“They didn’t go with us, so they can’t have any”

Be like Christ. 
Deny ourselves and serve others. 
Commit ourselves to do justice and show mercy. 
Care and love for the elderly,  the infirm, the needy, the poor,  and those who cannot or will not return our kindness. 
Yes, this is a Christian life – to show the world a reflection of God’s very nature that lives in us. 

Then David returned to the brook Besor and met up with the 200 men who had been left behind because they were too exhausted to go with him. They went out to meet David and his men, and David greeted them joyfully. But some evil troublemakers among David’s men said, “They didn’t go with us, so they can’t have any of the plunder we recovered. Give them their wives and children, and tell them to be gone.” But David said, “No, my brothers! Don’t be selfish with what the Lord has given us. He has kept us safe and helped us defeat the band of raiders that attacked us. Who will listen when you talk like this? We share and share alike—those who go to battle and those who guard the equipment.” From then on David made this a decree and regulation for Israel, and it is still followed today. – 1 Samuel 30:21‭-‬25 NLT

Why do we worry ourselves about what someone else “deserves”? Why are we so quick to point fingers at the imperfections of one another? 
Friends, have we forgotten love? Have we forgotten mercy?  Have we forgotten that we do not “deserve” His grace ourselves?
Let’s not fall into self righteous hypocrisy by thinking that we deserve anything better than those around us. Let’s not begin to think that our service to the Lord is a burden we bear or a coat we have payoffs for our freedom – or we might find ourselves falling short of the grace of God by submitting ourselves again to the law so we might measure and compare one another in our shameful pride.
No. Encourage one another in good works,  and love one another, and serve together in lifting high the name of Jesus Christ,  whose blood was shed on Calvary for you and I so that our works may be filthy rags,  but His work done through His Holy Ones might be glorious testimonies of His very nature and spirit. 

And from the throne came a voice that said, “Praise our God, all his servants, all who fear him, from the least to the greatest.” Then I heard again what sounded like the shout of a vast crowd or the roar of mighty ocean waves or the crash of loud thunder: “Praise the Lord ! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns. Let us be glad and rejoice, and let us give honor to him. For the time has come for the wedding feast of the Lamb, and his bride has prepared herself. She has been given the finest of pure white linen to wear.” For the fine linen represents the good deeds of God’s holy people. And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding feast of the Lamb.” And he added, “These are true words that come from God.” – Revelation 19:5‭-‬9 NLT

Mercy

Oh, give thanks to the Lord , for He  is good! For His mercy endures forever.
Psalms 118:1 NKJV

הֹודוּ לַיהוָה כִּי־טֹוב כִּי לְעֹולָם חַסְדֹּֽו׃

Strong’s H2617checed
From חָסַד (H2616)

The KJV translates Strongs H2617 in the following manner: mercy (149x), kindness (40x), lovingkindness (30x), goodness (12x), kindly (5x), merciful (4x), favour (3x), good (1x), goodliness (1x), pity (1x), reproach (1x), wicked thing (1x).

חֶסֶד cheçed, kheh’-sed; from H2616; kindness; by implication (towards God) piety; rarely (by opposition) reproof, or (subjectively) beauty:—favour, good deed(-liness, -ness), kindly, (loving-) kindness, merciful (kindness), mercy, pity, reproach, wicked thing.

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[Godly mercy is not passive – it is active. It is not simply an exchange of forgiveness for sacrifice,  that is religion. It is an exchange of His active participation in our lives for our belief and surrender,  that is Christ. God’s ways are quite different than the ways of men.

His mercy endures forever towards us – we cannot escape it no matter what we do – because His mercy is poured out the same to all, but is received quite differently depending on our hearts.

He is merciful enough to chasten us when we are in rebellion, He is merciful enough to forgive us when we are repentant,  and He is merciful enough to surrender the reprobate to their true desires.

This is why the very same truth of the Word of God can produce revelation in one, conviction in another, and rejection in yet another. His mercy, His Truth, His way does not change, it endures forever, it abides, it is eternal and victorious.]

And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
I Corinthians 13:13 NKJV

Our confidence is in His mercy

Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him,
On those who hope in His mercy,
To deliver their soul from death,
And to keep them alive in famine.
Our soul waits for the Lord;
He is our help and our shield.
For our heart shall rejoice in Him,
Because we have trusted in His holy name.
Let Your mercy, O Lord, be upon us,
Just as we hope in You.
Psalms 33:18-22 NKJV
http://bible.com/114/psa.33.18-22.NKJV

Our confidence is in your mercy,  Lord, not in our worthiness. We have nothing to boast in but you,  Lord. Our security is found in you,  not our works,  not our wealth,  not even in our religious sacrifices – only in you.

