Jun 25, 2012

Lovingkindness & Tender Mercy

"Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits: who forgives all your iniquities, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from destruction, who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies..." Psalm 103:2-4
I spent all afternoon pondering this passage and the glorious depth it contains in such simple words. God saves and heals and redeems. Then, as if that was not enough, He crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies.

To put it in perspective, consider this: God's forgiveness alone is magnificent. The perfect God - the One without flaw or fault - took every single dirty, putrid sin from our defiled selves and placed them on Himself. He took those who had sold themselves into slavery to death and bought them back at the price of His life. He paid the price of salvation for the unlovely, the uncaring, and the utterly worthless. His blood covers sinfulness so completely that when He looks at us He sees only His perfection. THAT is salvation.

If God never did another good thing for you for the rest of your life, His salvation alone would make Him worthy of your unending praise and constant devotion. Were every breath a grateful prayer, every heartbeat marked a sacrifice of praise, and every moment spent in thanksgiving, you would never be able to repay Christ for His redemption.

But wait! He not only saves. And heals. And redeems. But THEN He garnishes your life with His lovingkindness and tender mercies. Like a father surprising His child with an unexpected present just to watch their delight, so God infuses your days with wonderful and beautiful gifts. The sunrise, the wildflowers, colors and sights and sounds and smells, relationships, the desires of your heart, the comfort of His Holy Spirit, the joy of His friendship, His wisdom, His counsel, His affection...He didn't have to bless you with them.

He just wanted to see you smile.

Jun 4, 2012


"Show me Your ways, O Lord, teach me Your paths." Psalm 25:4
"Blessed are You, O Lord! Teach me Your statutes." Psalm 119:12
"Blessed is the man whom You instruct, O Lord, and teach Your law." Psalm 94:12
"Teach me good judgment and knowledge, for I believe Your commandments." Psalm119:66

It has long been the desire of the righteous man to learn wisdom. Those who pursue God pursue His heart, His ways, His teachings, His commands, and, yes, even His discipline. They cry out to understand Him more clearly and to walk with Him more closely.

Teachable humility is not a natural attitude for us poor humans. Arrogance is a more common reaction coming from our fallen natures. We attempt to put our best side forward and cover our flaws so no one will notice. We react violently if anyone points out an imperfection hollering about how judgmental they are, or complaining that they are just too hard on us. We excuse our own sin problems because we have an oh-so-good reason to be just like we are, and we expect others to excuse us as well. After all, no one is perfect...

But, in doing so we stunt our growth. We can not be changed "from glory to glory" until we finally let go of our incorrect belief in our own goodness and let God remake us into what is truly good and really righteous.

I read the Proverbs and see a pattern - a hungering cry for the wisdom of God. I read David's heart through the Psalms and notice his dedication to becoming daily more like his God. I see Daniel studying, Joseph giving himself to training, Samuel with an attentive ear, Timothy the apprentice apostle, even mighty Paul spending his 13 years relearning the Law he knew by heart.

I notice a trend: the best Christians are those who love to be taught in the school of holiness. They are transparent before their God, allowing Him to put His finger on whatever weakness He sees. They are willing for Him to train them as He deems fit. They let Him to use the circumstances and the people He chooses in that training. They do not shrink from even the hardest lessons or the most painful of discipline. They love to learn by whatever means possible. They embrace instruction. They are TEACHABLE!

"My son, if you receive my words,
And treasure my commands within you,
So that you incline your ear to wisdom,
And apply your heart to understanding;
Yes, if you cry out for discernment,
And lift up your voice for understanding,
If you seek her as silver,
And search for her as for hidden treasures;
Then you will understand the fear of the Lord,
And find the knowledge of God.
For the Lord gives wisdom;
From His mouth come knowledge and understanding;
He stores up sound wisdom for the upright;
He is a shield to those who walk uprightly;
He guards the paths of justice,
And preserves the way of His saints.
Then you will understand righteousness and justice,
Equity and every good path."
Proverbs 2:1-9