God’s Grace — Surpassing, Superabounding Grace

God’s Grace — His supernatural, surpassing, superabounding grace is available for us all. Today, is a day of grace.

The local news channel told how a venomous snake hitched a ride several hundred miles in the undercarriage of a Ferrari. The Northern Pacific Rattlesnake ranks as the most venomous snake in the regions. After the Ferrari was parked back in the showroom, the snake decided to explore its new surroundings.

Can you imagine the shock of the employees when they returned the next morning? Yikes!

Veterinarians returned the snake to its rightful habitat, employees resumed showroom routines, and all ended without incident. The account started me thinking about what might be riding along unnoticed in the undercarriage of my life. Would people be shocked if they knew?

I know of few “rattlers” like insecurity, pride, unforgiveness, and critical judgment that slither up in unwelcome fashion at unpredictable times. Hopefully other useful attributes like confidence, humility, diligence, graciousness, and mercy slide out from hiding as well.

Without exaggeration, I hate snakes! I also hate the sin and its ugly components which incessantly slither through the undercurrents of life. But God’s grace surpasses and superabounds over it all!

This morning I read this encouraging passage from the Amplified Bible:

“But where sin increased and abounded, grace (God’s unmerited favor) has surpassed it and increased the more and surperabounded.”
Romans 5:20b

However great sin becomes, grace surpasses, increases, and superabounds more. Praise the Lord!

God’s Grace

As Paul writes to the Roman church, he quickly shines the spotlight on what everyone desperately tried to ignore.

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
Romans 3:23

In fact, Paul went into great detail to demonstrate how prolific sin reigns. He clearly states no person, nor any group of people, stands clear of indictment. No one meets God’s standard. Paul doesn’t end the conversation there, however. He immediately offers hope — the single but sturdy thread of hope found in Jesus Christ.

Listen to the whole passage:

“This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. And all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”
Romans 3:24

Righteousness

As we honestly look at ourselves, we recognize we possess no righteousness of our own. Yet for those who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, God declares them righteous because of what He has, not we have, done.

To be righteous simply means to be in right standing with God. Apart from Jesus, it is impossible. In Him, righteousness becomes completely possible!

Someone once explained “justified” as being “just as if I had never sinned.” The definition may not form a complete understanding, but it captures the essence.

God desires us all to experience His righteousness.

“The fruit of that righteousness will be peace: its effect will be quietness and confidence forever.”
Isaiah 32:17

Nobody merits God’s righteousness through a good life filled with good deeds. Matthew encourages us to prioritize seeking God’s righteousness.

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well.”
Matthew 6:33

By God’s grace, He extends righteousness to us through Jesus Christ.

God’s Grace

Though God’s grace stands available “to all,” not “all” will receive it. Not everyone will acknowledge their need of God’s grace. Sadly, not everyone seeks it.

The Amplified Bible calls God’s grace “unmerited favor.” Other definitions include God’s life, power, and righteousness given by unmerited favor. Grace is translated from the Hebrew word chanan or the Greek word charis. It means “a state of kindness and favor toward someone, often with a focus on a benefit given.” Even here the definition falls short unless we also consider the inclusion of God’s love and mercy.

We call it God’s grace because grace is not just what He does, but who God is. God is gracious!

“The LORD is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. The LORD is good to all: he has compassion on all he has made.”
Psalm 145:8-9

Out of the overlow of God’s goodness, He extends His grace and compassion “to all he has made.”

Through Jesus

Paul explains that God’s grace flows through the channel of faith — faith in Jesus Christ through His death and resurrection.

“If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.”
Romans 10:9-10

We access God’s grace through a verbal declaration of faith in Jesus Christ that honestly professes the belief of our heart. It is a simple but profound transition that I certainly don’t fully understand and cannot fully explain — a supernatural transition of God’s overflowing, superabounding mercy, love, and goodness.

Thank God

Maybe you have received this transition of God’s grace into your life decades ago. Perhaps, you first experienced it only yesterday! It doesn’t matter. Let’s thank Him for doing for, and in, us what we could never do for ourselves. The deadly snakes that once road on our “undercarriage” hide no more. God’s grace has come.

Perhaps this is new to you. If so, simply tell God in your own words what is stirring within your heart. Seek His grace by declaring your faith in Jesus Christ, even right now. We don’t need fancy words or scripted prayer. Just honestly tell God your desire to know His grace personally.

As we appreciate and enjoy God’s grace, it will transform our lives!

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The 5 Purposes for God’s Blessing

Blessing

Blessing is a frequently used but seldom understood word. Today, we explore five purposes for God’s blessing. What does it mean to be blessed and what is the significance of blessing? We may sing hymns reminding us to count our blessings, or pray, asking God to bless and meet the needs of our family and friends.

