Monthly Archives: April 2016

God Is Merciful


There was a time when David sinned that God let him choose his own punishment. God gave him three options: 1) Three years of famine 2) Three months of running from his enemies or 3) Three days of a severe plague. That’s a tough choice, but David thought about it and made a wise decision. He said, “They’re all terrible! But I’d rather be punished by GOD, whose mercy is great, than fall into human hands” (MSG)

David recognized that God is a lot more merciful than we are. He took his chances with a plague betting on God’s mercy and it paid off. Just as the angel bringing the plague was about to destroy Jerusalem, God stopped him because His mercy was greater than His desire to punish. God is a merciful God, yet someone how so many of us view Him as a punishing judge rather than a merciful father.

To help us see Him as merciful, here are some verses that talk about His mercy.

1. GOD is all mercy and grace— not quick to anger, is rich in love.

Psalm 145:8 MSG

2. Let us have confidence, then, and approach God’s throne, where there is grace. There we will receive mercy and find grace to help us just when we need it.

Hebrews 4:16 GNT

3. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—

Ephesians 2:4-5 ESV

4. But you, O Lord, are a God of compassion and mercy, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness.

Psalms 86:15 NLT

5. All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort.

2 Corinthians 1:3 NLT

6. But GOD ’s not finished. He’s waiting around to be gracious to you. He’s gathering strength to show mercy to you. GOD takes the time to do everything right—everything. Those who wait around for him are the lucky ones.

Isaiah 30:18 MSG

7. O GIVE thanks to the Lord, for He is good; for His mercy and loving-kindness endure forever.

Psalm 136:1 AMP

8. And he also wanted to reveal his abundant glory, which was poured out on us who are the objects of his mercy, those of us whom he has prepared to receive his glory.

Romans 9:23 GNT

9. How kind the LORD is! How good he is! So merciful, this God of ours!

Psalms 116:5 NLT

10. The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

Lamentations 3:22-23 ESV

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Watching And Waiting


Have you ever been around a person who loves to hear the sound of their own voice? How does it feel when you try to engage them in conversation and they never give you the opportunity to speak? After a while, you either quit trying to talk to them or you just don’t say anything at all to them because you know it’s going to fall on deaf ears. When you see them approaching you or their caller ID shows up on your phone, you almost sigh because you know what’s coming.

If we don’t like it when people do that to us, then why do we think God likes it when we do it to Him? Think about your prayers to God. How often do you stop talking and start listening? Prayer should be a conversation between you and God, not a wish list of things you’d like to see done to make your life easier. There’s a time for you to talk and a time for God to respond. If it’s been a while since you’ve heard God speak to you, ask yourself, “When’s the last time I was quiet in my prayer time?”

I know it’s a hard concept to some because we think of prayer as a list of things we want, but prayer is so much more than that. It’s designed to be the time you communicate and have a conversation with the creator of the universe. It’s designed for us to spend time with Him getting to know His heart. We have to learn that it’s ok to spend your prayer time listening. If we never listen, how will we know His heart, His desires for our life, or His thoughts on how we should respond to social issues as His representatives on earth?

David said in Psalm 5:3, “In the morning You hear my voice, O Lord; in the morning I prepare [a prayer, a sacrifice] for You and watch and wait [for You to speak to my heart]” (AMP). David understood that God wanted to hear his prayers and that God wanted to speak to His heart so he built time to watch and to wait into his prayer time. God wants us to do the same so He can speak to our hearts. If it’s been a while since you’ve heard God speak to you, try watching and waiting today to see what He says.

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No Patience

I’ve always heard that patience is a virtue, but in today’s world, it’s a virtue too few want or have. Just recently I needed a part for my car. I called around to all of the parts stores looking for it. Each one said that it would take about a week to get it. When they asked if they should order it, I said, “No. Amazon has it and can get it here in two days.” I don’t have the patience to wait a week when I can get it in two days. The fact is, I didn’t want to wait two days so I was trying to find out where I could get it same day.

