Sunday, October 25, 2015

Missing Mercy

Missing Mercy
October 26, 2015
Psalm 6:9  "The Lord has heard my cry for mercy; the Lord accepts my prayer."

The point of mercy is often missed.  Mercy isn't so someone can get away with murder; it isn't just clemency for wrong doing.  Mercy is an act of compassion in an effort to reduce someones just and due consequences--but for a reason.  Many punishments are given to the fullest extent of the law; yet often a lighter punishment can be given and still be considered just.  The factors that go into mercy are important.  Mercy, being steeped in compassion must be rooted in love.  King David knew this all too well.

King David deserved some severe consequences for his actions, his sins.  He had the option of being turned over to his enemy for a short time or being turned over to the wrath of the Lord for a short time.  David chose to be turned over to the wrath of God and experience His power.  David was a wise man, as stated in his reasoning for the choice.  He said that the Lord would execute the punishment but knew the Lord would also exercise mercy at the same time.  He knew the Lord was and is Almighty but he also knew the Lord was and is compassionate.  Essentially, David knew the Lord would hand out the punishment appropriately, and would do so in love.  That's the great thing about the Lord, even when He enforces discipline, He still does so in love.  David's enemies, if they had their way, would not have relented; they would not have shown any amount of mercy.

We all know the Lord is full of mercy, but for some reason we don't seem to allow the Lord to function in His mercy.  Sometimes, we hold ourselves to an unforgivable standard and don't accept the Lord's mercy.  Those of you who are perfectionists, when you fail the Lord, you feel you are unforgivable and cannot accept the Lord's mercy and cannot consider that the Lord actually does love you despite your sin.  The Lord's mercies are new every day but yours are not, necessarily.  We aren't so quick to have compassion on ourselves, because of the feeling of guilt, and therefore project that onto the Lord, thinking He doesn't even want us.  Remember, the Lord does everything out of His love for us.  If we don't accept the Lord's mercy for the wrong doing, then it means there is a bigger problem.  It means you might not love yourself, especially in the manner the Lord loves you.

If you are missing mercy in your life, then you might be treating yourself like David's enemies.  The Lord is full of mercy, but you might be your own worst enemy.  Mercy is there for a reason; it is given to those who have a contrite heart.  Consider that if you do not think you are deserving of mercy, then maybe your heart is a little hard.  If you are missing some mercy in your life, consider a little bit of humility and a contrite heart.  The Lord said He would never turn away a contrite heart.  When was the last time you asked the Lord for mercy?  Have mercy on yourself, because the Lord does.

Don't take my word for it; look it up:  Ex 33:19, 2 Sam 24:14, 1 Kings 8:28, 1 Chron 21:13, Ps 69:16, Pr 28:13, Hos 6:6, Lk 1:50, Rom 9:15-23

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Don't Trust God, II of II

Don't Trust God, II of II
October 19, 2015
Proverbs 3:5  "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on our own understanding."

As stated before, you should never JUST trust the Lord---because He will never resolve the situation how you want it to resolve or how you think it should play out.  If you walk through a situation, attempting to trust in the Lord, yet imagine and desire a specific outcome, then you are not truly trusting the Lord.  If you are desiring your scripted outcome for a situation, you are hoping He will answer your prayer request the way you want.  While subtle it may seem, this is not what trusting in the Lord fully means.  Don't trust the Lord if you want your way, as your ways are not His ways.

There are two parts to fully trusting in the Lord.  The first part and most obvious, trust, means assured reliance.  Assured Reliance.  Wow.  When was the last time you had assured reliance upon anything?  There are few things in life that happen with such type of consistency.  One example is the sun.  It rises every morning in the sky, without fail, but many times we cannot see it.  Though we know it is morning, and the clouds cover the light, we have assured reliance upon its presence.  It is always there, doing its job without fail, and to perfection.  Despite the rain or cold weather, you know it is up there, letting off the same brilliance it has ever since you felt its warm embrace upon your face.  This should be the same as the Lord; He is always there, doing His job to perfection and without fail, yet because you can't see Him sometimes, you think He is not present.  You have more trust in the sun than you do the Maker of the sun.  Take this one step further and admit you don't always trust that He is there and you don't always trust that He is doing His job to perfection.  We miss this first part of the equation when it comes to trusting the Lord.  Despite how you feel; you can have assured reliance that He IS doing His job and He is doing it right.