In North America, we naturally acquaint blessing with the “extra” things in life: a beautiful home, a flourishing career, a new car (or at least one that gets you from point A to point B), or increased finances. Although being blessed may include these things it encompasses so much more than material possession.

Lately, God has slowed my pace, giving me opportunity to count my blessings and weigh the impact of blessing on me and others. I easily remember not-so-distant times of tight budgets and seasons of waiting for God’s provision or protection. Recently, however, I’m overwhelmed by His blessings — a peaceful and warm home, loving family, a thriving church community, authentic friendships, enjoyable work, good health, and so much more. What money could never buy, God’s blessing provides.

Food

“Yahweh, you are my soul’s celebration. How could I ever forget the miracles of kindness you’ve done for me?”
Psalm 103:2 TPT

Whether God’s blessing measures in mini or maxi “miracles of kindness,” celebration forms the only fitting response. There is purpose in all God’s blessing.

1. To Provide

The Hebrew word barak means “to bless, cause to kneel, or greet,” suggesting the bending of the knee to receive a blessing. We find a similar Greek word eulogeo in the New Testament meaning “to bless or speak well of.”

The Abrahamic blessing says,

I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”
Genesis 12:2-3

Stone House

The pictographic translation of bless portrays the prince who comes out of the house.

Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, fulfilled this picture of bless in the completest sense of the word. The Son of God, the Holy Prince of Heaven, came from His “house” to pay for the sin that kept us from the Father, bestowing ultimate blessing on humanity. Jesus became a curse so that we might receive God’s blessing now and forever.

“Blessed are those whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord will never count against them.”
Romans 4:7-8

2. To Reach Generations

When Abraham’s son Isaac blessed Jacob, his son, we discover the generational aspect of blessing. God intends for His blessing to result in prosperity and success to be transferred to future generations. The word prosper literally means “to help along the road or to succeed in reaching.” Isn’t that what we all want for our children and our children’s children?

“May God Almighty bless you and make you fruitful and increase your numbers until you become a community of peoples.”
Genesis 28:3

In Deuteronomy 28, we see clearly how God’s blessing produces promotion, fruitfulness, triumph over enemies, holiness, and “abundant prosperity.” (vs 1-14) Those aren’t my words, they’re His. Blessing and helping people along the road to succeed go hand in hand.

Child walking

To receive these blessings requires obedience to God, however. Salvation is freely given through Jesus Christ, but the blessing of God spills over only through obedience.

The extended meaning of barak, to bless, implies the giving of something of value to another who kneels out of respect. As we “kneel” in obedient submission to God, He provides for our needs in every dimension of life. In the Bible, the greater blesses the lesser. He is Master. We are to be His obedient servants.

3. To Achieve God’s Design

Scholars point to the importance of the first occurrence of a word found in the Bible. On the fifth day of creation, God blesses the fish and birds to be fruitful and increase. (Gen1:22)

On the sixth day, after creating Adam and Eve, God blesses them as well.

“God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the seas, and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.’ “
Genesis 1:28

Through blessing, God releases divine purpose over humanity to produce and have dominion — increasing and managing creation well. Through God’s blessing, we achieve His full purposes for us.

Relax with Coffee

The blessing of God attracts other people, causing them to wonder in amazement. God’s grace convinces people of how wonderful He is, leading them to acknowledge and believe in Him. (Rom 2:4)

“God blesses us, and all the ends of the earth shall fear Him [with awe-inspired reverence and submissive wonder].”
Psalm 67:7

Awe, reverence, and wonder follow God’s blessing.

4. To Cover

God commanded the priests, Aaron and his descendants, to speak this familiar blessing over the people:

“The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace.”
Numbers 6:24-26

Though many Christians might easily recite this portion, the following verse appears unfamiliar. Today, it caused me to pause and consider.

“So they will put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them.”
Numbers 6:27

What a powerful statement! Invoking a blessing in the name of the LORD releases everything His name represents, like a divine covering over those being blessed. The LORD, Yahweh, identifies God as One who loves righteousness and hates sin. All those under His blessing and bearing His name also love what He loves and hate what He hates. The LORD, our God, loves to bless!

Country Church

Though this specifically speaks of Israelites, the Apostle Paul makes it clear that all who believe in Jesus and receive Him are of Israel. (Rom 9:6-8)

A blessing spoken in His name both covers and imparts.

5. To Share

God’s blessing comes both in earthly and heavenly form, with both earthly and heavenly function. Not everyone experiences the tangible blessings of God here and now, but with certainty, we everyone will throughout eternity.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.”
Ephesians 1:3

As wonderful and appreciative as we may be with our earthly blessings, nothing compares to those that await every believer. Whether we see it or not, “Jesus Christ . . . has blessed us!” Past tense! He has already made every spiritual blessings ours.

As Christians, Jesus calls us to be a source of His blessing to the world, especially to those who treat us unfairly or cruelly. No one merits God’s favor and grace, yet He pours it upon us. As freely as we have received, God asks us to give to others — even the most undeserving.

“But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.”
Luke 6:27-28

Family

God blesses so that we will be His hand of blessing to others. Whether we feel like there is overflow in our lives or not, God calls us to look with grace and mercy on others, blessing through words, actions, and material possessions.

Count Your Blessings

As we bless others, God entrusts us with greater and greater blessings ourselves. He knows who the clear channels of His blessing are and desires to use us to extend blessing to others.

I find that when I begin to count my blessings, my attitude toward God and others begins to shift and soften. Gratitude opens my heart and hand to count those whom God longs for me to bless as part of His blessing.

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Give Thanks to the Lord, For He is Good

Give Thanks to the Lord

The Bible exhorts us to give thanks to the Lord, because God is good. He demonstrates His unwavering goodness throughout all generations. The truth of God’s goodness resonates through the pages of the Bible. Do you know beyond doubt the goodness of God? Is that knowledge a fixed reality of your faith?

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good his love endures forever.”
Psalm 107:1

When we become discouraged by circumstances, doubt because of unanswered prayer, or become disappointed by outcomes, we may question and even deny God’s goodness. The wounds of life become festering sores into which the deceiver plants his lies regarding God’s enduring goodness. “If God really is good, He wouldn’t allow war, famine, plague, divorce, abuse, bankruptcy, hell, and numerous other maladies ” he rants.

Truthfully though, God’s goodness reaches humanity through both His mercy and His grace.

Father and child

Doubt

Satan’s ploy to lure Adam and Eve away from God’s perfect design sprung from establishing doubt in their minds toward God’s goodness.Every aspect of earth’s degeneration resulted. At the very core of our own questions lie the same seeds of the enemy’s power to deceive us into believing God is not good.

God created humanity to live in eternal, unbroken fellowship and communion with Him. He desires limitless time to express His limitless love to each of us. Despite people’s rebellion, He sent His perfect and holy Son, Jesus Christ, to redeem and restore that relationship.

“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
his love endures forever.
Let Israel say:
‘His love endures forever.’
Let the house of Aaron say:
‘His love endures forever.’
Let those who fear the LORD say:
‘His love endures forever.’ “
Psalm 118:1-4

God created Hell for satan’s eternal confinement, and where rebellious angels will join him. But He created Heaven for unending communion with people, made in His likeness and image, who love and honor Him.

Father and daughter

God leaves the choice of our eternal direction to each of us. Though the option and resulting consequences appear staggering to our human reasoning, God, in His goodness, could do nothing less. Perfect love never forces itself on another; perfect love invites willing participation. With God’s love flows His grace.

“The truth of God’s grace humbles a man without degrading him and exalts a man without inflating him.”
– Kris Vallotton

Grace

God’s goodness and grace interweave like golden strands throughout humanity. Grace is love extended towards the undeserving — including us. By grace, God gives us nothing less than Himself!

We find one of the most encouraging Scriptures about grace in 1 Corinthians 15:10, “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect.” The Christian life involves process, the process of being daily changed from what we used to be into what we will one day become — perfect re-presentations of Jesus Christ. Every step in that process involves God’s goodness expressed through grace. Spiritual growth occurs as we “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18).

“For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say, ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age.”
Titus 2:11-12

Father and child walking

“(God) has saved us and called us to a holy life — not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace.”
2 Timothy 1:9

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! His grace proves sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9).

“And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.”
2 Corinthians 9:8

Partnered with grace, we find mercy.

Mercy

Mercy involves both the withholding of judgment and the provision of compassion, gentleness, and forbearance. According to the Old Testament mercy meant to “stoop in kindness to an inferior, to have pity upon, and to show compassion.” The Bible interchanges the words mercy and lovingkindness for the same word chesed in Hebrew and charis in Greek. Mercy represents “a sure love that will not let go.”

I read recently that the word mercy in English comes from the Greek word, eleos. Eleos originates from the word for olive oil, often used as a soothing agent for bruises and wounds. One poured the oil onto the wound and massaged it in, soothing and comforting the injured part (Fr. Anthony M Coniaris). Mercy demonstrates God’s goodness and compassion toward those who are suffering.

Father and child

“Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”
Hebrews 4:16

Too often, we only associate God’s mercy with withheld judgment. Here are but a few Scriptures connecting God’s goodness and mercy:

  • “Answer me, LORD, out of the goodness of your love; in your great mercy turn to me.” Psalm 69:16
  • “The LORD is good to all, and His tender mercies are over all His works.” Psalm 145:9
  • “For the LORD is good, His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures to all generations.” Psalm 100:5
  • “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.” Psalm 23:6
  • ” . . . The LORD, the LORD God, merciful and gracious, long suffering, and abounding in goodness and truth . . . “Exodus 34:6

Goodness

The knowledge of God’s unfailing goodness establishes a rock-solid foundation withstanding times of trouble. No one speaks so succinctly as Tozer on how important this understanding is.

“What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us . . . Worship is pure or base as the worshiper entertains high or low thoughts of God. For this reason the gravest question before the Church is always God Himself, and the most portentous fact about any man is not what he at a given time may say or do, but what he in his deep heart conceives God to be like. We tend by a secret law of the soul to move toward our mental image of God . . . The most revealing thing about the Church is her idea of God.”
– A.W. Tozer
Father fishing with daughter

Does our mental image of God align with His Word? Do we see Him as One who is altogether loving, gracious, merciful and good? If not, we will tremble with the times. David, who experienced more than his fair share of difficulties, said,

“I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD In the land of the living.”
Psalm 27:13

Oh, how I know what quivering faith feels and looks like! Nothing short of God’s grace and mercy, entwined in His eternal goodness kept me on track. The sure foundation of the Word holds fast.

“”Great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom. One generation commends your works to another; they tell of your mighty acts. They speak of the glorious splendor or your majesty . . . I will meditate on your wonderful works. They tell of the power of your awesome works . . . I will proclaim your great deeds. They celebrate your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of your righteousness.”
Psalm 145:3-7

God’s abundant goodness merits acclaim as much as His mighty acts, glorious splendor, wonderful works, and great deeds.

Give Thanks to the Lord

May we pull aside from our daily struggles and exhausting activities long enough to give thanks to the Lord. May we, even if only for a few moments, ponder God’s goodness, grace, and mercy. As we do, hope will rise, faith will take root, and a calm assurance will wash away doubt. God is eternally good! May we echo the psalmist, “Oh give thanks to the LORD, for He is good!”

“Oh, that men would give thanks to the LORD for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men! For He satisfies the longing soul, and fills the hungry soul with goodness.”
Psalm 107:8-9

We become recipients of whatever we thank God for. As we thank Him for His goodness, He promises to satisfy our longing and fill our hungry souls with His goodness. May you be filled and renewed today, as you think about God’s abundant goodness.

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Healing by the Pool: What is Crooked Cannot be Straightened

Solomon said, “What is crooked cannot be straightened.” Jesus proved Solomon’s point with the miracle at the Pool of Bethesda. Miracles will always remain mysterious — perhaps none more so than the healing by the pool.

This pool bore no resemblance to pictures in resort promotions. This pool neared the Sheep Gate where sellers brought sheep, washing (probably in this pool), marketing and selling them for sacrifices at the temple. Sheep aren’t clean! Here human and animal smells and sounds mingled, swelling in volume during the Jewish festivals.

This pool, protectively surrounded by five covered colonnades, became a place of hope for many. Why?

Bent Eyelet

“Here a great number of disabled people used to lie
the blind, the lame, the paralyzed —
and they waited for the moving of the waters.
From time to time an angel of the Lord
would come down and stir up the waters.
The first one into the pool after each such disturbance
would be cured of whatever disease they had.”
John 5:3-5

Mercy and Grace

Bethesda means “kindness or mercy.” The number “five” represents “grace.” At the place called mercy and grace, the disabled, blind, lame, and paralyzed came hoping to find mercy and grace, where with mercy and grace God’s angel descended, making mercy and grace visible to all.

How many? How many waited and hoped? I can hardly imagine the sight, the weight of despair pressing against the odds of just maybe being the next one healed. It’s hard to maintain faith when disappointment comes often.

Bent Nail

I, too, am one who is crooked and cannot be straightened, in disabled condition. No, not outwardly, but inwardly. Disabled applies both morally and physically. Like them, I shelter under the colonnade of mercy and kindness, hoping and waiting. I, who am too often spiritually blind, unable to walk the Christian walk with strength, wait — paralyzed by my moral failures, unable to advance further.

They wait — hoping for an angel they can’t see, while missing the Messiah who stands among them.

Jesus Sees

Most people preferred to enter the grand city another way — a cleaner, quieter way. Jesus chooses this way. Here in the midst of the noise, the pain, the struggle, He comes. His eyes focus on one man.

What makes this man special that Jesus notices him above the massive throng? What make this man worthy of receiving?

Nothing!

“When Jesus saw him lying there and
learned that he had been in this condition for a long time,
he asked him, ‘Do you want to get well?’ “
John 5:6

Rusty Bend Metal

Jesus asks questions so we will see and understand; He already knows the answer. The man’s response seems honest enough. But is it?

” ‘Sir,’ the invalid replied,
‘I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred.
While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.’
John 5:7

The answer to Jesus’ question should be, “yes,” or “no.” He, like me, choses to blame other people’s negligence for his present circumstance. For thirty-eight years, he suffered. For thirty-eight years, he depended on others., hoping someone would get him out of his predicament.

It’s all too easy to grow comfortable, even in our dysfunction, our disability, blindness, lameness and paralysis. Too easy to excuse or justify our “crooked and cannot be straightened” condition.

Cannot be Straightened

“What is crooked cannot be straightened,
what is lacking cannot be counted.”
Ecclesiastes 1:15

I’m told that when metal becomes bent, it cannot be straightened. It might look straight, and even function like it has been straightened, but bending causes the molecular structure to change, weakening the metal forever. Only one option remains for restoration — the complete remelting and remolding of the metal.

Casting Metal

In spite of the man’s moral and physical inadequacies, Jesus still comes with mercy and grace.

“Then Jesus said to him,
Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.’ “
John 5:8

Miraculously, the man does! In taking responsibility for himself, he obeys Jesus and walks away almost whole. Almost? Yes, almost!

A Matter of Heart

“Later Jesus found him
at the temple and said to him,
‘See, you are made well again.
Stop sinning or something
worse may happen to you.’ “
John 5:14

Jesus sought this man out again, and “found him.” More critical than a physical healing, Jesus desired a heart change for this man.

What was the sin he committed “at the temple,” in church? We aren’t told details; perhaps, because God wants us to see our own reflection here.

How great has Jesus extended mercy and grace to us, at the Sheep Gate, in our messiest condition? How often has He sought us, challenging our wayward thoughts and actions? Or offered warning or reprimand? How often has He asked for our devotion? How often have we refused?

“The man went away and told the Jewish leaders
that it was Jesus who had made him well.”
John 5:15

With body whole and heart hardened, the healed man turns traitor and reports Jesus to those who wish Him dead. We all either turn toward or away. There’s no in between!

We would hope for a better response — perhaps gratitude, worship or reverence.

The Melting

Without the melting of hearts toward Jesus, we, too, will be forever bent, left in a weakened, volatile state. Without the melting of my heart, I cannot be straightened. No one can!

Oh, how imperative the constant cry of my heart, “Melt me, Lord! Make me new! Remove the “churchy” appearance of looking good, surface healings and half-hearted walking. Lord, I desire the full deal, the real deal, the melting, remaking, painful, messy, recreating. Don’t let me settle for second best, almost complete, when the greatest miracle stands before me — a pure and upright heart.”

Pure Gold

The healing at the pool comes as a tragic reminder of humanities failure to recognize Christ Jesus in the face of His great mercy and grace. He comes to find us, to seek us out, again and again, welcoming all to come to Him wholly and fully.

How many more worthy were among the disabled throng that day? How many little children needed a miracle? Was there none at the pool deserving of mercy? No! No one is worthy; none deserve His blessing.

The essence of mercy reaches to the unworthy and undeserving. Jesus chose the least worthy to display His love and grace, then and now.

Oh, the hope for us all! The hope in knowing God hears our pathetic cry and changes hearts. It’s Who He is! It’s what He does — how He loves.

Only in Him will that which cannot be straightened be made completely new and whole.

Jesus – It is Finished! Bringing Justice Through to Victory

The joyous declaration at Christ’s birth proclaimed love, peace and joy. It was the magnificent prelude to a mighty shout, “Justice has been brought through to victory. It is finished!” Or is it?

Lately instead of echoing It is finished!“, I have been asking “Is it finished?”

“Where is the victory?
Where can justice be found?”

Both triumph and struggle mark my daily reality. The battle within and around me is often intense. I see defeat in lives around me. I hear pain in weighted voices while mock smiles camouflage hurting hearts.

Matthew echoes Isaiah’s prophecy of Jesus,

“I will put my Spirit on him,
and he will proclaim justice to the nations.”
Matthew 12:18

Through His life and death, Jesus completed this and over 300 other prophecies.”…the odds of anyone fulfilling this amount of prophecy are staggering. Mathematicians put it this way: 1 person fulfilling 8 prophecies = 1 in 100,000,000,000,000,000; 1 person fulfilling 48 prophecies = 1 chance in 10 to the 157th power; 1 person fulfilling 300+ prophecies = Only Jesus!”

In His own words, Jesus says,

“Don’t misunderstand why I have come.
I did not come to abolish the law of Moses
or the writings of the prophets.
No, I came to accomplish their purpose.”
Matthew 5:17

Justice

The World

The original quote in Isaiah puts it this way,

“A bruised reed he will not break
and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.
In faithfulness he will bring forth justice,
he will not falter or be discouraged
till he establishes justice on earth.”
Isaiah 42:3,4

Without question, Jesus has the power and ability to use force to break the bruised or snuff out those whose passion has grown cold. Yet, “he will not”! Three times Isaiah declares this truth, “he will not!” 

If Jesus came as a baby over two thousand years ago to “establish justice on the earth”, I’m sorry, but it is hard to see! The rich become richer and the poor poorer. Horrific levels of injustice and discrimination flourish unchecked in nation after nation. In cultures void of God consciousness or respect for life, justice appears absent.

Mercy

Regardless of what I witness around me, Jesus completely fulfilled the mandate of establishing justice on earth.

Finished

Connie Inglis, an Inscribe writer, reminded me of another three point emphasis. The Greek root word telos is used, not just once, but three times in reference to Jesus’ death on the cross.

“Later, knowing that
all was now completed (teleō),
and so that the Scripture
would be fulfilled (teleioō),
Jesus said, ‘I am thirsty’ …
When he had received the drink,
Jesus said, ‘It is finished (teleō).’
With that, he bowed his head
and gave up his spirit.”
John 19:28, 30
Powerful words! Completed! Fulfilled! Finished! When the writers of scripture stated something three times they were giving it the strongest possible emphasis. Like a holy shout, they were ensuring we wouldn’t miss the point.
It is finished!
“When you were dead in your sins
and in the uncircumcision of your flesh,
God made you alive with Christ.”
Colossians 2:13-15
Alive
Since the fall of Adam, sin holds all mankind in the legal grip of death. Through Christ alone, the dead receive life! It is finished!
“He forgave us all our sins,
having cancelled the charge
of our legal indebtedness,
which stood against us and condemned us’
he has taken it away,
nailing it to the cross.”
Colossians 2:14
All righteousness has been fulfilled! Jesus paid the price for our freedom, not just from sin, but from the resulting guilt and shame. The cross is more than enough. Salvation is complete in Him!
“And having disarmed
the powers and authorities,
he made a public spectacle of them,
triumphing over them by the cross.”
Colossians 2:15
What was the final act of justice? While Satan powerfully bruised Jesus’ heal, Jesus crushed his head inflicting a fatal blow. Through the cross, Jesus executed judgment on our enemy creating a path for complete restoration for each of us.

Follow Through

“It is finished!” Everything Jesus came to do, he accomplished!

Now it is our turn! God desires justice, fully and freely blended with mercy, to influence every person and invade every area of our planet. Today! Here! Now!

“This is what the LORD Almighty said:
Administer true justice, show mercy
and compassion to one another.”
Zechariah 7:9

Poverty

Mercy, (Hebrew – hesed) refers to active care. It is loving kindness and compassion demonstrated. Justice (Hebrew – tsadaq) refers more to fair treatment and equity. Mercy and justice partner together, like the left and right hand working in unison.

Brad Jersak explains it like this:

“Mercy is like the ambulance at the bottom of a cliff,
ready to help those who fall off.
Justice builds a fence at the top of the cliff
to protect them from falling in the first place.
Mercy wipes the tears from the eyes.
Justice asks, “Why are you crying?”
Mercy welcomes the hungry
to gather around God’s banqueting table.
Justice addresses why
some are under the table aching of hunger…
Mercy seeks and saves those lost in darkness.
Justice asks, “Why is it dark? Who is keeping it dark?”

Continuous Completion

In the Greek, the verb choice for “finished” is in perfect tense. It is a past action but the effect of it continues into the present. Whenever the broken are made whole, the lost welcomed home, the sick healed, relationships restored, tormented minds find peace, “it is finished” again, and again, and yet again… The past action of Christ’s finished work continues unending!

For unto us a child is born!

This past year alone I witnessed the continuing triumph through Christ at work as

people discovered personal relationship with Jesus,
many set free from destructive
or addictive behaviours,
traumas erased, lies exposed and minds set at peace,
medically confirmed miracles occurred:
brain lesions from Multiple Sclerosis disappeared;
“frozen shoulder” instantly healed;
unborn baby without a heartbeat born healthy;
those unable to conceive conceiving;
cancer disappearing;
and so much more!

When we welcome Jesus into a situation, He comes in triumph! The answers don’t always look like we hope or expect, but Christ is the answer for every hopeless situation.

Victory Triumphs

Jesus carried “justice through to victory.”  His work is complete, fulfilled and finished! Our work, through the Holy Spirit, as we follow in His footsteps, continues! Finished but ongoing!

“…And this is the secret:
Christ lives in you.
This gives you assurance of sharing his glory.”
Colossians 1:27

In His footsteps!

A call resounds for the church to rise. As she awakens from her slumber embracing the mandate of mercy and justice, we will witness on earth the impact of what legally has been completely in the heavenly realm. Oh that Christ would receive the glory for everything He accomplished at the cross.

“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.”
Micah 6:8

Celebration of advent, the arrival of the long awaited Messiah, closed the year! Yet, Jesus’ coming announced the dawn of a new era, bringing justice and hope for all. His life and death shakes the earth, even now, with divine authority setting this upside down world right side up.

Is it finished? Yes! It is finished!

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3 Godly Characteristics – Justice, Mercy and Humility!

Godly Qualities, Justice Mercy & Humility

An awareness of good and evil resides in us all; with that knowledge comes a tendency toward judgmental attitudes. God calls us to three godly principles: justice, mercy and humility. Personally, justice dominates; mercy is lacking, while true humility is a work in progress.

I was chatting with a preschool teacher a little while ago. She was welcoming new students into her class. They are rapidly learning the behavioural expectations of their new environment. The older students are quick to inform her when one of her new charges is going astray.

 Follow the way!

We chuckled at how easy it is to point out someone else’s faults, even though it may be the only moment in the entire day when we ourselves are actually obeying. It isn’t just children that fall into this trap!

He has shown you, O man, what is good.
And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
Micah 6:8

He Has Shown You

What does justice look like where the guilty face the consequences of their actions, while victims are restored their rights and dignity?

God has made the distinction between right and wrong clear in His word and even within our hearts. Before we allow intellectual reasoning unruly access, God’s requirements are obvious, even as these little preschoolers demonstrate.

He has shown you!

Act Justly

Justice is an action! It is something one pursues and does!

“But you must return to your God;
maintain love and justice, and wait for your God always.”
Hosea 12:6

I immediately want justice when it is me that has faced offense or some kind of violation, even is minor. Yet, when I have crossed the boundaries of honour into the quick-sand of indifferent regard, I’m not so fast to press for that same justice.

Hypocritical? Yes!

Act justly; love mercy!

 

The only way justice truly works is when it is mixed with a healthy dose of mercy. The two form the right and left hand of godliness.

“This is what the LORD Almighty said: ‘Administer true justice;
show mercy and compassion to one another.”
Zechariah 7:9

Love Mercy

Righteousness and justice
are the foundation of your throne.”

That is a verse I have quoted many times; perhaps I should say, misquoted in part! Usually this is as far as I would go! I honestly did not know the rest of the verse by memory. How about you?

“…mercy and loving-kindness and truth go before You.”

Often when God talks about justice, He immediately adds mercy! I must remember that mercy is first of all a matter of the heart, “love mercy.”

Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you;
    therefore he will rise up to show you compassion.
For the Lord is a God of justice.
    Blessed are all who wait for him!”
Isaiah 30:18

Walk Humbly

I may seem innocent and humble in my own eyes, at least until the Holy Spirit speaks!

Humility and innocence

In reality my heart has a strong bent toward pride – so do we all!|

The more Holy Spirit uncovers the secret thoughts and condition of my heart, the more disgusting I find it is.

“The heart is deceitful above all things,
and desperately wicked: who can know it?
Jeremiah 17:9

Who truly “knows” my heart? The answer is, God does. Yet, He is willing to look inside and show me the contaminated contents as well.

If my heart lies, I will know it; if my heart accuses, I will know that too; but if my heart is deceived, I will not know it unless God reveals it. It is through humility that lies, accusations and even deceptions are revealed for what they truly are.

We can sometimes misinterpret humility as weakness; it is in fact stronger than justice and mercy combined.

Arrogance and Pride

It is humility that keeps my proud nose pointed in the right direction recognizing my own need for transformation, rather than blindly upward. One of the toughest places to demonstrate true humility is in the face of injustice, where the cup of love of mercy appears empty.

Requirements of Humility, Mercy and Justice

Actually, when I reverse the order and put humility first, when I recognize my security in the Father and Christ in me, humility begins to flow rather naturally. Humility, mercy and justice are more than requirements, they are release agents of God’s goodness.

Arrogance has not room in the Presence of God – none! Out of the relationship of love and mercy, love and mercy finds a free flowing channel to influence others. This sweet delicate flow makes wrong things right! Justice begins to naturally invade attitudes and circumstances.

No matter which way you say it – justice, mercy and humility, or humility, mercy and justice – they form a torpedo sandwich catapulting a powerful momentum of strength and dignity into our lives and the lives of those around us.

A requirement is something that is most needed and wanted; it is a necessary condition. God who made us in His own image, says justice, mercy and humility are necessary ingredients for us to re-present Him to our wounded world.

Necessary? Yes!

Wanted? Yes, Lord!

May my life be one that actively pursues justice, generously loves and consistently extends mercy, and gently walks in humility, that I might pattern Christ more fully.

 

Mercy, Peace and Love – Jude Contending for the Faith!

Mercy, Peace and Love

Every time I read the book of Jude I am deeply convicted. He speaks straight! Yet, the redemptive words of mercy, peace and love are woven throughout.

“Mercy, peace and love be multiplied to you.”
Jude 2

These qualities, however, were not functioning freely within Jude’s audience. Quite the contrary! In wisdom, Jude speaks these redemptive words over their lives.

Just like the leaders in my life, Jude brings correction bluntly yet filled with grace. Such is Jude’s brevity and urgency as he speaks. His words emulate mercy, peace and love.

