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Showing posts with the label Mercy

MERCIFUL | 40 Days of Focus, Day 22

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Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
(Matthew 5:7 | NIV)  You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘care-full,’ you find yourselves cared for.
(Matthew 5:7 | The Message) A word about mercy. The word is closely related to the concepts of justice and grace. Here's an easy way to keep them all straight.
Justice: I get what I deserve (positive or negative)Grace: I get what I don't deserve (positive)Mercy: I don't get what I deserve (negative) We want the world to be fair and just. We want everything to be boiled down to a simple ration where the guilty are punished and the "good guys" get rewarded. But that all breaks down the moment we understand that bad things happen to good people, and the "bad guy"sometimes gets away with it. We begin to believe that the world is chaotic, that it's dog-eat-dog, and that only the strong survive. We can't take anything for granted - even our personal safety and survival.
Some of us…

Jonah: Head Above Water

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When we left off, our rebellious prophet was recruiting the pagan Gentile sailors to assist him in committing suicide.
“Pick me up and throw me into the sea,” he replied, “and it will become calm. I know that it is my fault that this great storm has come upon you.” (Jonah 1:12) But the sailors didn't buy into this crazy scheme and tried for Plan A.2 - row to shore. But they couldn't. God/the storm wouldn't let them. Jonah tried to force God's hand in overthrowing the Assyrians by running from the mission. Now God is forcing the sailors' hands to throw Jonah overboard - Jonah's idea, not God's, just so we're clear. God never asked this of Jonah.
Then they took Jonah and threw him overboard, and the raging sea grew calm...Now the Lord provided a huge fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights. (Jonah 1:15, 17)FINALLY! Here's the fish! Now we get to pull out the flannel graph board and sick a kneeling/feta…

Jonah: Unnecessary Sacrifice

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Last time we saw that Jonah spilled the beans about who he was, what God he served, and what he was doing on the boat. Jonah was a Hebrew. He was a worshiper of YHWH, the creator of the sea and dry land. And he was on the boat because he was running from YHWH, the creator of the sea, ON THE SEA.

The rest of the sailors are rightfully panicked.
This terrified them and they asked, “What have you done?” (They knew he was running away from the Lord, because he had already told them so.)
The sea was getting rougher and rougher. So they asked him, “What should we do to you to make the sea calm down for us?”
“Pick me up and throw me into the sea,” he replied, “and it will become calm. I know that it is my fault that this great storm has come upon you.” (Jonah 1:10-12) Wait, what? This raises so many questions for me. Let's look at the a bit more closely.

WHAT GOD WANTS VS. WHAT JONAH WANTS

What does God want? God wants Jonah to go to Nineveh and preach against it in order that they might …

Jonah: World's Worst Prophet

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I may be one of the few people in the world who considers Jonah among my favorite books of the Bible. Don't @ me. The book of Jonah has a lot of things going for it:
Emphasis on God's grace, mercy, love, and forgivenessHigh seas adventureNear death experiencesA man swallowed by a gigantic sea creatureAn entire city on the verge of destructionAngry outbursts and melodrama by the overly emotional main characterA protagonist that you just can't really like, but is also super relatableTwists, reversals, and ironic situationsA cliff hanger ending There has been a lot of debate in scholarship about whether Jonah is based on a true story or if it's merely a fictional parable. I'm not going to get into it much except to say that it has a lot of similarities to the stories of Elijah and Elisha. If it's based on a true story, then it's quite a remarkable tale! But if it's not grounded in fact, it is still an amazing story that illustrates God's love to its ful…

Merciful Punishment: Reflections on the Good Judge

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It's sad but true. To the average person, even the average Christian, YHWH of the Old Testament and Theos of the New seem to be two completely different persons. Most associate the God of the OT with rules and regulations who dished out wrath and punishment if disobeyed. Meanwhile, they view the God of the NT as a God of love and forgiveness who tosses grace and mercy like candy flung from a float in the Independence Day Parade.

I will grant that God's dealings with humans seems to be a bit more direct and immediate in the days of Moses and Elijah. But is His character really that different? Some of His punishments do seem a bit harsh, but is there more to them than just the surface level understanding?

The teacher of the adult class on Sunday morning briefly mentioned the infamous Bathsheba incident. David rapes and impregnates the wife of his friend and officer. To cover it up, he has him sent to the front lines and killed, thus freeing himself to take Bathsheba as his own w…