Tag Archives: mercy

Confident in God

Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
Hebrews 4:16, NIV*

We’re encouraged to approach God’s very throne. With confidence.

In what circumstances? When we’re at the peak of our success and have it all together?

No. Believers in Christ are to come to the All-Powerful Ruler of all creation when we most need grace and mercy.

Asking for help from others is hard for many of us, in part because we feel diminished if we have to admit weakness, lack or other needs. We can feel as if this puts the other person in a position of power over us, and we may fear their response – or their future demands of payback.

When we truly trust the other person it’s much easier. We may still fear they’ll be disappointed in us, hurt, or angry over what we reveal, especially when it’s the sort of issue that has us requiring grace and mercy.

I don’t know about you, but when I’m feeling in need of grace and mercy it’s because I’ve blown it. Or I’m feeling inadequate or in some other way unworthy. I’m the very opposite of confident.

Yet we’re to come to God with confidence, at our lowest point. Not with a brash, in-your-face boldness that thinks He’s somehow obligated to us.

A confidence based on God’s character and on His promises. They do obligate Him to receive us, but only because He committed to do so because of His goodness and Jesus’ finished work on the Cross. It has nothing to do with our merit.

Because we know Who He is, we know we’ll find the mercy and grace we need. Thinking in these terms, the confidence we express is faith. We’re choosing to believe Him and to stake our needs on Him.

This reminds me of James 1:5-6, which encourages us to ask God for wisdom and warns that, when we ask, we need to believe He will answer. The attached warning is that unbelief will hinder our prayer. (The good news is, we can always pray “Lord, help my unbelief.” Mark 9:24)

God our King, awesome in majesty and holiness, we are perpetually in need of Your grace and mercy. Thank You for making a way for us to receive what we could never earn or supply on our own. Even faith is a gift from You, so please give us the faith – the confidence in You – that will bring us into Your presence to receive what You long to give. Thank You for loving us enough for this.

I loved this song from the first time I heard it: “Come as You Are,” by Crowder. At first it sounds like an invitation to those who haven’t yet surrendered to Jesus, but I think it applies to Christians, too, any time we’re at that place of needing grace and mercy.

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.


Grace, Mercy and Peace

I am writing to Timothy, my true son in the faith.
May God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord give you grace, mercy, and peace.
1 Timothy 1:2, NLT*

Paul begins most of his letters with a variant of these words, before getting into the meat of what he has to say. I always thought it was an overall blessing, kind of a loving way to say “hello”.

What if it’s more than that? His letters are very specific in terms of teaching and instruction. He doesn’t seem the type to open with generic fluff.

Today I think this prayer for “grace, mercy and peace” is not only not a pleasantry, it’s a carefully-targeted prayer for Timothy’s needs.

The letter goes on to advise Timothy in his conduct and duties, but the “working out” won’t be effective without the inner working of the Holy Spirit in answer to Paul’s request here.

We often pray for detailed needs and results, and rightly so. But I take Paul’s prayer here as a reminder to ask for these essential gifts of God—grace, mercy, peace etc—as well. Often we don’t know how to pray, or we think we do but our ideas may not match God’s.

Paul reassures me that it’s not a cop-out to pray for these larger, intangible blessings that will work themselves out in lives and in situations according to God’s sovereign will and purposes. It may instead be the foundation for what comes next.

God who is the source of grace, mercy and peace, pour these gifts on us so that we can understand and obey the teaching of Your Word. Thank You for the reminder that what we do in our own strength won’t amount to much. We need Your touch, and You so readily give it when we remember to ask. Grant us Your blessing, we pray.

This week’s song is “The Lord Bless You and Keep You,” performed here by John Rutter and the Cambridge Singers.

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Daily Faith

All these people [Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob] were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth.
Hebrews 11:13, NIV 2010*

These and other heroes of the faith listed in Hebrews 11 were commended for being sure of what they hoped for and certain of what they did not see. Their faith was not in themselves or in their hopes and dreams. They put their faith in God, and His nature gave them the assurance to believe.

This chapter highlights some of the ways they showed their faith: understanding that God made the universe (v 3), sacrifices of praise and worship (v 4), obedience (lots of obedience… building the ark (v 7), leaving home for the promised land (v 8), Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac (v 17), believing God’s promise (v 9), blessing their descendants who were one generation closer to receiving the promise (v 20). And the list goes on.

Faith brought a lot of victories, and it strengthened people to endure a lot of pain and persecution. Because they considered the Promise Maker faithful. I love how verse 27 describes Moses: “he persevered because he saw him who is invisible.”

So what about us? Most of us are in that safe, ordinary range between the two extremes: we’re not going to be big names in the history books for either our victories or our defeats. But like I said last week, that doesn’t mean where we are is any less important to God.

We’re still called to please Him by our faith. We can believe He made the universe, we can offer the sorts of sacrifices He really wants (mercy, justice, walking humbly with Him). Instead of getting distracted by the here and now, we can live today mindful of God’s promises. He said He’d always be with us in our todays, and He also said we’d be with Him for eternity.

Creator God, You keep Your promises and nothing can change that. Forgive us for getting distracted by the present. Help us to enjoy the present and serve You well in it. But help us keep our eyes on You—and on eternity with You. That makes our time here more purposeful, because we’ll be acting in faith in Your promise.

This week’s song is FFH’s “God of the Promise.”

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Of Tea and Spiritual Maturity

You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.
2 Timothy 2:1, NIV*

I often read pages of Scripture before something nudges my spirit. Other times the same verse catches me for days.

