Jesus' Footprints

Posts Tagged ‘mercy

1 Timothy 1:12-17

Thank-you-Jesus-for-saving-my-life-1I was reading this passage and thinking of how we are all indebted to Jesus.  We have done terrible things in our lives but He showed us such love and grace that we could only respond in humility and gratitude.  There are times when my past comes back to haunt me but then I remember Jesus’ love and forgiveness.

Paul writes to Timothy about his past.  He shares how he was once an enemy of the church.  He blasphemed the Lord and persecuted His people but it was done in ignorance.  How many of us have not done things that we later regret out of ignorance?

Paul spoke of how Jesus poured out His grace on him.  “He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry.”  How many of us are called into ministry after the Lord has shown us mercy?  I have heard of men who once on the wrong side of the law become pastors.  At a Women’s Ministry program, a speaker shared her testimony of how life was for her before she found Jesus.  She used to be a drug addict.  

It doesn’t matter where or how we encounter Jesus.  What matters is that once we surrender to Him, He can do remarkable things in our lives.  When people see how the Lord has transformed a person you never would imagine would become a Christian, they can’t help but be amazed and curious.  When Paul began preaching after his conversion, many people were amazed.  They couldn’t believe that it was the same person who used to a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man.  In his eyes, he was a chief sinner among the sinners whom Jesus came to save.  I can almost hear the regret in his words but he sees something positive in this.  As the worst sinner of them all, he can be used to demonstrate how patient Jesus is towards the worst of sinners.  He, Paul will serve as an example to all who in the future should trust Jesus for eternal life.

We, like Paul, are indebted to Jesus for His love, kindness, mercy, grace and patience.  He loved us even when we were rejecting Him.  All that time when Paul was persecuting the church, Jesus loved him.  He knew Paul’s heart.  He knew that Paul was acting out of ignorance and He knew that He could redirect that zeal.  This explains why Paul was so passionate in his work as a minister.  He testified, “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me” (1 Corinthians 15:10).  It is as if he were working hard to show Jesus that His mercy toward him had not be in vain.

Let us show the Lord how much we appreciate His grace toward us.  Let us do this by the way we live, how we treat others and in whatever work He has called us to do.

Thank You, Jesus for saving us and using us to bring other lost souls to You.

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When I read this I thought of heavenly wisdom as spiritual because it comes from God while earthly wisdom is carnal. The heavenly wisdom puts others first–before self while earthly wisdom is selfish. It’s all about self. What is best for us no matter what. It is the kind of wisdom that people use to live how they want, believing that they know best and doesn’t listen to wise counsel. They lean on their own understanding. They seek to please themselves. Take Eve for example. She wanted to be wise like God.

The wisdom she was seeking was not heavenly because it didn’t come from God. It was demonic. It was self-seeking. She was seeking it at the instigation of the Devil. The religious leaders thought they were wise in their own eyes because they didn’t allow themselves to be fooled by Jesus whom they felt was a false teacher. They rejected His teachings even though He taught with authority, something which they lacked. They thought themselves wise because they didn’t fall for His miracles and signs. They even attributed His miracles to the Devil. They envied Him and that envy led to murder plots.

Earthly wisdom leads to eternal separation from God. King Solomon, the wisest man in the world, wrote, “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” Eve didn’t see anything wrong with wanting to be wise like God but in her quest for godly wisdom, she had stepped outside of God’s will and smack right into the Devil’s trap. Her self-seeking led to spiritual and physical death. The kind of wisdom we should be seeking is the one that comes only from God.

James told us how we can acquire this. “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5). Solomon said that heavenly wisdom is more precious than gold, silver and above rubies. It is precious and it gives life to those who have it (Ecclesiastes 7:12).

This kind of wisdom has many benefits and James lists them in order: pure, peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and hypocrisy. These attributes sound very much like those of love found in 1 Corinthians 13 and the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22, 23).

Heavenly wisdom produces good fruits because it is not self-seeking. It puts God and others before self. It is quick to listen and slow to speak. It is the soft answer that turns away wrath. It is what Jesus used when dealing with the religious leaders when they confronted Him. He countered their envy, jealousy and hypocrisy with wisdom.

