Have Mercy (Psa 94:18)

When people interact together, it is only a matter of time before some type of conflict will wise.  When the interaction involves one person trying to instruct or mentor another, the chances of it occurring increase.

There is nothing more frustrating than trying to lead someone who continually struggles to either keep up or perform as expected.  So, what should our response be?

When I said, My foot slippeth; thy mercy, O Lord, held me up. (Psalms 94:18)

As we strive to trust God and walk in his ways, how does he respond when we falter?  He doesn’t attack or pound us down, but instead holds us up by his mercy.

When people are struggling, our response toward them should be the same.  We should respond with mercy.  There is a difference between struggling and refusing.  When people struggle, they are striving to accomplish or perform as expected, but yet still need support.  We love it when people show mercy towards us and especially when we receive it from God.  His dealings with us are a pattern or model for us to follow.

Patience is still a virtue.  So at work, be patient and show mercy.  As you raise your children, remember mercy.  Mercy is like a fertilizer.  When it is used correctly, it will enhance the growth of your relationships.  Without mercy, relationships can die.  If you want to make a great difference by helping people, you need to exercise mercy.

Vengeance (Psalm 94:1)

What is it called when you take something that doesn’t belong to you? Of course, it is stealing. Whether it be anything from a small priced pen to the elaborate designs for a new invention, it is wrong. However, there is another aspect of stealing that is a bit different than stealing tangible items. This occurs when non-tangible items are stolen such as taking credit for work done by another or seizing an opportunity that rightfully belongs to someone else.
This passage refers to just such a thing.

O Lord God, to whom vengeance belongeth; O God, to whom vengeance belongeth, shew thyself. (Psalms 94:1)

Vengeance belongs to God. When you are wronged, you should not take opportunity to take vengeance on those that hurt you. When you do, you are stealing from God. A danger of doing this is that a heart that seeks vengeance is a heart that is controlled by the hurt created and as long as it remains under that control, the person who hurt you continues to do so.

When you seek opportunity for vengeance you are stealing that which belongs to God. What you must do is wait on him. He may exercise righteous vengeance right away or delay his vengeance until another time. In my life, I have been greatly wronged by people. Some received their just deserts right away and others have seemed to get away with it for more that 30 years. In each case, the vengeance will come from God and until it occurs, I must wait.

God is righteous and he will act justly. If we cast this care of vengeance on the Lord, he will care for you and do it. Instead of having a heart filled with hurtful emotions that will do more damage to you than your vengeance can do to others, you must rest in God.

Have you ever seen someone seek vengeance? They never seem to get what they want or need. Consider the sentencing trials of a convicted killer and listen to the surviving loved one lash out with words and even at times try to physically attack the criminal. Do they get appeased? Have you listened to news testimonies when a criminal is executed. No survivors express satisfaction. At best, they get some type of closure.  

However, if you allow God to be the possessor of vengeance, you will be able to move forward in your life and allow his grace and love to bring healing to your heart. Without this resting in him, anger, hurt and bitterness will abide in your heart and become a poison to your soul.

Succumb to the Monster? (Psalm 93:4)

When I was a kid, I loved watching the scary black and white horror movies.  Wait a minute, when I was a kid, all the scary movies were in black and white.  It seemed that every movie had one thing in common. There was always a scene where an unsuspecting person would be walking along and not knowing that all the while they were being stalked by the monster.  The scene would usually end with the monster approaching the individual and them turning in horror to see it.  Their only response was to scream and succumb to the monster’s attack.

As we go through our lives, there are times when we face monstrous trials and troubles.  As they seemingly loom over us, we too can feel as if all we can do is scream and succumb to their attacks, but for the believer it should not be so.

The Lord on high is mightier than the noise of many waters, yea, than the mighty waves of the sea. (Psalms 93:4)

This passage recognizes the noise of the trials and the fears that it creates in our hearts, but believers know that another sound will resonate in our hearts as well.  It is the voice of the Lord and the Lord is greater than the mighty noise of our trials.

Is it wrong to be afraid?  Of course not, but what we must do as we fear our trials is to look to the Lord, pray for his strength to enable us and seek his presence to encourage us in the midst of the trial.

How Can I Love? (1 John 2:5)

We know Jesus said that men shall know we are disciples because we love one another.  The Apostle John writes that in us God’s love can be perfected.  The question is, How do I get to the place where I can love like Jesus loves?

Many would set out to create a list of actions that should be performed that would be considered acts of love and when these actions are completed you will be loving that individual.  The list could be something like this.

1. Pray for them

2. Reach out to them

3. Communicate your concern through notes, cards or emails.

4. If possible, meet a need that they may have.

5. If necessary, share the gospel

The list is a good list, but in itself it is not love.  A person could complete each of these acts and still not love the person.  Have you ever said that you were sorry and you really weren’t?  Did you ever state that you forgave someone, but in reality you really didn’t?  The same can be true with the actions on this list.  You can do them and not really be loving.  So, what is the answer?  How can I love others?

