All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else. But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved! – Eph. 2:3-5
God paints some pretty awesome pictures for us in life. Some are viewed only as childish finger paintings that are stuck to the refrigerator and never again even noticed only to be discarded as meaningless. I believe that they are masterpieces. They are like DaVinci that cause us to “Ohhhh” and “Ahhh” as we marvel at the wonder of each stroke of the brush and wonder just what was going through the mind of the Creator.
One such painting that I had the humble privilege to observe was a picture of God’s great mercy? Our children occasionally leave things in our home where they are NOT supposed to be. Very simple, right? On this particular night it was something very simple and easily handled – an orange plastic cup. I had just returned from a bible study and was in the living room eating a Subway sandwich with lots of black olives and jalapenos. One of the children left it in the living room floor and was asked to pick it up and you would have thought that they were asked to walk on hot coals and before I knew it the tension in the room was thick coupled with some sassing and a confession that my child didn’t leave the cup in the floor and furthermore their cup was already in the sink. I had heard enough. I said, “Go look in the sink and tell me if you cup is in the sink.” My child ignored me, so I said it again. Again I am ignored. I am thinking, Wow, This child doesn’t know me very well.” NOW I said, “Get up and go look in the sink and come back and tell me if your cup is in the sink….NOW!” That go someone moving but the sassing continued as I was told that my request was “pointless.”
The next words to come from my mouth were “You are grounded”. This meant that the plans that my child had for the weekend were OUT! Now you are probably thinking, “OK, where is this amazing painting of God’s?” After this dreaded moment that no parent like happened and the room was still and silent and returned to try to choke down the rest of my dinner, our God began. I noticed a little boy sitting in the floor fidgeting – looking at me and the cup; then back to me and then the cup. He then jumped up, grabbed the cup himself, took it to the kitchen sink, came back back to the living room and sat down with a big smile on his face. I was shocked! Barely able to so much as raise my head much less swallow the bite that I had in my mouth. I had witnessed mercy. It was as though he was crying out “Mercy!” In the movie Braveheart as William Wallace is being tortured, the people began to cry out MERCY on his behalf. My 8 year old son wanted peace in our home. He wanted his father to show mercy to his sibling even if it meant that it was going to cost him. Is this a stretch? I don’t think so. Jesus used many real life lessons to teach us about the Father, Godliness and Holiness. He used everyday things like fishing, sheep and money to paint some pretty vivid pictures about God’s love, grace and yes, His mercy.
The scriptures teach us that God is RICH in His MERCY; abounding, filled with, overflowing with plenty to spare with mercy and He relentlessly seeks to reconcile with us. He is patient and wants to bridge the gap. That bridge is Jesus! Warren Wiersbe wrote, “Love is one of God’s intrinsic attributes but when love is related to the sinner, it becomes grace and mercy”. Punishment and correction should never be confused in administering discipline to those that we love. Punishment is for criminals for crimes that they have committed. Correction is restoring to a state of uprightness. In God’s mercy we don’t receive what we deserve. His grace affords us what we don’t deserve. So I was inclined to show mercy; I wanted to show mercy my child and to correct the behavior while attempting to preserve peace. God is God!
Go out and stand before me on the mountain” And as Elijah stood there, the Lord passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper – 1 Kings 19
A mighty wind, an Earthquake and a raging fire – in these ways and more the Lord God revealed Himself – He made Himself known – Elijah’s fire from heaven – a pillar of fire and smoke and the voice of God as the blast of the loudest trumpet. Then thousands of years later even after 400 years of silence…He came. I was inspired after hearing the song “Winter Snow” by Audrey Assad to consider how He came to us.
- He came in a way that no one could have ever expected a King to come. He could have come like a mighty storm bursting through the sky, lightening, rain and thunder
- He could have come like a hurricane tearing through the trees, breaking limbs and uprooting.
- He could have come like a forest fire with searing heat and smoke out of control consuming everything in His path.
- He could have could like a tidal wave flooding and defying the rules that say to waves “stop here”
- He could have come the way the Kings should come
But that is not how He came at all is it? He came like silent snow fall. No parades. No cheering crowds. But instead of coming with a lot of noise and the display of human excitement brought, He quietly brought Joy to the world. Joy is described in the Holy Scriptures like that of a war cry, a shout SHOWING gladness and rejoicing that overtakes our heart and that joy benefits us through encouragement of hope.
There is a joy that is caused by an occasion. A special moment – A wedding – A child’s first words – Good News like the birth of a child. This joy is caused not only by an occasion but also by a person. This person would be responsible for that joy; the One bringing the good news and it causes GREAT excitement! He is called Jesus! In the book of Luke 2 we read a very familiar passage that says…
“Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people”
Did you catch that? Not just joy but “Great” joy; the word great is “Mega” joy and this joy is to All” people. Jesus knows what we need…better than anyone. He wants you to not only receive Him and experience the joy, peace and hope that he brings but but to hand over the reigns of your life and let him be Lord. And as Lord of our life we can true sing…
Joy to the world! The Lord is come
Let earth receive her King!
