Bible, Covenant, Forgiveness, Mercy, Relationships, Restoration, Scripture

DELIGHTING IN MERCY 

MICAH 7:18 

“Who is a God like You, who pardons wrongdoing and passes over a rebellious act of the remnant of His possession? He does not retain His anger forever, because He delights in mercy.” 

Do you remember the childhood game “Mercy”? Two people would stand facing each other and lace their fingers on both hands together, palm to palm. Then one would try to bend the other’s hands back and cause them to cry “Mercy!” Only then would the one who was winning would let go. 

God does not dispense mercy that way. Micah tells us that He delights in mercy. That word “delight” literally means “to be pleased with.” It pleases God’s heart to show mercy to us. He is not trying to catch us doing bad stuff so He can zap us. Micah says He pardons wrongdoings and passes over rebellious acts. What an awesome God we serve. 

APPLICATION 

Are you crying out for mercy? Mercy is given to us by God to enable us to deal with the stuff we are going through. His mercy, in effect, soothes the suffering soul. If you are desirous of God’s mercy today, cry out to Him. He wants to show you mercy. 

Most of us blame God for our predicaments. We do dumb things that we know are not pleasing to God, and then we cry out for deliverance. Let me say that God forgives all sins (except the sin of refusing the Spirit), but often there are consequences for those sins. 

My God delights in showing mercy. That is good to know. His compassions never fail. They are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23). I cannot use up God’s mercy. He does not tire of showing mercy to His children. Come to Him today and receive His tender mercy in your life. 

Your mercy is new in my life every day. I thank You, Lord, for being such a merciful God.  

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Appeasement, Bible, Blessing, Commands, Commitment, Contentment, Humility, Judgment, Mercy

WHAT DO YOU WANT, GOD?

MICAH 6:8

“He has told you, mortal one, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”

It is hard to please someone if you do not know what they want. I remember going through the Five and Dime store in my hometown of Pelham, GA trying to find the perfect Mothers’ Day gift for my mom. In the end I got this “very pretty” sand sculpture in this glass vase. My mom probably hated it, but she kept it the rest of her life. It was not about the gift to her. It was all about the giver – me.

God has told us exactly what He wants from us. Three things – to do justice, to love kindness and to walk humbly with Him. Now, if you have not seen this verse before, you can’t say that anymore. You have been told what He wants. It is the same thing He wanted from His children so long ago. And just like us, they spurned Him. They wanted their own thing and their own way.

APPLICATION

So, what do you need to do? To do justice. What does that mean? It means for you to judge appropriately, correctly, righteously rather than based on your own desires or prejudices. But Micah quickly adds “to love kindness.” Some versions say “to love mercy. This is the flip side of justice. Both are necessary and both are a part of God’s character.

Finally, Micah tells us “to walk humbly with our God.” That’s the hard part. The old country song said, “Oh Lord, it’s hard to be humble when you’re perfect in every way.” We all think we are doing okay. True humility requires us to put others before ourselves. That is just not the American way.

These things God required then and required now will give us a balanced approach as we seek to serve our King. Will you trust Him in this? If He tells us to do something, we can be sure it is for our good. We may not see it as good at the beginning, but we will eventually. God is going for the long play. Can you?

I place my life in Your hands, Lord, to do with as You please.

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Accountability, Battles, Bible, Cleansing, Confession, Deception, Devil, Eternity, Forgiveness, God's Will, Heaven, Holy Spirit, Mercy, Scripture

SELF-JUSTIFICATION

MICAH 6:2

“Listen, you mountains, to the indictment by the LORD, and you enduring foundations of the earth, because the LORD has a case against His people; and He will dispute with Israel.”

Boy, we love to justify our sins, don’t we? We can blame everyone and everything for sinning. I know I have done that. I sin against God by being unkind to my wife, but I blame her. I get angry or upset in traffic, but it is the other driver’s fault. We just cannot take the blame ourselves, can we?

This “case” God has against His people is exactly that. He is basically asking them what He has done to cause their sinful behavior. They see His goodness yet respond with rebellion. I am reminded of Jesus’ response in John 10:32. “Jesus answered them, ‘I showed you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you stoning Me?’”

APPLICATION

What excuses are you giving God right now for your sins. You say, What sins, Carl? I am not a bad person. Well, we have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). You cannot blame God or anyone else for your sin. Well, the devil made me do it. Nope, not true. He may have offered up that morsel, but you gobbled it down.

