You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘merciful father’ tag.

“….just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life……” Romans 6:4

“Since, then, you, have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand God. “  Colossians 3:1 

The palm crosses of a week ago have started to wilt.  That which was the solemnity of Good Friday has passed into the triumphant shouts of He is Risen and the reply He is Risen Indeed!  Even now perhaps those glorious echoes are fading.  Lent is over and now we can return……go back to eating, drinking, playing, viewing whatever it was that we gave up for that period.

And here in lies the danger, the danger of the old way.  You see, in the covenant prior to Jesus; under the law of Moses, there were specific times of the year and days of sacrifice and atonement.  There were specific actions to be taken because of sin and uncleanliness to become clean again.  The law required that those things be repeated year after year; because the sacrifice was not sufficient to do the job.

But in Jesus Christ there is a new covenant, a new salvation.  A covenent based on the  sacrifice that took place with Jesus’ death.  Jesus died once and that was indeed in the past.  Likewise, Jesus was raised from the dead, resurrected, and that happened once in the past.  And like His birth, it is a wonderful thing to commemorate the great Love, Mercy and Sacrifice that Our Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ showed through Christ’s life, death and resurrection.  But we dare not stop solely at commemorating those past events.

Christ the Lord is Risen Today!” is a wonderful hymn.  Yet it is a hymn or at least a proclamation that must be sung or made daily if it is to have the true transformative power that it is intended to have.  In trying to trace the grammar and look into some of the foundational research on the phrase as it appears (and for what it is worth I concur) that the phrase is not trying to convey a sense of time (i.e. a past, present or future tense), it is trying to communicate a state of being.  Christ IS risen.  He exists in a state of risen from the dead.  He is alive; seated at the most powerful place in existence; the Right Hand of God the Father Almighty.

Thus, remembering that we are the branches of Christ the vine, we have been resurrected with Him as well.  The plan, as Paul so eloquently says it, is for us to die to sin of the flesh and be resurrected with Jesus Christ into the life of the spirit.  There is no going back.  Easter, in fact is never over!  Because, Jesus Christ is Risen.  Jesus Christ lives!

The difficulty we have is partly because of our linear thinking based on our linear existence.  Something happens and once it does, it becomes the past.  Something else must be next.  The page on the calendar must turn.  If we proclaim a specific day for an event, our birthday, our anniversary, Christmas, Easter; those are specific dates to do specific things but they only last a moment.  Plus we have an enemy, the devil who would love nothing more for us to never celebrate any aspect of God or Jesus Christ.  But if we must, the next best thing for him, is if we carve out a day or perhaps a week, where we concentrate on things holy, and then pack them away for another year and get back to our earthly focused, flesh filled lives.

Jesus Christ is Risen; everyday.  Jesus Christ is Risen, out of the power of love and mercy.  Jesus Christ lives, so that we might also live.  Live a life dedicated to love and righteousness.  A life focused on things that are above.  Yet as we strive, we will fall.  As we live, our flesh will yield to temptation.  We will sin.  But fear not.  Jesus Christ also died; only once.  That death, which will only happen once, for all times, was to take away the sting of death from us due to sin.

Easter; there is not reason to limit it to a celebration of a past event.  Yes Jesus Christ died and on the third day He rose again.  But Easter is so much more.  It is the new covenant, it is not just Jesus Christ’s state of being that is risen, it is a call for us to reside in that state of being as well; to become risen.  So until we are reunited with Christ in a realm where there is no longer a today, yesterday nor tomorrow; let us, each and every day,  strive to sing and live out that wonderful phrase: “Christ the Lord is Risen Today!”

Our Most Gracious and Heavenly Father; we can not begin to express in words grand enough or deep enough the praise and gratitude we feel for the life, death and resurrection of Your Son, Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Grant, through Your Spirit, that we may live lives of resurrected spirit, denying the temptations of the flesh and the world.  That through those lives we may come to see and walk daily with He who lives and reigns with You.  It is in His Name; Jesus Christ we pray.  Amen

“And the Lord said to David: ‘Go and attack the Philistines…..’ 1 Samuel 23:2

“But David’s men said: “Look, we are afraid……….then David inquired of the Lord once again’ ! Samuel 23 3,4

“And Lord answered him and said……..For I will deliver the Philistines in your hand ”  1 Samuel 4

There is scene from a movie called Taxi Driver where the main character is playing out in his mind how he will react if he is approached or questioned by the “bad guys”.  Sever times he repeats the line: “Are you talking to me? Are you talking to ME!?”, in a tone of increasing anger.  He then plans to bring great violence upon those who would dare to question him.  To a certain extent there is much in our current culture that glorifies or at least validates that type of response as appropriate.

