Fasting from all, one day at a time.
The body grows weak, dreams come to mind.
All food abandoned, an annual fast.
We’re seeking forgiveness and healing that lasts.
Forty days pass, like Jesus I fast.
Temptations and trials start to attack.
Breakthrough will come, if only I win.
Could fasting help us all overcome sin?
Abstaining from pleasure, I walk Daniel’s path:
Rich foods forgotten, in this partial fast.
I yearn for my homeland: a vision revealed.
The future unfolds; the Scripture unsealed.
Demons must flee, as I starve my old flesh.
Evil must leave! I passed the test!
Mercy increases, I yearn to be right.
The journey’s been long, but the end is in sight.
Transform my hunger to faith in the Lord.
Refraining from comfort as I bear the Sword
Of the Spirit to vanquish my foe and pierce
Through the dark: no lusts, no pride, and no fears.
“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.”
This is the first of the Beatitudes that may come close to making sense to modern Westerners. However that is because we really do not understand. This almost sounds like Jesus was saying, “If you are nice to people, they will be nice to you.” There is some truth to that. But it misses the reality of human nature and society. The world is not made up of nice people who will always be nice to you. If you only know those kinds of people your life is indeed sheltered.
I recently heard a testimony of a man who shortly after coming to faith in Christ heard Brother Andrew, God's Smuggler, talking with a prominent Near Eastern Sheikh who was ordering the death of 8 Israelis because 4 Palestinians had been killed. Brother Andrew ask him, “But where does forgiveness come in?” The sheikh answered, “That is only for those who deserve it.”
Much closer to home, I heard a woman tell about a man in her child’s Public School who mistreated and lied about her daughter. This was a horrible time for their family. Later she got some perspective on the events because the man was diagnosed with a brain tumor. She said, “I can forgive him because we found out his behavior was affected by the tumor. But I can't forgive other School Employees, and even friends in our church, who believed him when he said those things, even though they had known our daughter all her life.”
I understand her hurt, and why she said what she did, but that was not what Jesus taught. Christian Mercy does not end with those who are excusable. Later in this same chapter Jesus tells us we are to be like our Heavenly Father who sends sunshine and rain on the just and the unjust. We are even to love our enemies with the love of God.
What some of you are already thinking is important to understand. It is not true that your enemy will show you mercy, if you show him compassion. What then did Jesus mean? Like all of the Beatitudes this looks beyond the rewards given by other humans on this Earth. Jesus was pointing to the ultimate mercy of our Heavenly Father.
Toward the end of Mark 11 Jesus gives us one the most powerful promises of praying in faith. And then in verse 25 he extends what he says about faith with these words.
“And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”
Jesus clearly links trusting God to forgive our own sins with forgiving those who have wronged us.
Matthew 5 concludes with the words, “Be perfect as your Father in Heaven is perfect.” How in the world are we ever going to obey this command? The only way we could do it is through the gospel. When we receive Jesus Christ, we receive His mercy, His righteousness, and His forgiveness for all who who receive Him. Are you striving and praying to show His mercy toward those around you? We receive His power in our lives to love and forgive as He forgives. But we will not know our final Christ-like perfection until we stand before the Father in His forgiveness and grace.
Saudi Arabia, Arabian Peninsula
Day 15 - July 2, 2015
As Muslims are praying and fasting during Ramadan, we pray for them.
Lord, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, Lord.
Repeat them in our day, in our time make them known;
in wrath remember mercy.
Christians in Saudi Arabia are asking God for Him to bring great things, Habakkuk 3:2.
+ Pray for Saudi politicians, that they would govern their people with wisdom and understand the times we are living in. Pray for the spiritual servant leaders in each town, village and home.
+ Pray for daily revival for the Christian workers' personal and family life and as a team.
+ Pray for the thousands of Christians living in Saudi Arabia to see that their Kingdom role is more than making money in Saudi. Pray for them to be bright lights in the darkness.
Source: Christians in Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia is still in transition from King Abdullah to King Salman. Before Salman was king, he policed the royal family and put wayward royal princes in prison. But there are many who believe the 79 year-old King Salman is facing serious health problems himself. People say he suffers from dementia. Pray for his health and ability to lead well. Pray for the issues he is facing: the price of oil, Daesh (ISIS), and Iran and Yemen which are having major issues just across Saudi's borders. Pray that King Salman will surround himself with godly men who will give him good counsel and help him govern his nation (The Bible, Proverbs 15:22).
Source: The 10/40 Window Prayer Points for Every Nation (April 2015)
There are a number of groups seeking to raise up prayer for Saudi,
the homeland of Islam.
and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead....(Philippians 3:9-11)
BLESSED ARE YOU LORD GOD, KING OF THE UNIVERSE, FROM WHOM ALL BLESSINGS, ALL LIFE, ALL LIBERTY, ALL GOODNESS FLOWS. YOU ARE WORTHY OF ALL PRAISE, ADORATION REVERENCE AND AWE. YOU ARE MAJESTIC AS YOU REIGN, SOVEREIGN AS YOU RULE, RIGHTEOUS AS YOU ARE ALWAYS RIGHT, HOLY AS YOUR NATURE IS. LET ALL THE PEOPLE SAY AMEN AND GIVE THANKS TO THE LORD, FOR HIS LOVE NEVER ENDS, LET ALL THE PEOPLE SAY AMEN.