Love Birds

Verse eleven resounds clearly

Woe to them!
They have taken the way of Cain; they have
rushed for profit into Balaam’s error;
they have been destroyed in Korah’s rebellion.” 

What are the core attitudes and attributes of these three men that deserves a “woe”? It is an important question to ask since…

“Now these things happened to them
as an example,
but they were written down for our instruction…”
I Corinthians 10:11

Cain

Like many brothers, Cain and Abel were different in occupation, attitude and worship. The full story is in Genesis 4. They both worked hard and gave God from their labours. What is the way of Cain?

  • Lacked Faith – Hebrews 11:4 explains that Abel’s offering was better because it was given in faith. Faith and obedience are inseparable. It may not make sense to us why God chooses a certain way, but obedience walks through faith. Abel prepared himself as well as his offering; Cain prepared an offering without preparing himself.
  • Rage and Indignation – “furious and despondent” (HCSB), “upset and depressed” (ISV), “angry and downcast” (NET). Cain’s name, “a man from the Lord”, shows his favoured family position.  Abel’s name means “breath or vapour,” as if it was prophetically given to the shortness of a life unfulfilled. Favoured children find it difficult to come in second!

Angry Bull

  • Unrepentant –  We all make mistakes and err; the frailty of humanity rests on us all. How will we respond when correction comes?

“…sin is crouching at your door it desires to have you,
but you must rule over it.”
Genesis 4: 7

God’s opportunity for a second chance went unheeded! Cain was on a path of doing things his own way right to the end, refusing to humble himself before God or others.

Balaam

Balaam was a recognized diviner or prophet who clearly heard from God. The king of Moab was willing to pay him a hefty sum of money if he would curse Israel. Balaam’s words could not be bought! Seven times he spoke blessing on God’s people and cursed their enemies. Certainly not what the king of Moab was wanting to hear! (Numbers 22 – 24)

“Balak’s anger burned against Balaam.
He struck his hands together and said…
“…leave at once and go home!
I said I would reward you handsomely,
but the LORD has kept you from being rewarded.”
…Then Balaam got up and returned home, and Balak went his own way.”
Numbers 24: 10, 11, 25

Greed Gorilla

  • Greed – At first glance, it appears Balaam was God’s voice of the hour. However, Balaam’s heart and eyes were on the reward. He was not about to miss out. Jude says he “rushed for profit“!

“…followed the footsteps of Balaam son of Beor,
who loved to earn money by doing wrong.”
2 Peter 2:15″

  • Perverted Gift – Balaam used his reputation as diviner and his spiritual gift for personal reward and advancement. He devised a plan to wound and destroy God’s chosen people.

“…There are some among you who hold to the teaching of Balaam,
who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin
so that they ate food sacrificed to idols and committed sexual immorality.”
Revelation 2:14

Korah

How can someone be so right yet so wrong?

“The whole community is holy,
every one of them and the LORD is with them..”
Numbers 16:3

Yes God’s directive was “be holy as I am holy.” Right precept with a wrong attitude!

  • Envious – There grew in Korah and those he lead a desire to possession a level of leadership that belonged to others. They failed to realize leadership isn’t self-appointed!

“In the camp they grew envious of Moses and of Aaron,
who was consecrated to the LORD.”
Psalms 106:16

  • Insolent – NIV version says, “they became insolent“. This rude and arrogant lack of respect didn’t happen overnight. It was a walk down an ever darkening tunnel.

Defiance Horse

  • Defiance of Authority

We will not come!….you also want to lord it over us?
Moreover, you haven’t brought us into a land
flowing with milk and honey…”
Numbers 16: 12-14

  • Rebellion – Polluted with slander and critical judgments, Korah’s attitude birthed only one thing – outright rebellion. It infected his entire household and neighbourhood!

Our Words

Jude was addressing a problem with false teachers that infiltrated the group. Teachers teach through words and actions.

Words are powerful containing both life and death,

“The tongue can bring death or life;
those who love to talk will reap the consequences.”
Proverbs 18:21

All three men confirmed with their mouths what was in their hearts. Through their mouths came death!

Jude, the half-brother of Jesus, calls us to better. He calls us to words and conduct flooded with “mercy, peace and love.”

Mercy, Peace and Love
(Picture from Pinterest – Kindness Matters)

Mercy, Peace and Love

Jude answers the how question for us. We find mercy, peace and love in one place!

“…by building yourselves us in your most holy faith
and pray in the Holy Spirit,
keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy
of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.”
(vs 20-21)

Today is a new day! A day of placing ourselves into His faithful hands.

The hands of His great mercy,
His indescribable peace,
and His incomprehensible love.

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Related Posts:

Is there a Wrong Way to do The Right Thing? Attitude Makes All The Difference

How to Finish Well No Matter Where We Start From

Beatitudes – Encouragement and Instruction for Every Circumstance!