After all, if you question something I’ve said aren’t you questioning my authority?  Are you not doubting my wisdom?  If I am in a position of power or authority; aren’t I justified in reigning down contempt and punishment on you for your brazen acts of disrespect?  Am I not weak if I don’t do so?

David is not yet king but he has already built a relationship with Our Heavenly Father.  Samuel has already anointed David as the future king.  David has already called on the Name of God Almighty in slaying the giant Philistine Goliath.  God has also already saved David and his men lives as they flee from Saul who has turned from God and is trying to kill David.  As David is hiding, he is told that the hated Philistines are attacking the city of Keilah.  David does not act rashly nor cowardly.  He does not take matters into his own hands, basing his current decision and behavior on past successes.  Yet David also has no fear of the Philistines.  He will go and attack, even with his small band of men (and here is the most important part) only after inquiring about what he should do from God.

Here, to me, is where it gets interesting, especially because of the humaneness of it.  David expects an answer, although he doesn’t know if it will be stay or go.  And God answers David.  Go attack the Philistines.  At this point it is crystal clear to David what his next action is and he prepares to go out and smite the Philistines.  Then the world, in the guise of his men, intervene.  David is not afraid but his men are.  He and his men are in Judah and even in that somewhat safe place, David’s men are afraid.  They argue if we leave this place of relative safety to fight for the city of Keilah we will be in much greater danger.

David has several choices in responding to his men’s reluctance.  One, he could berate his men as cowards and haters of God for questioning David.  Or, David could be swayed by his men’s argument and conclude that God is wrong.  Finally, David could do what he ended up doing, going back to God and asking him the exact same question over again; in essence, God are You really sure about this?

If David’s behavior is interesting, God’s response is amazing; especially in His Mercy, Patience and Understanding of His creation’s needs and limitations.  Really David, Really?  You’re going to question the command of the One and Only God Almighty.  Prepare to sweep the ashes of David up after the lightning bolt hits.  In fact it won’t be just David but his entire crew whom God will destroy. We might be tempted to do that.  Or we might be tempted to reply something like: “Fine, you don’t trust me Mr. I take my men’s fears over Your Power David, then do what you want.  But you’re on you’re own mister!”  God did neither of those.

God knew David’s heart.  God knew that David, although faithful, had human limitations to that faith and needed support and clarity.  God was building a relationship with David.  So God answered David, not with threats, not with retribution, but with an even more supportive, definitive answer: “I will deliver the Philistines into your hands”.  With this second answer in hand, David and his men do not hesitate but go and carry out God’s plan and are completely successful.

God knows yours and my heart.  God wants to build a relationship with us.  God knows that we have limitations.  You and I are facing situations that have choices.   Hopefully we feel we’ve been given direction by Our Heavenly Father.  But most of the time, it doesn’t end there.  The enemy in this world does not want us to succeed.  He will try his hardest bring about our questioning of God’s plan.  He will try to find resources to tell us that the plan is wrong and our destruction is at hand if we follow it.  It is true we should resist and disregard the world’s counsel when against God’s.  Yet we are human, we are imperfect, we are fallen.

Brothers and sisters, please don’t take the path of listening to the world enough that you turn from God’s plan to follow the world’s. If need be, ask The Father again.  He has shown, through scripture, time and time again, that He is patient, merciful and long suffering.  God will answer.  God will support.  In our asking, we must be willing to truly follow the answer we receive.  Yet, In His Love, we will receive The way forward.

It is true, at some point, we will have to stop reasking the exact same question and step out in faith with God’s response.  Though know this, should you and I ask a second time, in Love and Grace, not rebuke and scorn, we will be answered.

