30 Days of Cultivating Thankfulness: Day 25 – Our Merciful God

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Christ’s bloodline trumps ours and the verdict upon our souls by His amazing mercy.

Scriptures of the Day:

Romans 3:24-25 (NLT)

“Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. 25 For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past.”

Exodus 25:21-22

21 “You shall put the mercy seat on top of the ark, and in the ark you shall put the testimony which I will give to you. 22 I will meet with you there, and from above the atonement lid, from between the two cherubim that are over the ark of the testimony, I will speak with you about all that I will command you for the Israelites.”

Before a Holy, Righteous, Perfect Judge, mankind stands condemned. A Holy standard was set and we did not meet it – we never could. But there is mercy in seeing our inability to obey God’s commands. This revelation that pierces our hearts also draws us near to cry out for mercy; and when we cry out to our Righteous God, He hears us and chooses to sit on a seat of mercy.

We did not deserve such lavish grace when we had so clearly violated His law. But we have a merciful God – One Who loves to demonstrate His lovingkindness and compassion, despite our sinful rebellion.

He would have been just to sit in a place of judgment for we will all come before Him one day in the final judgment, but He is long-suffering, not wanting any to perish. When we confess and turn from our sins, He hears and heals.

Christ’s bloodline trumps ours and the verdict upon our souls by His amazing mercy, which I am eternally grateful for. Christ, our High Priest to Whom we will give an account, Who rules over all the earth and is our righteous Judge – chooses to sit on the mercy seat.

Oh God, thank You for Your rich mercy and for paying our sin debt! May we never forget this mercy extended to us.

30 Days of Cultivating Thankfulness: Day 21 – The Patience of God

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Some consider it cruel that God would permit consequences when we sin, but this, too, is a demonstration of His patience.

Scriptures of the Day:

2 Peter 3:9

“The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.”

Jeremiah 44:22

“The LORD could no longer bear your evil deeds and the abominations that you committed. Therefore your land has become a desolation and a waste and a curse, without inhabitant, as it is this day.”

Since the beginning of time, God has patiently been drawing us to Himself, revealing our sin that we might come to repentance and renounce our ways. The weary pattern of our stubborn sin and His merciful redemption is repeated incessantly, revealing God’s great patience. As we wind up in the mud pit again and again, darkened by our own counsel, He picks us up, dusts us off and sets His love on us again and again and again.

In His great kindness and patience, we are not consumed. All have fallen short of the glory of God. All have been offered salvation, but not all have accepted it.

Some have been in awe over the patience of Job, but it cannot even be compared with the patience of our God. Job complained of his plight, while God willingly chose His own suffering to win our hearts.

What patience of God to see our wickedness and to triumph over it with mercy. With mercy. Our flesh would not do as much. Such lavish patience is foreign, undeserved in our eyes. But then so is His amazing grace.

Patience is not permission to sin without consequence. It is not the abuse of grace or the casual acceptance of such an astonishing sacrifice on our part. Some consider it cruel that God would permit consequences when we sin, but this, too, is a demonstration of His patience. It is in the suffering for our sins that our eyes can be opened to recognize our sin and our need of God. Even in our failures, God works patiently to redeem them and us with His mighty salvation.

Oh patient God, lover of our souls! Lord, You are so patient, longsuffering and kind. Thank You for opening our eyes to understand how great Your salvation is. May we never take for granted Your mercy and live lives worthy of Your great sacrifice.

30 Days of Cultivating Thankfulness Day 19 – Our God of Compassion

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

His compassion reaches across our imperfection and places His own righteousness upon us.

Scripture of the Day:

Psalm 145:8

“The LORD is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love.”

Lamentations 3:22

“Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.”

Before a Holy God we could not stand, but the grace of God. The LORD set a perfect standard because He is Holy. To settle for less would compromise His righteous, perfect nature. He knew we could never meet His Holy law, so He met it Himself.

His compassion reaches across our imperfection and places His own righteousness upon us. When we fail, He lifts us up. When we hurt, He hurts.

