Mercy in spite of wickedness

Mercy in spite of wickedness

United States Constitution, quill pen, Bible, scales weighing mercy and wrath, and Flag

You will know I am the Lord, O people of Israel, when I have honored my name by treating you mercifully in spite of your wickedness, says the Sovereign Lord.

Ezekiel 20:44 

God the Redeemer

Have you ever given God reason to be angry with you? Compare your sins with the sins of Israel. As you read through the Old Testament, you discover the truth that seems to shock most people: At no time in Israel’s history did they ever remain faithful to God. Of course, there were periods of collective obedience.…But as soon as the blessings flowed, their hearts wandered, and once again they fell into their evil ways. Their lives were steeped in a constant pattern of rebellion and unfaithful living.

Ezekiel records just one of the many times God responded to Israel’s unfaithfulness. God says to them, “In this also your fathers blasphemed me by forsaking me.…You continue to defile yourselves with all your idols to this day.…You say, ‘We want to be like the nations, like the peoples of the world, who serve wood and stone.’.…As I judged your fathers in the desert of the land of Egypt, so I will judge you, declares the Sovereign Lord” (Ezekiel 20:27, 31-36). Once again Israel had provoked the wrath of God, and now they sat awaiting his judgment. If there was ever a time that Israel deserved to be wiped from the face of the planet, it was this moment. Now their sentence was at hand. Hold on to your chairs because here comes the gavel!

“You will know that I am the Lord, when I deal with you for my name’s sake and not according to your evil ways and your corrupt practices” (Ezekiel 20:44, NIV, italics mine).

And what is God’s name? Redeemer. Deliverer. Savior. What is the judgment he hands down? He plans to redeem them. Again. He deals with them according to his goodness, not their evil. He forgives them. Not because they deserve it but because it is God’s nature to forgive.

Adapted from Embracing Eternity by Tim LaHaye, Jerry Jenkins and Frank M. Martin, Tyndale House Publishers (2004), entry for March 17.

Content is derived from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation and other publications of Tyndale Publishing House

A vision of heaven

A vision of heaven

Open old book, light from the sky, heaven. Education, religion concept

Now I saw heaven opened, and a white horse was standing there. And the one sitting on the horse was named Faithful and True. For he judges fairly and then goes to war. His eyes were bright like flames of fire, and on his head were many crowns. A name was written on him, and only he knew what it meant. He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and his title was the Word of God.

Revelation 19:11-13 

Crown Him with many crowns, the Lamb upon His throne; Hark! how the heavenly anthem drowns all music but is own. Awake, my soul, and sing of Him who died for thee, and hail Him as they matchless King through all eternity.

Crown Him with Many Crowns,
Matthew Bridges (1800-1894)

Crown Him with Many Crowns

Matthew Bridges became a convert to Roman Catholicism at the age of forty-eight and published this hymn three years later under the title “The Song of the Seraphs.” Godfrey Thring, an Anglican clergyman, added several stanzas to the hymn about thirty years later, with Bridges’s approval. So a Roman Catholic layman and an Anglican cleric, who probably never met, were coauthors of a hymn about heaven, where Christians of every tribe and tongue, as well as of every denomination, will crown Him Lord of all.

One of the aspects that Godfrey Thring felt was missing in the original was a stanza on the Resurrection, and so it was added. “His glories now we sing who died and rose on high, who died, eternal life to bring, and lives, that death may die.”

Adapted from The One Year® Book of Hymns by Mark Norton and Robert Brown, Tyndale House Publishers (1995), entry for May 16.

Digging Deeper: This week (Tuesday) marked the release of the The Rapture , the last of three prequel stories to the Left Behind series.

Content is derived from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation and other publications of Tyndale Publishing House.

Jericho” experience

Have you had a “Jericho” experience?

City Of Jericho, Israel

Be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.

Joshua 1:9

Taking Jericho

Imagine this scene for a minute. You’re a captain in Joshua’s army camped a few miles outside the city of Jericho. You’ve seen the thick, double-layered stone walls surrounding the city and armed soldiers guarding every entrance. You’ve heard tales of the fierce Canaanite army and their ability to hold their ground in battle.

