Light for your Present Circumstances

What I realize in looking back on my spiritual growth is that, while we can often name a time, date, and place when we placed our trust in the Lord, what really makes our testimony unique is what we choose to do with that decision every day by continually growing in our faith to experience the fullness of Christ.

During Jesus’ ministry on earth, multitudes would gather to Him in search of greater understanding. But in the days leading up to his death, after listening to Him teach the parables and perform signs, the crowd became anxious in wanting to know more. They were trying to make sense of the miracles and His teachings, creating an internal aching for clarity with their limited competence.

I know that I can definitely relate to wanting the full picture of God’s plan resulting in a questioning of His ways. “Why?” “When?” “How?” I ask Him repeatedly. And on the day Jesus began to foretell his death, the crowd also began to question His explanation of what was to come. They had heard that the Christ would remain forever, so what did he mean when he said the Son of Man would be lifted up? As Jesus often did, he answered the crowd with an indirect but profound response.

lightdark

So Jesus said to them, “For a little while longer the Light is among you. Walk while you have the Light, so that darkness will not overtake you; he who walks in the darkness does not know where he goes. 36 While you have the Light, believe in the Light, so that you may become sons of Light.”  These things Jesus spoke, and He went away and hid Himself from them. John 12:35-36

In just a few words, he removed the focus from what was to come, and directed them instead to look urgently at the present. What the crowd didn’t realize is that without  faith in the unseen, they would gain no further understanding of His words. Many times in Jesus’s teachings and His miracles, Jesus pointed to faith as the foundation for relationship with Him.

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1

By striving so earnestly to understand before we can move forward, we will repeatedly find ourselves face down in the darkness.

In Jesus’ message that day, He was intentional in saying “for a little while longer… walk while you have the light.” With these words, he created a sense of urgency that remains true for us still today.

Daily we are faced with opportunities to embrace the light that is shining peace and clarity into our lives. If we choose to ignore the wisdom and light that we receive from His Word, the darkness that lies nearby will be ready to overtake us.  In Psalm 119:130 we are told, “The unfolding of Your words gives Light; It gives understanding to the simple.” Daily, hourly, and moment by moment, we must be ready to find the light in our present circumstances.

About the Writer:
Audra has a passion for encouraging women in their roles at home in both marriage and motherhood. She enjoys sharing her journey of refinement and learning through these important transitions on her blog called The Homegrown Project. She also continues her love of textiles and sewing through a collection of children’s accessories called Twigs and Co.

Can’t Get No Satisfaction

I NEED WATER!!! These are the words coming out of my mouth 99.9% of the time I make the regretful decision to work out with my husband, who I’m convinced has a super-human level of athleticism not known to this world. While running, lifting weights, and cycling with Ryan usually sound like fun in my head and I love the quality time together, these activities always leave me incredibly, unbelievably thirsty. If you’ve lived in Texas for any amount of time or have run for longer than five minutes without being in shape, you know this thirst. It’s the kind where you are picturing a watermelon snowball on top of a waterfall of Gatorade that you must get to as soon as humanly possible or you’re convinced you will die. This thirst is very unpleasant but also an incredible driving force behind finding something to quench the thirst. The craving for water is not something I need to be ashamed to admit. The craving for water is not sinful. The craving for water does not show my failure as a human being or Christian. The craving for water signals the great need I have for water.

John 4 records the often-told story of the woman at the well. The summary of this story is Jesus has a conversation with an immoral Samaritan woman about what will truly satisfy her thirst. She is confused at first as to why Jesus is speaking to her since it was uncharacteristic for a Jew to speak to a Samaritan. Jesus tells her that the water from the well where she is drawing will never truly satisfy her deepest needs and desires. John records Jesus’ powerful statement,

Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life. John 4:13-14

Notice that Jesus says “will thirst again” not “may thirst again” not “there is a possibility satisfactionif I’m correct in my theory on human beings and immorality that you could thirst again”. Jesus says everyone and anyone who looks for satisfaction in anything but salvation offered through Jesus’ work on the cross “will thirst again.” Jesus does not say this to shame the Samaritan woman about her sin. Jesus did not say this to cause this woman to despair or become discouraged. Jesus tells her that she will be perpetually thirsty (unsatisfied) in her life if she doesn’t receive eternal life. He tells her this because He loves the Samaritan woman and doesn’t want her to spend her life continually drawing water from the well that will never satisfy.

