Can’t Meet the Criteria (Psalm 51:1)

Forgiveness from a human perspective, it is usually based on the person meeting some type of behavior or expectation. Forgiveness might be based on the person being sorry, expressing sorrow or performing some act of penance.

However with God, it is a different story. God‘s forgiveness hinges on two aspects of his character: lovingkindness and tender mercy.

Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. (Psalm 51:1)

Both of these traits stem from the love of God. The former relates to his actions toward men and the latter-meaning womb-reflects his emotional bond with us.

The remainder of Psalm 51 conveys attitudes and promises to declared by David, but without loving kindness and tender mercy, forgiveness would not even be considered.

Therefore, when you find yourself needing forgiveness don’t try to follow a pathway of penance or self restoration to a God of lovingkindness and tender mercy, but instead run to the throne of grace whereupon your loving and merciful God sits. From there, he will forgive and lead you to a place of restoration.

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Brace Yourself!

Brace yourself! This is the phrase that we use to prepare ourselves for some impending negative event. It may be physically holding on to something in preparation for jolting or even a collision. It could even relate to preparing yourself for news that may move you emotionally.

As bracing yourself may seem to work in the physical world, it does not work in the spiritual. However, what will work is if the Lord braces you.

1 The Lord hear thee in the day of trouble; the name of the God of Jacob defend thee;

2 Send thee help from the sanctuary, and strengthen thee out of Zion; (Psalm 20:1-2)

In this time of distress for David, he is looking for the Lord to send him help and strength. The strength he is seeking is comfort and to be held up. Another meaning for the word strength would be to brace. David is not bracing himself for the trial that he faces, but he is asking the Lord to brace him.

When I think of the Lord bracing us for trials, I picture a parent with a child. Imagine a small child in the arms of a father as they face a frightening experience like a thunderstorm. With each flash and bang of the storm, the child buries their head in the father’s chest as the father tightly braces the child. The father’s embrace may not be able to stop the storm, but it does bring security and strength to the child.

As we face the storms of life, God wants to brace us for them. He may not choose to remove the storm, but with his tender embrace, he will provide us the comfort and strength that we need.

Thankfully his loving embrace in these times is based on his mercy and grace. Because of this, we can always count on the father to be there for us. As you face storms in life, bury your head into the chest of your heavenly father and experience his strong loving embrace.

Brace Yourself!

Brace yourself! This is the phrase that we use to prepare ourselves for some impending negative event. It may be physically holding on to something in preparation for jolting or even a collision. It could even relate to preparing yourself for news that may move you emotionally.

As bracing yourself may seem to work in the physical world, it does not work in the spiritual. However, what will work is if the Lord braces you.

1 The Lord hear thee in the day of trouble; the name of the God of Jacob defend thee;

2 Send thee help from the sanctuary, and strengthen thee out of Zion; (Psalm 20:1-2)

In this time of distress for David, he is looking for the Lord to send him help and strength. The strength he is seeking is comfort and to be held up. Another meaning for the word strength would be to brace. David is not bracing himself for the trial that he faces, but he is asking the Lord to brace him.

When I think of the Lord bracing us for trials, I picture a parent with a child. Imagine a small child in the arms of a father as they face a frightening experience like a thunderstorm. With each flash and bang of the storm, the child buries their head in the father’s chest as the father tightly braces the child. The father’s embrace may not be able to stop the storm, but it does bring security and strength to the child.

As we face the storms of life, God wants to brace us for them. He may not choose to remove the storm, but with his tender embrace, he will provide us the comfort and strength that we need.

Thankfully his loving embrace in these times is based on his mercy and grace. Because of this, we can always count on the father to be there for us. As you face storms in life, bury your head into the chest of your heavenly father and experience his strong loving embrace.

Did God Forget Me? (Psalm 9:12)

When people forget about you and your needs, it is a hurtful experience. It conveys the absence of love and concern. There are times in our lives when we face trials and difficulties and it appears as if God has forgotten us. We pray and ask for deliverance, but nothing happens. Has God forgotten us?

