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Devotionals

In Awe of the Tender Mercies of God -- For Amanda

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828ministries.com H3'ed 11/18/15
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The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. "The Lord is my portion," says my soul, "therefore I will hope in him." -- Lamentations 3: 22-24 (ESV)

God is sovereign beloved. We say it all the time. We believe it in our hearts but if we are not careful His sovereignty can become a philosophical exercise or religious debate. Something to pontificate upon but never revel in. Something to leverage to quote centuries old theologians but never stand in complete awe of. I do not say these things as a master but as someone who must also be reminded. Lest in my pursuit of pure doctrine I actually lose sight of exactly who God is. What is amazing is when God reminds us of exactly who He is, even if He must often use times of great pain and challenge to do so.

Sovereignty simply means that God is in control of everything. Not that He specifically causes everything to occur but He is well aware of everything and fully powerful to do whatever He wants. That includes all of the things we sing about in worship and hear about (or should be hearing) from the pulpit. Modern churchianity has lost its way so badly that people go to church now to hear about themselves. That this is their best life now and destined to reign. It really is a shame because hearing about God is so much better. The truth about Jesus Christ is so superior to any relevant messages designed to prop up this temporal life. We can get so lost in the wisdom of man that we lose sight of the God we claim to serve. We talk about healing but forget that He can heal and He does heal! We talk about miracles in some detached way but forget that He still is in the miracle business. I do not mean the cheap knock-off parlor tricks we see in churches across the landscape today. Pretending that gold dust and angel feathers are a supernatural miracle. You can keep your demonic clairvoyance and powerless signs and wonders. I am talking about a believer who suffers two major strokes, has emergency brain surgery to save her life and is able to say her name just a few days later! Lazarus come forth! That is the God we serve! That is the healing available within His sovereign will. Not that He has to but that He can. That He still does. I believe the key verses summarize perfectly the proper level of reverent awe we ought to hold every waking second for the God we serve. Let us walk through them together.

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases. We talk about the love of God a lot in church but have comingled it with the carnal love the world offers up to the point where most people in church may not even fully grasp the love of God:

so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith--that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. - Ephesians 3: 17-19 (ESV)

The word steadfast means unwavering. That is how God describes His love. Nothing will make it waver. The Bible says that even when we are faithless, which is quite often, He remains faithful because He cannot deny who He is. He is unwavering love. He is the father of the prodigal son. Watching the horizon for his wayward children. Running to meet them and restore them. His love not contingent upon our behavior but upon His character. God is love but not as we consider love within this world and within our flesh. God's love is transcendent of our human frailties and conditions. God is no respecter of person beloved. He loves us for nothing we ever have done or could do. He loves us because of who He is. He loves us because He is love.

His mercies never come to an end. The definition of mercy is to have compassion or forgiveness when it is within your power and rights to grant punishment or harm. Wow, if that is not God I do not know what is! The Bible is very clear. The wages of sin are death. That is what we earned. That is what we are due. Because God is just, He is completely righteous to grant us nothing but the death we are owed but instead, He shows us mercy. He shows us mercy by saving us from the death sentence we are due. How far does His mercy extend? To everyone:

"For God so loved the world,that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. - John 3: 16 (ESV)

The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. - 2Peter 3: 9 (ESV)

Do not fall for the intellectual argument of hyper-Calvinism. There is not some secret "elect" list of those who are heaven bound. The gift of salvation is available to all who would place their faith in Jesus Christ. Do not get me wrong. The work is all God. The love is all God. The mercy is all God. Salvation belongs to the Lord. It is His greatest mercy. To pardon us who deserved no such pardon. But God so love the whole world and wants to see none perish. Only sinful pride and rebellious flesh will prevent so many from finding the narrow road that leads to eternal life. That does not change how unbelievably merciful God is.

These mercies are new every morning beloved. Remember, mercy is not just forgiveness but also compassion when it is within His power and purview to grant harm instead. It is the easing of suffering we see all the time. It is the confounded medical reports that leave doctors scratching their heads. It is the ability for a Christian about to be martyred to ask God to forgive his murderers. Paul spoke about this:

Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. - Philippians 4: 11-13 (ESV)

Unfortunately verse 13 has been mis-preached by so many for too long now. The truth is far more powerful. Paul is speaking about Godly contentment regardless of circumstances here on earth. When we see someone walk out of the hospital that was supposed to never walk again -- His mercies are new each morning! When we see someone survive attack after attack of cancer and live far past expectations -- His mercies are new each morning! When we are granted relief from daily pain, find joy in our sorrow, laughter in our mourning or supernatural healing -- His mercies are new each morning! Do we understand who we serve? Our God spoke the entire universe into existence with a single spoken sentence! He parted the Red Sea! He tore down the walls of Jericho with a shout! He defeated death itself by rising on the third day! That same God has said that He has placed His Spirit, the same spirit, inside all who believe on Him! He has numbered the very hairs upon your head! Get a grasp of Him today beloved!

Great is your faithfulness. His love is steadfast because He is love. His mercies are new every day because He is mercy. Binding these together though is His faithfulness. Faithfulness means God does not change. He is not man that He would lie. We do not have to worry about Him being merciful, compassionate or loving because we know He is faithful. In a shiftless world where we can hardly rely upon anything, God is a rock. He was before and will be after. He is the alpha and the omega. What He starts He finishes. Just another quick word here on sovereignty. God operates based upon His sovereignty, not ours. We can pray and sometimes the answer might come back "no." There may be more love, compassion, and mercy in that "no" than we can ever understand this side of heaven. Faith is believing in the love and mercies of God, even when they do not line up with what we might want.

"The Lord is my portion," says my soul. Other versions say, "I say to myself, the Lord is my portion." What is our portion beloved? It is the part reserved for us. It is the amount allocated for us. It is the part set aside for us. It is sufficient. It is all we need. God is always going to be God, regardless of how we respond to Him. He will always be love. He will always be mercy. He will always be faithful. The question for us today is whether He is truly our portion? Will we say to ourselves that we do not need anything else but Him? Or will we find room on our plate for other things? Worldly things. Yeah God is my portion but I kind of like this other thing over here too. We tend to fit so many things on our plate that have nothing to do with God. Our career, pursuit of money, lust, pride, and even ministry or church. The Bible teaches us that we cannot serve two masters. When we crowd our plate inevitably what falls off is God.

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