Hear this, all peoples;
Give ear, all inhabitants of the world,
Why should I fear in the days of evil,
When the iniquity at my heels surrounds me?
Those who trust in their wealth
And boast in the multitude of their riches,
None of  them can by any means redeem his brother,
Nor give to God a ransom for him—
For he sees wise men die;
Likewise the fool and the senseless person perish,
And leave their wealth to others.
But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave,
For He shall receive me. Selah
Psalms 49:1, 5-7, 10, 15 NKJV
http://bible.com/114/psa.49.1-15.NKJV

No excuses, faith. Oh, yeah, and don’t forget about the law.

Obviously, the law applies to those to whom it was given, for its purpose is to keep people from having excuses, and to show that the entire world is guilty before God. For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the law commands. The law simply shows us how sinful we are.
But now God has shown us a way to be made right with him without keeping the requirements of the law, as was promised in the writings of Moses and the prophets long ago. We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.
Yet God freely and graciously declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. 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, for he was looking ahead and including them in what he would do in this present time. God did this to demonstrate his righteousness, for he himself is fair and just, and he declares sinners to be right in his sight when they believe in Jesus.
Can we boast, then, that we have done anything to be accepted by God? No, because our acquittal is not based on obeying the law. It is based on faith. So we are made right with God through faith and not by obeying the law. There is only one God, and he makes people right with himself only by faith, whether they are Jews or Gentiles. 
Well then, if we emphasize faith, does this mean that we can forget about the law? Of course not! In fact, only when we have faith do we truly fulfill the law.
Romans 3:19-28, 30-31 NLT
http://bible.com/116/rom.3.19-31.NLT

Continue reading “No excuses, faith. Oh, yeah, and don’t forget about the law.”

His or mine?

All the believers were united in heart and mind. And they felt that what they owned was not their own, so they shared everything they had.
Acts of the Apostles 4:32 NLT
http://bible.com/116/act.4.32.NLT

Imagine a body of believers united in heart and mind,  dedicated to each other, not considering anything their own but God’s – sharing without a second thought when another is in need.

So what is the problem? What are our excuses?

Continue reading “His or mine?”

In battle, do we lift up our eyes, or just charge blindly?

When Joshua was by Jericho, he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing before him with his drawn sword in his hand. And Joshua went to him and said to him, “Are you for us, or for our adversaries?” And he said, “No; but I am the commander of the army of the Lord . Now I have come.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped and said to him, “What does my Lord say to his servant?”
Joshua 5:13-14 ESV
http://bible.com/59/jos.5.13-14.ESV

How often do we see the world as men and women of flesh and blood who are either for us or against us?  But the Bible tells us about our real enemies –

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
Ephesians 6:12 ESV
http://bible.com/59/eph.6.12.ESV

Joshua “lifted up his eyes and looked” and gained something very valuable for His battle. He didn’t charge blindly into battle because the enemy was nearby – he “lifted up his eyes and looked”.

This commander of heaven’s armies demonstrates to Joshua clearly that his loyalty is to God, not to a nation of people  – when Joshua asks a question expecting an A or B answer and instead gets a whole new answer outside his original frame of reference.

I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come? 
My help comes from the Lord ,
who made heaven and earth.
Psalm 121:1-2 ESV
http://bible.com/59/psa.121.1-2.ESV

You see,  sometimes our frame of reference reverts to this physical world and the ways that it operates and we don’t have the spiritual vision or awareness to understand what it means from that higher perspective. If this battle was just about one people against another, then men receive glory from each other for the victory. But Joshua was not called to receive glory for himself or even for Israel. He wasn’t called to be loyal to men but to God. The glory of the battle was meant to be for God.

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.
Colossians 3:1-2 ESV
http://bible.com/59/col.3.1-2.ESV

When we lift our thoughts out of the distractions of this world and remember that we are not at battle against men of flesh and blood, but that we do battle against principalities and evil forces that work through those around us who are still in chains of bondage – we begin to realize that it’s about the Lord being glorified in our choices, our decisions,  our reactions.

Each moment of opposition felt from another person is actually an opportunity to show them love, mercy,  forgiveness, gentleness,  kindness, and self control in return. It is an opportunity to demonstrate that Christ has won yet another battle in our lives and that we are not simply walking in the flesh,  reacting the way that the world expects.

But when he heard it, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.  Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”
Matthew 9:12-13 ESV
http://bible.com/59/mat.9.12-13.ESV

When struck in the face by another, when accused unjustly, when shamed and spit upon by the world, the world reacts in kind – but Christ calls us out to be set apart as a peculiar people. He tells us to turn the other cheek. He tells us to give and love even to those who would steal from us. He tells us that lost souls in need of love are more valuable to win over as friends of Christ than to let die as enemies.

“What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it?  And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing.  And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’  Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.
Luke 15:4-7 ESV
http://bible.com/59/luk.15.4-7.ESV

Yes, He tells us to pick up our cross and bear it for one another. Not to bear it for those we think are deserving of His love and forgiveness,  because none of us, are deserving. Not me. Not you.

But we love because He first loved us.

Our battle is not against one another.

And our loyalty is not to self.

He is Lord, He is Savior, He is Redeemer, and He has won the victory!