…he forgetteth not the cry of the humble. (Psalm 9:12)

God has not forgotten you. His love and concern has not been set aside and your life and its concerns have not been mislaid or lost. God has heard your cry, he knows the problems that you face and the heaviness in your heart that you carry because of it.

So, why doesn’t he answer? Why doesn’t he deliver? But he has and he will. God has heard your prayers and is providing the grace that you need. Many of learn the grace and truth go hand-in-hand. It seems that you cannot have the one without the other. God I want you exposed to truth concerning him and buy the truth he will be able to exercise grace in your life. Paul experienced this and wrote about it. God’s grace was sufficient for him because of his reliance on the truth of the power of Christ.

Until your actual deliverance comes, expose yourself to the word of God: read it, listen to the testimony of others, attend church services and listen to the preaching of God‘s word and God will begin working his grace in your life.

How long must you rely on this grace until the deliverance comes cannot be known. Remember as God works in the details of your life, he is also working in the lives of others. He wants to use grace in your life to shine as a light to the lost. He also may be working in the lives of others to bring them to repentance before he moves his hand in judgment or chastening. Until then, you must wait on him. Thankfully because of his grace, you will be able to endure.

…he forgetteth not the cry of the humble.

Religion Still Doesn’t Work

Since nearly the beginning, sin has separated man from God and with it has brought sorrow, sickness, and emptiness in the heart of man. Throughout time, man has sought to overcome these troubles in his life and to accomplish it created religious acts or rituals, which were intended to appease God of his wrath or at the least turn away the consequences of sin that he faced.

These acts involved offering to God everything from crops to human sacrifices, the punishment of sinners or the punishment of themselves. Always, the results were unsuccessful. David described it best when he spoke to the Lord concerning his own condition.

For mine iniquities are gone over mine head: as an heavy burden they are too heavy for me. (Psalms 38:4)

The load of sin that looms over the head of every man is so great that no religious act could ever remove the effect or its debt.

Several decades ago, a teenaged girl attended a local carnival. When she failed to return home, a search was made and eventually her lifeless body was found. For more than 30 years, law-enforcement searched for the suspected killer: who was eventually found. Should he be held for trial? Of course he should! Regardless of how long ago the event occurred, he should still be held accountable.

But what if he was found living a respectable life? What if he, for the last 20 years, had been doing a great humanitarian work? Should he still be held for trial? Should he still be charged even if he has been so sorry for his crime? The answer is a resounding, Yes! He committed a crime and the penalty for that crime must be paid.

For the last 6,000 years, man has been trying to avoid paying the penalty for his sin. But regardless of what he does, the holy righteous God still requires complete payment for sins committed. The only hope for all men would be for God to determine a way for someone else to pay the debt that man owed. God did and that person was himself. He came to earth as human. Born of a virgin, he live a lonely life and yet did not sin. Throughout his entire life he did not commit one sin. For the remaining three years of his life, he taught and performed miracles to declare who it was and the purpose for his coming to earth. Then as foretold by God, he was rejected by his people, judged by the government and punished on the cross.

However God’s purpose for allowing all this to occur was so that he could place all the sin of humanity upon himself as he hung on the cross. The beatings and torture done to Jesus were extremely grave, but nothing in comparison to the punishment that God, while still yet also in heaven, punished himself as he lived as a human hanging on the cross.

Only until Jesus cried, “It is finished!” was mankind given any hope. When Jesus finished, he was finished paying the wages for our sins – yours and mine.

For those, who continue striving to pay for their own sins or are relying on religious acts to appease God’s wrath for sin will continue to fall short and carry the burden of their sin debt. Those who call upon Christ to bear there sin, will find the relief that they need. No longer is the burden of sin going over their head or too much to bear, the burden has been removed and the payment has been made. None of their sins committed have gone unpunished. Instead of them paying the debt, someone else paid the debt for them.