Our Most Gracious and Heavenly Father, we thank you for the Mercy and Patience You show to us.  Please forgive us when we seem to hesitate or disregard Your answer, Your will, when we are confronted by the world.  Pour out Your Spirit of discernment on us as well as a spirit of obedience, that we will be faithful and confident in doing Your Will in our lives.  That we would know that Your Plans are perfect for us, bringing about lives of Praise to You.  In the Name of Jesus Christ we pray.   Amen

“….remember me and do not forget Your maidservant, but will give Your maidservant a male child, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life…”  1 Samuel 1:11

“And the Lord visited Hannah, so she conceived and bore three sons and two daughters.”  1 Samuel 2:21

There is so much in the story of Hannah, that can speak to us in so many ways if we will let it.  First there is the woman Hannah, the wife of a Elkanah.  The bible tells us that worshiping the Lord was a regular and important part of their lives.  Yet Hannah had not been able to have a child.  Understanding that the culture of that time put a huge importance on a wife’s ability to bring forth offspring, this was a burden to Hannah.  If the personal pressure she felt was not enough, this was a time when many husbands had multiple wives.  Elkanah had an additional wife who had brought forth children.  The other wife was not a loving, caring person to Hannah as she tormented Hannah about her bareness.  Yet scripture tells us that Elkanah tried as he might to make up for Hannah’s condition by showing her how much he loved her.

Scripture tells us that Hannah believed it was the Lord that was keeping her from having a baby.  Do realize that Hannah had a very human reaction to this belief.  For Hannah did not joyfully or peacefully accept her condition as the perfect will of the Lord.  No, the scripture tells us that Hannah grieved terribly and wept bitterly.  So the first great lesson is how does she respond?  In her anger and bitterness, Hannah could have turned from the Lord, cursing Him for His treatment of her.  However, Hannah did not.  We are told she prayed in the tabernacle.  Even then we are told that she was weeping and had bitterness in her soul.  Though even in that state, Hannah believed in the power of the Lord, for she made a vow that if she was given a son, she would give him to the Lord to serve all the his days in the tabernacle.

The second lesson is that the Lord hears our prayers.  For Hannah goes home.  She continues to act in a way that allows the Lord to fulfill her request.  In time she conceives and a son, Samuel is born to her.  She is extremely happy, she rejoices.

The third lesson is that she does not forget the Lord nor her vow to Him.  To fulfill her vow, Hannah was going to have to give up her child.  Samuel was going to have to physically reside at the tabernacle, serving the priests and learning from them.  Hannah did not hesitate.  When Samuel had been weaned, so that he was old enough to live at the tabernacle, Hannah brought him and gave him to the priests.  Hannah could have kept Samuel.  In her joy of having him and her fear of what life would be like without him, Hannah could have completely disregarded her vow and decided that she deserved to have Samuel with her for his entire childhood.  An additional  thing to take from her act is how careful, in fact Christ warns us about hastily making vows, we must be when we make a vow to God.  He absolutely expects us to keep the vows we make to Him.  The other thing we can learn is how she fulfills this vow.  When she does relinquish Samuel to the priests at the tabernacle, she does not do it with anger or bitter tears.  No, Hannah prays a prayer of rejoicing at the graciousness and power of the Lord and His Mercy at fulfilling her request.

Additionally, Hannah’s actions do not go unnoticed.  First as she relinquishes her son, the priest Eli blesses her and her husband asking that additional children come to her because of her faithfulness.  And, what started with a prayer, a request that was made in anguish, weeping and yes, even some bitterness, and continued with the faithful keeping of a vow, ended up with a greater blessing than just Samuel.  For Hannah bore three additional sons and two daughters.

Finally, let us not forget who Samuel grew up to be.  He was a great prophet of the Lord who was to eventually anoint the greatest human king that Israel was to have:  King David.  And from David’s lineage would come the King of kings our Savior Jesus Christ.