We have no one to blame for our sins but ourselves. Our flesh is so wicked. If it is left unchecked, it will wreck our world before and after we are saved. When you come to Christ and accept Him, He cleanses you of all your sins. But He does not take away that propensity in our flesh to sin. That has to be dealt with by our submission to the Holy Spirit daily.

Until we reach glory, sin will be an issue. I attended a funeral of a dear friend recently. His life was put on display at the service. His son spoke and shared what a godly influence his dad had on his life. But that man was prone to sin even up to the point of death. When his spirit was taken to glory, he began his sinless perfection in Christ. Glory, hallelujah! Praise be to Jesus. One day we will have the same. Until then, live holy lives.

Father, help me live each day abhorring what is evil and clinging to what is holy.

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Abiding, Accountability, Attention, Bible, Blessing, Commands, Destruction, Discipline, Following, God's Will, Goodness, Mercy, Scripture

CUT WORMS

JONAH 4:7

“But God designated a worm when dawn came the next day, and it attacked the plant and it withered.”

I have mentioned several times in my blogs about my gardens that I have had in the past. I loved gardening, especially raised bed gardening. There is just something about planting something, watching it grow and then enjoying the harvest. I wish I had a spot to garden today. I would definitely do it again. But one thing I do not miss is those infernal cut worms. Those worms can literally cut your plants down overnight. They attack the stem and chew it right into. The next morning there is your plant, flat on the ground.

Jonah experienced that. God had appointed a plant to grow up in one day to cover Jonah. He had enjoyed the shade it provided. Then, just as quickly, it was gone. What he perceived as “deserved” was suddenly gone. Now, take note here. God has appointed a large fish, a plant and now a worm. God can truly use anything to send us a message. He commands His creation to this day.

APPLICATION

God was trying to get His message across to Jonah. He was not done yet. There is more to come. Why do you think Jonah was not receiving it? Do you think he was a little hard-headed? Sounds just like us, doesn’t it? We are no better than Jonah. We think we have it all figured out. We think we know better than God. If I was God, I would do this. Really?

Now, we may not say that out loud, but our actions speak louder than words. We ignore His precepts. We avoid godly counsel from friends. We go our own way and expect God to bless us. Well, beloved, that is not how it works. God will get our attention if He has to use a fish, plant or worm to do it.

As for me, I prefer to hear from God through His Word and through prayer. That is a lot less painful. I still make plenty of mistakes, but I want to at least go down swinging. I want my mistakes to truly be that – mistakes. I want to try to live for Him every day. I still have to deal with sin while I live in this fallen world. I know that. But I want to be able to say honestly to the Lord, “Today, I am going to follow You.” How about you?

Thank You, Father, for making my path clear. It may not be the easiest path, but it is the surest with You as my guide.

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Abiding, Accountability, Advice, Asking, Bible, Bitterness, Deceit, Forgiveness, God's Will, Mercy, Scripture

RATIONALIZATION

JONAH 4:2

“Then he prayed to the LORD and said, ‘Please LORD, was this not what I said when I was still in my own country? Therefore, in anticipation of this I fled to Tarshish, since I knew that You are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abundant in mercy, and One who relents of disaster.’”

Rationalization! Do you know what that means? It is “the action of attempting to explain or justify behavior or an attitude with logical reasons, even if these are not appropriate.” People do it all the time. I have seen people rationalize drunk driving (well, I had to get home where I would be safe). People use it to justify their anger (If he/she wouldn’t act that way, I wouldn’t get mad).

Jonah is rationalizing his anger. He thinks he is justified in his anger. He is basically saying, “God, I told you so. I knew You would be merciful.” Jonah wanted these people gone. Remember, they were the enemy of Israel. They were hated by Israelites. Jonah felt his anger was justified because of what they had done to his nation.

APPLICATION

Be careful what you rationalize. Be careful of the behaviors or attitudes that you think are okay. The world today allows just about anything. In some states in the U.S., criminals are arrested and let go with a slap on the wrist, only to reoffend. They rationalize their behaviors because of the lax justice system. “If they don’t care what I do, why should I?”