In America, we have discovered that countless people have been falsely charged, found guilty and sentenced for crimes that they had never committed. Society, unknowing of their wrong, was still satisfied because the penalty of the crime was being paid.  

In your case, Jesus willingly took the charge, allowed himself to be found guilty and then paid your complete payment for sin. So that your salvation could take place when you call out to Jesus and trust that he will save you.

For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. (Romans 10:13)

Begotten Us Again (1 Peter 1:3)

There was no hope for the natural man. When Adam fell, he plummeted mankind into sin and hopelessness. When he sinned, it was not merely an act, but instead a decision that would affect everyone in every aspect of their lives. When Adam took hold of sin, sin took hold of mankind and ravished it. There was no way to stop it and he could not be reformed. The only hope for man was for him to be made a new creature.

When a person trust Christ as Savior, God makes him a new creature or a new creation. This work of mercy does not change the physical creation of man, but instead man’s spiritual state. Man’s rebirth would give him a hope – a lively hope – one that would dwell within him every day.

Life can be crushing. In your life, how many tears of sorrow have you shed? How many times have you held the hand of a loved one is their heart burst with anguish and sorrow? Your past has not been great and your future will most likely contain just as much sorrow. But since the new birth, there is a hope that lives and dwells within you. That lively hope will enable you to look to your merciful God who will provide comfort, strength and direction. How did you get this lively hope? It came because of the mercy of God.

To illustrate this, imagine you are one of the crew on the ship. While on deck, you feel the tremble as an explosion occurs below deck. The event created a gaping hole in the side of the ship. Water comes rushing in taking lives of men as it advances through the ship. 

The blast of alarms sound around you and everyone begins to abandon ship. You fall into the water and begin swimming for your life. Terror fills the air and your heart is pounding as you try your best to continue to swim. You eventually fear that you cannot go on and you just want to give up and get this whole terrifying experience over. And then, a floatation device springs up out of the water. 

Quickly you make your way towards the object and grasp it with all of your might. Immediately your heart moves from fear to hope as you cling to the device and exclaimed, “I’m saved!”

In the distance, you hear people struggling and screaming. As you float in safety, others less fortunate succumb and become one more floating casually. 

This illustration depicts your life and mine. Lost in sin, we were without hope and regardless of how much struggling to overcome the result ended in failure. And then, the Savior came. Since the moment that we clung to him, we have been saved. Oh, we may still be floating in the sea of the world, but one day, the Savior will lift us out and deliver us from the presence of all that is around us. 

We have a hope and our hope is in Christ. It is not a dead hope, but a lively one. We can live each day and face the fear of all that is around us. We can do this because we know that we will be delivered. This is our lively hope.

As We Hope in Thee (Psalm 33:22)

My son, Anthony, was the first grandchild on both sides of the family. Needless to say being spoiled was a regular occurrence. As that special one, he learned ways to get people to do for him what he wanted. I remember when he was around 12 years old he asked my sister, Lori, for something. It kind of went like this. In the little boy voice he spoke growing up he said, “Aunt ‘Ore…” Regardless of what followed, he already had her reeled in. He just had a way with my sister that regularly resulted in benefits to him. We too can have a way with God.

Let thy mercy, O Lord, be upon us, according as we hope in thee. (Psalms 33:22)

Trying to change or become a better Christian isn’t going to be enough to get God to work. Granted, sin can hinder our prayers from being answered, but striving to be a better christian will not be enough because even when you believe you are at your best, you are still a sinner and have sin. But when we hope in the Lord, which occurs when we look to him, it is then that he responds to us in mercy.
When we look to God and rely completely on him, he moves in mercy. Not because we reached a plateau of holiness or because we have risen above the masses of sinners, but because of his mercy he works. When we recognize our condition of falling short and being needy and look to God as our only source of help, God reaches down and works in mercy and love on our behalf.