The second aspect of trusting the Lord is found in the second part of the declarative verse.  It reads: "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and LEAN NOT ON YOUR OWN UNDERSTANDING."  Forgive me, maybe I didn't say that last part clear enough.  LEAN NOT ON YOUR OWN UNDERSTANDING.  This means, for those of you who are as obtuse as me, that you cannot imagine or pretend to know how best to resolve a situation.  You have to trust in the Lord and then stop trying to work it out for your self.  Your finite brain, my incomplete understanding, cannot possibly fathom the right resolution to a situation that will be best for the Lord's agenda while simultaneously being in your best interests.  The Lord has your best interests as heart, but that doesn't always mean what is truly good for you will necessarily feel good all the time.  Ironically, when the Lord doesn't work my situations out the way I'd like, I just assume He has failed me, that He is not actually trustworthy.  In actuality, He has not failed me.  He has constructed an outcome that is far better in accomplishing His will and is healthier for me than the resolution I prescribed.

Here is what I have learned.  If I think, even for one moment, how best to resolve a situation, then I am not fully trusting in the Lord.  Furthermore, the stronger I desire my own prescribed outcome, the more disappointed I am in the Lord, though this disappointment is misplaced.  He is fully trustworthy, despite the resolution to your situation, even the resolution to the situation that you don't like.  Look at your history, those perceived imperfect resolutions, and ask the Lord for forgiveness.  Apologize for your lack of understanding and begin to trust that what you got in life was actually OK.  Don't just trust the Lord.  Trust the Lord AND forget all you think you know about how best to work it out.

Don't take my word for it; look it up:  Gen 6-9, Ps 127:1, Proverbs 3, Is 64:4, Rom 8:28, Phil 2:12-13

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Don't Trust God, I of II

Don't Trust God, I of II
October 12, 2015
Proverbs 3:5  "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on our own understanding."

The Bible is so poetic at times; it would be wonderful if our lives worked out as such.  So many verses, I read them and they leave me warm and comfortable inside, feeling loved and important.  Yet seldom in the day-to-day does it ever work out that way.  I get frustrated, wondering how I got it wrong, or if I'm reading the Scriptures wrong.  But then I realize, the Bible is not complete; which makes it hard to trust the Lord.  The one thing the Bible lacks is the story in between the story.  Take for instance the story of Noah.  The Lord tells him to build the ark and so he builds it.  Then the Lord tells the animals to get in the ark.  Then the Lord sends the rain.  Then the boat lands, cue the sun and the rainbow, dove flying above with an olive branch, and done.  Oh, and by they way, it took Noah 100 years to build the ark.  OK, so what happened in those 100 years?  Did Noah quit a few times?  Did Noah fight with his wife and kids about it?  Did Noah have years of insecurity that he was doing the right thing?  Did Noah run into a supply issue with the gopher bark?  It doesn't say.  The Bible just works out the story so perfectly, just like we perpetuate it in telling the story to our kids.

When we know the end of the story as quickly as we are introduced to the story, it is easy to trust the Lord.  Sure, you can trust the Lord; it will work out perfectly in the end.  Noah had to trust the Lord for those FULL 100 years and I doubt it was poetic.  Noah was human and I've never met a human who was without emotion or the physical capacity to mess it up.  Noah had to trust the Lord that the Lord would work it out.  If you read the Bible, everyone had to trust the Lord: Joseph in slavery, Daniel in the lion's den, Nehemiah rebuilding the wall, John being exiled on an island, etc.  We read the Bible and get to the end so quickly; but when the people were living it, well, it probably was hard.  As the reader, you're omniscient to the characters' fate.  This is why it is so hard for us to trust in the Lord, I think.  We don't know the fate of our situation, the situation where WE have to trust the Lord right here and right now.  Sure, if we knew the situation's resolution before it ended, THEN we could trust the Lord.  Unfortunately, we will never know ahead of time how the situation will work out.  So, as humans we default to what we know; we default to our own personal history of situations in trying to predict the future resolution of our current one.  And this is how we fuel our trust in the Lord.

