OUR GOD CAN CARRY OUR BURDENS

October 3, 2016

Walking down a country road, a traveler was struggling under the heavy load he was carrying on his back. When a kind farmer saw the man, he stopped and offered him a ride on his wagon. Both the farmer and his horse waited patiently while the traveler got settled. A few minutes later, the farmer looked back and noticed that the colossal bundle was still on the traveler’s back, and asked him, “Why are you still carrying that heavy load?” the burdened man answered, “I thought it would be too much for the wagon. I’ll carry it.” Unfortunately, the man didn’t get relief from his back-breaking load because he didn’t trust the wagon.

Sometimes we’re like that foolish man. Our cumbersome load may be impossible to carry; we stagger through our days under its weight. Maybe we even pray about it, but keep trying to shoulder it on our own. We find no relief. The Psalmist encourages us in Psalm 55:22: “Cast your burden on the Lord, and He shall sustain you.”

Let’s not be like the traveler on the wagon. Let’s lay our heavy burden down on the only One who is kind enough and strong enough to carry it. Our God CAN carry our burdens. Ahhh…what a relief!

(Join me every Monday of 2016 in my quest to know God better!)


OUR GOD DELIGHTS IN MERCY

February 29, 2016

What gives you happiness? What do you enjoy? Maybe your delight is found in your accomplishments, a relationship, a hobby, or a vacation. How would you finish this sentence: “I delight in _____.”? There would probably be as many answers to that question as “answer-ers”.

If God were to complete that sentence, He would say, “I delight in mercy.” The Old Testament prophet Micah confirms that: “He does not retain His anger forever, because He delights in mercy” (Micah 7:18)

Mercy, according to the online Merriam-Webster dictionary, is “kind or forgiving treatment of someone who could be treated harshly.”

That “someone” is you, and that “someone” is me. We could be treated harshly by our God, but we’re not, because He delights in mercy. God enjoys pouring out His loyal love on us. That’s a good reason for us to praise Him and to trust Him. Doing that, we delight in our God, who delights in mercy.

(Join me every Monday for more of my quest to know God better in 2016)


OUR GOD WHO SAVES US

January 4, 2016

But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward men appeared, not by works of righteousness that we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us.” (Titus 3:3-6)

We can praise our God who saves us because He is kind, full of love and mercy. We can be thankful that He doesn’t save us by our works of righteousness or good deeds; because we’ve all messed up so many times that the balance would be severely tilted – and not in our favor!

Our God who saves us knew that we could never measure up to His perfect standard. That’s why “He (God) made Him (Jesus) who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Corinthians 5:21)

Let’s praise our God who saves us today because of His mercy that we receive through Jesus!

(Join me every Monday in a quest to know God better in 2016)


CHRISTMAS ACRONYM – M

December 15, 2013

“M” is the letter of our Christmas acronym of the names of Jesus (see December 1 post) that we’re looking at today, and MASTER is the name. In the dictionary the word “Master” has a long list of definitions.

Doing a little digging in the Gospels, I found that on several occasions Jesus was called “Master.” One occasion in particular caught my eye: Luke’s account of the ten lepers who, from far off, “lifted up their voices and said, ‘Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.’ ” (Luke 17:13)

We can’t be certain which of the many definitions of “Master” they had in mind as they cried out to Jesus; but we are sure that they knew He was merciful. We imagine that they wanted to be healed, but Luke doesn’t mention that they begged Him for healing; they cried out for mercy. And the mercy that the Master showed them changed their lives forever.

Let’s expand our “M” to “M and M”: Merciful Master. Like the 10 lepers, let’s cry out to the Merciful Master for mercy, whatever our situation may be. He will show mercy, and our lives will be changed because of it.

Jesus is the Merciful Master, and we can rejoice in that truth this Christmas season!


CHRISTMAS ACRONYM – H

December 5, 2013

Using the letter “H” of our Christmas acronym of the names of Jesus (see post from December 1), today we’ll look at Jesus, our HIGH PRIEST.

You might wonder, “Why do I need a High Priest, anyway? I think I can manage without one.” NO! Let’s dig a little deeper.

In the Old Testament, the High Priest had a very important ministry. Besides teaching God’s Law, he spoke to man on God’s behalf and offered sacrifices for the sins of the people. In fact, only the High Priest could enter into the Most Holy Place once a year, on the Day of Atonement, to offer a blood sacrifice for the sins of God’s people. He was the only mediator between God and man.

In the book of Hebrews, written after Christ’s time, we find Him as our “merciful and faithful High Priest” (Hebrews 2:17). He came to our sinful world, was tempted and suffered just like mankind throughout history. BUT…He was sinless, and that’s why He gave Himself up and shed His own blood as a sacrifice for our sins. He sympathizes with our weaknesses. Even now, as our High Priest, He is interceding for us before our Holy Father God, and because He represents us, we are encouraged to “come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16)

Yes, we all need Jesus as our High Priest. Let’s praise Him today because through Him we have confident access to our Most Holy God and His throne of grace.

