Tag Archives: mercy

Joel 2

A Warning

Recently a friend and I visited a spiritual father, a true sage, in the hospital. I love to hear this man recount his exploits of how he shared the good news of Jesus around the world. He is a true missionary, a disciple. He’s been in prison, been in danger while behind the iron curtain of communism, experienced the intolerance of islam, seen the beauty of Jerusalem, and lived the life of one completely sold out to Jesus Christ. If there is any doubt, let me put it plainly, I respect and trust this man more than most I’ve ever known. So when he motioned for us to lean in a bit closer while he was talking, believe me we did. We did not want to miss any pearls of wisdom.

However, what he had to say were not words of encouragement, they were a prophetic warning. He warned that within the next 12 to 24 months we would start to see the persecution of Christianity. He predicted the loss of tax-exempt status for religious organizations. In short, he said that the time of the end is near.

Did he say this to frighten us. No, absolutely not. He told us so that we would be prepared, so that the times would not take us by surprise. And I believe that he told us so that we can try to do something about it.

That is why the LORD says, “Turn to me now, while there is time! Give me your hearts. Come with fasting, weeping, and mourning. Don’t tear your clothing in your grief; instead, tear your hearts.” Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and merciful. He is not easily angered. He is filled with kindness and is eager not to punish you. Who knows? Perhaps even yet he will give you a reprieve, sending you a blessing instead of this terrible curse. – Joel 2:12-14a

There are numerous incidents in scripture where the Lord announced destruction and a curse on his people, if they did not change. I believe that we still have a chance for a reprieve. Eventually the end will come, just as it has been foretold in the book of Revelation, the book of Daniel and others. However, that day does not have the be just yet.

Heavenly Father spare your people. They belong to you, so don’t let us become an object of mockery. Don’t let the name “Christian” become a proverb of unbelievers who say, ‘Where is their God? He must be helpless!'” Father please have mercy on us and our children. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Standing between the altar and the people. Jan

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Job 31

He was blameless, a man of complete integrity

As I read Job’s final defense, I couldn’t help but compare his righteousness against my own…

He didn’t: lust, lie, cheat others, treat others unfairly, ignore people no matter who they were – friend or foe, withhold his attention and material possessions to those in need, treat others unkindly, trust his wealth, worship other gods, gloat over others misfortune, curse anyone – even enemies, steal, or hide his sins.

Man do I fall short.

Job was truly perplexed, and with good reason. Even God himself had declared him “a man of complete integrity”. He could not understand why calamity was upon him. He thought he was being unfairly punished and wanted an opportunity to plead his case.

Job is thinking, “Surely there must be a clerical error Lord.”

I would face the accusation proudly. I would treasure it like a crown. For I would tell him exactly what I have done. I would come before him like a prince. – Job 31:36-37

What about me? There certainly would not need to be clerical error to convict me.

Thank God for Jesus!

But our High Priest offered himself to God as one sacrifice for sins, good for all time. Then he sat down at the place of highest honor at God’s right hand… For by that one offering he perfected forever all those whom he is making holy… Then he adds, “I will never again remember their sins and lawless deeds.” – Hebrews 10:12, 14, 17

In and of myself I definitely fall short of the mark set by God, even the one set by Job. But, because of Jesus, I am perfected forever. And he is not done with me yet, “he is making” me “holy.”

Lord, may I continue to let your Holy Spirit work in my life and make me holy, like your Son Jesus. In His name, Amen.

How do you measure up? Jan

2 Timothy 3

Exposed

Recently I was in a local courtroom where a man who asserts that he is a Christian, that he does not lie, and that he reads his bible at least one hour every morning, was testifying.  When you first meet him you think he is a holy man; he says the right words and even performs many of the right actions. He spends a lot of time on the internet in various forums and blogs trying to teach other Christians “the truth”. He does not get away with it for long. If you spend any time with him you quickly recognize him as a fool with a depraved mind and a counterfeit faith.

During the 15 minute hearing he was proven, with evidence, that he was lying under oath at three separate times! When caught, he countered that he didn’t have his calendar with him. Yet he was the one who instigated the court action because of dates, times, and places. He stated his lies quite authoritatively and didn’t make the calendar excuse until he was proven to be lying. Court was exactly where his calendar should have been, he knew that. Truly pathetic.

I think the following verses, and parts of the ones that I didn’t list, explain him. Paul predicted to Timothy that in the last days there would be guys like him.