It is impossible for God Who is perfect kindness and mercy personified – to be incompassionate. Jesus demonstrated His compassion when He wept over Lazarus’ death, even though He knew full well that He would raise him from the dead. God the Father gave His only Son for an obstinate people because He loved them so very much.

He is longsuffering and waits on us to come to Him. Despite His overwhelming compassion, we have a choice and can choose not to accept His salvation. The question is, why would we choose death when life in Christ is full of grace and love from a compassionate, merciful God?

At the end of ourselves, we look up and see our Father, offering His free gift of salvation.

30 Days of Cultivating Thankfulness Day 6: Revelation

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

When we go from darkness to light it is a miracle indeed.

Scripture of the Day:

1 Corinthians 2:10

“God has revealed these to us by the Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.”

Today I am thankful for the revelation of God’s salvation. When we go from darkness to light it is a miracle indeed. Steeped in sin, we are unaware of our inability to understand the truth. By nature objects of wrath, we are completely blind to our need of God until the LORD opens our eyes and drew us to Himself.

In the moment of revelation, we are suddenly able to apprehend this great salvation – how can it be? Sweet grace of God that would show us our sin by His incredible mercy, then reveal His plan that would set us free.

Lord, thank you that You did not leave me in ignorance, but patiently helped me to comprehend Your salvation. 

Day 29: Hope Discovered

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Those who “catch” this Reinvented Hope are on the hunt for it.

Scriptures of the Day:

Psalm 31:24

“Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord.”

Hebrews 10:23

“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.”

Psalm 130:5

“I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope.”

We are nearing the end of our journey exploring this new Hope Reinvented, which was found as we applied God’s precious word and promises through all the obstacles life has thrown at us.

Discovering this hope was not easy, but we can say that it was worth it, no matter what the cost – to gain this precious gift of a hope everlasting.

As we run this race and explore this life to see what our hope really is, we first have examined what it is not.

  • Reinvented hope is not in belongings or riches.
  • Reinvented hope is not in having a perfect life.
  • Reinvented hope is not in any person or thing.
  • Reinvented hope is not in any achievements I pursue or gain.
  • Reinvented hope is not in the avoidance of pain.
  • Reinvented hope is not in another man’s praise or acceptance.

Oddly enough, Reinvented hope is discovered when:

  • Rejection comes knocking on our door, causing us to run to our Father for lasting acceptance.
  • Illness comes, bringing suffering that humbles us and causes us to look for a hope beyond our pain.
  • Sorrow knocks on our door unexpectedly, jolting us into the reality that our hopes are no more.
  • When the pressures of this life build to an intense level – finances or relationships in turmoil – and cause us to find resolution.

It is in these desperate moments of life that we look up to our God and need something more. Aware that this life has not delivered what we had hoped, we come before God bankrupt with scarcely a hope at all. We battle through disillusionment and fight to finally obtain an authentic definition of what it means to walk side-by-side with our Creator and really place our hope and trust in Him.

I believe those who “catch” this hope are on the hunt for it. They don’t leave the race of this life, despite many discouraging “hope killers”. They are instead thrusting themselves forward with whatever strength they have left, and placing themselves in the mercies of God.

I am not much of a runner, but I run anyway. I have had to battle numerous autoimmune diseases and have many more days with pain than without. Pain has a way of making things feel impossible. Hope seems futile when just basic functioning is a challenge.

In the midst of some of my greatest pain, I have written love notes to my God that could not have been written had I not been brought to my knees. As I surrendered to the adjustments I had to make to be able to still be productive, a funny thing happened. I was surprised by gratitude and discovered a hope that was greater than when I had been well and I worshiped God in a way I had not before.

I still have to guard my health, but in His mercy God has placed many of my autoimmune diseases underneath my feet in remission. What a good God. But the lessons learned are even more precious to me than the healing He has brought. I will praise my God whether I am well or not, for in all of it, He is my hope and He will use it all for my good and His glory.