Se we may be in a dark place today.  We may feel that God is acting against us and our dreams.  We may be angry at him as the world torments us at our seemingly great failure.  We can turn away.  We can curse at God or worse yet deny that God exists at all.  Or, in the middle of that darkness, in the midst of the torment, we can pray to God.  It is not required that we make a vow.  What is required is that we believe that the Lord exists, the He can hear us, and has the power to fulfill our request.  He has promised that He will not forsake us.  He will come to us.  We must be very careful with our response.  If we made a vow to the Lord in the pain of our request, we must be sure to keep it in the joy of His Merciful response.  The keeping of the vow should be in a sense of peace and joy versus bitterness and hate.  Either way, we should, as Hannah did, pray a great prayer of joy and thanksgiving to the Lord.  And understand this, God doesn’t stop at our request.  He will grant much more than we ever thought possible.  He, who gave His only Son for us and our salvation, will not stop with what we request but will fulfill our every need.

Our Most Gracious and Heavenly Father, we humbly admit that so often we come to you when we have reached the lowest parts of our lives.  It is at those times we may be blaming You for where we are, not understanding the perfection of Your plan.  Hear our prayer Most Merciful Father and be swift to answer.  Give us a spirit of gratitude to You as we see how You are working through our prayers.  Help us to be faithful to every pledge we make to You, Dear Father.  That we may find the joy and peace that You desire for us as we come to a closer relationship with You.  In the name of Jesus Christ we pray.  Amen


“Simon, Simon!…Satan has asked for you…..But I have prayed for you, that your faith shall not fail and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brothers.”    Luke 22:31-32

Can there be anyone one worse than a betrayer?  Don’t we call those people traitors and think of them as the worse kind of villans?  Think of the names down through history, Brutus, Benedict Arnold, Judas.  Isn’t it interesting that Peter’s name is not one of those whom we name?  Isn’t betrayal even that more heinous when it comes from your very closest friend, one in whom you have put so much trust?

Jesus changed Simon’s name to Peter:  “the Rock”.  Peter had been the first one to openly and definitively declare among the disciples that Jesus was the Son of God.  Peter had been one of Jesus’ three disciples in his inner circle; James, John and Peter.  There seemingly would have been no one on earth closer to Jesus than Peter.  And we all know the story.  Jesus has been taken by the mob to the residence of the high priest.  They take Him into the high priest’s house but Peter does not follow.  Instead he stays outside in a courtyard warming himself by the fire.  Then it happens; this man, the closest friend, this man who had seen the power of Jesus first hand as he, himself walked on water at Jesus invitation.  This man who had pledged to die to defend and protect Jesus.  This man is approached and pointed out as being a follower of Jesus.  Once, then a second time and finally a third time, with one gospel saying that he became mad and started to curse, Peter vehemently denies that he knows Jesus.  A roster crows, Peter realizes what he has done, Luke even says Jesus turns and looks at Peter and Peter leaves, totally dejected, totally despondent, weeping bitterly.

Here’s the thing.  Jesus wasn’t shocked by this.  Jesus knew that it was going to happen.  AND, Jesus knew that Peter would return, in faith to Jesus, thus Jesus forgave him.  Jesus forgave Him ahead of time.  The difference between Peter and Judas?  It seems to me it was the fact that Judas never returned to Jesus in faith.  Yes he felt remorse, but it was remorse for being a part of the condemnation of an innocent man.  Peter knew he had betrayed the Son of God.  Jesus knew that Judas would never return to him in faith.  Jesus knew that Peter would return.  Jesus also knew where Peter’s downfall was going to come from; Satan.  Jesus could have told the other disciples to never trust Peter again.  Jesus could have given Peter a lengthy set of tasks to accomplish to prove his worthiness to be trusted again.  Jesus didn’t.  Jesus simply asks him to be Peter; the Rock; and to use his strength as the Rock to strengthen his brothers.

Okay, fine for roughly two thousand years ago and yeah for Peter!  But what does that have to do with now?  Perfection, Jesus Christ was and is and we are not.  Jesus knows.  Jesus knows ahead of time that we are going to fail.  He knows the power of Satan to deceive and tempt and that we are going to willfully choose the wrong path.  Peter was nor forced to deny Jesus, he did that of his own free will.  The same way today, He knows we are going to sin.  And, this is crucial to understand, Jesus knows that we will return and thus He has already forgiven us.  He does not half way welcome us back:  “Now I’ve got my eyes on you!”.  He does not give us arduous tests to complete to get back in His good graces.  No that is what the world requires.  He tells us ahead of time, “You are completely forgiven, come back.”