They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control; they will be cruel and have no interest in what is good.
They will act as if they are religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. You must stay away from people like that.
And these teachers fight the truth just as Jannes and Jambres fought against Moses. Their minds are depraved, and their faith is counterfeit. But they won’t get away with this for long. Someday everyone will recognize what fools they are, just as happened with Jannes and Jambres.
– 2 Timothy 3:3, 5, 8-9

They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control; they will be cruel and have no interest in what is good.

They will act as if they are religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. You must stay away from people like that.

And these teachers fight the truth just as Jannes and Jambres fought against Moses. Their minds are depraved, and their faith is counterfeit. But they won’t get away with this for long. Someday everyone will recognize what fools they are, just as happened with Jannes and Jambres. – 2 Timothy 3:3, 5, 8-9

His mind is so depraved that he thinks he lost the court case because the judge was a woman. He does not connect the fact that he perjured himself and could have been sentenced for that crime as contributing to his loss. He is a fool and everyone recognized him as such, including the judge.

Lord, please have mercy on this man. He needs to truly come to know the real Jesus, not the one his warped mind has fashioned. Please do whatever it takes to save him. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Please stop fighting the truth. Jan

1 Timothy 1

Unsealed Orders

During WWII my grandmother, then in a German slave-labor camp with her family, was given sealed-orders to bring to the commander of a different camp to which she and her family were being transferred. Her maiden name was Hoffman and she was trying to convince them that she was of German descent. Non-Germans were often worked to death, whereas those of German origin were treated less harshly.

Prior to arriving at the other camp my grandmother carefully steamed the envelope open, unsealing the orders. They stated that if the commander was not fully satisfied that she and her family were German, they should be taken out and immediately executed.

In reading Paul’s letter to Timothy I noticed some unsealed-orders.

Timothy, my son, here are my instructions for you, based on the prophetic words spoken about you earlier. May they give you the confidence to fight well in the Lord’s battles. – 1 Timothy 1:18

Paul gave him instructions that were going to be crucial in aiding Timothy in the great war in which he was engaged. So what were those orders that inspired confidence to fight well?

  • Don’t let people waste time in spiritual arguments. – 1 Timothy 1:4
  • Cling tightly to faith in Christ. – 1 Timothy 1:19
  • Always keep a clear conscience. – 1 Timothy 1:19
  • Pray for everyone. – 1 Timothy 2:1
  • Plead for God’s mercy for everyone – 1 Timothy 2:1
  • Give thanks. – 1 Timothy 2:1
  • Pray with actions, not just words. – 1 Timothy 2:8
  • Pray free from anger and controversy. – 1 Timothy 2:8
  • Be faithful. – 1 Timothy 3:2
  • Be self-controlled – 1 Timothy 3:2
  • Live well. – 1 Timothy 3:2
  • Cultivate a good reputation. 1 Timothy 3:2
  • Be hospitable. – 1 Timothy 3:2
  • Be a capable teacher. – 1 Timothy 3:2
  • Be temperate (not a drunkard). – 1 Timothy 3:3
  • Be gentle – peace loving. – 1 Timothy 3:3
  • Not motivated by money. – 1 Timothy 3:3
  • Manage your family well. – 1 Timothy 3:4
  • Don’t be prideful. – 1 Timothy 3:6
  • Have integrity. – 1 Timothy 3:8
  • Be responsible. – 1 Timothy 3:10
  • Receive everything with a thankful heart. – 1 Timothy 4:4-5
  • Don’t waste time in arguments. – 1 Timothy 4:7
  • Exercise both physically and even more spiritually. – 1 Timothy 4:8
  • Work hard, suffer if you must. – 1 Timothy 4:10
  • Teach others; insist they learn. – 1 Timothy 4:11
  • Your youth is not an obstacle. – 1 Timothy 4:12
  • Be an example in; life, love, faith, and purity. – 1 Timothy 4:12
  • Encourage others by teaching them from the scriptures. – 1 Timothy 4:13
  • Be enthusiastic in your mission. – 1 Timothy 4:15
  • Let others see your progress. – 1 Timothy 4:15
  • Check regularly to ensure you don’t stray from the truth. – 1 Timothy 4:16
  • Never speak harshly to elders. – 1 Timothy 5:1
  • Speak to younger men as you would your own brothers. – 1 Timothy 5:1
  • Treat older women as you would your mother. – 1 Timothy 5:2
  • Treat younger women with all purity as you would your own sisters. – 1 Timothy 5:2
  • Ensure that true widows’ needs are met. – 1 Timothy 5:3-7
  • Those who work hard for God should be paid for their work. – 1 Timothy 5:17-18
  • Unless there are 2 or 3 witnesses, do not listen to accusations against leaders. – 1 Timothy 5:19
  • Publicly rebuke those who sin. – 1 Timothy 5:20
  • Be impartial, no favoritism. – 1 Timothy 5:21
  • Take your time in appointing leaders, don’t be hasty. – 1 Timothy 5:22
  • Don’t take part in other people’s sin – stay pure. – 1 Timothy 5:22
  • Take your medicine. Being sick doesn’t help anyone. – 1 Timothy 5:23
  • Workers should honor their employers by working hard. – 1 Timothy 6:1-2
  • Teach these truths to others and encourage others to obey them. – 1 Timothy 6:2
  • If your material needs are being met, be content. – 1 Timothy 6:7-8
  • Don’t let money tempt you and derail you. – 1 Timothy 6:9-10
  • Run from evil things. – 1 Timothy 6:11
  • Pursue, run after, a godly life. – 1 Timothy 6:11
  • Continue to fight God’s battle. – 1 Timothy 6:12
  • Hold tightly to what you’ve come to believe. – 1 Timothy 6:12
  • In purity obey Christ Jesus’ commands! – 1 Timothy 6:13
  • Trust the living God. – 1 Timothy 6:17
  • Know that God richly gives you everything you need for enjoyment. – 1 Timothy 6:18
  • Tell the wealthy to use their money to do good. – 1 Timothy 6:17-19
  • Guard what God has entrusted you with. – 1 Timothy 6:20
  • Avoid foolish godless foolish discussions with those who think they are wise. – 1 Timothy 6:20

