The Ministry of Mercy

Good morning. It is post-Monday, October 21, 2014.

Today is Count Your Buttons Day. My Grandmama had a jar of buttons in the spare bedroom, if I remember correctly. I’m talking a big jar, too. Not one of those little jelly jars. I never counted them, though, and I don’t know where it is, now. 😦

The thing that used up all my time yesterday morning was this: I had to re-start the computer to update the virus program. When it started back up, the monitor got stuck with a “no signal” message in the middle, and it wouldn’t power off. So I had to reach around to unplug the monitor. In doing that, I knocked a speaker off the desk. After I finally got the monitor back on and running properly, I got under the desk to get the speaker. Its wires were tangled in some other wires. As I was trying to untangle it, I discovered what it was tangled with. The computer mouse! Now, I had the speaker AND the mouse on the floor with me. After much contortion and struggling, I finally got both of them back on the desk. By that time, it was almost 6:30, and I had not even started the devotional yet. I was also seriously considering not even leaving the house. But I did, and wound up having a very nice day, yesterday, at work.

Christi reports that the dizziness is almost gone this morning! She still has a bit of a headache, though, but also had trouble sleeping last night.

We have tonight off from our Huddle meeting, because our leader is in Thailand. I just looked it up, and it is 6:14 PM in Bangkok, right now, exactly twelve hours later than here. That should be fun. Just about the time his body adapts, it will be time to come home.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

(From The Divine Hours)

Seek the LORD and his strength; seek his presence continually!
Psalm 105:4
Do good, O LORD, to those who are good, and to those who are upright in their hearts!
Psalm 125:4
Seven times a day I praise you for your righteous rules.
Psalm 119:164
As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field;
for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more.

Psalm 103:15-16
Lord, have mercy; Christ, have mercy; Lord, have mercy.

Today’s Gospel Reading

When Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and preach in their cities. Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” And Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”
As they went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds concerning John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? What then did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Behold, those who wear soft clothing are in kings’ houses. What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is he of whom it is written,
“‘Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way before you.’
Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force. For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John, and if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.
“But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to their playmates,
“‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.’
For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds.”

Matthew 11:1-19

This is a lengthy passage in which Jesus, first of all, gives high honors to John the Baptist, but then turns around and says that the “least in the kingdom of heaven is great than he.” What does he mean by that? It could be a reference to the fact that believers after these days would be filled with the Holy Spirit.

Who are these “violent” who attempt to take the kingdom by force? This could refer to people like Herod, who, by violence and force, attempt to stop the forward movement of the kingdom. We know, though, that this is not possible. The kingdom of God will not be stopped. At this point, Jesus also identifies John as the “Elijah” prophesied by Malachi (Malachi 4:5).

Finally, Jesus illustrates that you just can’t please some people.

Today’s reading in Reflections for Ragamuffins is “Works of Mercy.”

“The unglamorous and little-publicized works of mercy: the ministry of small things, feeding and sheltering, visiting the sick and incarcerated, educating, correcting, speaking a healing word, bearing wrongs, listening creatively, counseling, washing dirty feet, praying with people, are all ways of living the life of compassion.” This really is not a minor thing, either. The statement by Jesus to be perfect, in Matthew 5:48, is given to us by Luke as, “Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.” (6:36) This is something that we are all called to be.

For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you want, you can do good for them. But you will not always have me.
Mark 14:7

Father, this theme has been running strong through my life in recent years. As you continue to teach me about loving people, showing compassion, and having mercy, I pray that your Spirit would open my eyes, ears, and heart to this subject, and what you would say to me about it. I admit that I struggle frequently with it. I’m struggling this morning over something that is going on in our small circle of friends. I pray that you keep working on me, showing me how to show mercy and have compassion toward all people. If I am to be seriously involved in intercessory prayer, it is nigh impossible to pray for someone if you are feeling like they are an idiot at the moment. These are thoughts that must be dispensed, destroyed. May your Holy Spirit work within me to destroy such unholy thoughts and attitudes.

I pray for this day, that we will have safe travel to and from work. May your grace and mercy fill the day while we are at work, giving us compassion for the people we work with. I pray for Stephanie, that your love would surround her with songs of deliverance. Teach us your ways, that we may walk in your truth.

I pray for Jacob, as he begins his activities in Thailand today.

Your grace is sufficient.

May we all be faithful in this “ministry of mercy,” today and every day.

Grace and peace, friends.

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