Yesterday morning I woke and I started a devotional that I felt sure was something that I needed to write. It was one of those cloudy mornings where I had struggled to wake and to get a clear head, but I was rolling on certain that I needed to write this devotional. But I was wrong about everything, but the title and I replaced it as well.
This morning I am reminded of my friend Ray and his dad Elmer. There was this old Chevy that had broken down, and we hooked a chain to it and drug it to Ray’s house and started to work on fixing the car. Elmer came down and gave us some sage advice. He said, “I see what’s wrong with this old car.” in a kind of soft, gravelly voice. He said, “Take the wing nut off the air cleaner.” so we did. “Now roll that piece of junk out of here and get something that runs and go buy a new wingnut and throw that thing away too.”
That is the way that God directed me this morning. He stopped me yesterday before I got too far and told me to roll that piece of junk out of here and get a new title for it. See if you notice in the first paragraph there were a lot of “I” statements. That was the problem. This morning was different. This morning it is all about God, and I do not know how it started other than throwing out yesterday’s focus.
As I prayed this morning and I consider everything it was impacted by God’s love, mercy, and grace.
First his Love. I love what it says in 1John4
1 John 4:19 (ESV)
19 We love because he first loved us.
What a wonderful verse. Had God not loved us how would we even know how to love. I also enjoy the verses that precede this one.
1 John 4:16-18 (ESV)
So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 17 By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.
What power there is in this passage. There is no fear in love. If we still have fear our love has not yet been perfected. These thoughts led me to mercy and grace
Grace and Mercy
I thought of all the times God has shown me mercy and saved me from myself. There are far too many to list, and thankfully I am not that man anymore but a new creature in Christ Jesus.
I thought of several verses. One out of the Beatitudes in Matthew and one out of Luke.
Matthew 5:7 (ESV)
7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
Luke 6:36 (ESV)
36 Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.
Then a passage in Colossians.
Colossians 3:12-17 (ESV)
12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Doesn’t that fill your heart with joy and thanksgiving? God wants so much for us and desires that we not get caught up in squabbles but be patient and loving toward one another. Just think how patient he is with us. That leads me to two passages in Ephesians.
Ephesians 4:29 – 5:2
Ephesians 4:29 – 5:2 (ESV)
29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
Walk in Love
1 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. 2 And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
Again, the Lord reminds us through Paul to love one another and be civil toward one another. “And walk in love, as Christ loved us” as our example.
I cannot help but to be humbled by these things and reminded of every cross thought or word I have had for a brother or sister in Christ. There is no place for such a thing whether you act on it or not especially when you consider Ephesians 2.
Ephesians 2:1-10 (ESV)
1 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
I look back at all these passages and think how blessed we are. If we truly believe that Jesus is the Son of God and have repented of our sins and if we have truly been born again how could we not desire to cultivate Godliness in our own lives.
Wouldn’t we strive to put aside petty arguments and focus on love for one another? Half the time the person we are upset with does not even realize it and we are the only ones that suffer. Isn’t it better to set it aside and show grace as God has shown us?
Sometimes the hurt or frustration is too deep to discuss. When I am at that point I pray for the person I am frustrated with, and I do not pray to change them into a “good” person. I pray that God might bless them and show them mercy. I look at Matthew 5:43-48 and pray that way, and it works as sure as the rain bringing flowers in the spring. I have witnessed it.
I am overwhelmed by how God can change my direction in a moment. He will use anything at his disposal. Yesterday, Pat’s boss called her on the way to work and told her to take the day off. That was a wonderful way to change my direction.
He let me get started yesterday and let me run with my thoughts just long enough so that I could see my error. That is so awesome. A lesson and correction wrapped in a wonderful time with my sweet Pat.
What an awesome God we serve. The more he reveals to me through his Word the hungrier I am to know Him more.
Father God, thank you for teaching me what it means to truly love, and thank you for continuing to teach me every time I open your Holy Word. Father, I pray that this hunger might spread throughout the church. In Jesus Name I pray. Amen!