The Standard

We are made holy through the sacrifice Christ made in his body once and for all time. HEBREWS 10:10

Only the holy will see God. Holiness is a prerequisite to heaven. Perfection is a requirement for eternity. We wish it weren’t so. We act like it isn’t so. We act like those who are “decent” will see God. We suggest that those who try hard will see God. We act as if we’re good if we never do anything too bad. And that goodness is enough to qualify us for heaven.

Sounds right to us, but it doesn’t sound right to God. And he sets the standard. And the standard is high. “You must be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect” (Matt. 5:48).

You see, in God’s plan, God is the standard for perfection. We don’t compare ourselves to others; they are just as fouled up as we are. The goal is to be like him; anything less is inadequate.

He Still Moves Stones

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THE CHOICE IS OURS

“With the loving mercy of our God, a new day from heaven will dawn upon us.” LUKE 1:78

“And I will make you my promised bride forever. I will be good and fair; I will show you my love and mercy” (Hosea 2:19). For all its peculiarities and unevenness, the Bible has a simple story. God made man. Man rejected God. God won’t give up until he wins him back.

God will whisper. He will shout. He will touch and tug. He will take away our burdens; he’ll even take away our blessings. If there are a thousand steps between us and him, he will take all but one. But he will leave the final one for us. The choice is ours.

Please understand. His goal is not to make you happy. His goal is to make you his. His goal is not to get you what you want; it is to get you what you need.

from A GENTLE THUNDER

Magnified Mercy

“Behold now, thy servant hath found grace in thy sight, and thou hast magnified thy mercy, which thou hast shewed unto me in saving my life; and I cannot escape to the mountain, lest some evil take me, and I die.” (Genesis 19:19)

This rather presumptuous plea of Lot to the angels who had spared his life when they called down fire from heaven to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah is noteworthy because it contains the first reference in the Bible to the mercy of God. Lot was a believer and a righteous man, but carnal in attitude and greedy in motivation. Yet God not only showed grace in His dealings with Lot, but even magnified mercy!

As appropriate for the principle of first mention in Scripture, this first reference to “mercy” lays the foundation for the dominant theme of the doctrine of mercy throughout Scripture. The key is that God’s mercy can only be described properly in superlatives, and this fact is noted repeatedly throughout Scripture.

“The mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him,” said David (Psalm 103:17). “For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him” (Psalm 103:11). His mercy, therefore, is both eternal and infinite. Nothing could ever be more “magnified” than this!

No wonder, therefore, that Paul says He is “rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us” (Ephesians 2:4), and Peter tells us that “his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope” (1 Peter 1:3).

It is only “according to his mercy he saved us” (Titus 3:5), surely “not |because of any| works of righteousness which we have done.” Therefore, with David, we can say, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever” (Psalm 23:6). HMM

There are many healthy symptoms in that prayer

“And Jacob said, O God of my father Abraham, and God of my father Isaac, the Lord which saidst unto me, Return unto thy country, and to thy kindred, and I will deal well with thee: Deliver me, I pray thee.” (Gen. 32:9, 11.)

THERE are many healthy symptoms in that prayer. In some respects it may serve as a mould into which our own spirits may pour themselves, when melted in the fiery furnace of sorrow.

He began by quoting God’s promise: “Thou saidst.” He did so twice (9 and 12). Ah, he has got God in his power then! God puts Himself within our reach in His promises; and when we can say to Him, “Thou saidst,” He cannot say nay. He must do as He has said. If Herod was so particular for his oath’s sake, what will not our God be? Be sure in prayer, to get your feet well on a promise; it will give you purchase enough to force open the gates of heaven, and to take it by force.— Practical Portions for the Prayer-life.

Jesus desires that we shall be definite in our requests, and that we shall ask for some special thing. “What will ye that I shall do unto you?” is the question that He asks of every one who in affliction and trial comes to Him. Make your requests with definite earnestness if you would have definite answers. Aimlessness in prayer accounts for so many seemingly unanswered prayers. Be definite in your petition. Fill out your check for something definite, and it will be cashed at the bank of Heaven when presented in Jesus’ Name. Dare to be definite with God.—Selected.

