Forsaking Our Own Mercies

Jonah 2.8 They that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy.

What a lot of meat to chew on in this verse! This is a reminder of the Israelites in 2 Kings: they knew God, they knew His commandments, they knew He loved them and had saved them; and yet, they chose to follow the heathen practices of their neighbors. God called those ways vanity:

2 Kings 17.14 – 16a Notwithstanding they would not hear, but hardened their necks, like to the neck of their fathers, that did not believe in the LORD their God.  And they rejected his statutes, and his covenant that he made with their fathers, and his testimonies which he testified against them; and they followed vanity, and became vain, and went after the heathen that were round about them, concerning whom the LORD had charged them, that they should not do like them.  And they left all the commandments of the LORD their God.

In Jeremiah 10, God points out the foolishness (vanity) of preparing their own idols from wood or silver, and then worshiping / receiving instruction from them. And then, Jeremiah 16 portrays the wonder of the people that God would pronounce this great evil against them: “What is our iniquity? or what is our sin that we have committed against the LORD our God?” (v10)

We simply cannot expect the blessings and mercies of God when we are disobedient. He told us so in in the whole Old Testament, especially in Deuteronomy (and especially Chapter 28).

We are without excuse:

Romans 1.19 – 21 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.  For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.

God has made Himself clearly plain:

Psalms 98.2 The LORD hath made known his salvation: his righteousness hath he openly shewed in the sight of the heathen.

Christians are called by God’s grace, and given His Holy Spirit – divine wisdom. We can live day – by – day for His blessings. We can pray that we see His blessings.

Beloved, we cannot imagine the blessings God has for us when we obey!

2 Corinthians 2.9 But as it is written [in Isaiah 64.4], Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.

His blessings are so magnanimous and beautiful that we cannot even imagine them!

May we pray fervently “unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think” (Ephesians 3.20) that we will read His Word, and obey Him Who loves us so deeply and widely!

In that belly of the fish, Jonah recognized that God’s ways are not his ways, and that he forsook the mercies of God by following the vanity of lies he preferred.

How often do we do this? We feel that tap on the shoulder that this activity or person is not what the Lord intends for us; we feel that caution, and we know it’s from God that we should not enter into what is ahead of us.

We will never know the blessings we forsake when we go our own way. We think we can imagine the blessings of following our ways, and it looks good – enticing. Even in the details, we may think this little thing is not going to make any difference. We cannot imagine the peace God will give us when we obey.  We think that it will be worth it to go ahead with this sin this time.

And we forsake our own mercies.

But God always blesses obedience! When we weigh our options, we cannot imagine any kind of blessing by rejecting this thing we love; we can only feel how good it would be to follow the sin. But we can listen to and obey that still small voice, that one Who tells us to walk to the right or to the left.

Isaiah 30.20, 21 And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity, and the water of affliction, yet shall not thy teachers be removed into a corner any more, but thine eyes shall see thy teachers: And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left.

When we recognize this, when we run to God in the face of sin, we run blindly. But when we run to Him anyway, this is FAITH. God will increase this faith, and He will BLESS you!

Isaiah 55.6 – 12 Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it. For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.

Jonah 2.9 tells of Jonah’s final, encompassing confession: “Salvation is of the Lord.” He humbled himself, and gave himself up to whatever God wanted for him.

God directed the fish to vomit Jonah out upon the dry land (v 10). Note that Jonah still could not save himself – God did not direct Jonah to crawl out of the fish. Jonah’s tribulation and deliverance were completely under God’s control.

So are ours. Submit to God.

James 4.7 – 10 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.  Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.  Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness.  Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.

Rethinking Peace

RethinkingWhatPeaceMeans

Peace may not be what you think it is. It is not the index and middle finger raised, with or without a smile. It is not everyone accepting each other as they are; it is not tolerance. It is not remaining silent just to “keep the peace.” It is not forcing onto others what we think is right (even if we are right).

eiréné: one, peace, quietness, rest (from eirō, “to join, tie together into a whole“) – properly, wholeness, i.e. when all essential parts are joined together; peace

Peace is when we are one with God; when God has joined all the parts together to make us whole. In the beginning there was peace because, in the beginning, there was God. God was whole, He was the Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. In His peace, He created man, and man had peace with God – man was whole.

Peace means standing right before God. It means that God can look upon you and accept you into His heavenly home. Peace is a clean line of communication between you and God. Peace is when God looks upon you as holy.

Man broke himself when he sinned. We all are born in sin and are broken (Psalm 51.5 Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.).