BLESS THE LORD, OH MY SOUL AND ALL THAT IS WITHIN ME, BLESS YOUR HOLY NAME. BLESS YOU FOR ALL YOUR BENEFITS HAVE ACCRUED TO ME, THROUGH THE LOVE, SACRIFICE, FINISHED WORK AND BLOOD OF JESUS CHRIST, CREATOR OF ALL THINGS....FOR WHOM ALL THINGS WERE CREATED FOR AND BY HIM. MAY I NOT JUST BE FOUND IN HIM, DAILY, IF ACCUSED OF BEING A CHRISTIAN, BUT MAY THE EVIDENCE BE SO OVERWHELMING THAT THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF JESUS CHRIST IS EMBEDDED IN THE VERY FIBER OF MY BEING, AND ALL WHO ARE CALLED BY YOUR NAME, THAT THOSE WHO ARE ACCUSE US OF FOLLOWING THE WAY OF YAHWEH, WOULD SAY "HE IS ONE OF THEM...OR SHE IS ONE OF THEM"....THEM BEING - FATHER, SON AND HOLY SPIRIT, BLESSED TRINITY! OH HALLELUJAH, GLORY TO THE LAMB OF GOD, PRAISE YOUR GREAT NAME!
FATHER GOD, LET THIS LIFE OF CHRIST, FREELY GIVEN LIKE LIVING WATER TO ALL WHO ASK, SO RICHLY DWELL IN ME THAT IT WOULD BE OBVIOUS IT CAME NOT FROM ME, FROM IN ME OR FROM NOTHING ANY OF US HAVE DONE, BUT CAME DIRECTLY FROM THE FAITH YOU IN YOUR LOVE, COMPASSION, MERCY AND LONG SUFFERING GAVE TO EACH AND EVERY ONE OF US. LORD, YOU CALLED FOR US NOT TO BE CONFORMED TO THIS WORLD, BUT TO BE MORPHED, TRANSFORMED, CHANGED TO THE LIKENESS OF IMAGO DEI - THE IMAGE OF GOD, IN WHOSE FASHION YOU FIRST CREATED MAN, THROUGH THE FIRST MAN WHO SINNED, ADAM. THE SECOND AND FINAL ADAM- YAHWEH, THE LORD JESUS CHRIST - NEVER SINNED BUT SUFFERED FOR ALL SIN OF ALL MANKIND FOR ALL TIME.
HE HAS CALLED US TO THAT SAME WITNESS AND THEREFORE SUFFERING IN ORDER THAT WE MAY BE HIS DISCIPLES. MAY WE TAKE UP THE DAILY CROSS AND CRUCIFY OUR BENT AND NATURE TO FOLLOW AFTER THIS WORLD, EVEN IF WE KNOW BETTER, BUT AS WE RISE DAILY, MAY WE PUT TO DEATH THAT TENDENCY TO SIN, TO PERVERT, TO STRAY AND DISTRACT AND MAY WE THEN, THROUGH THE SACRIFICIAL LOVE WE SHOW TO OTHERS AND MORE IMPORTANTLY TO YOU, IN ALL WE SAY DO AND THINK, BE A REFLECTION OF THE SURRENDER AND OBEDIENCE WHICH YOU EXPECT FROM THOSE OF US, WHO ARE COMPLETELY COMMITTED TO YOU.
FATHER, IT IS ONLY BY THE ACT OF BEING A MARTYR, METAPHORICALLY SPEAKING, BEING A MARTYR AND NOT AN INDULGER OF THE CORRUPT THINGS OF THIS SOON-PERISHING WORLD, WOULD BE BE FOUND WORTHY OF OUR POSITIONAL SALVATION IN YOU. THANK YOU FOR THAT TRUTH, THAT KNOWLEDGE AND THE DYNAMIC POWER TO EXECUTE YOUR COMMAND AND EXPECTATIONS IN OUR MOMENT BY MOMENT LIVING. WE LOVE YOU, WE PRAISE YOU, WE WORSHIP AND ADORE YOU, THROUGH CHRIST YOUR SON AND KING, AMEN.
VERSE: Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus...(Romans 8:1)
HEAVENLY FATHER, HERE WE STOOD, ACCUSED BY THE ACCUSER OF THE BRETHREN, FOUND GUILTY BY THE GOD OF HEAVEN AND DESTINED FOR DARKNESS FOREVER MORE, BUT YOU, YOU OH GOD, FATHER OF HEAVEN AND EARTH, STOOD IN THE GAP BECAUSE THERE WAS NO ONE ELSE, AND PAID THE ULTIMATE COST, AS THE PEARL OF GREAT PRICE POURED HIMSELF OUT FROM THE THRONE, THE ETERNAL THRONE TO BECOME A MAN.