Rationalization can be very dangerous. We only have one true way of knowing what is right and what is wrong. Do you know what that is? It is God’s Word. I am currently in a country where only a few decades ago, communism reigned. That government justified all its actions on their belief that it was “best” for the people. Ask those who lived through if they think that was best. Not hardly.

I will trust the Lord to show me how to rationalize the things around me. I will follow His lead. If the Lord says it’s right, it’s right. Jonah could have stopped and just asked the Lord why He decided to forgive the Ninevites. God would have probably gladly told him. Don’t be a Jonah. Don’t rationalize your behaviors. Go to the Lord.

Forgive me, Lord, when I try to justify my attitude or behaviors. If I line up my life with Your Word, I know I will be just fine.

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FOLLOW THROUGH

JONAH 3:10

“When God saw their deeds, that they turned from their evil way, then God relented of the disaster which He had declared He would bring on them. So He did not do it.

Follow through is a term used in a lot of sports. In golf, it is important to follow through on your swing. That means to not stop halfway through it. In basketball, follow through is applied to your shot of the basketball. Let your arms and hands follow through. And in baseball, follow through is important as a pitcher to get the full action or speed of the ball. Follow through is important.

The people of Nineveh followed through on their acts of humility and repentance. They came to Jehovah God asking for forgiveness, and He granted it. “When God saw their deeds, that they turned from their evil way…” Their follow through of what they said they would do caused the God of the universe to relent “of the disaster which He had declared He would bring on them.” They moved the heart of God.

APPLICATION

Did you know our actions today move God’s heart? When He sees us reaching out to help someone less fortunate, it blesses Him. When He watches us serve our fellow believers in church, He is well pleased. When we give to support a missionary who is serving in some foreign country, God takes that gift and blesses that person.

We don’t do these things to get God to love us, though. That’s not what this is about. God loves us – period. We do all these things because we love Him. We obey the One we love. We want to please Him. We want to see our heavenly Father smile (I’m sure He does). Do all these things just because of all He has done for you.

I learned a long time ago that I can’t outdo or outgive God. I do and I give because I want to express my love for Him. His Son was sent to die on that cross to secure my salvation. God wanted me with Him in heaven. Isn’t that awesome? He wants you there also. If you have never asked Christ into your life to be your Lord and Savior, do that today. Let the journey begin.

Father God, I love You. That’s why I obey You. That’s why I do all that I do in Your name.

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THE PITS

JONAH 2:6

“I descended to the base of the mountains. The earth with its bars was around me forever, but You have brought up my life from the pit, LORD my God.

You may have heard the expression, “this is the pits.” But where does that come from? Well, I looked that up. It can refer to armpits which implies body odor, something that is undesirable. It also can refer to someone who is in the depths of despair. That is what I think of when I hear this. Well…Jonah was in the pits.

Remember where he is when he says what we read in today’s verse – the belly of a fish in the depths of the sea. It’s hard to get much lower than that. He was low. He was in despair. Look what he says, though. He says, “You have brought up my life from the pit, LORD my God.” Wait just a minute. He’s still in that fish. But now he realizes no matter the circumstance, God can lift you up from the depths of despair.

APPLICATION

If you are like most people, you have found yourself in “the pits” at some time. How did you manage that? How do you get out of “the pit”? So many of us turn to counselors or doctors for help. They can be very helpful. But so many of us don’t look at the spiritual side of our despair. We are spiritual creatures, as well as physical.

I want to encourage you the next time you find yourself in “that pit” to turn to Jesus. Ask Him why you are feeling the way you are. Ask Him what He would have you do to get out of that low place. He may reveal some hidden sin in your life that needs confessing. He may point you to someone who has gone through what you are going through at the time.

I have had the privilege to share my journey through chemotherapy and stem cell transplants to others who are going through the same thing. Let me tell you – chemo will bring you down into a pit. You need others to encourage you during that time. What have you gone through and what lessons have you learned that you can share with someone today? Do that.

Being in “the pits” is no fun, Father. I thank You that You have lifted me up each time I have called on You.

HAPPY MOTHERS’ DAY TO ALL THE MOMS OUT THERE READING MY BLOG!!

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WAVES

JONAH 2:3

“‘For You threw me into the deep, into the heart of the seas, and the current flowed around me. All Your breakers and waves passed over me.’”

