattack the enemy! What was the end result? “Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him”.

Temptation is a serious matter and can bring great distress to the believer. The attacks are often very intense and always strike at our most venerable weaknesses. That said; we are not left orphaned without the care of our Shepherd. It brings us great comfort to know that “we have a High Priest who can sympathize with our weaknesses, was in all points tempted as we are, yet remained without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15)

Of equal comfort are the words of the Lord in I Corinthians 10:12-13: “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” This scripture does not indicate that God is the tempter, satan is, and God will not allow him to go beyond what we are able to withstand.

Beloved, God, in His mercies, has taught us the strategy of attack employed by our enemy, as well as, the weapon we use to overcome him. Remember, temptation of itself is not sin; it is how we respond that births sin. I pray that in our time of temptations, we use them as a means to strengthen our Lord’s overcoming power in us, and not allow them to merely be the exposure of our weaknesses. We are engaged in the battle, but the enemy has already lost the war! Beloved, “fight the good fight of faith”!

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!

From Weeping to Joy: There is Hope

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For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for life; Weeping may endure for a night, But joy comes in the morning. (Psalm 30:5)

 Dear Readers, Beloved of God,

Greetings and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ! My most recent articles were centered on confession, repentance, apostasy, and the general degrading of our world. Although these things are true, and we are living in evil and turbulent times, it is not my desire to leave you orphaned without a shepherd, or hope for a brighter tomorrow.

It is true that Jesus warned us that perilous times would come. There would be wars and rumors of wars, nation will rise against nation, and lawlessness will abound. But, He also told us not to be troubled, that these things had to come to pass! He did not predict uncertain times and leave us hopeless. No, He promised that He would send the comforter, His Holy Spirit to guide us into all truth and lead us home. He promised to never leave nor forsake us and that He would always be with us.

As each day passes across the globe, it is easy to become discouraged, distraught, and loose the joy of our salvation. Another innocent life taken, another bomb detonated another massacre, and another bad governmental decision. We all face these things in our daily life and some people and countries more than others. Oh, but beloved, we have an eternal hope! An eternal promise of a life without sadness, pain, suffering, disease, war, and one of constant and eternal peace! The Lord Himself says, “Fear not for I am with you”, and “Be still and know that I am God”! What promises! In these promises He reminds us that He is control and never caught off guard!

Beloved we must keep our eyes on heaven and our focus on Jesus. He commands us to “be of good cheer as He has overcome the world”! We have nothing to overcome beloved, only to remain “in” Him! He asks us to persevere, “hang in there, I have everything under control”, as we patiently await His return. We are promised to pass from suffering into glory! Let the words of the Apostle Paul become ours: “For I consider the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us”. Notice the word choice, “shall” be revealed, not might, maybe, or possibly, but “shall”, a single word with a firm promise! Although we may endure weeping for a night, we are promised that joy will come in the morning!

We cannot find comfort and encouragement in the things of this world. Money, possessions, relationships, addictions, and status simply will not do. If any comfort and security is found in these at all, it is only temporary, as God alone gives eternal comfort, security, and joy. The relentless pursuit of these things only leads to a broken heart and shattered dreams. We find what we lack in the giver of the gifts and not the gifts themselves! Happiness is an earmark of Christianity, but this happiness cannot be found in the world. It is only obtained through Christ Jesus! If you find your life in turmoil and happiness has far escaped you, then maybe it is time to acknowledge your Creator and Savior.

I have found that in times of dryness and discouragement, I am brought back to peace and serenity through the hope and encouragement offered in the scriptures. The Word of God is living, needing no qualifications and speaks for itself. I am going to yield to the Holy Spirit and use the remainder of this article to share with you some scriptures of promise, hope, and encouragement. I pray that you will read each one slowly and carefully, thoroughly chewing and digesting every precious morsel. We can’t claim the promises we don’t know, and we can’t know them unless we read! Sit back, relax, and allow the Spirit of God to speak through the power and love of His Word.

Father, I pray that as every person reads these scriptures, you will speak to their heart. I ask you to reveal peace, comfort, encouragement, and reassurance as we read and meditate on Your Word. Hope can only be found in You, and we come now seeking Your face and voice. Thank You for loving us, securing our future, and delivering us from evil. With thankful hearts we pray, in Jesus’ name, ~Amen

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.”

(Jeremiah 29:11-13)

“Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good;

Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!

Oh, fear the Lord, you His saints!

There is no want to those who fear Him.

The young lions lack and suffer hunger;

But those who seek the Lord shall not lack any good thing.”

(Psalm 34:8-10)

 “The name of the Lord is a strong tower;

The righteous run to it and are safe”

(Proverbs 18:10)

 “But those who wait on the Lord

Shall renew their strength;

They shall mount up with wings like eagles,

They shall run and not be weary,

They shall walk and not faint.”

(Isaiah 40:31)

“Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends”

(John 15:13)

“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”

(Romans 8:28)

“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?”

(Romans 8:31)

 “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

(Romans 8:38-39)

 “For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.

And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”

(I Corinthians 13:12-13)

 “Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”

(II Corinthians 4:16-18)

 “…that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height — to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”

(Ephesians 3:17-19)

“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing”

(James 1:2-4)

 “The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart,

And saves such as have a contrite spirit.

Many are the afflictions of the righteous,

But the Lord delivers him out of them all.”

(Psalm 34:18-19)

“In the multitude of my anxieties within me,

Your comforts delight my soul”

(Psalm 94:19)

 “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;

And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.

When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned,

Nor shall the flame scorch you.”

(Isaiah 43:2)

 “Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed,

Because His compassions fail not.

They are new every morning;

Great is Your faithfulness.

“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,

” Therefore I hope in Him!”

The Lord is good to those who wait for Him,

To the soul who seeks Him.

It is good that one should hope and wait quietly

For the salvation of the Lord”

(Lamentations 3:22-26)

 “For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope”

(Romans 15:4)

 “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

(Romans 15:13)

“Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 3:13-14)

 “Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and our God and Father, who has loved us and given us everlasting consolation and good hope by grace, comfort your hearts and establish you in every good word and work.”

(II Thessalonians 2:16-17)

 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead”

(I Peter 1:3)

 “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away”

(Revelation 21:4)

        Beloved I pray for your continued blessings of our Lord Jesus Christ! No matter where you find yourself in this world, He knows where you are, and all His promises are for you. I hope you read the above scriptures. I promise that they contain life and are a sure cure for what ails you. ~Amen