31 Days: The God Who is Abundant With His Children

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The God Who Is Abundant With His Children

I think every mom could tell you that one of the most difficult traits to “cure” your toddler of is selfishness.  They always want their toys, their food, their way, “mine mine mine”, etc.

One of the constant reminders I give to one of my sons (no need for name calling) is “share your toys” and when I see the act of generosity take root in his little heart – even for a second – I comment him for that.  When that generosity spills forth from his life – from our lives – we are shorting something of our heavenly Father to the world.  We bear his image of abundance.

When David calls on God to act according to his character – he doesn’t just ask for mercy – which of course would be plenty  – but David begs God that he would act according to his abundant mercy.  To his overflowing, spilling out all over the place, no room left for any more, bursting at the seams mercy.

And you know what – God answers David’s prayer.  He gives him this abundant mercy – extravagant mercy – generous mercy that he was asking for.  And that’s what He did for us.  God chose to radically and abundantly show us truly amazing mercy in the gift of Jesus.  The one who birthed the stars was born of a virgin – in a stinky stall.  All for sinners who would reject Him.

Oh, Father help me to be mindful of this outpouring the next time I’m tempted to be less than generous.

Psalm 51:!

For further reading: James 1:17, Matthew 7:9-11

“You can never love without giving.” – Amy Carmichael

31 Days: The Who God Shows Tender Mercies

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The God Who Shows Mercy

Parenting has taught me a lot about this idea of mercy.  I think children need both discipline and mercy.  Of course they need to learn obedience, but they also need to be shown mercy sometimes when they fail.  They need to be shown mercy if for no other reason that to get a fuller picture of the God that created them.  Mine need mercy so they won’t spend 4 hours in time out each day.

I am a daughter.  I have a merciful heavenly Father.  I am so thankful that he shows me great mercy every day.  How often do I speed without getting a ticket?  How often do I say something out of anger or spite to a family member only to be shown radical mercy and not what I deserve?  How often do I sin and am not struck down dead like some in the Bible?

I think if we realized the holiness of God and the sinfulness of our hearts than we would always start every prayer with mercy pleas.

David knew a trusted communion with God and he know he had sinned greatly.  That communion was broken.  The only was David was going to be in a right relationship with God again was if that just God showered mercy down on him. So, he opens his heart wrenching psalm with this plea.

This mercy that God showed to David didn’t stop there.  All of God’s mercy toward us was brought to completion on the cross.  Christ took all of the wrath of God for us – in other words – he got no mercy from his just Father.  He got penalty, he got death, he got the absence of His Father’s presence.

In Christ, let us also rejoice and plead for great mercy.

Psalm 51:1 ” Have mercy on me, O God.”

Other readings: Psalm 86:5; Psalm 145.9; Ephesians 2:4-5, Hebrews 4:16

Counseling with Hope

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“Hear my voice according to your steadfast love.” – Psalm 119.149a

This verse brought me much hope and rejoicing earlier this week.   But, how do we do this in our counseling of one another.

King David, the Psalmist, had written just verses before about a fervency in prayer – day and night.  In this verse he gives a clue as to why he liked to pray: he knows that God will answer him and hear his voice according to the LOVE and covenantal character of God.  He wouldn’t listen and judge according to our sins.

This should be how we counsel with others.  I’ve never had counseling training, so you may not think I know what I’m talking about, but I’ve been counseling girls (youth, college) and now women in mentoring relationships for about 20 years now.  And I’ve needed counseling before.  When I was in seminary, I can remember a conversation with a girl I’ve discipled through the years (now one of my dearest friends) where both of us had taken a spiritual gifts inventory and both completely failed on the mercy part.  But, years later, after living much more of life, we had grown in that area because of the mercy God had shown on us.

So, here are some tips for counseling, or listening, to others:

1.  Listen.  That doesn’t mean formulating thoughts while they are talking.  This is hard for me, even in marriage, but one I constantly need to work on.

2.  Offer grace and hope.  If we are to be little Christs, and we are often committed to be like God in his nature, than shouldn’t we start there?  That is one of the reasons I love reading Elyse Fitzpatrick’s books on counseling.  The person may be coming to you admitting their sins, or may need their sins pointed out – in a loving way.  Learn to realize the difference or pray that God would show you wisdom in each conversation.

3.  Deal with the sin at hand.  Make sure that confession and repentance and pleasing Christ is the focus and goal of the session.  There is a difference between just saying you are sorry or admitting your wrong and actually confessing it and wanting to repent of it.  Make that the aim.

4.  Center the counseling on our hope.  Every person’s hope is Christ and Christ alone.  If we don’t counsel well, it will hinder some from wanting to know more about Christ or ever finding hope in the Gospel.  They will think they will only find judgment in the Bible and at the cross.  Yes, God is a God of justice but His wrath for believers was covered by Jesus.

If I have had a chance to counsel with you and have not offered you mercy, please forgive me, I am a work in progress too!

Charles Bridges, a pastor of old, “And not less fully is my conviction of his judgment, in dealing wisely and tenderly with me, according to his infallible perception of my need.”