Jesus is our Prince of Peace. He is the only means of standing righteous before God. Jesus is the only clean line of communication with our Heavenly Father. Jesus is the only way to Heaven.

Isaiah 53.5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.

When we have peace with God, we may or may not have “peace” with our fellow man. We can act as Peacemakers (and that is our God-given task); how others receive us, and our words, is between them and God.

God’s grace is the means of peace with Him. Read the words of the hymn, Grace Greater Than Our Sin. Realize the sin inside you. Repent of it, receive salvation through Jesus Christ. Have peace with God. Then, whatever may be going on in the world around you, you will experience deep, satisfying, unalterable, unexplainable peace.

Grace Greater Than Our Sin (Julia Harriet Johnston)

Marvelous grace of our loving Lord,
Grace that exceeds our sin and our guilt!
Yonder on Calvary’s mount outpoured,
There where the blood of the Lamb was spilt.

Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that will pardon and cleanse within;
Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that is greater than all our sin!

Sin and despair, like the sea waves cold,
Threaten the soul with infinite loss;
Grace that is greater, yes, grace untold,
Points to the refuge, the mighty cross.

Dark is the stain that we cannot hide.
What can avail to wash it away?
Look! There is flowing a crimson tide,
Brighter than snow you may be today.

Marvelous, infinite, matchless grace,
Freely bestowed on all who believe!
You that are longing to see his face,
Will you this moment his grace receive?

In Remembrance of Me

InRemembranceOfMe

Oh, how easily/quickly we forget! We are, indeed, frail children of dust. God designed and created us, and He knows we forget. We not only forget events in our own lives, we forget history, what God has done for us. This is why God, so many, many times throughout Scripture, adjures us to mark events, to write them down, to put up stones of remembrance, to celebrate days of remembrance. He is specific in His blessings to us; He desires that we be specific in our remembrance of His goodness.

I have a hard enough time remembering to bring my tote bags into the grocery store so I don’t have to use plastic bags. Even though I write things on the calendar, I forget to look at the calendar! My mind is growing ever more feeble. May I ever more strongly depend on my Lord to sustain me.

Checklist to remedy the situation:

  1. Read God’s Word daily. God’s Word is manna to us: it feeds us, strengthens us, fortifies us, enlightens us, directs us; and we need it every. single. day.
  2. Keep a journal. Set aside time each day to write down life events, God’s joys, heart songs, heart renderings.
    1. Look back at your writings from time to time. Pray God’s perspective, so you may see how He has been working in your life, and the lives of others.
  3. Keep another journal just for God’s Word. As you read Scripture and pray, write down what the Spirit tells you, personally.
  4. Communicate with family and God’s people. Share your joys and sorrows.
  5. Set times of family celebrations and memorials. When life events happen, make something of them. Look back at your old calendars and journals. Are you memorializing the important things? Are you passing them down to your children?
    1. I am seeing, more and more these days, minimalists (those who do not keep things for the sake of having them, whose homes contain only such items as are necessary for functions of living). I confess to being one of them. I have no interest in keeping objects from the old days, “treasures” my parents have collected, great-grandparents’ china. If you do, that’s okay: we’re all different. I insert this because I’m not talking about passing objects down through the generations, although that may happen. My point is that we make a way of remembering God’s interventions and goodness – some kind of celebration.
  6. Translate God’s memorials into your family / into your life. God instructed the Israelites to commemorate occasions for good purpose. As you read Scripture, be attuned to see if God is directing you in one way or another.
  7. Rejoice in the Lord daily! Find something to give cause for rejoicing. If life is miserable for a while, give thanks for God’s presence and for His ability to gift you with His perspective.

Following are a few passages in Scripture giving instruction to remember:

Exodus 12.14, 15 And this day shall be unto you for a memorial; and ye shall keep it a feast to the LORD throughout your generations; ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance for ever. Seven days shall ye eat unleavened bread; even the first day ye shall put away leaven out of your houses: for whosoever eateth leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that soul shall be cut off from Israel

Exodus 28.12 And thou shalt put the two stones upon the shoulders of the ephod for stones of memorial unto the children of Israel: and Aaron shall bear their names before the LORD upon his two shoulders for a memorial.

Exodus 28.29 And Aaron shall bear the names of the children of Israel in the breastplate of judgment upon his heart, when he goeth in unto the holy place, for a memorial before the LORD continually.

Leviticus 2.16 And the priest shall burn the memorial of it, part of the beaten corn thereof, and part of the oil thereof, with all the frankincense thereof: it is an offering made by fire unto the LORD.