What a gift! Enjoy it all year long!


BEGGARS CAN’T BE CHOOSERS

May 2, 2013

The Lord makes poor and makes rich; He brings low and lifts up. He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the beggar from the ash heap…” 1st Samuel 2:7,8

The beggar in the ash heap can’t be choosy. He just needs mercy. Mercy. The Lord will lift him out of the ash heap in His time, using His methods. Take the example of the two blind men that Matthew wrote about in chapter 20:29-34:

Languishing in their ash heap of blindness, rejection, poverty and helplessness, the two beggars cried out to Jesus for mercy. Mercy. That’s all they asked for! They caused quite an uproar in the crowd that was following Christ, who promptly and unsuccessfully tried to hush the beggars. In response, the beggars cried out more desperately, “Have mercy on us, O Lord, Son of David!”

Because the beggars were not choosers, they didn’t demand “NOW”. They didn’t tell Jesus “HOW”.

In their desperation, they simply cried out to the Giver of mercy…for mercy. That request stopped Jesus in His tracks. Knowing exactly what the blind beggars wanted, He asked them anyway, “What do you want Me to do for you?” They replied “Lord, that our eyes may be opened.”

The Giver of mercy, Jesus, had compassion on them, touched their eyes “and immediately their eyes received sight, and they followed Him.”

Our ash heap may be loss, disappointment, separation or any situation that pierces our heart with pain. No matter what our personal ash heap is, when we find ourselves in it, begging for God’s mercy, let’s not be choosers. Let’s take the example of the two blind men: simply cry out to Him without any demands and trust that our God, who is rich in mercy and full of compassion, will do exactly what only He can do: lift us from the ash heap.


GOD – OUR PROVIDER

April 28, 2013

“Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink;
nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?

So why do you worry … O you of little faith?
Therefore do not worry… your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.
But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”

(Matthew 6:25-33)

This part of Christ’s “Sermon on the Mount” is very convicting. I can never read it without feeling several things: overwhelming gratitude that God values me, knows every one of my needs and provides for them, and simultaneously I feel shame for being so quick to forget that.

So to exercise my memory and boost my faith, I dug into the Word to pinpoint specific people and events where God proved Himself to be The Provider in unimaginable ways. There are countless examples, but I want to share just a few of them here:

Can you imagine that God provided for generations of a family after a young man was sold by his evil, hate-filled brothers as a slave to foreign, pagan merchants? That horrific event, followed by decades of pain and separation is exactly what God used to prove Himself to be their Provider. (Genesis 37-50). He turned Joseph’s very painful situation into a historic display of provision.

Can you imagine food falling down from heaven daily, water springing from a rock, and footwear that endured 40 years of trekking the rough desert terrain? That’s how God dealt with a grumpy, complaining, disobedient and rebellious group of people- His own chosen people – because He is a merciful Provider! In Nehemiah 9:20,21 we read “You also gave Your good Spirit to instruct them, and did not withhold Your manna from their mouth, and gave them water for their thirst.
Forty years You sustained them in the wilderness; they lacked nothing; their clothes did not wear out.”

Can you imagine the grandson of a former king being hosted at the reigning king’s table every day of his life? Mephibosheth had every reason to fall on his face before King David, because according to ancient Middle East traditions, he could have been executed so that he wouldn’t retake the throne. Yet David showed mercy to Mephibosheth, restoring all the lands to him that belonged to his grandfather Saul, and hosting him at the royal table for the rest of his life. (2nd Sam. 9) High ranking authorities can even be part of God’s plan to provide for the needs of His people!

Can you imagine the astonishment the helpless, poverty-stricken widow felt when she kept pouring oil into all the empty vessels her neighbors loaned her? God was very much aware of her need. Because of her obedience to do something bordering on ridiculous, (“Hi! Can you loan me as many jars as you can spare? I’m starting a new business and will need all the jars I can get…”) God provided not only for the moment, but a lifetime income for her! (1st Kings 4:1-7)

Can you imagine God commanding birds to carry food to his servant when the country was suffering severe drought? Can you imagine God commanding a widow to provide for him?…or an angel suddenly appearing with food that filled him enough to last 40 days and 40 nights? (1st Kings 17:4,9; 19:5-8) Those are some of the ways God proved to Elijah that He is The Provider. Elijah had no reason to think that he would starve to death!

An evil act; years of pain; daily, miraculous provision; the summons of a kind and generous king; multiplication of a meager supply; birds, widows, angels…God used unimaginable ways to prove to people of the past – and to us – that He is The Provider.

So if we have no resources, or what we have is not nearly sufficient; if we’re trying to figure out how all of our needs will be met, let’s remember this: GOD IS OUR PROVIDER! Just as He used unimaginable ways to provide for His people in the past, He CAN and WILL do it again! AMEN!


A BUNDLE OF RAGS AND OLD CLOTHES

April 2, 2013

The book of God’s prophet Jeremiah is not exactly where most of us turn for a good read; however, there is a beautiful story tucked away in it that bring to life the Christ’s words in Matthew 5:7:

Blessed are the merciful,
For they shall obtain mercy.”