When we discover this hope, we need to be like the Psalmist and hold onto this Hope Reinvented with all our being. The storms of life ebb and flow, but God’s hope is constant throughout. As we wait for our ultimate redemption, His hope and His word are our strength and enablement to live a worthy life full of hope for His glory.

Oh God, I am overcome by Your goodness! Thank You for revealing this awesome hope we have in You! Help us to rely on You and not anything You created. Open our eyes when we are tempted to look to anything else other than You for our salvation.

I have a new song called, “You Are Worthy” coming out on November 4th, currently available on my ministry website. This song epitomizes to me a path to find joy. As we focus on God’s worth and character, our problems become smaller, we discover lasting hope and joy and are lost in worship of Him.

 

Truthful Tuesday: Conditional Praise

It is God's long-suffering and mercy that withhold disaster and it is also His mercy and lovingkindness that allows it.

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

It is God’s long-suffering and mercy that withhold disaster and it is also His mercy and lovingkindness that allows it.

Scripture of the Day:

Jeremiah 44:16-23

16 “We will not listen to what you claim the LORD has spoken to us! 17 Instead we will do everything we vowed we would do. We will sacrifice and pour out drink offerings to the goddess called the Queen of Heaven just as we and our ancestors, our kings, and our leaders previously did in the towns of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem. For then we had plenty of food, were well-off, and had no troubles. 18 But ever since we stopped sacrificing and pouring out drink offerings to the Queen of Heaven, we have been in great need. Our people have died in wars or of starvation. 19 The women added, “We did indeed sacrifice and pour out drink offerings to the Queen of Heaven. But it was with the full knowledge and approval of our husbands that we made cakes in her image and poured out drink offerings to her.” 20 Then Jeremiah replied to all the people, both men and women, who responded to him in this way. 21 “The LORD did indeed remember and call to mind what you did! He remembered the sacrifices you and your ancestors, your kings, your leaders, and all the rest of the people of the land offered to other gods in the towns of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem. 22 Finally the LORD could no longer endure your wicked deeds and the disgusting things you did. That is why your land has become the desolate, uninhabited ruin that it is today. That is why it has become a proverbial example used in curses. 23 You have sacrificed to other gods! You have sinned against the LORD! You have not obeyed the LORD! You have not followed his laws, his statutes, and his decrees! That is why this disaster that is evident to this day has happened to you.”

This is one of those passages in scripture where I want to push the pause button and help Jeremiah out. (As if I could add to the revelation God already spoke through Him). Ok, I would have nothing to offer, but I would so desperately want to persuade them to see what they are doing.

But deception is a difficult thing to break through. When we let our flesh rise in influence, we begin to protect it and its decisions. Comfort begins to be the popular god of the day and we are no longer spirit led, but just led according to what “seems good”. Hmm. This philosophy sounds familiar.

Although the thought of making cakes in the form of a queen and worshiping them seems ridiculous to me, I have certainly fashioned things in my own mind and life as being temporarily more important than serving and obeying God. It just felt better – for the moment.

But what sticks out to me this time, other than just the standard rebellion/punishment/repentance cycle is that God’s people were making their praise of God conditional on God blessing them. They failed to see that their present circumstances were their own doing.

Poor Jeremiah. He must have just been like, “Really?” You wanna play patty-cake and worship a false “god-queen” and go back to Egypt – the very place God delivered you from? How ironic. But sometimes the familiar has a pull on us that is hard to break. Sometimes we forget the pain of that pull, too, and just want to do whatever seems easiest.

We, too, can make our praise conditional on God blessing us, and not recognize that our suffering is a result of our own unfaithfulness. I know that sounds harsh, but ultimately there is such liberty in understanding that we deserve nothing from God, for we were His enemies. Choices we made in the past might still be reaping consequences, or perhaps just being in a fallen world alone creates enough havoc in our lives. But even at that place of sobering reality, there is grace.

