Archive for the ‘ Mercy ’ Category

Weekend Words & Sunday Stanzas – 11/12/2017 – Psalm 139

I realized late that I forgot to click “Schedule” on this, so it is appearing a day late!

As we are in the midst of my pro-life themed-videos, I thought it fitting to share THE pro-life psalm in its entirety, with only minimal commentary.

Psalm 139  English Standard Version (ESV)

Search Me, O God, and Know My Heart

To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David.

139 O Lord, you have searched me and known me!
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
    you discern my thoughts from afar.
You search out my path and my lying down
    and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue,
    behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.
You hem me in, behind and before,
    and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
    it is high; I cannot attain it.

Where shall I go from your Spirit?
    Or where shall I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
    If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
If I take the wings of the morning
    and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
10 even there your hand shall lead me,
    and your right hand shall hold me.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
    and the light about me be night,”
12 even the darkness is not dark to you;
    the night is bright as the day,
    for darkness is as light with you.

13 For you formed my inward parts;
    you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
    Wonderful are your works;
    my soul knows it very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
    intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
    in your book were written, every one of them,
    the days that were formed for me,
    when as yet there was none of them.

17 How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
    How vast is the sum of them!
18 If I would count them, they are more than the sand.
    I awake, and I am still with you.

19 Oh that you would slay the wicked, O God!
    O men of blood, depart from me!
20 They speak against you with malicious intent;
    your enemies take your name in vain.
21 Do I not hate those who hate you, O Lord?
    And do I not loathe those who rise up against you?
22 I hate them with complete hatred;
    I count them my enemies.

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart!
    Try me and know my thoughts!
24 And see if there be any grievous way in me,
    and lead me in the way everlasting!

My only commentary today is for verses 23-24:

For any who is involved with a sin in which they struggle – and, for the main purpose of this week’s topic, especially those who have been involved with [an] abortion[s] – the best place to start is by asking God to search you.

“Please, God, look into my heart and my mind. You understand everything I am thinking and feeling! Help me! I know I messed up – that I am messed up! I know have done something horrible and wrong, and it is tearing me up! I can’t handle it!”

And He is faithful and true. He will judge your heart, yes, but if you trust that He is truly Lord and the source of salvation, He will “lead [you] in the way everlasting!”

God will forgive you and help you to move forward, if you trust in Him and His sacrifice and the mercy and grace that it afforded.

Trust in the risen Savior, Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ. The lover and forgiver of your soul.

Some Final Thoughts About Momma Klem

My mom said to get the Wisdom of God, so start with some of the thoughts found at Proverbial Thought!

Last week, Jesus gave my mom a great big hug and took her Home, one day after her 53rd birthday. The amazing thing is how much joy and love for God was experienced and expressed throughout her final days.

It is hard to stay upset when someone on her way out stresses the importance of our Lord being glorified in the middle of everything.

It was my honor this past Saturday to share about my mom at her Celebration of Life service. I am sharing it with you … plus the last bit I knew I would not be able to say in that moment!

I remember telling my parents when I was a child that I wanted to be just like them when I grew up … only better.

When I first became a Christian, my mom was afraid I had joined a cult, but she could not deny the change in my life.

James 4:6 says, “But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, ‘God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’” My mom’s response was “Well, I guess I’ll never get grace!”

However, she had a lot of questions, and within a year of my coming to Christ, my parents did to. But mom just asked more questions. As [Pastors] Todd and Scott  can attest, she always had questions. Sometimes there were full arguments over Scripture and Christian life. She would often come to me, call me, or message me in some fashion asking if she was sinning for doubting and questioning so many things that came her way.

First, I would remind her that many people doubted, including the Apostle Thomas, and He is a pillar of the Church! And I would always respond with 1 Thessalonians 5:21, “Test everything; hold onto the good.”

Back to James 4, in verses 7-8, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

As a new Christian, I often wondered why more people would not help out as much as I did as a new believer. When my parents finally started following Jesus, there was no stopping them! Ask anyone: they dived in head first, helping out everywhere they could.

But my mom had compassion and love for others. She had raised me to not judge anyone, not for any reason, no matter what they looked like, no matter what they acted like. She certainly lived out 1 Samuel 16:7, which says “The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

Many of you here know how true this is. How many co-workers, youth, and others did she reach with her love and compassion? She very easily lived out 1 Corinthians 9:22, I will just read it: “To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some.” She struggled through her doubts so that with compassion and love she could help others struggle through their doubts that others might be saved.