The same is true for you and me. God doesn’t tell us to “flee sexual immorality” (1 Cor. 6:18) because He is mean or boring, or wants to keep us from having a fun life. God tells us to run from sexual immorality and pursue holiness because He knows the pain that comes from not following His plan. God wants us to have a satisfying marriage and life, and lays out the plan for how to do so in His Word. All of us will be perpetually thirsty if we live our lives drawing from the wells that don’t satisfy. I encourage you today to ask God, “Am I drawing from the wrong well?”

About the Writer:
Julia is the Girl’s Ministry Director at First Baptist Dallas. She is a Licensed Professional Counselor who trained at the world-renowned Meier Clinics.  Julia is a professional speaker for Just Say Yes, speaking nationwide on the topics of suicide, depression, self-harm, and eating disorders. Julia is passionate about her three favorite topics theology, psychology, and ryanology. She has been married to her junior high sweetheart, Ryan, for eight years and loves ministering to teenagers alongside her best friend and favorite boss. Julia has a heart to see people experience the same freedom through Christ that she has experienced!

Where Were You God?

Have you ever felt like God didn’t show up when you needed him the most? And did that make you wonder if He truly cares about the pain you are experiencing? My husband and I struggle with infertility. Over the past three years we have experienced multiple miscarriages after doing fertility treatments. And to be honest with you, after the third miscarriage I felt trapped in a horrible nightmare and began to question whether God cares about the deep pain these pregnancy losses are causing. Because if He did, wouldn’t He show up and perform a miracle?

In the book of John, Lazarus falls ill. Mary and Martha (Lazarus’ sisters) send word to Jesus that Lazarus is sick. Jesus does not come to their aid immediately. In fact, Jesus waits days to come to their town and during that time Lazarus dies and is even buried. When Jesus finally comes Mary and Martha both greet Him at different times with the same bold statement, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.” (John 11:32) Thank you ladies for saying what we were all thinking! And exactly what has gone through my head during our infertility journey, “Lord, if you had been here, these miscarriages wouldn’t have happened.” I imagine while waiting on Jesus to show up, Mary and Martha had to wonder if Jesus truly cared about their situation. Did He understand the grief their circumstance were causing? Now, if you read ahead you know that when Jesus does arrive. He is on the verge of performing a miracle, resurrecting Lazarus from the dead. But something beautiful happens when Jesus greets Mary and Martha as well.

          When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and was troubled. John 11:33

As they are walking to Lazarus’ tomb Jesus begins to weep along side Mary and Martha. He isn’t crying and troubled because He is shocked by the death of Lazarus and unsure how it happened. Rather Jesus is pained by the heartache death is causing them. He was weeping because He could see the outcome while they couldn’t. He knew that Lazarus was about to walk out of the tomb, but they couldn’t see that just as we can’t see the outcome of our situations.

wherewereyougod_pictureGod does hear our cries and He feels our pain. When we think He isn’t showing up, He is really weeping beside us as He works out His sovereign plan. While we tend to focus on the grave and what we have lost, God focuses on the miracle to come, the empty tomb. While we experience pain through our infertility, the story of Lazarus reminds us that God does deeply care and has a bigger plan. So as we wait, we may experience pain and sadness, but we do so with the expectation that God is working behind the scenes to create our empty tomb.

About the Writer:
Joni H. is a former elementary school teacher turned stay at home wife and mom to her son. She enjoys serving at First Baptist Dallas along side her husband as small group leaders in their Young Marrieds Sunday school class. She loves spending her free time crafting, attempting Pinterest projects, and above all spending time with her family.

Role Models Run Riot

Reading the Bible, one shifts at some point from looking to the individuals in the Bible as amazing role models to focusing on how God graciously and miraculously used them in spite of their, at times, colorful personality flaws or even downright sinfulnactsess. Other than Jesus Christ Himself, God in the flesh, I can’t think of one person who didn’t, along with their great deeds of faith, have some pretty convicting failures stacked against them. Sometimes their foolishness strikes me as funny, but most of the time it fills my heart with such gratitude to know that my God doesn’t require perfection to let us be part of His story. In Acts, chapter 23, Paul gives an excellent example of righteous justice gone bad. Paul knew the Jewish laws well and knew that his rights for a fair hearing were being wrongly denied. And how did he respond? He stood up
for himself by calling out his judges’ wrong.