Wow, what a list! And I’ve probably missed some.

Father, thank you for inspiring Paul to write this. Please help me to make this part of my life as Timothy did. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

And yes, my grandmother did convince the German commander. Otherwise I wouldn’t be here. Jan

Romans 3

An Unpayable Debt

When I was about ten years old my brother and I had way too much time on our hands. My mother worked a late shift at a factory, and my father, exhausted from a long day of work gave us boys freedom – too much freedom.

Wherever they go, destruction and misery follow them.
They do not know what true peace is.
They have no fear of God to restrain them. – Romans 3:16-18

One evening we found ourselves in a condominium project that had apparently run out of money to complete the construction. Something is hard-wired in a boy to where they love to see things break and blow up… We found some chunks of concrete and started breaking things. To make a long story short; the event involved police, a ride in the back of a cruiser, humiliated and mortified parents, angry construction project owners, and two very guilty boys.

For all have sinned; all fall short of God’s glorious standard. – Romans 3:23

It was clear that my brother and I had sinned, sinned against the owners of the condominium, our parents, and against God. We had broken laws and hearts. Our parents could never afford to replace or fix the damage that my brother and I had caused…

Yet now God in his gracious kindness declares us not guilty. He has done this through Christ Jesus, who has freed us by taking away our sins. – Romans 3:24

I do not remember his name and I don’t know the exact details, but the owner had mercy on my parents. He worked out an arrangement whereby my brother and I would spend every day after school, and all day during summer, working in and around that condominium complex cleaning, doing whatever grunt work was required. We were forgiven a debt we could never repay and in its place asked to do, what now in retrospect was, light, easy work.

Can we boast, then, that we have done anything to be accepted by God? No, because our acquittal is not based on our good deeds. It is based on our faith. So we are made right with God through faith and not by obeying the law.  – Romans 3:27-28

There was nothing we could have done to make up for our sins, but we were forgiven. In comparison to our mountain of crime, our “good deeds” didn’t amount to a feather-pillow. Yet by the time our term of service was over we were free. We had faith that when the man in charge told us not to return that we would never face punishment for that crime again. The unpayable debt had been forgiven.

Well then, if we emphasize faith, does this mean that we can forget about the law? Of course not! In fact, only when we have faith do we truly fulfill the law.  – Romans 3:31

Likewise, when we come to Christ Jesus we have a mountain of sin piled up that we could never remove ourselves. We must trust the man in charge who states, “I forgive them. They don’t know what they are doing.” By believing, accepting his words as true – that the sin is indeed paid-in-full – it is. And thereby the law and its need for retribution is fulfilled.

Father, thank you for sending your sinless son to do what I couldn’t. He took the weight of my sin and set me free. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Go and sin no more. – Jan

2 Samuel 15

Revenge is a dish best served cold

Ahithophel was the royal adviser. Hushai the Arkite was the king’s friend. – 1 Chronicles 27:33

A few days ago I wrote a possible scenario regarding how Bathsheba came to live in Jerusalem. In that posting I wrote about her family lineage. In a list of King David’s “Thirty Mighty Men” Ahithophel, David’s royal adviser is mentioned.