Miss Havergal has said: “Every year, I might almost say every day, that I live, I seem to see more clearly how all the rest and gladness and power of our Christian life hinges on one thing; and that is, taking God at His word, believing that He really means exactly what He says, and accepting the very words in which He reveals His goodness and grace, without substituting others or altering the precise modes and tenses which He has seen fit to use.”

Bring Christ’s Word—Christ’s promise, and Christ’s sacrifice—His blood, with thee, and not one of Heaven’s blessings can be denied thee.—Adam Clarke.

In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit

“In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit.” Luke 10:21

The Saviour was “a man of sorrows,” but every thoughtful mind has discovered the fact that down deep in His innermost soul He carried an inexhaustible treasury of refined and heavenly joy. Of all the human race, there was never a man who had a deeper, purer, or more abiding peace than our Lord Jesus Christ. “He was anointed with the oil of gladness above His fellows.” His vast benevolence must, from the very nature of things, have afforded Him the deepest possible delight, for benevolence is joy.

There were a few remarkable seasons when this joy manifested itself. “At that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit, and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth.” Christ had His songs, though it was night with Him; though His face was marred, and His countenance had lost the lustre of earthly happiness, yet sometimes it was lit up with a matchless splendour of unparalleled satisfaction, as He thought upon the recompense of the reward, and in the midst of the congregation sang His praise unto God. In this, the Lord Jesus is a blessed picture of His church on earth.

At this hour the church expects to walk in sympathy with her Lord along a thorny road; through much tribulation she is forcing her way to the crown. To bear the cross is her office, and to be scorned and counted an alien by her mother’s children is her lot; and yet the church has a deep well of joy, of which none can drink but her own children. There are stores of wine, and oil, and corn, hidden in the midst of our Jerusalem, upon which the saints of God are evermore sustained and nurtured; and sometimes, as in our Saviour’s case, we have our seasons of intense delight, for “There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of our God.” Exiles though we be, we rejoice in our King; yea, in Him we exceedingly rejoice, while in His name we set up our banners.

Did this fear arise from the infernal suggestion that He was utterly forsaken?

“He was heard in that he feared.” Hebrews 5:7

Did this fear arise from the infernal suggestion that He was utterly forsaken. There may be sterner trials than this, but surely it is one of the worst to be utterly forsaken? “See,” said Satan, “thou hast a friend nowhere! Thy Father hath shut up the bowels of His compassion against thee. Not an angel in His courts will stretch out his hand to help thee. All heaven is alienated from Thee; Thou art left alone. See the companions with whom Thou hast taken sweet counsel, what are they worth? Son of Mary, see there Thy brother James, see there Thy loved disciple John, and Thy bold apostle Peter, how the cowards sleep when Thou art in Thy sufferings!

Lo! Thou hast no friend left in heaven or earth. All hell is against Thee. I have stirred up mine infernal den. I have sent my missives throughout all regions summoning every prince of darkness to set upon Thee this night, and we will spare no arrows, we will use all our infernal might to overwhelm Thee: and what wilt Thou do, Thou solitary one?” It may be, this was the temptation; we think it was, because the appearance of an angel unto Him strengthening Him removed that fear. He was heard in that He feared; He was no more alone, but heaven was with Him. It may be that this is the reason of His coming three times to His disciples—as Hart puts it—

“Backwards and forwards thrice He ran,
As if He sought some help from man.”

He would see for Himself whether it were really true that all men had forsaken Him; He found them all asleep; but perhaps He gained some faint comfort from the thought that they were sleeping, not from treachery, but from sorrow, the spirit indeed was willing, but the flesh was weak. At any rate, He was heard in that He feared. Jesus was heard in His deepest woe; my soul, thou shalt be heard also.