To God be the Glory in our lives today.

Even me. Amazing grace.

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Oh how foolish a life this old man of flesh lived before I found Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. I proved myself doomed to destruction time after time with my choices,  with my actions,  with my words. In my ignorance,  I used the idea of salvation like a trickster,  twisting words to fit my own goals – excusing my rebellion and continued sin, wearying the Lord with my foolishness and disobedience.

I knew nothing of Christ. I knew nothing of a renewed life surrendered to the Lord. I just knew the example of hypocrites around me practicing their religion and buying their get out of hell free tickets. But oh, how things have changed.

Continue reading “Even me. Amazing grace.”

Bear each others burdens

Galatians 6:2 AMP
Bear (endure, carry) one another’s burdens and troublesome moral faults, and in this way fulfill and observe perfectly the law of Christ (the Messiah) and complete what is lacking [in your obedience to it]

PERSONAL COMMENTARY
———————————————

Yes,  sometimes it isn’t easy to endure someone else’s moral faults – but I try to remind myself how much people have forgiven me for in my own life.

At times, I find myself grumbling about what someone else is or isn’t doing at work,  home, church,  wherever – and it’s such a dark and dirty place to let my mind go to. So why do I even let it go there?

This is a struggle for me at times. And I ask myself,  at what point do I step in and do something about it?

And is the problem really the other person,  or is it my attitude? In some cases it is just my attitude,  but in other cases it is both. So I should fix my attitude first, then if my attitude is corrected and the problem still exists in the other person’s actions,  I should offer loving and gentle guidance if and when it is appropriate for me to do so.

But I have to fix my attitude first.

I’m really struggling with this. Especially when I see situations where multiple people are being negatively affected by one person’s actions, and where the attitudes of a group is being brought down by the actions (or idleness) of a few or of one.

Yes, sometimes our murmuring is justified from an early/worldly perspective when we are carrying the weight and one person knows but refuses to do their part, and it begins to affect the others if the disease is not either healed or cut out. Spiritually, I should be wondering how I can either heal it or cut it out the disease before it spreads even more death -,not grumbling about the person. However, knowing how to best do this isn’t always easy.

2 Thessalonians 3:7-12 AMP
For you yourselves know how it is necessary to imitate our example, for we were not disorderly or shirking of duty when we were with you [we were not idle]. Nor did we eat anyone’s bread without paying for it, but with toil and struggle we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden or impose on any of you [for our support]. [It was] not because we do not have a right [to such support], but [we wished] to make ourselves an example for you to follow. For while we were yet with you, we gave you this rule and charge: If anyone will not work, neither let him eat. Indeed, we hear that some among you are disorderly [that they are passing their lives in idleness, neglectful of duty], being busy with other people’s affairs instead of their own and doing no work. Now we charge and exhort such persons [as ministers in Him exhorting those] in the Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah) that they work in quietness and earn their own food and other necessities.

Forgiveness for the Undeserving

Forgiving isn’t about the other person deserving or not deserving forgiveness –

It is about whether we believe ourselves to be more worthy than another and therefore consider ourselves worthy of judging them –

OR

If we believe that we need mercy just as much as the next guy and understand that we can only receive our undeserved mercy and forgiveness if we are willing to extend undeserved mercy and forgiveness to others.

Yes,  it’s easy to say this.

But it isn’t always easy to practice when you see people hurting others,  when you see some taking advantage of others,  when you see some working hard while others stand by idly offering no assistance.

And this is because there is a voice that tells us that we want justice.

But have we forgotten so quickly where justice would land us? Have we forgotten what we deserve?

So let me be sure that I don’t want mercy for myself but justice for others – because yes,  that stinks like the familiar and deadly smell of pride that has tried to hide itself under religious indignation.

Matthew 6:14-15 ESV
For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you,  but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

Does a person have to be honorable in order to be honored? Where would we find such a person outside of Christ?

Ecclesiastes 7:20 ESV
Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins.

Romans 3:10-12 ESV
as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one;  no one understands; no one seeks for God.  All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.”

Mark 10:18 ESV
And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.

So we don’t seek out prefect people to honor – no, we would search forever and come home empty handed.

We honor each other even in spite of our weaknesses,  because God see fit to honor each and evert one of us with His free offer of Grace, and if Almighty God sees value in others,  shouldn’t I?

Matthew 18:10, 12-14 ESV
“See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always   see the face of my Father who is in heaven.  What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray?  And if he finds it, truly, I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray.  So it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.

2 Peter 3:9 ESV
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.

So I should love and honor the brother and sister that I see and know –

as a reflection of the honor and grace and mercy of Christ who lives in me –

understanding their spiritual value either as a lost sheep or as a fellow child of God –

respecting that I have walked in both paths myself –

and that honoring or dishonoring another is a reflection of how I either value highly or disregard as common – this Amazing Grace and Salvation that God has extended to us all through Jesus Christ.

I really need to work on this. Your prayers are appreciated,  friend.