Think about this in comparison of how the world (Satan) would handle this.  If you mess up, make a mistake, somehow come up short of perfection; you need to be punished.  If you have betrayed, you can probably never do anything to receive complete redemption.  We have a right to judge people and hold them to that standard.  Now the other side of the perfection coin that we use to judge ourselves is quite different.  Satan tells us and we sometimes act upon, perfection is impossible to obtain so don’t bother trying.  Good is good enough.  Then, good is impossible to obtain so not bad is good enough.  Finally, bad is okay because everyone is being bad so why shouldn’t I?  (Don’t believe me?  Try driving the speed limit on the interstate) .

We have an amazing Savior!  He knows perfection because He is perfection.  Yet He knows us.  He asks us to try for perfection because He knows, every time we try, every time we are generous, every time we love unconditionally, every time we decide not to judge, every time we forgive, we get closer.   Jesus Christ knows that we won’t always do what is perfect.  He knows we will sin.  AND Jesus Christ, in perfect love, has forgiven us already.  AND because Our Heavenly Father’s plan was for Jesus Christ to sacrifice His life for ours, Our Heavenly Father has forgiven us as well.  May it always be that in our striving, there is turning, as well as in our falling, there is always returning to Our Heavenly Father, through the Grace and Sacrifice of Jesus Christ our Lord.

Our Most Gracious and Heavenly Father we proclaim that You are perfect.  We further testify that You created all things in perfection.  Yet we humbly confess, Dear Father, that we, Your Creation, have fallen short of perfection.  We acknowledge that we are sinners and are deserving of Your judgement.  Yet, Most Merciful Father, we are so exceedingly thankful that instead of the judgement we deserve, You saw fit to send Your Most Holy Son Jesus Christ to die as a sacrifice in our place that we might be forgiven.  Pour out Your Spirit on us, we pray, that we might strive to live a life worthy of that sacrifice.  That we would not do as the world teaches but do what Jesus Christ taught.  We can not express adequately, Most Gracious Father, our gratitude that when we fall, You are there to pick us back up and welcome us back through the body and blood of Your Most Precious Son.  And although, in this life, we may not perfectly attain it, may it be that we live a life of obedience and praise  to Your Most Holy Name.  In the Name of Jesus Christ we pray.  Amen

“Then some of the scribes answered and said, “Teacher, You have spoken well.”  But after that they dared not question Him anymore.”  Luke 20:39

You’ve heard it said that the only stupid question is the one not asked.  Well I will tell you this, I have often taken that statement as a challenge, much to the chagrin of many of my teachers or professors.  Because often if I think it, I ask it.   There is of course the rhetorical question.  That type of question is interesting because it does not seek a specific answer, only the possibility that the answer is out there if we ponder it.  However, most questions serve a more definite purpose.  One purpose is for the enlightenment of the asker, another purpose can be the confounding of the answerer.  The power, in the end, rests with the one asking the question.

Jesus has entered Jerusalem for the last time.  While He was not popular with the Jewish, religious leadership to start with is an understatement, but the triumphant reaction of the crowds at his entry, have the leadership beside themselves.  They have to find a way to destroy him.  A way that will seem legitimate to the people and to the Romans.  Some come up with a plan, we’ll ask Him questions!  That’s the ticket.  First we’ll ask Him by what authority He teaches, preaches and heals, we’ll catch Him then.  “First answer me, John’s baptism, was it from God or from Man?”  Ugh, that didn’t work.  Another says, I’ll catch Him speaking against Rome and their taxes.  We’ll ask Him a question and when Rome hates the answer they’ll do our dirty work for us!  “Render under Cesar that which is Cesar’s and unto God that which is God’s”.  Curses, that didn’t work the way we thought it would.  We’ll ask him a learned logic question, that’ll trip him up!  About whether there is a resurrection or not!   Remember God said to Moses, I am the God of Abraham, God of Isaac and the God of Jacob, He is not the God of dead but of the living.  I give up!  We just can’t be this Guy!