THERE IS SOMETHING ABOUT THAT ABBA FATHER, WHICH WE COULD NEVER COMPREHEND, AT LEAST ON THIS SIDE OF HEAVEN- THE VERY FACT THAT HE WHO HELD THE WORLD ON ITS FOOTINGS, WHO SPOKE THE UNIVERSE INTO CREATION, WHO FORMED ADAM FROM THE DUST AND WALKED WITH ENOCH, ABRAHAM AND MOSES - HE WOULD BE BORN UNDER THE SAME LAW HE GAVE US, THEN LIVE WITH PURPOSE AND CLARITY UNDER IT, WHILE NOT VIOLATING ONE JOT OR TITTLE OF IT. WHAT MANNER OF GOD IS HE, THE ANCIENT OF DAYS, OH MERCIFUL FATHER? WHO IS THIS KING OF GLORY, THE LORD GOD ALMIGHTY?
AND NOW, BECAUSE HE GAVE HIS LIFE FREELY FOR OUR SAKE, FOR MY SAKE, I WORSHIP HIM IN SPIRIT AND IN TRUTH, FOR THIS IS WHAT THE FATHER IS LOOKING FOR IN THESE LAST DAYS. I ACCEPT THE FORGIVENESS HE OFFERS ME. I ACCEPT THE REMOVAL OF THE CHARGE OF GUILTY AND THE SENTENCE OF ETERNAL DEATH. I ACCEPT THE REMOVAL OF ALL MY GUILTY STAINS AND SINS THAT ARE NOW AS FAR AS THE EAST IS FROM THE WEST. I NOT ONLY FREE ACCEPT THE OFFER OF THAT FORGIVENESS BUT RECEIVE IT INTO MY SPIRIT, KNOWING YOU HAVE REMOVED ME FROM THE MAJORITY OF THE CONDEMNED, YOU HAVE TAKEN ME FROM THE DOMINION OF DARKNESS INTO THE MARVELOUS LIGHT OF THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN. THIS IS NOT JUST A PIPE DREAM OR A PROMISE YOU HAVE MADE, HEAVENLY FATHER, BUT A REALITY I LIVE RIGHT NOW, THAT WE WHO ARE CALLED BY YOUR NAME AND HAVE BEEN ADOPTED AS SONS AND DAUGHTERS ARE CURRENTLY INTEGRATED INTO!
As we journey through life, we frequently need forgiveness of sin and relief from guilt--something only God can give.
“The quality of mercy is not strained; It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven upon the place beneath.
It is twice blessed -- It blesseth him that gives, and him that takes.”
- Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice
It God did not have a heart, we would not stand a chance.
If He corrected us in anger, we would be reduced to nothing.
If He took up arms against insurrection, we would be devastated.
If He dealt severely, we’d survive less time than dandelions in a windstorm.
To our great relief, between God’s pure holiness and unbending law is a mercy seat.
He is the Fountainhead of pity, with sole authority to extend clemency to condemned prisoners.
Guilt is a burden we cannot manage on our own—thankfully, God is far easier on us than we are on ourselves.
Attempt to cover sin, and He uncovers it to our dismay; uncover it before Him, and He covers it with Jesus’ blood.
Unworthiness makes us tremble at the thought of standing before God—
but freely forgiven by Christ, at His mercy, we can relax.
“May God Almighty give you mercy as you go before the man.”
Genesis 43:14 NLT
Johnny R. Almond
Pastor, Colonial Beach Baptist Church, Virginia
Author, Gentle Whispers from Eternity—Scripture Personalized
[This devotion based on/adapted from Day 30 of Gentle Whispers from Eternity]
GentleWhispersFromEternity-ScripturePersonalized (copy & paste to browser for blog & book info)
This is nothing new. We have been down this road before.
Take America’s celebration of Christmas, one of our nation’s moresurprising examples of cultural change. A few hundred years ago, thePuritans were so disturbed by materialistic practices influencing theChristmas traditions of their time—the blatant celebration of excess,the distortion of biblical truth—that they demanded reform. Theyexpressed their discontentment with the course of their culture andchose to steer their communities on a different path, even outlawing thecelebration in Boston to help restore godly conduct and perspective.The change took place gradually, and it wasn’t until 1870 that Christmasbecame a federal holiday—a turning point that marked a long journeytoward family-oriented traditions and a heightened reverence for Christand His birth.
Only 140 years later, we are drifting in our focus once again. Culturaland political distortions overwhelm us on all sides. As we consider howto intercede for our nation today, with all of its potential for changeand transformation, our prayer must be that any renewed discontentmentwould drive us to embrace an attitude of reverence for God. Without thisas our foundation, real change will never come. Regardless of who wasjust elected or which party is in control, we must intercede that anattitude of reverence and humility would affect everything from personalbehavior to federal law.
May the Church fall upon her knees and cry out to God for mercy, that wewould be known as a country with restored reverence for Christ, who isboth our Cause and our Celebration. What a true gift of change thiswould bring!
“The fear of the LORD is the instruction of wisdom; and before honour is humility” (Proverbs 15:33).
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