“Paul, looking intently at the Council, said, ‘Brethren, I have lived my life with a perfectly good conscience before God up to this day.’ The high priest Ananias commanded those standing beside him to strike him on the mouth. Then Paul said to him, ‘God is going to strike you, you whitewashed wall! Do you sit to try me according to the Law, and in violation of the Law order me to be struck?’” (Acts 23:1-3)

However, in standing up for his rights, he too violated God’s commands and was called out for speaking against the high priest’s authority (Acts 23:5).

In the process of representing the resurrection of Christ, his own hot temper and sinfulness, one might say, ruined the chance God gave Paul to represent Him. He even had to confess publicly—how humiliating! However, as we read further, that very night the Lord appeared to Paul with encouraging words:

But on the night immediately following, the Lord stood at his side and said, ‘Take courage; for as you have solemnly witnessed to My cause at Jerusalem, so you must witness at Rome also.’ Acts 23:11

I love how God does not require us to be 100% christlike all the time in order for Him to accomplish His work through us and bring praise to His name! We stand on the foundation of Christ alone for righteousness. How encouraging to be able to bask in God’s forgiveness by humbling ourselves when wrong (as Paul did), and still know God can continue to use us to spread the message of hope and forgiveness of sins through Jesus Christ!

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you. 1 Peter 1:3-4

About the Writer:
Lyndsay has been many things in her past, but no career, experience, or calling define her more than the desire to follow after Christ in response to His gracious work in her life. At present, she teaches movement classes and works as a wellness consultant in addition to loving her amazing husband and raising her daughter to know and love the Lord.

Sound Asleep in a Less Than Perfect Room

sound-asleepRecently my husband and I traveled to Portland, Oregon.  We strolled downtown and anticipated our stay at the Sentinel Hotel, described on their website as “a luxury hotel with vision” with signature amenities: pillow menu, luxurious linens, beehives on the rooftop for producing local honey, and hand crafted ice cream.

Our day ended with a lovely meal. Fully satisfied and relaxed, we walked to our welcoming suite at the Sentinel. Everything seemed perfect for a restful night’s sleep. We crawled into the luxurious, king size bed with fluffy pillows,  and turned out the lights. But then it started:  so . . . much . . . noise!

The MAX Light Rail clanged on its tracks. People exited restaurants and clubs. Horns honked. Buses rumbled. A woman belted out an off-key song at the top of her nicotine- damaged lungs. Accoutrements offered by the Sentinel did not provide sound sleep, not even in that perfect room!

But, long ago in a different place, the apostle Peter experienced sound sleep in a less than perfect room where sleep would have seemed unlikely!

Now about that time Herod the king laid hands on some who belonged to the church in order to mistreat them. And he had James the brother of John put to death with a sword. When he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter also. . . When he had seized him, he put him in prison, delivering him to four squads of soldiers to guard him, intending after the Passover to bring him out before the people. So Peter was kept in the prison, but prayer for him was being made fervently by the church to God. On the very night when Herod was about to bring him forward, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and guards in front of the door were watching over the prison. Acts 12:1-6

Peter was resting in prison! No king size bed. No pillow (not even one). No luxurious sheets. How could this be?

His friend had just been murdered by Herod. He was bound with chains between two soldiers. Peter’s future seemed bleak!

How . . . could . . . he sleep? Here are some reasons sleep was a reality for him.

  •  Peter had learned to trust Jesus— the One who walked on water, the One he once denied. Peter knew Jesus conquered death and the grave—Jesus was alive.
  •  Others prayed for Peter. He was chained by men, but Peter was kept by Jesus.

While real physical circumstances may sabotage your sleep, your soul can rest in sweet assurance and peace because of Jesus. The psalmist wrote, “I will both lie down in peace, and sleep; for You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety” (Psalm 4:8 NKJV).