It is God’s long-suffering and mercy that withhold disaster and it is also His mercy and lovingkindness that allows it. Let that truth sink in. That’s right – even the nitty gritty ugly stuff that we see no good purpose in our lives – even that detestable moment or season that we wish we could just wipe out of our minds – was meant for our good and His glory.

Oh that we would always see clearly and understand that we were made for something more – Someone more – higher than any endeavor or achievement this world offers. We are called to live for One.

Lord, help us to live for You alone. Give us eyes to see, ears to hear and a mind to understand how very great You are and how worthy our lives are when they are spent pursuing You, no matter what this life brings.

Mundane Monday: Enigmatic Salvation

Salvation

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Salvation is given not just to those who don’t deserve it, but to those who did not want it in the first place.

Scripture:

Romans 11:7, 26-27

7 “What then? Israel failed to obtain what it was diligently seeking, but the elect obtained it. 26 And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: ‘The Deliverer will come out of Zion; he will remove ungodliness from Jacob. 27 And this is my covenant with them, when I take away their sins.'”

How is it that God’s people could seek Him and not find Him?  It seems futile or unfair. And yet their temporary blindness resulted in salvation for all.  God’s wisdom and ways are not ours.  The election of gentiles ultimately provokes a jealousy in the Israelites to receive this same salvation.

This covenant with God’s people demonstrates His kindness and faithfulness to finish the work of salvation for those He has chosen.  A perfect, Holy God with a righteous standard violated by His creation chose to pardon those who broke that standard.  Wow.

The law awakens our need for salvation and reveals our sinful condition, yet this Almighty God chooses to pay that sin debt and remove sin’s stain permanently – to those who did not even seek Him.

This grace of God is befuddling, completely undeserved.  Surely no one can boast.  What a beautiful promise that our Deliverer will remove ungodliness from us!  Although we might not appreciate the sanctification process by which God makes us into His image, taking a step back we see His faithfulness to complete the work He began in us and the miracle of His opening our eyes to understand so great a salvation.

Lord, thank You for Your mercy.  I cannot comprehend fully how I came to know You, but I thank You and pray that all reading this post will also see their need of You and accept the free gift of salvation you have given.

 

 

Mundane Monday: Undeserved Mercy

Undeserved Mercy

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Mercy would not be mercy if we could earn it.

Scripture of the Day:

Romans 9:15-17

For he says to Moses: “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” 16 So then, it does not depend on human desire or exertion, but on God who shows mercy. 17 For the scripture says to Pharaoh: “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I may demonstrate my power in you, and that my name may be proclaimed in all the earth.”

Here it is, the beginning of a work week again.  We labor not in vain, though, if we labor in the LORD.  So often we work for our own glory or we try to attain favor or mercy based on merit.  It makes sense that we should earn what we have sought so hard to achieve . . . or does it?

In one breath the verse above can be discouraging to the workaholics among us who try avidly to curry favor only to see another given grace unmerited; but the fact that God’s mercy could never be earned is beautiful.

Our righteousness is as filthy rags, and any insight or ability we think we have was given to us, so we trust in God’s sovereignty in the mercy he grants us in all of life.  This is a vulnerable place to be and we can be tempted to cry, “not fair!” when a deed goes unrecognized, but resting in the perfect goodness of God and the reality of our deserved damnation causes us to fall to our knees in gratitude that God has mercy on us at all.

Mercy is evident throughout every part of our life, though it is often not perceived.  We do not see what we have been spared from, and what blessings we have received we might take for granted.  When we are tempted to become embittered at life’s vicious curve balls, may we remember what grace has been given to us – the obvious and the not-so-obvious mercies.

God’s mercy is not always seen as a blessing.  Sometimes His merciful hand prevents blessings which could ultimately be our undoing.

But the most important mercy ever to be received is the salvation God offers.  Every inclination of our hearts is steadfastly toward sin apart from the grace of God. What sweet grace opens our eyes to know that we are sinners and to receive His free gift of salvation!

