Showing mercy

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. Romans
Comments, thoughts and reflections welcome

Verse of the day:

[Mat 5:7 RSV] 7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.

Question: What is the easiest way for us to obtain mercy?

Yesterday’s verse Psalm 18:25 stated much the same thing.

Those who are merciful will obtain mercy.  Following yesterday’s verse we see now that both the Old Testament and the New Testament contain an instruction clarifying how we may obtain mercy.

Definition of mercy:  Merriam-Webster states:

  • compassion or forbearance  shown especially to an offender or to one subject to one’s power
  • also lenient or compassionate treatment

When we are gifted with permission to wield power over another with opportunity to impose our will over theirs but we show compassion on them and refuse to do so we show mercy.  There are ample opportunities to speak against another in whatever manner we wish both on social media and in real life actions. When we refrain, we show mercy.  What is gained by our showing mercy?  We will receive mercy from that One who holds all power over all of us when we face him.  We will gain perhaps an ear that will hear when we speak of that One and his offer of mercy.  We will be demonstrating the love in our heart for others that can only come from the Master, Father God Almighty through Jesus Christ.

Show mercy today at every opportunity thrown your way.  Be a light in a world of unmerciful people.  Let His mercy shine through you and lead them back to the Father.

Disclaimer:  if ads are appearing anywhere on this page it is because they are placed there by WordPress not by me.  I have read the information on ads and in order to be ad free now, Word Press charges a fee.  I apologize for any inconvenience these ads may cause you and if they are inappropriate please message me.  Thank you, gracie

Isaiah 1:1-27 This Could Be Our Nation Today!

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. Romans
Comments, thoughts and reflections welcome

Reflections on this reading in Isaiah:  This applies so perfectly to our nation at this time!  Lord have mercy!

 

This is the vision of Isaiah, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.  Replace the terms of Judah and Jerusalem, Israel with the US of A and sense the place we are in at this time.  Sense the impending judgment for rebelliousness and deliberate engagement in unrighteous actions according to the Word of God as stated.

“I raised and brought up children,

But they rebelled against me.

An ox knows its owner

And a donkey its master’s stall,

But Israel ( US of A) does not know,

My people do not reflect.

 

Oh, sinful nation,

A people weighed down by iniquity,

Descendants of evildoers,

Immoral children.

They have abandoned Adonai,

Spurned the Holy One of Israel,

Turned their backs on Him!

 

Where should I strike you most,

As you persist in rebelling?

The whole head (leadership) is sick,

The whole heart diseased,

From the sole of the foot to the head

There is nothing healthy,

Only wounds, bruises and festering sores

That haven’t been dressed or bandaged

Or softened up with oil.

{Is not this a description of our nation?  Sick leadership, hearts of the people failing them evidenced by an upsurge in depression and suicide, wounds and sores, lack of healing for the oppressed, homelessness rampant in our streets.}

Your land is desolate,

Your cities are burned to the ground;

Foreigners devour your land in your presence;

It’s as desolate as if overwhelmed by floods.

{We see drought, flooding, strong storms, rioting in streets, the burning and destroying of property, an influx of a people foreign to our nation unwilling to adapt to our laws}

Picking it up after a comparison with Sodom and Gomorrah:

“Why are all those sacrifices

Offered to me? Asks Adonai.

“I’m fed up with burnt offerings of rams

And the fat of fattened animals!

I get no pleasure from the blood

Of bulls, lambs and goats!

Yes, you come to appear in my presence:

But who asked you to do this,

To trample through my courtyards?

Stop bringing worthless grain offerings!

They are like disgusting incense to me!

Rosh-Hodesh, Shabbat, calling convocations—

I can’t stand evil together with your assemblies!

Everything in me hates your Rosh-Hodesh

And your festivals;

They are a burden to me—-

I’m tired of putting up with them!

 

When you spread out your hands,

I will hide my eyes from you:

No matter how much you pray,

I won’t be listening;

Because your hands are covered with blood.