Clearly, Peter learned to rest in Jesus, even when circumstances where frightening, uncomfortable, and uncertain. What about you? I pray you rest in knowing you are kept by Jesus.
God’s grace continues to prove sufficient in my middle-aged life. Most nights I sleep well; however, on that rare occasion when my mind is working overtime or my heart is heavy, not so much.  But be sure, I rest well and completely in Jesus – and that is something Advil PM can’t provide.coffee-cup


About the Writer:

Cindy serves the Lord and receives great joy by teaching for almost 23 years in the Vessels Sunday School class, and through Oasis Women’s Bible studies at First Baptist Dallas.

 

Why Jesus matters for the Muslim, Jew, and You!

The book of Acts reads like a national best-seller with exciting plot twists, great character development, surprise characters, and supernatural creatures. Acts will make you excited to be a Christian. It reminds readers that the Holy Spirit is real; this thing called Christianity is alive, powerful, and exciting; that being a Christian is not boring but the greatest adventure anyone has ever be called to; and God is all-powerful and full of surprises for his followers! Do I have your attention yet? Good!

jews-praying-at-temple-mountThe biblical story I want to point you to today is found in Acts 10 and records the Roman centurion, Cornelius’, conversion to Christianity. Cornelius is thought to be the first Gentile (anyone who isn’t born a Jew) convert to the Christian faith. This is important for people who believe that Christianity is a predominately American religion that is insignificant for the rest of the world. The first Christians were Jews and they marveled that a Gentile could become a follower of Christ. Cornelius was, “a devout man and one who feared God will all his household…and prayed to God continually” (Acts 10:2). But even though Cornelius was a devout man who was constantly praying, God sent Peter to tell Cornelius about Jesus. Even though Cornelius was praying to the right God, he was not praying through the right mediator, Jesus Christ. Peter ends up telling Cornelius about Jesus, “through His name (Jesus) everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins”(Acts 10:43). Cornelius and his household accepted Christ right then and received the Holy Spirit.

So why does the biblical account of Cornelius’ conversion matter for us in 2017? A few weeks after studying this story, I found myself in an Uber with a Muslim driver. This man was telling me how he and I, a Muslim and a Christian pray to the same God. Honestly, I was tired, jet lagged, hungry, wanted to get home, and didn’t feel like trying to recall all my apologetics arguments. But then God brought to my mind the story of Cornelius. I told my Uber driver that the Bible says it is impossible to accept God while rejecting Jesus. The idea that all religions are basically praying to the same God is a lie being told in our schools, homes, friend groups, media, and even some churches. That’s why we must know the story of Cornelius, who though he was sincere, devout, religious, and even praying to the right God; he was sincerely wrong until He accepted Christ as his Savior. That is not my word. . . . , that is God’s view of people who try to come to Him without Jesus.

And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name (Jesus) under heaven that has been given…by which we are saved. Acts 4:12

Christians that teach Jesus is the only way to Heaven are often labeled intolerant. This is why we as believers must rest in the fact that pointing people to Jesus is not harming them. Salvation is more than about hurting someone’s feelings. Salvation is the difference between life and death in this life, but more importantly determines our eternal destiny. You are never ultimately hurting someone by telling them the Truth of the gospel in love.

About the Writer:
Julia is the Girl’s Ministry Director at First Baptist Dallas. She is a Licensed Professional Counselor who trained at the world-renowned Meier Clinics.  Julia is a professional speaker for Just Say Yes, speaking nationwide on the topics of suicide, depression, self-harm, and eating disorders. Julia is passionate about her three favorite topics theology, psychology, and ryanology. She has been married to her junior high sweetheart, Ryan, for eight years and loves ministering to teenagers alongside her best friend and favorite boss. Julia has a heart to see people experience the same freedom through Christ that she has experienced!

I Need to be With Jesus

We elected a new president last night. I know I just dated this blog post, and you might this minute be oh-so-tempted to stop reading it. But please, read on. I learned some things today I think will serve me well in the coming days. I learned that the name-calling, judgment-rendering rhetoric permeating posts, blogs, and tweets isn’t going to disappear even though the polling places are closed. Consequently, I learned truth and grace are essential if I hope to walk in faith in this climate of hatred and opposition.

I learned I need to spend time with Jesus.

When Peter and John were arrested and examined for proclaiming Jesus, their enemies marveled at their boldness.