It all started with a bundle of rags and old clothes….

Jeremiah was a model of faithfulness to God. Enduring a lifetime of humiliation, persecution and abuse, he continued calling out for his nation (God’s chosen people) to turn around and get right with God. That didn’t go over well at all with his contemporaries.

In chapter 38 we find Jeremiah cast into a dungeon. God’s enemies expected Jeremiah to suffer a long, tortuous death there. They lowered him down with ropes “and in the dungeon there was no water, but mire. So Jeremiah sank in the mire.” (Jeremiah 38:6)

Right after Jeremiah sunk in the mire, we find these words: “Now Ebed-Melech…”. Ebed-Melech was an Ethiopian serving in the King’s court, who interceded before the king on Jeremiah’s behalf. He begged the king to do justice to God’s servant and the king, moved to compassion, commanded Ebed-Melech to get 30 men and get Jeremiah out of the pit before he dies.

Here’s where the bundle of rags and old clothes come in: on the way to rescue Jeremiah from the miry dungeon, Ebed-Melech got old clothes and rags to cushion his pain when they pulled him up. He instructed Jeremiah “ ’Please put these old clothes and rags under your armpits, under the ropes.’  And Jeremiah did so. So they pulled Jeremiah up with ropes and lifted him out of the dungeon.” (38:12,13)

What does that have to do with “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy”? Later, when the Babylonians besieged Jerusalem, the king was carried away, the city was burned down, and Jeremiah had a special message from God for Ebed-Melech: “ ’I will surely deliver you, and you shall not fall by the sword;…because you have put your trust in Me’ Says the Lord.” (39:18)

Ebed-Melech’s act of kindness toward God’s servant Jeremiah did NOT go unnoticed by God. God honored and rewarded him with mercy, because he showed mercy…with a bundle of rags and old clothes!

We might think that it really doesn’t matter if we show mercy or not; but it DOES!
We may forget that God uses His people (US!) to show compassion; but He DOES!
We consider it “no big deal” when we go the extra mile to help someone; but it IS!
We don’t understand how, when or why God repays mercy for mercy; but He DOES!

Even if no one sees that small act of kindness, God sees it and WILL reward it!
If all you have is a bundle of rags and old clothes to cushion someone’s pain, USE IT! You will be blessed!


FAITH NOT SHAKIN’, NEVER FORSAKEN!

March 28, 2013

Digging into the “why”, “who”, “when” and “what” of the truth that God does not forsake His children, I uncovered some facts to solidify my sometimes jellylike faith. Maybe you need a reminder…

WHY?
Why does God not just give up on us when we let Him down? Because of who He is!
Nehemiah 9:17,19: “…but YOU are God, ready to pardon, gracious and merciful, slow to anger, abundant in kindness, and DID NOT FORSAKE THEM….in Your manifold mercies YOU DID NOT FORSAKE THEM in the wilderness.”
Even when God’s chosen people were grumbling, dissatisfied, floundering in their faith and rebellious, GOD DID NOT FORSAKE THEM BECAUSE OF WHO HE IS!

WHO?
Who promised to not only be with me, but care for me, even when no one else is around?
Psalm 27:10: “When my father and my mother forsake me, then THE LORD WILL TAKE CARE OF ME.”
THIS SAME GOD WHO WILL NOT FORSAKE ME BECAUSE OF WHO HE IS, WILL ALSO CARE FOR ME!

WHEN?
When can I count on the presence, provision and faithfulness of my God who will not forsake me?
Psalm 37:25,28: “I have been young, and now am old; yet I have NOT seen the righteous forsaken, nor His descendants begging bread. The Lord loves justice, and DOES NOT FORSAKE HIS SAINTS; THEY ARE PRESERVED FOREVER”.
THROUGHOUT ALL THE SEASONS OF MY LIFE, GOD WILL BE THERE AND NOT FORSAKE ME!

WHAT?
What can my response be, having the assurance that He will never forsake me? BOLD TRUST!
Hebrews 13:5,6:Let your conduct be without coveteousness, be content with such things as you have, for He Himself has said, ‘I WILL NEVER LEAVE YOU OR FORSAKE YOU.’ So we may boldly say: ‘The LORD is my helper; I will not fear.’ “

MY FAITH’S NOT SHAKIN’,
‘CAUSE I’M NEVER FORSAKEN!
AMEN!


TODAY’S TRUTH

March 21, 2013

TODAY!

Goodness and mercy will follow me! Psalm 23:6

TODAY!

Is a gift from GOD! I will rejoice! Psalm 118:24

TODAY!

God’s mercies are new! Lamentations 3:22,23

TODAY!

Jesus is the same as yesterday, and the same as tomorrow! Hebrews 13:8

TODAY!

Jesus is with me! Matthew 28:20

TODAY!

HOW CAN I NOT BE THANKFUL???


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