Thanks and Mercy Go Hand in Hand!

O give thanks unto the LORD, for he is good: and his mercy endureth for ever.” 1 Chronicles 16.34

A phrase that has been impressed upon me recently is this: “God’s goodness is only exceeded by His grace.” When you think about God’s goodness, where does your mind go? In the verse above we are told to “give thanks unto the LORD, for he is good … ” None of us would deny that God is good. But how frequently do we give thanks for his goodness? Giving thanks is a conscious, intentional action. No one gives thanks by accident. We always do so intentionally. It would seem to me that failure to give thanks is a denial that God is good and none of us would consciously say that.

It is interesting that God’s goodness and His mercy are linked together in this verse. One of the aspects of God’s mercy is that He is good. We must never forget the definition of mercy, i. e. not getting what we deserve. Not one of us deserves anything from God, but all throughout scripture we are reminded of His love, His grace, His mercy, and His goodness. Would it be a different kind of day for you if you chose to live your life by acknowledging the traits mentioned above – love, grace, mercy, and goodness?

What is about our lives that causes the world to look at us and think, “There’s something different about them. I wish I had that.”? I WANT my life to reflect my conscious awareness of these traits of God on a daily basis. In order for that to be true, I must intentionally make the purpose of my life each day to be all about God and His kingdom. That means that the focus of life itself is never about me. Is this easy? Absolutely not! Does it glorify God? That is certainly my prayer. Just my thoughts …

 

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Thanks and Mercy God Hand in Hand!

O give thanks unto the LORD, for he is good: and his mercy endureth for ever.” 1 Chronicles 16.34

A phrase that has been impressed upon me recently is this: “God’s goodness is only exceeded by His grace.” When you think about God’s goodness, where does your mind go? In the verse above we are told to “give thanks unto the LORD, for he is good … ” None of us would deny that God is good. But how frequently do we give thanks for his goodness? Giving thanks is a conscious, intentional action. No one gives thanks by accident. We always do so intentionally. It would seem to me that failure to give thanks is a denial that God is good and none of us would consciously say that.

It is interesting that God’s goodness and His mercy are linked together in this verse. One of the aspects of God’s mercy is that He is good. We must never forget the definition of mercy, i. e. not getting what we deserve. Not one of us deserves anything from God, but all throughout scripture we are reminded of His love, His grace, His mercy, and His goodness. Would it be a different kind of day for you if you chose to live your life by acknowledging the traits mentioned above – love, grace, mercy, and goodness?

What is about our lives that causes the world to look at us and think, “There’s something different about them. I wish I had that.”? I WANT my life to reflect my conscious awareness of these traits of God on a daily basis. In order for that to be true, I must intentionally make the purpose of my life each day to be all about God and His kingdom. That means that the focus of life itself is never about me. Is this easy? Absolutely not! Does it glorify God? That is certainly my prayer. Just my thoughts …

 

THIS Is the Day!

Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.” Psalm 100.4

Have you made your list yet? You know, the list of things and people for which you are thankful. I think it is great that we have a day set aside in America that is set aside for thanksgiving. The founders of our great nation recognized that it was God who had made the establishment of this great nation possible. Wikipedia says: “In the United States, the modern Thanksgiving holiday tradition is traced to a sparsely documented 1621 celebration at Plymouth in present-day Massachusetts, and also to a well recorded 1619 event in Virginia.”

When I think about the verse above, I am reminded that I can do no less than enter into His gates with thanksgiving. The impact of God on my life has nothing to do with anything that I have done and everything to do with how much God loves me. The heart of a believer that is NOT filled with thanksgiving is a heart that is presumptuous. We need to allow the Holy Spirit to prompt us daily in this area of thanksgiving.

Enter … into his courts with praise … ” Praise is the flip side of thanksgiving. IF I am thankful, it is easy to give God praise. Praise is the supernatural response of the heart that is filled with thanks.

The last phrase says: “bless his name.” To bless God’s name is to acknowledge His holiness and His worthiness to be praised. Today is a good day to ask yourself: “Does my life reflect a thankful heart? Do I allow others to see my heart for God? Do I acknowledge God’s holiness in my daily interaction with Him?” This is the perfect day to make any life changes that you need to make to fall in line with the psalmist’s words above. Just my thoughts …

Let the Whole World Know!

Because thy lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise thee. (4) Thus will I bless thee while I live: I will lift up my hands in thy name.” Psalm 63.3-4

When you think of God, what is the first thing you think about in your relationship and walk with Him? Probably each one of us would have a different answer. But I am drawn by the words of the psalmist here when he says: “Because thy lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise thee.” His focus is obviously on God’s lovingkindness. When you think about lovingkindness, what kinds of things come to mind? I think about the things that I receive that I do not deserve. I think about the things that I could never earn. I think about the things that could only be bestowed on me because God loves me.

Whatever you may think about lovingkindness, there is one more major thought in this verse: “my lips shall praise thee.” Can we all agree that praise should be a regular part of our conversations about God? Praise may not be a NATURAL response on our part, but we certainly need to make it a SUPERNATURAL response to God’s lovingkindness. When the world observes something good happening in our lives, they need to know that we are the recipients of God’s lovingkindness. If we want them to love the God we love, we need to let them see how much we love God.

Then the psalmist continues with “Thus will I bless thee while I live … ” For him, praising God was not just a one-time expression. It had become a lifestyle for him. In fact, he went so far as to “lift up (his) hands in (God’s) name.” it is ok to express our love for God and appreciation to God in ways that may seem “different” to someone else. When I lift my hands in a worship service, it is not to impress someone around me who may be watching. It is to give my genuine whole-hearted expression of love for and dedication to God. Just my thoughts …

UNSPEAKABLE – Thought-provoking Word

Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.’ 2 Corinthians 9.15

Paul speaks about two things that he cannot describe: (1) heaven) and (2) Jesus, the Son of God. He speaks about his “out of body experience” in 2 Corinthians 12:4 “How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.” In this verse above he says that God’s gift of His Son Jesus is the “unspeakable gift.

Jesus truly is unspeakable. How do you describe God and man in the flesh? How do you explain one who loves you so much that He was willing to die for you to keep you out of hell? How do you explain one who is the fulfillment of all the Old Testament prophecies regarding the Messiah? There simply are NO words.

But the key to this verse is the opening phrase: “Thanks be unto God … ” I am fearful that far too many of God’s children fail to take time to thank God for the gift of His Son, Jesus. We are reminded over and over in Scripture to be thankful. The words or phrases give thanks, be thankful, or thanks occur 65 times in the KJV. 31 times in the Psalms alone the psalmists remind us to give thanks or have thanksgiving in our hearts.

So, let’s begin today with a commitment to God that we will make giving thanks a part of our daily prayer lives. If you do not have a prayer list, let me suggest that you start one. Then you can put giving thanks at the top of your list. It may be helpful to take time when you are not praying and make a list of the people and things for which you are thankful, including the unique things that God has done for you through the person of His Son, Jesus. This will take time, but it is well worth the time you decide to commit to it. Just my thoughts …

 

Let Him Be Who He Says He Is!

 

I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.” Revelation 1.8

There are some verses that you read and you say, “I like that.” Some you read cause you to say, “I love that.” And some cause you to say, “Wow, I so believe that!” This is just such one of those verses. The God Who spoke these words became so real to me today after the message that our grandson, who had battled for life from day one (over two years ago) went to meet his Creator today. I came to realize anew and afresh that although life if filled with changes – some welcomed and some not – but our God is ALWAYS the same. THAT is comforting!

I am Alpha and Omega …” Everything – I mean EVERYTHING – starts and ends with Him. Although this baby boy will be so desperately missed, as I pillow my head tonight, he is whole and he is safe in the arms of Jesus. That old song, “Heaven’s Sounding Sweeter All the Time” became a little more real for me today. So many I have loved are already there – they are waiting for the rest of us to come.

The last two words of this verse speak volumes to me: “the Almighty.” Can you, even in your wildest imagination, think of something that God CAN’T do? Neither can I. He IS the Almighty One! Tomorrow I may face something that I can’t handle – but He can! I may face a temptation that I will struggle with greatly, because I don’t want to yield – and He will be the Almighty One to see me through it. Life is TOO short to have to go through it with a God who is Not ALMIGHTY. But we don’t have to. Just my thoughts …

Real Hope? Yes!

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” 1 Peter 1.3

What is a lively hope? So often we read Scripture without giving any thought to what we have just read. Peter reminds us that when we were born again, we were born unto a lively hope. One translation uses the word living for lively. This hope that we have is a living reality. Peter speaks of something I doubt we think about often. Look at these words: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ … ” What does it mean to bless God? How about this … we bless God when we give our total allegiance to Him and we do so from a heart that is overwhelmed by His goodness, grace, and mercy.