Heavenly wisdom surrenders to God. It humbles itself. It accepts godly counsel, reproof, discipline and instruction. And it leads to the correct way of thinking, feeling and acting. God’s wisdom is available to us. All we have to do is ask for it.

Zechariah 3:1-4

filthy-garmentSatan accused Joshua, who here represents the nation of Israel.  The accusations were accurate.  Joshua stood in “filthy clothes” (sins) yet, God revealed His mercy, stating that He chose to save His people in spite of their sin.

God punished Judah through the fire of great trials but He rescued the nation before it was completely destroyed, like “a burning stick snatched from the fire”.

Zechariah’s vision shows how we receive God’s mercy.  We do nothing ourselves.  God removes our filthy clothes (sins), then provides us with new, clean, rich garments (His righteousness and holiness).  All we need to do is repent and ask God to forgive us.

Don’t let the Devil make you think it’s hopeless and that your sins cannot be forgiven.  Like Joshua stand before God, confess your sins and forsake them and you will receive forgiveness.  Let God take your filthy clothes and replace them with His clean robe.

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

Now it came to pass in those days that He went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.  And when it was day, He called His disciples to Himself; and from them He chose twelve whom He also named apostles:  Simon, whom He also named Peter, and Andrew his brother; James and John; Philip and Bartholomew; 15 Matthew and Thomas; James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon called the Zealot; Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot who also became a traitor – Luke 6:12-16

MH900409444When it comes to making big decisions what do you do?  Do you call a friend?  Do you struggle to make a decision?  Do you put off making a decision?  Or do you seek God in prayer?  Before choosing the twelve disciples whom He also named apostles, Jesus sought His Father in prayer and spent all night communing with Him. He had a big decision to make and needed wisdom and guidance.  He was setting an example for us.  When faced with big decisions or life changing situations, we need to go straight to the Source of all wisdom and knowledge.  He knows the beginning and the end and He knows what is best for us.

Prayer is extremely important.  It is our best option when faced with tough choices or trials or problems or challenges.  When Solomon was faced with the daunting task of ruling God’s people after his father died, he sought God in prayer.  It was a beautiful prayer and it even pleased God.  “Now, O LORD God, let Your promise to David my father be established, for You have made me king over a people like the dust of the earth in multitude.  Now give me wisdom and knowledge, that I may go out and come in before this people; for who can judge this great people of Yours?” (2 Chronicles 1:9, 10).  Solomon was young and wanted to be an able leader for the people but he knew that he couldn’t do this without God’s help so he appealed to Him to give him the tools he needed to be an effective leader–wisdom and knowledge.

Prayer is our connection to God who cares about us and is ready to provide whatever we ask for.  Jesus encouraged persistent prayer.  He encouraged us to pray in faith, believing that what we ask for we will receive.  Instead of worrying, Paul advises us “in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6, 7).  Many times I have been overwhelmed by something going on in my life and I turned to God in prayer. In the midst of my anguish, I feel God’s peace come over me, calming me, assuring me that He will get me through this.

Seek God in prayer daily.  Daniel prayed three times a day.  You can pray anywhere and anytime.  As you are sitting on the train on your way to work, you can pray.  As you fix breakfast, you can give God thanks and ask Him to help you get through your day.  You can pray as you walk to the bus-stop or the office.  That’s the beautiful thing about prayer, it is not limited by time or place.  And God is always there, just waiting to hear from you.

Prayer is a privilege we should never take for granted and should always take advantage of.  Jesus, through His sacrifice on the cross has made it possible for us to have easy access to God through prayer.  Thanks to Him, we can “come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).

By faith the harlot Rahab did not perish with those who did not believe, when she had received the spies with peace – Hebrews 11:31.

016-joshua-rahab-spiesOne morning I was reading the story of Rahab to my five year old son. I didn’t mention of course that Rahab was a harlot. I made of point of telling him that she was the great-great-great grandmother of King David.  How did she earn this privilege? We find out in the book of Joshua. Joshua, who was now the leader of the people of Israel following Moses’ death sent two men to secretly spy out the land, especially Jericho. They went and came to the house of Rahab where they lodged. Somehow the king of Jericho found out that they were there and he sent a message to Rahab, telling her to bring the men.   However, Rahab hid the two spies and sent the king’s men on a wild
goose chase.