My mom loved the beach. In fact, she convinced my dad, who was no fan of beach life, to buy a small place on the Gulf of Mexico. My mom loved to “jump the waves.” She would not get her hair wet or go in too deep. But she loved to walk in the water and feel the waves break against her body.

Jonah felt the waves and breakers as they passed over him. He seems to quote from Psalm 42:7. “Deep calls to deep at the sound of Your waterfalls; All Your breakers and Your waves have rolled over me.” There is no escape. Only God’s mercy is sparing his life. Jonah is calling on God as he recognizes His power over him.

APPLICATION

Have you tried to “jump the waves” lately? You may get lucky to begin with, but eventually you tire and the waves get you. You cannot keep up with the current that is pushing against you. You need a rescuer, someone who is strong and powerful. You cannot rescue yourself.

God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, as the ultimate lifeguard. He is always looking out for our safety. He flies the red flags when He knows there is danger around you. He flies the green flags when it is safe to swim. He has the ability to plunge into the oceans of despair that may entangle you and set you free.

I have known a lot of people who worked as lifeguards. They all had to know how to rescue someone if they were drowning. That might have involved using a hook to pull someone to the side of a pool or throwing a life saving device to someone in the lake or ocean. Jesus has all the tools necessary to rescue us. Has He rescued you?

Father, I am so thankful Jesus tossed me a ring of safety. I am now safe in His arms.

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NO GLOATING

OBADIAH 12

“Do not gloat over your brother’s day, the day of his misfortune. And do not rejoice over the sons of Judah on the day of their destruction; yes, do not boast on the day of their distress.”

I haven’t mentioned that my alma mater, the University of Georgia, won the National Collegiate Football Championship. The only thing better than that is seeing my school’s archrival, the University of Florida, lose. Lol. When they lose and my team wins, I can gloat just a bit. Sorry Gator fans.

God warned Edom to stop their gloating over Judah’s demise. They were actually celebrating the fact that Judah was being defeated by their enemies. They didn’t come to their defense. They were cheering on the nations who were carrying their brothers into exile. That’s kind of messed up.

APPLICATION

Whose demise are you rejoicing over? We still do this today. We watch people we don’t like have troubles, and we inwardly rejoice. What?! Yes! Even believers do this. That’s right. Believers rejoice when others suffer. You don’t believe me? Just listen to the conversations around you.

We have to stop doing that. We have no right to watch someone else suffer, friend or foe, and rejoice. Don’t get me wrong. I believe enemies of the cross should be confronted. If they don’t repent, they will suffer. But I don’t believe the Lord wants to see that. He desires that all be saved. He doesn’t want to see anyone face judgment without Him.

I am so grateful that I know Jesus as my Lord and Savior. I am filled with His Spirit, so I should see everyone as He does – a sinner in need of a Savior. Will you join me in clarifying our view of others – all others? Let’s link arms and lift up those who have fallen – not look on and gloat.

O Father, forgive me when I have that inner twinge of self-righteousness brought on when I see someone suffer.

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A REMNANT

OBADIAH 5

“If thieves came to you, if robbers by night—Oh how you will be ruined!—Would they not steal only until they had enough? If grape-pickers came to you, would they not leave some gleanings??

My Uncle Hugh Lee was a produce farmer. He grew large fields of tomatoes and cabbages for the market. Every year, at the end of the season, he let us come out and get all we wanted that was left in the fields. My mom canned the tomatoes for winter and cooked up a big mess of cabbage.

Obadiah is using an analogy of common, everyday life to not only let them know what was coming (judgment), but that there would also be a remnant left to return. God was not done with them yet. He still had plans for His chosen nation. They, however, had to deal with the judgment to come.

APPLICATION

You may be going through a hard time right now. You may feel like the Lord has forgotten you and left you to wander. That is not our God. He will never leave us or forsake us. He must discipline us at times, but He will not leave us there. You can trust that truth.

Where are you right now? Do you need assurance? We all do. That’s normal. But if you are in a pit of despair right now, thinking that God has forgotten you, stop. He knows exactly where you are. Call out to Him today. He hears, even from the deepest pit.

I honestly don’t know what I would do if didn’t have the knowledge that God loves me. I don’t understand why He does, but He does. I certainly don’t deserve it. But He has called me His own. If you are in Christ, so are you. So, today, live like it.

From the deepest valley, you hear my voice when I cry to You, O Lord. I know You are there and ready to rescue Your remnant.

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