Eliphelet son of Ahasbai from Maacah; Eliam son of Ahithophel from Giloh… – 2 Samuel 23:34

Ahithophel’s son, Eliam, one of the Mighty Men is Bathsheba’s father.

…She is Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam… – 2 Samuel 11:3

That means that King David’s trusted royal adviser was the grandfather of Bathsheba. Ahithophel was the king’s adviser, a member of the royal court, during the David’s episode in sin with Bathsheba. He knew what had happened.

The fact that Ahithophel had no qualms about supporting a coup against King David is proof that he had an axe to grind.

While he (Absalom) was offering the sacrifices, he sent for Ahithophel, one of David’s counselors who lived in Giloh. Soon many others also joined Absalom, and the conspiracy gained momentum. – 2 Samuel 15:12

As further proof of his motive, look at his advice to David’s son Absalom upon reaching Jerusalem.

Ahithophel told him, “Go and sleep with your father’s concubines, for he has left them here to keep the house. Then all Israel will know that you have insulted him beyond hope of reconciliation, and they will give you their support.” So they set up a tent on the palace roof where everyone could see it, and Absalom went into the tent to sleep with his father’s concubines. – 2 Samuel 16:21-22

Ahithophel had Absalom commit a crime against David that was nearly identical to the one David committed against his own son-in-law Uriah.

Ahithophel bided his time. He waited until the matter that had happened between David, Bathsheba, and Uriah was cold for several years. Then when he felt the time was right, when the object of his hate did not expect it, he exacted his revenge.

But there is more. A chapter later Ahithophel has more advice for Absalom.

Now Ahithophel urged Absalom, “Let me choose twelve thousand men to start out after David tonight. I will catch up to him while he is weary and discouraged. He and his troops will panic, and everyone will run away. Then I will kill only the king, and I will bring all the people back to you as a bride returns to her husband. After all, it is only this man’s life that you seek. Then all the people will remain unharmed and peaceful.” – 2 Samuel 17:1-3

What I found particularly interesting was that Ahitophel wanted to be the one to do it. The “I” portions jump off the page. The proverbial “smoking gun” is the statement about, “as a bride returns to her husband”. This is a clear allusion to Bathsheba having been taken from Uriah. Ahitophel had been plotting this revenge against David for quite some time.

However, God is the judge. Not man.

I will take vengeance; I will repay those who deserve it. In due time their feet will slip. Their day of disaster will arrive, and their destiny will overtake them.’ – Deuteronomy 32:35

The Apostle Paul put it as follows.

Dear friends, never avenge yourselves. Leave that to God. For it is written, “I will take vengeance; I will repay those who deserve it,” says the Lord. – Romans 12:19

Ahitophel’s revenge was fulfilled, but it cost him his position and his life in very short order.

Heavenly Father, may I leave room for your justice and mercy. If you forgive, may I not place myself above you and hold onto an offense. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Don’t serve leftovers. Jan

2 Samuel 4

Fitting the Crime

For thousands of years Middle-Eastern society has had a very clear sense of justice or retribution for crimes. I think it was first codified in about 1790 B.C in the code of Hammurabi, the sixth Babylonian king. Many of Hammurabi’s 282 laws dealt with swift justice and having the punishment either in relation to the crime or immediate death. 

In reading about Recab and Baanah, the murderers of Isbosheth, I noticed David’s punishment of them. 

Now what reward should I give the wicked men who have killed an innocent man in his own house and on his own bed? Should I not also demand your very lives?” So David ordered his young men to kill them, and they did. They cut off their hands and feet and hung their bodies beside the pool in Hebron. – 2 Samuel 4:11-12 

But somehow this account seemed lacking to me. What was the reference to cutting off their hands and feet? So I did some digging and found that Flavius Josephus wrote about it in his Antiquities of the Jews in book 7. Upon being told of their action David said… 

 …you have slain a righteous man upon his bed, who never did evil to any body, and treated you with great good-will and respect? Wherefore you shall suffer the punishment due on his account, and the vengeance I ought to inflict upon you for killing Ishbosheth, and for supposing that I should take his death kindly at your hands; for you could not lay a greater blot on my honor, than by making such a supposal.” When David had said this, he tormented them with all sorts of torments, and then put them to death… 

David didn’t simply order his men to kill them, and then cut off their body parts. He first had them tortured for their crimes, then he had them executed and publicly displayed as a warning to others. He made their punishment fit the crime. 

Man am I glad that Jesus came to take my punishment. I could never have paid for my crimes against God and his righteousness. There aren’t enough body parts on me to cut off. 

Father, thank you for the sacrifice of Jesus. May I never take it for granted. In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

May my praise fit the mercy. Jan