They tried to confound the answerer, to trip Him up and they failed.  In fact some acknowledged His wisdom.  But, here is the thing; they decided to go away and stay ignorant.  In their minds, there was power in their ignorance.  They felt if they asked Jesus for understanding, and really received it, they could very well lose their current standing.  To ask Jesus a question and openly accept and marvel at His answer would be to admit that they lacked the knowledge that He had, the wisdom He possessed.  And perhaps most frightening, to ask Jesus a question and truly agree with His answer would cause them to change, in very fundamental ways.  To maintain their power, to remain safe, it would be a far better thing to be ignorant of Jesus.

So what about me?  I find myself making requests.  I would sure like this and can’t I please have that.  I read the bible and try to make what sense I can of it.  But how often do I ask that question; why?  Not the type of why that challenges the wisdom of God, but truly seeks to bring about some understanding.  How open am I to an answer from Him that brings about a deeper understanding which will shake my personal traditions and human-centric beliefs to their core?  How often am I ready to, not only accept His answer, but let it transform me to the person I need to be.  The Jewish Leadership had their chance and in the end, they safely, ignorantly followed the path to destruction.  May I be weak enough to sincerely ask, risky enough to be open to and, knowing my ignorance, be humble enough to receive the wisdom and instruction, freely offered by Almighty God.

Our Most Gracious and Heavenly Father, our earthly culture is often one of advisories testing each other through questions.  Yet through Your Mercy, Dear Father, you allow us the created, to ask questions of You the Creator.  Please give me the spirit to ask wise questions as well as the spirit to understand Your answers.  Give me the understanding that the seeming weakness of my ignorance that brings me asking to You, is really about the unleashing the power of Your Wisdom and Strength, that comes in the answer.  Help me conquer my fear that the answer will change me and so I would rather stay ignorant from You.  That in my asking and Your Answering, Your Most Holy Name will be praised.  In Jesus Christ Name I pray.  Amen

Growing up, I had often wondered why the tradition was to show the 10 Commandments on Easter.  I am no scholar although I know that the two commemorations are inextricably linked.

The Passover commemorates the exodus of the Jewish People from Egypt.  Though more accurately it is the remembrance of how the Gracious and Merciful Father took His vengeance out on the first born of the Egyptian captors while sparing the lives of the firstborn of the Jews; Passing Over their houses.

It is then right after the celebration of the Passover that Jesus is tried and crucified.  He had gone to Jerusalem, as was proper at the time, to celebrate the feast.  He knew full well and told the disciples that in going to Jerusalem he was going to die.  Yet he freely went there anyway.

There seems to me an even greater connection and thread to these two events.  Jesus Christ is God (as one of the Trinity) and has been around since the beginning (John 1).  So Christ not knew of but probably had a part in the first Passover (though the Jewish People would have no idea about Him at the time).  He knew that the exodus of the Jewish People would lead to the giving of the law to Moses through the 10 Commandments.  Christ knew that the Jewish People were heading for the promised land and would eventually triumph over many lands who did not believe in God.  He also knew that the Jewish People would rebel against His and Their Father, killing prophets sent to them, squandering their relationship with the Father.

So it came that Jesus would willingly come down to earth.  To heal, yes, and to teach, yes but most importantly of all, to redeem.  He knew that no earthly sacrifice could accomplish what His Father so desperately wanted to accomplish.  The salvation of and ability to relationship with His creation.  So on this Passover another death was required.  A death of One First Born.

And this time the death was not going to be just for the Jewish People but for all people.  Jesus Christ accomplished what no earthly lamb could in His death.  He took all of out sins upon Him.  He freed us from our bondage to sin and allowed us to exodus into a new life.  The scale of His Gift is unimaginable to us.

So while they are definitely connected and the grandeur and spectacle of the movie is impressive.  Understand the scale of the two events don’t really compare.  Moses, a human chosen by God, led his people out of bondage but could not lead them to Salvation.  Christ, God’s own son and as such God Himself, through His Death and Resurrection leads us not only out of bondage but brings about our salvation.  What  is asked in return.  Simply, that we acknowledge Christ as the one true Son of God and that we love.  Love God and each other.

That is something to celebrate.  Amen

%d bloggers like this: