building on the foundation of Jesus Christ

Archive for the tag “Mercy”

The Test

“This is a test of the emergency broadcast signal – this is only a test.” Throughout our lifetimes, how many times have we heard this message come across our radios, televisions and now our cell phones? This is only a test. If it was a real emergency, instructions would follow. I think I would freak out a little if the message came through with a real message of danger.

However, we all receive those messages daily – sometimes they are not heeded and destruction comes when we least expect it. But God does warn us before danger happens through His Holy Spirit and through His Word. However, most of the time, we ignore the warning signs. We think all is well because the message isn’t loud enough to get through all the white noise that bombards us on a daily basis.

In the past, I have written many words about God sending tests to help build our character. It’s a matter if we have learned anything through those tests. In the Scripture from James, we are told to consider those trials (or tests) with pure joy (James 1:2) because it produces perseverance. Once we complete the trial or test, we will be made more mature – our faith will lack nothing (my paraphrase of James 1:2-4).

In one of my quiet times this week, I was taken aback when I read Mark 5:13. The Scripture is found in the story of Jesus confronting the man with many demons. When the man approached Jesus, the demons begged Jesus not to destroy them but let them go into the pigs. Jesus gave them permission to go into the pigs. Jesus gave them permission. Does that jolt you a bit as it did me? It reminded me of the passage where Jesus told Peter, Satan asked to sift him. It also reminded me of the Book of Job. Satan came to God about Job. God allowed Job and Peter to be sifted. God gave Satan permission. And I think He still does so today.

Nothing comes to us unless it goes through God first. Sometimes our trials are a sifting trial. God has allowed them for a purpose. God is all about building our character. These trials come to remove those things that are harmful to our character or His purpose for us. God never promised to remove trials but to walk with us through those valleys. Sometimes His mercy grants us a quick trial. Sometimes a more lasting one is needed to deepen our faith or weed out the impurities in us. God always has a plan. God always loves us. Even in times when the trials feel like punishment, God’s love is there. No matter what, we can trust God has the best in mind for us. Even in the trials. Count it as joy – God is there with us.

The questions come though “Why Lord? or How long?” We may never get our answers to why or how long the trial will last. However, we can know God is good all the time – even if the trial seems to last forever. Even if God doesn’t deliver us, we can still know God is good and has the best in mind for us. He has a plan. Sometimes we won’t know why we have to go through the trial or why we have the set back. We just have to accept the fact, God has allowed it for our benefit and His purpose. The Scripture verse in James 1:5 said we could ask God for understanding. So if we want to learn from our trials, we can ask for understanding – not necessarily why but what can we learn from it.

Hindsight usually gives us a better view of what we’ve been through. Hindsight usually is a good way to see God’s hand in it. God’s ways are different from ours – thank God! I am glad He knows everything and sees everything. Think about it. If He wasn’t sovereign or didn’t know how things would turn out, wouldn’t that be a hopeless feeling?

We can question where God is in the process, but never forget He is in control and His mercy is great. Trust Him in the process and believe the way will be made clear. If God sends warnings, we have to be able to hear them so that we can change course. This is only a test but it could prove to be the most important one we face for our eternal future. Listen to the voice of wisdom and heed what the voice says. This may be only a test, but what we learn is of great importance.

The Lord is my light and my salvation—
    whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life—
    of whom shall I be afraid?

I remain confident of this:
    I will see the goodness of the Lord
    in the land of the living.
Wait for the Lord;
    be strong and take heart
    and wait for the Lord. Psalm 27:1, 13-14


May I Help?

One of my friends sent me one of those blast emails of the story of an encounter in a busy airport. Salesmen in the rush to catch a plane upset an apple cart. All of the men rushed to catch the plane, but one man turned back to help the young lady. It turns out the young lady was blind, and no one was helping her retrieve the apples. She was groping blindly looking for her apples and everybody was passing her by without helping. This email reached into my soul. I have seen this email in the past, but this time it opened my eyes. I had been passing others by as well. How many times have I passed others who needed help without stopping because I was too busy or maybe just didn’t see them because I wasn’t looking?

I remember having my own airport experience from several years ago, which has stayed with me. I was on a business trip with my boss and a colleague. We were leaving the airport on our way to a meeting. As we were heading to our rental car, we passed a lady who was obviously upset. I noticed her. My soul was stirred. But I kept on walking. What could I do after all? I was in a different city. I didn’t know this lady or what was making her so upset. I could justify my passing her by with all my excuses. However, this could have been a life changing moment. It could have taught me a powerful lesson or it could have been what she needed for a better day. I’ll never know how God was going to use that moment. And I let it pass me by.

For far too long, I have been avoiding encounters with those around me who are blind and need help. For those who are actually seeking sight, I could be the help they need to find what they have lost. Jesus spoke about the blind seeing, celebration happening when the lost are found, and loving others as one loves themselves. I hope I never pass by another person who needs the help without at least offering to help. I may be turned down, but it never hurts to offer. It may be inconvenient. I may have to sacrifice something. But what difference will it make? It could be the difference between life and death. It could be a life-changing, divine appointment encounter. I’ll never know if I don’t stop to ask.

“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers? The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.” Luke 10:36-37

The Other Side

I have a monthly newsletter that I write and send out.  This month (August), I wrote about swimming and my fear of it. The gist of that particular newsletter was about different water heights. The passage was on Ezekiel 47:5. The water that is over our heads is the water that can be crossed only by swimming. Only God can help us cross this water height. In the last paragraph of this article, I wrote: “There is something on the other side I now want to reach. God is waiting for me to wade in until it’s too deep for me alone. He is waiting to see if I have the faith to get my ankles wet, if I have the power and strength to wade further in than I have ever been before. I may be afraid of getting in over my head, but God will not let me drown. Just as a father takes the hand of his child, my God will take my hand and help me across.”

As I was finishing up with the last tweaks of the newsletter, I heard a sermon about the other side. This is the rest of the story. Jesus is on the bank of the Sea of Galilee, and he asks his disciples to cross over to the other side (Mark 4:35-5:20). Jesus had a reason to cross over to the other side. He went to help a man who was demon-possessed. Jesus crosses for one person who is lost. When the man with the legions of demons was healed, he wanted to go back with Jesus, but Jesus told him to “go home and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” In the parables of the lost sheep and coin found in Luke 15, Jesus says there is great rejoicing in heaven when one who is lost has been found.

There is a reason to get to the other side. Jesus pursues us individually. The other side has one person who is lost and needs Jesus. He wants us to cross over with Him. He didn’t go alone. The disciples were with Him. He uses our story of our crossing to bring others to Him. There is great rejoicing to be done. Praise the Lord for finishing the story.

The Lord had mercy on me. He found me and restored me. Someone crossed over to the other side for me. Now, I have a story to tell. How about you?

We give thanks to You, O God. We give thanks that Your name is near. Men tell about the great things You have done. Psalm 75:1 (NLV)

To read the newsletter, see my Facebook page at Denise4Health.

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