But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him. (1 John 2:5)

If we keep or guard God’s word in our hearts, it will eventually create fruit from its seed.  It is the Word of God that perfects our love.  Love is a condition of the heart and not the completion of acts.  Keeping or guarding God’s word in your heart is parallel to abiding in Christ.  When we abide in Christ, he lives through us.  When we abide in God’s word, it lives through us.  It may live through us and lead us to perform the very acts listed above, but the difference between the two is the condition of the heart.

If you want to love, keep or guard God’s word in your heart.  In fact, if you want to accomplish anything for God or to be anything he wants you to be, keep the word.  Guard it as a precious gem or as a “keep sake”.  When you do, it will produce its fruit in your life.

The Big Choice (Hebrews 12:2)

Each of us make an unnumbered amount of choices each day.  Some of the choices are big while others are somewhat insignificant.  When it comes to major decisions, we greatly desire to make the right decision, because if we don’t, the consequences are unpleasant and usually long lasting.  Some decisions are easily made and others may be very difficult.

The scriptures record two major decisions that Jesus made: one being when he faced Satan and was tempted.  We love the account of how he refused to bow down to Satan in exchange for all of the kingdoms and the glory associated with them.  For us, we know that his decision was a major one, but most people do not know that it was not the first recorded time that he made the decision to deny granting pleasure to himself.

Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2)

This passage records that at some time, Jesus had the option of granting himself joy or redeeming man.  It is my opinion that the decision occurred in Heaven.  Can you imagine Jesus experiencing the joy of a heaven and all that he was entitled to as God and then being offered a choice of having that joy which was was set before him or going to earth and redeeming mankind?  And what does he choose?  He chooses you.  Think about it.  You were more desirable and important to him than the joy that he was having in heaven.  You the struggling sinner away from God or you the person who would trust Christ and still struggle with sin.  You the person that would continually fall short or fail God.  He chose you.  This definitely would not be the right choice if he focused on self love, but with his love focused on others, it would be a different story.  For God, it is the right choice.  It is the best choice.  For a God who is love, it is the only choice.

Rejoice is the decision that Christ made. Praise him for his unending love for you.  Live a life of thanksgiving.  It is the least that you could do for him choosing you.

The Test for: Do You Know God (1 John 2:3-4)

I remember speaking with a young man back in the early 90’s.  He commented about me being religious to which I disagreed.  As I tried to explain the difference between being religious and being saved, I ended by asking him this question, “Do you know about God or do you know God personally?”  His reply was that he only knew about God.  A truthful answer which opened the door for me to present the gospel.  It was probably very easy for him to answer because his life was devoid of any religious activity and more than likely filled with sin.  But how difficult would it have been had he been very religious.  He could have convinced himself that he knew God based on biblical knowledge and the laundry list of do’s and don’ts that he follows.  God knew this would happen to man.  So he presented a heart condition as the determining factor.  This litmus test of the heart would enable man to determine his right standing with God.

And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.  He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. (1 John 2:3-4)

What do these verses mean?  More than likely we have heard it preached that if you know God you will keep or obey his commandments.  Sounds good.  So let’s check.  He who has always obeyed God’s commandments, please step forward and declare that you know God.  Hmmm, no response.  But wait a minuted, don’t we all sin.  It must mean those who try their best at keeping God’s commandments are the ones that know him.  However the scripture states that if we don’t keep his commandments then the truth is not in us.  I guess that leaves all of us out.  Help!!!

The word keep can have many meanings one of which is “to guard (by keeping the eye upon), hold fast, or watch”.  If this definition were put into the passage, it would state that those who know God will guard the commandments or live their lives with the heart’s focus on God’s commandments for the purpose of observing them.  I am first to admit that I sin daily, but with the same breath, I also guard the commandments in my heart for intent of observing them.  I may sin daily, but the truth is in me.

The former “keep” meaning to obey is impossible for me and every person on the planet, but to “keep” meaning to guard is attainable.  Stop trying to attain the sinless perfect life.  You will fail miserably in defeat.  Live the guarded heart life.  If you do, the sins will diminish and your relationship with God will be a heart based relationship instead of a performance based one.

Can you confidently say that you have obeyed God’s commandments? I cannot, but I can with great confidence say that I have guarded the commandments in my heart.

Deceiving Yourself (1 John 1:8)

How can a person deceive themselves?  Do they purposefully lead themselves away from what they know to be the right way?  Some may think so, but that is not exactly the case.

A person leads themselves astray when they do not agree with or recognize truth, but instead create their own ideas and acknowledge them as truth.  The result is that they actually believe they are doing or believing what they should.

The Holy Spirit convicts all men of sin.  In order for a person to believe that they do not have sin, they first must disagree with the Holy Spirit’s conviction and then speak falseness to themselves.  When they walk in light of this falseness, they have deceived themselves.

If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. (1 John 1:8)

Each of us have this tendency.  We do it when we resist conviction for sin and explain it away with circumstances or justify our actions with motives or results from our acts.  We also deceive ourselves when we resist God’s leading.  We respond with excuses as to why we cannot do as he leads and then accept those excuses as truth.

Am I deceiving myself?  Are you deceiving yourself?  God knows the answer.  What we must do is submit ourselves to God and allow him to lead us with truth.  We may not like how he leads, but the results will definitely be better than living in deceit.