This is one of those times. Today I’m looking at the “be strong in” segment of this verse.

Hot tea steeps in 3-7 minutes. Sun-brewed tea takes 2 – 5 hours. Refrigerator tea steeps 6 hours or overnight. One starts with boiling water, the others with cold.

If we’re the water, the steeping time depends on our temperature—how much heat we’ve been exposed to before we come to Jesus.

As water that hasn’t been heated enough to boil, I’m drawn to the sun tea image. Not that I can go sit in the sun and relax, but as I go through the day, can I keep that spirit-focus to be held in His Light?

Tea has an optimum strength, depending on the variety and on the taster’s preference. Leave the bags in too long and it’ll get bitter. Not so with us.

Steeping in the Lord’s grace takes a lifetime.

Father, help me rest in You—steep in Your Spirit and Your grace. Let it change and flavour me as I learn to abide in You. Quiet me, remind me, draw me ever nearer to Yourself. Cradle and sustain me until You brew me into that which You’ve designed me to be.

This week’s song is “If I Could Just Sit With You Awhile,” written by Dennis Jernigan. I’m glad I found the version sung by Todd Agnew on one of his early indie CDs. Please ignore the typing issues in the video. I work with what’s available on YouTube.

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Grace for Today

You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.
2 Timothy 2:1, NIV*

No, I didn’t leave last week’s verse here by mistake. Same text, different focal point: grace.

Often when we speak of God’s grace it’s in terms of forgiveness, salvation, eternity with Him after we die. And it is.

But it’s also strength for today and for all of the tomorrows until we reach the end. It’s God—His presence with us.

I’ve been thinking about grace and what it means. It’s something given by a person who “has” to a person who “has not” with no strings attached.

There’s no obligation to give, just a valid need that will otherwise go unmet. The giver acts out of goodness, compassion or a similar motivation. The recipient can’t earn it but desperately needs it.

The recipient has no claim on the giver. The recipient is unworthy, but with the gift comes worth. I am worthy because God conferred worthiness on me along with the gift of His grace.

I am not entitled. But I’m valued—validated—by God.

Father, on our own we’re nothing, and what little we have, we’ve damaged. But You love us. And You choose to rescue and mend us, and to dwell in us. Amazing grace indeed!

Listen to this beautiful song from the band Fee: “Grace Will Be My Song“.

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Knowing God’s Nearness Today

Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him.”
Lamentations 3:22-24, NIV*

As I prayed for a friend who has serious health trouble, the Holy Spirit seemed to prompt me to ask the Father to reassure her that He’d be with her whatever the future brings, but also that she’d know His nearness today.

We all long for some kind of reassurance for the future – specifically that things will be fine – but God asks us to focus on today. That’s the whole “living in the moment” thing I’m still trying to learn.

Definitely, we need a solid faith that God knows what lies ahead and can deal with it, but we’re not in the future. We’re in the present. And as Jesus said, today has enough troubles of its own. (Matthew 6:34)

Father, I’m so thankful that You know what tomorrow holds. Nothing will catch You off guard. Help me to trust the future to You and to live in the present – knowing You’re with me. Open my eyes to what you want to do through me today, who You want to touch. Help me enjoy Your company on the journey.

This week’s song is the classic “Great is Thy Faithfulness,” sung here by the group Selah.

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.


But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 5:8, NIV*

I was reminded recently that we come to God, not to get hold of Him but so He may get hold of us, speak to us, lead and direct us, and do His work in and through us.

At first this seems like two sides of the same coin: we reach out to Him, He reaches out to us. Both are needed.

But who reached first? Who initiated the relationship? Scripture says it was God.

If I’m focused on what I see, what I choose to do “for Him,” that seems to place me higher. If the focus is on Him, asking what does He see, what does He want to do through me, then He’s revealed in the position of power and authority.

It’s not about me doing things for God, it’s about Him: what does He want to do through me? Through you?

Father, I praise You for Your grace that makes us worthy to stand in Your presence, and for Your love which seeks us, finds us and changes us. Help us to seek first Your kingdom and righteousness, and to love You above all.

This is the Chara Christian Dance Company 2007-2008 interpreting Todd Agnew‘s song, “Reached Down“.

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Declaring God’s Praises

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
1 Peter 2:9-10, NIV*

As Christians, we are chosen, changed. Rescued, because God loves us. Having experienced God’s mercy, we get to tell others how wonderful He is.

And our message isn’t just “trust Jesus so you can go to Heaven when you die.” It’s “trust Him now, to experience new life now.”

Jesus paid to rescue us from the darkness that trapped each one. For some of us it may have been twilight-level darkness, for others the pitch black of a deep cave. Compared to God’s clear light, it restricted our vision and diminished our quality of life.

“Now I belong to Jesus, Jesus belongs to me” and I need to share the amazing opportunity with those who want to hear. Not a pushy “sister, are you saaaaved,” but “tell me your story, and let me tell you mine”.

When I see God at work in my life, touching my day, I need to praise Him and I need to share it. It may cause someone who doesn’t know Him yet to think about Him. It’ll definitely encourage the heart of someone who already knows Him. We’re on this journey together, let’s help one another along the road.

Father, please open my eyes to recognize what You’ve already done in my life and what You’re doing each day. Grant me a grateful heart, and help me share You with others.

Most days our stories aren’t as dramatic as the one in this song, but I pray the LORD will stir us to want to share them. Here’s Don Francisco, singing “Gotta Tell Somebody.”

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.