We may never fully understand the mercy of God extended to us, but somehow in His sovereignty He chooses to reveal His mercy and love that we might know Him.  Life is a vapor, but for all eternity we have mercy!

Jesus, thank You for saving me!  Thank You for revealing my need of You.  When things have not gone as I thought they should, Lord I thank You.  Your mercies overwhelm me. You are good all the time.

“And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, proclaimed the gospel to Abraham ahead of time, saying, ‘All the nations will be blessed in you.'”  Galatians 3:8

Mundane Monday: Oh, Mercy!

Mercy Seat

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Costly mercy should never be casually accepted.

Scriptures:

Romans 3:25

“God publicly displayed him at his death as the mercy seat accessible through faith. This was to demonstrate his righteousness, because God in his forbearance had passed over the sins previously committed.”

Hebrews 9:3-5

“And after the second curtain there was a tent called the holy of holies. 4 It contained the golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant covered entirely with gold. In this ark were the golden urn containing the manna, Aaron’s rod that budded, and the stone tablets of the covenant. 5 And above the ark were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat. Now is not the time to speak of these things in detail.”

Romans 2:4

“Or do you have contempt for the wealth of his kindness, forbearance, and patience, and yet do not know that God’s kindness leads you to repentance?”

Some of us need a big dose of God’s mercy on Monday mornings.  That and a large cup of Joe.  In the hamster wheel of life, we are all running about, aiming to achieve whatever objective that day holds.

Yet in the day-in and day-out of our busy lives, we receive mercy upon mercy and do not perceive it.

This lavish mercy, covering our every sin, was planned from the beginning and cost our Savior’s life.  Mercy for past sins, mercy for present and future ones, too.  Mercy to live a different way.

The mercy seat was the lid on top of the ark where the very presence of God would sit and give mercy when the blood of atonement was sprinkled there.

This is so graphic for our delicate ears to hear, for we are far removed from the fact that our sin brought death.  Blood.  Shed on our behalf.  Not so we would continue in sin, but that we would marvel at such forgiveness and in response die to our sin at such a great sacrifices given on our behalf.

Now this mercy seat is represented by Jesus, Who covers our sins and passes over them by His own righteous blood.  Even  more amazing to consider, this mercy seat is available to us at all times.

We do not have to be priests, entering with trepidation and bells attached to the hem of our robe in case we should die in the presence of a Holy God.  No, we, normal, sinful beings can enter the presence of the living God and find mercy.

May this truth help us to be amazed at You, oh God, on our ordinary days when we look only to this life for meaning.  Arrest our hearts with Your Faithful Love and help us to live our Mondays in awe of our merciful God!

A Season of Thankfulness: Day 8 – God of Mercy

Hebrews 8:12

“For I will be merciful toward their evil deeds, and their sins I will remember no longer.”

Micah 7:18

“Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy.”

Isaiah 43:25

“”I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.”

Guilty, yet pronounced innocent.  Unearned, undeserved, unworthy.  Why extend mercy to people such as these?  Because that is His nature.  He is good.  He is kind.  He is loving and He is merciful.

We deserved wrath and He would have been righteous to give us His judgment, but instead He wanted to demonstrate His forgiveness and compassion toward us.

A prisoner who is set free cannot contain the joy and gratitude over a punishment being rescinded; so it should be with us. If each day His mercies are new, may we recognize all of the mercies around us.  Are we able to think, speak, walk, breathe?  Basic components of living, but God allowed us to have those abilities another day.

Sometimes we can equate mercy with comfort – “if God is merciful He won’t allow suffering”.  However it is often in God’s mercy that He permits afflictions to visit us, for otherwise we would not be cognizant of all the blessings He has brought into our lives.

This God of mercy extends grace to those who are willing to humble themselves and ask for it.  To see our need of Christ’s amazing forgiveness is yet another sign of His mercy in opening our eyes at all.

Lord, thank You that You delight to show us mercy.  So Holy and righteous are You!  Help us to extend the same grace that you have given to us, ever mindful of your gift.