Posts tagged mercy
Posts tagged mercy
What with all the dire-looking stormy seas and the implied struggle of teeny, tiny man against nature, you probably know who I’m going to talk about today.
You know the middle of the story: Jonah is swallowed by a “great fish” (Whale? Maybe, maybe not) as the Bible puts it. He’s vomited up on the beach three days later (not that that’s an allegory for the death and resurrection of Jesus or anything ;-)).
You know all that, but do you know why it happened?
“The Lord gave this message to Jonah son of Amittai: “Get up and go to the great city of Nineveh. Announce my judgment against it because I have seen how wicked its people are.”
"But Jonah got up and went in the opposite direction to get away from the Lord. He went down to the port of Joppa, where he found a ship leaving for Tarshish. He bought a ticket and went on board, hoping to escape from the Lord by sailing to Tarshish."
If you want to know the primary reason that atheists hate Christians, look at those verses very carefully. Jonah is a follower of God. He says as much in Jonah 1:9 NLT: “I am a Hebrew, and I worship the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the land.” But, when it came time to put his money where his mouth was, Jonah, “got up and went in the opposite direction to get away from the Lord.”
Not only did Jonah disobey this God whose power he was so smug about, he had the unmitigated arrogance to believe he could hide from the God who, Jonah himself said had “made the sea and land.”
That’s hypocrisy in any belief system, but if you’re charitable, you might suggest that Jonah had his reasons.
You’d be right.
After Jonah was yarked up on the beach, “Then the Lord spoke to Jonah a second time: “Get up and go to the great city of Nineveh, and deliver the message I have given you.”
"This time Jonah obeyed the Lord’s command and went to Nineveh, a city so large that it took three days to see it all. On the day Jonah entered the city, he shouted to the crowds: “Forty days from now Nineveh will be destroyed!”
"The people of Nineveh believed God’s message, and from the greatest to the least, they declared a fast and put on burlap to show their sorrow.
"When the king of Nineveh heard what Jonah was saying, he stepped down from his throne and took off his royal robes. He dressed himself in burlap and sat on a heap of ashes. Then the king and his nobles sent this decree throughout the city: “No one, not even the animals from your herds and flocks, may eat or drink anything at all.
"When God saw what they had done and how they had put a stop to their evil ways, he changed his mind and did not carry out the destruction he had threatened." (Jonah 3:1-7, 10 NLT)
What? Seriously? If you’re doing outreach, have you EVER had a success story as astounding as this one? This is brilliant! This is the mighty power of God, right? What’s not to love?
Let’s ask Jonah:
“Didn’t I say before I left home that you would do this, Lord? That is why I ran away to Tarshish! I knew that you are a merciful and compassionate God, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. You are eager to turn back from destroying people. Just kill me now, Lord ! I’d rather be dead than alive if what I predicted will not happen.” ( Jonah 4:1-3 NLT)
Yup, he’s down with G-O-D as long as His mercy isn’t extended to people Jonah hates. Again, Jonah has his reasons:
"What sorrow awaits Nineveh, the city of murder and lies! She is crammed with wealth and is never without victims.
"Hear the crack of whips, the rumble of wheels! Horses’ hooves pound, and chariots clatter wildly. See the flashing swords and glittering spears as the charioteers charge past! There are countless casualties, heaps of bodies— so many bodies that people stumble over them.
"There is no healing for your wound; your injury is fatal. All who hear of your destruction will clap their hands for joy. Where can anyone be found who has not suffered from your continual cruelty?" (Nahum 3:1-3, 19 NLT)
So, perpetual war, greed, lies, violence, constant human rights violations — so many that no nation has been left untouched by Nineveh’s cruel regime. How do you think the President, the U.N., any of the powers that be, might handle such a country today? China, anybody? Iran? Syria?
When you look at it that way, Jonah’s response doesn’t seem quite so hateful. Yet, Jonah follows God. He has repented of his initial disobedience, yet he still hates what God does for Nineveh.
Is there someone in your life who is so evil and ungodly that you’d rather see them continue to disobey, just so God will punish them? Is that person’s potential for repentance your greatest fear when God says it should be your greatest joy?
I could say, “Shame on you,” but I won’t because I’ve been there. So, let me tell you how their repentance will work out. Heaven will rejoice — for a time. Your arch-enemy will begin to think this Christian thing is pretty sweet. Then, God will allow the devil to attack, just so He can show that newly-minted Christian what s/he’s made of.
Punishment? No. Trials? Yes. Jesus advises ALL Christians that we will have tribulation in this world. The person whose repentance you so dread will not escape unscathed.