It’s one thing to be impatient for things we want, but when that same impatience affects our spiritual life there’s a problem. While technology has sped up the process by which we get most things, it has not decreased the time to receive spiritual things. Those still require the discipline of planting, watering with prayer, and reaping. Spiritual discipline requires patience that today’s fast moving world isn’t used to. There’s no technology that can make things happen faster in the spiritual realm.

In Psalm 40:1, David wrote, “I waited patiently for the LORD to help me, and he turned to me and heard my cry” (NLT). The Message interpreted this verse as, “I waited and waited and waited for God. At last He looked; finally He listened.” There are times when we have to wait for what seems like forever to hear back from God. It requires patience that today’s world doesn’t produce. It requires stick-to-it-iveness and lots of prayer. You can’t go on Amazon and bypass God to get what you want faster.

Spiritual discipline is what we need today more than ever. We have to push past our desire for immediacy and have patience for the process. There’s more going on that just you saying a prayer. Daniel 10 gives us insight into what goes on when we pray. Principalities are fought in the spiritual realm that require us to have patience and to keep praying. We have to learn to pray until we’ve prayed through rather than praying until we’re through. Yes, patience is a virtue that worth having in today’s impatient world, especially if we are going to pray for something.

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Letting Go


Tug of war is a great game we learned to play as kids. You can have one on one tug of war or team versus team. Either way, it’s a battle of strength and will. Each of us has played with that person who just lets go of the rope. Your body was used to keeping the tension by pulling against the weight of the other side, and when they release that tension, you go flying backwards. Now, any time you hold any weight with tension, you’re afraid you’ll fall down if that happens again.

Just like our body gets used to keeping the tension in tug of war, our mind can get used to the tension of carrying a burden. There’s a struggle. There’s tension. There’s the fear of what it’ll do to you if that tension is cut. You don’t feel like you can let go of the burden for fear of flying backwards and being made to look like a fool. Fear keeps you holding on to the weights you should’ve let go of long ago even after God has told you to let go.

You may not know it, but God gave you a promise in Psalm 55:22 about letting go of those burdens. It says, “Cast your burden on the Lord [releasing the weight of it] and He will sustain you; He will never allow the [consistently] righteous to be moved (made to slip, fall, or fail)” (AMP). If you will release the weight of your burden, He will catch you. He won’t let you fall and look like a fool. His desire is that you let go of that heaviness and hand it over to Him.

Just like in tug of war, it’s a trust exercise. You’re going to have to be the one to let go though. You’re going to have to be the one who releases the tension and says, “God, I’m letting go of this burden. You can have it.” God cares about your mental, physical, and spiritual health. Carrying a burden affects all three. That’s why He said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest” (Matt 11:28NLT). You’ll be more productive, happier, and better rested when you let Him do the heavy lifting. 

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Acting In Anger


I’m not someone who gets angry often. I’ve been angry many times in my life. At one point, I got so angry I couldn’t sleep. I allowed the anger to consume me. Every time I closed my eyes, I would visualize how I would exact my revenge. I wanted to lash out, hurt, and even destroy the other person. The anger boiled inside and pushed me to the edge of bitterness. I tried fighting back, but it was pointless. I tried to reason with myself, but I got nowhere. I ended up putting the TV on one of the Christian stations that played praise and worship all night while showing images of nature with scriptures superimposed on them.

When an opportunity arose for me to get revenge, I had to make a choice. Was I going to do something I’d regret for the rest of my life or get away from the situation? Before I could think too much, I got in my car and drove about an hour away. I got to the edge of town, pulled over on the shoulder, and weighed everything out for what seemed like forever. I ended up going to a friends house. I gave him my keys and said, “Whatever you do, don’t give me these back until at least tomorrow.”

Years later, I’m thankful God saved me from acting on my anger that night. Psalm 4:4 says, “Don’t sin by letting anger control you. Think about it overnight and remain silent” (NLT). Every time I read that, it reminds me that no matter how angry I get, I still have a choice in what I do with it. Being angry when bad things happen is a God given right and an emotion He gave us for those occasions. However, He didn’t give us the right to exact our revenge from that anger.