Leviticus 23.24 Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, In the seventh month, in the first day of the month, shall ye have a sabbath, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, an holy convocation.

Leviticus 24.7 And thou shalt put pure frankincense upon each row, that it may be on the bread for a memorial, even an offering made by fire unto the LORD.

Joshua 1.8 This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.

Joshua 4.5-7 And Joshua said unto them, Pass over before the ark of the LORD your God into the midst of Jordan, and take ye up every man of you a stone upon his shoulder, according unto the number of the tribes of the children of Israel: That this may be a sign among you, that when your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean ye by these stones? Then ye shall answer them, That the waters of Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD; when it passed over Jordan, the waters of Jordan were cut off: and these stones shall be for a memorial unto the children of Israel for ever.

Malachi 3.16 Then they that feared the LORD spake often one to another: and the LORD hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the LORD, and that thought upon his name

Luke 22.19 And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me.

John 14.26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

1 Cor 11.23-26 For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come.

10″ of Rain

10 inches of rain

Our little area of the world got flooded last night. In our backyard rain gauge, there was 7.67″ of rain in one night, on top of the 2.15″ the night before, plus .18″ the day before. That equals 10 inches. God is greater than 10 inches.

We are thankful that our house stayed dry. Really, it was a miracle, considering the lake surrounding our house. Mostly I credit God and my husband who is a maintenance king, and has an eye and aptitude for keeping our home safe. Other parts of town did not stay dry. Not mentioned in the attached article is a friend of my husband’s whose basement was completely flooded (8′ ceiling) plus two feet of water in the upper level. Plus all his garages where he had a collection of over 50 motorcycles of various vintages and many other vehicles.

God is greater than 10 inches.

I shared this article on my facebook page. It starts off with a local but worldwide business, Klock Werks. They start off with prayer. There’s a short video at the end of the article worth watching.

https://www.mitchellrepublic.com/business/4658581-Drenched-Mother-Nature-to-Mitchell-Take-that

The Storm Coming Home

IMG_0895

On our way back home from Rochester and Mayo, on the Interstate, we ran smack dab into a horrendous rainstorm. I mean, the kind of dumping-buckets-can’t-see-out, wipers on high speed kind of rain. We have a weather radar feature on our console, and we could see that the system wasn’t moving – it was stalled over us. Some of the other cars had pulled over onto the shoulder. If we pulled over, we would be there for who knows how long.

I want to preface the rest of what I’m writing by saying that my husband was driving, and he is a very good driver, as well as a common-sense, good-guy-to-have-in-an-emergency kind of husband, for whom I am very grateful.

While I was glad I didn’t have to drive through this mess, sitting in the passenger seat presented its own challenges. I wasn’t in control. I was in the second-guessing seat. “Shouldn’t he slow down just a bit more?” “Maybe we should pull over like these other guys did.” “Shouldn’t he adjust those wipers up a smidge?”

I didn’t voice any of those thoughts. I vocalized agreement with his comments. I prayed.

I thought of Peter, when he walked on the water toward Jesus. As long as he looked at Jesus, he was walking, doing fine. When he looked at the storm, he started sinking.

I took my eyes off the road. I looked at the glove box directly in front of me; sometimes I looked out my side window. When I risked glances up front, out the windshield, into the storm, my blood pressure rose again.

But when I didn’t look at the storm, and thought of Jesus, and my verses, I had perfect peace.

“Thou will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee, because he trusteth in Thee.”

“Fear not, for I am with thee. Be not afraid, for I hold you with My mighty strong arm.”

“What time I am afraid I will trust in Thee.”

“Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so. Little ones to Him belong. They are weak, but He is strong.”

“God loves us. Whatever happens is okay with Him.”

I didn’t know if I was saying all my verses correctly, but God’s Word, His presence, was with me. I was at peace. (I had to look it up – Isaiah 41.10 Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.)

Mind you, this continued for about 100 miles, off and on (mostly on). It was white-knuckle driving, down to 35 mph.

One of the times I looked up, there was a big ol’ semi passing us. Up ahead, we could see brake lights of cars pulled off to the right shoulder. Then the semi’s brake lights came on (still in the passing lane, ahead of us). There was a car behind it, and those brake lights came on. The semi started inching over into our lane (he had room, now, and we flicked our lights so he would know that). As we slowly passed, we saw that another car had also pulled onto the shoulder – THE LEFT SHOULDER! The skinny little left shoulder, not wide enough to fit a car. That car was half in the “shoulder,” and half in the passing lane. Stopped. On the Interstate, in a driving rain with maybe 50 yards of visibility. With other cars pulled over onto the other shoulder.