But here is what I've learned about trusting the Lord based on my own past.  I can't trust Him.  The Lord is not trustworthy.  When I use my own personal history as my only means to decide if the Lord is trustworthy, the fuel for the fire is gone.  You might suggest this should be the opposite, but let me explain.  When was the last time the Lord worked out your situation exactly how you wanted it?  I bet you're living with a resolution to a past situation that you don't like.  You're not satisfied with how it resolved.  Your imagination could have improved upon it so much, if you just got to make the determination.  But, news flash, you don't get to determine how the situation will work out.  You just get to trust the Lord.  And this is why you should never just trust the Lord---because He will never resolve the situation how you want it to resolve.

But Noah trusted Him and it worked out fine for Noah.  Oh yeah?  Did you ask Noah?  Maybe Noah was completely unsatisfied with the resolution in the end.  Maybe he grieved for those who died.  In fact, if you read the Bible, the end to Noah's story, he ended up a drunk, in a cave, most likely suffering from depression.  This is hardly a poetic story of trust.  But there is more to trusting the Lord than our version of how we want the situation to resolve.  Sure, the Lord will work it out, just not necessarily how you think.  This is actually not a bad thing....

Don't take my word for it; look it up:  Gen 6-9, Proverbs 3

Sunday, October 4, 2015

The Chosen One

The Chosen One
October 5, 2015
Ephesians 1:11  "In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will. . ."

It would be nice to be the chosen one; it would certainly make you feel special.  But what is the Chosen One; is there any such thing?  And what is the Chosen One chosen for?  In the Bible, the only reference for the Chosen One is Jesus.  He was selected since the beginning of time to be the one who could wipe away our sins and redeem our lives from Hell.  Jesus was and is the only true Chosen One.  It's a pretty big deal to be selected for such an honor, to unite the sinner with the Heavenly Father.  But apparently this role could not have been fulfilled by anyone else.  No one else was found perfect, without sin, who could be a deity and a human at the exact same time.  Neither you nor me could have made the cut for this short list; it just wasn't possible.  So, if we aren't the Chosen One, is anyone else special, or is that it?  Is Jesus the only one special, chosen for a specific time and task?  Is there no opportunity for any of us to be selected for something important?

We all want to believe we are special somehow, important enough to be chosen for something, anything.  Some of you believe you are special, but maybe shouldn't have such an inflated view of yourselves.  People can tell, by the way you walk, how important you think you are.  Others, quite the contrary, believe your life does not matter to anyone.  Let me set both groups of thought straight.  The moment you believe yourself special to this world is the moment your arrogance overshadows any important purpose you may have.  And the moment you believe yourself unimportant to anyone is the moment you insult the Creator of the Universe.  Every one has value and is important in the eyes of the Lord, but not the way you might think.
Throughout the Bible,the Lord Jesus Christ was referenced as The Chosen One, but more than thirty times the Bible mentions others who were chosen by the Lord for something specific.  There were individuals chosen for a reason only they could fulfill.  The list is long: the entire Israeli people, Moses, David, Solomon, Peter, just to name a few.  If the Bible were still being written, your name would be on that chosen list.

You were created with a purpose, for a reason; it was not an accident.  Everything about you was crafted and selected and even chosen by the Lord for this exact date and time and with purpose.  But your purpose is not an earthly one; possibly immeasurable on an earthly scale.  Your purpose, your value, your selection as chosen for a specific time and task is for a Heavenly reason and with Heavenly worth.  The truth of the matter is, you are a chosen one.  You were chosen for a specific purpose, for a specific role that only you can fulfill.  I cannot do your job and you cannot do mine.  Each and every one of us are a chosen one.  No, we are not THE Chosen One, but are chosen by the Lord for the job He has for us.  The problem is, you either don't believe He has a job for you to do or you don't think you've figured out what that job requires.  The good news is that you don't have to figure out exactly what it is, you just have to believe He wants to use you for His glory.  If you can believe this, then you will follow His leading and, without realizing it, you will fulfill what He has called you to do.

You ARE a chosen one, but you may not ever find out what you were chosen for.  The Lord cannot explain to you or me the exact purpose for your life, because I suspect it wouldn't make sense to either of us.  Furthermore, I suspect that if He told us ahead of time, that most of us would not follow through with it.  Jesus was the only one who knew ahead of time what His purpose would be.  Can you imagine living your life, knowing how you would be tortured and killed?  We would quit before we started on that path.  Know that you were chosen and that's all you need to know.

Don't take my word for it; look it up:  Ps105:26, Is 42:1, Matt 12:18, Lk 9:35, John 6:70, Acts 22:14, 1 Thes 1:4, 1 Peter 2:9