Why did she hide the men? She had heard about their God. “For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were on the other side of the Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom you utterly destroyed. And as soon as we heard these things, our
hearts melted; neither did there remain any more courage in anyone because of you, for the LORD your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath.”  She knew that God would give the Israelites possession of the land where Jericho was.   In return for her help, she wanted the two spies to spare her and her family when they went to take possession of the land. The spies agreed to save her provided that she didn’t betray their whereabouts and they told her to tie a red cord in the window through which she let them down so that she and her family would be safe. Rahab agreed and sent them away.

True to their promise when they went into the city of Jericho and utterly destroyed everything in it, Joshua said to the two men who had spied out the country, “Go into the harlot’s house, and from there bring out the woman and all that she has, as you swore to her.” She and her family stayed outside the camp of Israel while their city was burned. Joshua 6:25 states: And Joshua spared Rahab the harlot, her father’s household, and all that she had. So she dwells in Israel to this day, because she hid the messengers whom Joshua sent to spy out Jericho. Rahab married Salmon and gave birth to Boaz who married Ruth, the Moabitess and mother Obed, the father of Jesse, the father of David.

Rahab is mentioned in the genealogy of Jesus and as one of the people of faith in chapter 11 of Hebrews and James wrote of her, “Likewise, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way?” (James 2:25). In faith and at the risk of her own life she hid the spies in her home until it was safe for them to leave. And as a result she and her family did not perish with the rest of the inhabitants of Jericho.

The story of Rahab is one of hope and encouragement.  God can use anyone to help His people and to fulfill His purpose.  Once we fear God and put our faith and trust in Him, we will not perish but will receive His mercy and grace.

250px-Isaiah_(Bible_Card)Isaiah has a disturbing vision of the Judah.  The people are laden with iniquity;  they are evildoers, sinners, corrupt. They have forsaken the Lord.  They have provoked Him to anger.  They have backslidden and refused to know and understand their God who had nourished and brought them up.  As a result of these sins their country is desolate, the cities are destroyed, burned and invaded by foreigners.  God used foreign nations to bring judgment on His people but in His mercy and goodness, He left a small remnant.  He did not completely destroy the nation as He did with Sodom and Gomorrah.

So we see that God is a righteous God who requires justice and metes out judgment when we sin but He is also a merciful God.  We are assured of His love and eternal redemption.  He is a God who judges but also saves.  He punishes but also redeems.  He destroys but also restores.

As David rightly puts it, “For His anger is but for a moment” (Psalm 30:5).  This tells us that every problem and every experience of suffering has a life span.  No problem is permanent.  Suffering, problems–they will pass.  In allowing some of the people to live, God gave Isaiah and the Israelites a ray of hope.  They will survive to take possession of the land.

You love righteousness and hate wickedness; Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You  With the oil of gladness more than Your companions – Psalm 45:7

8x10ThoseWhoPursueRighteousness is the character or quality of being right or just.  It is uprightness before God.  It is something we practice.  Blessed is he who does righteousness at all times.  Righteousness delivers one from eternal death.  It is everlasting.  It leads to life.  In fact, the way of righeousness is life (Proverbs 12:28).  Righteousness exalts a nation (Proverbs 14:34) and it will bring peace.  We are to seek it.

In order to love righteousness, we must first be righteous.  What does it mean to be righteous?  It is to walk in integrity; desire justice for the innocent and oppressed.  It is to have regard for the lives and well being of others; to treat people with love, kindness and compassion.  “The righteous  consider the cause of the poor” (Proverbs 29:7).  The righteous shows mercy and gives (Psalm 37:21).  He or she is always merciful and lends (Psalm 37:26).

God loves the righteous and will not allow them to famish.  King David declared, “I have been young and now am old; yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken nor his descendants begging bread (Psalm 37:25).  A righteous person and his or her family are blessed.

Like God we are to love righteousness and hate wickedness (Psalm 45:7).


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