In the midst of all of this, an edict comes down from the upper ranks. Israel is planning to take Jericho. Actually, what the message says is that Israel has already taken Jericho, but Jericho just doesn’t know it yet. The battle plan is really no plan at all. You’re supposed to get your troops together and conduct a victory march around the city. Just once — for six days in a row. Then on the seventh day you’re to march seven times around the city. That’s when your soldiers can march in and take possession.

The next day you’re marching around the city, and you can’t help but hear the taunts coming from inside the walls. You know how silly this all looks, but you keep marching just the same. Because you know that God is on your side, and you’ve seen what he can do.

This is why God reminded Joshua time and again to “be strong and courageous.” God has a way of working that tends to fall outside the norm, and he needs people who trust him enough to go the distance, no matter how bizarre the game plan. Courage is important to God because courage is a natural byproduct of trust. And the greater we trust, the braver we become. As long as God leads the battle, we can march in confidence, knowing that we’ve already won. God gave Jericho to Israel on the seventh day, just as he said he would. So,…what wall does he have you marching around?

from Embracing Eternity by Tim LaHaye, Jerry Jenkins and Frank M. Martin, Tyndale House Publishers (2004), p 76

Content is derived from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation and other publications of Tyndale Publishing House

God revealed

What should be our attitude in prayer?

Mark 4:2

Then Eli realized it was the Lord who was calling the boy. So he said to Samuel, “Go and lie down again, and if someone calls again, say, ‘Yes, Lord, your servant is listening.'” So Samuel went back to bed. And the Lord came and called as before, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel replied, “Yes, your servant is listening.”

1 Samuel 3:8-10

Speak, Lord, in the stillness, while I wait on Thee; hushed my heart to listen in expectancy.
Speak, O blessed Master, in this quiet hour, let me see Thy face, Lord, feel Thy touch of power.

Emily May Grimes

God revealed

God revealed himself mightily to the prophet Elijah, sending fire to burn the sacrifice on Mount Carmel. But later, as Elijah moped on the mountain, the Lord taught him an important lesson. There was a wind, an earthquake, and a fire — but the Lord was not in any of these. Then came a still, small voice. That was how God chose to speak to His prophet.

The same is true today. We long for fire from heaven to silence the skeptics once and for all, but God doesn’t usually work that way. Long ago He revealed Himself as a helpless baby sleeping in a dirty feed trough, and today He speaks quietly to ordinary people like you and me — if only we are still enough to listen. That is the sentiment expressed by Emily May Grimes in the words of the hymn, “Speak, Lord, in the Stillness.”

From The One Year Book of Hymns (Tyndale House) entry for September 5

Content is derived from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation and other publications of Tyndale Publishing House

Deepen your shine

As bright as the sky

Those who are wise will shine as bright as the sky, and those who turn many to righteousness will shine like stars forever.

Daniel 12:3

Eternity to the godly is a day that has no sunset.

Thomas Watson

Deepen your shine

People spend thousands of dollars to last longer— exercise, cosmetics, plastic surgery, self-help advice, nutrition plans. We like life, and we want it to last, not just in some ethereal, nondescript expectation of a life hereafter, but in a real, fulfilling, purposeful eternity. We don’t just want “forever.” We want to know we will enjoy it.

Daniel is told what makes or breaks eternity in the resurrection: righteousness. Loving it, drinking it in, leading others to it, investing in it. Righteousness is the key. The quality of our righteousness on earth has everything to do with the quality of our eternity.

Those who are wise also know that there’s a problem. We are inherently unrighteous. An eternity based on earthly righteousness is a devastating predicament for people who are, in their very genetics, infected with corruption. Are there any who can really lead others to righteousness? Will any shine like the brightness of the heavens? Or is the promise empty?

Righteousness is a gift from a holy heaven to an infected race. It comes from outside ourselves, available only through faith in its Giver. Those who are wise will tell others about this gift. Those who want to shine will know the Source of the light and will be completely preoccupied with Him.

Evangelism is one way to make an investment that never, ever ceases to bring abundant returns. God promises that sharing the Light with others will forever deepen your own shine.

Adapted from The One Year® Walk with God Devotional by Chris Tiegreen, Tyndale House Publishers (2004), entry for April 7.

Content is derived from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation and other publications of Tyndale Publishing House