When we let anger control us, we act very selfishly. We might be deemed justified in our actions by people around us, but God is the only one whose judgement matters. Anger is best released by letting go of it, not by directing it at someone. When you hold onto it and allow it to consume your mind, you hand over the reigns of reason to a volatile emotion. God’s desire is that we let go of it so it doesn’t control us. Let Him take revenge for you. It may not come when or how you want it to, but if you let Him do it, you’ll have fewer regrets and a better life. I’m proof of that.

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True Worship

  
Worship is one of those words that we, as Christians, lose the meaning of. For many Christians, when they read or hear the word “worship”, they immediately think of their favorite church song that they sing during praise and worship, which is lead by their worship pastor. In our modern Church, we’ve singularized what the word worship means. We’ve narrowed it down to singing and lifting our hands, but it’s more than that.

Worship is any action that flows from the posture and attitude of our heart towards God. Serving the least of these, giving your tithe and offerings, helping the widows in your town, praying with someone in need, cleaning up after a church event, and so much more are acts of worship. When our hearts are bowed before God, it pours out in our actions as acts of worship. You don’t have to be able to carry a tune in a bucket to worship, you simply need an opportunity to serve God.

Here are some of my favorite verses on worship.

1. For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.
John 4:24 NLT

2. Worship GOD if you want the best; worship opens doors to all his goodness.
Psalm 34:9 MSG

3. I APPEAL to you therefore, brethren, and beg of you in view of [all] the mercies of God, to make a decisive dedication of your bodies [presenting all your members and faculties] as a living sacrifice, holy (devoted, consecrated) and well pleasing to God, which is your reasonable (rational, intelligent) service and spiritual worship.
Romans 12:1 AMP

4. When you said, “Come worship me,” I answered, “I will come, Lord.”
Psalm 27:8 GNT

5. You must worship only the LORD your God. He is the one who will rescue you from all your enemies.
2 Kings 17:39 NLT

6. Oh, how great is Your goodness, which You have laid up for those who fear, revere, and worship You, goodness which You have wrought for those who trust and take refuge in You before the sons of men!
Psalm 31:19 AMP

7. Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness.
Psalms 29:2 ESV

8. But the time is coming and is already here, when by the power of God’s Spirit people will worship the Father as he really is, offering him the true worship that he wants.
John 4:23 GNT

9. God-friendship is for God-worshipers; They are the ones he confides in.
Psalm 25:14 MSG

10. Behold, the Lord’s eye is upon those who fear Him [who revere and worship Him with awe], who wait for Him and hope in His mercy and loving-kindness.
Psalm 33:18 AMP

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Sorry

  
It’s been my experience that there are different types of being sorry. The first type is one we’ve all been guilty of. It’s the “sorry I got caught” sorry. You’re forced to say you’re sorry because you were busted, but the only thing you’re really sorry about is that you got caught. There’s also the “sorry” sorry. That’s when you do something and do truly feel bad about it. You may or may not apologize with this one because there’s no accountability. Then there’s the “sorry after I got caught” sorry. With this one, you got busted, but that triggered the true sorry response. You realize you got out of control and apologize for it.

In II Samuel 11, David should have gone off to war, but he didn’t. He stayed behind and sent someone else to do the hard work in the war. Then when the final battle was to take place, David would go lead that charge, and take credit for the whole victory. While he stated behind, he saw a beautiful woman bathing. He sent for her and slept with her knowing she was married. When she told him she was pregnant, he sent for her husband to come back from the war hoping he would sleep with her and would think the baby was his own. When that plan failed, David had him killed in battle.

David sent for the woman, married her, and that was that. Well, at least until the prophet came and called David out. David broke down. He had a “sorry after I got caught” sorry moment. In that sorrow, he wrote one of the most heartfelt repentant prayers in Psalm 51:7-10. “Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Oh, give me back my joy again; you have broken me— now let me rejoice. Don’t keep looking at my sins. Remove the stain of my guilt. Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me.”

David recognized right away that his sin was a heart issue. He also knew that even though he was guilty of adultery and murder, God could forgive him and restore him. He recognized that God responds to us when we truly are sorry for our sins and aren’t just offering lip service to him. He wrote in verses 16-17, “You do not desire a sacrifice, or I would offer one. You do not want a burnt offering. The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.” The type of sorry we are over our sins matters to God. He’s looking at our heart more than our words.

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