Now as they observed the confidence of Peter and John and under-stood that they were uneducated, and untrained men, they were amazed, and began to recognize them as having been with Jesus.  Acts 4:13

Peter and John’s boldness came from being with Jesus. Although their ability to be with Jesus might have been easier to achieve physically, we have no less opportunity than they to be changed by Him. We do, however, have an easier time avoiding Him. Avoiding Him is what I must not do.

How do I be with Jesus in the 21st century? I choose to abide in God’s Word every day, and then pray for and submit to the Holy Spirit’s power to change me through His Word. Being with Him accomplishes infinitely more than a 500 word-count blog post can express. I offer two truths.

  1. As I spend greater amounts of time with Jesus, I grow to be more like Him, and He is full of grace and truth (John 1:14). Jesus unapologetically proclaimed truth to all who heard Him. And He did it with unconditional and unlimited love (grace) for every hearer. It is easy for me to err on one side (truth) or the other (grace). For far too many of my adult years, I erred on the side of truth at the expense of grace. The result was a critical and judging spirit. But erring on the side of grace at the expense of truth can result in empathy that ignores God’s standard of holiness. We need both–grace and truth.
  1. As I spend time with Jesus, abiding in His Word, I reveal to those who know me that I am truly His disciple (John 8:31-32). And, as an added benefit, I will know the truth, and the truth will set me free. I will know the truth about myself, others, circumstances, life, and Him; and I will know that truth will indeed set me free–free to express truth and grace in word and deed.

I posted this picture on my social media accounts the day after we elected a new president with this caption.Need Jesus

“I pray if I encounter you today, you can recognize that before I met with you, I’d been with Jesus.”

May this be true of me each of the coming days.

About the Writer:
Joni C. passionately enjoys sharing what she learns studying her Bible with the ladies of Refresh and Refresh@Night. Her days are best described as comfortable chaos – filled with grandchildren, a sweet mom-in-law, study time, and unexpected changes in plan. She’s also a frequent flyer to Pittsburgh for fun and cold weather chaos with her transplanted grandchildren in the north. All of this is far from the bon bons and leisure time her husband imagines her daily enjoying!

 

Mercy Walks With Us

Grace—God giving us what we don’t deserve. Mercy—God not giving us what we do deserve. For many years the grace of God and mercy of God seemed pretty much interchangeable to me. And though they are both united together in God’s heart of kindness and love towards us, they are two uniquely different gifts.mercywalkswithus

When I think of mercy, there is an image etched in my mind: me, bent over the toilet, purging my stomach and for a time shutting down my turbulent mind and emotions. For the majority of my twenties I was enslaved to both anorexia and bulimia. Over the years, I tried to break the destructive habit. However, many times my resolve would waiver and my mind would choose bondage over freedom. Complete healing and the ability to identify the triggers and solutions from God’s Word are, I believe, only truly attained as the Holy Spirit teaches and empowers us to relinquish all to Him.

The Holy Spirit continued to reveal why these actions were potentially deadly and harmful to my body, as His child. Through it all, God protected me and that was mercy.  He patiently revealed layers of hurt, lies, and sinfulness that fueled my actions. It is easy as humans to harshly condemn a particular action, but it takes a merciful God willing to walk with us through it, while teaching us how to be free.

Just as Jesus Christ Himself knew the exact biblical truths to resist the temptations and lies Satan laid before Him in the wilderness, if saved, we have the Holy Spirit in us so that we too may know how to fight Satan, our adversary. The Holy Spirit is a constant reminder that God, in His mercy, is there for us and wants us to be victorious (John 14:26, 1 John 2:27).

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. Romans 8:31-34

Once God shows us the way to victory, our yoke is light (Matthew 11:28-30)…simply believe what He has said and act accordingly. The Bible tells us to “Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children.” (Ephesians 5:1 NLT)

About the Writer:
Lyndsay has been many things in her past, but no career, experience, or calling define her more than the desire to follow after Christ in response to His gracious work in her life. At present, she teaches movement classes and works as a wellness consultant in addition to loving her amazing husband and raising her daughter to know and love the Lord.