Let every heart prepare Him room
And heaven and nature sing
And heaven and nature sing
And heaven, and heaven and nature sing
It has been a little while since I have posted anything. I have been really focused on student ministry and my family and have not taken the time to put anything out there but today it just hit me that I needed to put up a word about the little things that just make life better. i am reminded of years ago when Kristi and I got married and we were reading a devotion given to us by a youth pastor friend of mine and this devotion not only had scriptures and a little story to read and discuss but it also had questions; questions that were not always all that comfortable to answer as we took a hard look at our relationship with the Lord and each other.
One particular passage in the book asked the question about showing our love for each other. We were instructed to write in our journals 5 ways that our spouse shows their love. i remember writing how my Kristi would leave the light on at night so when I came home from work I would not trip coming down the stairs to shower before bed. And how she would always lay out my bed-clothes in the bathroom so I could shower and not worry about stumbling through the bedroom in the dark as it was usually late when i came in.
It’s the little things people – little seemingly unnoticeable, seemingly insignificant things at least from the stand point of the world that matter in the marriage that help bind things together.
Things like the foam cups purchased at Wal-Mart to keep my coffee hot and prevent spillage in the car. Things like a surprise Reese’s Peanut Butter cup to go with the Sunday evening movie. Things like my 5-year-old son, who still wants to sit beside daddy and wants my arm wrapped around him tightly as we watch a cartoon. Like my 3-year-old that knows that daddy will rescue her from having to walk by placing her on my shoulders and duck through all the doorways. Like Andrea, my 9-year-old who just wants to ride in the car where ever i go just to spend time with me – I am so blessed.
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. – 1 John 4:7
It is truly amazing to see the manifestation of God’s love through my family, directed toward me in these little things that say to me – “Mark, I love you”, “Daddy, I love you”.
Father, may I remember and recognize the small things that make our love special – I love you. Amen
During a season of tough love with one of my girls, the resounding theme was “I don’t want to”. Without going into details, this was the answer that I received every time I tried to make her understand that her behavior was unacceptable and needed to change. She wanted her way, no matter what. She would risk everything to have her way even if it meant disappointing me and mom, getting grounded or even a spanking.
Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the LORD your God is giving you – Ex. 20:12
The honoring of a father and mother creates not only sability in the home but also in our society
So I began to try to show her that the very thing that SHE wants, she cannot have. That her disobedience would lead to much heart ache. Disobedience is nothing new I said. I explained to her about Adam and Eve and how they were created here on earth by Almighty God and given everything – EVERYTHING, with the exception of course, one thing that was withheld for their protection and because God loved them so much. And yet the one thing that they were told to avoid, to leave alone, they had to have.
Now before I am too hard on Adam and Eve, I would have done the same thing I am sure given the same circumstances and so would you – we have all proven that.
I remember hugging her tightly and saying, “You are loved. We love you and because we love you we can’t allow this to go on behaving this way. You are loved”. And so We continue to love her through this season of growing pains, teaching her that God loves her, that we love her and that we are here for purpose – to honor the One who created us, to have charity, patience, to care for all those we come in contact with and to show the love of Christ so that it is real to anyone who sees. Is it tough? Absolutely! But press on friends. The final product will be amazing.
So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God – 1 Cor. 10:31
Father, Help us to understand that You want what is best for us and always have our best interest at heart. Lord give us the wisdom we need to see things the way that you see them, that we might glorify You with our obedience. – Amen
This is something that I wrote Tuesday morning and stuck to my bathroom mirror. It is the first place that I stand in the morning and will be a reminder of who I belong to.
These feet, these hands, this heart, these lungs, this mouth, these eyes and ears – are Yours Oh Lord. By Your strength….
…I will love truly
…I will walk in faith
…I will breathe as one with You
…I will speak boldly the Truth
…I will keep my eyes and ears pure
…I will fix my heart and mind on You
Thank You Lord for using these hands to build Your Kingdom. May You receive honor and glory for these.
Andrea and Joshua (2 of my Children) are a trip. It never fails. Whenever I break out a Little Debbie snack cake, not just any Little Debbie, but the little ones with the chocolate cakes held together by chocolate fudge icing covered by milk chocolate – that’s right, that’s the one. When they hear the sound of that plastic wrap crinkling…they know and they come running! They want a bite of the good stuff that dad has.
Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow. He chose to give birth to us by giving us his true word. And we, out of all creation, became his prized possession. – James 1:17-18 NLT
I like that! “Whatever is good”, “whatever is perfect” comes from the Father! The Father has the good stuff – truth, love and hope. He wants us to have these things in abundance. I always have those Little Debbie in the fridge, they just taste better that way, so the crinkling plastic wrap is always the same – a chocolate covered Little Debbie. The children know what they are going to get – the best that I have to offer. Not much chance of that changing. Not much chance of my children being anything less than my prized possessions either. So we learn from God and about God that in the vastness of time and space, out of all creation, we are important to Him and that He loves us enough to save the good stuff for us – truth, love and hope.
Lord I am thankful that You never withhold from us the good stuff; that everything that is good is given in great abundance. Help me to receive these gifts from You with a glad, thankful heart – Amen