We shook our heads, commented on God’s grace, and thanked God and the truck driver for having quick reflexes and wisdom.

We made it home without mishap. We looked at each other, high-fived, and gave thanks to our Heavenly Father.

What Kind of Sin?

WhatKindOfSin

It is generally agreed that the essence of sin is to do that (or not do that) which displeases God – to disobey Him. And sin separates us from God. It’s not that God turns His back; it’s that we turn our backs on Him when we disobey and choose our own way instead of His.

The remedy for sin is repentance, to turn around from our own path and direct ourselves to God.

In the Old Testament, God laid out several different types of sin, and several types of sacrifice to symbolize repentance.

Now that Jesus Christ has become our Final Sacrifice, we no longer follow the Old Testament sacrifice covenant – it is no longer needed, since Jesus paid the price for sin in full when He died for us.

In 1John 1.9, God tells us, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

When we sin, it is important to recognize that we have sinned, acknowledge our sin, confess it to God, and repent. Why is this necessary, if God has already forgiven us through Jesus? Because when we sin, we distort our relationship with God; and we want a right relationship with Him so that we may live life abundantly. (John 15.10, 11 If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.)

Be aware:

  • Sin in ignorance
    • We don’t even know we sinned, but we did. Examples: Our words may offend when we say something without knowing the situation. We leave the store with something stuck in the cart that we forgot to show the cashier. We forget a loved one’s important date.

For these, we must ask the Spirit to convict us where needed, and confess that we sin in ignorance. Ask the Spirit to show you how to rectify, if needed.

  • Give in to temptation
    • Sometimes we sin because we are weak.

Ask the Spirit to strengthen you, that you will live in the strength of Him.

  • Sometimes we sin in rebellion. (I don’t care if this is wrong! I want it anyway!”)

Pray Psalm 51.10 Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.

  • Sin from selfish ambition
    • We see something we want (or don’t want to happen), and we manipulate to achieve our goals.

Pray, “Not my will, but Thine be done, O Lord.”

  • Sin in our hearts
    • When we judge others, it is a sin in our hearts. Other examples: We have a dirty rotten attitude toward a friend or family member and think we’re not sinning because we’re still smiling and being “kind.” Looking with lust. Imagining illicit activities.

Memorize Scripture, let it fill your thoughts. Psalm 119.11 Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.

  • Sin in emotional struggle
    • Whether in anger or heat of passion, in turmoil or pain, we can say or do things that normally lie outside our personal makeup.

Proverbs 4.23 Guard your heart with all diligence, for from it flow springs of life.

If your heart is pure, then what comes out in a squeeze will be pure.

  • Bringing someone else into sin
    • We have no right to entice or drag anyone else into sin. Examples: luring someone into an affair; sharing your drugs or pornography or alcoholism; talking someone weaker into evil / having someone do our dirty work.

1 John 4.11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.

  • Sin from evil ambition
    • In our hearts, we wish destruction or evil on another.

Pray Matthew 6.13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

  • Defying God
    • Some people willingly, openly, and brazenly act to defy God. They blaspheme the Holy Spirit and set themselves up as gods.

Matthew 12.31 says, “Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men; but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men.”

1John 5.16 says, “If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it.”

  • Sin of omission
    • If we simply forget to do something, this falls under the first item in the list, Sin in ignorance.
    • However, if we know to do something right, and decide not to, that is sin of omission. (James 4.17 Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.) Examples: We feel directed to pray for a certain circumstance, and decide not to. God guides our attention to someone in need, and we ignore the need. We know our duty, and neglect it (i.e., reading our Bibles or attending church). Ingratitude falls in this category (1 Thessalonians 5.18 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.)

Pray without ceasing (1Thessalonians 5.17).

  • Sin of deceit
    • Any one of the types of sin may involve deceit, whether we are attempting to deceive others or deceive ourselves. We may purposefully “forget” to do something we know we should. We may lie to ourselves that “giving in this once” won’t matter. We may lie to people in order to stir up dissension or get something we want.

Proverbs 12.20 Deceit is in the hearts of those who devise evil, but the counselors of peace have joy.

Fall on your face before our mighty and gracious God. Search your heart. Ask God to search your heart: Psalm 139.23, 24 Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

Look up Psalm 51. King David wrote it, and he knew sin in his heart. He also knew Who to give it to.