This new life that we are enjoying is a product of God’s abundant mercy. Let’s remember that mercy is not getting what we deserve. The very act of being begotten into the family of God should stir up within us a sense of total freedom from the Law and a freedom to act in grace to those we encounter every day. Why would we not want to share this living hope? There are so many people that we encounter on a daily basis who are living lives totally void of any hope whatsoever.

The “resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” sealed for us this living hope and all we had to do was to accept it. The next time you ponder the resurrection of Christ from the dead, just remember that without His resurrection, you and I have nothing but an empty hope rather than a living hope. I shudder to think of my life without this living hope. Just my thoughts …

Whose God Is This?

Know therefore that the LORD thy God , he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations.” Deuteronomy 7.9

These words were addressed to Moses as he was preparing the people to enter the Promised Land. They had spent 40 years wandering in the wilderness and it had been difficult for Moses for a lot of reasons. While Moses does not get to go into the Promised Land, he will take them to the bring and give them over to Joshua.

Give attention to how God starts this conversation: “Know therefore that the LORD thy God , he is God … ” we might ask why God is reminding Moses of this truth? Think back to the time when God told Moses to take a message back to the children of Israel. Moses asked God, “Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? What shall I say unto them? 14And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.” (Exodus 3.13-14)

In the passage quoted above, God is once again giving His servant some words of assurance. God says to him “the Lord thy God, he is God.” Moses was being assured that his God was THE God. Not only is He THE God, He is “the faithful God … ” Guess what? This God who was assuring Moses that He was THE God is also OUR God. Take heart … Moses did.

This is the God who “ keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him … ”This covenant making God has never broken His covenant with anyone. And He won’t start now. God wants something in return from His children. He wants us to (1) love Him and (2) keep His commandments. Is that too much for God to ask of Israel or us? I think not. Just my thoughts …

Fruit – REAL Fruit!

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” Galatians 5.22-23

When you think about fruit, you realize it must come from some source – a tree, a vine, etc. We are told in this verse that the fruit about which we speak is from the Holy Spirit. He is its source. You will notice that the verse speaks of “fruit” singular, rather than “fruits” plural. So, when we receive Christ as personal Savior, the Holy Spirit comes into our life and wants to display the fruit that demonstrates that He is living within us and we are allowing Him to control our lives.

You will notice that there are nine (9) elements to this fruit. When you open most fruit, there is one or more seeds inside that make it what it is. It is one piece of fruit but there are elements that let you know from whence it came. In the preceding verses of this chapter (vs. 13-21) Paul is pointing the fruit of the flesh – when we are unsaved the only thing we CAN do is sin. By contrast, these verses above show us that which our lives should reflect.

The first element of this fruit that is mentioned is love. Allow me to suggest that without this first element, none of the elements are possible. Love allows us to rejoice. As a matter of fact, when I am committed to loving others with this unconditional love, it involves my heart, my mind, my will, and my emotions. It describes a deliberate effort that we can only make with the help of God. We must never seek anything but the best for others, even when they seek something far worse for us.

Love is joy rejoicing. Peace is love in repose. Longsuffering is love being patient. Goodness is love at work. Faith is love believing. Meekness is love on its knees. Temperance is love restraining. Think on these elements of the Spirit’s fruit in our lives. Just my thoughts …

What Is It That Fills YOUR Heart?

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” Colossians 3.16

Paul is giving sound advice to us in this verse: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom … ” The ONE thing that ought to be primary for every believer is that the Word of God is a necessary part of our lives. We would never think of going through a day without meals – in fact, most of us want to eat at least three meals a day. We feed this physical body in order to keep it functioning. Doesn’t our spiritual life need spiritual nourishment too? Of course it does. I am not trying to guilt someone into reading the Bible everyday. But I am seeking to get us to realize just how important it is to our ongoing spiritual walk with God.

Do you ever wake up in the morning and a song is repeating over and over in your head? I do, almost every day. We are able to learn a great deal of doctrine and practical living through “psalms and hymns and spiritual songs … ” One of the great joys for me is singing in our worship services at the church I attend. There is a blend of the old hymns and some new praise and worship songs, but I can learn from all of them.

So how do we fulfill this next phrase? “ … singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” The key phrase here is that we are singing to the Lord. Sure, other people around us may hear us singing, but my praise and my worship is directed to God … anything else is just a side effect. How do we reflect grace in our hearts? One translation says this: “with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” I believe every one of us can be thankful to God that He has redeemed us! Just my thoughts …