{These festival were ordained by God, yet He turns away from them because the hearts of the people are not in the right place, they are in rebellion.  We have services, we have fasting and praying, we have holidays to remember and even in our worship of Him He turns from us because He says our hearts are not toward Him, it is ritual, form, tradition, public show.  Our hearts are in rebellion, following our own will.}

Wash yourselves clean!

Get your evil deeds out of my sight!

Stop doing evil, learn to do good!

Seek justice, relieve the oppressed,

Defend the orphans, plead for the widow.

 

“Come now,” says Adonai,

“let’s talk this over together.

Even if your sins are like scarlet,

They will be white as snow;

Even if they are red as crimson,

They will be like wool.

If you are willing and obedient,

You will eat the good of the land;

But if you refuse and rebel,

You will be eaten by the sword”;

For the mouth of Adonai has spoken.

{There is hope, even for the rebellious!  With the promise of redemption and forgiveness comes a requirement of turning from the evil ways, the rebellious nature, the following after self-will.}

How the faithful city has become like a whore!

Once she was filled with justice,

Righteousness lodged in her;

But now murderers!

Your silver is no longer pure,

Your wine is watered down.

Your leaders are rebels, friends of thieves.

They all love bribes and run after gifts.

They give no justice to orphans,

The widow’s complaint doesn’t catch their attention.

{Again the description fits our nation at the present time.  We are guilty of the blood of the innocent, murderers, our leadership gets fat on the bribes and gifts of the corporations, the laments of the widows of the fallen, the murdered, fall on deaf ears.}

“Therefore,” says the Lord, Adonai-Tzva’ot,

The Mighty One of Israel,

“I will free myself of my adversaries,

I will take vengeance on my enemies.

But I will cleanse your impurities as with lye

And remove all your alloyed base metal.

I will restore your judges as at first

And your advisors as at the beginning.

After that you will be called

the City of Righteousness, Faithful City.

Tziyon will be redeemed by justice;

And those in her who repent, by righteousness.

{This promise is two-fold; first the cleansing, purging of evil and then the restoration of justice and righteousness}

My prayer for my nation and fellow believers in this place: Lord have mercy!  We bow before you, we repent, we turn away from the evil allowed to exist in our land.  May we as individuals cleansed by the blood of Jesus be found righteous; may we never cease to stand in opposition to the bloodshed of the innocent, to the immoral practices of the rebellious, to the deaf ear of justice in our land.  May we go down as having stood firm on the principles taught us by God’s Word as it stands; not changing it to suit our whims and selfish ways.  Forgive our sin of self-love, create in us a new heart, a clean heart obedient to your will, O God.

Disclaimer:  if ads are appearing anywhere on this page it is because they are placed there by WordPress not by me.  I have read the information on ads and in order to be ad free now, Word Press charges a fee.  I apologize for any inconvenience these ads may cause you and if they are inappropriate please message me.  Thank you, gracie

Notes on reading Exodus 25

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. Romans
Comments, thoughts and reflections welcome

taken from google images

taken from google images

It appears that God appreciates art; the details on the menorah highlight this.  I see this in the following verses:

[Exodus 25:31-40 RSV] 31 “And you shall make a lampstand of pure gold. The base and the shaft of the lampstand shall be made of hammered work; its cups, its capitals, and its flowers shall be of one piece with it; 32 and there shall be six branches going out of its sides, three branches of the lampstand out of one side of it and three branches of the lampstand out of the other side of it; 33 three cups made like almonds, each with capital and flower, on one branch, and three cups made like almonds, each with capital and flower, on the other branch–so for the six branches going out of the lampstand; 34 and on the lampstand itself four cups made like almonds, with their capitals and flowers, 35 and a capital of one piece with it under each pair of the six branches going out from the lampstand. 36 Their capitals and their branches shall be of one piece with it, the whole of it one piece of hammered work of pure gold. 37 And you shall make the seven lamps for it; and the lamps shall be set up so as to give light upon the space in front of it. 38 Its snuffers and their trays shall be of pure gold. 39 Of a talent of pure gold shall it be made, with all these utensils. 40 And see that you make them after the pattern for them, which is being shown you on the mountain.

 

It appears that God appreciates gold. Note the use of gold in the lampstand. How this contrasts with those equating a plain life with holiness!  The plain, shaker-style in contrast with the ornate work of the lamp provides a picture of the soil versus the shine of metal.  We are dust and to dust we will return.  God is holy and eternal.  This clearly shines a light on the command; “walk humbly with your God.”

It would seem there are conclusions to draw from this.  So often we hear and see those among us taking something simply stated and making it into something more than what was said.  The contrast between plain and ornate might be one.  There are groups who take the ornate to the extreme in their religious furnishings and then there are those who prefer the opposite, the plain; they are those who forbid all expression of intricate design.  Is this even important? It must be in some sense because the last verse cautions the builders of the lampstand:

see that you make them after the pattern for them, which is being shown you on the mountain.

If we apply even these seemingly small details to our lives, how careful must we be to follow the directions given by God for our benefit, directions to live according to His will and not our own?  The principle then might be to be sure we follow God’s directions as given not our ideas of what he meant.  Think on that…

The pictures posted above are examples of an artist’s interpretation of the instructions given, maybe…  They are not the original. They are different from each other.  They do have similarities.  How do we know which is accurate?  We go to the Word of God and read the instructions given. How closely are the instructions followed?   We do the same with the instructions given to us to live according to his will.  How closely are those followed?

“walk humbly with your God.”

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Correct in humility…

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. Romans
Comments, thoughts and reflections welcome

Reading from Zechariah 2:

Then I looked up and saw four horns.  I asked the angel who was speaking to me, “What are these?” He answered, “These are the horns that scattered J’hudah, Isra’el and Yerushalayim.”

Next Adonai showed me four artisans.  I asked, “What are these coming to do?”  He said, “Those horns that scattered Y’hudah so completely that no one could even raise his head–well, these men have come to terrify them, to overthrow the nations that raised their horns against the land of Y’hudah to scatter it.”

Related image

Image from google images

There’s more to this chapter, but this portion spoke to me and I wish to share those thoughts.  The explanation in the study Bible states the horns are the nations who came against the Hebrews and defeated them, scattered them as judgment from God because the Hebrews turned from God to other gods.  The artisans are agents sent by God to defeat those nations and therefore allow God to rebuild his city, Yerushalayim. Other writers see the craftsmen as agents who also assist in the rebuilding of the Hebrew nation.

Reflections on this passage noted that those used by God to punish his people who have turned away from him are in turn destroyed for coming against his people in such a way.  It is fearful to be used by God to discipline another.  That same discipline may come back around on the one who was used.  Beware of pride which can falsely elevate one’s sense of being more than one actually is.  A key phrase in scripture is to “walk humbly with your God.”* It is tempting to become smug at another’s correction.  No arrogance will go unpunished.

[Proverbs 17:5 NKJV] 5 He who mocks the poor reproaches his Maker; He who is glad at calamity will not go unpunished.  (emphasis mine)

Note also, those used here in this passage were not ‘believers’ but outside the family of Hebrews.  Judgment against God’s people, his ‘church’ may come from outside the family of believers; it will still carry the curse of God, ‘anyone who injures you injures the very pupil of my eye.’  Whether or not the judgment comes is not based upon belief.  God’s word does not return void, or empty, it does accomplish what it sets out to do.

When one is used by God to correct another it would be wise to remember to do so humbly; not in weakness but with the knowledge that the correction comes through them not from them; it comes from God…this might help those who often say to ‘correct with love,’ since our definitions of love have been corrupted.

*[Micah 6:8 NKJV] 8 He has shown you, O man, what [is] good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God? (emphasis mine)

Correction has an objective and that is to change direction or purpose; it also has an end goal and that is one of rebuilding something anew.  When one is going in the wrong direction, it is good to be redirected. It may protect from future harm; it may enable one to have an increase in purpose.  In this portion, the horns destroyed the old ways and paved the way for the craftsmen to rebuild.  Those giving correction and those receiving correction can more easily move through the process if they keep in mind the purposes of correction.

Any thoughts on this?

 

Disclaimer:  if ads are appearing anywhere on this page it is because they are placed there by WordPress not by me.  I have read the information on ads and in order to be ad free now, Word Press charges a fee.  I apologize for any inconvenience these ads may cause you and if they are inappropriate please message me.  Thank you, gracie

Psalm 56; timely for today

Psalm 56

Have mercy on me, O God,

For my enemies are hounding me;

All day long they assault and oppress me.

 

Our government leaders, our religious leaders, our neighbors…all stand on both sides of this fence.  Some call for the harassment; some are at the effects of the harassment. Some call for violence; some are at the effect of the resulting violence.  Stand back and listen, read the comments, listen with open ears and read with open eyes.  What does the Lord God Almighty have to say about this?  Do some soul searching…are we truly enlightened?  Then where do we stand in this picture? Do we join in with language that is demeaning or do we answer softly, kindly, gently or not at all?

 

They hound me all the day long;

Truly there are many who fight against me, O Most High.

Whenever I am afraid,

I will put my trust in you.

In God whose word I praise,

In God, I trust and will not be afraid,

For what can flesh do to me?

 

All day long they damage my cause;

Their only thought is to do me evil.

 

They band together; they lie in wait;

They spy upon my footsteps;

Because they seek my life.

 

Shall they escape despite their wickedness?

O God, in your anger, cast down the peoples.

 

You have noted my lamentation;

Put my tears into your bottle;

Are they not recorded in your book?

 

Whenever I call upon you, my enemies will be put to flight;

This I know, for God is on my side.

 

In God the Lord, whose word I praise,

In God I trust and will not be afraid,

For what can mortals do to me?

 

I am bound by the vow I made to you, O God;

I will present to you thank offerings.

 

For you have rescued my soul from death, and my feet from stumbling,

That I may walk before God in the light of the living. Amen

 

What is your position? Where are your eyes and ears looking and listening?  Where is your understanding?  Are you in the light or functioning in the dark?  What is your fruit?  Is it encouraging and building or tearing down and hurtful?  It is time to turn the tide of evil in the land; one at a time.  Relying on the Lord God for truth, strength and wisdom.  By your love they will know you.  That is the love of God and neighbor.  Not love as our society sees it today.  It is time to do some soul searching and praying in the Father’s will and wisdom.

Who do you pay attention to…? listen to…?

Reflections from Jeremiah, Mark, Romans and 1 Corinthians:

[Jer 7:21-34 NLT] 21 This is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: “Take your burnt offerings and your other sacrifices and eat them yourselves!

22 When I led your ancestors out of Egypt, it was not burnt offerings and sacrifices I wanted from them.

23 This is what I told them: ‘Obey me, and I will be your God, and you will be my people. Do everything as I say, and all will be well!’

24 “But my people would not listen to me. They kept doing whatever they wanted, following the stubborn desires of their evil hearts. They went backward instead of forward.

25 From the day your ancestors left Egypt until now, I have continued to send my servants, the prophets–day in and day out.

26 But my people have not listened to me or even tried to hear. They have been stubborn and sinful–even worse than their ancestors.

27 “Tell them all this, but do not expect them to listen. Shout out your warnings, but do not expect them to respond

. 28 Say to them, ‘This is the nation whose people will not obey the LORD their God and who refuse to be taught. Truth has vanished from among them; it is no longer heard on their lips.

29 Shave your head in mourning, and weep alone on the mountains. For the LORD has rejected and forsaken this generation that has provoked his fury.’

30 “The people of Judah have sinned before my very eyes,” says the LORD. “They have set up their abominable idols right in the Temple that bears my name, defiling it.

31 They have built pagan shrines at Topheth, the garbage dump in the valley of Ben-Hinnom, and there they burn their sons and daughters in the fire. I have never commanded such a horrible deed; it never even crossed my mind to command such a thing!

32 So beware, for the time is coming,” says the LORD, “when that garbage dump will no longer be called Topheth or the valley of Ben-Hinnom, but the Valley of Slaughter. They will bury the bodies in Topheth until there is no more room for them.

33 The bodies of my people will be food for the vultures and wild animals, and no one will be left to scare them away.

34 I will put an end to the happy singing and laughter in the streets of Jerusalem. The joyful voices of bridegrooms and brides will no longer be heard in the towns of Judah. The land will lie in complete desolation.

In Jeremiah we hear from God concerning his people.  I believe as God does not change, we can learn from this passage what pleases him and what doesn’t even for us today, for we are his people.  In one part he says: from verse 23 –

“Pay attention to what I say.  Then I will be your God, and you will be my people.  In everything live according to the way that I order you, so that things will go well with you.”  from CJB version.

He goes on to say they won’t /didn’t listen or pay attention.  My question from this is, “who are we listening to; what are we paying attention to?”  This calls for serious reflection and searching of the heart.  What is our source? News? Social Media? Friends? Co-workers? Instructors? or God?  Who do we spend the most time with?

This is a time of extreme need to know scripture; what God says…to pray; fight in the spiritual realm against the darkness that is taking over the land…How do we spend our time? energy?  That will show the truth to us of who we listen to.

God goes on to suggest we mourn for our lack of attention and what it has brought.  The actions of his people at that time brought disrespect, destruction, ruination.  In chapter 9 he speaks to the boaster; if you must boast let it be that you know and understand God…Can we boast in that?  The changes in our present society; even in the church say no…

Reading in Mark:

[Mar 12:28-34 NLT] 28 One of the teachers of religious law was standing there listening to the debate. He realized that Jesus had answered well, so he asked, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” 29 Jesus replied, “The most important commandment is this: ‘Listen, O Israel! The LORD our God is the one and only LORD. 30 And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ 31 The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.” 32 The teacher of religious law replied, “Well said, Teacher. You have spoken the truth by saying that there is only one God and no other. 33 And I know it is important to love him with all my heart and all my understanding and all my strength, and to love my neighbor as myself. This is more important than to offer all of the burnt offerings and sacrifices required in the law.” 34 Realizing how much the man understood, Jesus said to him, “You are not far from the Kingdom of God.” And after that, no one dared to ask him any more questions.

Yeshua brings us back to where we need to be; it is a restatement of what God has said in Jeremiah; we are to be centered on God with all our being.  Acknowledge who he is and what he requires.

“Sh’ma Yisra’el, Adonai Elohiemu, Adonai echad ( hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one), and you are to love Adonai your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your understanding, and with all your strength.’ …’You are to love your neighbor as yourself.” from CJB

In Romans:

[Rom 12:1-2 NLT] 1 And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice–the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. 2 Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

Paul clarifies or adds that we are the sacrifice God desires.  Our bodies, a living sacrifice (that includes physical self, spiritual self, our mind, will and emotions).  We are to give all to him.  Do you see a thread of instruction here? What does the Lord require of you, oh man? All of you.

In Corinthians 1:

[1Co 10:14-23 NLT] 14 So, my dear friends, flee from the worship of idols. 15 You are reasonable people. Decide for yourselves if what I am saying is true. 16 When we bless the cup at the Lord’s Table, aren’t we sharing in the blood of Christ? And when we break the bread, aren’t we sharing in the body of Christ? 17 And though we are many, we all eat from one loaf of bread, showing that we are one body. 18 Think about the people of Israel. Weren’t they united by eating the sacrifices at the altar? 19 What am I trying to say? Am I saying that food offered to idols has some significance, or that idols are real gods? 20 No, not at all. I am saying that these sacrifices are offered to demons, not to God. And I don’t want you to participate with demons. 21 You cannot drink from the cup of the Lord and from the cup of demons, too. You cannot eat at the Lord’s Table and at the table of demons, too. 22 What? Do we dare to rouse the Lord’s jealousy? Do you think we are stronger than he is? 23 You say, “I am allowed to do anything”–but not everything is good for you. You say, “I am allowed to do anything”–but not everything is beneficial.

Paul reminds us that we are participating with Christ, in Christ.  With the participation comes responsibilities…  Again the questions:

Who are we listening to? Who are we paying attention to? How do we know? How does it manifest in our lives? Are we God’s people? Can the unbeliever tell? Can we tell?  What does God see?

 

be like newborn babies…

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. Romans
Comments, thoughts and reflections welcome

From 1 Peter:

1Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice, of all deceit, hypocrisy and envy, and of all the ways there are of speaking against people; 2and be like newborn babies, thirsty for the pure milk of the Word; so that by it, you may grow up into deliverance. 3For you have tasted that Adonai is good.

From <https://www.bible.com/bible/1275/1pe.2>

9Taste, and see that Adonai is good.

How blessed are those who take refuge in him!

From <https://www.bible.com/bible/1275/psa.34>

In the fellowship groupings of Christ there should be no malice, deceit, hypocrisy, or envy.  There should be none of the ways men use to speak against people.  It is more effective to speak, if it is necessary, about what is good; that would be teaching  practice in the opposing values of malice, deceit, hypocrisy and envy.  Social media give an accurate picture of the heart of society with an abundance of what should not be. There is ample evidence of backbiting, malice, deceit, hypocrisy and envy.

This darkness can be fought by the same means that assist the believer in the process of growing in the spirit.  Peter says be thirsty for the pure milk of the Word for by it the believer will grow up into deliverance from these destructive ways.  Initial reuniting with the God of creation from the sin bound life brings a taste of Him that is good.  He intends that the believer get more than just a taste.

Malice is the “desire to cause pain for the satisfaction of doing harm.”  It comes in many forms: cattiness, hatefulness, meanness, spite, abusiveness, cruelty.  The opposite of malice then, which one would expect to see demonstrated in fellowships of Christ are: devotion, love, amiability, civility, cordiality, friendliness, hospitality.  The extent to which malice shows up in the social mainstream demands its opposing values  be in full force in the fellowship of believers.

Deceit is the inclination or practice of misleading others through lies or trickery.  It too comes in many ways, more subversive because of their nature. It comes or shows up as cunning, foxiness, dishonesty, furtiveness.  The opposites for which the fellowship of believers should be known are: candor, directness, frankness, openness.  These may make the believer seem childish or naïve in a culture full of deceit that is practiced without judgment.

Hypocrisy is the pretending of having virtues, principles or beliefs that one in fact does not have.  It can show up as insincerity, piousness, dishonesty, self-righteousness.  This is a term often used too loosely with the intent to attack.   Its opposites are truthfulness, artlessness, naturalness, genuineness and sincerity.  When truth is presented in a world that is used to judgmental statements, it often attracts the attack that calls the bearer of truth,  one who practices hypocrisy.  This term was used by Jesus to call out the need for correction among those who claimed to know God but followed the teachings of men.

Peter calls the believer to be like newborn babes who taste the mother’s milk and want more.  The believer will grow into honesty, candor, openness, truthfulness, genuineness, without an agenda other than to seek the truth of the Word of God, “thirsty for the pure milk of the Word.”

“Taste and see” leads to a vulnerable state of being, as a newborn open to criticism, cunning, attempts to discredit. The believer, however, can identify the unseen source of these attempts is the enemy who would destroy this babe.  The infant is not defenseless; it has a Father who has given an arsenal of weapons to use against the attacks.  This infant can “grow up into deliverance” by the Word of God.

Taste and see that Adonai is good.  How blessed are those who take refuge in him. – Psalmist.

Pray – Those who seek Adonai lack nothing good.  It shows in their lifestyle.  It shows in their relationships.

Repent – I repent for those times I engaged in actions that could be called malicious or deceitful.

Ask – I have tasted and the Lord is good.  Teach me the fear of Adonai.  Keep my tongue from evil and my lips from deceiving talk.

Yes – I will bless Adonai at all times; his praise will always be in my mouth.  Psalm 34

 

Source: 1 Peter and Psalms