She learned to live out James 4:9, to “[become] wretched and mourn and weep. [And to] Let [her] laughter be turned to mourning and [her] joy to gloom” so that others would come to know the same Savior she knows.

And as verse 10 says, she learned to “Humble [herself] before the Lord, and [she is exalted].” I think needing to be moved to a larger hospital room to fit all of the guests, and the people sitting here and lining the halls attests to, she has been exalted. And for all of us who know Jesus, we will one Glorious Day see her again.

[What I would have said, but had written down]

My parents have been through many fires and trials in life, and they have grown to live Jude, verses 20-23, “But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. And have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh.

My parents have made it very difficult to do life better than them. I just look forward to that Glorious Day when we all get to reunite with our Lord and remember all of our stories together.

Another Adulterous Wife and the God Who Loves Her

Once again, I remind you to get some wisdom from those inspired by God’s wisdom over at Proverbial Thought.

There was a man who was called by God to speak out against the wrongs and injustices in his nation.

He spoke out against the nation turning away from God to follow its own lusts. He spoke out against the rising violence. He spoke out against the rise in crime. He spoke out against the rise of disrespect for parents. He spoke out against the lies of the government leaders as well as the religious leaders. He spoke out against the partnership of those leaders with different religions and hostile governments.

While this could be someone from any moment in the past fifty years in pretty much any part of the world, you probably already guessed that this person is in the Bible.

The First Adulterous Wife

Hosea was told by God to take a wife who was little more than a prostitute. Even though Hosea and Gomer had three children together – a son, a daughter, and another son – Gomer began to live and sleep with another man.

When things began to go badly for Gomer and she found herself on the auction block as a slave, God told Hosea “Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another and is an adulteress. Love her as the Lord loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods and love the sacred raisin cakes.” (Hosea 3:1) Hosea essentially paid his entire savings to buy his adulterous wife from prostitution and slavery.

The message was and is clear: Just like Gomer, Israel had sinned by turning from God to the false gods of other nations. They neglected their relationship with God, they neglected their children and parents, and they neglected common decency.

God’s punishment for these sins was exile. But God loves His people.

He brought the nation, at that time divided in two, back to the Promised Land as a united people.

Beyond that, and this is where the Christian Church comes in, God sent His own Son as payment for the sins of not only Israel but of the whole world! In essence, God sacrificed Himself in payment for the sin we are all guilty of committing: worshiping anything other than God!

Another Adulterous Wife

If only those who believe the truth of God sending Jesus Christ to die for our sins never strayed!

If you look around our world today, especially within the Western World of Europe and North America, there is much corruption.

Leave governments out of this. Except for the mini-nation of Vatican City, national governments are not of God. He may have established the governments of the world for this time (Romans 13:1), but they do not govern the matters of God. They govern the matters of people. (Regardless of what most of the world and the Conservative Right say of the United States of America, it is not a Christian nation.)

Read the newspapers and watch the news on TV. Hardly a week goes by without hearing of some sex scandal, controversy, or fraud from some church or denomination. Many congregations, leaders, and denominations choose to work more with governments and other religions than with other congregations, leaders, and denominations. Many compromise their beliefs to appease the masses, the government, other religions, or simply passing fads or ideas.

Looking around today seems to show a Church which has left its Groom (Christ) to have relations with those who do not believe in or even mock the God of the Universe.

God’s Love

Even with all of the sins the people within the Church of our Lord continue to commit, He still loves her.

His Bride continues to allow many sins to be committed in His name, but I think there are good reasons He has not brought the same judgment on the Church as He did on Israel.

For starters, His faithful are still loving the least of these and showing God’s love.

Among those who rob God are those who give more than their fair share.
Among those who compromise their bodies are those who remain chaste and pure.
Among those who compromise their beliefs are those who remain steadfast in faith.

Secondly, God holds back His wrath because of His promises.

He has promised that His wrath was poured out on His Son.
He has promised that His wrath is not for His faithful.
He has promised that He will wait until He separates His faithful from the world.

Lastly, God holds back His wrath because of His love.

If God is not willing that anyone should perish (2 Peter 3:9), would He not give us time to repent, to choose His love in our hearts?

Hear the Truth and Turn

We each, in our own time, sin against God, yet He so desires to be with us that He died on a cross for our forgiveness and waits to destroy the world until His proper time.

As Peter said:

But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare. Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.

So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him. Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him.
2 Peter 3:10-15

Let us not worry about the sins going on around us in the name of the Lord. Instead, let us focus on our own relationship with God. In the process, God working in our lives will either cause guilt leading to repentance or guilt leading to further sin.

In any event, we are to remain pure to God to the glory of God.