Right about now, all the teenagers who think this will NEVER happen to them are turning up their noses, because it all sounds a little gloat-y. So be it; I’m speaking to adults who’ve been around long enough to acknowledge the truth of this mindset in themselves and, accordingly, show mercy when they see it in others. Yes, even as they work mercilessly to root it out of themselves.
If that describes you, you’re not alone. You don’t have to stay crammed in the belly of the whale forever. Come on out into the light, and let’s work on it together.
If you’re following along, you remember that this, my primary blog, went dark beginning around April 4. I cited this scripture by way of explanation:
When I wrote to you before, I told you not to associate with people who indulge in sexual sin. I meant that you are not to associate with anyone who claims to be a believer yet indulges in sexual sin, or is greedy, or worships idols, or is abusive, or is a drunkard, or cheats people. Don’t even eat with such people. God will judge those on the outside; but as the Scriptures say, “You must remove the evil person from among you.” (1 Corinthians 5:9, 11, 13 NLT)
Sadly, God had asked me to remove an evil person from among my flock — by going dark on this blog. We’ve all heard the stories and seen the movies about holier-than-thou, toxic Christians who use this passage as an excuse to heap cruelty on someone they hate, until death intervenes. Doubtless, some of you saw me in the same light.
But God is gracious, and I follow Him, so … no. Thanks be to God, I posted here again on April 20, just 16 days later, to begin restoration of this person to the fold. As Paul warns us in 2 Corinthians 2:5-8, 10-11 NLT:
“I am not overstating it when I say that the man who caused all the trouble hurt all of you more than he hurt me. Most of you opposed him, and that was punishment enough. Now, however, it is time to forgive and comfort him. Otherwise he may be overcome by discouragement.
“So I urge you now to reaffirm your love for him. When you forgive this man, I forgive him, too. And when I forgive whatever needs to be forgiven, I do so with Christ’s authority for your benefit, so that Satan will not outsmart us. For we are familiar with his evil schemes.
Yes, he’s still sinning. The difference is that, like the tax collectors and prostitutes who so offended the Pharisees, this man is at least listening to Jesus, and I am so thankful to our Lord for that miracle.
Since the 20th, I have been working with and praying for this man, so that he would finally triumph over the sin that grips him. I hope you’ll join me in both thanksgiving and prayer, and I hope you’ll be patient as I repeat the request over the coming days.
“I was proud, too proud to ask again. I did not understand you. I shut my eyes, and would not understand you, or do you justice. This is a recollection which ought to make me forgive every one sooner than myself. Six years of separation and suffering might have been spared. It is a sort of pain,…
The original poster said it all.
Just because you’re mad at someone doesn’t mean you stop loving them.
Lamentations 3:22-23 NKJV
Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.
The dawning of each new day sees new mercies from the Lord for you — yes, even you.
neverhappen.com | Pastel Sunrise on We Heart It - http://weheartit.com/entry/53875443/via/bluegrassgospelblog
It will be immediately obvious that the video and audio don’t match. This is also an edited version of a song with a wonderful second verse. Nevertheless, I’m posting this clip because the vocals are so good. Here’s some lovely country gospel from The Church Sisters, with “He Understands My Tears”.
Proverbs 21:9 NLT
It’s better to live alone in the corner of an attic than with a quarrelsome wife in a lovely home.
1 Peter 3:7 MSG
The same goes for you husbands: Be good husbands to your wives. Honor them, delight in them. As women they lack some of your advantages. But in the new life of God’s grace, you’re equals. Treat your wives, then, as equals so your prayers don’t run aground.
Pro-life focuses mainly on the child. Pro-choice focuses mainly on the woman. God wants to meet the needs of both. Exceptionally thoughtful, must-read article from Christianity Today online.
Some troubling posts have come across my dash. What’s troubling is that they’re from committed Christians who hurt so much that they’ve resorted to blame as a form of activism, of justice.
Folks, Jesus intimately understands your pain — even if you hurt for someone else. He understands how hard it is to defer judgment to Him since our intimacy with Him is what fully awakened our concept of justice in the first place.
I pray that today’s posts will inspire you to turn away from blame and toward Him, for comfort, validation, and direction in the midst of your outrage.
What We’re All Looking For
“Show us Your mercy, Lord, And grant us Your salvation. I will hear what God the Lord will speak, For He will speak peace To His people and to His saints; But let them not turn back to folly. Surely His salvation is near to those who fear Him, That glory may dwell in our land. Mercy and truth have met together; Righteousness and peace have kissed. Truth shall spring out of the earth, And righteousness shall look down from heaven.” (Psalm 85:7-11 NKJV)
Grace from Isaiah 42:22