Undeserved Kindness

So often we tmercy Handshink of mercy as synonymous with kindness, when in actuality mercy is really undeserved kindness, compassion, or forgiveness. Undeserved, not worthy of, mercy is something we want from others in our time of need; but seem to cling tightly to when it’s our turn to give it away.  Mercy is not a quality I possess without immense conviction and purposeful action. I struggle daily.  I know the Lord knew this about be when He blessed me almost 15 years ago with my daughter.  Little did I know then how that little baby would minister to me in ways I would have never imagined.  My daughter has a heart so big it often times blows my mind.  She was diagnosed with autism, specifically Asperger’s, when she was only five years old. I knew early on she was different, but I had no idea how. If you met her today, you’d be shocked to think at one point this beautiful child ever struggled at all; or even still does.

Having struggled as a young girl with friend relationships, I knew how mean girls could be. I remembered all to well because I used to be that mean girl when I was her age. Now watching her endure the trials of junior high often brings me to tears. It is amazing to observe her actions with others and her mercy often astounds me, loving others irregardless of how they treat her.  She truly loves them in the way Christ has called us to love, forgiving so quickly with mercy flowing out of her towards her peers. Not only does she display mercy with others, but she displays unconditional love for me every time I loose my patience, or yell in frustration. Mercy shows up every time; her undeserved kindness shining through with daily forgiveness.

I am reminded of how so many times throughout my life I didn’t deserve the mercy received from Our Father. There is nothing I can do or bring to the Lord in return for my salvation. He came to die for me and showed undeserved kindness while I was still a sinner. Christ paid it all, redeemed me from the eternal death and punishment I deserve.

Be gracious to me, O God, according to your lovingkindness; According to the greatness of Your compassion blot out my transgressions.  Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. Psalm 51:1-2

Why do we seldom show others the same mercy we so desire?  Give that person in your life who might not deserve forgiveness the undeserved mercy that Christ has given you. Extend grace and show mercy. Forgiveness is good for all.

About the writer:
Tamie is a stay at home wife and the mom of three kids with autism. She is a member of First Baptist Dallas who enjoys spending time hanging out at home with her family or a quiet dinner with girlfriends. Tamie is passionate about encouraging other woman in their daily walk with the Lord.

What is Mercy?

Mercy is a quality of God, the act of showing love and compassion, not administering justice when it is deserved. One of many examples throughout the Bible, Jesus shared the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector.  love-cross In (Luke 18:9-13) “And He also told this parable to some people who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and viewed others with contempt: ‘Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, “God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’”

In the above parable, Jesus is comparing two men who went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee’s in general thought works alone could get them favor and merit with God.   They were the largest and most influential religious party during New Testament time and separated themselves to the study of the law. They were viewed as the religious leaders of the Jews and many tended to display a prideful, haughty, self-righteous attitude as is easily noted in the verses above. On the other hand, the tax collectors were usually Roman citizens who worked for the government.  They were hated by the people because of their dishonesty in collecting more than the tax owed the government by adding an excessive profit for themselves to the taxes people paid. In the parable above, the tax collector recognized his sin, his unworthiness, and had a much more accurate vision of himself.  He knew he was unworthy and deserved punishment for his sins.

Our God is so righteous and holy that He requires a propitiation, something to reconcile us to Him, a sacrifice. In place of the wrath we deserve, He gives us mercy, or grace –his unmerited favor.  Jesus, God’s own son’s death on the cross was the sacrifice, payment, or propitiation for all of mankind, both you and me.  What great mercy and love was displayed at the cross!

The verses in this song from Selah says it all best.
‘Wonderful merciful Savior, precious Redeemer and friend,
Who would have thought that a Lamb could rescue the souls of men.’

But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, Slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness and truth.  Psalm 86:15

What must I do to gain His mercy and grace?

  1. Recognize my sinful desires and actions. Romans 3:23, Romans 6:23
  2. Confess those sins to our Heavenly Father.  Romans 10:9
  3. Ask forgiveness, receive His gift of forgiveness through faith, repent of those sins, and change the direction in which we are heading. John 1:12

Thank you heavenly Father for your love and mercy, who saved a sinner such as me from the punishment I honestly deserve.

About the writer:
Beverly has been an educator, administrator, educational sales representative, Sunday school teacher, and mentor; but most importantly is a wife, mother, and grandmother with a passion for sharing Christ with others.