Back from the Dead: Merciful Death – A Repost

As I work on finishing up my degree (especially Calculus, at the moment!), I need a break from some things. As you saw last week, I had a guest blogger, and there will be more in the future. For this week, I am taking us back to one of the more popular posts from my blog last year. I also found it fitting leading up to my birthday and All Hallows’ Eve next week! Feel free to comment and add to the discussion!

Merciful Death

Cross Walk 2008

Me doing the Cross Walk in 2008

If we honestly looked around our world, we could see plenty of good reasons why people would want to take their lives. Sad? Definitely.

Sorry to be gloomy and maybe even a bit sick, but what if they are on to something?

Sweet Death

I read an article recently in Christian Research Journal (Vol. 34, No. 2, 2011) titled “A Christian View of Human Nature“. The author, John S. Hammet, had this to say about death:

Moreover, may not the end of life in this world be a severe mercy from God? True, death entered the world as the punishment for sin, but a punishment that opened the door to mercy. For once humans had fallen and become like God in knowing, not just good, but now evil, God intervened: “He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life, and live forever” (Gen. 3:22). It was the mercy of God that established the limitation of life as a fallen human; as redeemed persons, we are welcomed to the tree of life (Rev. 22:3).

Not only could God have allowed death as a mercy to get away from the suffering we brought upon ourselves (and for the record, I am not making any arguments today about the afterlife for all people; this is just about this life), but He used death to defeat death!

Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned.

But:

Since the children have flesh and blood, [Jesus] too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.

From the beginning, God showed us mercy through death. Even if you do not hold to Hammet’s take, here are some examples:

What do you think? Is death God once again showing His grace in the midst of our punishment?

“The One Who Bites Your Skin Is Dead”

For more than a week I have been sick with a cold. It is rather miserable, but if this is the biggest of my worries then life is pretty good.

Now for an intimate confession.

In this last week I also had to confess to my wife that in my tiredness and even exhaustion from work, ministry, and school, I have struggled with lust for the past few weeks. This is something that was “defeated” years ago, so you can imagine my surprise to finding it an issue. The thing that usually brought me back to my senses was the thought of my wife.

When I got sick enough to have to miss work last week, I had a lot of time to focus on prayer. One of my prayers was “Lord, there is so much going on in life. I do not need this temptation attacking me again. Take me back to that place of repentance, learning what it really means. Help me daily to defeat this lust.”

Tuesday night/Wednesday morning, I had trouble sleeping due to my congestion and headaches, but I had a lot of dreams. They were interesting and even silly, and I woke myself (and my wife) up because of acting out the end (running) and talking out loud.

Throughout, however, I kept hearing this one line, kind of like from the movie-voice-over guy:

“The one who bites your skin is dead.”

I did not know what it meant. It made absolutely no sense to me, whatsoever. Simultaneously, I was tired and disoriented from my head cold-induced dream-filled, sleep-deprived night.

It was not until Saturday night (after watching The Avengers!) that it finally occurred to me.

When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”[g]

“Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”[h]

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 15:54-57

Firstly, God definitely heard my prayer. My lust has not been a problem since last week.

The initial thought is not a sin. Entertaining the thought and then acting on the thought is a sin. Yes, our thoughts can be a sin, but only when we dwell on them.
God has given me the way out promised, but He has also given me His strength and healing.

Secondly, I was reminded of this passage.

It is through Jesus Christ we have victory! Our Lord and God deserves all the praise.

Also, I have little problem with universalists, but this is one of their prized passages showing all people will enter paradise someday. However, this is written to believers. If I were to write a letter to my youth group saying “we all get to go on a retreat this summer because the fee has been paid,” everyone not in the youth group (children, adults, non-attendees/people from other churches) who read the letter and assumed they were going would be understandably laughed at (in love, of course) as misunderstanding the context. I firmly believe this to be the case.

(I do not “laugh at” universalists because I disagree with them. They are still brothers and sisters in Christ unless God says otherwise or their conduct proves otherwise. In fact, I understand where they are coming from, but I think they are missing the full context. I know there are times I do the same, so I have grace as I know our Lord does.)

However, this is not the point of today’s posting. This is:

We have freedom from sin through our Lord’s sacrifice, and He gives us the strength to endure temptation.

At the end of history we will be free from temptation, and our Lord can help us with temptation during this life. But we must also remember we will have temptation in this life. We were never promised freedom from temptation until Christ Jesus returns in glory.

I am evidence that we still fail. Peter and Paul admitted to failing. This is why we are told to take every thought captive. I failed for a time, but our God is full of grace and mercy.

Do you trust God to help you? Do you believe He has enough grace and forgiveness for you?

He does.

It may be hard to believe at times, but He helps our faith grow through practice and endurance.

Endure, brothers and sisters.

Will You Go To Hell for Me?

So far, I have discussed how the Church is failing and how we can reach out to others. [Cool-voice-over voice] And now for the conclusion:

I speak the truth in Christ—I am not lying, my conscience confirms it in the Holy Spirit— I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, those of my own race, the people of Israel. Theirs is the adoption as sons; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises. Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of Christ, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen.
Romans 9:1-5

There is a movie called “The Second Chance” and stars Michael W. Smith. One of the boys in the movie joins a gang, and there is the traditional “If you want to leave the gang, we will beat you to within an inch of your life” talk. The pastor of The Second Chance Church reaches out to this young man, and it eventually leads to his wanting to leave the gang. When he went to tell the gang he wanted out (keep in mind that this boy has yet to become a believer in Jesus Christ), he arrived to find out that another young man from the church had taken the beating for him putting him in the hospital.

Why?

The other young man had such a love for others that he willingly and gladly paid the price for someone who had yet to believe.

Actually, it reminds me of another story about God becoming a man and dying for the sins of the world.

It also reminds me of Pastor Richard Wurmbrand’s story. (Seriously, check out the story.)

But for now, and to keep this short, can you relate with the Apostle Paul?

Do you love others so much that you wish you could lose your salvation for their sakes?

Do you love other believers enough to suffer for their sakes?

Do you love God enough to live out the love shown through the cross of Christ?

Would you take the punishment for someone you do not even know if would it bring them to the knowledge of Christ?

Would even if there was no guarantee? Even if they mistreated you?

Will You Go Through Hell with Me?

Last week I started this mini-series with “Will You Go To Hell with Me?” It is not enough to know what the Bible says, we have to live it out. It is not enough to say “Jesus is Lord,” we have to show it. It is not enough to talk about love, we have to share it.

Part 2:

But, dear friends, remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ foretold. They said to you, “In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires.” These are the men who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit.

But you, dear friends, build yourselves up 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.

Be merciful to those who doubt; snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.
Jude 17-23

Some of the people I mentioned last week fit the first couple verses’ warning. Some of these people are in conservative churches. Some are in liberal churches. Some in “mainline” churches (Lutheran, Presbyterian, Episcopal, etcetera) and Catholic churches have been around since before the vast majority of denominations and churches ever existed up through today. This is not a new thing, but the evidence seems to be pointing ever more toward us being close to the end. Either people are not showing love, or they are showing the wrong kind of love.

(On an interesting sidenote, Harold Camping, who predicted the world would end last year with Christ’s return, last week publicly repented of his sin of claiming to know the hour and day of said Return. Bravo, Mr. Camping, for owning up to your sins; and praise You, Father, for working in all things!)

People may be stupid, but, individually, people are also really smart. They frequently know when someone is not being real with them.

Here is a rebuke:

Stop offering to pray for people;
Stop telling people you feel for them;
Stop feeling sorry for them;
Stop giving money to them …

Unless you are willing to love them and walk with them in their pain.

At the Rock & Worship Roadshow, Jason Dunn of Hawk Nelson said (of the children from Compassion) “If you look at these pictures and feel guilty, then we ask you not to sponsor one of these children. The Apostle Paul told us that if we are not acting out of love, then everything we do is worthless. You should sponsor a child only because a love inside of you is compelling you to help them.”

This can be true for every other area in which we must show love for others.

The only way we Christians, we followers of Christ, can “Be merciful to those who doubt; snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear” is if we climb into the fire with them. We show them we care by walking through their pain and sadness with them. We show them we care by experiencing their hurt, doubt, hatred, and fear with them.

They know when we are just saying “I want to help you,” because they see us not helping.

I am just as guilty of this as the next guy.

And those who are living it out probably will never read this, because they are picking up the slack for the rest of us. This means that our brothers and sisters living out their faith are just as much in need of our love and support! Jesus’ command to “love your neighbor as yourself” includes Christians and non-Christians, family and strangers, friends and enemies.

Spread the Gospel by being Jesus’ hands and feet … and mouth and shoulder and shirt for runny noses and blanket and socks for cold feet and shoes for hurting feet and legs for the weary.

And do not think you are doing it by yourself and in your own power. There is no way we can climb into the flames to reach others and get back out with help. (Perhaps someday I will share a dream I had about this)

“To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy— to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.”
Jude 24-25